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The Allied Group is New England's leading provider of Printing, Kitting, Mailing and Fulfillment services. Our blog authors have backgrounds in Sales, Marketing, IT, Production and Operations and post useful tips, trends, news and opinions in our industry and beyond. We know you'll find something you enjoy. Most of all, be sure to jump into the conversation!

Arm your hunters with Marketing Arrows

Arm your hunters with Marketing Arrows

In every Robin Hood movie I’ve ever seen one of the common moments is when the famous outlaw shoots a 2nd arrow at a target that splits the 1st one already there in half.

I’m guessing chances are when Robin went hunting he didn’t miss much.  With that kind of aim, he could most surely take down a rabbit or dear or boar.  When shooting arrows, specific targets, with good technique and skill, make both for good hunting and full bellies.

In the modern business development parlance, a hunter is someone who is supposed to go out into the (suspect) prospect forest and always “bag” the new customer.   But what if the hunter has no arrows in his or her quiver to shoot with?

In business development; roles, expectations and perception are critical.  The role of marketing, with the assistance of product development, is to give the hunters (or sales force) as many arrows – advantages, benefits and value propositions - as possible.  Most hunters don’t necessarily need superior products or the lowest pricing, but, there is really no way for them to hunt successfully with an empty quiver.

What tools do you want to send your hunters out into the wilderness with?

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The Season's First Snow.

The Season's First Snow.

Even the Scrooge probably has a little nervous excitement when he sees snow for the first time in the season. Weather (spelling intended) you're a child, child at heart or, conversely, you dwell in the practical reality of life, living and logistics, this day does bring with it an air of freshness and giddiness that, frankly, doesn't happen often (the only other day that does it for me is that first day that really feels like Spring).

This all comes with an opportunity. Sure, the first, and most obvious, is to simply enjoy. Soak it all in, but then leverage that into something more productive. The season's first snow should also come with some anxiety. Thanksgiving in 2 weeks, Christmas in 6 weeks, and only 7 weeks left in 2013!! Are you ready?

A holiday direct marketing campaign can be a great way to drive business for that last, all-important push to finish off 2013 strong. It could be very simple. Have you taken the time to thank your best customers yet this year? Marketing communication strategies don't have to be complicated. In fact, some of the most successful include lead generation methods that are staples of any good marketing plan. Remember, time is valuable over the next 7 weeks. It may be unrealistic to do an open house and expect a reasonable turn out when we've all got multiple commitments (personally and professionally). But a simple, well-designed direct mail effort is very reasonable and feasible to build and deploy in the next few weeks. We've got some great promotional product ideas and corporate gifts that would be perfect.

On this "special" day, use that little spring in your step as motivation to get a few things done that are on your list. Sure, you can check it twice but then remember how nice it will be to sit by the fire in that winter wonder land that will be here in a few weeks knowing that you did everything you could to finish the year strong. And just think, all that from a few simple snowflakes!

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If it doesn't speak to us, we ignore it!

If it doesn't speak to us, we ignore it!

Can you fill in the missing words: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz...? If you can, you’ve proven you’re not only over 35 years old, you’re also living, breathing proof of the effectiveness of great creative messaging. That vintage Alka Seltzer ad campaign ran back in the 60’s and 70’s, yet most people can still belt out the jingle as if they’d just heard it on their way in to work today. Why? Because Alka Seltzer’s message was concise, memorable, benefit-oriented, frequent and distinctly unique. In fact ‘distinctly unique’ may be the most important factor that contributed to its lasting success.

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Marketing is a lot like Riding a Bike

Marketing is a lot like Riding a Bike

And so it came to pass. This past weekend I taught Annie, age 7, how to ride a bike with no training wheels. Having done this 7 times previously, you’d think I’d experienced everything that could be learned about this particular moment of parenthood. But that was not the case.

 

Her older brother actually got the tools out and helped me take the training wheels off. We suited her up with the obligatory helmet, elbow and knees pads and let her have at it. I explained that she could go as far as the driveway 3 houses up the road and the driveway 2 houses down the road. To which, thankfully, she promptly agreed. So she began and also promptly fell down. 

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Heading Down the Stretch

Heading Down the Stretch

In a lot of ways, the business cycle is very similar to the baseball season. A lot of strategizing, planning and building in the winter months - things sort of "spring" into action in April - it gets exciting in May, June and July, then everyone seems to fall into a dopey haze in August. Business slows down, play seems to slow down and everyone and everything seems to have a lethargic feel and tone to it. Then what happens?

 

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The Social Media Dilemma

OK - I am officially on Social Media overload.  Despite all my efforts to confine my use of it as a tool - I have been assimilated by the Borg and now consider myself part of the collective.  I give up....  I pledge my allegiance to the blog and to the go public strategy for which it stands, one Twitter, under Linkedin, completely visible, with Facebook, Networking, and Branding for all.

It seems that you can no longer have a conversation without spending at least half of the time discussing Social Media. 

Lead Generation, Web Design, Data Appending, Sales Training, Marketing, SEO, Blogging, Public Relations, Direct Mail, Business Development, Loyalty - no matter what the topic - doesn't it seem to now center on Social Media?

In the last three weeks I have been to three events and participated in two webinars all of which focused on Social Media ROI.  Not one person had a case study that showed any proven ROI that Social Media had made them money. 

But can you live without? How will people find you, how will people trust you, how will people view you if you don't have a robust Social Media presence? 

In our Brave New World....

1.  We all self-educate before we make a decision. The fastest and easiest way to do the research is generally on the web.  Social Media make info is accessible.

2.  We trust people we know. Relatives, neighbors and friends have always influenced our decisions. Social Media extends the circle and reduces the time to get opinions.

3.  We want community. Humans crave affiliation and want to be part of something. Church groups, Elks, Rotary, PTA - these are all ways that we connect with people of similar interests... it helps us feel normal! Social Media offers a gateway to join groups, follow trends, get information without having to go to meetings, get on committees or sell brownies as a fundraiser. 

We may not always like it or even understand it - but Social Media - like every other major shift in how we communicate - offers benefits and hurdles. Radio didn't kill books or newspapers, TV didn't kill radio, Movies didn't kill theater, Cable didn't kill movies, email didn't kill the USPS, Texting has killed email, and Social Media won't kill Sales and Marketing. It will change us forever....

Progress brings new worlds, new opportunities and new markets. Social Media is a game changer, but the game isn't over.

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Spring Turns to Summer Turns to...

Spring Turns to Summer Turns to...

The Summer Slow Down! So, what are you going to do about it now?

If your business is like many, the summer does tend to have a significant impact on output and production. For some businesses, it probably has as much to do with a seasonal product or product line, but, for many, it has more to do with an overall more casual, relaxed attitude and vacations on top of other people's vacations combined with more vacations.

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What Is March Telling Us About Madness?

What Is March Telling Us About Madness?

I've been a basketball fan since I was a kid. And it has always been pretty clear to me that a lot of people who aren't basketball fans, do tend to enjoy March Madness. Maybe it's the competitiveness, or the bracketology, or the cinderella stories, or maybe just the chance to win a buck!

 

What has stood out to me over the last few years, however, is that the "hype" doesn't seem to be as great as it used to be. Is it me? This year's tournament, in particular, has more than its fair share of Cinderella stories. From Harvard to LaSalle, to Florida Gulf Coast and Wichita State who are both still in it. And teams like VCU, Butler, Baylor and George Mason still seem to carry that Cinderella aura even though they've managed to actually become somewhat regulars in The Dance.

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Top 5 2013 Super Bowl Ads

Top 5 2013 Super Bowl Ads

Well, being a Patriots fan, this year's Super Bowl took on a little bit of a different twist for me. Of course being a Patriots fan means that you actually expect them to be in the game...anything less is a disappointment. It's so much of a roller coaster that because they weren't in it, I kind of forgot it was even on. But, when I did settle in, looking forward to the commercials wound up being what piqued my interest the most.

So, for the 2013 Superbowl, I decided to publish my own list of the top 5. Here goes:

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Should Prayer be Allowed in School?

Should Prayer be Allowed in School?

Hopefully I touch a nerve with this one. Talk about an effective email subject line. It just came through my email and took me to a survey. Of course it was one of those surveys where I had to say "yes" to getting information on erectile dysfunction, Turbo Tax, the jelly of the month club and replacement windows. And because I was only interested in 3 out of the 4, I didn't qualify for the grand prize. But it did let me see the results...I'll share in a moment (I was surprised!)

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