Yes, We Do That

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!

What now ‘Purple Cow’?

In talking to marketing executives everywhere the common sentiment appears to be one of uncertainty over what to do and how to market today. And yet having the right marketing communication strategies and programs that generate awareness, interest – and – leads, has never been more important. Here are a dozen thoughts to consider that we’ll explore in future ponderings.

  1. Marketing is in the biggest flux it ever has been.

  2. Multi-channel marketing still appears to work the best.

  3. Figuring out the right tactic(s) is very hard.

  4. The primary goal remains attracting and keeping attention that leads to action.

Continue reading

Can Ingenuity help Colleges Cut Costs and Expand Access?

The rising cost of living presents a dilemma for colleges. Higher education’s economic value to students is clear. At the same time, the cost of that vital training is rising beyond American families’ ability to pay. The President proposes rewarding institutions that cut costs and penalizing those that don’t. Can the ingenuity for which American colleges are famous come to the rescue, decreasing costs for students and expanding access – without cutting educational quality, jobs or compensation?

Technology provides an answer

Perhaps. Unfortunately, the mention of educational technology invokes images of standard online education. That’s not what I’m proposing here. While web-based classes can teach effectively with lower costs, they have clear limitations. They eliminate the greatest asset U.S. colleges have to offer – the excellent teaching of world-class faculty. Online courses are usually taught with a textbook and the instructor’s (preferably) short explanatory essays. The onus is on the student to master the required material.

While online education can be ideal for busy, highly motivated adults, how many 18-year-olds have the desire or the discipline to take a significant number of courses online? Many need more than textbook explanations. Most crave interaction with their peers. They depend on the structure of scheduled classes and activities to stay on track. Without these, it’s hard to imagine the majority graduating on time. Besides, courses with lab work require presence on campus. So, while online education can save tuition dollars, it’s not a useful option for most undergraduates.

A new option lets families tailor education outlays

Continue reading

Save the Debates for Politics

Save the Debates for Politics

Political Season... We are in the thick of it.

For those who follow the political landscape, you are no doubt keeping your eyes on the debates that have recently been held with the Republican candidates. Pick your favorite guy and you will see them discussing and debating the subjects (one pundit called it "professional arguing"). The moderator offers a subject and the politicians have at it... many subjects are up for debate.

Your marketing and business development is NOT up for debate. Think of all the aspects of your business: operations, finance, IT, product development, research and development... all are key aspects for a successful business but none of that matters if your marketing and sales process is weak.

If you are not thinking like a top marketing communications company, it fairly certain that you might be missing the boat in some areas. The tip of the spear is lead generation - are you leveraging your website to maximize those leads? What marketing strategy services are you employing to increase your awareness in the marketplace? Once you get the leads, do you have a CRM system to manage the leads and opportunities? What marketing and sales support is available to help close these opportunities? 

Has your company taken the time to answer these questions? Oftentimes these questions fall to the back-burner as we are constantly handling the daily activities. But think about the old adage "The customer is always right" - the customer is the start of the cycle in any business. Since clients spend the money and fund all of the other activities in a business, it makes sense to pay attention to the process of getting more of them.

The Allied Group works with clients to manage their marketing and sales functions. As a marketing communications company, we strive to assist clients on navigating their challenges. For those who don't even know their shortcomings, a good start is assessing your current situation and using an outside marketing company to determine your next steps.

So enjoy the political season and leave the debating out of your sales and marketing effort!


Seven Ways to Get People to Listen - Part Two

The Magnetic Middle


How can you get people to listen to the facts?  What can move them to action?  Previous blog posts showed why some resist or ignore factual evidence that contradicts their viewpoint and gave some ways to combat that tendency.  Once you’ve opened the minds of colleagues, team members, customers and prospects, how can you best present the facts and gain their buy-in?  This has been the subject of considerable research and a number of effective methods have emerged.  One important communication strategy is:  recognize and make good use of the power of the “Magnetic Middle.”


When the Magnetic Middle works against you

Continue reading

What's Trending 9

b2ap3_thumbnail_whatstrending9.JPGHere we go again. Yahooooo! (by the way, does anything else besides beautiful women 'trend' on Yahoo? I swear, I did not make this up!)

Katherine Heigl. I guess she admitted on Monday that - at times -- she regrets having left "Grey's Anatomy. Hmm. As "admissions" go, I'm not sure that was the most revealing.

Jennifer Aniston. Jenny and boyfriend Justin Theroux are reportedly set to buy a home in Los Angeles' posh Bel-Air neighborhood. Well they say home ownership is the American dream!

Drew Barrymore. The star is newly engaged to art consultant Will Kopelman and says she chose her man wisely. The actress, who has weathered two marriages that ended in divorce, told ABC News that the third time is the charm: "He is a really good person. I'm proud of my choice with him." The 36-year-old is reportedly converting to Judaism for her fiance. Will they buy promotional products for the wedding? I wonder if Adam Sandler can squeeze her into his song this year?

Again, it's a good thing I challenged myself with this tough assignment. It's not easy to find pictures of beautiful women and come up with witty comments to complement their glamorous lifestyles. But I try. And, again, what does this have to do with building and implementing marketing communication strategies? I have to admit this time, absolutely nothing! But I'll continue to do it.

Continue reading

Abandon Ship? Abandon Marketing? Two Bad Ideas!

Abandon Ship? Abandon Marketing? Two Bad Ideas!

The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground off a Tuscan Island the other week - no doubt a major story as lives were lost and the lives of over 4000 passengers were in jeopardy. However the offshoot of this story has been the behavior of the ship's captain Francesco Schettino. 

The captain has been accused of abandoning his ship while there were passengers still on-board. In addition to this being a major "no-no" in the maritime world (remember the captain always goes down with his ship), Schettino faces possible manslaughter charges, which could carry a sentence of 12 years in prison! Whatever news account you hear might be a different version but clearly the captain made a huge error in judgment when he abandoned his ship.

How does this relate to Marketing and Business Development Professional Services? It all relates wise decision making, good judgment and not abandoning your "marketing ship." Whatever role you play in your company's marketing effort, "abandoning ship" is not an option. If you are in a decision-making role, you are responsible for setting the right strategy; if you are not making the decisions, it is your role to follow the directives set forth my management. Either way, you have a role to fill!

As a strategic marketing consultancy, The Allied Group works with clients to help them understand what roles are and how people should fill them. When one person abandons their role, it does affect the whole marketing program (not unlike the behavior of Captain Schettino, who abandoned his role during a crucial time for the Costa Concordia).

Data Appending. Lead Generation. Redesigning Websites. Not everyone can be involved with all things but you owe it to yourself and the company to know what you have to do. As an example, on a personal level, it is not my job specifically to manage the CRM system; but I do have a role of maintaining my contacts and their information so our marketing team can adequately do their job.

Each of us has a job to do with Marketing; you don't need "Marketing" in your title to be aware of these efforts and act on them. 

How will you stay aware and not "abandon ship" when it comes to your company's marketing efforts?


Help Those with Opposing Viewpoints Listen to the Facts

“Why Won’t People Listen to Good Ideas?” discussed research showing that those with strongly ingrained views won't mentally process sound evidence presented by the other side. Is there anything we can do to encourage our colleagues to consider solid facts we raise?

First, it’s important to understand why many won’t listen. One reason became apparent in a series of studies starting in 1959. Eminent social psychologist Dr. Elliot Aronson explains that research began in a southern town deeply divided over racial segregation. Most today clearly recognize the evils of apartheid, but in 1959 it was a burning issue, particularly in the South. Researchers selected people with strong feelings for or against segregation. Then they presented a series of arguments on both sides of the issue. Some were plausible, others were lame.  A survey on the points each recalled was telling. People remembered the logical arguments supporting their position and the illogical arguments that backed the opposing view. 

A number of follow up studies produced similar results. The answer was clear.  People ignored or quickly forgot points that might prove their opinion wrong. They focused on the opposition’s lame arguments because these strengthened their position.  This phenomenon is called Confirmation Bias. Seeking the right answer took a back seat to proving they were right. The highly respected Dr. Aronson explains:

During the past half-century, social psychologists have discovered that one of the most powerful determinants of human behavior stems from our need to preserve a stable, positive self-image.  Most of us want to believe that we are reasonable, decent folks who make wise decisions, do not behave immorally and have integrity. 

Thus, when confronted with factual information that might show us mistaken or foolish, we automatically tend to ignore or dismiss it, focusing instead on any piece of data that might prove us right. 

Continue reading

Orange you glad I didn't say mauve?

b2ap3_thumbnail_orange.jpgAnd the winner is ... ORANGE!  Yep, It's going to be a tangerine trees and marmalade skies kind of a year since Pantone picks orange as the top hue for 2012 - and not a moment too soon either.
(See below from 'Today Style'
                               - - - - - - -
The world doesn't need more gray, and the blues are covered, too. What consumers need is a jolt - a shot of energy and boldness, all of which comes from Tangerine Tango, the reddish-orange hue that Pantone has announced as its top color for 2012.

"There's the element of encouragementwith orange,  it's building on the ideas of courage and action - it's that we want to move on to better things. I think it would be a disservice to go with a relaxed, soothing color now," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the research division of Pantone Inc. which creates color standards every year.

“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Eiseman,  “It marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”

"Consumer spending is a big player in reviving the economy and it needs adrenaline," said Eiseman. "Orange is a more urgent call to action than last year's hot-pink hue Honeysuckle, which was also supposed to channel cheerfulness coupled with nostalgia.

The annual forecast for 2012's dominant color takes into consideration what Pantone thinks shoppers want and need. Those are influenced by the designer runways, fabric shows, news events, pop culture and consumer habits. "Part of what we do is look at the zeitgeist," Eiseman explained. "We have to look at everything in the world around us. It's not an arbitrary choice."

"Color is really emotion," says Beth Eckerstrom, director of trend and product development at Crate and Barrel. "Everyone thinks it's a physical thing, but it's really emotion."
                                       : - - - - - - - :
So there you have it. Don't forget to consider orange and The Allied Group as you plan your marketing and communication strategies for 2012. I know I'm ready for a little boldness, energy and a move toward warm and brighter things ... how about you?!

0 Comments's here

Another new year....What cliche shall I use? Perhaps a comment about how fast the years go by or maybe a list of new years resolutions that will be broken by February?

Instead, I believe the best course of action is to stick with something that has a history of success... so I am pleased to announce that The Allied Group will continue to innovate and be a thought-leader in our market space for 2012.

We have always tried to differentiate ourselves from the “traditional business model”. So... in that same spirit, I would like to introduce two new coming attractions in 2012 that add to our diverse line of products and services:

First: we are going to offer a completely integrated, multi-channel marketing solution which expands our value equation to include output and measurement of social media and mobile technology.

Second: we are launching a digital asset management solution which will help our clients with the all-important task of “protecting your brand”.

Continue reading

Marketing Playoffs: Not One and Done

For those interested in pro football, you are at "peak season" for yourself - playoff time! For the next three weekends, the top teams in the NFL square off for the right to play in the Super Bowl first Sunday of February. This is the most intense time of the season for coaches, players, and, yes, the fans. Why the intensity? Because these games are all single elimination - you lose, your season is over - "One and Done" is a term often applied to these playoffs.

Fortunately your marketing does not have to be One and Done. The Allied Group defines marketing as "The combination of strategic plans and specific tactical actions done intentionally and consistently to influence the perceptions of a target audience or individual buyer to create, maintain, or grow revenue."

In other words, you have to find the right mix of strategy and tactics for your own marketing program. There is no magic pill or secret potion that is the answer for everyone. Your mix of strategy and tactics will be dictated by some combination of your industry, your company's goals, and you company's internal resources. If the prospects in your business are buying one way, that might be completely different than the business next door. You need to assess your landscape yourself or hire a top direct marketing agency to assess the market and offer advice. Life Science Marketing will be different than Higher Education Marketing, which will be different from Healthcare Marketing.

Once you assess and determine the plan for you, now we are back to the One and Done concept - i.e., don't get caught up that it will be successful right out of the gate. Whereas NFL teams must win NOW or be done, marketing plans should be flexible and leave some room for changes "on the fly." If you are thinking you have one great idea that will answer all the marketing questions, you could be in for a disappointing year.

So, over the next three weekends,root on your favorite team, enjoy the NFL playoffs and all the intensity of the games . . . but leave the inflexible, rigid "One and Done" concept out of your 2012 marketing plans!


25 Amflex Drive | Cranston, RI 02921 | p: 401-946-6100

Back to top