Communications Done Right

By Communications, Marketing

With all the negative news in the press lately–from the travesty that is U.S. politics to the tragedy that is Aurora, CO and the subsequent NRA dustup, sometimes it’s nice to see communications used in a classy, nice but effective way.

Such is the case of Patrick Wensink, who commissioned a cover for his book, Broken Piano For President, that ended up looking a lot like a Jack Daniels label. As you might expect (although apparently Patrick didn’t), the brand police over at Jack Daniels got involved. And as you might also expect, typically these things can become, well, contentious and directive.

Not so this time. They sent him and extremely polite, understanding, and pleasant letter for once, which you can read about here. It’s the kind of cooperative tone that makes us proud to be in the communications business, rather than being embarrassed by the likes of Ryan Holiday, the lying jerk and “media manipulator.” The letter is non-threatening, helpful, understanding, and amazingly effective. Someone was channeling Dale Carnegie, a practice well worth resurrecting, don’t you think?

Walking the Walk: The Challenge of Marketing Your Own Marketing Business

By Marketing

The Jaggers Communications team had lots of heated discussion over lunch yesterday. At the heart of it was our decline in “walking the walk” — we’re not blogging enough or strategically marketing the company enough; we’re not engaging at the level we expect our clients to engage; we’re not focusing enough on business development while still maintaining focus on client needs.

It was a tough conversation. And I’ll admit it, I felt a little defensive.

When our clients tell us how hard it is to find the time to keep up with social media, to stick with the plan, to keep producing content in a way that is compelling to their audiences, believe me when I say, “I get it.” It is the challenge of doing business in a digital world. We’re empathetic but at the same time, I don’t accept excuses on my company’s behalf any more than I do clients’.

I accept the challenge of setting a better example through my own firm’s marketing and social strategy efforts. I welcome it, in fact. The best business development case study I’ve had to tell so far is that of my own business; it’s time to take it to the next level.

I’m reading this great book.

By Communications, Marketing

After a ton of friends recommended it, I finally picked up Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. You can visit that link for a synopsis on the book. But essentially, it is a discussion about success and what elements (timing, talent, practice, place, parenting, etc) make up the perfect formula for creating it. The anecdotes are wonderful, and I find that I am referring back to the book when thinking about anything from my kids’ futures to the challenges our clients are working on.

The book analyzes what factors had to come into play in order for a person to be truly, outrageously successful. Getting a more in-depth look into Bill Gates childhood (whose high school received a computer in 1968) or the KIPP school in New York or  the perfect year for an entrepreneur to be born (right around 1835 in case you’re wondering, sorry) is all fascinating. It’s also a good motivator for reevaluating our standards.

Reading the book made me think about the idea of success and how we define that as individuals and organizations. Marijean and Rusty can tell you that I am an obnoxious number keeper. Since my job is business development, I always want to know where we are in contrast to our goals. Is our percentage of growth what we had estimated it would be? Do we have the right size and amount of clients?

But what I’m finding is that both personally and professionally, I feel more successful when the clients that we do have are satisfied AND my family has dinner on the table. What I mean is that, I’m never going to have Bill Gates-style success. I don’t have 10,000 hours to dedicate to development. I could not cater to 75 clients. And actually, taking VERY good care of the clients that we do have seems to be what we do best. To me, spending the time to make them successful and still maintain happy lives outside of work is the ideal.

Maybe I’m soft. Have any of you read this book? Did it make you reevaluate what you believe success to mean?


Want More Sales? Trust in Me!

By Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Media, Social Media

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sales and how social platforms and processes have affected them. Sales, in case we’ve all forgotten, is the mother of all ROIs. No matter what marketing or business development efforts you engage in, the rubber meets the proverbial road at sales. Did all our effort generate more closed business, or didn’t it?

The social, mobile web has unleashed a torrent of attention deficit issues. There are so many “opportunities” thrown at us everywhere, so many chances to “connect” and “share” anytime that it takes a LOT to get our attention, and the usual cold call or marketing drivel just doesn’t make the grade. At all. As soon as we see an ad, we’re out. To make matters worse (for the seller), we can get most of the information we need to make a decision online these days. To rise above the crowd, companies need a serious advantage, a serious leg up. So what is that leg up?


Trust? Wow, OK. So how do you build that with perfect strangers when you’re under a lot of pressure to close new business from the higher-ups? Well, it’s not simple, but it’s well worth the effort. The good news is that one really great feature of all these amazing new social, digital and mobile platforms is that they provide an unprecedented opportunity to LISTEN and absorb conversations that may be taking place around your brand, industry, and process that were never previously available. That means that if you choose, you can start anticipating your customers’ needs by paying attention the conversations they are already having without you. It’s like 24-7 market research that helps you know when and how to interact with a potential customer so that your abilities are aligned with his needs.

Will this chair fit in my office? When’s the payback on that power purchase agreement? Do I need seven or eight generators to run my office? What’s the best way to select a delivery company? When you couple listening with a decent content development strategy, you can become the go-to thought leader in your space because you listened to these questions and created content to proactively answer them. Trust can be further established, often with people you haven’t even talked to yet.

So when you DO finally choose to engage in a sales call, you might have already provided the answers to a potential customer’s business problem via some other process like a white paper, tweet or an online referral. If you offer those solutions freely, in a consultative way, even more trust can be established. You have the proper context at the right time to sell successfully. At that point, it’s not even selling—it’s helping.

To win business these days, you have to be engaged in a lot more places, and over a longer period, to establish trust. Trust is the only way to hold a prospect’s attention in the attention deficit world.

Better Business in Charlottesville

By Communications, Marketing, Public Relations

Teri Kent is my hero. Truly. Teri started Better World Betty as a resource for all things green in our community. Then, she took it to the next level, creating, managing and executing the Better Business Challenge.

Last night, the Jaggers Communications team was delighted to be present as friends of the firm walked away with awards they earned by converting to a paperless system, reducing waste, increasing recycling efforts and reducing energy consumption. It was a fine display of environmental stewardship and we were proud to be applauding fans of the effort.

Teri has been at the forefront of the whole effort. She’s professional, efficient, inspiring and enthusiastic. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

We’re also so proud to be affiliated with, neighbors and friends of participating organizations including Rebecca’s Natural Food, Woodard Properties, Beer Run, Camp Holiday Trails, Center for Nonprofit Excellence, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, C’ville Coffee, Eppie’s, GreenBlue, Jean Theory:, and Relay Foods. Congratulations to all the winners and, indeed, to all the participants; this effort is just another reason we’re so proud to be part of the Charlottesville community.