Pam Gilchrist Wins Top Award For Brand Management

Pam Gilchrist Wins Top Award For Brand Management

Pamela Gilchrist has just been honored with a PRSA East Central District Diamond Award for brand management. She was the only marketing/communications professional in the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area to earn this honor.

Pam received the award for her work on law firm Strauss Troy’s brand management video: “Brand Storytelling Through Client Testimonials.”

“The goal of the project was to be client centric, to let our clients tell the story through their own eyes  and share how our attorneys have helped their businesses grow,” Gilchrist said. “In professional services, especially the legal industry, brand differentiation is a critical. While referral still plays an important role, 75% of pre-purchase decisions are made after verification online at a firm’s website, on Google  or You Tube. This new digital asset will further distinguish Strauss Troy as the firm of choice for businesses in the region.”

 Winners of its district-wide Diamond Awards program exemplify brilliance in public relations campaigns and tactics conducted by professionals practicing in our geographic region. Panels of independent, professional judges review and score entries based on: research, planning, execution, results and budget.
Judges commented on the use of quantifiable measurement methods; primary and secondary research, using available resources in a creative manner, the ability to overcome challenges, as well as the overall ROI of time/budget invested.

Judges Comments Included:

  • Interesting use of video, especially in a commonly conservative profession.
  • Very well done. In-depth research, with clear budgeting and the anecdotal research really added to the overall results of the campaign
  • Use of research methods are detailed and clear, and illustrate how the insights gleaned contributed to your overall approach – great job!

Pam is Chief Strategist at the Gilchrist Group and also serves as Director of Marketing for Strauss Troy. She holds Universal Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), is a member of the prestigious PRSA Counselors Academy and has held numerous national and local leadership positions in the organization throughout her career.  She  earned her master’s degree from The Ohio State University and bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University.  Her work has also won top honors from the International Public Relations Association, as well as numerous national, district and local awards. Her experience includes work inside three Fortune 500 companies, as well as serving as an account executive at a regional ad/pr agency a.

The East Central District is comprised of 16 chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), concentrated in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Western and Northwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. The District’s 37th Annual Diamond Awards competition recognizes shining examples of public relations campaigns and tactics.

 

Are You A Sachkan Neshama?
(Soul Player)

Are you a sachkan neshama (Hebrew: soul player)? Great entrepreneurs put their whole hearts into their venture.

In her article “How to know when to leave your job and start your own company,” Business Journals Contributing Writer Dana Manciagli got great advice from Nir Polak, CEO and co-founder of Exabeam, an emerging big data security analytics company, on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. http://bit.ly/sachkan-neshama

If you are an entrepreneur, or are considering it, you know it’s not for the faint at heart. Be a soul player — and go all in!

 

 

“Executives often fail to recognize that delivering high quality is not enough to gain a marketplace advantage; there must be a perception among customers that high quality exists.

David Aaker, professor of marketing at Berkeley

I ran across this quote from Aaker in an article on Reputation Management by Gary North. North was specifically talking about how Maytag went down the drain in a matter of months by squandering brand loyalty with shoddy products. But Aaker’s point is timeless — Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.

How many great organizations do phenomenal work and always go the extra mile for their customers — but nobody knows? They forgot to tell their story in a compelling way to the marketplace.

If your company fits this category, here’s what you need to know.

The marketplace must “perceive” value. That’s why I trademarked the phrase: “Perception Is the Reality we manage™.”   Before a perception can even be formed, however, you’ve got to be on your target market’s radar.

There is still tremendous client loyalty for great brands. In today’s hurried, over-produced world, however, they won’t tell your story unless you make it easy for them to do so.

The best way to do this is a little “prepackaging” of your message.

It starts internally. Do you know your unique selling proposition? Are your executive team members, board, employees and shareholders clear on your organization’s key strengths, messaging and go-to-market strategy?

In a survey of corporate employees, 95% said they did not know or understand the strategy for their organization. Shocking? Maybe. What this tells me, is we have work to do.

Employees are your chief brand ambassadors. If they aren’t clear on your message — you can’t expect anyone else to be either.

Let’s also take a look at your client or customer base. Do you regularly communicate with them in an engaging manner? Not to SELL anything — but to connect? Have you shared an insight or article with them? Have you reached out to them and shared your organization’s latest successes and tied those successes to a discreet customer benefit?

Marketplace advantage is achieved not only by maintaining high-quality products and services, but also by shaping perception in the marketplace.

Traditional advertising has a place in building awareness, but that’s shrinking dramatically. Brand ambassadors and some genuine fact-based earned buzz, will build your base and help expand your reach to new customers who are ready for a test-drive.

To read the full article on how Maytag, Dell, Schlitz and other organizations suffered from slips in quality and reputation go to: http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north579.html

 

 

Grab the oxygen mask. While J.C. Penney tries to stop its free fall, torches and pitch forks are pointed at CEO Ron Johnson.

Here are a 5 things businesses can learn:

  1. Be careful what you wish for.
  2. Bring  data to support your position.
  3. Keep your customer top of mind.
  4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
  5. Pretty doesn’t make marketing effective. It’s the message stupid.

While there is no doubt that Penney’s needed change to stay competitive — was his radical reinvention strategy just too radical? Was it a “communications problem?”

“Improvement merely lets you hit your numbers. Creativity is what transforms,” said Johnson in a March 2012 Fortune article about his coming out party.

In my nearly 30 years of experience working with companies big and small, this statement is true. And working with an organization in the midst of transformation can be exciting. But, retraining behavior is extraordinarily difficult.

From a business standpoint, you have to have enough financial runway and latitude to drive a new strategy forward long-enough for stickiness. (JCP didn’t.)  From an emotional intelligence standpoint, that stickiness and new behavior can be incredibly tough to achieve — after generations of conditioning a set of shopping behaviors. (There was little communication on what specific actions JCP wanted customers take. And no sales, meant no call to action or motivation to “buy now.”)

JCP forgot something incredibly important — ASK YOUR CUSTOMER. (What do you want and how do you want it? Then, market-test the heck out of the concept to see if their buying behavior matches their wish list before launch.)

People like to feel like they are getting a deal. It’s psychological. It’s shopping 101. By competing on price, JCP had to make an incredibly clear and compelling case to the consumer. It didn’t. It’s a major fail whale.

And while I love beautiful marketing pieces, all of JCP’s environmental, scene driven photography didn’t sell one blender. Why? Because there was no compelling copy to describe the item, no customer benefit and no clear pricing.
Another multimillion dollar marketing mistake.

Customers are dropping like flies and credibility is gone. It will be a long-climb for JCP to recoup its losses.

J.C. Penney analyst: ‘CEO has to go’

Dallas Business Journal by Steven R. Thompson, Staff Writer

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 5:30am CDT

After J.C. Penney cut 350 employees from its Plano headquarters Tuesday, retail analysts said they are unsure how the company can continue to follow through with its transformation strategy. One analyst even said it was time for CEO Ron Johnson to leave.

“The next step is the CEO has to go, I guess,” said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York-based Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting and investment-banking firm. “Because if it stays like this, the question will be, ‘What credibility does he have to do anything?’ He will have lost all credibility.”

Davidowitz has previously made his position on the J.C. Penney transformation clear, saying Johnson “caused incalculable damage” to the department store chain.

Other retail experts expressed more optimism about J.C. Penney’s plans, even as they said they were uncertain about the company’s turnaround.

“It is probably more of the same as they try to reduce their cost, but they are under a ton of pressure,” said Dwight Hill, managing partner at the Plano-based The Retail Advisory. “I am still fairly bullish about their strategy, but I’m not sure Wall Street is going to be patient enough for them to continue to go down this path.”

J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) said Tuesday’s job cuts were part of the company’s plan to cut $900 million in annual expenses by the end of 2012. J.C. Penney executives declined requests for an interview.

The company needs to do a better job of communicating that the layoffs are part of a “multi-stage turnaround process,” Hill said.

“With sales dropping as they are, they have an even greater need to reduce this SG&A cost,” Hill said.

The drop in sales is mainly due to the lack of coupons, Davidowitz and Hill agreed.

“They’ve begun to realize the coupon and sales addiction probably runs far and deep,” Hill said. “And customers don’t want to go cold turkey.”

Davidowitz didn’t offer many solutions for J.C. Penney, saying, “I’d have to spend months figuring out what to do because the mess is so deep.” He still can’t believe that J.C. Penney would abandon its core customer so quickly in order to test a new pricing and marketing strategy.

“People in retailing fight for decades to get market share,” Davidowitz said. “And here’s the reason, because it costs a fortune to get a new customer. You advertise, you spend a fortune to get a new footstep to give you a chance. It’s what retailers work on every day, ‘Let’s try to get this customer to give us a little opportunity.'”

http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/blog/morning_call/2012/07/jc-penney-analyst-the-ceo-has-to-go.html?s=print

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I was recently reminded of how easy it is to come up with a great vision for the future. At a high-level it seems grand, fine… like it will all work out.

The ability to execute well on the details and implementation is where many leaders struggle. The more people they share the idea with, the murkier the whole thing looks. Soon clarity and vision are lost in a fog of bureaucracy and status quo.

Always keep a clear view of the future in mind. When making organizational changes, operate with integrity and honesty… and a dose of humanity.

As businesses continue to struggle to gain footing in this reset economy — leaders shouldn’t be afraid to make necessary changes that will help them stay competitive — just remember that change always involves people. Bring them along with you and never forget to explain the “why” as well as the future benefit for the organization and your individual contributors.

 

 

 

 

COLUMBUS, OH – April 17, 2012 — Strategist and Speaker Pam Gilchrist will present “From Chaos To Clarity: Leadership Secrets To Optimize Outcomes” at the NSA Ohio Speaker Showcase at Mills James TV Production Studios in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday, April 19th.

Passionate about adding impact, Gilchrist is a frequently requested speaker for corporate, association and non-profit organizations. Her leadership and life lessons will help you optimize outcomes and navigate what’s next. With her wit, wisdom and inspiring style, she connects with audiences at every level as she shares stories and reveals insider secrets of what works at top companies—and what doesn’t.

As chief strategist at the Gilchrist Group®, executives and organizations seek her expertise during times of dramatic growth and change to move from chaos to clarity. Gilchrist’s proven, international award-winning results grow businesses, guide leaders, sharpen brands and increase engagement.

For more than 25 years, she has held key roles inside Fortune 100, multi-billion dollar companies and consulted with organizations across the country on how to improve impact through breakthrough business strategies, next level leadership and branded high-impact communications.

Featured in the soon to be released book: Best Marketing Practices For Speakers, you will also find her stories in the New York Times best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons for Women and other publications.

Whether you are looking for a high-energy keynote or a great breakout session, learn more about Pam Gilchrist at www.pamgilchrist.com.

The NSA Ohio Speaker Showcase Event is being produced by Mills James. In addition to hearing some of Ohio’s top thought leaders, guests will get an exclusive all-access, behind the scenes pass to one of the top state-of-the-art production studios in the country. Mills James has a well-earned, excellent reputation for live, on location meeting and event production and video storytelling. To get all the details or register go to: http://bit.ly/nsaspeaks.

Professional Speaker Pamela Gilchrist

I hope that you can join me for my live Webinar, Friday, February 3rd, 4:30 EST

How to Network Best with CEOs as a Business Development Executive

In this webinar, ExecSense examines everything you need to know in 60 minutes regarding the best tips, techniques, and tools to meet more CEOs. Reach them online using social networking, and enlarge your circle of influence in the year ahead. The webinar is led by an expert on the topic, Pamela Gilchrist (Chief Strategist/Professional Speaker & Author, Gilchrist Group) and covers:

• What every business development executive should know in 60 minutes about best practices for networking with CEOs

• Learn how to use social media to position yourself and your area of expertise to be of interest to specific CEOs; speaking on conference, seminar, & webinar panels to display your knowledge on hot topics impacting certain industries; joining LinkedIn groups for CEOs; how to use your connections with lawyers and private equity professionals to reach CEOs; and 5 other techniques to immediately put yourself in front of more CEOs

• The best professional networking strategies to get connected with CEOs, including using LinkedIn, blogs, deals databases, and leveraging existing personal and professional relationships with ties to CEOs

• Specific case studies of how 5 business development executives significantly increased their connections with CEOs, how they made these connections and strategies for staying in touch with them, and their best tips and techniques you can immediately implement to make connections with CEOs in the year ahead

Upon registering, ExecSense will email you the dial-in phone number and all of the other relevant information and files to attend the webinar. You will also automatically be emailed the audio and PowerPoint files the day after the webinar in case you were unable to attend the live webinar (registration prior to live event still required). You can view the webinar on your computer, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Blackberry, Android and many other devices.

Register here: http://www.execsense.com/details.asp?id=4110

 

The Romney campaign has been a smooth-running, flawless manufacturing operation for years. All systems go.

What Romney lacked in South Carolina, however, is the same thing that many change leaders lack. The failure to tap into an emotional vein.

A CNN political pundit put it well when he said, “You can serve a mayonnaise sandwich on a silver tray – but it still has no taste.”

That’s exactly what happened to Mitt Romney in South Carolina. Information alone won’t result in change. Compliance is not commitment.

As author Rick Mauer puts it so eloquently in his book Beyond the Wall of Resistance, “The myth is: All I need to do is tell them…but what many leaders miss is that just giving people facts and figures doesn’t cut it.” To make a case for change, people need to feel the heat of the burning platform.

Simply put, people don’t make decisions on data and information alone. They want passion.

Contrary to Romney, Newt Gingrich might be boot-strapping his campaign together, but he clearly understands the critical importance of emotional appeal.

For any initiative to be successful, whether it’s organizational change or a political campaign, people must feel a sense of urgency and have emotional momentum. Otherwise, you just have an empty sandwich.

The third and most important hurdle is trust. While information and emotion count, trust is critical. Without it a leader is paralyzed. It will be interesting to watch which candidate can truly capture the trust of Republican voters.

Now… Who’s hungry?

 

Lead generation simply isn’t as hard or scary as it looks… Oftentimes, all we have to do is ask. The result? We find that people are eager and willing to help us because they believe in us personally and respect the quality of work that we do. Sharing some tips here from NYT Best Selling Author Dr. Ivan Misner.

How many times have friends, family, and associates said, “If there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know”? How often have you said, “Well, now that you mention it, there are a few things you could do.” If you’re like most people, you aren’t prepared to accept help the moment it’s offered. You let opportunity slip by because you haven’t given enough thought to the kinds of help you need. You haven’t made the connection between specific items or services you need and the people who can supply them. But when help is offered, it’s to your advantage to be prepared and to respond by stating a specific need.

Don’t let the next opportunity for others to help slip through your fingers! Being prepared with some simple requests can make a real difference in the success of your business. Systematic referral marketing requires that you determine, as precisely as possible, the type of help you want and need. There are many ways your sources can help you promote you and your business by generating referrals. Here are 12:

  1. Provide you with referrals
    The kind of support you most want from your contacts is referrals—the names of specific individuals who need your services. They can also give prospects your name and number. As the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for increasing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.
  2. Introduce you to prospects
    Your contacts can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you in person to people they think need your services. Furthermore, they can provide you with key information about the prospect. They can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your business, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in common, and the value of your services.
  3. Arrange a meeting on your behalf
    When your contacts tell you about a person you should meet, they can help you immensely by coordinating a meeting. They can help even more by setting up and attending the meeting.
  4. Invite you to attend events
    Workshops and seminars are opportunities for you to increase your skills, knowledge, visibility, and contacts. Members of groups you don’t belong to can invite you to their events and programs. This gives you an opportunity to meet prospective sources and clients that you wouldn’t normally be in contact with.
  5. Endorse your services
    By telling others what they’ve gained from using your services in presentations or informal conversations, your sources can encourage others to use your services.
  6. Display your literature and products in their offices and homes
    If these items are displayed well—such as on a counter or bulletin board in a waiting room—visitors will ask questions or read the information. Some may take your promotional materials and display them in other places, increasing your visibility.
  7. Distribute your information
    Your contacts can help you distribute marketing materials. For example, if they publish a newsletter, they can include a flier for you or your business in it.
  8. Make an announcement
    When attending meetings or speaking to groups, your contacts can increase your visibility by announcing an event you are involved in or a new service your business provides. They can also invite you to make an announcement.
  9. Nominate you for recognition and awards
    Business professionals and community members are often recognized for outstanding service to their profession or community. If you’ve donated time or materials to a worthy cause, your contacts can nominate you for relevant service awards. You increase your visibility both by serving and by receiving the award in a public expression of thanks. Your sources can pass the word of your recognition by word of mouth or in writing.
  10. Follow up with referrals they have given you
    Your sources can contact prospects they referred to you to see how things went after your first meeting, answer their questions or concerns, and reassure them that you can be trusted. They can also give you valuable feedback that can help you close a deal with the prospect.
  11. Serve as a sponsor
    Some of your sources may be willing to fund or sponsor a program or event you are hosting. They might let you use a meeting room, lend you equipment, authorize you to use their organization’s name, or donate money or other resources.
  12. Publish information for you
    Your contacts may be able to get information about you and your business printed in publications they subscribe to and in which they have some input or influence. For example, a source who belongs to an association that publishes a newsletter might help you get an article published or persuade the editor to run a story about you.

 Keep this list with you and add to it as other needs occur to you. Knowing how to match your needs with the right sources is the key to obtaining the type of help you need. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to spot opportunities and find sources of support. You’ll also be better prepared to respond when someone says, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

But remember—it’s a two-way street. These support activities are also things you can do to help your contacts promote their businesses and generate referrals. Helping your sources achieve their goals goes a long way toward building effective and rewarding relationships.

Finally, it’s good practice to develop a list of ways to reward referral sources for helping you. Once a referral has become a client, be sure to recognize and reward your source appropriately. Doing so encourages them to send you more referrals. Distinguish between tangible (e.g., cash) and intangible (e.g., a public “thank you”) rewards. Estimate the cost and set aside some money to pay for your recognition program. It’s important to find a unique, memorable way to say thank you and to encourage your colleagues and friends to keep sending you referrals that turn into business.

One small business owner I know sends a fine pen with a personal note of thanks to each colleague who makes a referral that leads to a sale. Another sends a gift basket and a thank you note. In either case, recognition is provided for the effort of passing the referral.

It may take a while, but if you have selected and trained your sources well and you use the system to its best advantage, you will speed up the process of turning the ever important referral into business.

Called the father of modern networking, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author and Founder of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His latest book, Truth or Delusion, can be viewed at www.TruthorDelusion.com. Dr. Misner is also the Senior Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company. He can be reached at misner@bni.com.

RainToday

 

Here is a good check-list to protect your brand. Mostly geared toward product companies, but could also be applied to professional service organizations.

Pam

1. Recognize that a product is only as good as the customer experience

First impressions count. To identify all the elements that contribute to a good customer experience, include production and customer-facing personnel in your product-development process. Then, take steps to ensure that everything is in place.

2. Attempt to anticipate and address potential problems

Before going to market, test all aspects of the product’s delivery. Defects tarnish the company’s brand, and service calls erode profit margins.

3. Provide customers with recourse in the event of a product failure

Mistakes happen. So, always provide customers access to someone who can take corrective action—ideally by phone, with 24/7 availability. Many customers will forgive product failures if they can reach an empathetic support person who remedies the situation.

It’s insufficient to refer customers to prepared “frequently asked questions.” First, company personnel often miss questions that real customers have. Second, customers regard answers that don’t squarely address their questions as defects, rather than signs of their own inadequacy.

4. Treat customers with respect

Avoid keeping customers “on hold.” Staff support lines with sufficient personnel. Many people find it particularly galling to sit on hold while they wait for someone to fix a product they bought to improve their productivity.

When call volumes are especially high, give customers the option of receiving a call back. Also, consider releasing them (and their phone lines) while researching problems or documenting cases that don’t require customer input.

5. Empower employees to take corrective action

My problem was easy to address. The issue was a mismatch between a code included with the product and the company’s database of authorized product keys. The frontline support person could have done exactly what his superior did—resolve the problem right away.

6. Set expectations

This company had sold “fear” of operating without its product, thereby contributing to an expectation that the company would resolve problems quickly. By taking 24 hours to connect customers with support personnel, the company sent a very different message.

Rather than leaving expectations to chance, let customers know how long it will take to get an initial callback. Then, tell them when they can expect a resolution to their problem.

7. Attend to your social media outposts

In the past, dissatisfied customers told 10 people about their bad experience. Today, they can inform thousands with just a few keystrokes.

When they don’t get satisfaction via normal channels, unhappy customers may turn to social media to share their disappointment. Nevertheless, companies that monitor their brands on social media can often turn a bad situation around, before it gets out of hand, if they respond quickly and offer to address the problem.

8. Follow up for continual improvement

Follow up, learn, and improve. Step one is to have a process for capturing and eliminating errors. Step two is to fix the process to avoid future problems.

One company I know classifies a shipment as “dead on arrival” if anything it’s done, or has failed to do, interferes with the customer’s experience. That organization convenes for cross-functional meetings weekly to review DOAs, delve into the root cause of the problem, and develop a course of action to ensure that the problem does not recur.

Source: Marketing Profs & Barbara Bix of BB Marketing Plus