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Unshackle your local marcom efforts from head-office control

By Leo Valiquette unshackled

“We will embrace blogs just as they cease to be effective.”

Such was the lament of one of my clients during a recent conference call.

Here’s the context. This is an organization in an industry where thought leadership and subject matter expertise are fundamental tools for business development. News bulletins and newsletters have, to date, been the most popular means for publicizing and promoting the organization’s principals as both service providers of choice and as sources of comment for the media.

But this organization’s own internal metrics and pilot projects are suggesting that a blog might represent a better expenditure of resources. Blogs can build loyal followings and they can be better tweaked for search engine optimization.

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Do not try to convince me that bread is the new broccoli

By Leo Valiquettevegetablebread

There are times when I just can’t bear it anymore and must out the egregious examples of advertising I see on the Boob Tube. While the culprits are often not selling B2B technology products or services, I still believe there are cautionary tales that are relevant for this blog. (Maybe it’s because I am a writer of fantasy genre fiction in my spare time, where metaphor is often used as a vehicle for social and political commentary.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy as much as anyone, clever and amusing commercials that deliberately redefine “absurd” and couldn’t possibly be taken seriously.

But for this installment, I will aim both barrels at the habit some big brands have of taking their consumers for unsophisticated idiots. Granted, a certain percentage likely are, but that doesn’t mean you should base an entire marketing or advertising campaign on that premise. The likely result, is that you will annoy and alienate a substantial portion of your target audience.

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Testimonials are great, but your marketing machine needs more

By Leo Valiquettetestimonials1

I love Tom Kumagai.

As a spokesperson for Toyota, that is.

He is the modest building inspector from Chatham, Ont. who has appeared in television commercials for Toyota with his 1998 Rav-4. His mileage on the vehicle is well past the 600,000-kilometre mark. Previously, he owned a 1980 Toyota Corolla that he took to more than 400,000 kilometres.

Kumagai attributes the reliable performance to the fact that he keeps to the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule and only trusts his local Toyota dealership to do the work.

There is nothing boastful about these advertisements. There is no need to be. The facts speak for themselves. And while not all Toyota owners have the same experience, and the automaker itself deals with quality issues and recalls like any other, the understated tone of these advertisements gives them weight and authority.

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Never expect mission-perfect prose in the first cut

By Leo Valiquettewriting

Ernest Hemmingway once said in an interview, that he rewrote the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times because he was having trouble “getting the words right.”

Effective writing is about much more than appropriate comma use, subject-verb agreement, passive versus active voice, or avoiding exclamation marks and adverbs. These details are important. They are the nuts and bolts of writing, the technical stuff that, if diligently policed, gives prose its final polish.

But the essence of great writing is much more subjective. Great writing engages, entertains and educates. It distills ideas, opinions and concepts into provocative new forms that find resonance among audiences they haven’t before.

As Hemmingway’s timeless example illustrates, great writing seldom emerges in the first draft, no matter how skilled the writer. It is an iterative process. Review and revision by wise readers who are representative of the intended audience, as well as eagle-eyed editors, is crucial. Review and revision is the difference between good and great.

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A great consultancy should be heard, but not seen

By Leo Valiquettespotlight

It can sometimes be a thankless job, this eat-what-you-kill world of marketing and PR guns for hire.

As I wrote about last week, poorly managed expectations can torpedo any client engagement. So too can penny-wise-and-pound-foolish budget decisions that all but guarantee the failure of a marketing program by starving it of the resources it needs.

Word of mouth is crucial to bring new business in the door. We rely on referrals from happy clients, and we prize positive and meaningful testimonials that give us credibility with prospects and illustrate what is required for a marketing or PR effort to be successful.

We judge ourselves by the results we achieve for our clients, and hold ourselves accountable to that.

What we don’t do is attempt to ride our clients’ coattails and crowd into their time in the spotlight

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