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TIMELY STRATEGIES AND INSIGHTS

 

 

During a time of constrained resources, how should businesses weigh the benefits and costs of blogging?

 

 

Blogging has swept the global marketplace like a wildfire. Countless new blogs are started each day, and growing numbers of people consult them to gain insights about the products they buy, the interests they share, and the world in which they live.

It's hard to resist this trend, and for many companies, there's just no reason that they should. The right kind of blog can be a highly effective communication tool, offering a conduit for meaningful dialogue between businesses and their clients or prospective clients. Although there are some costs involved in maintaining a blog site, those costs are relatively low, since it's typically a snap to add this component to a company's existing website.

The operative words, however, are "right kind". It's incredibly easy to get lost in the blogosphere with the wrong kind of blog, which feels "me-too", mediocre, or just plain marketing-obsessed. On the other hand, when a company's blog offers its visitors a value-added experience that keeps them coming back for more, this can translate into deeper relationships that benefit the bottom line in countless ways.

As with any new and unfolding trend, there's no one answer for how best to initiate and maintain a quality blog. Depending up a company's size and expertise, it might choose to handle this internally or to outsource the blog to the firm that handles the rest of its marketing and communication activities. And experience will, inevitably, bring new opportunities. After all, compliance-savvy blogging can also be a good way to communicate with investors and other stakeholders.

For more on value-added blogging, contact FraserWalbert Media at info@fraserwalbertmedia.com.

 

 

Does increased spending on communication and marketing make sense during tough economic times?

 

 

Absolutely, says FWM Managing Director Laura Walbert. "While it might seem logical to reduce all corporate expenditures in a downturn, cutting the marketing budget usually only exacerbates a company's problems." The decision instead to invest in value-added communications that support the business's strategic objectives can pay off in variety of ways: among them, solidifying relationships with customers, conveying marketplace expertise, and distinguishing the company from competitors.

When economic headlines are bleak, it may be tempting to overlook these advantages in return for the short-term benefit of conserving cash. But in an April 2008 survey of 185 corporations, Financial Executives International (FEI) found that 23% had already increased their marketing and advertising budgets in response to the global economic slowdown. That's despite the fact that two-thirds of these companies had identified other areas in the organization for cutbacks.

Tight budgets necessitate difficult choices, of course. At FraserWalbert Media, Laura Walbert and her colleagues advise companies to invest only in those marketing and communication strategies that are likeliest to deliver significant value. "It can be cost-effective," she notes, "to rely upon a web-based e-zine or series of email alerts. But if your customer base is older and internet-shy, you'll be better off sticking to print communications." Or, the most productive solution might be a combination of both, if a company's strategic business model depends upon broadening its customer mix.

For more on how to market your company during a downturn, contact FraserWalbert Media at info@fraserwalbertmedia.com.

 

 

Companies increasingly are choosing to media train their top financial executives. So when does this strategy make sense?

 

 

The trend began at two types of companies — large, publicly held corporations, and portfolio companies owned by private equity firms — with the objective of preparing chief financial officers to best communicate with analysts and investors. But as FraserWalbert Media's Jill Fraser notes, businesses of all sizes and industries are recognizing that media training for financial executives offers value.

Let's start with a basic premise: When the economy is weak, companies are likelier to have difficult messages to communicate, whether to their bankers, their shareholders, their vendors, or other key constituents. "Sales or profit margins may be down, the company may need to renegotiate vendor payment terms, there may be cutbacks or a new business strategy in the offing," says Fraser. "Whatever the message, it will be a responsibility of the top financial executive to help deliver it — and to potentially respond to tough questioning along the way. That's what media training is all about: preparing someone to make the best case, whether to a reporter, a banker, or anyone else."

Yet it can also make sense to media train financial executives in good times, since these professionals are often best qualified to explain a company's business model and growth strategy. That's especially the case when a strategy is yielding early-stage (and easily overlooked) results that might justify greater confidence among lenders or investors, if they only knew how to recognize them.

Here's the reality: All executives can benefit from media training, as enhanced communication skills strengthen business relationships. But as Fraser cautions, when companies decide to media train their CFOs, comptrollers or other members of the finance team, there are risks involved, unless they rely upon training experts who know as much about compliance rules as they do about communication techniques. For more on media training for financial executives, contact FWM at info@fraserwalbertmedia.com.

 

 

Is your website a living, breathing entity or a static set of pages that just happens to exist on the internet?

 

 

Companies stuck in the second category are scarcely alone. At The Women's Conference 2007, held in Long Beach, CA, Jill Fraser spoke to frustrated entrepreneurs about strategies to quickly — and cost-effectively — enliven run-of-the-mill websites.

Audio elements can invigorate a website, while creating a personal connection between companies and their customers or prospects. Possibilities worth considering include listener-friendly audio shorts and audio podcast series, which might highlight timely strategies, marketplace developments, and the company's expertise.

Consider linking audio files to email marketing campaigns, if you're looking for ways to attract more visitors to your website and stand out from the competition. For more information about audio strategies that might make sense for your company, please contact info@fraserwalbertmedia.com.

 

 

What's the best way to communicate when marketplace developments create anxieties for customers or investors?

 

 

Successful companies anticipate a desire for information and respond accordingly. They recognize that economic fluctuations, negative news, or unexpected developments can have a detrimental impact on companies, even when there's only an indirect connection between the news and their business activities. Consider the widening swirl of worries generated for many types of businesses by current problems with subprime mortgages.

Let's start with a basic premise: Anxious customers or investors are unpredictable (that's bad enough) but anxious prospects are hopeless. Proactive communication strategies calm jitters by providing clear and concise information before questions get asked. Savvy communicators don't stop there: They provide abundant information, beyond what customers or investors might think they need. They also anticipate questions from the company's lenders, suppliers, vendors, and other key constituents.

Websites and email communications are the best tool here, because they provide a quick and inexpensive way to offer timely updates on your company and the marketplace. For more information about online strategies that make sense for challenging times, please contact info@fraserwalbertmedia.com.

 

 

Looking for a new way to broaden your company's communication reach?

 

 

According to a study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 10% of the 200-million-plus internet users download audio podcasts — and that's in the U.S. alone. There's more going on here than rock 'n' roll. Consumers and businesspeople alike are turning to podcasts as a preferred source of information on investments, finance, management strategies, economic trends, and more.

By showcasing a company's expertise and industry insight, podcasts can be a powerful vehicle for building marketplace presence and reaching out to new customers or investors. Podcasts also offer an effective channel for employee communications and training materials. Don't expect audio to replace the written word, but it certainly can enhance the impact of a company's print and online presence. And in a crowded marketplace, a podcast series can be a distinguishing factor, attracting valuable attention.

For more about how, why, and when podcasts make sense for businesses, please contact info@fraserwalbertmedia.com.