Archive for April, 2009

Billboards are nice, but …

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Burma Shave

Consciousness: true selfishness

By Bob Martin


BILLBOARDS ARE NICE, BUT …

Ever drive past a billboard and get frustrated because you can’t figure out what it says? I do. Billboards can be an extremely effective method of advertising when done right. When not done right, they can be an enormous waste of time and money.

You have a very short amount of time to get your message across on a billboard. You have anywhere from 3-6 seconds, if you’re lucky and traffic is reasonably slow. That’s not a lot of time. I constantly see businesses trying to cram in all their information on billboards. Address, phone number, a picture of the owner with his dog, the product, a customer testimonial, the product logo … it goes on and on. The message gets lost and nothing is remembered as the driver tries to drive and read through the jumble.

MY RULE OF THUMB HAS ALWAYS BEEN …

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Criteria For Your Management Information

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

What should I look at?

Look Carefully

strategic planning: innovation: management:success

HOW TO EVALUATE WHAT YOU NEED

We all need good information to monitor and manage our organizations. We need timely, efficient and effective management information to drive the decision-making process. To meet these needs, managers should be aware of the available criteria for a proper evaluation.

“You can not feed the hungry on statistics.“-Wilfred Laurier

The following 14 evaluative criteria are offered as a frame of reference for the planning, developing and monitoring of organizational information needs.

It is important to note that proper use of the criteria will involve the assessment of qualitative as well as quantifiable attributes and will require dealing in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable qualitative arena. Also, since the criteria will not generally carry equal weight, management will need an adequate grasp of the critical criteria of its own organization. Use of the evaluative criteria should, however, provide a framework for “relative ranking” of competing data requests and thus allow for a rational allocation of available organizational resources. The evaluation job will still be difficult, but a systematic approach should increase the likelihood that all the “bases” will be covered.

WHAT CRITERIA  TO LOOK FOR: 14 TO BENCHMARK AGAINST (more…)

Designing for New

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Food & Design: The Art of Design

TED.COM – MILTON GLASER: HOW GREAT DESIGN MAKES IDEAS NEW

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What’s Your USP?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

What’s a USP?

Consciousness: true selfishness

By Bob Martin


WHAT’S YOUR USP?


I spent a week in Chicago many years ago. I attended a school put on by the Giant Killers, a marketing instruction company. The first question they asked us was… What’s your USP? Well, we all looked at each other, shrugged and developed blank stares. Our instructor continued to explain that a USP is a “Unique Selling Position”. Basically, what makes our product the best buy.


YOU NEED TO DETERMINE YOU USP FOR YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE.

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The Car Dealer & TV

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Know who’s gonna drive!

Consciousness: true selfishness

By Bob Martin


THE CAR DEALER & TV

Years ago I represented a Chevrolet car dealer. He was reasonably successful, but wanted to take the dealership to next level and he hired me to accomplish this. One of the things he wanted to do was sell Chevets, a good solid second family car. It’s low price made it a great car for the blue collar family.

I produced a nice TV spot featuring the car and proceeded to map out the running schedule for the ads. When I presented the budget to the dealer he immediately threw out all the 11:00pm news spots. I protested, but he wouldn’t budge on the ads.

THE SCHEDULE WAS PRODUCING RESULTS, BUT NOT TO THE DEGREE I WAS LOOKING FOR.

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Keep Your Pulse On Developing Tools

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

What's new in the Crystal Ball?

What’s New?

Use Tools Wisely

strategic planning: innovation: management:success

SEVEN QUESTIONS FOR YOUR PLANNING MODEL

Technology and alternate ways of doing things are always in a state of flux. Whether it’s outsourcing some of your operations or looking at techniques that aid your decision process, it’s important to keep emerging tools and practices on your radar screen.

One example is the evolving nature of financial planning and analysis software that transcends beyond traditional spreadsheet tools. Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball to aid your business decision process? Would you use such a tool if it was available? With operations becoming more and more complex, having the ability to anticipate, analyze and assess alternate strategies BEFORE committing valuable time and resources is becoming vital.

Anyone who says businessmen deal in facts, not fiction, has never read old five-year projections.“-Malcolm Forbes

Does your current financial forecasting model provide answers to these  SEVEN TYPICAL INQUIRIES? (more…)

Great Works Require Rest

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Music & Arts: A Time For Rest
By Nick Corsi

Try Resting

Sometimes it is the notes you don’t play.

SOME GREAT MUSICIANS WILL TELL YOU…

They will tell you this: A lot of times, it’s the notes that you DON’T play that truly make a composition what it is. An experienced musician knows when to hold back and let silence or resonance to fill the air. Sometimes we forget what “rest” can do for a piece of music, for a project, or for our work.

APPRECIATION AND ANTICIPATION


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Israeli Couscous

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

is-couscous1

Osem’s Israeli Couscous

Food & Design: Trends of Summer, Israeli Couscous

One of my favorite new food trends that have been hitting the commercial grocers is  Israel couscous. However, it may be a bit late for me to say that this is a new truly trend in American culture because chefs have been experimenting with this type of pasta since the early 1950s. Over the past few years there has been a sudden boom to explore this culinary favorite which is why I put it at the top of my culinary trends for the summer.

ISRAELI COUSCOUS: A HISTORY LESSON
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A Camera Doesn’t Make You A Photographer

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Always use a professional photographer.

Consciousness: true selfishness

By Bob Martin

A CAMERA DOESN’T MAKE YOU A PHOTOGRAPHER

I hear the same comment over and over…”I can take the product shot. I’ve got a digital camera”.

A few years ago, I was walking through “Ace Bargain Center”. Ace was a combination of connecting buildings that went for an entire city block. This store had every kind of used merchandise you could possible imagine. It was like an indoor junk yard (but clean and safe). As I was walking by one of the rooms I noticed that it contained all the materials for a complete operating suite; gurney, cabinets, lights, autoclave and even some surgical utensils. I realized that for the paltry sum of a couple of thousand dollars, I could set up my own operating room. I would have the equipment. The problem was, equipment doesn’t make you a surgeon, talent does. The same thing goes for photography.


A GOOD PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER IS MORE ARTIST THAN PHOTOGRAPHER.

A pro realizes the effect of lighting, positioning, backgrounds and even the image your product conveys. Lots of people can take “good” photos with a digital camera and they can be the hit of the picnic, but the professional photographer takes it the extra mile to make your product shine.

You’ve put a lot of time into developing your product and you’re proud of it. Put your best foot forward and show it in the best possible way. I think you’ll find that most photographers can work wonders and are a lot less expensive than you’d think.

Another tip: Don’t dictate to the photographer, let him ask questions and give you his best possible recommendations. If you let an artist use his vision, chances are you’ll get something much better than you had hoped for. In my 35+ years of experience, it’s worked every time.


Next week: The Car Dealer and TV.

Always let the artist make the suggestions!

Bob Martin is principal of Martin Creative Consultants, providing advertising consulting and services to manufacturing and retail businesses. His MCC VoicePros division creates audio voiceovers for radio, TV, internet ads and presentations.

The Art of Balance

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

What's the Best Path?

Wobble Wobble

I’m King of the World

strategic planning: innovation: management:success

LIFE IS EVER CHANGING & DYNAMIC

Do you remember the challenge, the fear, and the thrill of learning to ride your bike as a child? Do you remember how proud you felt when you finally got the upper hand on gravity? Didn’t you feel like standing on your handle bars and screaming “I’m King of the World!” You had acquired the “art of balance” to keep your peddling in a mostly forward, albeit erratic, direction. Life was grand.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you need to keep moving.“-Albert Einstein

Well, balance remains a big part of our lives. It just takes on different forms when we grow up. I emphasize the art of balance since feeling might be more relevant than logic in determining the current state of balance in our lives. Although it’s a personal process and a private journey, here are a few questions to kick-start your assessment:

First, what does your gut tell you? Are the various components of your life in balance? Do you work to live or live to work? Are you becoming multi-dimensional or one-dimensional?

At Work: (more…)

“Act Locally” Benefits Pitt Habitat Chapter

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Music & Arts: “Act Locally” Benefit Concert
By Nick Corsi

Erie Art Museums Blue and Jazz Festival

“Act Locally” Poster
click to enlarge

FINALLY – SOME OUTDOOR MUSIC!

This past Thursday at the University of Pittsburgh, our Habitat for Humanity Chapter put on a Benefit Concert. As a University chapter, we have a long term goal of eventually sponsoring the entire cost of a Habitat home. This goal will see its fruition in years to come, but the fund raising is ongoing and provides a slow but steady stream of income to the account. Each year our Benefit Concert provides for this goal and also acts as a capstone event for the year.

PLANNING (more…)

Quinoa

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

quinoa-pic

click for larger image

Food & Design: Trends for Summer, Quinoa

SUMMER TRENDS FOR GRAINS

As a caterer I am constantly looking for the new and interesting ingredients to add in my dishes. One of the most important parts of my presentation to my clients is assure them that I can keep up with current trends. Because of the rise of the health movement in the last few years, more than ever, individuals are looking at the ingredients that comprise their food. Since spring is upon us in the United States, and with summer quickly coming, I have decided to write about several grains that are making their move for pantry space in the average American home.

In my first segment of my discussion, I will talk about Quinoa. I first discovered this grain on a food blog several months ago. Intrigued, I searched for the grain in my local food stores but was at a loss. However, soon this grain popped up in a local Pittsburgh grocer and I immediately started cooking with it.

QUINOA: A HISTORY LESSON
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Advertsing’s Acceptable Lie

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Hey, This doesn’t look like the photo!

Consciousness: true selfishness

By Bob Martin

Advertising’s Acceptable Lie

Truth in advertising is one of the most important rules in business. It’s what drives the ridiculously long disclaimers in automotive advertising and the list of discouraging side effects when the pharmaceutical companies hock their latest medical miracles. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear the side effects of some of these meds, I wonder if the ailment isn’t better than the cure.

So, I enter my favorite fast food restaurant and order that perfect cheeseburger pictured so deliciously over the counter. I take my treasure to the table and unwrap my sandwich to  find a squashed bun, most of the melted cheese sticking to the wrapper, catsup all over the place and a pickle stuck to the underside.


What happened to my picture perfect meal?

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It Looks the Same to Me!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

What's the Best Path?

It's in the eye of the beholder

What do you see?

strategic planning: innovation: management:success

OUR PERCEPTUAL BIAS

Do you tend to see what you’ve always seen? Do your past experiences prevent you from seeing things from a fresh perspective?

Beware: limited perceptions can create some powerful mind traps. They become subtle tendencies in the way we view the world and can impede our ability to find creative solutions to problems and opportunities.

Let me share a few related stories from Robert Pirsig the author of the philosophical masterpieces Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Lila.

“For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses.” -Robert Pirsig

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