Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Welcome to Kool-aid Rehab...It's not too late! I can help you!

My name is 'SARAH' and I am a business Kool-aid drinker and Kool-aid-aholic - OK, I admit it. Isn't that the first step?! It's a horrifying addiction that I need to control on a daily basis. The leaking optimism is here... it might even spill over to you... but I can help with tips and tricks grounded from my own experiences. 

For business people everywhere those who care to join me, this is my platform to help others. Kool-aid Rehab is a place for engagement, ideas, laughter- also, guest blogging! (just write me). No reason to be ashamed ... lots of good ideas come from drink'n... :)

Always 'splanin'  :)
You will immediately 'get' this blog if you, like me, have tasted a big tall wonderful glass of Kool-aid to later find (after gulping), that it can have a very bitter aftertaste with a lasting effect in your bank account. Sadly, with my wildly creative brain, unbridled enthusiasm, I have been sipping and gulping for years and have even earned the pet-name of endearment;  'Lucy Ricardo' by my good-sport husband.

Being in self imposed Rehab at the moment, I still find myself - nose in the air, catching a waft of dry Kool-aid... tempting me to get off the wagon (or is it a rocket) and start dreaming. Lots of opportunity ... lots of market problems to solve, but need to stay calm! I'm now relevant and current with integrated social media too so each time I turn on my laptop it's a challenge to keep focused and not shake. Kool-aid drinking is a very complicated emotional issue which begins with a spark of an idea.

For me, my journey in this area has given me grand experiences and deep rooted  'life lessons' to share and I'm now ready to 'talk.' To put a nice spin on this... I have just received an EXPRESS MBA and I graduated with honors.  I'm now on a mission to help others! So before you lift a glass of Kool-aid to your mouth, (or even start mixing) you may need to read this blog.

To begin, I am very skilled and experienced in the area of traditional marketing, creative branding and public relations, but something I recently did; (launching a brand at the bottom of a rotten economy) is not something for the faint-of-heart.  I do remain optimistic and we are doing a lot better, but the 'tricky' days have practically killed me.   

In today's horrendous economic times - great jobs (like we used to know) are at a premium or is it impossible!? Everyone must think outside-of-the-box (note... it's really a coffin if you are over age 48) What has spawned from this desperation to find something meaningful to do, is an abundance of Kool-aid drinking people who have ideas that sound and look brilliant to find out they're not exactly what they are cracked up to be. This is especially true for people like me (a little older- a true Baby Boomer) with God forbid real experience. I don't really have a 12 step program for recovery (yet) but I do have some useful tools which might just save someone heading down this path. For those scrapped and bruised from entrepreneurial life feel free to comment! You can even use 4 letter-words here!

So to begin my theory on how this business 'movement' started ........

Way back when, about 25 years ago, I can still remember the days when you would sneak into an off-rack discount place like Sims, Loehmann's, TJ Maxx etc. to carefully find a fabulous designer outfit at a huge discount... you would quickly take it home and hide the tags - NEVER admitting to the 'find'... the goal was to look expensive and gorgeous. :)

Now in today's times (which has been happening for awhile), you will compliment someone on something to immediately hear even without asking... the complete run down; 'shoes $9.00 - scarf $3.00, earrings $1.00 and jacket 85% off' along with details on where it was purchased. Huh? Price reporting has become a badge of honor! It's all about the hunt.... never mind 'quality' which speaks to goods within our new global economy. The quality is not great and likely made in some remote factory in Asia by children for a couple of bucks a day. After washed or used will need to be replaced sooner - hence, the new 'volume' sale.

Retailers are excited to embrace 'volume' of these goods & feed this appetite with Black Friday pricing all year-round .... 50% off is no longer even good enough! and taa da ! This mindset becomes part of our culture.

Deals are everywhere now and this thinking has found its way into the job market. Employers are looking at valuable experience as a drag on the bottom line... selecting instead, an inexperienced professional who appears to be able get the job done for a lot less $. For the experienced (myself included) .... this breeds a mindset that older workers are more expensive in every way and promotes the idea; 'why would I hire someone to work with 20+ years experience when I can get someone to do the same job (for a lot cheaper) who may have only 8 years experience' 80% off rack! + thinking; I can also give them a big title and they'll be happy. huh?

This then leads out of necessity (and survival) to new variety of 'entrepreneurs' those who are developing ideas based on very limited skills and experience stemming from hobbies (and passions) rather than real work skills. You will now find 'Experts' on the Internet in many areas of business.... people who are not too bad with computers become 'web builders' and social media 'experts' are now 140 character 'writers' .... those with websites and blogs are quickly trying to sell something to their followers- just anything! Bloggers now fancy themselves as 'journalists' - 'reviewing' anything they can get for free. It's crazy.

People who have hosted birthday parties for their kids, or planned their own weddings can now with a simple website become full-on 'Event Planners' ... 'Interior Designers', 'Caterers', 'Photographers' pretty much everything you can think of! Have a 'story'?.....a new 'author' is born through self publishing a book! ..... Having a 'Good Year'?...become a 'Life Coach' !

The direst in this scenario are those inventor-types who have an idea to make something to then 'design' prototypes, manufacture & 'sell' leading in most cases, to an Armageddon of their savings and anything that remotely relates to future security. This high-spirited optimism also by the way, radiates to others who join in the Kool-aid drinking ... it's happening everywhere today. Such excitement abounds!

The idea of this has also been glamorized by ABC's prime-time 'Shark Tank' program and the heart-felt 'mom-stories' connected to products relayed with ferment on the home shopping television shows. The reality here is real the stories are heartfelt (I know this first-hand) - and in most cases, success is possible by lining up lots of stars in perfect alignment. Even the hardest fought experienced people are still at the mercy of timing and luck.

In our crowded world of advertising and in-your-face messages (EVERYWHERE) The odds are astronomical to break-through to lucrative markets without enormous bags of money at your disposal. Everything you do or sell is scrutinized and as one very wise woman once told me; you can have the greatest idea ever, but without distribution it will go nowhere fast - on the flip side, a crappy product with distribution, just might stand a chance. It's paraphrased ... but what a concept!

Without enormous bags of money to garner awareness and distribution, you are faced with the daunting task of trying to get someone to read or even 'open' an email to be able to start the process of telling them about it.  To note: don't ever write more than a few sentences -- no one has any attention span (other than to hit the delete button) .... Also, it's best if your 'pitch' looks like a child's flash card.

Those individuals with precious jobs are feverishly treading water- paddling for their own 'careers' and surviving by working in the minute..... No time for new things - absolutely out of the question! Nothing personal (except it's your livelihood) ... the odds are equally crazy to get a call back or a written response in the form of an email. You will spend your day writing to 'Santa' and after time, you begin to lose the holiday spirit. Ho, ho, ho.... so exhausting. I'm afraid Kool-aid can't even resuscitate you.

So in summary, if you are still convinced of moving forward after drinking reasonable amounts of Kool-aid... I am here to provide you with some valuable tips; you could call it a 12 step program of survival which will help you to 'recover' and not be swallowed into the abyss of financial disaster that may be before you.

These are 'lesson's' learned the hard way...are they not the best kind?  :)

1. If you are starting a new business... do NOT hire an independent 'Expert' (err, I mean Predator) to help you - that is, unless you want to be ripped off. There are sophisticated affordable  web building platforms with built-in templates (and English speaking tech support) + and most importantly, you will need to update and edit your website yourself - so just suck it up and learn this important function and heartbeat of your new business. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! TRUST NO ONE TO HAVE YOUR BEST INTERESTS IN MIND.

2. If you hire a publicist for your business, be assured that this person (or agency) has relevant and current contacts no older than last week. You are not going to be able to pay for people to make 'friends' and prospect on your dime. And most importantly, if you hear the words 'Evergreen' as an approach to 'catching on' --- run like the wind.

3. Write your own press releases (it's not that difficult) - especially with boiled down messages and distribute and populate through free web channels. Be sure and use 'Google Insights' to research key search words to your industry and use them in your text and also sprinkle them into your website pages  - this will help with the almighty search engines. Pick your favorite 5 words and stick with them!

4. Note;   Consumers today do not want to be told (or sold) about products or services....they want to 'discover' what you are offering themselves  (period) ...it's all about 'search' these days and real  testimonials on FB and Pinterest.

5. Do not EVER launch a shopping website without a reputable security certificate on your cart. (Can you imagine, I had to actually 'learn' that lesson? I paid for that experience  from a 'brilliant' agency web builder!  high-traffic ....no sales (hmm?.... or to use my words, WTF?!!)

6. When an agency says we can 'test' your product to 'see' if it is worthy of a direct TV media campaign.... again, just run like the wind.(or write me!)

7. Spend ZERO time pitching magazines for PR exposure. Note: they won't tell you this, but Editorial is very much intertwined with paid advertising (period) ... if you are not buying ads they will have nothing to do with you. Most editorials in magazines have a connection to something that has been purchased and it's not a single magazine.  Lead times are long... most stories are now written by freelancers - that whole industry is on the skids. 

8. DO NOT SEND EXPENSIVE PRODUCT SAMPLES TO BLOGGERS unless you have thoroughly checked them out. This is a horrifying $$$ waster.... People that 'follow' blogs could care less about your brand - let alone buying later!... they just want free things (period) I think they move through cyberland in clusters.... same for the blog writer. I have seen this time-and-time again... still scratching my head over this channel of ‘influence’. Many are like modern-day pan handlers just looking for gifts for themselves and watch out during Christmas- that's when they are really 'shopping'.

9. Think about your target audience and focus, focus, focus.... when you believe there are lots of audiences for what you are selling....there aren't- and your efforts will be spread too thin and every area will suffer.

10. Drill all your messages down to something you would be presenting to a 3-year old and be sure to have lots of colorful bright pictures. No one has time to read anything any more!

11. Here's a secret...if you want to reach someone, just pick up the phone and call them.   I know, absolutely shocking... but it's what has worked for me in the past! 

12. Too tired to think of anything else.... nite, nite...  I'll be better tomorrow after some sleep -- going to reboot now! xo

Thank you to those who have gotten to this point... you get an 'A+' for paying attention -- Good for you!

I am very much interested in connecting with others who have 'lived' this type of experience (and are still standing!)   I wish everyone all the best and I look forward to your thoughts and contributions! ;)

Hang in there!  xo 


No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me- I'm everywhere!

My photo
anywhere and everywhere, USA, Illinois, United States
I'm a sassy, very distracted older mom...with lots of wild stories (and rants) about my family and life...Daughter 20, college student, sassy, unpredictable, violin playing, animal enthusiast...Son, 17 video addict, Chess playing-star / trombone player...husband (old, tired, chronically stressed and impatient, but a good sport nonetheless) The underbelly of life for me; I’m a bright eyed ‘entrepreneur’ – just now completing Kool-aid Rehab a frightening 12 step process to figure out what I am doing with my life. On the home front, we have a gang of animals that keep the place lively too! 'Emma', dirty ungroomed Sheepdog, 'Lollipop' a smart Border Collie/Chow Chow also referred to as 'Daddy's Little Fatty', 2 cats; one eyed 'Winky' and emotionally disturbed- beyond crabby ....'Babycakes' (it's complicated,) 1 bird 'Tutu', and finally 'Templeton' (a.k.a. Little Shit)- a teeny dog who loves to 'run' .... more trouble than all put together and dumb as a stick. but we love him! :)