ClearVerve Marketing, LLC

Promise Marketing Blog

Business lessons from the back of a canoe

Monday, September 8, 2014 — 



Last weekend, I went canoeing. Although my family owned a canoe when I was a child and I had spent a lot of time canoeing, it was something I hadn’t done in years. I was excited and thought my canoe ride was going to be a lot of fun.

Boy was I wrong! It was a disaster. When the ride was finally over, I thought about what happened and realized that the mistakes we made on the water were a lot like the mistakes business owners make when trying to build their businesses.

Lesson #1 – You need to know where you are going.

When we started paddling, I thought we were going to go to the right because that was the way we had ridden around the lake on an earlier boat trip. The other person in the canoe wanted to go to the left to show me a hidden passageway through the reeds. Did we discuss this before we started paddling? No. Guess what? Much like your business, a canoe cannot go in two directions at once. Be sure to define your organizational goals and then make sure everyone on your team knows what these goals are. A team can’t work together if they aren’t reaching for the same goal.

Lesson #2 – Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

My father and the girl scouts taught me to paddle the canoe a certain way. My partner was holding the paddle differently and using a totally different stroke. We kept trying to correct each other. But guess what? Just like there are many ways to solve business problems, there are many ways to paddle a canoe. Did my stroke move the boat forward? Of course it did. (Those Girl Scouts know what they are doing.) But so did my partner’s stroke. Duh! Henry Ford once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” That is very true in marketing. To succeed and be noticed, you have to be willing to try something new. That’s scary. Most people don’t like to try new things. So they settle by doing “new” but copying their competitors. To be successful, you have to be willing to try doing something completely new and nothing like your competitors. If you look like your competitors and sound like your competitors, in the minds of your prospects, you are your competitors.  Be brave. Try something new. If it actually is wrong, you can always go back and fix it. There are not too many things in life that can’t be corrected.

Lesson #3 – Recognize and take advantage of other peoples’ skills.  

When canoeing, it is best to have the stronger person sit in the back. We didn’t do that. Steering the canoe from the front is not very effective and we zigzagged all across the lake. We should’ve just agreed on who was going to steer and then let the other person do their job. Business owners and managers who try to do everything themselves and don’t trust others to do things correctly end up becoming overworked and making mistakes. You selected your employees, your advisors, and your marketing company for their skills. Now trust them. Your way isn’t the only way (see #2 above). Let go so they can do their jobs. The results will surprise you. (In a good way, I promise.)

And the next time I go canoeing, I’m sitting in the front.

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Pinterest.

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The Hidden B2B Customer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 — 


According to a recent study Enhancing the Buyer’s Journey: Benchmarks for Content & the Buyer’s Journey, B2B buyers are waiting until they are mid-way through the decision making process before revealing themselves to potential vendors.

Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Think about what you did the last time you felt an unusual ache or pain. You went online. What did you do before you made a large purchase? You went online. Once you felt you were ready, you went to the store, but only if you needed to.

B2B buyers are no different. They want to research what they are buying. For Clear Verve clients, buyers are researching the people who will be providing services. Our clients’ prospects want to feel confident that their attorney, accountant, health care provider, nursing home, etc. will understand their particular issue and is qualified to help them. They gain that confidence by visiting websites, reading blogs, and downloading whitepapers. In other words, consuming CONTENT.

That’s why it’s so important to continually update the content on your site and to publish what you know. Whether you create videos or infographics, publish whitepapers, or hold in-person seminars, demonstrating what you know gives others confidence in your ability to get the job done.

Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns.

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Social media is the great equalizer for nonprofits

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 — 


I recently read an article written from the floor of the Social Media for Associations and Nonprofits Workshop that offered some key social media tips for nonprofit communicators.

The biggest takeaway (beside a few good tips) was that professional communicators working for nonprofit organizations face numerous budget and staffing challenges not seen in the private sector. However, social media can be the great equalizer in these situations, enabling communicators to open new avenues of outreach to donors, volunteers, partners and the media.

What a great point! We all get space on these channels to tell our stories; it just depends how social media saavy you are to make an impact.

Here are four tips to help you do just that:

Listening is key. It helps you learn what is going on in your community and develop content that is relevant. Listening also enables you to form relationships with donors and prospects.

Use content creatively. Content can add context to your work. It can also engage your community and bring them into the conversation. Be proactive about repurposing, altering and crowdsourcing your content to make it go further across different media platforms. Don’t repeat content verbatim, although it is sometimes worth repeating content on Twitter because it is a continuous feed.

Visuals are crucial. Use powerful imagery to engage your community and familiarize yourself with Pinterest and Instagram.

Measure your objectives. Pick relevant metrics to measure and analyze your communications objectives. Use this information to plan your social media strategy and make adjustments where necessary. And, take advantage of the free tools on Facebook, Twitter and Google, for example, to monitor your social media activity.

Jackie Costa is the director of content marketing at Clear Verve. She works with clients to communication more clearly and create smarter, better, channel-appropriate content. Listen for her on Twitter as @JackieMCosta.

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What dog-watching and marketing have in common

Friday, July 25, 2014 — 


It’s the dog days of summer, (well, July and August are supposed to offer the most sultry, high temp days of the year, anyway) and for me, recently, it’s been more like dog daze.

One cute, furry hamster aside, we don’t have pets. No dogs, cats, fish. Nada. So our schedule was in a bit of a tailspin last weekend when our neighbor asked us to watch his visiting son’s 5-year-old, blind-in-one-eye, American bulldog, Bianca, while they spent three days at an out-of-town golf outing.

Our experience with Bianca ended well and with a big bag of thank-you chocolate truffles. But here’s what three days of dog sitting reminded me about marketing.

Take time to learn your brand.  It was important for us to get to know Bianca before we started rubbing her ears and scratching her back. The same is true for your brand. Do your research. Get to know your brand’s personality. When you do that, you’ll know if your marketing fits appropriately.

Cheap, fast and mediocre doesn’t cut it.  Our sweet, placid bully deserved a good weekend too. One quick 10 minute walk wouldn’t do. We needed to spend quality time with her. Clients expect the same. There isn’t one in the world who wants fast, low quality results. So put your hours in and be awesome every time.

Be social.  It’s amazing what a dog on leash can do for your social life. We were out there pounding the pavement and ended up having conversations with neighbors we thought were afraid of daylight. It’s just about the same with social media. You have something to talk about; you have a story to tell (ours was no, we didn’t get a pet), so get out there and start talking.

Jackie Costa is the director of content marketing at Clear Verve. She works with clients to communication more clearly and create smarter, better, channel-appropriate content. Listen for her on Twitter as @JackieMCosta.

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Dedupe, Relax & Repeat

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 — 


Because of what we do (promise marketing), we probably monitor our incoming postal mail more than others. In the past few months I have been added to a promotional mailing list for an internet provider that just so happens to be our current provider.  Obviously this provider is not scrubbing its mailing list on a regular basis to dedupe it with its current customers.  This provider is a big company so I was very surprised it didn’t take this step.  This just shows that even the “big guys” miss important direct marketing steps.

If you are wondering how often to deduplicate your list, keep this rule of thumb in mind: dedupe your list every time you send a mailing. There are many software/sales lead programs you can use to automatically do this. Or go old school and manually go through the list yourself (if the list doesn’t have a million names of course).  Take the time to dedupe. Now I’m going to see if our provider will hook us up with this sweet offer they pitched to us to switch.

Susan Schoultz is Design Director at Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram as @susanschoultz