What is Your Story?

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What is your Story?

Everyone and every company has a story. How you go about telling that story is the difference in making the story memorable and motivational. Storytelling has been going on since the beginning of human existence. The stories most of us remember as a child are the ones with a simple, yet relatable or emotional message.

Marketing professionals often forget this when writing the next data sheet, PowerPoint presentation or press announcement. All those data specs don’t tell the audience “Why should I care about this?” or “What’s in it for me?”

Say you’re introducing a new toaster. Do folks really care that the toaster was built on the latest electronic/electrical toaster platform? No. They care how the toaster will perform. How long will it last? How many things can it toast at one time, price and so on? Yes, this is a simplified example, but way too many tech marketers get hung up on the latest specifications while the customer benefits and value propositions get lost. How are all these specs relatable? One thing (among many) that I have learned in my PR/marketing career is to answer the question: Why do I care? If you can’t answer this question clearly and convincingly, then something is wrong with your marketing message.

I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Jeff Bloomfield, the author of “Story Based Selling – Create, Connect and Close.” If you ever have the chance to attend any of his presentations – I highly

recommend it. In his book, Bloomfield discusses how we interpret and retain information. He references a study done by the London Business School on retention rates:

  • When presenting statistics/facts only retention was only 5 to 10%
  • When combined with stories & visuals retention increased to 25 to 30%
  • Storytelling alone, retention rose to 65 to 70%.

Here’s a personal story of mine. When I started out in my career, I worked for a major defense contractor; the largest employer in my town. I worked in the Human Resources department, processing in new-hires. It was a great job as I got to meet a lot of interesting people as well as interface on occasion with the higher-ups. Yes, I delivered the mail too. One day, we had a reduction in force – a massive layoff of hourly employees. I was asked to join the termination team for the day to help process out the laid-off employees. It was very emotional as the majority of hourly employees only had a few hours’ notice. Men were crying at my desk and in shock as they didn’t know how they were going to feed their families. It was long and emotionally-draining 12-hour day, processing paperwork for hundreds of people. At the end of that awful day, my boss called me into his office and laid me off! “What, that can’t be, I’m a salaried employee,” I said. The boss went on to say, “It’s affected many of us salaried employees and I’m being transferred to Africa.” Wow! You can imagine my shock. I’m sure anyone who has been laid off can relate in some fashion.

That experience was an important life lesson that left a very lasting impression on me. It was then that I decided that someday I’d have my own company in order to be more in control of my own destiny – and I did.

What’s your story?

Happy Marketing,

PJ Jennings

Our Clients Continue to Innovate – An Update

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Since our inception, our mantra at J&A has always been: We promote clients whose products and/or services can make lives safer and business processes more efficient. This holds true today. We’re proud of how our clients have answered the call to address a myriad of challenges – from cyber security, power protection and power conversion solutions to wireless communications and power on-the-go devices.

Our client’s engineers, product developers and marketers are continually looking at how their specific technology and services can enter new markets and solve problems, where there was no clear answer before. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are bringing new solutions and challenges to our always on interconnected society. In addition, cyber threats to our military, computer and utility power networks are increasingly troublesome and our clients are researching and developing solutions to combat this ever present threat.

It’s an exciting time in technology and we appreciate the opportunities to promote our clients who are working diligently on delivering solutions that make our lives and business processes more enjoyable, efficient and safe.

Happy Marketing!

Social Media and the Leaders of Government and Industry

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Wow! Who would have envisioned that social media would have evolved
from kids chatting with each other to the titans of government and industry actively using social media to broadcast their messages? Why not? It’s a viable communications medium. In looking at this through the lens of B2B marketing, it further illustrates the importance of utilizing different communication channels to reach your audience. It also emphasizes how important it is for companies to be consistent and truthful in their online messaging and address comments and concerns promptly – whether positive or negative.

Posting on social media outlets helps to set the tone of the company, i.e., serious, fun, helpful, educational, technical, etc. Social media is a vehicle to talk about a company’s innovations, milestones, charity involvement and special staff recognitions in a more human, personal way. In today’s marketing world, it’s all about content and getting folks to champion your product or service. There are opportunities that go beyond lead generation. It’s part sales – connecting in real-time with existing and potential customers; part advertising – imparting brand recognition; and part thought-leadership – creating industry discussions. Companies should not be scared of social media. Granted it’s a fast data stream, but if you sit on the river bank with your head in the sand, then your competition will pass you by, even if they have a less featured product or service than you do.

If you haven’t fully ventured into the B2B social media world, we’re happy to help.

Happy Marketing!

PJ Jennings

5 Tips for a Successful Trade Show

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Trade Shows – Done right can be very successful – Done wrong and you waste a lot of money and resources.

During the recent recession, many businesses opted out of doing trade shows to conserve budget. Now, trade shows have been added back into the marketing mix; albeit strategically. Being an exhibitor is expensive, so optimizing every element around a show is vital to get the kind of prospects you’re looking for. Here are 5 tips to maximize your trade show success:

#1 – Message: Define your key marketing message for the show’s attendees. What are you trying to convey to prospects? Why should someone do business with your company? Messaging should be more than you have the best widget.

#2 – Inviting Booth: Is your booth comfortable? Can people easily walk into your booth? Are there products on display? Giveaways?  Are the booth graphics compelling?

#3 – Engaged Staff: Are the folks staffing your booth professional and knowledgeable? You might say this is a no-brainer, but I see tons of booth staff chewing gum and reading their emails instead of engaging folks passing by their booth. Also, are the booth staffers outgoing? Again, this is obvious to many, but I often see engineers staffing a booth that often times are not the best in engaging attendees in conversation.

#4 ­­– Eyes Open: Is your staff working all corners of the booth? Funny how many times I’ve seen booth personnel with their back to the aisle! Yikes! This is Sales 101.

#5 – Promises: Make sure you deliver on what was promised to the prospect. “I’ll send you some literature (white papers, app notes, etc.) or “I’ll have one of our customer specialists give you a call.” Make sure your promises are kept.

With all the activities leading up to a trade show, making sure everyone is ready for “show time” can make all the difference in a successful event. Oh, and one more important tip: Make sure you keep your appointment for selecting your booth space for the next show. If not, you risk losing your seniority and preferred location.

Happy Marketing!

PJ Jennings

Jennings & Associates

www.JandACommunications.com

5 Things Not to Do if You Want to Get Press Coverage

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Based on Jennings & Associates’ 27 years of experience pitching reporters, editors, and producers, we know what succeeds and what fails when interacting with them. First, we tell you what NOT to do and then explain what you SHOULD do to get press coverage:

1) Don’t answer reporter’s questions – Folks forget, especially in the tech sector, that there7768407 are new people coming into your market niche every day. Don’t expect reporters or your target market to know everything about your company or products. Answer questions. If you don’t have the answer, let the reporter know you’ll find the answer and get back to them promptly.

2) Don’t reply to editorial requests – Even if the request is not up your alley, thank the reporter for thinking about your company and use the opportunity to see if there’s a better fit for commentary in the future.

3) PR firm tees up a great article opportunity, but you don’t respond. In today’s digital world, it’s all about content. Your PR firm is trying to position you as a thought leader in your respective market. Content is king, and if you’re not taking advantage of these content opportunities, your competition definitely will.

4) Distribute boring press announcements (yeah, your product is new, so what?). Many tech companies are guilty of distributing press announcements that are filled with technical jargon that only a handful of people will understand. You might say, “Well, I’m only interested in folks who understand my technology.” Yes, but do they really need to understand all the weeds in your technical soup? What they want to learn about are the benefits. How is this new gizmo/service going to help them? This is one of the first questions that should be answered when developing a new product launch and to garner maximum press coverage.

5) Not listening to your PR advisor. Good PR consultants have learned the hard way what reporters and editors want. Most every great PR person has had a reporter hang up on them (boy, does that sting!) because their pitch was useless. They have honed their craft to be interesting, concise and meet the needs of reporters.

Our Clients Continue to Innovate

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Our clients’ technologies continue to make great inroads to make lives safer and business processes more efficient. Client engineers, product developers and marketers are continually looking at how their specific technBusiness People Working and Technology Conceptsology can enter new markets and solve problems, where before, there was no clear answer. Take wireless communications in the oil field from ABB Wireless for example. In the past, a cellular network was the go-to communications network. However, cellular has its limits – especially in remote field locations. Today’s modern wireless networks are enabling remote visibility to critical well pad control devices, facilitating faster response if something goes wrong. When it comes to this kind of critical application, the “can you hear me now?” technology can’t deliver the needed reliable data communications in harsh remote locations.

Other “behind the scenes” technologies are power supplies from SL Power Electronics that control critical applications. While power supplies aren’t new, the electrical requirements for medical devices and home healthcare are pushing engineers to develop more energy-efficient and safer power solutions. These are expanding markets in which developing the latest technology that meets the newest safety standards is key to success. Fortunately, SL Power is at the forefront of developing and introducing the highest level of performance, efficiency and safety. When it comes to medical devices and medical imaging systems, these applications need the best-performing power to drive their operation.

A not so “behind the scenes” innovation comes from our client, Tricopian. The company has taken a whole new approach in keeping smart phones and tablets charged. Imagine you’re at an airport and your phone is low on fuel. Just go to a FuelRod kiosk (bright green; can’t miss them), swipe your credit card, and for $20 out comes a fully charged FuelRod battery. Connect it to you Apple® or Android® phone or tablet and charge up. When you arrive at the next airport, just swap the FuelRod at the kiosk for a new one for free! Pretty ingenious. While the FuelRod kiosks are not at every airport just yet, they’re rolling-out across the nation and are available now at busy airports including Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Diego, Oakland and Kansas City to name a few.

It’s such fun to work with these and our other tech clients (not mentioned in this post) who work hard to innovate and deliver tech solutions that make our lives and business processes more enjoyable, efficient and safe.

Happy Marketing!

Why Social Media is Important to Businesses Today

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Social media has caused a monumental paradigm shift in the way businesses communicate with customers, employees, partners, vendors and other stakeholders.  The communications infrastructure of Social Media allows for conversations 24/7, giving companies the ability to react, influence and create meaningful dialogue with customers.  Social Media, when done right can turn naysayers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into evangelists or brand influencers.

Social Network Social Media Business People Outdoors ConceptSocial Media also allows a company to be quickly responsive to industry news, market shifts, customer service and social issues demonstrating that the company is engaged and cares. Case in point: A client was at a major trade show and an attendee tweeted that they went to the client’s booth; however no one would acknowledge him.  The client immediately apologized on Twitter and invited him to come back by the booth. The prospect went back and quickly tweeted how nice the client was and what interesting technology they had. If the client was not paying attention, this person could have turned into a negative influencer. The ability for companies to dialogue and influence prospects quickly can make a significant difference in sales.

Why I love what we do!

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TechnologyIn this time of celebrating our nation’s formation and accomplishments,  it makes me think about how much I’ve learned and how lucky I am to be working with some of the brightest minds and companies that have, in part, helped changed the way we do business. In our marketing communications capacity here at J&A, we oftentimes get an inside view of designers’ and engineers’ work on the next evolution of products and solutions. Over the past 26 years, I have been able to experience great leaps in technology. Fast forward to today, and we have private companies sending rockets to space stations and we can talk/video/chat to anyone around the world for mere pennies. It’s hard for me to conceive of a world without the Internet. Our client’s products and technologies are all instrumental in their varying industries – from protecting vital healthcare and data center systems against the damaging effects of power interruptions, to helping remote oil field workers communicate quickly through wireless networks, enabling greater degrees of safety and efficiencies. We also have clients that provide the technology behind powering LED lighting, and critical medical devices as well as embedded electronics that increase the reliability of UAVs.  The world is changing, and it’s so exciting to be a part of all of this. We love our clients, not just because they are our clients, but for making our world safer, more efficient and even fun! By the way, the next time you’re in an airport and your mobile phone or tablet is running on empty, find a FuelRod kiosk and purchase a FuelRod mobile charger for just $20. Use it up and exchange it for free! Anyone travelling and on a deadline will especially appreciate this new convenience. I know I do.

Until next time,

PJ Jennings

Public Relations and Social Media – Not mutually exclusive!

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Lately, in the B2B world, I’ve run across folks who think that PR and social media are two distinctly different activities. While metrics and particular mechanics can be different i.e., posting a YouTube video instead of pitching a journalist, the goal is the same – get people talking favorably about your company, product or service.

I compare social media much like going to a party where you don’t know many people. You walk in, introduce yourself (remember your first Tweet?) and engage in conversation. Invariably, the conversation gets to the discussion of what you do for a living, family, sports, church, etc. As the conversation progresses, you find that you have a common interest, and the person you’re speaking to knows three other people with the same likes. And there you go.

Social media has been around for millennia (cave paintings, anyone?) we just didn’t realize it. In its simplest form, social media comes down to communicating – telling your story. When you need help publicizing your story, that’s where Jennings & Associates come in. Whether you want to be on the front cover of a top-tier industry publication or need to publicize your company’s blood drive to support a neighbor’s ailing child, we use all the tools in our publicity arsenal to create awareness, impact and loyalty.

PR and social media have become one.

Happy Marketing!

PJ Jennings, President

Jennings & Associates Communications

www.JandAcommunications.com

Guest Commentary from EcoDog, Inc: 5 Ways to Keep Your Cool While Reducing Energy

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While summer temperatures are close to the 100 degree mark in places across the country, it can be a challenge to reduce energy while the air conditioner is going full force. Here are five things you can do to reduce energy consumption and costs while keeping your cool:

1. Run or install ceiling fans to circulate the air instead of using the air conditioner. Today’s ceiling fans are very economical and have various settings including one to reverse the blades to optimize air circulation.

2.  If your home is well insulated, keep your windows closed to keep in the cooler air. If not, it’s wise to look into energy saving insulation. And, you may qualify for a 10 percent Federal energy tax credit for buying qualified energy efficient improvements. To qualify for the tax credit, the energy improvement must meet or exceed the criteria established by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code. The home insulation improvements must be made inside the taxpayer’s main home in the United States.

3. Run dishwashers and washer/dryers later in the evening, during non-peak usage times. The electric utilities are charging us all more to use appliances during peak times. By running appliances later in the evening, you’ll save $$ and keep you house cooler too!

4. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and don’t forget to use more energy-efficient landscape lighting! This is an area that many homeowners forget to check. Did you check the timer to adjust for longer daylight hours? Can you reduce the number of hours that the lights are on?5.

5. Invest in a home energy monitoring system. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. By understanding where you’re using the most energy – whether it’s the washer/dryer or your kid’s gaming center, by identifying the energy hogs in your home you can adjust the time and length of operation. Or, you might find that the extra refrigerator you have in the garage or man-cave is not up to EnergyStar® standards and is costing you a bundle to power. Easy-to-use monitoring software can help you understand your energy usage habits and arm you with information that can help you not only understand where you’re using the most energy – room by room – but will also help you understand your utility bill! The investment is well worth it and will pay for itself in no time. Typical users of our home energy management system, FIDO®, are seeing 20-30 percent savings.

Here’s to more money in your pocket and staying cool!

 

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