Leadership by Seth Godin

Leadership by Seth Godin

There are a few people in this world who, whenever they open their mouth to speak, priceless gems fall out. The question we all should be asking ourselves is: “Are we catching them”?

In this brilliant seven minutes by Seth Godin, the gems are flying. His thoughts on leadership and on the future should be heard, and then of course, acted upon. To watch this video, click: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx2SV2bYSfU

We would be remiss not to credit the good people at Chick-fill-A who put this together. In fact, Chick-fil-A has created an entire series of videos and conferences on leadership featuring innovators and great thinkers like Seth. We are not affiliates and make nothing from your participation, but strongly recommend that you check out their “Leadercast Network” nonetheless. It can be found at: http://www.chick-fil-aleadercast.com/

Writing an effective RFP for Corporate Trade

Writing an effective RFP for Corporate Trade

RFP mockupBoth with Evergreen Trading and throughout our careers in the industry, we have seen a great many RFPs for evaluating and choosing a corporate trading company. Some very good, some not so good, and a few that, frankly, were so far off the mark that it actually prevented the authors from evaluating corporate trade at all.

That last type of RFP is often the result of the inquiring company simply sending out their standard RFP – one they use for phone vendors, shipping companies, or advertising agencies. Maybe they make a few tweaks, but the problem is that corporate trading companies are unlike any other vendor, even advertising agencies. If nothing else, their financial arrangement with you is unlike any other vendor.

If the right questions are not asked, you will have none of the information required to make the right choice for trade. The result will be confusion leading to the abandonment of the idea to use trade, or worse, a transaction with an ill-suited trading company, and the loss of your excess inventory, piece of real estate, or other asset.

The solution is to write an effective RFP that allows you to choose a well-qualified trading firm, one that suits your corporate culture and has the resources and wherewithal to provide the real and lasting value you are seeking.

Here are some tips for writing an effective corporate trade RFP:

  • Don’t try to conform your standard RFP to this process. Again, corporate trading companies are not advertising agencies or any other vendor. There are unique intangible aspects to the business that you need to flesh out. Don’t leave it until after you’ve executed the transaction to discover things you wished you had asked.
  • Ask them to clearly describe their media buying process. Notice how they describe the source of their media buying. Are they using third parties or will they be buying your media themselves? Third parties will add an extra cost and as a result, increase the amount of media you’ll need to place in order to gain the promised financial benefit. Ask how their media buying capabilities differ from their competitors. Look for areas of differentiation that demonstrate a superior ability to provide you with the greatest media value. What, if any, additional services will you receive from them as a client?
  • Ask about their long-term vision. While this may seem irrelevant to getting the best financial outcome, remember that the value you receive from trade is more than just the numbers. A good trading company will become your partner, not just another vendor selling you a commodity. The clarity and long-term outlook of their vision will indicate a commitment to servicing you well as a client.
  • Ask the trading company to lay out the transaction financials. Require a side by side comparison of the value to you through trade versus not using trade. The result should be a bottom line analysis that quantifies the financial benefit of trade. Now, this requires you to provide two things: 1. detailed information on the asset in question so that the trading company can properly evaluate its market value, and 2. a sample media plan so that the trading company can derive their costs. This is how you will receive a meaningful proposal.
  • Ask the trading company to define their role and relationship with your advertising agency. Your agency plays a critical role in “policing” the trading company so that your costs and commercial terms will not be compromised and strictly adhered to. Knowing things like business and financial ties between your agency and the trading company, if any, will help you evaluate the integrity of the media buying process, which in the end, is your payment for the asset. Your clarity on this relationship plays a critical role in measuring the value you will ultimately receive for your asset.
  • Ask for background on the people working your account.  Will they be the senior people with whom you have interfaced throughout the initial evaluation or unknown, less experienced people? Are they local or 3,000 miles away? Do they seem to understand your business? Do they even care? Remember, corporate trade is about people. You are not buying trucks or a telephone system. A corporate trading firm is only as good as its people.
  • Ask for a detailed outline for how the transaction will proceed, including advertising agency interaction and internal participation. Besides knowing how clear the trading company is in anticipating the process, look for what will be required of you and your people as well as your advertising agency.
  • Ask for examples of the most common areas that a trade transaction can become problematic along with procedures for their mitigation.  Let’s face it, problems can arise. But, knowing about them ahead of time can help prevent them. This is also an opportunity to evaluate the transparency of the trading company in how open they are about problems and their mitigation.
  • Ask for a description of their “Supplier support functions”. How will you gain support throughout the life of your transaction? Does the trading company simply give you their phone number, or have they built resources to which you will have access that answer questions, provide additional value, and reduce the load on your internal resources throughout the process?

Last, don’t overly base your evaluation and decision on the amount of trade dollars you are being offered. Here’s where a corporate trade RFP diverges from most other RFPs. The higher the payment the better, right? Not with trade. Most important is the quality of the advertising placed on your behalf. Millions in additional advertising credits doesn’t mean much if the quality of the advertising it purchases is not what your agency would have placed themselves.

To gain even more tips, download our book, The 9 Insider’s Secrets to Winning with Corporate Trade”. In those immortal words of Sy Syms, “An educated consumer is our best customer”!

The Cluetrain Manifesto – The End of Business as Usual

The Cluetrain Manifesto – The End of Business as Usual

As luck would have it, a thought-provoking book found me recently at a local book store. It's the Cluetrain Manifesto. The tenth anniversary edition came out a couple years ago, or according to the authors, the "tenth ADDITION", and unlike most books on the internet that are obsolete before they even come to press, this important piece originating a dozen years ago could have been written yesterday.

it is a persuasive reminder that corporate communication can no longer be sterile, cleverly crafted bromides announcing the company's brilliance of perfection. People can no longer be fooled. "Your call is very important to us" followed by "Please leave a message" just reminds one how little the company truly cares about them.

This is one of those books that will resonate differently with every reader. Here are 10 of their 95 theses that I really liked:

[Read more…]

Raising interest-free capital for your unbudgeted business needs [video]

Raising interest-free capital for your unbudgeted business needs [video]

They say capital is the lifeblood of a business. So what would you do with more of it beyond your current budget?

Sure, you could borrow, but we have the means to help you raise capital that is interest free. All you need is an advertising budget the willingness to allow one of the world's top media agencies to place a portion of it. It will be the same media your agency and marketing people have planned and will be at the costs you provide us.

Sound too good to be true? Then watch this 90 second video to see how it can be done.

See it on our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/Evergreen Trading_YouTube

Enjoy…

Boosting business confidence in these uncertain economic times

Boosting business confidence in these uncertain economic times

There is an interesting article in today's edition of Marketwatch. Columnist Matthew Lynn makes the point that any business analyzing where and how much to invest is used to looking at things like corporate profits, trade flows, medium-term economic growth, and technological advances.

But these days, none of those things matter nearly as much as the big political questions. In the past, economic conditions primarily determined where markets were going, but today more than ever in history, it is politics that is driving the economy and business decisions.

Put aside what you happen to think about the current political direction being steered by Washington. Matthew focuses on the troubling shift from corporate success based upon analyzing business conditions to now having to analyze political policies. The predicament of businesspeople today is summed up in one word: uncertainty.

There is a growing uncertainty in business, and as a result, critical questions are much more difficult to answer clearly. What new products should we introduce? Where and in what should we invest? What new markets should we enter?  Who should we hire? What's the right price? How much should we manufacture? How much inventory should we hold? In a recent interview with Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, he said, "Take the uncertainly out. Businesses can't invest until they have fewer variables and right now there are just too many variables."

So, why is a corporate trading company writing about business uncertainty?

[Read more…]

How to find and evaluate brilliant new ideas for your organization

How to find and evaluate brilliant new ideas for your organization

A few weeks ago we wrote a post suggesting that a new challenge is developing within large organizations. The proliferation of new products and services–good and bad–and the resulting large number of marketing messages barraging corporate employees has become unmanageable. In response, many organizations have built virtual walls to keep out unsolicited sales and marketing introductions. We ask, is this in the best interest of today's organizations?

I was reminded of this situation a few days ago upon calling a national discount retail chain about the possibility of looking at corporate trade. I was following up a letter of introduction I sent them along with a sample of something we had purchased from another national retailer as an example of their possible benefit to doing trade.

After asking the receptionist for the person I was calling, I was transferred to a very nice woman who asked me for my contact information. I responded to her requests for my name, company, address, email, phone and web address. She then asked me to briefly describe the reason for my call. She was transcribing my explanation into an email that would be sent to my intended contact. If interested based upon that email, they would call. If not… well, you know.

Now, as much as I would love to have been transferred directly to this CFO, have him answer the phone and engage me in an in-depth 15 minute conversation, I understand the need for screening unsolicited in-bound calls. But I couldn't help thinking that the process I experienced was missing the mark of   [Read more…]

It’s time to open up your organization to great new ideas

It’s time to open up your organization to great new ideas

I received an email two days ago that was simply a screen shot. A picture. It looked like some web analytics from our site. Respecting the hootspa of sending such a sparse calling card and not seeing a single character of accompanying text, I wrote back, “Your point?”.

I received a call 30 minutes later, which I’m sure would have come without having sent my response. He told me about his service, I set up an appointment and engaged him the following day in his 30 minute GoToMeeting pitch. I was presented a service I’d never before considered, but after our talk, I looked at his competitors, came back to him and negotiated a deal. I’m now his customer.

In this constantly changing business environment of voice mail, assistants to assistants, spam filters, voice mail, caller ID and automated answering (did I mention voice mail?), it is becoming tougher and tougher to reach someone to propose a new product or service. The extreme level of protection from solicitors has become necessary because of the mind-numbing proliferation of stuff being offered, but that protection has created a problem for you and your organization of which you probably aren’t aware.

The problem is that you are  [Read more…]

One way to gain the love of your customer…

One way to gain the love of your customer…

There's a lot of talk these days about being client-centric. "We care about you, our valued customer.", "Your satisfaction is our #1 priority.", or my personal favorite: "Your call is very important to us." followed by 10 minutes of bad on-hold musak.

Be honest, how many times do you feel that you truly are being treated as an important priority by your vendors or others from whom you purchase? How often do you feel they truly went out of their way for you? How often do you feel special, and therefore, thrilled to do business with them? In this time of bone-close cost cutting and the commodities that more and more goods and services are becoming, there's never been a more critical time to make your customers feel honored to be doing business with you; for them to LOVE you.

This morning we had such an experience. It was such a simple thing, but then again, it's often the small stuff that builds customer loyalty.

We did a small printing job through the online printer, Vistaprint. We uploaded the file late last night, and his morning,  [Read more…]