Archive for November, 2011

Brainstorming for Success

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

by Kathrine GlassKathrine Glass

One of my favorite things to do is brainstorm a new promotional idea for a client. I find that there are a few tips that help me get the best possible results.

  1. Be sure you have enough information. Prior to brainstorming, be sure you know what the client will be looking for so you can deliver on their defined goals. Remember to be sure you are clear on what product/service they want to focus on, understand their target audience both demographically and psychographically, create a program that meets their outlined promotional time period and/or seasonality, include any key partners that are important to them and be sure you are in line with their budget. Understand their overall objective and what metric they will use to define the promotion’s success.
  2. Get a team together. Two heads are better than one when it comes to brainstorming. In fact, sometimes you may need more than two if you have experts in different areas like programming, online, promotions, etc., but keep your team to less than six. Be sure you ask yourself if everyone needs to be included in the brainstorm. Will they add value or will they complicate the process? Sometimes it is better to get ideas well fleshed out and then go to the other stakeholders to get their input and buy-in.
  3. Ask what’s worked? Ask the client what has worked for them in the past. Look at your past success stories. Google the brand and/or others in the category and see what is working for them. Look at websites like,, for inspiration. Utilize the Morrison and Abraham database of success stories from our clients and years of experience. Don’t be afraid to R&D…rip off and duplicate…for your market and tweak to make it better. Sometimes a fresh perspective on an old promotion can rejuvenate the idea into a brand new winner.
  4. Think like a child. Don’t feel held back by anything. Be fresh and enthusiastic. Be open to exploration, discovery and experimentation. Be open to all ideas and solutions.
  5. Don’t worry. Leave fear, worry and doubt at the door. If you don’t have a specific resource in your tool kit, don’t worry about it during the brainstorming process. Many components can be outsourced and built into the package price. Sometimes that strategy is necessary to capture the dollars. If you think management won’t approve your idea, don’t worry about it yet. Let your ideas flourish, flesh them out, and then solve any internal challenges. Clearly defined ideas with logistical execution plans are mandatory at this point. Demonstrating that you have thought out all of the possibilities and looked at the promotional idea from multiple angles will help you get buy-in from management.
  6. Build a short list. Throw out as many ideas as you can and then fine-tune two or three. Too many ideas can water down the message and challenge your focus.
  7. Keep it simple. Once you’ve created the biggest and best ideas, determine if they should be dialed back slightly to be sure that you can execute flawlessly. An idea that is poorly executed will not do anyone any good. It’s better to keep it simple and know everyone will be thrilled with the results.
  8. Enjoy a little recess! Let your ideas rest for a while. Give yourself some time off of thinking of ideas. Let them percolate, gel and build. Many times ideas that are built during a brainstorming session become even better with a little space. Give your self a few hours or a week to be sure you are happy with the results.   If something is missing, you will be able to see it a little more clearly with time.

And a very important bonus tip is to HAVE FUN!!!! If you get stuck don’t let it get you down. Just take a step back, rest and restart. Reach out to your M&A consultant. We love helping you come up with ideas!

Good luck!

Follow the Trail of Money, Part 2

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

by Amber Brown

Two weeks ago, Ginny wrote about mining business from your traditional list.  Given that everyone is always clamoring for new leads, I felt it timely to dig a little deeper on how productive this effort can be.

There’s no doubt that we are bombarded with more messages, brand and company messages then ever before on more devices then ever imagined. One of the sales managers I work with is notorious for clipping articles, ads, calling from the road having just spotted a billboard and texting leads from a radio ad she just heard. Focusing on external leads is always part of the sales lead process, but sometimes some of the best leads may already be sitting on your account list…but you’re not paying attention.   One of my favorite ways to create new leads is to mine your traditional accounts and follow the trail of money.

Let me give you an example. Recently, I was working with an AE who wanted some new things to work. We started talking about her traditional account list and she referenced an independent lawn equipment dealer that she occasionally received seasonal money from. We did a quick on line search for the dealer and found out he carried several major lines of lawn and garden equipment (think Toro, Husqvarna, Snapper, Honda, John Deere).   We focused on the two most well known brands then visited those manufacturer’s websites to find out that one manufacturer had over 40 dealers in the state and the other had 20! This rep’s dealer was only one!

From there, we went to LinkedIn Search (which by the way everyone should be on!) and fairly quickly located the Regional Sales Manager for the manufacturer for her area. We called the manufacturer’s corporate office and were able to confirm our decision-maker and garner his local phone number. We repeated for the other manufacturer. Even better, we were able to talk to both decision-makers on the phone as they were planning for Spring 2012. Voila…in a matter of minutes she had two new qualified leads.

It’s always easier to start a dialogue with a manufacturer when you can say, “I work with XYZ Dealer/Retailer in the area…” One could argue that these are much warmer leads than calling cold from an ad you saw in a magazine, billboard, etc.

This is a model that can be applied to almost any business.

Who do you do business with currently and what are their major product lines? Then follow the trail of money to the decision makers for those products in your area. Automotive…why stop at the dealer? If you stop, you are robbing yourself of leads that are right under your nose.