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Published by Bill White , December 30th, 2014
Here we go again. Annual reports, zeroed insurance deductibles, April 15th looming over us like the evil spirit it is. As anyone knows who has presided over a business for more than 30 years, it seems the longer we go, the faster we go.
Chronological Compression
Allow me to present White’s Law of Chronological Compression. It’s my definition of the perception that things at work are speeding up. This isn’t news. I don’t expect a physics prize in my name to be awarded anytime soon. But this immutable law does suggest that our need to plan, execute, monitor and adjust is not a future event. It’s a here and now event.
Because business and marketing programs rarely unfold when and as planned, change is always the constant. The likelihood of change doesn’t obviate the need for a business vision, an articulated outcome, a mission statement or even a Hail Mary for the next fiscal year. Nor does it sidestep the need for a plan. The trick is to weave the planning process into the fabric of business, yours and ours.
In this age of razor sharp metrics and micro analytics brought forth from digital marketing programs, our need to plan, execute, monitor and adjust is no longer an abstract idea buried in an MBA case history somewhere; it’s a way of life and a measure of performance for any business that expects to survive and make a profit.
And all of this, from the plan to the necessary series of adjustments, is taking place in a cycle so inherently compressed that results of sales and marketing programs are often delivered in hours instead of days or weeks. (Our Ed.it™2 Digital Marketing Platform is ideal for watching some of this in real time.)
In a recent issue of Fast Company, a digtal publication focusing on new media and online pathways to the market, contributing writer Laura Vanderkam splashes some cold water on how we should think about managing our time which, as we know from White’s Law, is the same for all of us – 8,760 hours per year.  If we budget 2,000 of these hours for our work as marketers, Laura poses, how should we spend them?
At OffWhite, our job – for you and for ourselves – is to clarify objectives, plan, plan some more, build budgets, allocate resources and delegate what we can. If we don’t do this well and do it now, we’ll be staring at the start of 2016 wondering what happened to the year we’re taking on as we speak.
Think about what you were doing at this time last year. You’ll agree, White’s Law of Chronological Compression is a reality. With proper planning, it’s a law we can live with.
Next time, White’s Law of Floating Perspective. And coming soon, White’s Law of Fauxvibration (that’s the feeling you get when your phone is vibrating in your pocket – except the phone is on your desk).
Published by Abby Spung, December 22nd, 2014
Clogs rhymes with Blogs
I don’t like the word “blog”. It rhymes with nothing positive. It’s a downer. It sounds like dread, boredom or drudgery. Who the heck wants to read a “blog”? More about that in a minute.
Blog is a truncation of “web log”, which was attributed to Jorn Barger in late 1997, whoever he is. Shortly after, along came Peter Merholz in 1999 who, according to legend, inserted “blog” into our universal lexicon. I wish we could rip it out.
If you read my – blog - you know I am a true advocate of brand management. From where I see it, people don’t value the word very highly. They seem to despair over the semantics. The word is actually creepy. It’s not good for a brand.
Blog rhymes with fog which rhymes with smog and none of these are clear nor good for you. Perhaps you think you are obligated to read or listen to a steady stream of blogs, lest you miss something. In reality, most blogs are generated to meet an imposed timeline; this forces people to publish garbage.
Most blogs are a collection of borrowed ideas and observations with company spin. The worst blogs are those pesky lists like “Thirty things you need to know to land a six-figure job by Tuesday”. Really? Most blogs are group grope at worst, drivel at best. Some are mental graffiti. At OffWhite we call it “puffery”. Do they teach this stuff in Ad/PR classes?
In an age when we can get information on about anything in the world at light speed, what value is a blog that sails out over the Internet like a bottle with a message, tossed aside at sea one day to wash ashore in the middle of an oceanfront bowling banquet with its original meaning bleached from too much sun. So much for targeting your market with a message.
Truth be told, blog does rhyme with something merry and pleasant: Clog. This wonderful folk dance was brought to America by our Welsh and English forefathers who settled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina in the 19th century. If they had anticipated the Internet, they would have ditched clog and called themselves “bloggers”. This would have eased the angst for those of us who can’t separate a blog from a clog from a plunger. See what I mean?
If we take a fresh look at why we’re writing a blog, the idea might have a purpose. But let’s start by calling it something else. The word simply doesn’t work. Next, let’s connect our content to our brand; otherwise, what’s the point in writing it? Third, let’s remove the holy obligation. If we have something to say, let’s say it. If not, let’s don’t.
There’s something about beating a dead horse in here, somewhere.
Here’s an action item. Let’s find a better word.
Published by Jane Cirigliano, December 11th, 2014
Customer viewing content
In this digital age, we are all vying for potential customers’ limited attention. Social media gives us another outlet to reach new demographics and share our message. However, we must be aware and respectful of our audience’s expectations. For example, social users are much more inclined to engage with a company that is sharing useful information than one that is shouting about its exceptional products.
Human vs. Machine
It is better to be found than to push your message on an unsuspecting audience. Search Engine Optimization and Content Optimization both help you pull qualified prospects in – people who are already searching for a product or service that you offer. Seems like an easy sale, right?
Unfortunately, often when websites are written so that search engines will rank particular pages high for targeted keywords, those pages are not relevant to the prospect who arrives on the page. We call it writing for the computer, not the customer, and it’s often the cause of poor lead and conversion rates.
Everybody Talks
Customers talk about products and services before purchasing. Online reviews and social media are convenient ways for customers to get feedback quickly from groups of peers. Developing brand advocates and increasing customer loyalty through quality interactions leads to additional sales through referrals. Accomplishing this feat requires less screaming and more humanity.
If you find yourself posting self-promotional messages too frequently in your digital campaigns, try applying the rule of thirds. For every post you make about a product or service (and these can be given a human element as well), post two items of interest and value to your customers – industry news and trends, whitepapers, savings calculators, share a success story from a customer, etc. Balance your advertising messages with your company’s more human side.
The Value of a Good Story
A colleague recently shared a story with us of how his company showed its employees that what they do every day matters. At an annual meeting where virtually every facet of the business was represented, from the CEO and board members to the manufacturing staff, they brought in a surprise guest speaker. A woman told the story of her daughter’s illness and how doctors and specialists could not find the cause of her symptoms. Then the mother explained that using one of the company’s unique medical devices, a team of physicians was able to pinpoint, diagnose and treat the illness. The presentation ended with the little girl, fully cured, coming on stage and simply saying “thank you.”
Needless to say, everyone in the audience that day went home with a better understanding of the impact what they create each day can have on a real family. Relatable stories like this show our customers how we think, and give them a glimpse of the human side of our business.
Brand loyalty is inspired when we make our customers’ lives easier. Whether we accomplish this with a product or service, the way in which we communicate our value drives people to choose us over the competition.
To learn more, contact Bill White or Jane Cirigliano.
Published by Jodie Reiter , December 4th, 2014
Jodie ReiterA company’s biggest asset is its employees. Your staff is also your most important customer as it serves as the face of your brand. You hear a lot about ROI, but another important item that factors into a company is ROEI, or return on employee investment. 
The difference between a good company and a great company is what defines the company – its people.  People generate ideas and make good service happen.  Strategic investments in a company and its employees can make a huge contribution to the bottom line. 
As a manager, you must make a choice and weigh the options when it comes to expenditures.  For example, at OffWhite, we continue to invest in technology and access to the most current versions of software. It is a priority for us to keep everyone up the curve, making doing our jobs each day the best it can be. 
You need to look at your employees and optimize your workforce by making investments that prevent unnecessary or costly expenses such as constant turnover and excessive sick leave. It is a much better move to make the investment which will not only eliminate some of those expenses, but will also boost employee productivity and keep your employees engaged. 
Investing in resources and training for your workforce also results in more productive employees who can accomplish more in less time. With a strong employee retention plan, fewer employees are needed to complete the same tasks.
The strategic and balanced investment in your employees will go a long way towards improving the company bottom line.  Making the investment in your employees will give them more of a sense of ownership in their work. It makes the employee feel more vested in what they are doing and more engaged in seeing success.  And you know a happy employee - an employee who has ownership in the contribution they are making because those investments have been made - makes for a valuable, long-term employee. That is an asset you cannot do without.
As most of you are working on budgets for next year, now is a good time to add ROEI into your thinking and plan if you haven’t already done so.  What kinds of investments do you currently make in your employees? Are there more investments that would be beneficial?
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