Friday, November 17, 2006

To the Point

"If you want to change hearts and minds, it takes more than ads, more than donations and more than a this-ban-might-not-be-such-a-great-idea approach. You have to have passion and clarity." -- Frank Bures, "Why Fair Wisconsin Lost" Isthmus, Nov. 17, 2006, p. 10

Yet another reinforcement for the power of clear & consistent communication that connects with the target audience. We, at Timpano Group, couldn't agree more with Mr. Bures --- after all, he's advancing what we live and share with our clients.
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Let's Keep the Horses Before the Cart

Too often organizations focus so much on the cart [the product, service, capital campaign or launch date] that they get it ahead of the horses [the people involved]. Organizations forget that the critical element to advancing that cart is motivating the horse.

Dangle the right carrot: a clear message that connects. Provide a sense of purpose. Be consistent in the direction. Take the time to connect the horses to the cart properly and enjoy the surge of power that takes the cart from Point A to Destination Z.
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Friday, November 10, 2006

What's with clip art?

Why is it that people feel compelled to use stock clip art in PowerPoint presentations? Is it a need to feel clever, that somehow the silhouetted man looking through the spyglass toward a star speaks of strong vision and achievement... is it a hope that it will divert people from the content of the presentation or from the speaker as they marvel at how that clip of art supports the story... How is it that clip art thrown on the page reinforces the brand, I simply don't understand.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A challenge to Millennials

I issue a challenge to those in the Millennial Generation (born 1977-2002). I issue a challenge to the generation that "has high expectations for itself and its employers, seeking highly engaged managers to help them grow and develop their professional skills" (, 10/26/06).

My challenge is simple: take responsibility for your quest. Recognize that the "older generations" just might expect you to earn a few stripes along the way, to actively participate in your development, and to prove that you are worth the investment. Perhaps it is harsh. Perhaps it is unfair. But, in my opinion, it offers an opportunity for those individuals who embrace it to serve themselves, their colleagues, their companies and their causes more effectively. Plus, they just might pave the way for getting those growth moments when it matters the most to them.
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Monday, November 06, 2006

Get Out

Vote on Tuesday. Read up on the issues and cast an educated vote to shape your future.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remember the Idea

At times of strife in business, in those moments when crisis looms, it is critical to step back and remember the idea that began it all. Then, view the strife or the crisis for how it affects that idea and the legacy of the people who began it and built it.
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Monday, October 23, 2006

Book Review: New Rules @ Work

New Rules@Work:79 Etiquette Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead
By Barbara Pachter with Ellen Schneid Coleman. 272 pages. $13.95

The more things change, the more they stay the same – and, sometimes an easy-to-read reminder is all it takes for us to resolve ourselves to good manners. Barbara Pachter’s latest business book, New Rules@Work, blends unbelievable (yet true, according to her introduction) etiquette missteps with quick analysis, tips and points to help business professionals of all generations navigate the do’s and don’ts of successful business behaviors.

Easy enough to read in one sitting, and designed so you can jump in at any section, the content is common sense and current. The book even provides some basics about international sensitivities along with specific insights about when to fight the urge to clean your plate and how to get around drinking too much in Romania – or at the local lounge.

Pachter also takes care to give both sides of many etiquette stories: for instance, not only tips for entertaining at home but also guidelines for how to respond when the boss asks you to his or her house.

New Rules@Work offers an excellent business etiquette introduction or refresher, though it is important to note that the rules aren’t necessarily new and if you read between the lines from cover to cover, you’ll find more than 79 pieces of advice.
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Does Productive Dreaming Really Stop at 29?

I was just told that we are facing a crisis in Wisconsin because people aged 20-29 years are leaving the state and taking their dreams with them. I was told that because these young people were leaving, I need to work hard to get them back or prevent them from leaving so that I can have a brighter future. I need their dreams. I was told, yet somehow I don't believe. I don't buy it that people 30 and older no longer have helpful or productive dreams about how to make this a better place? Rather, I believe that whether we stay or we go, our experiences give us a greater appreciation for our communities, a greater understanding of what can be applied to improve them and a greater zeal for improving that which once was left. Let us celebrate people who leave and return, let us also celebrate people 30 and over who still know how to dream. And, let us appeal to 'boomers' not to discount the 'Xers' -- for we are the ones who know how to make things happen, we possess that independent spirit that pushes the boundaries of what might be and still knows when to proclaim that the emperor has no clothes.
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Controls Your Brand, Anyway?

It's easy to get confused, or to want to take the easy way out. But don't do it. Customers, as a general rule, don't control successful brands. Neither do marketing specialists, brand managers, vice presidents of communications or other such titles. Employees do.

Yes, customers can create their own commercials and videos about your brand. Yes, customers can mock your brand in any number of ways. Yes, customers can rip your brand to shreds before the eyes and ears of millions (or even billions of people). And, yes, they can probably do it better, faster and cheaper than you can. But, that doesn't mean they are in control.

Yes, marketing types can create brands, articulate brands and impose brands. They can tell you about the brand personality or write out the brand promise. But that doesn't mean they control the brand either.

Employees have the power. Employees are the living and breathing reflections of the brand. They talk as the brand. They listen as the brand. They create products/services on the brand's behalf. They act as the brand.

So, employees have to understand the brand and connect with it. They have to see the value in delivering on that brand consistently. They have to understand they are in control of it.

And people who develop those brands need to remember the value of creating it in a manner that is clear, consistent and connected. Clear in its intent, consistent in its application and connected to its target audiences.

Worry less about trying to gain footing in the world of tech savvy customers and think more about how you can ensure employees at every level are building brand equity with the customers who matter to your bottom line.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Strategic Planning vs. Responsible Planning

Most organizations need to erase the idea of the 5-year strategic plan. They need to move away from this preconceived notion of "strategic planning" and start thinking responsibly. Use a process that aligns stakeholders, managers and leaders around a vision of achievement.

Forget about what works or doesn't work for major corporations or stagnant organizations. After all, even Six Sigma goes out of style. Instead, think about what you need to accomplish and how you are going to get there.

Forget about a plan for the next five years. Instead, create a clear idea of success five years from now. Then, create a 18-month action plan of what the organization needs to do to advance toward it. Start with big ideas and distill them into clear commitments and tangible actions with committed leaders, managers and staff ready to communicate and make things happen. Check in at 11 months. Start again at 16. And, do it for five cycles -- evaluating all along the way.

Strategic planning starts with a commitment to being responsible and realistic. It involves linking ideas and actions, not crossing another "to do" off the list.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Philanthropic inspiration

Hats off to Warren Buffet for advancing beyond business as usual and shining a very bright spotlight on philanthropy! I hope his $37 billion gift inspires people to build legacies of their own. In fact, thanks to the proliferation of community foundations, individuals don't have to be billionaires to have an impact. You can become part of forever by donating whatever you can afford, by establishing an endowment of your own, or by including a community foundation in your will. One act can have a profound effect.

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it is attached to the rest of the world." - John Muir
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Friday, June 23, 2006

Simplicity Celebrated

It's always good when simplicity is hailed. Our times are filled with chaos, images, words, complexity. Often, unnecessarily. Our challenge each day is to cut through the clutter and create messages that people remember. Calls to action that compel people to actually act.

We believe the core message is the strongest. And, apparently, BBDO execs just might agree: "As the world becomes more multidimensional, the things that stand are the simplest concepts," said John Osborn as quoted in USA Today (6/23/06).

So, for those of you ready to accept the challenge: state your desired message, then boil it down to the most important word, and let that one word drive what and how you communicate.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Who doesn't aim for 'engaged' consumers?

Theresa Howard had a byline in today's USA TODAY for a story claiming that "much of the ad industry has been converted to the belief that engagment--adspeak for getting consumers to spend time with brand messages-- is what gets results from advertising."

Who are these people in the industry that have just been converted?! Engagement has been the name of the game for decades. Getting someone's attention was really never enough to close the deal consistently. If you didn't connect with the consumer, they certainly weren't going to stick around very long.

But it was reassuring for those of us without tickets to Cannes to know that we've been doing it right the whole time-- do good creative work, get people talking positively and find ways to connect your sales message throughout everything you do.

Big budgets seem to yield bigger press. Our hats are off to everyone, everywhere doing great creative that connect consumers with a clear message consistently.
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