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Posts Categorized: Growing Businesses

The Future of Work: Why Hiring Freelancers Makes Sense

Chicago Ideas Week is one of my favorite events in Chicago. With dozens of talks, labs and experiences to be had about everything from Cybersecurity to Meat 101, I was happy to snag a ticket from one of our clients to hear the event’s opening session – a lively discussion about the Future of Work.

A broad topic for sure, but our moderator David Brancaccio (of NPR’s Marketplace) and panel* came in with three things on his mind: (more…)

A Tour of the New Liquid Iron Website

More clients, more staff and a strong message required us to rethink how we used our website to communicate our value as an integrated marketing agency. The challenge of developing a website to answer a growth spurt is a good problem to have.

It was exciting to plow over our little plot of online terra firma and build a new home. Of course, as with most real-estate developments, time and budget were of prime concern. No growth-stage agency has unlimited funds and we’ve all been a part of marketing projects that go on so long they become virtually obsolete.

But damn the cliche  This cobbler will care for his own shoes. So we began: (more…)

El valor del ciclo de vida del cliente (CLV) desde una perspectiva muy distinta.

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Es curioso, pero a veces los mejores enfoques empresariales vienen de los lugares más inesperados.

Mi padre era un italoamericano de primera generación; sus padres emigraron de Italia a los Estados Unidos a principios de los años 20 con “niente in tasca”; es decir, nada en los bolsillos. Aun así las historias que mi padre contaba sobre su niñez —incluso durante la Gran Depresión— estaban siempre llenas de calidez, felicidad, humor, una imaginación desbordante y sentido común, sin importar cuán dura la adversidad.

Era un hombre lleno de honor y humildad. Y nunca habría pensado en sí mismo como un emprendedor. Pero lo era. Al igual que sus padres, empezó sin nada en los bolsillos. Sin embargo, lo que sí tenía era un profundo amor a trabajar con sus manos. Era carpintero de oficio. Siempre trabajó por cuenta propia. Y aunque su trabajo evolucionó con los años —pasando de llevar sólo carpintería a todos los aspectos de la construcción propiamente dicha— nunca perdió su norte. Siempre se centró en la calidad de su trabajo y el valor que les proporcionaba a sus clientes.

CLV al estilo de mi padre.

Mi padre falleció recientemente. Y me ha conmovido la cantidad de gente que me ha abordado y dicho cosas como: “No me conoces, pero tu padre construyó mi casa y ha sido el lugar más feliz de la tierra para mí.” O, “nuestra casa es de una calidad increíble, no he tenido que hacer una reparación en 40 años.” O, “… los recuerdos más felices de mi vida ocurrieron allí.” O, “… mis siete hermanos y hermanas adoraban cada rincón, especialmente el cuarto de juego, toda nuestra vida la hacíamos allí”.

O cualquier otro de los muchos comentarios sentidos que me dicen que mi padre veía el CLV no como el beneficio neto que iba a sacar de una buena relación con sus clientes, sino como el valor que les podía aportar a lo largo de sus vidas. Ésa era la esencia de mi padre, un hombre que vivió para añadir valor a las vidas de los demás y lo hacía todos los días.

Es ciertamente una perspectiva muy distinta sobre el concepto de CLV. Y es aquélla de acuerdo a la cual vivimos —justo como mi padre hacía—.

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Texto original en inglés de Kathy Bucaro Zobens, socia fundadora de Liquid Iron y renombrada especialista en marketing integrado.




Marketing teams with diversity have a higher ROI.

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“If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.”

It’s an old adage and it has been said many different ways and attributed to many different people over the years, but its truism always remains the same. If we all thought alike, came from the same background and had the same experiences, we’d have to redefine the word “progress”, because there probably wouldn’t be much.

For the most successful problem solving, we believe it’s important to build teams of people who think differently, who are willing to look at the problem from all sides and who bring their diverse experiences with them to the table. This ensures that as everyone rises to the challenge they put forward a different perspective. And, it is this multi-faceted view that can best inform the thinking and lead to the big “Aha!” and ultimate, optimal solution.

We’ve seen this type of dynamic team deliver heightened results for years. And that’s why we build all of our teams the same way: assembling brilliant thinkers who bring passion, expertise and different points of view/backgrounds to address and solve our clients’ unique problems.

How a diverse team can increase your results.

Don’t just take our word for it. These scientific studies back it up.

  • According to the Harvard Business Review study The Female Factor, a diverse group of men and women created the best results in collective intelligence as opposed to a homogenous group of males or females.
  • A study conducted by two professors from University of Illinois and The Ohio State University found that individuals who knew they were going into a group meeting with a person who had an opposite view as theirs prepared more and worked harder prior to the meeting.
  • Margaret A. Neale, professor with an expertise in organizational behavior, states in this article, “What feels good may not always reflect the performance of the team.” She further explains, “In fact, teams with a very stable membership deteriorate in performance over time because members become too similar in viewpoint to one another or get stuck in ruts.”
  • Margaret A. Neale partners with Elizabeth Mannix to highlight the importance of diversity of thinking in their abstract What Differences Make a Difference. “By contrast, underlying differences, such as differences in functional background, education, or personality, are more often positively related to performance—for example by facilitating creativity or group problem solving—but only when the group process is carefully controlled.”
  • The McKinsey Study, Diversity Matters, reveals that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to financially outperform and ethnically diverse companies are 35% likely to financially outperform their non-diverse counterparts. It goes on to say, “The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and the same country implies that diversity is a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies.”

This is just a snapshot of the research linking team diversity to heightened results. But it clearly supports what we’ve experienced over the years. Bring a diverse group of brilliant minds to the table and you too will experience a boost in effectiveness, creativity and ultimately ROI.

Customer Lifetime Value from a very different perspective.

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It’s funny … but sometimes the greatest insights in business come from the most unexpected places.

My father was a first generation Italian American whose parents came to this country in the early 1920’s with “niente in tasca”, nothing in their pockets, so to speak. Yet the stories my father would tell about his childhood — even during the Depression — were always filled with warmth, happiness, humor and unparalleled ingenuity and common sense, no matter how challenging the adversity.

He was a man filled with grace and humility. And he never would have thought of himself as an entrepreneur. But he was. Like his parents, he started with nothing in his pockets. Although, what he did have was a deep love of working with his hands. He was a carpenter by trade. Always self-employed. And as his business grew over the years from carpentry only to full-scale building, he never lost his focus. He was always centered on the quality of his work and the value he gave to his clients.

Lifetime Value my father’s way.

Recently my father passed. And I have been struck by the number of people who have come forward and said: “You don’t know me, but your father built my house and it has been the happiest place on earth for me.” Or, “the quality of our house is amazing, I have not had to repair anything in 40 years.” Or, “… it is where all the greatest memories of my life were made.” Or, “… my seven brothers and sisters and I loved every inch of it, especially the playroom, which was the epicenter of our lives.”

Or any myriad of other heartfelt comments that told me my father viewed Customer Lifetime Value not as the net profit he would gain over the entire relationship with each of his customers, but as the value that he could give to each of his customers over their lifetime. It was the essence of who my father was, a man who lived to add value to the lives of others and he executed it every day.

It is certainly a very different perspective on the concept of Customer Lifetime Value. And one we happily live by — just as my father did.

¿Son satisfactorias tus actuales relaciones?

Right Partner — Wedding

Es incómodo, lo sabemos; pero es imprescindible hacer un análisis anual del estado de tu empresa y tus relaciones profesionales. Cuando se hace bien —con una mentalidad abierta y con disposición a asumir errores— puede ser difícil y resultar doloroso. Aunque es necesario si quieres mejorar y avanzar.

Incluso si 2015 ha sido tu mejor año hasta la fecha, hay cosas que necesitas considerar: ¿Qué ha ido bien? ¿Qué no lo ha hecho? ¿Tenías los objetivos adecuados definidos, para empezar? ¿Qué hay de tu cultura empresarial y tus capacidades? ¿Son lo que necesitas para avanzar con éxito en el 2016?

Éstas son sólo algunas de las preguntas que deberías hacerte, y tu empresa de marketing debería estar haciéndoselas también, para ayudar a tu negocio e intentar mejorar el servicio que te prestan. Si no lo está haciendo, quizá sea hora de que te hagas la pregunta más importante de todas: ¿Son tus relaciones de marketing las más adecuadas o satisfactorias?

¿Qué necesitas para que una relación sea satisfactoria?

Lo más probable es que tengas tu propia lista de características del colaborador de marketing ideal. Exactamente como muchos de nuestros clientes. Desde el B2C al B2B —desde tecnología a educación pasando por salud y bienes de consumo— hemos comprobado que aunque las estrategias verticales y líneas de negocio son bastante diferentes, muchos de nuestros clientes comparten algunos de los mismos requisitos. Sin embargo otros criterios de selección son únicos.

Éstos son algunos imprescindibles:

  • Experiencia —e inteligencia y habilidad— para resolver cualquier reto.
  • Evangelistas del comportamiento de los consumidores que sean una extensión integrada de tu servicio al cliente e impacten directamente tu ratio de conversión.
  • Estrategas que inspiren creatividad de forma natural.
  • Expertos en constante escucha activa que verdaderamente oigan, entiendan y actúen en consecuencia.
  • Un proceso consistentemente colaborativo, fácil y productivo.
  • Habilidad para transformar los datos en acciones viables.
  • Un colaborador proactivo que constantemente identifique lapsus y busque oportunidades y soluciones.
  • Flexibilidad para proporcionar una cultura de rápida respuesta centrada en el cliente.
  • Un radar de relevancia que filtre las tendencias e innovaciones que realmente encajen con tu empresa.
  • Agilidad para acelerar o desacelerar en cualquier punto dentro del campo de 360°.
  • Contactos sólidos y relevantes más allá del marketing y la publicidad —desde importadores a inversores de capital de riesgo—.
  • Capacidad para identificar nuevas fuentes de ingresos en cualquier sector.
  • Un coste adecuado sin gastos superfluos —tanto en proyectos individuales como en retainers—.

¿Cuántos de éstos están en tu lista?… Si tus actuales relaciones de marketing o apoyo en exportaciones a los EE. UU. y Latinoamérica no son satisfactorias, ponte en contacto con nosotros en el 312 214 6340 (EE. UU.) o en el 91 454 7007 (España); o visita nuestra página de Internet Deja que te conozcamos para mostrarte cómo te podemos ayudar a mejorar y avanzar en 2016.

Is your current partner a keeper?

Right Partner_

It’s uncomfortable. We know it. That year-end review of your business and relationships. When done right — with an open and willing-to-own-all-the-warts mindset — it can be brutal, but it has to be done if you want to enhance and advance.

Even if 2015 was your best year ever, there are things you need to ponder: What went right? What didn’t? Did you have the right goals in place in the first place? What about your culture and capabilities? Are they what you need to move forward successfully in 2016?

These are just some of the questions that you should be asking … and your marketing partner should be asking them too, on your behalf, and about the way they service your business. If they are not, it may be time for you to ask the most important question of all: Do you have the right marketing partner in place?

What do you require in a partner?

You most likely have your own checklist for the ideal marketing partner for you. Just like many of our clients. From B2C to B2B — from Tech to Education to Healthcare to Consumables — we have found that while the verticals are quite different, many of our clients share some of the same requirements. Yet other selection criteria are unique.

Here are some must-haves:

  • Expertise — and intellect — to solve for all challenges.
  • Behavior path evangelists who can be an integrated extension of your customer service and directly impact conversion rates.
  • Strategists who can naturally inspire creativity.
  • Active listeners who truly hear, understand and execute accordingly.
  • A consistently collaborative, painless and valuable process/experience.
  • A proactive partner who constantly identifies gaps and searches for solutions.
  • The ability to make data actionable.
  • The flexibility to deliver a responsive, on-demand client-centered culture.
  • A relevance radar that filters which innovative trends are actually right for your Brand.
  • The agility to ramp up — or scale back — anywhere within the 360? landscape.
  • Established, leverageable relationships beyond marketing and advertising — everything from importers to VCs.
  • The capability to identify new sources of revenue — regardless of industry.
  • Right-sized cost with no “riders” to the fee — per-project or retainer.

How many of these are also on your list? If your current marketing partner doesn’t meet all of your requirements, give us a call at 312-214-6340. And let us learn about you so that we can share how we can help you enhance and advance in 2016.

Practice open-minded marketing to maximize ROI.

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We’ve all heard it said, “Well, this is what we’ve always done.” No conference room has ever escaped it. And it’s possible that what you’ve always done is working — from your point of view — well enough.

But sometimes it isn’t. Or sometimes your market changes. Or sometimes a new target presents itself. How are you going to be successful considering your new circumstances? Not with what you’ve always done.

It’s time for open-minded marketing.

In these situations, it’s time to practice open-mindedness. Expanding your mind to new marketing avenues leads to unlimited discoveries and potential for growth. It uncovers successes you didn’t even know were available to you. In other words, it gives you the opportunity to truly maximize your ROI.

It seems simple enough. But we all know the challenge of change. The next time your question of why is met with, “Well, this is what we’ve always done.” use these exercises to break free and discover countless marketing opportunities.

  • Eliminate the fear of the unknown.

Fear of what you don’t know or understand can be one of the biggest obstacles to opening your mind to new possibilities and new markets. You may be so used to talking to one type of consumer that you don’t want to risk engaging with another.

But don’t close up to “new” segments that may love your product or service when addressed differently — in a way that is deeply meaningful to them specifically. Push fear aside and encourage your team to explore markets that are new to you —anything from Millennials to brand-conscious Boomers to specific cultural segments. Get to know them and how your product or service can better their lives.

You aren’t committing large chunks of your budget to these markets, but through opening your mind to get to know them, you may discover you want to — and need to. Some specific segments may represent your greatest growth opportunities for years to come. But, if you feel those segments are too complex to master, look for the right experienced, trusted partner to guide you through. There’s no better way to conquer your fear than with the right partner.

  • Learn the complete behavior path.

New avenues to success will present themselves the more you know about your customer’s behavior path. Walk in your prospect’s shoes from even before they recognize the need for your product or service to the minute they make their purchase decision.

This exercise will highlight any gaps along the path where your prospects are dropping off, getting confused or moving to the competition.

Those gaps you’ve discovered are the opportunities to be explored. Knowing them will open your mind up to new solutions you didn’t even know you needed.

  • Play the ‘What If’ game.

Ask yourself, “How would I solve this problem if I had all the time and all the money in the world?”

The budget and the fast approaching deadline may discourage you from playing initially. But play anyway. It will be worth your while.

Without constraints, the ideas are endless. And through this open-minded brainstorm you just may find that special portion of the crazy big idea that is actually doable, effective and revolutionary to your marketing efforts.

Don’t let the phrase, “Well, this is what we’ve always done.” lead the way. Practice open-minded marketing and uncover the myriad opportunities and possibilities waiting to help you reach your marketing goals — and maximize your ROI — in ways you never thought possible before.

3 pasos para comenzar a construir el éxito de tu marca en los E.E.U.U.

LI Mariano's 3 pasos

¡Enhorabuena, estás introduciendo tu producto en los Estados Unidos! Es como apuntarte a un nuevo club de tenis en el que no conoces a nadie y nadie te conoce a ti. ¿Dónde están las pistas? ¿Cuánto cuesta alquilarlas? ¿Querrá alguien jugar un partido contigo? ¿Cómo entablarás nuevas relaciones? ¿Lograrás encajar en ese entorno?

Pero simplemente encontrar las “pistas” no es la meta. Una vez aquí, debes ser proactivo en el marketing para construir una marca memorable, deseable y de prestigio. Saber cómo jugar es fundamental.

Una clave importante para construir un éxito a largo plazo en tu nuevo mercado es asegurarte de tomar decisiones inteligentes desde el principio. Ten en cuenta estos 3 pasos para conseguirlo:

1) Escoge el distribuidor/importador adecuado.

Crear una alianza sólida con tu importador/distribuidor desde el principio es crucial para el éxito a largo plazo de tu producto.

Hacer muchas preguntas puede ayudarte a tomar la decisión correcta. Busca que ofrezcan productos complementarios a los tuyos en su catálogo en vez de productos en competencia directa. Pregunta también cuánto tiempo llevan con sus clientes actuales para averiguar si la longevidad es uno de sus fuertes.

Una vez hayas encontrado un importador/distribuidor compatible contigo, disponte a entablar negociaciones inteligentes que te proporcionen una alianza sólida. Recuerda que es mucho más complicado pedir ajustes una vez alcanzado y firmado un acuerdo.

2) Ten un profundo conocimiento y control de tu gasto en marketing.

Algunos fabricantes extranjeros dejan todo su presupuesto para marketing en manos de su importador/distribuidor. En muchas ocasiones, este presupuesto no se utiliza bien o termina por usarse para ayudar a todo el catálogo del importador/distribuidor y no específicamente para la promoción de tu producto.

Al igual que en el tenis golpear con mucha fuerza pero sin técnica no es lo más aconsejable, un importador/distribuidor que organiza degustaciones o eventos para lograr un incremento de ventas a corto plazo no necesariamente produce un retorno de inversión sostenible en el medio y largo plazo. Es vital dirigirse a los consumidores finales además de a los minoristas para maximizar tus ventas e ingresos.

Debes mantenerte implicado para asegurarte de que el dinero que dediques a marketing se usa para apoyar tus objetivos globales, tanto a corto como a medio plazo. Estar al tanto e involucrarte también te ayudará a descubrir qué funciona y qué no, y a realizar ajustes que optimicen el gasto y el esfuerzo de marketing.

3) Encuentra el presupuesto para construir tu marca.

Los importadores/distribuidores pueden resultar magníficos en el marketing business-to-business a la hora de poner tu producto en las estanterías de los minoristas. Pero los fabricantes extranjeros deben recordar que si el consumidor final no compra sus productos, el minorista no se convertirá en un comprador habitual o incluso podría llegar a prescindir de ellos y sustituirlos por otros.

Si no eres capaz de construir tu marca y hacerla reconocida, deseada y buscada por los importadores/distribuidores, los minoristas y los consumidores finales, serás fácilmente reemplazado por otras marcas el año que viene o al siguiente.

El branding es necesario y requiere una inversión. Pero no te agobies; con el enfoque puesto en maximizar el ROI (el retorno de la inversión) puedes crear un gran impacto sin tener que invertir mucho mientras inviertas bien. Esfuerzos tales como tener una página web sólida enfocada en tu mercado meta, que represente bien la marca y construida con inteligencia; promocionarse en los medios de comunicación adecuados; tener presencia en las redes sociales, y el shopper marketing pueden aumentar tus ventas mientras consolidas la marca. Por supuesto, siempre que en cada uno de ellos apliques la estrategia y ejecución adecuadas para captar apropiadamente a cada una de tus audiencias.

Estos pasos son sólo el comienzo para afianzar tu producto en los EE.UU. Encontrar el importador/distribuidor adecuado y permanecer involucrado te ayudará a mantenerte relevante en este nuevo “club”. Si a esto le añades un firme esfuerzo en marketing tal vez pronto tu saque sea el más admirado o incluso llegues a ser el número uno de tu club. Bienvenido a los Estados Unidos.