The Ancient Art of Ikebana Advertising?

Posted by John Park on Sep 10th, 2008
2008
Sep 10

Ikebana Advertising

 

Sometimes the best “Eureka” moments come when you least expect it.  A few weeks back, I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations.  Yes, I do live vicariously through his show.  This particular episode was about his visit to Japan.  In one of the segments, he visits a school that teaches the ancient art of Ikebana.

 

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement.  It has been taught and practiced in Japan for more than 600 years.  Without going in to the Wikipedia description of this ancient practice, I would describe it as an art form to display nature in a way which allows maximum focus on its beauty (lines, symmetry and form) while framing it in the most minimalistic way.  Your eyes are automatically drawn to focus in on the arrangement.  It then encourages you to truly absorb the beauty mainly because there is nothing nearby to distract your attention.

 
In the segment, Bourdain is given a lesson in putting one of these arrangements together.  As the Ikebana Master was explaining all of the intricacies of a qualifying Ikebana arrangement, he said something that perked my ears.  When Bourdain asked him why an Ikebana arrangement was displayed in such a minimalistic way, the Master explained that natural beauty must be given space to breath and flow.  This single focus allows the viewer to truly enjoy and delve deeper in to the center of attention—the arrangement itself.
 
And here I thought that “Less is More” was some Madison Avenue theory.  That’s right.  If the Ikebana Masters will indulge me, I’ve decided that Ikebana is really a form of advertising.  When you think about it, successful advertisers have been practicing Ikebana for decades.  Instead of flowers, they were promoting a product or service that deserved single and focused attention.
 
From my experience, leaving empty space empty is one of the biggest challenges when creating an advertisement, building a web site or developing some other marketing piece.  Of course, it’s hard.  You have a lot to say and most it is originating from the pride you feel of your products, services and business.  The art form is in stopping when you feel that more needs to be said.  This will require practice and commitment to the ancient practice.
 
The rules of Ikebana advertising are clear.
 
1)  Create a central focus point.
2)  Let it breathe and flow by giving it space.
 
So…would your advertisements (arrangements) qualify as an Ikebana ad?  How Ikebana is your advertising or marketing approach?  Is Ikebana advertising right for your business?

The Basics of Small Business ROI: Part 1

Posted by John Park on Sep 7th, 2008
2008
Sep 7

Roll of the dice

 
Thinking BIG is hard to do when you own a small business.  There are some who may just concede to the phrase, “It takes money to make money.”  As a small business owner, you don’t have to resign yourself to small marketing budgets that lead to constrained dreams.  Instead, just apply some good old fashioned math to the way you’re allocating marketing and advertising dollars.
 
Having been trained initially at large corporations; gathering, analyzing and acting upon statistics and data was second nature to me.  The very thing that differentiates a successful business and a failing one is the ability of the owner to gather, analyze and act upon marketing, adverting and sales data.  These important numbers are often referred to as business trends in large corporations.  You will never find a mid-level manager meeting with an executive without them.
 
Now, there are a thousand ways to look at business trends.  The bottom line is that there are only a few that matter when you’re trying to determine your ROI (return on investment) for advertising and marketing.
 
 
( The Basics of advertising and marketing ROI - The DATA )
 
1)  COST:  What did you spend on the ad?
2)  LEADS:  How many sales leads did you get as a result of the ad?
3)  SALES:  How many sales did you close as a result of the sales leads from the ad?
4)  COST OF SALE:  What did each sale or closed deal cost you? (COST divided by NUMBER OF SALES)
5)  PROFIT or LOSS:  Are you profitable when considering the cost of the sale?
 
 
( EXAMPLE 1 )
 
1)  COST:  $1000
2)  LEADS:  25
3)  SALES:  5
4)  COST OF SALE:  $200 (COST divided by NUMBER OF SALES)
5)  Let’s say that in this example, the advertiser is a car dealer and a sale equates to $5,000 (NET).
 
Conclusion:  You have a formula.  Double, triple or quadruple it in the same ad platform to grow your business.  Keep an eye on the business trends as you apply the formula.
 
 
( EXAMPLE 2 )
 
1)  COST:  $500
2)  LEADS:  25
3)  SALES:  20
4)  COST OF SALE:  $25 (COST divided by NUMBER OF SALES)
5)  Let’s say that in this example, the advertiser is a restaurant and a sale has to be at $30 to break even.
 
Conclusion:  This method does not work for you.  Ignore the ad sales rep’s pleading comments about “branding”.  Cancel the ads in this ad platform.
 
 
( Important Notes )
 
1)  Track your numbers on a monthly basis.  It will be too difficult as a business owner for you to track old leads that ended up in a sale.  For example, if you got a lead in January, that lead goes in to the lead column in January.  If that same lead turned in to a sale in March, you will record that sale in March and not back in January.  If you are constantly running your ads, all of the numbers will reflect the reality of what is happening.
 
2)  Business trends should be looked at for a minimum of 3 months for you to track advertising results even if the ad was run only one time.
 
3)  Do not count referrals unless the referral lead or sale was the result of the actual ad or marketing effort.
 
 
( What about BRANDING? )
 
1)  If you value branding for your business, you need to review your business trends for at least 6 months.
 
2)  Don’t justify or accept BRANDING as an excuse for poor advertising or marketing results.  After all, shouldn’t branding result in sales?
 
 
( THE BIG TEST )
 
These are the questions you should be able to answer if you are utilizing advertising/marketing as your primary method of acquiring new business.
 
1)  What is your closing percentage rate?  How many leads does it take to close a deal?
 
2)  What is your COST OF SALE?
 
Knowing the answers to these two important questions will allow you to make advertising and marketing decisions in a quick and logical manner.  Too many business owners review ad buys as if it’s a gambling decision or a simple “roll of the dice.”  It shouldn’t be.
 
 
In PART 2, I will discuss Branding and how Business Trends can be utilized to improve your business.
 
 
If you’re not a subscriber already to Biz Crusader, you can receive my posts via e-mail by clicking here.
 

Viral Marketing — Before My Space and You Tube

Posted by John Park on Sep 2nd, 2008
2008
Sep 2

word of mouth marketing

 

 
A few days ago, I was in a car with my Art Director, Albert.  As we always do, we had just stopped by a Starbucks after lunch to get our afternoon dose of caffeine.  As we were driving away, he started to tell me a story.  The story was about an experience he and his wife had at a Starbucks drive-thru.  He first tried to order an ice coffee.  They were out.  He then ordered a large coffee.  His wife ordered the same.  Unfortunately, they were in the process of brewing a fresh pot and he was told to pull forward and park while they get the coffee ready.
 
A few minutes later, one of the employees came out to the car with two freshly brewed large coffees.  As Albert reached for his wallet, the Starbucks employee in green said “It’s on the house.  Thanks for waiting.”  Obviously, this event had a very positive impact on Albert and his wife because here he was telling me all about it.  I asked him how many times he had told that story so far.  He had told the story twice before and he was pretty sure that his wife would have told the story a few times by now.  He didn’t even know it but he had now become an ambassador of Starbucks.  He was in essence an unpaid consumer salesperson because of a $4 customer service gesture.
 
Whether it was calculated or not, Starbucks deserves credit for having an employee make such a call and for having a corporate environment where an employee is allowed to make such a call.
 
Before there was My Space or You Tube, viral marketing used to be called something else—word of mouth.  As we all do our best to keep up with the “Techies”, don’t forget about the power of this important phrase.  Through your own personal actions and by encouraging a workplace culture that values customer service and superior quality, you will inevitably create ambassadors for your business as well.  There are no greater sales persons than unaffiliated third parties proudly spreading the word about your business.

 

How many unpaid business ambassadors do you have working for you?

 

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