March Madness in the Workplace


Teamwork is one of the most underrated skills in the business world. If you have a staff where everyone plays a specific role without jealousy or spite, your business is much more likely to be successful.

The importance of teamwork came to the front of my mind recently as I watched our hometown Dayton Flyers make a Cinderella run to Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament. Dayton, an 11 seed from a mid-major conference, utilized excellent teamwork to upset more talented teams like Ohio State and Syracuse.

It was clear to me that everyone on that team had accepted his role in order to achieve amazing team goals. This can be easily translated to the business world.

If everyone from your administrative staff to your CEO have the same team goals in mind, your business is more likely to be a success. Selflessness is required to be a good team member. Do your job, no matter the level of the corporate ladder, and it will pay off tenfold.

T.E.A.M. = Together Each Achieves More

For a funny demonstration of teamwork, I encourage you to see the video below:

Mirror Neurons, Glossophobia and A Thousand Paper Cuts


You are standing up on a stage bathed in the blue-white light of a spotlight. You know there is a crowd before you, but you can’t see past the very stage you stand on. Tremors buzz through your chest that turn your stomach into a hollow knot. The feeling works its way to your limbs as your heart begins to race and your mouth goes dry. You try not to breathe too hard, but surely they can see you practically panting up here. Your hands begin to tremble as you take hold of the microphone. You begin your speech, praying that this time your voice doesn’t shake.

Good grief – I’m stressed out just reading that. Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking. 74% of Americans in 2013 suffered from speech anxiety. Interestingly, the feelings we create for ourselves in public speech situations do not really change even when presented with a similar smaller-scale situation. I recently spoke with a friend who said she panics when speaking in front of a handful of her colleagues at regular meetings. It doesn’t matter if we’re standing up to give a presentation in front of 5 people or 500 – we still feel the glare of that spotlight.

I realize public speaking for most may be akin to death by a thousand paper cuts: slow and painful. You may never be a world champion Toastmaster, but you can still be an effective and engaging speaker. There are a few things I’ve learned over time that have helped me with addressing a room full of people: boost your confidence – talk yourself up before you begin. No one can do a better job than you right now. There is always someone in your audience who is a worse speaker than you are. Just strive to be better than them. Regardless if it’s true, the confidence you give yourself will make all the difference in your presentation.

Be mindful of your body. How we move says more than our words ever could. Video tape yourself – even just the first couple minutes of your speech. You’ll be critical of yourself, but be sure not to overdo it. Just identify the nervous habits that are distracting, and change them. We all have mirror neurons in our brain which help us to mirror how another person is feeling. If you are passionate about what you are talking about, even if I typically don’t care, at that moment I’m engaged and passionate with you. If you are nervous, I am just as uncomfortable as you are.

So the next time you sit down with a potential client, a roomful of co workers, or the whole world, sit up straight with your shoulders back, raise your chin and smile. You are a fabulous speaker, if only for the moment.

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.

What Can We Learn About Advertising From March Madness?


This time of year much of the programming on television is dedicated to March Madness.  For about six weeks in March and April the content of hundreds of college basketball games fill the schedules of multiple networks.

If you are watching many of these games surely you noticed there are a ton of advertisements.  In a college game there are a minimum of eight television timeouts, in addition to the five timeouts each team has available to them in every game.  Because of all these timeouts it’s no doubt that you could easily name more than five brands that are continuously being promoted during all these breaks.  Obviously there is a lot of value to putting those brands in March Madness to make sure you recognize them.

March Madness is an event.  That event is what brings the viewers, which brings the advertisers.  It’s the event that makes it extraordinarily easy for the advertisers to get the most viewers in the smallest amount of time and space.

Unlike a handful of advertisers, the vast majority of businesses can’t afford the prices charged for advertising during an event such as March Madness.  If your business can’t afford those prices, does that mean you are out of luck, or should you create your own “event” instead?

Actually, neither.

Fortunately, your business can benefit from built-in “events” throughout the year that don’t have outrageous advertising rates attached to them.  One such “event” has to do with the change of seasons throughout the year.

Take advantage of the change of the seasons.  Consumers almost instinctively adjust their buying habits on a seasonal basis.  Consumers are active during seasonal changes and you can make money from this by asking for their business at these specific times.  One of the biggest benefits of the change of seasons “event” is that you don’t have to pay a premium to participate.  There’s no extra fee or producer of the event to charge outrageous advertising fees.  Get active promotionally during these times and adjust your offerings according to the seasons.  Even if you don’t have a seasonal product or service, it doesn’t matter.  You can always adjust pricing or add-ons in order to make your offerings more attractive and valuable to consumers when they might not have otherwise been thinking of you.

Keep this in mind though, if you don’t get proactive about marketing your products and services at key times of the year, someone else will.  Who do you think would earn that business?

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

The Introvert Bias


Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is one of my favorite public figures. She herself is an introvert, but has found it within herself to speak to the world about the power of introversion and why the world is leaving them behind.

Cain explains that there is a difference between shyness and introverts, yet as a society,  we’ve come to regard them as one in the same. She says shyness is a fear of judgment and introversion is simply introspective, reflective and quiet.

She goes on to question why we have started emphatically using group work, open office spaces and stimulating environments. Introverts feel most alive, creative and capable in a quiet, less stimulating environment. The ironic part is that up to half of Americans are introverted – so nearly half of the population’s needs are being either ignored, or worse, shamed.

Something I found very interesting that she said was that extroverts get so excited that they put their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily bubble up to the surface. Recently I took a leadership class, and this truth was very self-evident.

As a class, my professor took us out of the classroom and outside, down the stairs and past the parking garage until we had walked a total of about ten or so minutes from the classroom. He stopped us all and started passing out bandanas (to which we gave him very confused looks). He stated we’d have to make it back to the classroom…blindfolded. And we had to do it all together, never letting go of each other. If that wasn’t enough, we had only 5 minutes to make a plan and get ready, then only 1 hour to reach the classroom.

What happened next was interesting. In a room full of leadership students, chaos broke out. Quickly and subconsciously the group broke in two, with the loud students shouting their ideas and the quiet, more introverted speaking quietly amongst themselves and observing the other group. Eventually the decision was made (in well under 5 minutes), and the plan was executed. Was it the best solution? Maybe. Maybe not.

When all was said and done our professor stood before us and recapped what he saw. He told us that while the group was deciding on a solution, the extroverts completely shut out the introverts, who were in fact coming up with the more creative ideas. But because they wouldn’t yell above everyone else, their ideas were never heard. His lesson for us that day was that sometimes a great leader isn’t the one who will yell the loudest, but rather the one who won’t.

Susan Cain did a very entertaining and informative TED Talk , which you can watch below.

Contributed by Ashley Hudson

Schmaltzy As A Work of Art

Annie L

Thinking about photography in advertising, I immediately thought of Annie Liebovitz, one of my favorite portrait photographers. Considered one of the most talented commercial photographers of today, she is most known for her Rolling Stone Magazine Portraits of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, actresses Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, and Demi Moore as well as so many other covers that were photographed while working for the Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines.

In 2007 Liebovitz started the Disney Dream Portrait ad campaign to promote Disney Parks’ “Year of a Million Dreams“. This series took noteworthy celebrities and turned them into Disney Characters giving the audience a sense of familiarity but also creating a whimsical and imaginative ad to attract Disney fans of all ages. Just to name a few that you might remember seeing: actor Russell Brand as Captain Hook, singer Jennifer Hudson as Tiana from the Frog and the Prince, and actors Will Ferrell, Jack Black and Jason Segel as Phineas, Ezra and Gus from the Haunted Mansion attraction at the Disney Park.

Annie L (2)

To critique the photographer, in 2011 The Huffington Post is quoted saying, “Though the photos can be a bit, shall we say, schmaltzy, they are still works of art as advertising.”  Personally I would say when it comes to advertising sometimes the schmaltzier the better! From what I’ve learned “schmaltzy” isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the world of advertising. The Disney Dream Portrait Ad has been in publication for years and is still successfully being publicized today. Keep that in mind as you’re coming up with your own advertising ideas. Give them something they will remember! We’re always thinking of imaginative ways to represent RSVP and to advertise your business.

As Annie Leibovitz has said in the past, “my hope is that we continue to nurture the places that we love, but that we also look outside our immediate worlds.”

You can check out Liebovitz’s latest installment of the campaign, taken of one of the newest Disney movies, Brave, with Actress Jessica Chastain here.

Annie L (3)

Contributed by Crista Kling.

Police Rides, Blindfolds and Art: How Each Helps Inspire Leadership


I had the good fortune recently of taking a leadership class at a local university. Alright, if we’re being honest with each other I wasn’t happy about driving the hour down to this night class after working all day.  That is, until I sat down for that first class. I knew this was going to be no ordinary class the minute it started.

I learned two major life lessons under the watch of my exuberant and charismatic professor.

The first life lesson I learned in this class was that we need leadership – and all kinds, very badly. I’m not just talking about in positions like politics. One of our assignments was to do a police ride along – and when he announced that this was one of our projects, I saw more than a few heads shake, obviously unsure about having to do it. But those very people were probably the ones who learned the most from it. It gives you a whole new perspective about leadership. It shows us that we need leaders in each aspect of our lives.  Whether you run a business, a department, or a family, your leadership will touch those around you, and if you do it right, the energy you exude will wind around those you lead and lift them to whole new levels of motivation, cooperation and productivity.

Second lesson? The phrase ‘that’s just how it is’ no longer applies to my life. Everyone knows school is a pain, and if you ask nearly anyone they’ll tell you they ‘don’t miss those days.’ Well, if they’d taken my leadership class, they certainly wouldn’t feel that way. From timed team art projects to being led around campus by my peers while we were all blindfolded (near some light traffic, I might add), we learned through experiences, and not a book, what leadership meant. He challenged us in a way that no professor had ever done for me, and he made school fun again.

If every professor had his passion and energy, I guarantee grades, attendance, and undoubtedly, tuition would go up. The point is, he could have made a PowerPoint, and he could have simply lectured like every other class, because that’s just how school is. It certainly would have been easier, and still earned him a paycheck. But he went above and beyond, and he challenged what a ‘normal’ class should be. He showed me that things don’t have to be ordinary. They truly can be extraordinary.

For anyone who might say, well you’re just out of college, so wait until you’ve been in the real world a while, I’d say to you that I already am. I have been fortunate to find a boss who is open-minded to new ideas and routinely asks how we can make things more effective, cost efficient and creative. If you don’t have leadership like this, don’t give up. Do your part, and inspire those around you to do the same. It will all come full circle; you just have to believe in the extraordinary.

For an hilariously inspiring example of leadership, and the future of it, I encourage you to watch the following video:

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.


Why Administrative Professionals are Your Best Friend in the Business World.

Thank you to Virtual Officenters for this accurate depiction of Administrative Professionals!

You rock…and we know it.

How many times have you heard that dreaded sound coming from the copy machine? You know, the sound of paper crunching and the copier making that weird noise that means only one thing? PAPER JAM! As a wave of panic begins to wash over you, you quickly scan the office for the one person who can solve this disastrous problem….your friendly, helpful Administrative Professional!

In my humble opinion, Administrative Professionals are the crux of any work environment. From answering the phones to creating spreadsheets and proofing power point presentations, we can do a plethora of tasks assigned to us at a moment’s notice.

We support individuals, departments and entire offices. We love helping people, making their lives easier and making sure offices run in efficient manner….we are, your best friend!

Make sure you keep that in mind, because Administrative Professional’s day is coming up soon – April 23rd, and you’ll want to make sure you thank those you work with for all they do. Some great ideas are a workspace makeover, buy them lunch, let them work a half day, or a spa gift certificate! Whatever you do, even if it’s just a card, make sure you let them know how much you sincerely appreciate them.

Contributed by Marcella Gillespie

The Trap of Generic Advertising

Advertising is so pervasive today that there’s practically nowhere you can go without seeing or hearing an advertising message from a business grappling for your attention. That’s capitalism.

Many studies have been produced that say we’re bombarded by anywhere from 500 to 2,000 advertisements per day Just think about the number of signs you pass by that indicate a business’s brand or location, all while your radio is cranking out blocks of sixty-second spots between your handful of tunes or news and weather.

Are you really digesting all these images and messages? The advertisers hope you are. But too many advertisers are just wasting their money with generic messaging which could also fall under the category of branding.

If you are going to spend thousands of dollars to blow away your potential customer with your message, why wimp out with just a pretty picture and a phone number? Does that type of message actually ask your target to take out his or her wallet and give you their money?

Your advertisement must be bold. I don’t mean that you have to be controversial or outrageous to get attention. You just have to be straightforward and clear about what you want the recipient to do with your message. You want them to buy. Give them the map to do it.

Think about it this way – what is the tipping point at which an advertiser gets you to take action now? If you make them a special offer, make it special . Most people won’t get out of bed for just ten percent off. You know what your customers like. Give it to them. They’ll return in kind.

Contributed by: Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Part 3

Posted by Renee Pugh and Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget is a Terrible Thing to Waste: a Three-Part Series That Will Save You Money – Part Three

Welcome to the final post of our three-part series on how to STOP wasting your marketing money on ineffective advertising. We started by introducing the idea of the cluttered “kitchen sink” ad, and explained why this ad is not conducive to driving business; then we moved on to the bare “minimalist” ad and why it may not bring business your way. Today we finish up by helping you advertise like the Godfather. Remember the premise we started with:

An advertisement should do at least two things: educate your prospects about what you sell/do, and move them to do business with you.

Sealing the Deal Like the Godfather: How to Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Business owners commonly associate “offer” with “discount,” and are understandably reluctant to discount their products and services. You have invested significant amounts of time, money, and care into developing your business; discounting what you sell can feel like discounting your hard work – and that is painful. This pain can lead to making weak offers that do nothing to encourage consumers to act, and that is one of the purposes of advertising!

Crafting a compelling call to action doesn’t have to hurt. It simply requires that you think like a consumer – what could someone offer you that would make you want to buy from her? Be creative and think outside the dashed lines of the coupon box:

  • Offer a service that complements a purchase, such as free home delivery on furniture, or a color consultation with any haircut. These add-on services make a consumer feel like she is getting a great deal on something that would normally cost extra!
  • Develop a member rewards club and give “charter members” an exclusive gift with their first purchase as a member. A local café owner may give his first 50 members a free coffee and donut, for example. This little gift is low-cost to the café owner, and it makes his 50 “charter members” feel like they are part of a select group of favored customers – which will make them champion his business to their friends and families.
  • Offer a free “upgrade” with the purchase of your products or services. A spa owner might add aromatherapy to a standard massage for a “luxury” experience, or an HVAC specialist might perform a system inspection on any service call. An upgrade is enough for a consumer to call you, and by offering a preview of your other products and services, you will keep her coming back for more.
  • Your own unique idea – go wild!

This isn’t meant to prevent you from discounting. Discounts are quick and easy ways to grab a consumer’s attention and get results. There is, unfortunately, no hard-and-fast rule for what makes a good discount, but keep the following in mind:

  • A small discount will make your business seem greedy and cheap; a large discount will make your business look desperate.
  • If possible, make your discount a dollar amount rather than a percentage off. Dollar amounts are easier for consumers to process and register, so “$10 off $100” sounds like a better deal than “10% off $100” – even though they’re the same!
  • This is the most important tip: you know best the value of your products and services. If a discount makes you feel uncomfortable, or makes you worry about your business’ well-being, then it isn’t the discount for you. And that’s OK! Just keep trying until you find one that works.

And really, that is the bottom line of creating a great ad: you have to make it your own. You will get your best results when you are creative and stay true to your business. We know that is easier said than done, so feel free to drop us a line or ask us a question at the email address in our contact info. We will do our best to answer your question and offer guidance, and who knows? You may inspire a future blog post!

RSVP Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana

888 958-7787

A Marketing Budget Is A Terrible Thing to Waste: Part 2

Posted by Renee Pugh and Jeff Vice

A Marketing Budget is a Terrible Thing to Waste: a Three-Part Series That Will Save You Money – Part Two

Welcome to the second part of our three part series on how to STOP wasting your marketing money on ineffective advertising. Our first part introduced the idea of the cluttered “kitchen sink” ad, and explained why this ad is not conducive to driving business; you can catch up with part one here (link).

Today we move on to part two, but first we want you to remind you of the premise we suggested you keep in mind throughout the series:

An advertisement should do at least two things: educate your prospects about what you sell/do, and move them to do business with you.

Part 2: Minimizing Impact & Results with the Minimalist

A quick note before we dive in: minimalist ads can work if done correctly. Such ads require both a strong visual and either a strong brand – think of ad campaigns by companies such as Apple, Absolut Vodka, and Volkswagon – or a strong message. See here and here  for some examples of striking and effective minimalist ads; both galleries contain sexually suggestive material, so please use caution when clicking. You will see that it is possible to produce a successful minimalist ad, but bear in mind that these ads are often intended to build awareness (educate) and not necessarily encourage direct action.

Yet, business owners still produce these ads in hopes of drumming up business NOW. The minimalist is the opposite of the kitchen sink method from our last post. Where the kitchen sink ad overwhelms prospects with a glut of information, the minimalist ad barely gives prospects enough information to even make them take notice. These ads typically include the business’ name, address, and phone number – with the occasional website address or haphazard visual thrown in for flavor. While avoiding the issue of clutter that beleaguers the kitchen sink ad, minimalist ads provide little or no information on the products or services offered and give prospects no reason to call.

This another easy mistake to make; you spend nearly every waking moment building and nurturing your business and know it like the back of your hand. Chances are, your immediate friends and family share this familiarity with what you do, and it becomes easy to live in a bubble where your business’ name is directly connected to what you offer. Remember that advertising requires that we think like consumers, not business owners – and consumers live outside our bubble! It’s OK to test the minimalist waters, but at least start by adding a little something to your ad that will make prospects give you a call. It is as simple as adding a basic offer to your ad – this will be your call to action. It is what makes consumers act upon your ad, and it is also the third and most common way business owners blow their marketing dollars.

Join us next time for our third and final installment in this series, “Sealing the Deal Like the Godfather: How to Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse.” Ring-kissing is optional!

RSVP Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana

888 958-7787