Market Mentors honored among the region’s “Super 60”
As the region’s largest and most trusted full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency, we are thrilled to have again been named one of the 2017 Super 60 winners by the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Super 60 awards program, now in its 28th year, celebrates the success of the fastest-growing and privately-owned businesses in the region that continue to make significant contributions to the strength of the regional economy. The program recognizes 30 local companies with the highest revenue and 30 with the fastest growing revenue. Market Mentors qualified in both categories and was recognized in the area of revenue growth at the awards luncheon Friday, Oct. 27 at Chez Josef in Agawam.
We are honored to again be included on this list of successful local businesses. Our agency brings together a vast amount of experience across a range of industries, including automotive, banking, higher education, health care, insurance, law, manufacturing, politics, retail and more. Despite the sometimes-turbulent economy, we have experienced steady growth thanks to the strong partnerships we develop with our clients and the results we deliver to them.
To be considered for the Super 60, companies must be based in Hampden or Hampshire counties or be a member of the Springfield Regional Chamber, have revenues of at least $1 million in the last fiscal year, be an independent and privately-owned company, and be in business at least three full years. Companies are selected based on their percentage of revenue growth over a full three-year period or total revenues for the latest fiscal year.
I founded Market Mentors in 2003. In the past year, we have expanded to 20 full-time employees and now offer a depth and breadth of experience that is hard to match in western Massachusetts and the region. And we continue to grow; to learn about open positions, visit marketmentors.com/careers.
Many people are surprised to find such a robust and experienced agency in our local market. We offer a suite of services not typical at other local agencies in the region, offering expertise in all things media––paid, earned, owned and shared—making us a true, full-service agency.
Get to Know Your Customers
Get to Know Your Customers! Forming meaningful relationships with your customers will inspire them to continue visiting your business. Plus, having their feedback will help you improve your bottom line.
Here are three easy ways to engage:
Host a reception – Hosting an event in honor of those who frequent your business will be a hit! It doesn’t have to be too elaborate, simply having a few refreshments and snacks will go a long way. Send invitations in the mail to preferred customers, or make it an open event for everyone. Either way you decide, holding an event will give you the opportunity to speak to customers and hear their feedback, not to mention strengthen relationships and reward loyal customers while gaining new ones. When a customer feels like they know you, they’ll be more likely to continue coming to your business.
Be social – Many businesses may not have the time or resources for frequent customer appreciation events, so social media is a great alternative. With that said, the communication needs to be two-way. If a customer comments on your Facebook profile, send them a message thanking them for their feedback. Businesses who take the time to interact with customers virtually build relationships in “real life”. Get into a habit of going online and conversing with your customers!
Send a survey – Whether you send a survey through the mail or via email, you’ll be able to determine your customer’s demographic and satisfaction level. When you send a survey, remember to include a message saying, “thank you for your patronage” and offering an incentive like a coupon with a discount or giveaway for responding to the survey (who doesn’t love free stuff?). Positive reinforcements will likely urge them to continue giving you their business, and potentially tell others about your company.
Each business is different, and your customers will have different needs, so if you still aren’t sure how to get to know your customers, consider a brainstorming session with your employees. Taking the time to acknowledge your customers will help solidify a relationship with them and keep them coming back!
Loyal customers are what makes every business successful, so turn an ordinary day into something extraordinary for the people who patronize your business. Make it a point to get to know your customers a little more and make them feel like they are important, because they are the backbone of every business. A small token of appreciation will go a long way, and soon you will be seeing them come back again and again.
Want to learn more about how you can benefit from all the expertise we can provide to you through comprehensive marketing, advertising and public relations? Contact us today.
The Price of PR: Grow Your Business with Earned Media
Marketing is a powerful business development tool, and with the rapid (and costly!) changes occurring in the media landscape, many businesses are struggling to find the budget to keep marketing in the business plan. That’s when public relations––one of the most cost-effective marketing initiatives connecting your experts with the public through the use of media––becomes even more important than ever.
News coverage is free
Unlike advertising, or paid media, public relations generates “earned media.” This means that when a reporter or editor interviews you, the reference in a news article is free of charge. There is, however, a cost (time) associated with the development of press releases or media outreach. But it’s worth remembering that successful public relations outreach can generate articles and broadcast stories that would cost considerably more if the space or air time was purchased through advertising.
Public relations builds awareness and credibility
Sometimes the most difficult part of business development is just getting your message in front of people. From new products and services to everyday best practices for living, there are many topics a reporter or editor may want to use your expertise to support.
Public relations professionals build relationships with the media to connect them with sources, which is often why contracting a marketing agency can be helpful. Just one article or broadcast story can amplify the awareness of a product, service or brand. What’s more, once reporters, editors and producers have an expert as a contact, they are likely to call back for other stories. Repeat appearances and regular guest columns are often the result of successful media outreach, which catapults awareness.
Credibility is one of the strongest arguments for the value of public relations. While a business or brand can say they are the best at what they do or produce, it does not ring true unless others think and say so, too.
Public relations opportunities
News coverage should be just that, new! Here are a few general ideas about topics that may intrigue media targets:
- New products and services that offer value to their audience
- New hires and promotions
- Success stories
- Accreditations, expertise and awards
- Special events
- Local expertise about trending topics
Overall, the benefits of public relations opportunities are vast. Understanding that it takes time to develop a relationship and rapport with key media targets and influencers is important. Equally important is how to facilitate media relations; for example, by being responsive to fast-paced deadlines and providing well-written, compelling press releases.
If done effectively, public relations is a cost-effective and persuasive marketing tool that businesses should consider as part of any marketing plan. When you’re ready, contact us––we have exceptionally strong connections with the media and a great record of producing results.
In a creative rut? 10 ideas to get unstuck
Suffering from creative block? It happens to the best of us. At Market Mentors, however, our success often depends on our creativity, so we employ a variety of methods to keep our creativity flowing. Here are our top 10:
- Lisa T. turns to something creative in a different way, like painting or gardening. One form of creativity often leads to another.
- Sometimes, it’s hard to get out of your own way. Laura peruses creative websites to help jog her imagination and approach things from new angles.
- Silence is not always golden. Amanda, Shubhada and Sue S. turn up the tunes––just don’t try to get them to agree on what tunes!
- You got to move it, move it! Sarah and Shubhada both find dancing helps them relax and loosen up. In the same spirit, any sort of physical activity can help unblock your creative juices. Ashley lifts weights and Amy S. likes to hit the gym.
- A change of scenery can change your perspective, which is why Amanda and Shubhada sometimes take a walk. The fresh air works wonders as well. Michelle often comes up with some of her best ideas while driving (or eating ice cream!).
- Group activities can improve the creativity of a whole team, provided it’s something everyone enjoys. We’ve done group paint nights, created succulent gardens, volunteered together to help local causes, and more. Escaping the confines of the office together adds an extra dimension to our work.
- Sue S. finds activating her left brain often stimulates her right brain, so she’ll play a quick game or two of Scramble with Friends or Bejeweled Blitz.
- Shubhada recommends journaling or coloring––those adult coloring books are popular for a reason!
- Our whole team knows that laughter can work creative magic! Our brainstorming sessions can get a bit silly, but we recognize that sometimes even the most outlandish ideas lead to something special.
- Wine a little! While we’re not promoting alcohol consumption, your creativity is often unleashed when you are at your most relaxed. Whether that includes a glass of wine, a relaxing bath or shower, or time with family, some down time can result in a boost of creativity.
Still stuck or want help executing your idea? Contact us. That’s what we’re here for!
Staff Picks: Books That Have Helped Us In Our Careers
Sue Spiry, Marketing Specialist
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. Many people panic when faced with a blank page they have to fill, even seasoned writers. Anne shares the advice her father gave her 10-year-old brother when he was faced with having to write a report on birds: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” Anne’s words will inspire you from “Getting Started” to “Shitty First Drafts,” all the way through “How to Know When You’re Done.” And she’ll keep you laughing out loud along with way.
Nick Olds, Public Relations Account Executive
Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about common themes and behaviors of exceptional people. It’s actually really interesting because Gladwell has a theory of the “10,000 hour rule” where if you practice something for that many hours, you’ll become world class in your field. Whether that’s true or not, I recommend this book because it presents a lot of really interesting ideas about practice and its impact on anything a person might want to do for a career.
Mary Lempke, Copywriter
The Wizard of Ads, by Roy H. Williams. A classic. Written nearly two decades ago, but the wisdom is timeless in this book that explores what works, and what doesn’t, in the world of advertising, and why.
Laura Stopa, Senior Designer
Leadership and Self-Deception, by The Arbinger Institute. This book offers an interesting way to think about how you interact with others and yourself. It’s written as a story, so it’s an enjoyable read. It gives you a way to determine when you are deceiving yourself, helps you take an unbiased look at how you treat and talk to people, and see how that affects others. A good choice for leaders/ managers/ employees who wonder why they have issues with other people in their work and personal lives.
Amanda Moyer, Director, Client Services
Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. I like that this book encourages people to think about context before they begin a project to ensure that each person on the team is on the same page from the start. It really makes you slow down, stop and think, which is important in our fast-paced environment. It’s important to share the big picture first so that people can think beyond what they are doing to why they are doing it.
Amy Scribner, Manager, Account Services
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shade Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. Ariely refutes the common assumptions that we behave in fundamentally rational ways; from drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a new car to choosing a romantic partner. He also talks about how we consistently underestimate and procrastinate, and yet all these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless––making us predictably irrational.
Paula Lynch, Media Coordinator
Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. This book offers ways to stop procrastinating, focus on accomplishing the tasks that are most important, and get more done in less time. The concept is based on a quote from Mark Twain who said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Lisa Grenier, Account Executive
Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson. I am of the belief that we have a great amount of responsibility for our own career success. There are many who will continue in an environment that is not beneficial and yet not take the action required to change the environment. I sometimes think of the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Once you stop expecting others to fix your problems, you become responsible and therefore more in control of your destination.
Michelle Abdow, President
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. If you are going to learn, you might was well learn from a master. This classic affirmed my belief to just be me, to be genuine. Carnegie’s advice is as relevant now as it was when he wrote this book over 60 years ago.
The Dos and Don’ts of a Successful, Integrated Campaign
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing but nobody else does. – Stuart H. Britt
All too often, businesses adopt the belief that “if you build it, they will come.” The truth is, all products and services, no matter how good, will go unused if no one knows about them. Don’t be the best-kept secret. An advertising plan, no matter the scale, will increase awareness of your brand, and ultimately, your bottom line. The key to the success of your advertising campaign is inherently tied to your commitment in supporting it both philosophically and economically, and your vigilance in seeing it through, all the while maintaining consistency of voice and imagery.
Easier said than done, right? Not to fear. We’ve compiled the following advertising Dos and Don’ts to help you plan a successful, integrated advertising campaign.
- DON’T fall victim to ‘me too’ messaging or imagery. DO differentiate.
“For all your needs.” Sure, maybe you do it all, soup-to-nuts, but proclaiming to be all things to all people, in addition to sounding cliché, is a missed opportunity to stand out. So many of your competitors are relying on canned, generic marketing-speak to convey their message. Why not capitalize on their lack of creativity and instead put forth a meaningful message to promote your brand or service?
Differentiating yourself visually is just as important as creating brand-specific messaging; be careful with stock photography. If the image you are using in your advertising campaign is not rights managed—meaning, you are paying a royalty to own it and block others in your target market from using it—you run the risk of driving down a main thoroughfare and seeing what you believe is your billboard, only to find out a competitor has selected “your image” for their own advertisement. Just as you would not choose to use the same logo as an existing company, so, too, should you refrain from sharing imagery with another business.
- DON’T (try to) shove 10 pounds of anything in a 5-pound bag. DO clearly articulate your message (and make it concise!).
Take a minute and try to think of a slogan of a well-known brand. Perhaps NIKE’s “Just Do It.” came to mind. Or maybe you recalled the line made famous by MilkPEP (Milk Processor Education Program) in their national campaign: “Got Milk?®”
What do these messages have in common? They’re short, catchy and above all else, concise. Why then, do so many companies fall prey to mixed messaging, industry jargon and never-ending copy in their print ads, radio spots and television commercials?
Trying to communicate too many messages doesn’t do anything but confuse your audience. Consumers have a small attention span so it’s often better to deliver one, focused message rather than a handful they will gloss over. If you’re keen on delivering a number of messages, consider advertising campaigns that focus on one message or benefit at a time. Targeted campaigns make better use of advertising resources and ultimately will increase your return on investment.
- DO remain consistent. DON’T throw in the towel prematurely.
How fortunate if the advertisement for your product or service is played at the precise moment a consumer is contemplating it, and they are paying close attention. In the real world, this rarely happens. It is more likely that your customers only hear part of your advertisement and don’t retain your phone number or website.
That is why consistency and frequency in messaging is critical to the success of your advertising campaign. Your phones will only begin to ring after your message has been delivered to your target audience a number of times. The “Rule of Seven” is an old marketing adage that says a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you (and with the media saturation that exists today, that number is likely much higher now).You will become tired of your campaign long before your customers, as it only gets through to them a limited number of times.
As difficult as it may be to wait for results to be yielded, the benefits will come in time.
- DO take advantage of earned media opportunities. DON’T look a gift horse in the mouth.
Earned media opportunities are part of a well-rounded advertising plan. While free of cost in terms of placement, the amount of work that goes into securing them can far surpass the effort to purchase, for instance, a print advertisement in the very same publication. If you manage to secure time with a writer, editor or other news persona, it is imperative to work around their availability, even if the scheduled interview doesn’t perfectly align with your own busy schedule.
While it is difficult to measure effectiveness of many public relations activities, the credibility earned media provides proves invaluable in overall strategy and long-term planning. Further, the additional “mentions” allow your brand to remain top-of-mind with your target audience.
- DO know your audience. DON’T assume you are a part of it.
You’ve just invested significant monies into producing, editing and placing a television commercial promoting your business. You pop some popcorn, settle in for the night in front of your television, waiting expectantly to view your masterpiece. As the night wears on and your eyes begin to droop, you’ve yet to see it flash across the screen—how could this be?
Before you get upset, ask yourself—are you the demographic you are trying to reach? Or do you just enjoy seeing your commercial on television?
An important aspect of advertising is targeted reach. It is just as important to refine your target audience as it is to refine your message. It’s important to know your audience and understand that may not be a part of it. If that’s the case, you want to place your messages where they will hear them, and you won’t.
If developing a successful, integrated advertising campaign still seems daunting, let us help. Our expert team will work with you to create and place your messaging where it needs to be to drive results.
Email – Do’s and Dont’s
Sending emails to your boss, co-workers, prospects or existing clients has the potential to be a minefield of professional correctness/decorum, with each inappropriate joke and incorrectly capitalized letter a disaster waiting to happen. Sending an email is obviously very convenient but should not be used to upset or avoid someone.
- Don’t use emails to avoid personal contact – If you’re sending an email that could potentially confuse or be emotional for the recipient, call the person or speak with them face-to-face.
- Reply to all emails sent to you – If it appears you were sent a message by accident, still reply to make sure it was a mistake. Also, try to respond to emails within 24 hours on the next business day.
- Email is not private – Email is considered business property, so assume the email will be read by everyone. Also, don’t use your business email for personal matters.
- Very important! Check over your email twice before sending it out – Not only do you want to make sure it’s clear, and words are spelled correctly, you also want to verify: subject line, correct contact information and add any attachments.
- Add the email address last – You don’t want to accidently send the email before you have finished writing or proofing the emails. Also double-check you selected the correct recipient.
- Keep tabs on your tone – For sensitive emails, have a trusted colleague read it and provide feedback on the tone or words that may be misinterpreted.
- “Reply All” – Use “Reply All” when you are dividing up responsibilities for a group task, or you have a question about a group task or event that everyone in the email group needs to have answered. Another rule of thumb, use “Reply All” if your answer will affect others’ plans of action. And if you need to target only a few members of the group, use the FORWARD function and enter the members’ names manually.
There are a variety of pitfalls we all succumb to when emailing and we should be mindful to avoid them. Starting with the subject line to the closing, email should be thought of as an important piece of communication that should be used wisely.
- Include a clear and straightforward subject line – The recipient will decide if it’s worth opening now or later based on the subject line. Great examples include “Proposal ideas” or “Presentation date changed.”
- Don’t use Bcc (blind copy) to keep others from seeing who you copied – Bcc should only be used when sending to a large distribution list so recipient’s messages won’t be cluttered with a long list of email addresses. Only Cc people who are directly involved.
- Use professional salutations – Salutations such as “Dear”, “Hi”, or “Good Morning” are appropriate – depending on how familiar you are with the recipient, you may use their first name, their last name (with Mr., Ms. Mrs.) or a combination of the two.
- Use phrases such as – “Sincerely”, “Yours sincerely”, “Thank you”, “Thank you again”, “Respectfully yours”, etc. Also, don’t forget to thank the recipient for their time. Lastly, include your name and title, your employer’s name, the business’ postal address, and business phone number.
- Keep messages brief and to the point, concentrating on one subject per message if possible – At one point, everyone has had to wade through clunky, wordy emails that took two paragraphs to ask one question.
- Don’t be careless with grammar – Don’t write in all caps, as IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING. Don’t write in all lower case, because it looks lazy. Use exclamation points sparingly and only to convey excitement. Most important, use good grammar. Not only are you representing your company, you are also representing yourself. Don’t use abbreviations such as “ain’t”, “LOL”, or BTW, etc.
- Don’t use fancy fonts – They are unprofessional and not everyone is able to display these images.
And there you have it: emails: keep it to-the-point, clear, and classy and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Inside the Audio Studio
When meeting the team at Market Mentors, no spin around the office is complete without stopping by the audio studio. If you have ever felt intimidated by a studio setting, consider our recording space the antidote to the cold, dark environs you may have visited in your travels. Inside this studio, you can hide away in a “live” room where, surrounded by acoustic padding, you can take your time to focus and record your message for a commercial, enhance existing audio tracks, compose the audio component of a presentation or what-have-you.
It’s understandable how people might be a bit shy in front of a microphone but I do believe we can alleviate the fear of the unknown with a little sharing.
What to Expect
The studio is an intimate space, accommodating a control room where the equipment is housed and an adjoining booth called a “live room.” This cozy spot provides an inner sanctum to quiet ambient noise and by virtue of design, limits distractions. I encourage the person in the live room to relax and recognize that there is no audience present, no panel of judges to please, so you don’t have to imagine anyone in their underwear!
As your coach and audio tech, I will do my best to put you at ease and work with you to help convey the message you want, the way you want. Bear in mind, your voice-over doesn’t have to be perfect.
Did you take sharp breaths between sentences? Not to worry, I can take those out.
Did you stumble over words? I’ll take that out, too. Just pick up where you left off.
Liked the way you started a sentence in “take 1” but prefer the way you finished the sentence in “take 2?” That’s an easy edit.
You won’t even have to spend time waiting as the work is edited and processed. Once I have your raw tracks recorded, I’ll take it from there. You’ll have done all you need to do
If a project involves recording your voice, there are a few things you may want to avoid consuming just prior to and during recording. For example, soda drinkers will find water is a better choice and coffee drinkers who race after a cup of joe might want to brew a cup of decaf.
- Take deep breaths. Even if you are not recording, take deep breaths. It’s not only calming but it helps to open your lungs, preparing your body to project your voice.
- Wear comfy shoes! You will stand to record and you will sound SO much better for the effort.
- Do you have an idea brewing? Talk to your Market Mentors rep and let’s get started.
I Can Do It Myself
Confidence is good. Giving it your all to get the desired end result is admirable. Who needs a professional when you can do it yourself? Well in the case of the desired cake image above, it may have been best left in the hands of the professional. Not saying that the cake on the right doesn’t have some endearing qualities but when you want to get it right, when it matters how you’re representing yourself, it does. Same holds true when it’s your business and important to put your best foot forward – it is often best to get advice from a professional.
The result of using a professional for your marketing is knowing that you are benefitting from their expertise. They know all the components (ingredients), are able to combine their knowledge and creativity (mix), and you can be assured that the end result (bake) will be something you are happy to share with the world. There is no trial and error, no baking mishaps, no waste, and in a nutshell, a professional will deliver a plan that will be well designed, produced perfectly and admired by all that see it.
An advertising firm should complement and support your marketing plans and efforts. They should be using your inspiration, desire, and thoughts to gather the ingredients to create.
And, best of all, contacting us for a free consult is a piece of cake.
Pro Tips: Adult Snow Days
Snow day! Music to a child’s ears, but not always to an adult’s. Unless, perhaps, you are fortunate enough to have the type of job – and the type of boss – that allows you to work from home. Working from home on a snow day or other weather emergency is a lovely perk to have, as well as an opportunity and a privilege.
Without as many distractions, you may find yourself better able to focus, and may even get more accomplished than when you are in the office. This is a huge opportunity to:
- Catch up on correspondence. If, like many of us, you find your inbox is full to overflowing, use this day to address it. This includes both your virtual inbox and your physical one. Ditch the junk. Respond to anything you can take off your plate quickly. Sort, file and delegate.
- Organize your notes and your thoughts on a project. Had a lot of meetings with little time to breathe in between? Review your notes and write recaps. Follow up on anything you promised to do.
- Brainstorm! A change of scenery (and working in your pajamas) can provide you with a different perspective. If you’ve been stuck creatively, this may be the perfect time to approach a challenge from a new angle.
- Learn something new. Is there something you can learn to do online to make you more productive at work? Chances are you can learn how to do it while you’re home, thanks to Google, YouTube or online learning programs like Lynda.com
Keep in mind that while a day working from home may be more relaxed than a day in the office (you are in your PJs, right?), it’s still a work day if you’re getting paid. Show your boss you know what this means:
- Check in. Let your boss or your team know what you’re working on. You should have something to show for your time at home.
- Be responsive. Show your team or your customers they can still count on you – answer your phone and messages promptly.
- Be honest. Talk to your boss about your circumstances. If you have small children to entertain and supervise, or if you spend a significant portion of the day on tasks like snow removal, it’s better to take time off. You want your boss to be able to trust that when you are working from home, you’re really working.
- Express your appreciation. Many people, like those in hospitals, public safety or other industries, can’t stay home to work in a snow storm. But if you can, and your boss allows it, be sure to say thanks.
Our hard-working team at Market Mentors always does its best for our clients, no matter the weather. If we can help you, let us know.
Got a claim? Be sure to back it up!
Got a claim? Be sure to back it up!
One of my favorite scenes in the movie “Elf” is the one in the coffee shop:
World’s best cup of coffee! Wow!
This scene is hilarious, but it illustrates a trap that is all too common in advertising. While your parents may believe you are the best, the rest of us need proof.
It’s easy to describe yourself using superlatives — highest quality, fastest service, best tasting — but if you don’t offer any proof, you’re only offering empty words. Words your competitors can also use, and words that don’t mean anything to your customers.
Back it up
If you can indeed claim to be at the top of your particular heap, back it up. For example, instead of “World’s Best Cup of Coffee,” showcase the results of your latest taste test that lets you say “The Choice of Coffee Connoisseurs.” Or instead, let your customers make the case for you: “No Other Coffee I’ve Tried Measures Up.”
To take it a step further, dig down to find out what really sets you apart from your competitors, and turn that into a benefit for your customers. Got the fastest response times? Let your customers know that they will waste less time waiting around. Offer 24/7 service? Let them know you’re ready when they are.
Any time and money you spend on research up front will pay for itself when you hone in on what makes you special and resonates with your customers.
Walk the Talk
It’s also important that you don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Your goal should always be to exceed expectations. If you promise one hour delivery, be sure you consistently deliver in less than one hour. Setting the bar high and then failing to reach it not only defeats your efforts, it leaves you in worse shape than ever.
If you do miss the mark on occasion, have a plan in place for service recovery so you don’t lose the customer completely. Apologize sincerely, and then make it right. If you didn’t meet the promised delivery window, waive the cost of the order or the delivery charge, or help offset the consequences of your mistake. Then make sure you identify the source of the problem and take steps internally to prevent it from happening again.
Don’t Overlook Onboarding!
In doing a bit of digging for this blog post, I found some staggering stats via the Harvard Business Review. Nearly 33% of new hires look for a new job within their first six months on the job and 23% of new hires turn over before their first anniversary. Wait, what?! How might you prevent this from happening within your company? Effective onboarding.
Onboarding can be overwhelming, so it is important to first focus on getting across high-level milestones to your new hire. Sure, there are required forms to fill out and fellow employees to meet, but if you don’t get across your company’s story, culture and long term goals in the beginning of the onboarding process, you stand the chance to lose your
most recent hire.
Well organized onboarding not only improves employee performance, but it helps reduce employee frustration, sets up clear expectations and leaves the new hire feeling empowered and ready to get to work.
What are some simple, high-level ways in which to engage your most recent hire? Try to incorporate the following:
- Set them up: Get their space ready and ensure they have all they need to hit the ground running. Having a space to call their own will also help boost their confidence!
- Meet the gang: Get your new hire acquainted with those they will be working with – but make it fun! Research some out of the box icebreakers or have a company lunch to welcome your new hire. Remember: finding ways to emphasize your company culture is a good thing!
- Minimize questions/stress: New hires (like myself) will have a million questions. Try mapping out a daily schedule for their first few weeks. Have them interview key employees (psst: provide guiding questions), cover processes and procedures, provide a FAQ sheet and make yourself available and approachable. You had a first day on the job once – what would you have liked to know?
- Set goals and check-in – often: Gratitude, checking-in and asking, “How are you doing? Is there anything you need?” will help new employees feel both seen and heard. Setting goals and objectives helps to reduce ambiguity and will allow the new hire to focus on what is expected of them.
According to the Aberdeen Group, 90% of new hires decide to stay or leave a company within their first six months – so make sure your onboarding process is on point to retain that great new talent!
The 1099-MISC Abyss
You know that feeling you get in the last few months of the year when those deadlines begin looming? As members of a marketing agency, we know that deadlines are always going to be part of our daily routine. While it’s our responsibility to manage media deadlines, we know you have deadlines, too. And no matter what business you’re in, properly filing tax documents on time is something that applies to all of us. I have implemented some steps that helped me through the years and thought it might be of value to our clients or any other business professional responsible for tax preparation:
- Get started early! This may sound crazy, but the January 31st deadline for mailing the 1099’s to recipients comes faster than you think.
- Pull ALL vendors and make sure you have a current W-9 (within two years). Here is a link to access a blank W-9 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf. Whether they need a 1099 or not, you are required to have them on file.
- Separate the W-9’s by Corporate and LLC/Partnership/Individual. Corporations do not need to have a 1099 sent to them, but I send them to all the others just to cover my bases.
- Make sure all correct information is in your system based on the signed W-9.
- Email, fax or call vendors that need a W-9 or updated one. I prefer to email since you can have an electronic copy if the printed one disappears.
- If they fall into the send category, there are some criteria to determine if you need to send a 1099 or not. You can go to irs.gov/uac/Form-1099-MISC,-Miscellaneous-Income- for a complete list.
- If you are going to print the 1099’s on a laser printer, do not order the forms from the IRS website because they send carbon copies that won’t go through your printer. I prefer to purchase a 1099-MISC laser printer set (4 or 5 parts) as it comes with all copies you will need. Make sure you order the 1096 forms and envelopes because they are not usually included in the set. I order about 10 percent more than I actually need (in case of errors or re-dos). Do not print the forms from the IRS website because a penalty may be imposed for filing forms that can’t be scanned by the IRS.
- I print each part copy (i.e. Copy B Recipient then State Copy 1 etc.) all at once. After they are printed, I double check information has lined up correctly. I also check to make sure the Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN), name and address are correct based on the W-9.
- Send the “Copy B for Recipient” copies out first since they have an earlier deadline. All of the “Copy B for Recipient” copies need to be separated by individual and mailed in 1099 envelopes post marked by January 31st. I usually will wait a couple weeks after mailing them before filing the other forms because you may get a few back due to incorrect information. This alleviates the need to submit a “Void” or “Corrected” one. All of the “Copy A for Internal Revenue Service Center” copies need to be filed with the form 1096 and mailed by a deadline that usually falls in late February or early March. All of the “Copy 1 for the State Tax Department” copies for Massachusetts need to be filed with a copy of the form 1096 and mailed by a deadline that also falls in late February or early March as well. Check each state as they may have different requirements for filing. No stapling or folding is accepted so I usually mail them in a 9×12 envelope. I prefer to send the State and IRS packages via Certified Mail to ensure a receipt.
- I make a copy of the form 1096 for my records to go along with the “Copy C for Payer” copies. I also keep the 1099 vendor list printed which usually identify the vendor, EIN or SSN, and amount. If you need more information you can access the Internal Revenue Service’s instructions here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1099msc.pdf.
Lastly, if you find the process to be too much or need a little help, let us know. We just happen to have a client in the business we can introduce you to!
National Do Something Nice Day
National Do Something Nice Day (NDSND) is on October 5th this year. It is exactly what it sounds like, a mandatory day to do at least one nice thing for someone else. You think, “that isn’t hard” but for some people it is and they need a nationally known day to do something kind for someone else. For those of us that do nice things on a daily basis, this is a reminder to go the extra mile.
At Market Mentors we thought it would be nice to supply readers with a few tips on how to celebrate National Do Something Nice Day.
Top 10 ways to celebrate NDSND:
- Give a Compliment – Go up to someone in the office and say “great job on that project” or “your new haircut looks nice.” Obviously do not lie, but if you like something about someone, let them know.
- Help Someone Out – You know a co-worker is swamped at work. Offer a helping hand to take a few things off their plate. Even if they decline, the gesture is always appreciated.
- Crack a Smile – Ok, no one is expecting you to bust out your high school pompoms, but be conscious of your body language. If you are more of a stoic or serious person, take this opportunity to show off those pearly whites – smile!
- Laugh – Smiling usually leads to laughter. Laughing can help you just as much as it can make someone else happy. You know what they say, “laughter is the best medicine.”
- Give Back – If donating or service work is not something you normally do, do it today.
- Be Polite – Just be nice. Plain and simple. Try not to swear, or talk over someone. Today can be a day where you test your manors to the max.
- Share – Do you have a bag of cookies in your desk or some yummy treats? Walk around the office and share it with colleagues. Or if you have a piece of advice (positive), feel free to spread the word today. Words of wisdom are always accepted.
- Read – If you got to this point you have already done something nice for me. Now please, keep reading to see what you can do for someone else.
- Email Signature – This is an easy way to do something nice. Instead of the boring name signature, spice it up. Add, “hope you have a great day” or “Do something nice! It is National Do Something Nice Day!”
- Celebrate – Need an excuse to have a party? Pick today. If you are at work, bring in some goodies or party hats and play a game. Enjoy the day!