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How much less are you willing to pay for higher-quality marcom?

And no, that’s not a typo—we’re talking about more for less. It’s not just the goal of marcom executives everywhere; for some of them, it’s a practical reality.

For example, HP, Google, and Symantec all have very big marcom budgets—maybe much bigger than yours. But they might be spending less per execution than you are—while still getting enviable creative and production quality. And there’s no magic, funny accounting, or alternative reality involved.

It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

At Harding Marketing we work with all three of those companies—and many others equally adept at controlling costs. So we know what it takes to achieve more for less. It takes a rigorous, systematic approach to marcom creative and production, that’s what. But that sounds awfully stuffy, so let’s call it:

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Mergers and acquisitions-not to mention reorganizations and consolidations—are often good news for lawyers, CEOs, bankers, and investors. But for marketing communicators, often not so good.

Here’s the problem (or because we all believe that problems are really opportunities in disguise, let’s say opportunity): blending the marketing of two (or more) companies is full of vexing and seemingly endless… uh… opportunities.

Want proof? One source says half of all brand consolidations—i.e., attempts to combine two or more brands without losing market share-end up in the tank.*

However, the same source says there’s a way out. “Skills and experience together with a well-structured approach appear to increase the rate of success.”

At Harding Marketing, we worked with HP when it merged with Compaq, with Google after it acquired YouTube, and with HP when it purchased 3Com. So you might say we have the “skills and experience.”

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Here is an extremely abbreviated history of the case study:

Prehistoric peoples in the Fertile Crescent told interesting stories about the achievements of their ancestors. Then, sometime during the Bronze Age, they started passing down these elaborate tales in written form for the purposes of educating and inspiring their descendants.

Ok, so you probably won’t find the above in any legitimate historical tome. But case studies, at least in their more familiar guise as “success stories,” are as old as human history itself.

The term “case study” means something different to the scientific and business communities. In broad language—and as it applies to both fields—the case study is an in-depth investigation of or research report on one individual, group, event, or community, real or imagined.

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Whatever became of advertising slogans? A lot of us remember when Wheaties was the breakfast of champions, 99 & 44/100% was pure advertising genius, and Avis tried harder. But marketing mind-stickers today? Not so many.

And you’re right: “Got Milk?” is as deft as any of those. But it’s hard to think of many more.

Normal people might shout Hallelujah! at the decline of sloganeering. But at Harding Marketing, we are not normal people; we are marketing communications people. And that caused us to do what marcom people do best: We worried. We worried because building a slogan is a lot like building a brand, a product, or a corporate identity. And judging by the slogan drought, it looks as if building them all is getting tougher.

To put it another way, it’s getting tougher to get full value for your marketing budget—especially if you depend on traditional advertising media like broadcast and magazines. With money tighter than Scrooge and old man Potter put together, that really is something to worry about.

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Not long ago, MarComments blogged about the adventures of preparing English copy for translation. Think of this as a follow-up. But this time it’s about an even trickier subject: converting technical language into English.

It’s tricky, but it’s important. That’s because you and we are often trying to communicate about highly technical products to not-so technical people. They might be very smart people with advanced degrees and whizzes at whatever it is they do. But that doesn’t mean they know bupkis about storage interfaces, including multifunction, Fibre Channel, RAID, iSCSI, and SCSI adapters.

Yet these people are often the decision makers when it comes to buying what you and we are selling. If we’re not careful, prospective customers will find themselves browsing through our brochures, white papers, and websites—and never know what we’re talking about.

This can lead to lost sales. Not to mention lost jobs.

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Imagine trying to build a house without a blueprint, scale Everest without a Sherpa, or create boeuf bourguignon without a cookbook. Yes, it’s true that certain people can do these things unassisted, either by rote or by instinct. And some could probably do all three… at once. (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Julia Child was a secret carpenter and mountaineer.)

Most of us, though, need guidelines to help us build, climb, or cook. It’s the same with blogging. Technically, you can create, write, and edit a blog without guidelines, but it’s probably not prudent.

Having guidelines is especially helpful if you’re creating a B2B blog like this one. We’re learning this here at Harding Marketing, as we go through the process of creating the very blog that you’re reading right now. We’ve written some guidelines, but we’ll need to expand them as we learn new things along the way.

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Nobody likes rules—except maybe school teachers, the Marquess of Queensberry, and some guy named Robert. Plus every mom on earth.

So it’s not surprising that graphic designers—those free-spirited folks who make your brochures and websites look so spiffy—are offended by typographical rules. Therefore let’s not call these rules. Instead, let’s call them guidelines. Or helpful advice. Or typographical tips to enhance legibility and make your marketing communications more effective. In short, let’s call them the type of thing that can be helpful.

Get it? Type of thing?

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In honor of today’s subject, this should probably start with a joke. Maybe something like: Did you hear the one about the man who laughed his ads off?

Okay, maybe not.

Maybe those of us in marcom should just forget about using humor because our responsibilities are, like, way serious.

But at Harding Marketing, we think that begs the question: serious to whom? Marcom copy is pretty darn serious to those of us who manufacture it, but who are we kidding? You and we can come up with brilliant strategies. We can focus on benefits. We can include bullets and callouts and subheads and a powerful call to action. But if we don’t write copy that readers enjoy reading (or listening to), our chance of success is reduced by a whole lot. Maybe even more.

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Is any industry’s vocabulary more laden with jargon, gibberish, and gobbledygook than the universal language of the corporate world? (That was a rhetorical question; the answer is a resounding no.)

I’m referring here to corporate-speak: words that are technically English, in that you’ll probably find them in the dictionary, but whose primary definition rarely has much in common with its business meaning. Words like “leverage,” “stakeholder,” and “aspirational.”

For instance, Merriam-Webster defines “stakeholder” first as “a person entrusted with the stakes of bettors.” But its corporate-speak meaning is closer to the arcane third definition: “one who is involved in or affected by a course of action.” (Um, wouldn’t that include anyone who breathes?)

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If you’ve been tasked with either assigning someone to write a mission statement, or actually writing one yourself, you may be wondering: What is a mission statement, anyway?

You’re not alone. A large contingent of the population, especially outside the corporate world, doesn’t really know what a mission statement is. And probably a good portion of that group actually includes marketing professionals.

But writing a mission statement isn’t as Marketing 101-ey as you’d think.

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A quality affair—on a budget.

At Harding Marketing, we say we can give you a big budget look for a not-so-big budget. If you'd like to see a few high-value, high-quality examples of how we did just that for Google, HP, Symantec, and others, please visit us.

Harding Marketing

Harding Marketing is a single-source marketing firm with comprehensive offerings in both traditional and Internet-based services

We create powerful, cost-effective marketing solutions that support our clients’ brands, build equity in those brands, and help our clients achieve both their short-and long-term business goals.

Visit our site to learn more.

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