Connect your business goals, actions and communications
Before we get started, I ask them to talk with me about their business goals and priorities. I believe business goals, actions and communications need to be in sync to be effective.
- Goals — Often when I talk to someone struggling with a communications plan, it’s because there’s no clear business strategy driving it. Once you understand what you are trying to achieve and how to measure whether it’s working, it becomes easier to see what you should post on Facebook or what needs to be on your website. Getting clarity around your goals can help inform which questions to ask on your customer survey, what your key talking points are … they are the foundation for all your marketing efforts.
- Actions — Have you ever heard a business tell you its top priority is customer satisfaction and you laughed because you had actually experienced their terrible service? I’m not sure if those companies are in deep denial or if they develop those generic “best in class” messages hoping they can become true. Instead, I work with clients to identify the real actions they can and will take to move them closer to their business goals.
- Communications — Whether it’s a social media strategy or an overall communications plan linking up website, email and print collateral, I advocate for keeping the focus on what your customer needs. He or she probably cares more about the value you deliver than about what you do. If you want website visitors to sign up for your email newsletter, offer an incentive. If you want engagement on your blog, share good content worth reading and talking about.
If you think you might like help with your marketing strategy and tactics, the usual first step is a conversation about your project, including your goals, your timeline and your budget. We will talk through the business problem you are trying to solve and what success would look like for you. Contact me if you would like to talk about a project.Contact me to discuss your needs→
Many people think of marketing as business communications, but the broader definition includes four Ps: product, price, place and promotions.
We can work on a comprehensive plan that declares your business goals and how they connect with what you sell, the price you charge, the place you sell and how you get the word out. Or we can refine your existing plan and focus on specific areas where you need help.
We will create a plan that is a realistic fit for where your business is today, with room to grow into where you would like to be in years to come.Contact me to discuss your needs→
For the first 45 minutes, we discuss your business goals – what do you want to do more or better, what will it take to get there, how can you measure results? What does success look like to you?
Then we spend 45 minutes discussing how your marketing materials align with your goals:
- Are you talking to the right people to achieve your goals?
- Are you using the best tools in the most effective ways to talk to those people?
- Are you talking with them in a compelling way that encourages purchases?
When we’re done, I send you a short summary of recommendations to help you prioritize improvements to your website, email newsletter, social media, brochures and any other communications tools you use.Contact me for practical, doable guidance on improving your marketing→
So instead of starting with how you can get more Twitter followers or how often you should post on Instagram, we start with a conversation about your business goals and who your ideal customers are to determine what success will look like. If you’re a business-to-business service provider, LinkedIn might be your priority, while a wedding dress shop owner might focus on Pinterest.
Social media is a tool to achieve your business goals, not a goal just unto itself. It’s like email or your phone. You use it to talk with current and potential customers.
We will build a conversational plan to get you talking with your customers. Social media is best when you don’t just use it as a one-way push of information like posting information on a billboard, but instead as an opportunity to engage your customers in a dialogue.
Here’s a recording of a webinar I led for Farmers Market Coalition on using social media:Contact me to discuss your needs→
When we work together on your market research, I will help you take your efforts beyond asking quick question to focus on asking the most essential questions in the right way to help inform your most important business decisions.
For example, if I create an online survey, we will trim the nice-to-know questions to make it faster and easier for participants to complete your survey and share the feedback that is most useful to you.
Whether I help you with a survey, one-on-one customer interviews, a focus group or competitive intelligence, the focus will be connecting your results with your business decisions.
I earned my MBA from University of Michigan Business School. Our alumni magazine, Dividend, profiled me in 2010 when I was AP’s director of market research. Amy Spooner wrote:
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Colleen Newvine, MBA ’05, is the consummate storyteller. She began her career as a newspaper reporter, and today she continues to share tales of interesting people doing interesting things through freelance writing and her widely read blog, Newvine Growing. But her position as head of market research for the Associated Press (AP) requires her to tell stories from an unconventional source — numbers. “A spreadsheet is similar to an interview with a source,” Newvine says. “I look at it and ask what story it’s trying to tell me. Then I communicate that story to the people who need to know it.”
When I did public relations for University of Michigan, I learned the other side of the equation, including writing press releases and pitching reporters. I also learned to do media training, both in classroom settings and one on one.
Preparing for an interview can dramatically improve your outcome. Much as you might prepare for a job interview through research and rehearsing questions, thinking about the questions a reporter is most likely to ask and practicing your best response can help you feel more confident.
Here’s a recording of a webinar I led for Farmers Market Coalition on improving your relationship with reporters:
Some of my recent stories include:
- “Burning Man: Wolverines Thrive on Creative Oasis of Art and Generosity” for Michigan Today
- “The Market Report” for LSA Magazine at University of Michigan, on alumni involved in farmers market leadership
- “Couples seek local-food menus and on-farm weddings” for the Associated Press
- “The road to car-less can be bumpy” for the Associated Press
- “Remaking the Big Easy: New ideas, new people, new businesses,” for LSA Magazine at University of Michigan, on alumni leading New Orleans recovery post Katrina
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As a result, when I first became a marketing consultant, I focused Newvine Growing on farms, farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants. I continue to work in that niche, including leading webinars for Farmers Market Coalition and presenting at the North American Farm Direct Marketing Association convention.
I am not a farmer. Instead, I bring the perspective of an informed customer and help farmers and market managers understand how to engage shoppers with the story of how locally grown food is different.Contact me to discuss your needs→
- Colleen is a genius. I literally walked out of our meeting and that night was suddenly talking about our company differently at a cocktail party et voila! I got an offer for work – that night! I know that sounds like an infomercial but it really happened. And the following week we made huge changes to our website and marketing materials that finally helped make sense of what we are trying to do and offer.“
- Colleen helped me think through some big strategic questions and implementation tactics to help us increase sales of tickets and merchandise. She listened to our needs and made recommendations that were in tune with our staffing, budget and culture.”
- Our quick-hit session gave us lots of great and, maybe more importantly, actionable stuff in a short time.”
- We have worked with Colleen on two research projects – one a broad assessment of our members’ needs and the other gathering participants’ feedback on a specific service we offer. In both cases, Colleen crafted questions that got at our most pressing decision points and walked us through the results in a clear, easy-to-understand way. I felt confident presenting the results of both surveys to our board of directors.”
- Colleen’s consultation is foundational to the success of my business. Truthful, direct, insightful and creative with the rare ability to think both long term and day-to-day, Colleen challenges and inspires me to create the business I want, not just the business I run. Her suggestions have broadened my market base, improved my search engine potential and helped me design product variants that meets my customers’ needs more directly. My launch year was wildly successful and I look forward to her recommendations in 2014. You owe it to your business to consult with Colleen.”
- Colleen has a wonderful ‘deskside’ manner, knowing when to take the steering wheel and drive the project and when to just provide some directions and encouragement. That’s not a skill that’s easy to find but it’s a big reason Colleen is so successful. From staff to third parties to executives, Colleen knew what information to deliver and how to deliver it.”