Spring 2011 Newsletter: Top-flight marketing for healthy people, healthy places

Healthy people

Stroke is the number-one cause of long-term disability, the number-two cause of dementia, and the number-three cause of death in BC – but immediate medical treatment can often prevent those tragedies. Last summer Redbird launched a province-wide public awareness campaign for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon. Using television, radio, print collateral, and special events, the campaign educates people about the need to call 9-1-1 if they experience or witness any of these symptoms: sudden weakness or loss of strength, sudden trouble speaking, sudden vision problems, sudden severe and unusual headache, sudden dizziness. The TV commercial features rowers from Victoria City Rowing Club, ‘stroking’ across Elk Lake, and can be seen at the micro-site we developed: www.signsofstroke.ca  Recent research shows that awareness of all symptoms is up, and the percentage of BC respondents who recognize the urgency of calling 9-1-1 has jumped to 70.9% from 62%.

In the next few months, milk carton ads, exterior bus cards, and transit shelter ads (with custom QR codes!) will be added to the mix, and a new video will be launched at the Legislative Buildings on Thursday June 2nd, as part of Stroke Month in Canada. For more information about raising awareness, email [email protected]

Healthy places

A year ago, Redbird began working with the University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, and BCIT, developing and implementing a Workplace Conservation Awareness program on behalf of BC Hydro. The WCA program identifies behavioural changes that can reduce energy consumption, such as putting computers to sleep when not in use, or using natural light whenever possible. The results can be remarkable. CapU’s building competition was won by the Child Care buildings, with a 22% reduction in energy use. That’s a lot of kilowatts spared, and money saved! In the coming school year, we’ll be adding three more universities to the roster, and building a culture of energy savings in the advanced education sector.

For more information about changing behaviour, email [email protected]

Ten steps to ten years

Redbird is celebrating our tenth year in business, and apparently this is no mean feat. A study done by Inc. magazine and the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA) suggested that 80 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. According to Dun & Bradstreet reports, businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving four years of business and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years. Redbird president Carol Vincent shares her secrets of longevity...

1. Just say yes. When an opportunity presents itself, start with yes, think through the positives, and paint an exciting picture of the future. Then, and only then, let your inner nay-sayer emerge. That way the idea will be strong and appealing enough that it actually stands a chance of materializing. This works on big ideas (like, hey, I should start an ad agency!) and small ones (like, hey, I should have salad for lunch!)

2. Pick your people carefully. Your business partner should have skills that are essential to the business, and that are hard to find in an employee. Your employees should be the best you can afford. And whether partner or employee, the people you work with should share your values, your work ethic, and your vision for the company.

3. Act like a big company. I'd hate to admit how long it took me to write out my own corporate vision, mission, values, and marketing plan – even though these elements are an integral part of the services we provide to our clients. And don't get me started on monthly financials. There's a reason why big companies do this stuff, so stop winging it, buckle down, and be a grown up.

4. Learn from people you know. Ask your clients, ask your suppliers, ask your employees. Figure out what you're doing right, and what needs work. For many years I was a member of a peer support group called The Alternative Board. In a TAB group, eight local entrepreneurs (in non-competing businesses) meet once a month to share problems, advice, experience, and ideas. It's a great way to learn, grow, and meet like-minded individuals.

5. Learn from people you don't know. A few of the books I wish I had read in my first year of business are, "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber, "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath, "Fostering Sustainable Behavior” by Doug McKenzie-Mohr and William Smith, and "Traction" by Gino Wickman. As the owner of a small marketing agency, I've also learned many valuable lessons (like point #7, 'Focus', below) from David Baker at recourses.com, and Blair Enns at winwithoutpitching.com.

6. Save a little. As a business owner, there's a tendency to celebrate when you land a new client... by spending money. Then when you finish the project you celebrate... by spending money. Then when you send the invoice you celebrate... by spending money. Finally the cheque comes in and you can't celebrate, because you've already spent the money three times. Not good. Save the celebrations till year end, and even then, put some away in a safe place. You'll be grateful for retained earnings when business ebbs or the economy tanks.

7. Focus. Hard as it is to say no to any piece of business, and entertaining as it is to dabble in a little bit of everything, you will find that it's easier to accumulate expertise, position yourself against competitors, and market your product or services, if you narrow your focus and become really really good at something. This is particularly true if you're in a small city like Victoria. Why would a big client in a big city want to work with Redbird when they're surrounded by dozens of agencies in their own neighbourhood? Because we specialize: in healthy people, healthy places; in raising awareness and changing behaviour.

8. Don't take it personally. Every now and then, stuff will happen that will crush your spirit. Clients will turn down your very best idea ever. Employees will leave. Suppliers will raise their prices. Competitors will snag the account you've been lusting for. Take a deep breath, and try to keep things in perspective. It's not about you. Well, usually it's not about you. If you're demanding and obnoxious it's probably about you.

9. Give back. If you're making oodles of money, give some away. If you're not, donate some company time. Spare a few minutes on those 'informational interviews' that people on EI keep asking for, and give some advice to job-seekers. Take on a student intern or mentor a junior colleague. For ten years I taught Junior Achievement's Business Basics course to Grade Six students – I started when my son was in that grade, and stopped when his teacher retired. Never failed to learn something myself.

10. Have fun. Running a business will undoubtedly try your patience, test your courage, and ruin your sleep. Don't let it kill your sense of humour. I am lucky enough to have spent ten years working with highly intelligent, creative, and caring people who love to laugh, and it has made all the difference in the world.

Happy Anniversary and many thanks to the clients, suppliers, contractors, colleagues, employees, family members, and partners who have got us this far – here's looking at the next ten years!

Carol Vincent

New to the nest

Redbird welcomes Amy Schumacher, Client Services Coordinator, and James Mulvey, Copywriter, to the agency. Amy graduated with a diploma in marketing from Camosun College, and James has a Master’s degree in English combined with serious skills in direct marketing and search engine optimization. We also bid a fond farewell to Matt Johnson, Graphic Designer, who is following his heart to Vancouver.