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Friday, May 18, 2007

Marketing, time and employees

Today, our Canadian sales team had a special planning meeting for contract advertising marketing. We chose today because this weekend is a public holiday in Canada -- and we wouldn't do much useful work otherwise. So Chase flew in from his home in St. Catharines (near Niagara Falls) and met with Natalie and I to determine which businesses to approach for ongoing advertising. Natalie had used a programmed proposal technique successfully at her previous (non-competitive) employer, and I encouraged her to lead the meeting in implementing a similar strategy here.

The day went well, and we wrapped up the meeting a couple of hours early. We don't believe in wasting money in our business. Chase flew in to Ottawa from Toronto on a super-cheap ticket (in fact, through some quirks in Air Canada's pricing, the fare was actually Minus $4.00 (that's right, a negative fare, though we had to pay taxes so the airline didn't actually hand us cash to fly). Chase had a layover of about four hours until his scheduled inexpensive return fight with another airline.

Creativity took hold, along with the flexibility that is possible in smaller organizations but not larger businesses. I purchased him a fully refundable executive class ticket on Air Canada, with the condition that he not actually use it. The ticket gave him access to the business class lounge. Then, driving to the airport, I decided we could continue our meeting at the lounge, so I purchased my own refundable ticket. Off to the airline lounge we went, enjoying some refreshments and additional business discussions. At 6:00 p.m. we returned to the ticket counter, had the tickets cancelled and refunded and headed home -- him to Toronto on the discount ticket, and me, to my home near the airport.

Obviously, I don't recommend this type of behaviour for larger businesses -- it obviously would create an auditing and record-keeping nightmare, let alone create a huge potential for abuse. But just as big businesses have their very real advantages, we should also appreciate the distinctive advantages of the smaller company.

As for the specific marketing technique we discussed and implemented at our meeting, it will not be reported on the blog, especially if it is successful. There is no need or reason to share this type of proprietary business information with our competitors. However, the project observes the basics: We have a budget, schedule, and clearly measurable indicators to determine its success.

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