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What We Can Learn From The Warriors about Running a Business

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Top of Mind Marketing GSWarriors

The Golden State Warriors, 2015 Western Conference Champions!

After a record-breaking season, winning an improbable 67 games, the Warriors have advanced in the playoffs and will face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA Championship.

What a year . . . they started the season with a brand new coaching staff, a few new players, some injuries and a lot of uncertainty. We were hopeful, yet no one saw this coming. But don’t underestimate the power of owners with vision, goals and deep pockets. These guys have made it clear they are interested in not just winning, but building a dynasty.

What we can learn from the Golden State Warriors about running a business:

  1. You need a management team that’s smart enough to hire the very best and let them do their jobs.
  2. Hire the GM who’s so good he just won the 2015 Executive of the Year. Bob Myers, a former player and agent, understands the game on many levels. The architect of excellent trades over several seasons, he has assembled a group of fierce competitors who play with heart and chemistry. Best of all, these are high-character guys with families who are involved in their communities. No rap sheets or 2am shootouts. Instead, we’ve got some wonderful role models for a lot of kids who look up to athletes.
  3. Trust your guts and hire a coach who’s never coached. Steve Kerr–a savvy basketball guy who’s played on four championship teams and learned from some of the best coaches in the league. He also spent some time as a broadcaster, but he’d never coached in his life. But Kerr’s a smart guy—he knew enough to hire smart, seasoned assistant coaches to make up for what he didn’t know. The result? A superbly team that continued to improve as the season evolved.
  4. Every team needs a clutch player. The amazing Steph Curry—the team’s superstar and a magician of a basketball player. When the team was struggling, Steph performed.
  5. It’s all about the team with a promise of success. Kerr & Co. introduced a new offense that required total buy-in from the team. Selfless ball that leaves no room for grandstanding—this is not Kobe Bryant basketball; forget individual stats—think about playing together as a team and winning. The seduction: picture yourself wearing a championship ring.
  6. Defense wins games. The Warriors got serious about defense this year, thanks to defensive wizard, Ron Adams. We watched this team become some of the best defenders in the league.
  7. Never stop improving. Much has been made of the strong work ethic of all of these players—and this is what it takes. We watched all of these guys grow over the course of the season–each committed to playing his personal best.
  8. Look to the future. Still a relatively young team with some serious talent, the future for the Warriors looks very bright, indeed. There’s a slick new stadium to look forward to. They’ve also overcome a major hurdle this year—changing a mindset that a jumpshooting, nuanced team can’t make it to the playoffs and win. It’s time for Charles Barkley to wake up and realize that basketball has changed. It’s not just about a bunch of big guys duking it out in the paint. The Warriors are playing a new brand of basketball—and it’s clearly working.

Top of Mind Marketing: writers and digital media specialists. We also develop and implementing marketing strategies for our clients.

When It Comes to Customer Focus, We Can All Take a Tip From Santa

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During the holidays, I think about Santa and what a huge job he has santaevery year picking out and delivering the right gifts to the right kids. His sales territory is vast and his timeline is aggressive.

Even with the help of his elves, you have to figure that he’s a pretty stressed-out guy who is juggling multiple priorities. Yet he meets the challenge year after year. He’s timely, meets deadlines, works efficiently and sustainably, minimizing environmental impact. Like the rest of us, Santa is an entrepreneur who has run his successful business for years. We could all take a page from Santa’s marketing plan:

  • Listening. He listens to make sure that he fully understands what each child is longing for. As business owners, listening to our clients is the most important part of our jobs. Look for their pain rather than rattling on about your products and services. No one cares.
  • Customer focus. Just as Santa looks forward to the cookies and milk that we leave him each year, we should be doing something to show our customers how much we appreciate them.
  • Consistency and credibility. Christmas is about believing, and Santa does a superb job. He shows up every single year, regardless of weather, politics or illness. His brand is that of trust and reliability and as a result of that trust, he has successfully beat out his competition.
  • Keeping up with technology. I don’t know how he does it, but Santa stays on top of the trends. He has Facebook and Twitter pages, and he knows that kids aren’t interested in Cabbage Patch dolls or GI Joes anymore when they can be playing with their expensive iPhones and snappy new Air iPads.

In the same way that Santa stands out from the crowd, we need to help our clients gain competitive advantage. Just like Santa, our goals should be building customer loyalty and accountability. The great thing is that if we’re successful at helping them grow their businesses, we also will be growing our own.

Need some help developing a marketing plan for 2014? Contact us: it’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a wonderful New Year from Top of Mind Marketing.

5 Grammatical Errors That Even Those Who Know Better Make

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With the growth of content marketing everyone has become a writer. I was reading GrammarPolicea blog about business leaders who stress out about writing, fearing that incorrect grammar will make them cyberspace laughingstocks. I struggle with that, because I think people are oblivious to the fact that they are making egregious grammatical errors.

Does it matter? The object is communication. If people are getting their points across, are a few grammatical errors along the way important? I think they are. When I see bad writing and punctuation by a so-called industry expert, I think of him/her as a little less expert. 

The top five:

  1. The absolute worst: Me vs. I. A whole lot of people who should know better routinely bungle this one, looking smug and self-satisfied as they do it. He gave the gift to my brother and I. Wrong. It’s so easy. Take out the “my brother”—you wouldn’t say “He gave the gift to I”, would you? Of course, not. Therefore, the answer is “He gave the gift to (my brother) and me.” Do that little exercise before you say it and you’ll never bungle it again.
  2. Irregardless. This is simply not a word.
  3. It’s vs. its. I can’t understand why this is so hard for people. It’s is a contraction, a shortcut for it is. Its shows possession. Its color is blue. Simple.
  4. Your and you’re. This is another easy one. You’re is a contraction, a shortcut for you are. Your shows ownership, as in “your ball”.
  5. Fewer vs. less. Less refers to something that can’t be quantified and “fewer” to something that can. If you can count it, it’s fewer. The checkout line at the supermarket is always incorrect: 15 items or less should, of course, be 15 items or fewer. A few stores do get it right–kudos to The Berkeley Bowl!

Struggling with content marketing? Ask us–we’re writers @ Top of Mind Marketing.

Take a Lesson from the Big Guy

By | The basics, Uncategorized | No Comments

During the holidays, I was thinking about Santa and what a huge job he has every year picking out and delivering the right gifts to the right kids. His sales territory is vast and his timeline is aggressive.

Even with the help of his elves, you have to figure that he’s a pretty stressed-out guy who is juggling multiple priorities. Yet he meets the challenge year after year. He’s timely, meets deadlines, works efficiently and sustainably, minimizing environmental impact. Like the rest of us, Santa is an entrepreneur who has run his successful business for years. We could all take a page from Santa’s marketing plan:

  • Listening. He listens to make sure that he fully understands what each child is longing for. As business owners, listening to our clients is the most important part of our jobs. Look for their pain rather than rattling on about your products and services. No one cares.
  • Customer focus. Just as Santa looks forward to the cookies and milk that we leave him each year, we should be doing something to show our customers how much we appreciate them.
  • Consistency and credibility. Christmas is about believing, and Santa does a superb job. He shows up every single year, regardless of weather, politics or illness. His brand is that of trust and reliability and as a result of that trust, he has successfully beat out his competition.
  • Keeping up with technology. I don’t know how he does it, but Santa stays on top of the trends. He has Facebook and Twitter pages, and he knows that kids aren’t interested in Cabbage Patch dolls or GI Joes anymore when they can be playing with their expensive iPhones.

In the same way that Santa stands out from the crowd, we need to help our clients gain competitive advantage. Just like Santa, our goal should be building customer loyalty and accountability. The great thing is that if we’re successful at helping them grow their businesses, we also will be growing our own.

Marketing: the French Version

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We just spent three glorious weeks in France. We had a wonderful time, but what’s not to like about France? It may simply represent the best of everything: food, wine, architecture, style, grace and culture. A tiny downside: the exchange rate takes a whopping bite out of the dollar, and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon.

My years in marketing have left me fascinated by the way things are packaged and merchandised in other countries, and nowhere do they do this better than in France. My morning baguette was accompanied by adorable little individual jars of jam. The windows of pastry and confectionary shops are works of art, and those insidious boulangeries leave their doors wide open, torturing you with the smell of freshly baked croissants. I read somewhere that the French do not eat croissants every day, and my response is, “why not?”

In France, food is more than a passion, it’s a birthright, and people simply expect even modest cafes to serve fresh, seasonal and altogether delicious food. In France, it seems that a fresh baguette tucked under an arm is required by law, and wine is meant to be drunk, not sniffed or swirled.

The French don’t seem to be concerned about the deleterious effects of smoking, which is a little shocking since it has been a lifetime since we closet smokers were able to sneak an occasional cigarette without being banished to Siberia.

We Americans think we know everything about all things technical, modern and edgy, but we are only part of an international marketplace. There was a Guerlain store by our hotel on the Champs with a chic, sexy pop-up store next door. When Steve Jobs died, he was the centerfold in the morning’s LeMonde.

Starbucks has made its way to France, but happily, it hasn’t replaced the passion for hours spent nursing a tiny cup of espresso in sidewalk cafes. Europeans have always had narrow streets and high gas prices, so the roadways feel like bumper car races. There are breeds of tiny cars that don’t even exist in the US–does anyone remember when they stopped selling Renaults here?

Paris is all about je ne sais quoi, which translates to no slopping around in baggy jeans and sloppy tennis shoes. The uniform du jour is skintight jeans tucked into boots, interesting jewelry, lots of scarves, and leave your favorite baseball cap at home. You can’t help but notice that there are no fat people in Paris. It may have something to do with the fact that you’d have to be stark-raving mad to drive in in this gorgeous city, so people walk and take the Metro.

The French don’t seem to be enamored with escalators–when you do find one, it’s generally out of service, so you suck it up and take the stairs; the tradeoff is that the Metro is fast, convenient and easy to use. Transit advertising is very big in Paris–when you think about the fact that the Metro transports a stunning 4.5 million people/day, you are dealing with a significant captive audience.

Whenever I return from a trip abroad, I ask myself whether or not I could live there. Could I live in France? Yes, I believe I could. The French make time for friends and family without laborious negotiations to identify a date. They are not embarrassed by affection; friends hold hands and unabashedly exchange kisses.

While we rush from meeting to meeting, the French link arms and stroll. We’re a nation of workaholics that judges a person’s worth by the amount of money he/she makes; the French enjoy a month of vacation and a 35-hour work week as quality of life imperatives.

In the Bay Area, we talk about our high quality of life, but the reality is that we work so hard to pay for it that we don’t have time to enjoy it. C’est la vie.