Monday, 24 October 2011

The Cost of Focusing Only on Cost

Over the past week, I've seen a couple of supposed innovative ideas meant to provide solutions in a downtrodden economy that are likely to cause more harm than good. 

Most of us read about - the world's largest outsourcing marketplace, empowering entrepreneurs & small businesses worldwide - that was featured in the Star and other local publications.  This is a viable business idea that could really improve our economy if it were properly executed.  Entrepreneurs would look on the site for jobs, and companies would look for qualified contingent labour if it were a valid and reputable forum.

Here is the flaw in the business model.  It focuses on cost savings alone.  One person requested to have someone ghostwrite a novel in seven to ten days for something ridiculous like $100-$150.  They were actually allowed to post this on the website! We all know what offering $150 for forty hours of work would get you.  If a qualified freelancer or a reasonable business person seeking qualified labour saw this, they would likely never return to the site.  One posting, one full swoop - all credibility lost.

The second example is the new DVD machines that we're seeing in grocery stores.  With Blockbuster closing and Rogers rumoured to be getting out of the business, grocery and corner stores are putting up DVD rental machines to satisfy market demand.  The only problem is that they're operated by outside people, and when they break down, there is noone to accept DVD movie returns (and you get charged a $30 deposit every time you rent a movie which you don't get back until you return the movie.) 

Once again, a great idea flawed in execution.  Chances are a customer frustrated by not being able to return the movie and get their money back would stop coming back to the store - for their movies AND their groceries.

It's time for all of us to take a step back and refocus on quality of product, rather than cost savings.  Spend time and money doing research and knowing your audience.  Be strategic and do things right the first time.  Because it's so true - you get what you pay for.

Rachel Pardy

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Why Choose a Cause?

I have a friend whose organization is hosting a charitable event in a couple of weeks to raise awareness for Dystonia - a neurological movement disorder that her niece has.  This condition causes great pain and discomfort and effects mostly children.

Knowing my friend, it will be a top notch event. It's an art auction with some fabulous art, and it's very reasonably priced at the perfect time - 6:30.  Go, have a glass of wine, fill up on appetizers in lieu of having to cook dinner, while chatting up clients or having date night.  What's not to like?

But her numbers are not what she would like.

"Why is that?" she asks me.  "Is it because there are too many causes out there?"

This has made me think about how to motivate people to give more.  While everyone is so strapped - for time, for money, for personal space - how do you communicate to others how much can be gained by by volunteering and/or supporting charitable initiatives.

Here are a few reasons why volunteering and supporting charitable initiatives are worth your time.
1. Whether you're interested in the arts, animals, the wellbeing of children or seniors -- if you get involved with an organization that focuses on things that matter to you, you'll link up with like-minded people.
2. Volunteering gives you a break from your own world.  You stop thinking about your own life or what's on your desk at the office.  You do something different and make a difference at the same time! 
3. Choosing the right cause means free PR for your organization and an opportunity to network with other businesspeople.  But from a business perspective, it's vital that you choose a cause that is in line with your corporate mandate, and that the networking opportunities are valuable to you. 
4. Then of course there are the tax benefits of giving to charities, but you'll have to speak to your accountant for details on that(o;

Need some help choosing a charity to support that will deliver the ideal networking opportunities and help to build your brand?  Are you a charity looking to raise awareness for your cause?  I would love to help.

By the way, hope to see you at Curry's Art Store Charitable Auction at the Liberty Grand next Tuesday.  Visit

Rachel Pardy

Monday, 17 October 2011

Leave a lasting impression on others today.

I think in business, it's easy to forget the important things we were taught when growing up.  Treat others as you want to be treated.  Say please and thank you.  Be respectful.

For example, I know a lot of people in sales and they say the toughest part of the job is getting people to call you back.  I'm not talking about perfect strangers.  I'm talking about family friends, former colleagues, neighbours, people you went to school with. 

Granted, the sales person is likely calling these people for business purposes, but what is up with that?  How long does it take to pick up the phone and say, "Hey Buddy, I would love to help you out, but our organization just doesn't have a need right now."?  It's common courtesy.  It's the way you treat people who you have any modicum of respect for. 

On the flip side of that, I deal with a lot of people whose very nature is the opposite (which I guess makes things easier).  Within a half hour of making a sales call to a senior exec this morning, I got a call back.  The answer wasn't what I wanted, but it doesn't matter.

I had someone send me an actual thank you card and gift the other day for doing business together, and in the grand scheme of things, she has done way more for me than she was compensated for.  Guaranteed, I will refer her to others.

I'm willing to bet that these two people leave a lasting impression on everyone who they work for and with. 

What kind of impression are you leaving today?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Is technology taking away from respectful communication?

Recently, the news has focused on technology and how it impacts our lives. The death of Steve Jobs made us all think about how our lives have been altered by iTunes and the iPhone.  At the same time, Health Canada issued an advisory last week that cel phone use should be limited for children and adults alike because of the WHO's findings that cel phone use may be linked to brain cancer. (Have you read the fine print that says cel phones are to be held an inch away from the ear?)

I am all for technology and how it makes our lives easier.  My concern is that technology is enabling us to not treat each other with the respect we deserve when communicating.   (It drives me crazy when someone texts someone else while they're talking to me.)

Here are some simple tips for respectful, effective communication.

1. If you have something really important to say, it is better to say it than to send an email.  It's common courtesy to give the other person the opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity instead of wondering what you mean.
2. Make an effort to be present and engaged while in discussion.  The other person will sense if you are not, and you mightn't have a second opportunity to convince them you're worth talking to.
3. Evaluate each opportunity before you speak.  If someone isn't a morning person, don't talk to them in the morning. If your colleague or boss is busy at work, save discussions for later if possible.  If you can't, in the words of Sara Knapp, Executive Coach - Be brief, be bright, be gone.
4. Ensure all criticism is constructive and try to balance the good with the bad.  People will be more apt to talk to you and work with you if you occasionally have something nice to say.
5. Try to listen more than you speak.  Each discussion is a learning opportunity and if you're doing all the talking, what will you learn?

Do you think that technology is taking away from respectful communication?  Let me know what you think.

Rachel Pardy
Cahoots Communications Inc.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Share some good news.

Welcome to the Cahoots Blog!  This blog will contain tips, tools and ideas for how to raise awareness of your organization through clear, concise communications.

Thought for the day - Be solutions oriented.

In an era of doom, gloom and economic demise, there is real opportunity to share good news stories to attract attention for your organization.

Watch the media for prevalent issues of concern (health concerns, work/life balance, unemployment) and identify how your products or services are solutions to these challenges.

Craft a press release or a matte story with tips or tools that people can use to deal with the challenge at hand.   Post it on your social media outlets and send out an email newsletter to your key stakeholders.

If you're looking for broader reach, send it out to the media.   Then follow up with a compelling phone pitch as to how you are a solution and why viewers, listeners and readers NEED to hear your story.  And you just might see your name in the paper the next day.

Are you a solution?  For help with your matte stories and news releases, contact me at

Thank you to SO Studio and I-Candy Web Design

A huge thank you to SO Studio for creating our brand and to I-Candy Web Design for creating our website.  And a bit of background to our look and feel.

Cahoots is centred and focused on one thing - delivering clear concise communications so you can further your initiative or close a deal.  The blue water drop in the middle of the Cahoots logo is that centre piece.  The four tentacles (or C's) around it represent how we reach out and collaborate with others to deliver a polished, professional product that surpasses expectations.

Clear concise writing is only one piece of the puzzle, but guaranteed we have exceptional partners to deliver on every other piece of the puzzle (web design, branding, SEO, graphic design, printing - you name it) to make sure you're ecstatic with the results.

Looking forward to working with you!

Targeted Communications Will Make You Money

I met the most amazing Company President the other day.  She is driven and resolute in her business development objectives.  She also knows exactly how her business makes money and focuses her spend on those channels in order to get the biggest bang for her buck.  So simple. So strategic. So smart.

Every company is trying to save money these days, so it's more important than ever to be strategic about your marketing communications initiatives. Here is a step by step plan to make sure you're doing just that.

1. Define your audience - Figure out who makes you the most money or who you absolutely need buy-in from. (Not to be crass.)  This is your main target audience.
2. Know your audience - Once you determine who your target audience is, reach out to them via blogs, emails, surveys or one-on-one meetings.  How do they spend their time?  How do they learn?  What publications do they read?  What networking groups do they attend?  What do they need to know to run their business?  Not only is this a necessary exercise but it helps key stakeholders to feel important - and they are!
3. Brainstorm - Meet with colleagues or team members to brainstorm how to best reach out to these audiences, knowing what you now know.  Capture all ideas in writing and watch your team get excited about being involved.
4. Determine a budget - A marketing-communications plan cannot be properly executed without a pre-determined budget.  Don't waste your time or anyone else's by developing a plan that you don't have the money for.
5. Make a Plan. - From this point, make a plan that outlines:
a. The Objective - What do you want to achieve with your marketing communications?
b. The Strategy - How are you going to achieve your objective?
c. Tactics - What communications/social marketing/sales/public relations vehicles will you use to achieve those objectives?
d. Timelines - First determine all of your deadlines (i.e., networking opportunities or sales events, national or regional events or days of celebration that you can send out press releases or matte stories on).  Map all of the work that needs to be completed in project management software or in a good old excel spreadsheet.  Work backwards building in time for research and revisions to figure out timelines for developing each communications piece.

There is your plan.  Sounds simple right?

But sometimes you need an outside perspective or you mightn't have the people power to make a plan on your own.

Looking forward to hearing from you so that we can make that plan together.

Rachel Pardy
Cahoots Communications Inc.