Marketing Mistake Part III: Wasting Time

Not knowing your audience well enough and wasting money are the first two biggest marketing mistakes. The third is wasting precious time. Opportunities to waste time are endless, but time is not.

Writing can also be a huge waste of time, especially if it does not come naturally.

Many people believe that because they can write the annual family Christmas letter they are good writers. That is like saying that you’re qualified to be an accountant because you can balance your checkbook.

Ineffective content wastes time. Always assume you have one shot to reach a reader. Most people will not read your material over a second time to understand it – especially on web pages where the first mental inpatient reaction can involuntarily click the mouse elsewhere.

Besides failing to get your message across in a compelling way, ineffective content risks unintended consequences like misleading reader.

Think of the last time you were staring at a blank screen wondering how to get started with whatever you needed to write. You looked at the clock and noticed that somehow another half an hour had gone by. You had only a couple of sentences to show for that half hour, and it was obvious that the sentences didn’t communicate what you truly wanted to say.

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Many people believe that because they can write the annual family Christmas letter they are good writers. That is like saying that you’re qualified to be an accountant because you can balance your checkbook.

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Perhaps it was a difficult memo to employees or a letter to clients about a change in management. Or maybe you have written so many marketing letters or materials for the same product and/or service that you need someone objective to breathe some fresh life into the text.

Lipold Communications specializes in business-to-business communications services. Business communicators are a rare breed. They are practical enough to understand the business world, but creative enough to offer innovative ways to make a point without pushing too far.

When you hire Lipold Communications, we will ask you about your audience, the purpose of the work product and necessary information. We also pay special attention to how you express yourself. If we have a better approach, we will explain why.

Next week I will cover the 4th biggest marketing mistake: Not investing in business fundamentals. These include business, marketing and communication plans.

In the meantime, try this: Keep track of how much time you spend writing. How could your time have been better spent? Please let me know what you think by writing me at Annmarie@lipoldcommunications.

Lipold Publishes Article in Leader’s Edge magazine

If you were up late last night wondering how insurance issues go through the legislative process, the answer is here!

Leader’s Edge gave me the privilege to provide and publish this information in the article, 2012 Washington Road Map. The article is the result of tons of research on the committees to work through and the important players that shape U.S. public policy on insurance. You will find the article on digital issue page 36.

Editor Rick Pullen also honored me by publishing a bio with a picture of me in my office on digital page 10. Here you will learn that I am a displaced Clevelander who moved to Washington, D.C. for love and I remain here for the same reason…

Leader’s Edge is an award-winning publication. Please check out the entire magazine and you will see why!

In the meantime, you can expect my weekly blog tomorrow. It covers the #3 Biggest Marketing Mistake: Wasting Too Much Time!

Suggesting an Actuary Appreciation Day

While writing an article for the Academy of Actuaries the other day, I saw the wind whip the leaves around outside and it reminded me of my marching band days in high school. As a freshman clarinetist, I was the unexpected recipient of a hug on “Hug a Band Member Day.”
 
My thoughts turned back to actuaries. I smiled at the idea of a “Hug an Actuary Day.” But since even a handshake can be sometimes considered sexual harassment these days, I propose there at least be an Actuary Appreciation Day.
 
In fact, I’m making today my personal Actuary Appreciation Day. I want to express my appreciation for the actuaries who have supported me professionally and personally. Really, how can you not be blessed by a profession that attracts such intelligent and highly-principled people?
 
The actuarial mind is a mystery. Having enjoyed the opportunity to work as a layperson with actuaries, or “translator” as I affectionately call myself, I can honestly say that the profession that drives forward by looking in the rearview mirror is full of the most forward-thinking possibilities. (See my article on the future of the actuarial profession)
 
To the general public and even the business community, the actuary is misunderstood. The best actuarial minds are not as linear as their mathematics and statistical backgrounds imply. Their brilliance is not to be found in number crunching or ranges of probability.
 
Actuaries possess that rare combination of right- and left-brain qualities that allow them to see possibilities from other angles (or should I say, “Triangles?”) They are creative. They see new worlds of risk and reward, finding paradigms in statistics that anticipate new ways to consider future events and how to cover for them.
 
Before naming my favorite actuaries, I should be clear that I do not see the profession through a rose-colored rearview mirror: I have known a thankfully small few who do respect numbers more than human beings. But they pale in significance to the stars of the profession.
 
I have worked with several wonderful actuaries. Twenty years ago, Paul Whittaker, then the actuarial director of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, first explained actuarial concepts so I could “translate” them into everyday English.
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They see new worlds of risk and reward,
finding paradigms in statistics that anticipate new ways
to consider future events and how to cover for them.
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Later, as the lead reporter for BNA’s Workers’ Compensation Report, I often quoted actuarial maverick Richard Hofmann, who risked his reputation and business to encourage the public availability of workers’ compensation data. Rich moved my career even closer to actuaries when he asked me to work for him part-time, just minutes after I quit my full-time reporting job to be a stay-at-home mom.
 
Rich later introduced me to Claus Metzner, who in turn introduced me to Steve Lehmann. Claus and Steve, who are among the field’s best gentlemen, encouraged my creativity and supported my career growth. I thoroughly enjoyed the years I worked with Steve, who is the former president of the Casualty Actuary Society and the American Academy of Actuaries and now serves the profession as the general secretary of the International Association of Actuaries.
 
Finally, I tip my hat to Barry Llewellyn of the National Council on  Compensation Insurance, Inc. Professionally I had known him for years, but when I was working with him on a project, my nearly-four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. His support touched my heart.
 
These are just a few of the actuaries who have made a lasting impression on me.
 
So whether your premiums go up or down, I say, thank an actuary!