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Sinclair and Ruiz is a consultancy that creates integrated local, national and international marketing strategies


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Professional Duty: Acting Ethically and in the Client’s Best Interest

There are three important things to keep in mind with regards to an agency’s duty to the client: never lose sight of who the client is, what they want to achieve, and how to act in their best interest. There are several situations that can interfere with the clarity of these three points. Regardless of the outcome agencies must work ethically to achieve client’s best interest; and this may not always take shape the client has in mind. The following article will touch upon some examples of these situations.

The Agency Works for the Client Not the Client’s Contact Person

The contact person for a client may be the owner of the company, an employee of an organization, or council members, among others. It is important to keep in mind that the main contact for the organization and the client are not one and the same; and that unfortunately their expectations may not always aligned. The situation may arise where the contact may make requests that are not related to the business relationship or the best interest of the client.

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 It is a regular part of business to provide value added assistance to important clients.  However, it is not normal to consistently oblige to requests in the name of a business relationship that may personally benefit the contact at the expense of the client. For example, a manager once requested we amend a proposal to include planning an event in a city that was not a target market of the client. The manager had a clear personal interest in the request, although it would divert important marketing funds to an exercise that would not generate a return on investment. The Client was not aware of this. One may think that it is the Client’s problem and that ultimately that manager should be accountable for these decisions. However, it is not an Agent’s place to get involved in office politics, and it is the Agency’s duty to act in the best interest of the client. An Agency can make the right recommendations, document them, and follow the Client’s direction.

The Agency’s Duty to Act Ethically As Well As in the Client’s Best Interest

There are also occasions when the client makes good faith requests that are not in their own best interest. Agents have a duty to inform their Client if they believe what they want will not provide the desired results. An Agency can make alternate suggestions, but ultimately the client makes the decisions. Generally, Agencies  act on the client’s direction even if it is against the Agency’s advice. This of course, changes when the matter relates to ethical choices.

This topic was well described in a recent article in The Economist, as explained by the following excerpt:

Professional organisations are bound by professional ethics to put limits on what they will do for their customers: lawyers have to apply the law, for example, and universities have to apply objective standards, rather than just pleasing their customers. Arthur Andersen, once a big accounting firm, went bust because it broke professional rules in order to help one of its best customers, Enron. Monitor Group, a consultancy, provoked mockery because it adopted an excessively customer-centric approach to the late Colonel Qaddafi, including helping his son, Saif al-Islam, prepare a thesis for the London School of Economics and proposing a book that would present the Colonel as “a man of action and a man of ideas”.

  It often makes perfect sense to refuse to give your customers what they want, or at least what they say they want.  “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them,” Steve Jobs told Inc. magazine in 1989.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/03/how-deal-muppets?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/downwiththem

DO BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS ALWAYS STRENGTHEN WHEN THE AGENCY ACTS IN THE CLIENT’S BEST INTEREST?

As professionals we can listen to clients and design strategies to help them achieve their goals. In most cases this is the way contracts work and result in great business relationships. Yet the reality for some circumstances, such as those outlined above, is that the correct alternative may be to fire the client or lose the account. When it comes to a client’s representative directing an Agency to act contrary to the client’s best interest, refusal to act may result in a lost account. In this scenario, the agency will retain its integrity while the alternative could be shouldering responsibility for the client employee’s unethical behavior.

 

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When it comes to implementing a strategy the Agency considers will not work, it is important to weigh the consequences of following through. Most businesses at one time or another have taken on a job that they later wished they hadn’t. These kinds of situations are not always obvious or clear cut. A Focus post provides a useful exercise for those considering if it is worth walking away from a client. They say “Sometimes, even an unprofitable customer can be worth the headache for other reasons. However if they’re not, this due diligence can help you know for sure and not have to spend any time second-guessing your decision.” You may read the full post at http://www.focus.com/questions/when-it-time-walk-away-customer-and-stop-doing-business-them/

Business relationships are not always easy. Parties do not always have to agree. But clients are entitled to the certainty that their Agency will always act with their best interest and in an ethical manner. For a professional business, the right decision may be the most difficult one, but it in the end it will generate the best results for all parties.

Sinclair and Ruiz Consulting

http://www.sinclairandruiz.com

LINKS:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2012/03/how-deal-muppets?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/downwiththem

http://www.focus.com/questions/when-it-time-walk-away-customer-and-stop-doing-business-them/

 

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Gaining an Edge through Partnership and Sponsorship Marketing

Marketing partnerships and event sponsorships are effective marketing tools.  The first refers to linking two or more different non-competing brands for marketing purposes. The second refers to brands that become supporters of charities, sporting events, trade shows, etc.  We highly recommend both options because they are cost-effective and – when implemented correctly- provide outstanding results. When S&R designs and implements such strategies for our clients, the efforts generate all or o most of the following (depending on the clients’ needs):

  • Exposure to new consumers
  • Partnerships  with brands that are prestigious and important to

the target market

  • Positive brand association
  •   Increased brand awareness and enhanced image
  •  Exposure in the media
  • Revenue

We rely on our networks and those of our clients to carefully seek-out and evaluate opportunities that will provide the best return on investment. When searching for the best opportunity for your brand it is important to know who the target market is and how you want to reach them. Some organizations are better set-up than others to provide the right value.  Annual events and sports organizations often have an established framework within which they work with partners and sponsors.  Others, who have access to your target market, may not have previously provided the service your company requires or are simply less efficient.  Therefore it is important for the marketer to be involved through every step of the campaign.

Partnership and Sponsorship Marketing initiatives Sinclair and Ruiz has coordinated on behalf of our clients include:

  • In-kind sponsorships for charity tournaments, cultural and business events. Benefits include brand exposure in printed materials; value added advertising; spoken acknowledgements; speaking opportunities, and activation at the events.

 

  • Coordination and implementation of advertising campaigns between different segments of the tourism industry (destination, country, airline, travel agents).

 

  • Sponsorship and partnership of sporting events and organizations. Benefits include media exposure, brand exposure in printed materials, spoken acknowledgements, speaking opportunities, activation at the events.

 

These marketing efforts work well for small businesses as well as large organizations.  In order to make the most of partnerships and sponsorships, companies should gain exposure through an integrated mix of advertising and PR.  As always there should be a consistent message directed towards a clear objective.

Related articles that may be of interest:

http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/marketing-partnership.htm

http://marketing.about.com/od/eventandseminarmarketing/a/sponsorship.htm

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Turning 5

As S&R enters its  5th year, we are excited for 2012. How time flies!  It is interesting to look back and  see how far we’ve come.  Considering a few of the highlights, turning 5 means:

  • The company has planned and managed 26 exclusive events on behalf of our clients across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
  • We have represented clients at over 35 tradeshows and third party events.
  • S&R staff has been the MC and public speakers at nearly 30 events.
  • S&R has designed and executed nearly 20 individual advertising campaigns including 5 public/private sector coops with the Mexico Tourism Board on behalf of private companies and associations.
  • We’ve launched image, sales and sports campaigns.
  • In terms of PR, the company has coordinated press trips, national T.V. network interviews, provided a spokesperson during radio interviews and participated in crisis management for our clients.
  • The S&R team has provided graphic design services for corporate branding and advertising.
  • We have translated approximately 100 documents including lease agreements, purchase agreements, marketing material, websites, and correspondence, among others. We’ve provided this service for companies from the real estate, tourism, food, mining, and engineering industries doing international business.

We look forward to the continuing our collaboration with clients, partners and service providers. Cheers to the next 5!


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Points to Consider for Successful Press Trips

  • Objective. Determine what you want to achieve and the line of communication that you want to transmit. Target the media you want to invite accordingly and the numbers you can successfully host. Quantity of journalists should not be the objective.

 

  • Plan ahead.  Often press trips are planned with only a few weeks advance notice. The more time there is to plan and provide journalists with detailed information, the better.

 

  • Collaborate. The team in charge of logistics on the ground should work closely with the agency or persons coordinating with the media.

 

  • Individual media visits vs. group press trips.  Many journalists participate on group trips on a regular basis, and prefer group activities. Yet many others will not participate in group trips, period. Depending on the industry and size of the company/organization launching a PR strategy it is important to decide if individual media visits will be accommodated. If you host a group, make sure your itinerary is relevant to their interests. If you host an individual visit, get to know the journalist before he or she visits.

 

  • Downtime/ free time. Press trip hosts understandably want to show their media guests as much as possible.  However, in a recent survey conducted by S&R we found free time was a “must have” for all respondents.  This includes sufficient time between tours and meals for your guests to change and rest.

 

  • Internet access. Press trips are work trips. This means media reps need to work on stories and stay in touch with their office. It is imperative that guests have easy access to internet at all hours.  Hotel room internet access is preferred, but as some hotels begin to focus internet usage in common areas it is important that the setting is comfortable, and provides privacy if needed.

 

  •  Flexibility. Group visits should allow flexibility within reason. It is especially important to accommodate certain requests that are in reference to assigned story topics.

 

  • Hour by hour itineraries.  Everyone is different. Often journalists who have never visited a destination prefer more detailed itineraries, whereas journalists who are familiar prefer less structure. It is important to assign reasonable start and end times so the days are not too long.

There will always be imperfections during press trips, but when they are well organized they can generate great benefits. A couple of weeks ago we received a note from a  journalist for whom we arranged a media visit. He wrote “[the] trip was one of the best media trips I’ve been on, and I’ve been on quite a few! My hat is off to you… and everyone who helped. I was very pleased with all the arrangements, schedule, etc. Outstanding  trip.”  Our client benefited from two months of premium national exposure through the print and online circulation of this journalists article. The article’s message was consistent with the client’s communication strategy, and that is what defines a successful press trip.


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Figures for 2012

The Economist recently published its special issue titled “The World in 2012”. Its “The World in Figures” section includes some interesting commentary and predictions for 2012.  We thought we’d share some of their figures regarding predictions on GDP growth v.s. inflation in several countries (please refer to the magazine issue for the full list). We include percentages for both developed and emerging markets, which we think tell an interesting story for entities analyzing options for international business.

Country GDP Growth % Inflation %
China 8.2 3.8
India 7.8 7.7
Brazil 3.5 5.5
Turkey 3.5 6.6
Canada 2.5 1.4
Mexico 3.1 3.8
U.S. 1.3 2.1
UK 0.7 2.9
Spain 0.3 1.8
France 0 1.7
Germany 0 1.8

According to this portion of the list China and Canada are the two countries projected to keep a better balance between growth and inflation.The section notes the deepening consumer market in China (page 111). For Canada it highlights efforts to pursue “closer economic ties with major overseas markets to diversify away from its dependence on US consumers” (page 115). The article also sees the U.S. narrowly avoiding a recession, but consumers will likely remain shy. On the other hand, growth in emerging markets such as Brazil and India is tempered by inflation.  All in all, 2012 is approached with caution as well as opportunity.

More on consumer markets:

America’s Slumping Consumer Confidence


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Advertising vs. Public Relations

Advertising and public relations are both different and integral parts of the marketing whole. However, there are plenty of people who take sides and passionately believe in one over the other. For example, the anti- PR camp may agree with the statement in a recent article that  “…Anyone who announces anything is a fool because nobody cares unless they’re Apple or Google…[and] many people still don’t get that public relations is no longer public relations. By many people, I don’t mean just PR people: I mean the companies that hire them and demand they do it a certain, familiar way.” On the other hand, I’ve also heard executives say they stay away from advertising because they don’t believe it is effective. For them the best and only valuable promotional strategy is to earn media coverage.

Public Relations

Public Relations includes much more than press releases and media coverage. PR also includes creating networks (not limited to virtual ones), hosting events, participating in trade shows, corresponding with existing and potential clients, and of course social or new media. The right balance and ensuring your message is directed to the correct audience should result in interest and therefore people caring about what you have to say.

In the case of social or new media, its applications are still in the development phase and currently change. The phenomenon has created much excitement in the PR camp. Yet, not everyone is enthusiastic about the challenges new media represents. As the head of a well established PR company closing its doors explained “…Ad firms are having mixed success with their early forays… and jumping in because their clients expect it…” while on the other hand “Companies have no budget line for this. They don’t know how to measure it. They struggle with balance between responding to customers, over-compensating small issues, or being too ‘corporate’ in their responses. There is no measurement tools that make me go, ‘Snap!!’ that’s who is listening to us.”

It is important to recognize that social media opens the door to endless possibilities. The key is not to become consumed by the options, and as with any strategy, stick to a plan that reaches the company’s objectives. Also, don’t forget that social networks are not limited to Facebook and Twitter. Networks are formed through business, partnerships, and memberships. The main goal of PR is to get people talking about you according to the image you want to portray – one that encourages people to become clients.

 

Advertising

Common comments from those who do not like advertising often mention that a) they prefer not to pay for coverage if they can get it for free and b) that people believe what the media says more than what advertisers say. It is important to take into consideration that earned media does not guarantee full control of the message nor does it control exact timing. In addition, it is up to the company to transmit the right message through their advertising and make the necessary information available to people researching the product in order to satisfy consumers. An ad can include specific information and calls to action that may not be conveyed in earned media. In addition ads can be repeated frequently to maintain the message current while- for example- a columnist is not likely to write about your company 3 times a week for an entire month repeating your message. In fact, even Apple – a company that earns more media attention than most- resorts to advertising to communicate specific information about their products.

Balance
The use of Advertising and PR requires a balance that depends on the company, its goals and the situation. An integral and effective campaign should implement both in a complementary way, especially as people choose multiple media through which to research products. The balance may shift according to the needs of the company and must adjust to new developments. The most important element is to know what you want to achieve and have a clear plan as to how you will achieve it.

Contact us to learn how Sinclair and Ruiz can help design the right strategy and balance for your business.

www.sinclairandruiz.com

www.facebook.com/sinclairandruiz

@sinclairandruiz


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Mexico Engages International Stakeholders

http://www.canada.com/Mexico+Engages+International+Stakeholders+Tourism+Convention/4169654/story.html
Mexico’s third annual National Tourism Convention kicked-off yesterday in Mexico City. The convention is organized by the Confederation of Mexican Chambers of Commerce (CONCANACO SERVYTUR), presided by Jorge Dávila Flores. This year’s event is the first to bring together national and international stakeholders in Mexico’s tourism industry, as well as government, and academia. Special guests include Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo. Industry speakers include Royal Caribbean Cruises Vice President of Government Relations for Latin America Michael Ronan; and Softec Mexico’s Associate Director Gene Towle…