There is no hope in hype.
 4 Steps to help make your communication clear and elegant.
63% prefer print over online versions of newspapers
AOL may be the largest hirer of journalists next year
Crunch Time
How to Make Your Business Remarkable (on the cheap)
Kansas Plans to Cut High-School Journalism Funding
Lousy Predictions™
More Lousy Predictions
More Time to Communicate?
One of the Great Brands of Journalism Sells for $1
One Tip: Get Clear!
Operators Standing By
To school or not to school
Twitter More a News Medium Than a Social Media Site?
Two Parade Homes Sell Before the Parade of Homes Opens
What Did I Say?
4 Steps to help make your communication clear and elegant.
August 5, 2014, 3:44 pm

Having clear communications for your business or organization has never been more critical.

You've all heard about how we're inundated today with too much "noise."  We're bombarded with messages constantly from traditional and electronic media, and from more choices than ever before.

That's why for your organziation or business to stand out and be noticed, you must be clear about what you want your customers to know and do.

Here's four steps you need to consider:

1. Use simple and declarative sentences. Just tell me what you want me to do. Be brief. Rambling not allowed.

2. Be clever so that you catch my attention. You don't need to be outrageous, but grab my eyeballs and ears in a way I'm not expecting. But, here's the catch -- be original. Cliches and old ideas not allowed.

3. Keep it sweet and short. You have but a few nano-seconds to make a good first impression. Your customers are smart. They know what they like and want immediately. And, they know if you can be trusted.  Incongruency not allowed.

4. Be elegant. Even if you run a greasy manufacturing plant. Be sincere and graceful in telling customers why they should choose you over Brand R (you expected me to say Brand X, right?). Words and ideas and actions that are simple, neat and effective will always be elegant. Lowering the bar of expectations not allowed.

Employ this strategy throughout all your communications and you'll soon stand out above the noise.

5. Bonus tip: This is not easy. This is truly hard work. Not sweating, ditch-digging hard, or nerve wracking like brain surgery work, but it requires some thought. And, then, again, it's the thinking organization that stands out and knows how to connect with its customers.

Go for it. Be Clear. Be Elegant.

# # #

You can connect with Z.J. at zjames@interprogroup.com




More Lousy Predictions
July 16, 2012, 1:27 am

Greetings Everyone Far and Wide, and to all ships at sea,

With this missive, I am sharing Volume II of Lousy Predictions™, ergo, "More Lousy Predictions™." Our Motto: "We put you in the 1% of those in the know. Pity the other 99%."

In case you missed this missive of prognostications the first time, I offer the following in the spirit of Full Disclosure: These Lousy Predictions are based on lots of reading, lots of scanning of the Internet, and the ancient art of tossing dust bunnies to the wind. The last is an old Hungarian trick that takes years of practice to perfect. Don't try this at home without adult supervision. Trust me.

As always, please keep in mind some of the following predictions may, in fact, be spot on, and most, most likely, will be way off the charts. Some may be obvious to many of you, some may surprise you. You might even discover some real nuggets here, you never know. If nothing else, perhaps the read is worth a sniggle. Whatever you do, don't interpret any of this as financial, medical or spiritual advice.  See your barber for that. 

Here goes:

That's all for now. Stay in the know. Remember: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
 
 
Cheers,
ZJ
 



Lousy Predictions™
July 16, 2012, 1:25 am

Greetings Everyone Far and Wide, and to all ships at sea,

With this missive, I am sharing some lousy predictions with you putting you in the 1% of those in the know. Pity the other 99%. These lousy predictions are based on extensive library research in catacombs I cannot publicly mention. My research is also supplanted by late night reading from stacks of tomes at my bedside, and on the practice of keeping my ear low to the ground.

To be clear, I've never been great on predictions. Ergo why I'm confident in giving you lousy ones. As a case in point, I have yearly predicted the Yankees to win the World Series and that gas prices could never rise above $3 per gallon. We all know how those have worked out. Also, when I was in grad school at the University of Denver, I once wrote a paper for a media economics class eloquently proving the point that there could never be more than three national television networks. The paper garnered an A+, and many kudos from my professor. We all know how this has worked out, too.

So, just consider the source here. Some of the following predications may, in fact, be spot on, and most, most likely, will be way off the charts. Some may be obvious to many of you, some may surprise you. You might even discover some real nuggets here, you never know. If nothing else, perhaps the read is worth a sniggle. Whatever you do, don't interpret this as financial advice. Keep your Federal Reserve Notes under the mattress.

Here goes:

Cheers,
ZJ
 
P.S. This summer will be hot. You can take that to the bank--but leave your money at home.



One Tip: Get Clear!
August 16, 2011, 10:58 am

Ignore the Barrage of “7 Tips or 10 Tips to ‘Whatever.’”

Let’s face it, we don’t have time to follow, experiment and test drive 7 tips and especially 10. We barely have time to try out one! 

So, for those of you who love and live in reality, here’s one tip you can use to enhance your image, whether it’s your personal image or your company’s image.

One Tip: Get Clear!

Sounds simple. But here’s the key. Before you blurt out a response to a media interview, or blow out a news release to the universe announcing your latest widget, take a deep breath and think.

What does the audience really need to know?

What can I say that will interest my audience in me or my business?

What problem can I solve for them?

What is unique about me and my business that everyone needs to know?

Craft two or three sentences that answer those questions and your audience will get what you’re saying.

Stay tuned for more useful tips (one at a time) that you can use immediately.

__________________________________________________________________________

Z.J. Czupor and his partner Marta Sipeki not only clean windows but they help you see clearly on how to talk clear. Call today for a free consultation. 303-759-8989.




How to Make Your Business Remarkable (on the cheap)
April 11, 2011, 3:55 pm

 

 

by

Z. James Czupor & M. Marta Sipeki

Principals and Co-Owners

The InterPro Group

first published in Citywide Banks' customer newsletter

            This past December, The New York Enterprise Report explained how Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a small eatery in Manhattan’s theater district, got people to stand in line for the privilege of paying up to $20 for a hamburger. Ellen’s figured it out with little or no cost. The diner offered its patrons value by having aspiring actors and actresses sing show tunes while serving burgers and shakes. It quickly became a “must-see remarkable place to go.”

 

            The actors craved the exposure and the chance to be discovered, which it turns out, many have. The bottom line is Ellen’s created a remarkable experience where its diners were willing to wait in line and pay a premium.

 

            “That’s great,” you say, “but I don’t have a diner in the theater district.  How does this apply to me?” Great question. The lesson is how can you take the kernel of this idea and make it work for your business?

 

            Start by asking yourself these five questions:

 

            1. What is it about my business that others would consider remarkable? Is it the location? The great customer service? My unique product? The repeat business?  The premium value? The low-cost leader? 

 

            Let’s take it a step further. Do you have any competitors that meet or exceed you in any of these categories asked above? If so, then you’re not remarkable. Sorry! If you haven’t determined what makes you remarkable, it would be well worth your time to think about it.

 

            2. Once you know, take a look at your customers. Do you have a database with phone numbers and email addresses? This is, or should be, one of your most prized assets. The key is to cultivate this list regularly. Grow it. Make sure it’s healthy, up-to-date and accurate. Examine how this list produces profitable results for you. Are you mailing offers and invitations? Educating customers through email and special promotions?

 

3. The old adage of “Walk a mile in my shoes,” can be translated to “Think like your customer.” The days are numbered for marketers who only push information out through traditional media outlets like newspaper, TV, and radio ads. This still works to an extent, but your customer today is foremost asking, “What’s in it for me?”  And, they will search online for just that reason. Also, they will ask their friends, neighbors, colleagues and family for recommendations. Hidden beneath the question of “What’s in it for me?” is the sub-question of “How does business ABC give me high value? Do they discount items for loyal shoppers? Do they give you tickets or invite you to exclusive events?” What are you doing to offer high value? 

 

In short, your objective goal is to offer a high-perceived value in exchange for your customer taking time from his or her busy life and choosing to spend money with you.

 

4. Meanwhile, you will need to create a simple and powerful offer. Ignore the gimmicks, clever headlines, and yawning, ho-hum offers. Simplicity exudes confidence and your customers will respond accordingly.

 

5. Finally, prove to your customer that what you offer is true. Be persuasive and compelling and treat your customer the way you like to be treated. Examine how the companies you do business with give you perceived value. Why is it you keep going back to your cleaners? Your vet? Your auto mechanic? Your banker? What can you learn from them that you can apply to your business?

 

And, if you have employees on the front line with your customers, make sure they are trained and that they understand the importance of this simple, but powerful principle.

 

Here’s the key: If you employ just one of these suggestions this year and do it well, your business will be remarkable and we’ll all be standing in line for your “hamburger.” 

 

# # #

 

About the authors:  Z. James Czupor and M. Marta Sipeki are the principals and co-owners of The InterPro Group, a Denver-based public relations and marketing strategy firm since 1990. www.interprogroup.com




What Did I Say?
September 29, 2010, 4:26 pm

This article was just published in the most recent edition of Citywide Banks' E-News.

What Did I Say? Staying on Message in a Rapid-Fire World
By Z. James Czupor, Principal, The InterPro Group

Citywide presents this ongoing series of small business topics written by local experts in marketing, accounting, technology, HR, and other specialty segments. Look for a new article every month in Citywide E-News.


If you own your business or handle marketing I’m sure you, too, are bombarded daily with information about the latest social media.  Every day new experts and so-called social media gurus are extolling the latest and greatest idea of the moment.  

Do this, tweet that, post here, link there, or whatever on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, or any number of social media tools, and the implied promise is that you’ll rocket to profitability and gain more customers than you can handle.  If only it were that easy.

I will be the first to admit that I believe these social media tools are beneficial and, when used properly, can be an effective adjunct to your business and marketing plans.  But, this article isn’t about how to try the next best thing.

This is about what is often overlooked:  Your message and your audience.

No matter how you market your business, understanding these two principles trumps anything anybody will tell you about social media or marketing.  You must know what your message is and who needs to know.  Do this well and everything else will follow much more smoothly. 

On the other hand, imagine if you don’t know or don’t understand your business message.  What if you can’t articulate it? Or can’t remember it?  Then why should your customers, employees, vendors, partners, news media and others care?  What if you communicated your message to people who had no interest in your company, products or services?  That would be a huge waste of time and resources. If you want to fish for rainbow trout you go to where the trout hang out, not where the catfish are.

Here’s an easy tool you can use and adapt to fit your needs.  It’s a matrix system that helps you organize your thoughts and keeps you focused on how and whom to communicate with and dialogue with about your business.

MESSAGE/AUDIENCE MATRIX

MESSAGES AUDIENCES

CUSTOMERS

EMPLOYEES

VENDORS

PARTNERS

A

A

D

 

 

B

 

 

B

 

C

 

 

 

C

D

 

 

 

 

First.  Decide on your key messages.  It may be one or several.  I recommend you test them out with your specific audiences to make sure they resonate and get the result you want.  Ask yourself, what is the result I want with my message?  Do I want to shape or change attitudes?  Encourage purchase? 

Second.  Decide on who your key audience members are.  The above matrix only hits a few.  There could be a myriad of other stakeholders you should include.  And, it helps to know what they currently know or don’t know about you and your business.  What are their attitudes? 

Next steps.  Once you’ve identified your key messages and your audiences, think about how to dialogue with your audiences—word of mouth, advertising, public relations and promotions, personal selling, direct mail, and the ubiquitous social media.

Think about when is the appropriate time to do so.  Create an annual calendar and think about major events that occur through the year in which your business participates.  This allows you opportunities to meet with customers and key audiences to engage them in understanding their needs and wants as well as in sharing your key messages.

Obviously, I’ve glossed over and simplified many considerations in this process, but if you will stay focused on your message and who needs to know about you, your company, your products and services, then you’ll be well on the way to creating and implementing an effective marketing plan. 

Maybe then you can Twitter about it.


About the Author: Z. James Czupor is a principal and co-owner of The InterPro Group, a Denver-based public relations and marketing strategy firm since 1990. www.interprogroup.com

 




Kansas Plans to Cut High-School Journalism Funding
September 10, 2010, 5:59 pm

Is this the trend for journalism?

Kansas Plans To Cut High-School Journalism Funding

In a sign of the times or a sad statement on society at large, depending on how you view it, Kansas Department of Education is threatening to cut funds for high-school journalism students across the state.

The loss of funds could come in 2012-2013 because the state does not view the field as a viable career option. I'm not sure if I should be offended, but I think I am. A spokeswoman for the state's education department told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the department studied labor market data and came to the conclusion that journalism doesn't show enough job growth.

"According to the education department's website, CTE funding is given to programs that provide students with the technical knowledge and skills needed for further education or make them employable in a skilled profession straight out of high school," wrote CJ reporter Corey Jones.

This seems like a shortsighted view of the profession and what kids learn in high-school programs, like school papers. What about the ability to form a sentence, or a group of sentences to make an argument? Those skills help in almost all professions.

The heavy losses won't come until 2012. "With the emphasis on No Child Left Behind and testing, other areas aren't so much taking a hit," said journalism adviser at Topeka West High School Kristy Dekat to CJ. "Especially with the other areas that fall under the CTE funding, they aren't being hit. It's just journalism that's taking the blow."

Sad.

From: Media Jobs Daily -- Mediabistro.com.




Two Parade Homes Sell Before the Parade of Homes Opens
August 9, 2010, 1:11 pm

DENVER, Colo. – August 9, 2010 – The Home Builders Association of Metro Denver (HBA) today announced that two of the homes entered into the 2010 Denver Parade of Homes www.ParadeofHomesDenver.com have sold before the Parade opens this Saturday, August 14.

 

One of the homes built by Celebrity Custom Homes at 4873 Raintree Drive in the Pradera community of Parker sold to out-of-state buyers.  The purchase price is undisclosed.  Celebrity’s home was listed at $1,725,000 and was entered as one of eight “Dream Homes” in the 2010 Parade.  This home will not be open for viewing.

 

Another Parade home sold almost immediately after it was entered into the Parade.  Built by D. R. Horton and located at 5202 Rialto Drive in Pradera, this home was listed at $601,000.  The purchase price has not been disclosed.

 

Dan Verdoorn, president of Celebrity Custom Homes, said, “The buyers knew that it was a Parade of Homes’ Dream Home and that helped solidify their purchase decision.  They were looking for a special home and liked the overall ‘wow’ of this house.” 

 

Verdoorn said the home was on the market for two weeks.  The Tuscan-style home has open-space views, extensive outdoor living spaces including an outdoor kitchen, multiple decks and large back patio with fireplace. The home also has a gourmet kitchen with commercial-grade appliances and a finished basement with a fireplace and wet bar.

 

Celebrity Custom Homes has three other homes in the Parade.  One is a Dream Home in Lone Tree and listed at $1,350,000.  Another home in Lone Tree is for sale at $1,442,000.  The third home is in Pradera and it is listed at $1,260,000.  All will be open for viewing during the Parade.

 

After D.R. Horton’s home sold, the company immediately entered a substitute home located at 5000 Sedona Circle in Pradera.  It is listed in the Parade for $479,900 and will be open.  In addition to the Pradera home, D. R. Horton has two more homes in the Parade located in Arvada and Frederick.

 

New Parade New Format

The 2010 Denver Parade of Homes is a new event with a new format, and it runs August 14 through Labor Day (September 6) throughout metro Denver.  Entry to the Parade is free.  The Parade is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

 

Official Guides for the Parade can be picked up at one of seven participating American Furniture Warehouse stores.

 

Visitors can see 57 homes in this year’s Parade and can pre-plan trips by using the website’s interactive map function.  See www.ParadeofHomesDenver.com.

 

All the homes are new, never lived in, and offer the greatest range of prices in the Parade’s 23-year history.  Prices range from $188,900 to $6.3 million. 

 

All the homes are for sale, some are luxury custom homes, others are furnished models, or townhomes, and one features land that is available for sale to build a home.  Home styles range from ranch to Colorado rustic to Tuscan, to townhome, to starter homes, to luxury custom.

 

The total value of all 57 Parade homes is more than $42 million. The homes are located in 21 cities throughout metro Denver from Loveland to Castle Rock, Golden to Aurora, and to Elizabeth in the southeast.

 

See Seven (7) Dream Homes

Within the 57 homes are seven Dream Homes all priced from $1 million to $6.3 million.  The Dream Homes are custom luxury homes which are furnished, decorated and landscaped as traditional Parade homes have been in the past.  Entry to see the Dream Homes is a suggested $5 donation to Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).  All monies raised will benefit MDA. Donations can be made at any one of seven participating American Furniture Warehouse outlets, or online at www.ParadeofHomesDenver.com.

 

For more details about the 2010 Denver Parade of Homes, the builders, home descriptions and photos, locations, maps, and tour planning see www.ParadeofHomesDenver.com.

 

 

About the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver (HBA)

The HBA is a trade association representing businesses involved in the residential development, construction and remodeling industry in the eight-county Denver metro region. Members include home builders, land developers, remodelers, architects, mortgage lenders, building material suppliers and subcontractors.

Founded in 1942, the HBA is one of several hundred local home builder associations in the United States. The HBA is also affiliated with the Colorado Association of Home Builders (CAHB) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which represents more than 211,000 member firms in the United States.

For more information, call 303-778-1400 or visit www.hbadenver.com.

 

 

 

 

 




One of the Great Brands of Journalism Sells for $1
August 3, 2010, 9:00 am

 

It's sad to see it come to this, but Newsweek was just sold yesterday by the Washington Post Company for a buck to audio tycoon Sidney Harmon of Harmon/Kardon fame.  Harmon also assumed the magazine's liabilities somewhere north of $55 million.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-08-03/newsweek-losses-revealed

 

 




To school or not to school
July 14, 2010, 6:44 pm

 

From the July/August issue of Chief Executive magazine's "In Fact" section, I found this interesting:

 

1.  Number of CEOs minted by the University of California, the college that has produced the most corporate chieftains among S&P 500 corporations: 12.

 

2.  Number (of CEOs) produced by the school of hard knocks (i.e. no college degree): 12.




AOL may be the largest hirer of journalists next year
June 9, 2010, 12:35 pm

According to Advertising Age, AOL plans to hire hundreds of journalists and reorganize content.  See the article here:

http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=144334.  Could this be a seachange in the journalism industry?  Stay tuned.




63% prefer print over online versions of newspapers
June 2, 2010, 1:28 pm

New Report from Rasmussen:  63% prefer getting their news from print editions of newspapers rather than online versions. Oddly enough, I found this story online.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/june_2010/63_prefer_print_over_online_versions_of_newspapers




Operators Standing By
May 21, 2010, 7:01 pm

This is the shortest most direct blog I may ever write.

Call now for a free consultation to ignite your public relations and marketing.

Okay.  You can email just as well.  Pick one.

303-759-8989.

pr@interprogroup.com.

That's it.

Z.James Czupor is the co-founder and principal of The InterPro Group. And, he's usually this direct, but friendly, fun, intelligent, and knows of what he speaks and does.




Twitter More a News Medium Than a Social Media Site?
May 3, 2010, 9:18 am

Here's an interesting thought:  Twitter seems to act more as a news medium than a social medium.  According to a new study published in PC World.  Here's the full story:

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/195374/twitter_more_a_news_medium_than_social_network.html




More Time to Communicate?
April 26, 2010, 11:59 pm

In this fast-paced world it seems we race from one email to the next; one 140-character Tweet to the next; one text message to the next, and we wonder why the person at the other end doesn't "get it."

Indeed, we are sending messages, ideas, opinions, and banal short-hand, but does it all move the ball down the field toward the goal line?

Think about this hierarchy for communicating.  If it's important -- talk to someone -- in person.  It's still the best, most effective option for getting your thoughts across. 

As you do so, ask how effective your personal communication is.  Are you present with the person you're speaking to (versus thinking ahead to what else you want to say)?  Are you "positive," moving the ball forward, so to speak, without an agenda?  If you're entering a conversation with an agenda, chances are you're not entering the conversation with honesty.

Now take this to the next level.  How is your communication when it comes to your business?  Are you getting through?  Are you allowing the wishes of your customers to get through to you? 

Communication is not about speed.  It's about effectiveness.  The race is not necessarily won by the fastest runner as we learned long ago from Ecclesiastes 9:11 -- "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

Z.J. Czupor is the co-founder and principal of The InterPro Group, a Denver-based public relations and marketing firm.  "We're fast, but we chose our words wisely."

 




Crunch Time
April 22, 2010, 10:36 pm

Invariably someone says, and you've all heard this, "We're in crunch time, here.  We've got a small window to get this project done. What can you do for us?"

I used to sweat bullets whenever I got that question.  I referred in panic to my calendar, gulped and prayed for a miracle.  And, then committed to "go for it."

Not anymore.

I still like to commit to "go for it," but now I do so with the calm demeanor of James Bond about to jump off a cliff into an ocean of sharks. (kind of, sort of).

"Are you nuts?"  I can hear you ask (and some would concur, but that's another subject for another day).

The difference is once you remain focused on the project's objectives and not the short timeline, you can find a way that will satisfy your client and keep your sanity in tact.

But, here's where you need to be crystal clear and communicate openly about what hallmarks need to be set for the project to be deemed a rousing success.  Is it attendees?  Awareness metrics?  X% involvement or behavior change of audience categories? 

Whatever the metric, be clear about the pros and cons, the timeline, your budget, approval trees, the competition, and other land mines.  Then you can work to your most important objective. 

It really doesn't matter how much time you have from project "go" to project "show."  But it does matter that you are clear about the objectives.  Stay focused and you won't be concerned with the shrinking calendar.

Z.J. Czupor is co-founder and principal of The InterPro Group, a Denver-based public relations and marketing firm who likes to "go for it," no matter what.

 

 

 






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