Social Issue Marketing… the need for it is now!

By Leslie R. Wolff

“We did not all come over on the same ship,but we’re all in the same boat.” -Bernard Baruch

The increasing amount of horrific news be it sniper attacks on police in Dallas, killing of a driver by police possibly influenced by the color of his skin, the recruitment of young people by ISIS, mass shootings in schools and movie theatres and far more it is time to say not only is “enough is enough” it is time for corporate marketers not only to use their marketing skills to sell products and services, but also to promote behavior and understand in doing so they can position themselves with a far better and positive image in the minds of their target audience and society in general.

How can they do this? The opportunities are limitless, but let me suggest two possibilities based on personal experiences.

When my daughter was 5 years old I explained to her if her father had gotten in trouble a few blocks from home the neighbors had permission to punish me and long before cell phones, my actions were communicated to my mother who was waiting on the from steps of our home with full details of my transgressions. We lived in an environment where we had 27 sets of parents, where everyone looked out for each other. It was called a “Community” and the principles of establishing such an environment today could be considered a proprietary marketing platform.

 This article is not about business marketing but attitude of Life marketing and it’s based on as well on another incident in my life when I was living in Manhattan. I attended a Unitarian Church service at the Church of All Souls near where I lived and the topic of the sermon was the Golden Rule – “Treat others as you want to be treated”

 This memory came up not only because the ‘World’ environment today could dramatically benefit from that sort of thinking. What surprised me about this sermon is that it highlighted that no matter the society, country or religion there is a version of the Golden Rule (see below). Imagine what the world would be like if we practiced it!

In every major religion in the world there is a version of the Golden Rule

 What is hateful to you; do not to your fellow man.That is the entire Law: all the rest is commentary. – Judaism -Talmud

 Hurt not others in ways you find hurtful. – Buddhism – Udanavarga

 No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. –  Islam – Sunan

 This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. –Hinduism -Mahbharata

 Therefore, however you want others to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets – Christianity – Bible

 Is there one maxim, which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s life? Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you. –   Confucianism – Analects


Thus if we have, and I know we do, creative marketers that understand the value of “Social Issue Marketing”. – Change can be created.

Your Mission:

Encourage people to instill in their psyche and daily behavior and that of those they live and work with and meet on a daily basis that we all would benefit if each encouraged each other to live by the principles of the Golden Rule, integrity, civility, compassion and ethical behavior.

Potential themes to adopt:

  • Treat everyone with the same respect you would want for yourself and those you care about.
  • Understand every action creates a reaction; it is your choice whether that will be positive or negative.
  • The environment you live in is directly influenced by the attitude you project.
  • Kindness is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength.
  • Listen twice as much as you talk

We may not be able change the: world but possibly we can change “ours.” A start would be marketing themes encouraging each of us individually to at least make the effort personally. If we can influence change one person at a time it would making this a better, more pleasant world we live in…and place the marketer delivering this message in n extremely positive position in the public’s eye and mind.


My late client the boxer Smokin Joe Frazier stated it best –

“There is no right way to do wrong, nor any wrong way to do right


Leslie R. Wolff is CEO of Philadelphia based Smart Marketing Group and an experienced marketing strategist, creative tactician and executive coach. Les is a stimulating speaker with a highly interactive dialogue format with his audience. For 3 years he hosted the Internet radio show “Smart Marketing for Small Business.” Participate in his LinkedIn group of the same name. Les can be reached at 215-334-3432, 917-670-3450 or e-mail to


His E-Book” Smart Thinking- Vol.-I” is available @


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Smart Thoughts for Smart Thinkers


In order to get people to sit-up and take notice of you, you have to sit-up and take notice of what makes people sit-up and take notice” –Frank Roemer


Focus on what people are most interested in … Themselves! Benefits, real or perceived are the key factors in getting your target audience to take the actions you desire. Succinctly describe the true benefits you deliver and communicate at every level you can.

Your Interpretation:


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Are you a Mimic…Mimic … Marketer?

By Leslie R. Wolff

Do you imitate, duplicate, replicate rather then Originate?

5 Steps on how to outthink your competition

 Why do you think it is so many marketers can’t differentiate themselves from their competition? Is it because they…

  • Consider their product/service a commodity and have no USP -Unique Selling Proposition to offer?
  • Are more comfortable in following the positioning taken by the leader in their industry rather then creating one of their own?
  • Rely on their ad agency to develop a way to do this?
  • Lack any experience or expertise personally or on their staff to accomplish this?
  • Have a CEO who doesn’t understand the role of Marketing and thus are either under no pressure to be distinctive or can’t convince the CEO of its importance and worth an investment to do so?

If one wants to “outthink the competition rather than outspend them” here are 5 steps to take

I.  Identify the ‘”Overlooked” Opportunity

Understand Wolff’s Rule of Business Opportunity, in that every business in every industry tends to operate like everyone else in their field, thus if you closely examine all the common denominators or sameness factors you will always find an overlooked opportunity. Usually several will be staring at you when you are having the inevitable “Ah Ha” moment.

II. Develop an Integrated Marketing Approach

To many marketers their efforts are dominated by their advertising efforts and although important is only one element the Marketing mix. The art of Marketing is like creating a mosaic in which every element enhances the overall “picture.” Advertising creates awareness, PR strengthens credibility, movement is generated by promotion. Internet offers worldwide exposure and all the other internal and external activities that improve customer interaction, provide direction, motivate employees and enhance performance all play a role in generating long-term success.

III.  Identify the Benefits You Deliver

Customers don’t buy features, they purchase benefits, real or perceived, they believe they are receiving. This is the famed WIIFM Factor answering the question…”What’s in it for me?” What will I receive that will make my life easier, healthier, wealthier or enhance my success in other ways delivering something meaningful to my life, job, family, etc? The best way to identify what truly are those benefits is to create dialogue with your cusomers, present and past; have open discussion with all of your employees that have any interaction with customers (and prospects) and don’t forget the input from vendors who have a great deal to gain from your increased success.

IV.    Communicate Secrets

If you look around you you’ll see the vast majority of communication efforts fail to impart or inform this “benefits” approach very effectively. Key actions to keep in mind

  • Be succinct – If you look at billboard copy or the opening copy of a great direct mail piece they quickly grab your attention
  • Be sure all of those who deal with prospects and customers have an “elevator pitch” approach to quickly communicate the essence of what you offer.
  • Be sure your product/service name is memorable
  • Have a good tagline that reinforces what you deliver
  • Written copy should utilize headlines, subheads and bullet points to allow easy scanning of key points
  • Visuals should reinforce the image you are portraying,don’t get lost in graphic design that doesn’t clearly support your message.

V.   Be User Friendly

  • Have you ever had to deal with what seems like a never-ending series of questions from a voice mail system when all you want to do is talk to a human?
  • How do you think a customer or prospect’s view of your firm will be when encountering someone with a less than friendly voice or one where they barely can be understood?
  • Does your business card effective communicate what business you are in? 7 out of 10 don’t.
  • E-mail, texting can be very efficient but also can work against you when someone want to have a whole conversation not “bit by bit.”
  • How long does it take to you to respond to a complaint or even a customer’s interest, perhaps from a trade show or direct response effort?
  • Shop yourself, it could be a valuable learning lesson.

The list in each of the above areas can go on and on as can the discussions on each point. The purpose of this article is to encourage more Smart Thinking as it relates to running a business. When you take the time to do son you will rise above the crowd and easily outthink your competition.

A few Smart Thoughts from some Smart Thinkers

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.”  – William Bernbach

“The sure way to miss success is to miss the opportunity.” -Victor Charles

 “Marketing is merely a civilized form of warfare in which most battlesare won with words, ideas and disciplined thinking.” – Albert W. Emery


Les is CEO of The Smart Marketing Group and can be reached at 215-334-3432,,Website: is

E- Book: “Smart Thinking Vol. I”

Profile @

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Thoughts For A Leader

Smart Thinking … A Different Perspective

By Leslie R. Wolff

A Marketing Curmudgeon


Thoughts for a Leader

“Leadership is action, not position – Donald H. McGannon


“I praise loudly; I blame softly.”Catherine II

A true leader knows that in order to move forward all the members of their team needs to feel they count, that their effort is not only recognized, but also appreciated. Research has shown praise given sincerely is far more successful motivator of people than cash or material rewards. A combination of both can be a ‘home run.”

“We all are imbued with the love of praise.” – Cicero


“An optimist sees opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees calamity in every opportunity.”  – Winston Churchill

A leader has to have a positive outlook focusing on what can be achieved rather than focusing on why something can’t be accomplished. It is up to that leader to instill that same spirit in those he or she leads. When one expresses a negative or pessimistic approach to things ask this question – “Name one benefit you gain from a pessimistic viewpoint?” There are none. You will only get inaction, indecision and guaranteed failure. Although optimism must also be tempered with reasoning, it will always lead to great achievements and more fulfilling life.

“A man’s greatest enemies are his own apathy and stubbornness. – Frank Tyger


None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Phil Condit

 Some so-called leaders have a “kill the messenger” attitude to anyone who might bring them bad news or make them aware of a problem on the horizon or already beginning to affect the business. Such a leader is stupid, as a smart leader will set up a 2- way communication conduit that invites others to give you input and feedback, it not only builds teamwork, it makes you act as well as look smarter than you probably are. Such a system combined with a “reward not retribution” outlook will provide a much smother road to success … for everyone.

 “It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak and one to hear.” – Henry David Thoreau

 Goal Setting

“In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high”            – Henry David Thoreau (Walden)

 Setting goals is not an easy task, but is best accomplished by having the right attitude, input from your team, customers, vendors and even your competition, which you can often get by having established good relationships with member of the trade press and associations. Goals should require you and your team to have to stretch your talents and thinking to see what the possibilities might be if you are willing to think “outside the box.” I offer Wolff’s Rule of Business Opportunity for your reflection. It is that “every business, in every industry tends to operate the same as everyone else in their field, until someone takes a magnifying glass and closely examines the common denominators and sameness factors and they will always find an untapped or overlooked opportunity.”

 “Before you can score, you must have a goal.” – Anonymous

 Customer’s Focus

“In order to get people to sit-up and take notice of you, you have to sit-up and take notice of what makes people sit-up and take notice” –Frank Roemer

 What is the customer or prospect most interested in? Themselves! Understanding this is the basis of the WIIFM Factor, which impacts heavily on purchasing decisions. It stands for the question – “What’s in it for me?” A simple question, but how it is answered can dramatically affect the bottom line. Too often it’s ignored or overlooked in a corporate environment that focuses on features of their products or services rather than the benefits. Viewing your business from the customer’s perspective will always give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.

 “If you give something worth paying for, they’ll pay.” – Thomas J. Peters


It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out-of-date”          — Roger von Oech

 In trying to rise above your competition and outthink them rather than outspend them it is best to remember most are mimic marketers who duplicate, replicate and imitate rather then originate in their marketing efforts. Sometimes the “original” idea is based on common sense, which is increasingly uncommon. If you follow some of the ideas expressed above you will be far better positioned to be “Different” in ways that will impact your profits … positively.

 “The rewards in business go to the man who does something with an idea.” – William Benton


Playing it safe is the riskiest choice we can ever make.”- Sarah Ban Breathnach

There has always been a correlation between the size of the risk one takes and the size of the reward they gain if they’ve done their homework. I asked in a group I belong to on – “Why is it so many executives can’t think outside the box/” The most succinct answer was “Fear.” So the truth is that anyone can think innovatively, but few choose to do so because they are not risk takers, they prefer to play it safe, which is why they lose out in the long run.

 Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps

– David Lloyd George


“Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is final .”- Roger Babson

“The time you need to do something is when no one else is willing to do it, when people are saying it can’t be done.” – Mary Frances Berry

 The quality of the results a true leader delivers is based on how well they motivate their team; The attitude they possess and the one they create within the corporate environment; How well they communicate internally as well as externally; How challenging as well as realistic are the goals they set; Their understanding of the customers needs and wants; The innovativeness he encourages from all within the entity; How they manage risk and if they do it all well the results will be amazing.

 “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more

common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius

is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge


Leslie R. Wolff, CEO of the Smart Marketing Group, is an experienced marketing strategist, creative tactician and executive coach. Les not only helps clients work smarter, he is a stimulating speaker with a highly interactive dialogue format with his audience. Plus listen participate in his LinkedIn group –“Smart Marketing for Small Business”,  Les can be reached at 215-334-3432 or e-mail him at

His E-Book” Smart Thinking- Vol.-I” is available @









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Top Tips for Small Businesses – From Radio Interview with Leanne Hogland-Smith

Leanne Hogland-Smith – Chicago 219-759-5601, entrepreneur small business for 15 years, uniting people and their talents with operations through management,

Consistent challenge in businesses today is a lack of processes and procedures. A lot of this comes about because there is no strategic plan, there are no goals written so what happens is that everyone is hitting different targets and the individual and business goals are missed.

A lot of communication is just refocusing the way they state things, getting rid of the words like need and should and start using “may I suggest this”. When you get rid of the emotionally judgmental words, it’s amazing at the reactions you get.

An employer now, if they have not hired smart, they end up with maybe one good employee for every four employees. Employers need to have consistent performance reviews. Employees then feel like they are part of the company’s success.

Top Tips for Small Businesses

  • Communication is consistent and everyone knows where the organization is going and what their goals are. Is everyone sharing the same goals? It is critical to have your goals communicated consistently throughout your company.
  • Values – What are your non-negotiable behaviors that you will demonstrate with your employees, vendors, strategic partners?
  • Find out what your real brand is – Talk to your customers, not a marketing company. The expectactions held by customers, it is a really definitive way to identify your brand. Ask them, “When you hear my name what expectations come to mind?” You will get a really good idea of your brand, but you also gain a competitive edge. When you have down-time, that is up-time to talk to your customers.
  • Marketing is about attracting attention and build relationships – Write copy and test it out. See if it gets some sort of emotional attention for your business.

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Smart Marketing for Small Business with Nancy Garberson – Archived Radio Show

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Smart Marketing for Small Business with Dr. Rose Kuhn – Archived Radio Show

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Smart Marketing with Guest Julie Holloway on Smart Marketing for Small Business Radio Show

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Marketing Fundamentals with Guest Leanne Hogland-Smith – On Demand Radio Show

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5 Secrets for High Achievers with Guest Nadine Lajoie – On Demand Radio Show

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