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  • Q2 — What is Alchemy United?

    A2 — Alchemy United is a collective of business, marketing, creative and technical professionals who have a passion for developing cost effective solutions that maximize The Guest Experience.  These solutions must also be appropriate for the partner organization implementing them. Whether the consideration is company culture or budgetary, we understand that successful solutions must address  context.

    Today’s unpredictable business environment requires an increasingly sophisticated range of aptitude, understanding, experience and talent. Depth as well as breadth is essential. AU’s arrangement as a collective is ideal for organizations  seeking to rise above these challenges. We are independent and innovative individuals, available on demand on a pay-as-you-go basis, able to assemble as a team in order to supplement and collaborate with forward thinking organizations. Top heavy, over-structured, traditional agencies are passé. Posting on Craig’s List is time consuming and potentially risky. But AU’s agility enables partner organizations to response with confidence to the numerous opportunities created by unpredictability.

    We certainly appreciate the initial confusion some experience in consuming and digesting a concept as unique as Alchemy United. But as with anything new there are bound to be questions. We suggest our blog as a great place to get acquainted with us. Although please feel free to ask questions directly (via our Contact page). We always welcome the dialogue.

  • Q3 — What is the AU sweet spot?

    A3 — The AU sweet spot is the edge where the guest, the brand and technology meet, morph and continue to evolve. We have all witnessed how the internet has permanently altered the course of guest expectations. The internet has forced brands to forfeit control. The guest is the new boss. In this new era many of the old rules no longer apply. AU’s passion is to guide the partner organization through these uncharted waters with cost effective tools, techniques and technologies that enable them to realize their success.

    Quite often the tangible deliverable is a web site, or other web based solutions. With that said, the journey to success could also be a better designed mail piece or menu, managing a partner organization’s pay-per-click campaign, or custom photography for marketing and sales collateral.

  • Q4 — Guest-centric? Guest-centricity? The Guest Experience?

    A4 — We believe that the idea of mere customer is a dated, twentieth century paradigm. Organizations do themselves a disservice but reducing people into a single dimension. Customer is a broken model that fails to address the demands of the current dynamic. Today, individuals do not accept being objectified by a company. They no longer accept corporate- speak spin in response to their concerns. Citizens are empowered with a voice and they are gong to use it. The new era, as triggered by the impact of the internet,  needs a new approach.

    Given this environment, try to imagine an ideal more appealing to your constituency than guest. When a business opens its doors or its web site it is the equivalent of sending out invitations. A good host must be sensitive to the expectations of all invitees. Success is achieved by providing an experience where everyone feels welcome, new friends are made, the conversation is lively, the music just right, and by the end of the evening life is just a little bit better than the day before. Nearly everyone takes home something honest and positive that they eventually share with friends and colleagues.

    Over the next couple days, a great host will follow up with those who did not attend to let them know that they were missed. If there is feedback an exceptional host will listen. When it is appropriate the host will respond sincerely with an authentic answer. If necessary the host makes adjustments in the future.

    Finally, there are two other significant differences that make the guest analogy far more appropriate. One,  a host has no assumption of loyalty. Every effort, every interaction has the same importance as the first impression. Two, the brand no longer engages the guest, it is the guest who chooses to engage the brand.

    The bottom line:  the host that maximizes The Guest Experience is the organization awarded with the reputation of being the best. As this reputation grows stronger revenue and market share follow.

  • Q5 — What is AU’s Marketing Therapy?

    A5 — First, context:

    Fact #1 — Every endeavor that seeks growth and longevity needs  marketing.

    Fact #2 — Budgets are being tightened even as demand for increased results continue to rise.

    Fact #3 — Small organizations often underestimate the importance of marketing or lack the resources to pursue it properly. The result is little or no effort devoted to marketing. As a result, actual growth falls short of the projections found in the business plan. Hiring a traditional marketing agency is overkill.

    Fact #4 — Slightly larger organizations usually have an employee assigned the responsibility of marketing. However, that person’s experience in this area is limited or their workload prevents the marketing initiatives from getting the necessary level of attention. Execution is often haphazardly thrown together as a deadline nears.  Again, a traditional marketing agency is overkill.

    Fact #5 — Using the internet for marketing requires a different set of skills, to say nothing of the difficulty in understanding the number of delivery channels it spawns.

    Marketing Therapy is a service specifically designed to cover the middle ground between not enough and too much while addressing off line and online objectives. Sessions are 50 to 80 minutes in length and are scheduled to take place two to four times per month. The objective is to provide the partner organization the following benefits:

    • The length and frequency of the session dictate that the focus is on quality, without having to pay for quantity. AU provides guidance based on knowledgeable real life experience. Ideas and feedback is shared from an objective perspective. The hands on implementation remains the responsibility of the partner organization.
    • Human nature is such that we do what we like to do and avoid the things we do not enjoy. If the marketing person is not comfortable with that role their effectiveness could be compromised. With the support of Marketing Therapy those mental blocks can be overcome.
    • Success requires adequate planning. Scheduling time to brainstorm, strategize and properly plan is absolutely necessary. Marketing Therapy supplies the necessary structure and focus. “Winging it” is no more.
    • Given the positive effect on a brand’s marketing efforts, the reasonable fees* are cost justifiable. Ideally, the ROI is achieved  in one to two quarters, not in three to four quarters or more.

    During Marketing Therapy sessions AU is able to inject quality input and guidance directly into the partner organization. The result is a series of incremental adjustments eventually adding up into significant results.

    * Yes, we offer special rates for non-profits.

  • Q6 — I just need a web site. What is iproperty development?

    A6 —This chart highlights some of the differences between traditional web design and that of iproperty development:

    Traditional Web Design iProperty Development
    Historical perspective Old mindset rooted in the 20th century The result of best practices embraced by 21st century visionaries
    Focus is on What the brand has to say Being guest-centric
    Design is Believed to be the ends One component in a holistic perspective that includes guest expectations, as well as business needs. Design is part of a means to the ends
    Communication One way – from brand to customer Invites a two way conversation
    Communication tools Usually just words with some photos Words, photos, audio, video and interaction
    Site updates Requires expertise (often via a monthly retainer) By the empowered partner organization via a user-friendly content management system (CMS)
    Search engine optimization (SEO), analytics and pay-per-click Is usually an afterthought Integrated within the architecture, design & development process
    Technologies HTML, maybe CSS, probably Flash (because the client is mesmerized by the eye candy) XHTML, CSS, 3rd party widgets and plug-ins, RSS, and JQuery / Javascript. Page coding technologies are integrated with the CMS
    Approach to project Get it done Thorough, structured and phased
    Getting the site live is The end The beginning
    Once the site is live Set it and forget it Proactively managed. Quarterly tune-ups (at the very least)
    Dimensions Two: length and width Three: length, width and user experience (UX)
    One word description Static Dynamic
    Place in the marketing mix An island that is often dismissed for its underachieving The hub, a valuable tool used to ensure the brand’s ongoing success
    The value is in The cheaper the better Doing it right
    Cost is Thought of as an expense Understood to be an investment
    ROI It wasn’t an investment to begin with A function of the commitment to maximizing The Guest Experience
    Why… “Because everyone has a web site.” “Because our guests expect the best from our brand / company.”

    The result of both approaches does yield a web site. However, the owners of an iproperty web site value and manage their investment in much the same way they would a piece of property in the natural. Ongoing maintenance, upgrades and improvements are all accepted as necessary to increase future value for the brand / company.

  • Q8 – Where are you located? Does it matter?

    A8 – In the age of wikis, Skype, IM and other web based collaboration platforms, it does not matter.

    With that said, we are based in central New Jersey, with the majority of the AU Collective living in the greater Princeton, NJ area.

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