One Team, One Message, One Brand (via GaWrilla)

April 26, 2010

A national tv commercial used to be an effort in branding. It used to be the only effort in branding that really existed. And it was in a time when “branding” as a marketing concept didn’t really exist.

Today, branding exists in every facet of your company. And one of the major features of a good brand is that there is one succinct message being communicated to the public. Commercials, websites, online ads, phone conversations, emails, etc. all communicate the same thing, the same dedication, and the same vision.

To read the full blog post, head over to the GaWrilla Blog.

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The New Marketers (via GaWrilla)

March 26, 2010

There are a lot of people in this world who can call themselves marketers.  Marketing has been a term that has expanded to cover many facets of any business.  You can market your ideas, your business, your products, and even yourself.  Yet the word marketing is still seen by many as an extension of sales, and, therefore, a label that we try to avoid because it brings to mind the old idea of the door to door or used car salesman.  We, as marketers, have fought hard against that stigma, continually trying to redefine what marketing is.

To read the full post, click here and check out the new company, GaWrilla.


How a Birthday Gift Can Make You a Million Dollars

July 20, 2009

gift-main_FullThis coming Saturday will mark the day I was born 25 years ago, MY Birthday!

Thinking about my birthday, and birthdays in general, I became interested in what a birthday gift can mean.  And I am not talking about gifts that you or I get for each other.  I am talking about a company or business that gives gifts to their clients and customers.

I wrote a post about a month ago about information.  The more you know about your customers, the better you will be able to serve them.  Knowing their birthdays is a small, but potentially important part of that.

If you know your customers’ birthdays, you have options.  You can send them a discount on your products and services as a thank you for being a loyal customer.  Or you can get them a gift, apart from what your company offers, that really makes an impact.

What if you sent a gift certificate to all your customers for their birthdays this year?  You could do it through email, and make it $20 or less.  How much would that cost you?  I think you will end up pleasing enough people, and generating some real long term customers, that it will more than make up for the cost.

But instead, what you sent something concrete?  What if you sent something that you knew most of the recipients would use?  And what if you branded that product so that when they used it, they were helping to spread the word about your company?

You could send a t-shirt, a hat, a computer accessory, a cell phone case, or anything else that people use on a daily basis.  On it, you could put a slogan that would resonate with people, along with your company name and website.

Chances are that…

1)the customers that receive this gift will be thankful for it because they are not used to a company going out of their way to give back, turning them into more loyal customers, 2)some of those newly loyal customers become brand ambassadors, actively telling their friends and associates how great your company is, and
3)the branding that goes along with the product gets people talking, or at least noticing you more.

It is a generous gesture that fits right into a solid marketing plan.  Do something out of the ordinary for your customers and they will take notice.  And the more they take notice, the more likely they are to talk about your brand.

So maybe one birthday gift can’t make you a million dollars, but giving back to your customers on their birthday could prove to be a pivotal part of developing lifetime customers and start some positive word of mouth marketing.  I know if any companies did that for me this Saturday that I would take notice.


Home Depot vs. Lowe’s: Where is the Difference?

July 6, 2009

battle-homedepot-lowes-200x267drWhen multiple companies operate in the same space, the space has to be big enough to support them all, or one of the companies will eventually differentiate themselves and prove victorious at controlling the market.

 

Sometimes, the market is big enough to support more than one leader.  And when this happens, you most often see two companies that are so similar, it is hard to tell them apart.

 

I saw a commercial for Home Depot this morning, and without seeing the television screen, I assumed it was for Lowe’s.  They both say the same thing, the voiceovers even sound the same (even though Lowe’s tries to use Gene Hackman’s voice to stand out).

 

It got me to thinking, what is the difference between the two companies?  I have shopped at both, purchased from both, and been satisfied with both.  But after thinking about it, I can’t come up with one single point of emphasis or difference that would cause me to choose one over the other.

 

Both have brand awareness, but has either worked towards brand loyalty.  You would think that one of the two companies would try to differentiate themselves in such a way to gain market share over the other.  But, from what I can tell, both are satisfied sharing the market with the other one. 

 

There is a danger in becoming too complacent.  If neither company is actively pursuing an industry that they can dominate, where is the innovation and creativity coming from.  There is no motivation to change and grow.  Eventually a new player can come along and stand out from the rest of the industry.  And when that happens, it may be too late to change and adapt.

 

These two companies may be comfortable coexisting in this way, but if you own or operate a company, you should be very careful how similar you are to your competitors.  Standing out is the best way to build awareness and loyalty at the same time so you can grow and keep your customer base.


Crowdsourcing Products and Services: Trendy but Boring (Part 1)

May 19, 2009

crowdOne of the hottest trends that the web has brought us this year is the idea of crowdsourcing.  The basic idea, for those that are not yet aware, is to make design and functionality decisions on products, services, and websites based on feedback from a community.  Facebook recently tried their version of this with their new Terms of Use Agreement.  They left it up to a vote by the community on whether or not they would rewrite certain parts of the document.

An ex-Google designer made noise by claiming the reason he left was because Google left too much of their design decisions up to data from the site’s users, essentially letting the whole world decide what designs worked and what had to go.  And today, over on Springwise, there is news about this company trying to start a crowdsourced fashion label.

While I do appreciate the innovative nature of this trend, allowing the end consumers to essentially design their own products, I think there is a downside to this growing fad.

One person may be creative and stylish, and another person may be quirky and willing to try anything, but the masses are boring.  The large majority of people are looking for something safe, easy and conservative in most of the products or services that they plan to use. Bringing the topic back to fashion, despite all the trendy labels out there, the majority of people will choose the more conservative appeal of a Gap or an Old Navy.

The problem that develops with the crowdsourcing approach is that the more people who get their input heard on the style of a product, the more boring it will become.  If 100 people lean to the left and 120 people lean to the right, the crowdsourced outcome of this product will be very close to being right down the middle.

When you try to please everyone, you end up being plain, and wowing no one. To build a successful brand, you have to wow someone, and boring just won’t do it.

Of course that is just one man’s opinion, I want to know what you think.  Is crowdsourcing going to lead to more popular products and services, or is it the end of creativity and stylistic flair?  Leave your comments below and I will follow up with a future post on this same topic.

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Hire a Social Media Manager and Start Talking

January 15, 2009

social-mediaWhy would a company need to hire someone whose job it is to manage social media?  To me, the answer to that question is obvious.  And if you know anything about the social web, you probably agree.  The problem is that the majority of companies out there don’t know as much as we do, because they are either out of touch or just don’t care.

The emerging world of social media offers networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.  It offers an endless array of blogs and other sources for news and opinions.  It offers the sharing of information, videos, pictures, thoughts, and ideas.  This is where people are talking.  This is where people are learning about new things.  And this is where you need to be.

But you can’t do it by yourself.  There are too many areas that you need to be aware of and on top of at all times.  And there are too many resources out there to help you to ignore.

Step 1: Evaluate the Social Media landscape and find out where you fit in. As Marc Meyer (twitter.com/Marc_Meyer) says, not every company or customer may be a fit.  In addition, not every company needs to be involved in every aspect of social media.  But there are areas you can capitalize on, whether you use it for customer service, contests and promotions, ideas, or brand building.  The key is to understand it.

Step 2: Define your customer from a social media perspective. Are your existing customers using social media, and in what way?  Are there potential customers on the social web that present an opportunity?  The better you understand your customers’ habits on the web, the more you will understand how to reach them.

Step 3: Spend the money. The reason I say to hire someone whose primary job it is to manage your social media efforts is twofold.  One, you want to give them control to communicate, interact, and adapt on their own.  Two, for brand building, one clear message across social media channels is important.  As “SMcuter” (twitter.com/SMcuter) would say, too many cooks in the kitchen leads to inconsistency and poorly laid out plans.

Seth Godin reminds us that if no one is talking about you, you’re boring.  But the truth is, you can start the conversation.  And you can take part in the conversation.  This is as true for large corporations like Microsoft and IBM as it is for local businesses like clothing stores and restaurants.

Hire someone who understands the web, someone with vision and creativity.  It takes a combination of different backgrounds, such as technology and marketing.  It’s a new job role, and one that many people will be looking to fill.  Give them freedom, give them a voice, and put them to work.  In the end, this will be an inexpensive way to create a buzz, to build your brand, and to seek out new customers.

Do you agree?

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Goal Setting Can Lead to an Innovative Year

December 15, 2008

I’ve noticed that many blogs and bloggers have started to list or discuss goals for next year.  Over the next few weeks, many people and companies alike will reflect on how they performed in 2008.  They will most likely look at goals and projections that were made at the beginning of the year to on which to base this evaluation.

Goal setting is an important activity for a number of reasons.  First, it gives you a chance to take an objective look at your company from the outside.  You can evaluate where you are, where you ought to be, and where you would like to get to.  This is one of the few times where you can ignore the minute details and focus on the big picture, which can be very helpful, especially for small business owners.

Second, it gives you guidelines of how you will conduct your business in the coming year.  For instance, if you set a goal to reach out to every single customer once a month because this will allow you to develop relationships and improve customer service, everyone in the company will know how important this is.  It won’t get bogged down after a few months because something else suddenly came up.

Finally, goal setting provides excitement and motivation.  When you have something to work towards, it makes the day to day routine a lot more fun and makes the impossible seem achievable.  It creates a culture of success and gets everyone in the company looking forward to a successful future.

When setting goals, it is important to limit the amount of goals you end up creating.  Make them as broad or as specific as possible, but don’t list every single thing that you want to do.  Use bigger goals to show the most important ideas and create a strong vision.  Also, you should always try to make some goals more easily reached than others.  Setting goals that are too easy does not create a strong drive, but setting goals that seem impossible can be stressful.  Try setting smaller goals that will lead to larger, more ambitious ones.

Finally, make sure everyone knows the goals.  Discuss them in teams, and lay out a framework for working towards them so everyone knows how they can help get the company where it needs to be.  This will stimulant creative thinking, innovative ideas, and corporate drive.  With everyone on the same page, the next year is sure to as good as it gets.

What are your goals for 2009?


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