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.


Create Unique Customer Interactions (via Gawrilla)

April 6, 2010

If you’re in business to make money, you need customers. And if you have customers, there has to be some form of communication between you and your customers. Hey, even if you fail to get customers, you are communicating in other ways to those people you had hoped would become customers.

Either way, your communication style goes a long way toward developing your brand and garnering loyal customers. Any interaction with a customer, no matter how minor, is important. This is because it’s the one time that your customers get a chance to feel like they are having a conversation with the company they are purchasing from. It will tell them who you are, and either reinforces the fact that they want to be in business with you, or helps create a divide between you and them, eventually ending with another lost customer.

To read the full post, hop on over to the Gawrilla Marketing Blog.


Email Newsletters: Get them Right

July 24, 2009

E-mailIf you own or operate a brand, whether it is a big company, a small business, or just your name, email newsletters have become a popular way of adding value for your clients, customers, or friends.

Some popular email newsletters that I receive are the Yoast WordPress News, which gives tips and tricks for using wordpress as a blogging platform; Media Bistro’s daily news feed, which offers journalism news and updates; Daniel Scocco’s daily blog tips newsletter, which does exactly what the name advertises; and the Change.org weekly newsletter, which keeps tabs on key political issues under the Obama administration.

All of these newsletters add value to my day to day life because they keep me informed on things that I am interested in.  When a person or a website tries to cram a newsletter down my throat, I don’t even give it a chance.  I choose no when given the option, or unsubscribe as soon as I get the first email.  The ones that I am subscribed to right now were all recommended to me by friends and people I trust.

Whether or not a newsletter is designed to make money, either through a paid subscription or advertising, it has to add real value.  Put information in there that people would not find any other way.  Add personal tips that you do not share on a blog or on social networks.  For an email to be worth reading, it has to be unique.  I have to feel like I am getting privileged information.

An example of a terrible newsletter is Motley Fool’s “investor newsletter”.  I get it almost every single day, by now it goes to my spam folder.  It usually carries a headline such as “This Stock Will Make You a Millionaire by 2011”.  Then it follows that up with a large amount of copy explaining how they did their research and advertising the paid version of their website, which I am not signed up for.  In the end, it gives you no information about the stock unless you sign up for their monthly payment plan, which I would never do.  This is not helpful, you are trying to trick your readers.

That is the wrong way to do it.  If you operate a website, and would like to explore the idea of an email newsletter, please plan it out beforehand.  Launching it in the wrong way can really get under people’s skin.  Add value that we could not get off of the website already.  Because, if done the right way, it is a great way to expand the brand, explore new revenue opportunities, and create a loyalty among your readers and customers that can not be achieved in many other ways.


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.


What Do You Know about Your Customers?

June 22, 2009

the_more_you_know2Probably not enough.

Do you know when their birthdays are?  Do you know how they heard about you?  Do you know why they chose you over a competitor?  Do you know how their experience with your product or service has been since they purchased?

You can never know enough about your customers, because the more you know, the better suited you are to serve them, to sell to them, and to create for them.

Track everything.  When did they purchase, why did they purchase, when are they likely to purchase again?  Keeping track of this type of information will make it easy for you to see trends and habits that have always been there.  And once you have the information, put it in a place that makes it easy to view, search, and sort.  The key to obtaining the information is the ability to use itJust because its there does not mean that it helps you.

Give the information to your sales team so that they can offer them new products and services, or upgrades of the things that they already have.

Give it to your customer service department so they know exactly what is happening every time they pick up the phone to deal with an issue.

Give it to your marketing department so they know how to better position themselves to attract more of the same type of people.

The best companies know as much as they can about their customers.  They are able to serve their needs before a customer even knows the need exists.  They keep channels of communication open at all times, not just went they want to sell something.  And the customer responds to this.

The more you know, the better position you will find yourself in.  So start learning today.

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If You Force Me to Change, I’ll Fight You

May 28, 2009

newspapersWe have seen it time and again in business and in society as a whole.  If you force someone to change their behavior for whatever reason, they will fight back.  They will resist what does not come naturally, and they will hate you for pushing this change on them.  Lots of them will simply look for a new alternative that will allow them to keep up the status quo.

Governments can force corporations to change
the way they act by enforcing new laws and taxes and business activities.  And those businesses that can afford to do so, will fight back.

Companies can force consumers to change by reinventing a product or service that we have come to know.  Many times customers will fight the change, because it is new, and look for any way to get the products that they are already used to.

Companies can force their competitors to change
by shifting the way their industry behaves or creating a new model for success.  And those business that find themselves behind struggle to turn things around.  They fight the innovators, claiming that they are cheating or that they’re wrong.  They fight with politicians to get some protection.  And they fight with their own customers to avoid losing them (see if that makes sense).

Enter the printing industry in all their luster.  Enter newspapers and magazines and major publishers.  Enter paid content providers.

We are in the midst of a content revolution.  Advertising markets are down everywhere you look.  Major media companies that have relied on newspaper and magazine circulation to thrive are losing money in a hurry.  People don’t want to pay for their information, and advertisers don’t want to pay not to be seen anymore.

Too many online content providers are succeeding in a free model system.  The issue is that the publications that have been around and successful for so long as pay services don’t know how to react.  So most of them fight the change.  They ask the government for help.  They ask consumers to make difficult choices.  And they spend all day firing back at those free content providers that have made it work.

Publishers are being forced to change, and because of that, they are fighting that change.  It’s time to rethink distribution, rethink salaried reporters, rethink free vs. paid models, and rethink consumer behavior.

I can get free information on technology and small businesses via TechCrunch, on business and investing via Bloomberg, on the law via Above the Law.  They have made free information work by making money on other ventures or in other ways.  They are valuable to me, more valuable to advertisers, and they are winning.

Change has come.

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If You’re Selling Something, then SELL It

May 15, 2009

call2actionToo many companies are making money online for you not to be one of them.  And forgetting everything but the simple art of selling, there are a few simple things that you have to be doing to convert potential customers into paying customers.

When I get to your website, I usually got there on purpose.  Either I clicked on an ad of yours that looked appealing, or I searched for what you sell in Google, or someone told me that I would like what you’ve got so I cam there directly.  You are already winning the battle.  But there are ways that you can blow it, so don’t assume that just because I am there, the battle is over.

Strike. Hit me with some solid information right away.  Don’t make me look for it, because the attention span of someone searching the internet is short, and getting shorter everyday.  Catch my eye with headlines, have clear website navigation, allow me to search for exactly what I need.

Educate. Give me value in descriptions.  Too many companies put the same boring descriptions of the products that they are selling.  If your competitors description is the same as your description, you are not making my decision process any easier.  If you need to hire an expert copywriter for your site, do it.  Any thing to get a unique, value-driven message across that will entice me to buy.

Leap. Take a risk.  If you are afraid to take risks in business you will lose.  At this point, you have my attention, I have gotten to the product that I am interested in, and all it will take is one small thing to sway me one way or another.  So do something different.  Show me customer ratings, comments, descriptions.  Show me the prices of your competitors compared to your own.  Offer me a special deal as a first time buyer.  Make it easy and make it different, and you will have an easier time convincing me.

Lead. On every single page, put a call to action.  And make it stand out so I know exactly what it is I am supposed to be doing.  After all, your goal all along is to make a sale, so lead me down the sales line throughout every step of the process.  If I get lost, then your sale is lost.

Strike, Educate, Leap, and Lead.  Take a look at the pages on your website.  If you have a page that looks like it was made from a carbon copy of one of your competitors, you are losing.  If you have a page with no call to action, you are losing.  If you are not taking risks and being unique, you are losing.  This is a new era of selling online, and you need to keep up or lead to win.

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