The Spirit of Your Brand = Secret to Your Success

What do the city of New Orleans; street psychics and your small business have in common? Give me just a few minutes of your time, trust that eventually I will get to the point, and hang with me here. Oh, and you might want to grab a snack too.

New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities in the US. I haven’t been back post-Katrina, but I imagine most of what I’m about to share with you regarding the city is still very much the same. What I loved about New Orleans is the energy of it. Its spirit.

For anyone that’s ever walked those old cobblestone streets, felt the stifling humidity, smelled the combination of Creole food, jambalaya, and street trash mixed with a dash of “ode de Mississippi River”, it was surreal. Like walking into postcard.

[Read more…]

Woo Your Crew Part Deux – Why Time isn’t Your Nemesis

“Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” ~Horace Mann

Funny thing about time. They say it waits for no man. It seems to expand and contract. Like it has a pulse and a life force of its own. Seems like when you’re doing things you love to do (vacations, time with friends & family) there’s never enough.

When you’re itchin’ to gain new business, build your network and blog on a regular basis, it seems to travel at warp speed. Yet, when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in traffic or waiting for a raise…time can seem to stand still.

What triggered this random tangent? Seth Godin’s recent post, It seemed important at the time . Here’s what got me:

[Read more…]

Online Networking & How to Woo Your Crew

Evangelists. Ambassadors. Friends. Fans. Maybe you call them your posse, your crew or your team. Whatever you refer to your network as, if you’re not conversing online, nay – if you’re not blogging – you’re missing the boat!

There are tons of great articles out there about how to use a blog to gain cred as an “expert”, build a network and create exposure for your brand. The angle I’m fascinated with today is building relationships that support you, help grow your business, and stretch your thinking as an entrepreneur.

Take my new friend Phil Gerbyshak, over at Make it Great! I’ve seen Phil all over the blogosphere and recently came across him again when I landed upon the mother load of all blogrolls at Converstations.com. (Talk about hitting the jackpot! I could end this article with this list alone.) There are enough juicy links in here to feed your surfing fantasies for days. Go have a peek.

But back to me and Phil. I left him a comment on his Make it Great blog. The very next day I find a personal e-mail from him in my in-box. He thanked me for my comment and said he may use it in a future post of his. So just by leaving Phil a (genuine) comment on his blog, adding to a dialogue that was already flowing quite well before a little ol’ me came along, I opened up the lines of communication between me and Phil. Now if you don’t know anything about Phil, take it from me, this guy’s dialed in. He’s got his finger on the pulse of all things leadership, business, relationship marketing, networking and just plain loving life. Phil just gets it. Who knows what connections I’ll make because of “hanging out” with Phil online.

Liz at b5media’s Successful Blog is another blogger that rocks this relationship-networking thing and has it down to a science. She shares a story about her father who was a pub keeper. She relates her father’s desire to keep the conversation going – his desire to meet people and open up a dialogue about life – to her success as a blogger. It’s essentially the same thing. Her post 7 Great Ways to Connect with Other Bloggers While You’re Out Reading Blogs is food for thought. My favorite part of the list is:

“Relationships are about people. We write from one side of the computer. We feel alone talking to one other on the end of a long optic fiber, but we’re not. Our bodies are in the privacy of where we choose to be, but our words are in the openness of cyberspace.

People — some not even born yet — will read what we write. We can’t ever forget them. People who read us learn things, and get to know us. Sometimes they comment and a conversation starts. Next thing you know there’s a relationship happening. Some of those people become colleagues and friends for life. I know. I’ve already met some and plan to meet more.”

Christina Kerley, of CK Blog shares some insights in Give a Girl 5 Minutes and 2 Cents? She asks readers,

“What is the single greatest point of value you receive from blogging? New business? New friends? Newfound smarts?
Fortune, fame or creative freedom?”

Her post spurred a barrage of comments and responses including, more connection, broadening community, gaining knowledge and exposure. One visitor said,

“I think it has to be the collection of intellectual capital that I have accumulated over time and it almost happened without me noticing. This includes the posts, the incoming links, the comments, the ideas, and the evolution of my thinking. Everything else comes from that.”

Visitor Jordan shared, “I like the satisfaction of knowing that it’s all worth it. My readership continues to climb, and I learn just as much as I educate.”

Stuart Henshall of Unbound Spiral shares this on the topic:
“Nothing I’m doing today or have done for the last four years would have been possible without my blog.”

He was inspired by Robert Paterson’s discussion where he shares:

“Something weird and wonderful is going on in the background of the debate about the meaning of blogging. Yes it is an important feature of a new type of journalism. Yes it will change marketing and product development. As interesting to me as these major trends is how blogging is also creating new kinds of trusting relationships. It is enabling an entirely new way to make friends – from the inside out.

No longer are we reliant on face-to-face and local space to guide our relationships. This is surely a revolution. To all those that don’t know – the success rate of “knowing” whom you can trust as a product of blogging is far higher than the traditional. I am not alone in finding that I can work with people that I have never met…”

Why am I sharing ALL of this with you? Because there is SO much value in planting little seeds each week. Over time those seeds will germinate and many will bloom into beautiful friendships, business relationships, and potential partnerships.

Recently I met Jeff, who found me through my ezinearticles.com articles; where he then went to my blog and sent me an e-mail through the link there. He approached me about an opportunity for me to write a chapter in an anthology of personal development writing. Since then (just a week ago) he has also approached me about co-authoring another book that he’s working on. Without online networking, I never would have been “out there” for Jeff to stumble upon me.

About a month ago, I applied to write for a blogging community. Through reading my application letter and checking out my blog posts, the president of this company personally e-mailed me to say that along with wanting me to write for a blog with his company, he also would be happy to introduce me to some book agents.

Ummm, excuse me? Did I hear this guy correctly? Wait…it get’s better. He then followed up by sending me copy of one of his book proposals so that I could use it as a guide when putting mine together to prepare for said meeting that he could arrange!

Seriously, this is the kind of stuff that has been happening in the short 6-8 months since I’ve been blogging. And there are several other blogging-ships I’m nurturing that hold great potential opportunity for me in the future. People who know people, who know people that can lead me in any direction I choose. It’s that whole 6 degrees of separation thing.

It’s ALL about the relationship building. Woo your cyber friends just as you would work the room at a networking event (without the annoying “getting to know you” ice breakers and funky cheese and fruit platters). The blogosphere is a fairly safe and fun environment. The benefits you’ll reap by wooing, charming, dancing with and high fiving your blogging buddies are priceless.

I know, I’m well on my way to getting published and all I had to do was be more interested in other people than I am with myself. Ask questions. Be curious. Find out how YOU can help someone else. You never know what rewards you’ll reap!

Blog & brand boldly,
Kammie K.

Writing for WOM & Branding the Croc Hunter Way

OK, this article serves dual purposes. I originally intended to write about why marketing your business with article submissions to online databases such as ezinearticles.com are crucial to generating buzz about your biz.

Was going to tell you about the fact that I’ve only submitted four articles since June. The combination of all four have been viewed 401 times. The real crowd pleaser seems to be my first submission, “Build a Better Life by Learning to Love Language — The Ultimate Power Tool of Communication”. (Shameless self-promotion, thank you Suzanne Falter-Barnes at getknownnow.com).

I was going to share with you that only two days after submitting that first article I was contacted by JT Chandler letting me know that he had picked up my articles and was featuring me as an expert author on his website jtchandler.com (about all things personal development and Laws of Attraction). Was gonna wax poetic about how JT and I have developed an online friendship and he keeps me in the loop of any new possible blogging opportunities, new potential business contacts and anything else he thinks might be beneficial to my business. Dare I say he’s a Kam-bassador?

This article was also going to share how just this week I was contacted by another coaching/speaker/author type proposing that I collaborate with he and a few others on an anthology they are publishing about the keys to happiness and success. And how he found my articles on the site and then linked to my website from my bio box at the end of the article.

Thought about linking over to the ezinearticles.com website so you could see for yourself how advantageous it is to write about what you know, submit it to the database and let the universe work it’s magic. Meaning if you really are an expert in your field, people WILL find your articles and they WILL use them on their websites, on their blogs, in their e-zines and in their newsletters. You WILL begin getting sited across the blogosphere and beyond as a “go to” person for your business/product/service.

So I was gonna say, get busy writing. Get your fingers tapping on those keys and churn out a few simple, but sassy articles on what it is that YOU’RE an expert at. Knit mittens for kitties? Cool. Write about that. Sell the latest and greatest widget or wadget? Awesome! Are you the next big techno-savvy small business consultant that the rest of us just can’t live without?

Right on! Then sit your happy ass down, put your creative hat on, and start hunting and pecking. Because this method of WOM really works. The features and author tracking tools are awesome. The author spotlight on the homepage is an added bonus for you. Search by article, author or keyword. Chris Knight, (master of the ezinearticles.com domain) blogs about the many ways to utilize his site. He’s like your own personal instructor on how to maximize your articles, viral and WOM marketing.

But then I came across this post and it seemed relevant to our SBB blog, so I thought I’d share it as well. (Stick with me. We’re almost there.)

I stumbled upon Thomas Murrell, an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster and publisher of Media Motivators. His article, “Why The World Loved The Steve Irwin Personal Brand”, is loaded with juicy back to basics branding tips. Who didn’t love the infectious Aussie and his charming, witty animal antics? Check this out –

3) Authenticity
Irwin was the real deal. While Australia’s highest grossing movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ was pure drama, Irwin was real and provided dramatic reality.

4) Drive, Passion, Energy, Enthusiasm
In an interview published in the book Guinness World Records 2006 Irwin was asked, “How would somebody follow in your footsteps?” Here’s his answer:

“If you want to become a zoologist you’ve got to do all the tertiary education, but don’t lose your passion or enthusiasm despite the hard work or homework you have to do. Just follow through. Passion and enthusiasm will get you everywhere you want to go in the world.”

Irwin was living proof of this principle.

He could answer with laser-like precision the question: “Who are you and what do you do well that other people will respect you and reward you for?”

6) Memorable and Distinctive Point of Difference
There are hundreds of TV wildlife presenters. Irwin was different. He was very clever in selecting or inventing a distinct combination of factors that became a unique point of difference to competitors.

The three elements were:
Wardrobe: khaki shorts and shirt
Language: crikey, down to earth, simple
Danger & Drama he actually handled live animals

8) Consistency
Irwin understood the fact that it is more important to be clear and consistent than original. Symbolism is very powerful. So even when scuba diving he wore that khaki uniform. It was wacky but it worked.

So there you have it! A long winded way to share what I’ve found to work in the world of WOM. Think, “If you write it and post it, they will come”. You also need to know a little bit about what you’re talking about, have a flair for writing, and a professional photo for your bio isn’t a bad idea either.

Go ahead, put yourself out there! The world is waiting for your wisdom about widgets. Take a lesson from the zany Aussie, be YOU and the brand will evolve into the empire you’ve always imagined.

NOTE** I am in no way affiliated with ezinearticles.com, just sharing a resource that has worked for me. I can’t be held personally responsible if no one reads your stuff!!

Get busy branding,
Kammie K.

Savvy Marketing or Sour Grapes?

Being the solo-female voice at SBB, I thought I’d go ahead and get my first chic article out of the way. Michele Miller, (genius marketer, who happens to be female) recently commented on Brown-Forman’s Little Black Dress campaign, a collection of wines targeting women.

BF’s Little Black Dress is three “feminine favorites” (their words) – Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Chardonnay. According to Laura Webb, director of new products commercialization for Brown-Forman,

“Every woman has a little black dress, or three, or four. What could be better than to create a wine that women can relate to in that way?”

Miller’s response to that is pretty similar to my own…

“How about a wine that just tastes awesome for a ridiculously inexpensive price?”

She shares her thoughts on the desire for a bottle of inexpensive, great tasting wine, like Yellow Tail. A brand that until recently didn’t advertise at all. Much less create an entire campaign designed to lure in “Little Black Dress” wearing, wine enthusiasts. Michele ends her mini-rant curiously inquiring,

“What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think about wine marketing and if Brown-Forman’s “feminine” ideas are worthy or just a bunch of sour grapes.”

My thoughts? Having worked in this industry on the event marketing side (I promoted Schieffelin & Somerset brands), I can tell you that targeted marketing like the LBD promo, can often come across as trite to consumers. The best S&S wine promotions I ran, targeted savvy, smart and cost-conscious consumers – period. While S&S brands focused on white tablecloth restaurants and their patrons, we still mentioned the competitive price point.

Promos like the LBD promo can seem gimmick-y and often reflect a lack of true understanding for the targeted consumers. Since the popularity of the HBO hit, Sex and the City , and the rise of “chic-lit” novels like Bridget Jones’s Diary, a number of brands have tried to jump on the “sassy, urban, witty, hip-chic” bandwagon. But S&C worked because it was authentic. Same goes for Ms. Jones. Those that try to model the trend often appear to be trying too hard.

Niche marketing can be tricky. There’s a fine line between reaching women that wear little black dresses and out and out screaming for their attention. Cable has only one Carrie Bradshaw, and she’s in syndication now. I’d encourage marketers to be unique and tap into the heart of the consumers they are trying to target.

How do women that wear LBD’s experience wine? What emotions strike a cord causing them to order/purchase/consume wine? Do they drink wine chilling on the couch, watching “chic” flicks? Or are they sharing a bottle with a girlfriend or two rapping about men, the kids, relationships or future dreams and aspirations?

My issue with campaigns like LBD is that they don’t give women enough credit. Yes, I might wear a LBD. I might even drink wine while I’m wearing it. But I choose to drink wine for many reasons. In many different scenarios. And choose my wine based on my many colored moods. Cab Sav, fits my mellow philosophical side. Pinot Grigio is yummy on a hot summer day while noshing at an outdoor café. Shiraz finds me feeling sassy.

Let’s not put women in a box – although some do drink wine from a box…now that’s really cost conscious! Because while I do own a little black dress, I don’t associate all of my wine drinking memories with it.

Are you putting your target market in a box or uncorking your brand creativity and allowing it to breathe?

Cheers to your brand success,

Kammie K.

Talk is Cheap, Buzz is Vital, Viral is Worth it and WOM is Where it’s At

Thought I’d share some resources I find valuable. If you are not already aware of WOMMA, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, you should be. Here’s the deal…working in a small business bubble, we need all the WOM we can get, and we need it to spread like wildfire.

WOMMA hosts conferences, sends out e-zines, blogs, podcasts and more. I’ve gained plenty of juicy nuggets just from subscribing to “Word of Mouth Basic Training” – Learn to Master Word of Mouth, Viral, Buzz, and Blog Marketing newsletter (plus it’s FREE).

This week WOMMA contributor Greg Clemson, shares these tips on “Joining the Conversation”…
5 Tips from Informative’s Greg Clemenson

“A brand is defined not by what we tell the customer but by what customers tell each other,” says Greg Clemenson, CTO of Informative. “But that doesn’t mean brands are helplessly adrift, unable to control or even influence the currents of consumer empowerment.”

Greg shares these tips on joining and staying involved in the consumer conversation:

Tip #1. Have a valid place in the conversation
Consumers talk about brands every day. While it may not be the first place they look, eventually consumers visit a brand or manufacturer’s web site to find information about a product. Be sure to offer information that answers questions.

Tip #2. Use your voice and have an opinion
Think about “voice.” How does your voice tie in with your conventional advertising? What are you doing and saying on the website? Are you reflecting your brand’s personality across your entire communications strategy? Listen to what people are saying about you, and have an opinion.

Tip #3. Be relevant
Understand what’s important to consumers as they talk about your product. Then be relevant when responding to their needs.
For example, one of Informative’s customers, Royal Mail, is rolling out an electronically available stamp aimed at small businesses. Initially, they thought that businesses would choose it as a faster, more convenient way of getting postage. But the most important aspect of the product to real people turned out to be the fact that it made them look professional. That changed Royal Mail’s whole marketing message.

Tip #4. Be responsible
You can have all kinds of modes of communication with people, but they’ll only appreciate it if you’re up front about who you are. Be responsible about your identity.

Tip #5. Remember that it’s a social phenomenon
Companies that feel they have to isolate participants in market research to keep them from talking with each other (“unaided awareness”) are forgetting that WOM is a social phenomenon. Always keep in mind that when people make a decision about something, it very seldom happens in isolation.

I’m a big fan of WOM. As my own business is starting to take off, I’ve noticed that viral, buzz, and WOM are the biggest contributors.

I also happened across “How Do People Find You” – at Get Known Now. Suzanne Falter Barnes is a top-notch creativity coach who uses WOM to increase her traffic flow as well. Numbers 2, 3, & 4 on the list of how people find you are WOM related.

Curious how to get WOM started for your business? Check out this handy little checklist at CMO magazine:
How To Build A Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Campaign
Michèle Bouquet, Jim Nail with Fiona McDonnell and Jaap Favier, share tips on how to create a WOM campaign. These folks get to the nuts and bolts of what the heck WOM is all about.

“The buzz itself is the objective of WOM marketing — to have as many consumers talk about a brand or a product to as many friends and acquaintances as possible. Marketers can create buzz by choosing the right:

Targets: evangelists or influencers
Channels: viral or traditional
Content: anything consumers want to share

“With WOM, consumers become an extension of the marketing department by helping spread the word and create buzz. While some of the tactics are different, marketers who wish to “recruit” consumers need to address the same four planning questions as in any marketing effort.”

Who do I target?
How do I get the word out?
What’s the message?
How do I measure the effect?

Are you ready to dig deep and ask yourself the tough questions? Are you ready for the WOM to take over and get the customers/clients/fans of your products or services to your door? When we focus on the foundation of our message, who we are targeting, how we are getting the word out, and how can we measure these results realistically – we begin to align ourselves with why the heck we’re in business in the first place.

Walking through these questions has pushed me to take a long hard look at whom I really do want to target. To ask what is my message? And to get crystal clear about my “voice” (see Tip #2) and what it is I’m really trying to say.

If you haven’t taken a focused look at your branding, or perhaps it’s been a while, DO! Ask your clients/customers/fans for feedback and see if the message you think you’re sending out is the same message everyone is hearing.

What kind of WOM is buzzing about your company/service/you? Is it inline with your true vision and mission or is it just petty water cooler gossip?

WOM Rules!
Kammie K.

Major League Baseball – Models Major Brand “Experience”

Went to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game this weekend. Oddly, I couldn’t stop thinking about the genius brand marketing I was witnessing. Obviously small business marketers don’t have major league budgets, but we do have major league creativity and passion. Let’s take a page out of the big leaguer’s playbook and apply it to our unique scenarios, shall we?

First major observation – VALUE-ADDED. Let’s talk for a minute about how I got my tickets. The softball team at the University I work for had a fundraiser selling Cardinal tix at a discounted price. The tickets went for $13 (U.S.) and along with the ticket came a FREE hotdog and a soda. That’s a hell of a bargain! Did it really cost the Cardinal organization much more to offer the FREE stuff? Doubt it.

(Sidebar…the STL Cards just opened a beautiful new ballpark, with all the modern day amenities one can imagine. Along with the new bells and whistles comes plenty of new costs). What the Cards need this season is bodies in seats. With the inflated tickets prices starting at $20 and reaching as high as $100 a ticket – (up from $10 – $40 a ticket), discounting tickets is a great marketing ploy to get bodies in seats. And the FREE stuff -the “value-added” – equals maximum impact with minimum cost.

But the real magic begins as one enters the stadium. Because let’s face it, MLB isn’t just selling baseball, they are selling (major observation #2) an EXPERIENCE. Marketing 101 tells us that consumers don’t make rational purchases, they make emotional ones. What better way to evoke emotion than to create an EXPERIENCE?

Here’s what baseball Cardinal style looks like: We entered the stadium and were immediately handed a fluffy teddy bear (VALUE-ADDED) thanks to co-op marketing with Build-A-Bear, and noticed the smell of hot dogs, beer (all Anheuser-Busch products) and brats. The crack of the bat echoed off the walls as the announcers voice was pumped through speakers from every corner. T-shirt and hat vendors waved people over and credit card companies attempted to lure people into filling out credit applications with the enticement of a free T-shirt. Beer and brats not your bag? OK, how about gourmet nachos and shaved ice?

Perhaps you didn’t want to sit in the 100+ degree heat with the rest of us, so you upped the ante and purchased box tickets. Well you were served chocolate covered strawberries and cheese and veggie platters. Back on the big screens strategically placed around the stadium, you could send text messages to the Cards and your friends via cell phone. Coupled up? Well then, be sure to keep watching the video screen, as the camera man spotted cute couples to place a digital heart around as the crowd clapped and cheered for a kiss. Aww, sweet right?

The entire place was awash in a sea of red. Maybe only 10% of the people didn’t have on a hat, a T-shirt or shorts emblazoned with the Cardinals logo. Everywhere I turned, I observed someone having their own unique experience of the game – even as we shared the stadium as a collective group of consumers. Literally, there was stuff for the kids, the elderly and everyone in between.

Why share my Sunday at the ballpark with you? So that you may consider the EXPERIENCE you want to create for your clients/customers/fans. What emotion do you want to evoke? Which buttons are you trying to push? What emotional experience can you create that’ll send people reaching into their pocketbooks and whipping out their credit cards? Do you want to make them laugh? Or Cry? Do you want to entice them? Or have them nostalgic for days gone by? Stir their excitement for the future, because your product or service is the ONLY one that will get them where they want to be? Do you want to instill hope? Inspire creativity? Nourish their spirit?

I challenge you to really consider the experience you are creating for your “fans”. What can visitors of your virtual storefront expect to FEEL as they drop by your website? What feelings will emerge as they read your marketing materials? What emotional connection will they attach to your products or service? What will keep them coming back time and again, like we do for the Cards – despite the 100 degree temps? Does your EXPERIENCE make them sizzle or leave them in the cold?

In the words of Harry Caray – Sports Broadcasting legend, “My whole philosophy is to broadcast the way a fan would broadcast.” Are you broadcasting the way your fans would? Or whispering into a paper cup?

Brand boldly,
Kammie K.

Get The Complete Step-by-Step Process

To Cultivate A Responsive List eBook (FREE)

Subscribe to download this guide for FREE and work through the steps at your own pace.

Launch A Profitable Podcast

Discover how to start your own podcast business, leverage it to grow an existing business, grow your influence, and more.

There's No Better Time To Start Your Store

Have Your Own Store By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Launch Your Own Profitable Store Online.

The Time To Start Your Service Business Is Now

Launch Your Own Service Business By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Starting A Service Business Online.

Today Is The Day To Kickstart An Affiliate Business

Have Your Own Store By This Weekend. Get This Quick-Start Guide To Launch Your Own Profitable Store Online.