Effective Positioning Addresses Customer Needs

Often times companies get caught up in telling all about the bells and whistles of their products and services and neglect to talk about the most important element of all…how their solutions address their customers’ needs. After all, isn’t that what we are all in business to do? If we aren’t then we have a big problem!

Effective business positioning is all about describing the value your products and services provide to your target customer. Yes it is important to some degree to describe what it is you are selling, but it is most critical to focus primarily on the value you are providing. Many businesses fall into this trap of focusing too heavily on their products and services (features) and not enough on the problems they solve (benefits).

Let me give you an example: [Read more…]

The Art of Writing With Brevity

I come from the world of Public Relations, which I believe is all about succinct, clear communications to external audiences. From my years in the field, I learned an extremely valuable lesson for effective communications that has carried with me ever since and will most certainly be a constant theme throughout my career. What I learned is that brevity is king!

Just like people typically don’t like all the endless pages of detail in novels, people don’t like to be overwhelmed with unnecessary fluff in business communications either. Much like the 10-second elevator speech, you need to keep your sales, marketing and website copy short and directly to the point.
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The SEO and Branding Power of a Topical Article

Did you know that a simple 400-800 word informational article related to some topic relevant to your business can do the following:

A. Draw significant web traffic to your site?
B. Put your company name in front of hundreds or thousands of prospective customers?
C. Create countless links back to your site for search engine optimization purposes?

Well I can tell you from personal experience that one single article I wrote titled “How to Differentiate Your Business” has drawn over 75 visitors to my website, added 25 links back to my website, has put my company name in front of over 600 people and actually helped me land two clients.

What I do to maximize the visibility of my brand and help generate potential sales for my business is something you too can do. I write my own articles about topics relevant to my business and I post them all over the web for free. You can either do the same or hire someone to write the articles for you. Once you have this rich piece of content that you own, you can do so many things with it.
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How to Develop and Leverage an Effective Press Release

A press release, when leveraged properly, can be a highly effective marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Prior to the Internet, a press release was mailed out to editors and reporters at leading magazines, newspapers and broadcast stations, followed up by an aggressive PR person trying to gain coverage for some new product, service or event. Beyond this attempt to gain free publicity, a press release was not terribly effective at promoting a business or its brand.

Today, however, with the power and ubiquity of the Internet, a press release opens up a whole new world of branding/marketing opportunities to businesses of all sizes. Furthermore, if you know how to appropriately craft one yourself, it costs you nothing. In addition to the potential print and broadcast news value, a press release today (whether newsworthy or not) will likely wind up on national and international news distribution services sharing your news with media, investors, potential customers and the like, the world over. All you need to do is develop an effective press release and post it online at a number of free press release distribution sites (listed later).
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What Every Sales and Marketing Arsenal Ought to Have

Your sales and marketing arsenal is to a successful business as good bait is to an accomplished fisherman. You just have to have it!

Without an effective sales and marketing machine your business will likely flounder in the wake of your competition. Like your primary competitors you must have certain tools at your disposal that enable you to stake claim in the marketplace, substantiate your declarations and entice prospects to buy from you.

These sales and marketing tools must be primed, up-to-date and differentiating at all times or you risk missing out on sales opportunities by simply not being effectively prepared.

From my experience with businesses of all sizes covering virtually every major industry, I can tell you that every business – large or small – should have all or at least most of the following weapons in its sales and marketing arsenal: (in no particular order)
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In the heyday of the Internet (late 90s) there was a company whose CEO did a web conference in his underwear. I don’t recall the specific company but I most certainly remember the instance. This “stunt” did effectively leverage the “shock and awe” buzz factor to garner media attention, but I can’t really say it likely did much for the company’s reputation long-term.

I equate this type of publicity to the multitude of whiz-bang sensory-overload commercials we see today that bombard us with sometimes-outrageous audio/visual stimulation but typically do little to truly sell us on the value of the company’s products or services. I mean just because a one-legged monkey with a Mohawk is riding a skateboard really well on a ramp and drinking a certain type of soda, doesn’t mean I want to purchase the same soft drink. I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone talking about a really neat commercial but can’t remember the name of the company behind it. Is this effective branding? I don’t think so.

There is most certainly something to be said for creating an ad or marketing piece that people will remember, but it is equally as important to make sure the viewer’s recollection is one of your brand’s value, not just how entertaining your communication was. In my branding and communications strategy for my business I utilize a formula to ensure I’m on the right track in terms of effectively communicating value to my clients and prospects. Here are the simple rules I follow diligently in all of my sales and marketing communication:
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Your Branding Must Be Universal to Be Effective

With the ubiquity of the Internet today your brand must be universal and resonate across all geographic and cultural boundaries. It makes no sense to devalue your brand by pigeon-holing yourself with a country-specific look and feel and/or key messaging.

For example, if you live in Spain and have your own rare-coin buying/selling business and website, it would make little sense to call yourself something like Spanish Coin Company. Although this is a very elementary example, it does demonstrate the potential to inadvertently narrow the perceived focus of your brand. As a customer, would you likely visit a website called SpainCoinCompany.com if you were looking for rare French coins? You most likely would not. However, the owner of the company may in fact sell coins from around the world, but you might never learn this because the brand itself might deter you right off the bat.

A brand, when built and leveraged successfully, can communicate a business’s value to customers across the world, therefore opening the business up to international markets. Conversely, when crafted and utilized unsuccessfully, a brand can relegate a business to a very narrow scope and limit its potential significantly.

There are several critical areas to consider when building an effective universal brand:
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