About Steve Woodruff

Steve Woodruff launched his consulting practice (Impactiviti LLC) in 2006, working with clients to create branding that sticks.

StickyFigure, a division of Impactiviti, specializes in helping small and mid-sized businesses that are seeking to make greater impact in their marketplace, but do not have the internal resources to brand themselves effectively. We also partner with larger organizations that need to borrow a fresh creative perspective.

Steve also actively consults in the training/communications field, with a particular focus on healthcare and pharmaceuticals; and he serves as VP Communications on the Board of a local ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) chapter in NJ.

LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/swoodruff

Here are my most recent posts

Who Needs You?

When you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small-business marketer, you can’t afford to blanket the airwaves with advertising, casting a huge net with the hopes of landing some fish.

Your outreach to potential customers has to be count. It has to be focused, well-targeted, and efficient.

Therefore, when determining your target audience, you should ask yourself a sequence of simple questions:

1. Who needs my product/service?

2. Who knows they need my product/service?

3. Who knows their need and can afford to purchase it?

4. Who, in that last group, can I actually reach?

That is your target audience. Everyone else may eventually become a prospect, but for now, only the last group is your source of business. Market to them, and you can succeed. Market to everyone, and you’ll likely fall by the wayside.

(Image credit)

Can a Credit Card be “Brighter”?

While killing time in a Chicago-area mall last week, I saw a large floor display for Discover Card (Discover Financial is based in Chicago, I believe) with a new branding approach. The solid orange letter “O” in the Discover logo was now lit up, and the one word tagline being featured was the word Brighter.

Not having seen this marketing initiative anywhere else, I searched on the web, and apparently it is not a flash in the pan (pun intended), but part of a campaign.

From a visual standpoint, the execution was OK, but the tagline just isn’t doing it for me. [Read more...]

Tagline Parallelism – One That Works, One That Doesn’t

Today, I was driving behind a car that had a bumper sticker advertising some company (name will be withheld pending notification of next of kin). This company had a tagline of parallel statements that stated…well, precisely nothing.

Built on Product. Powered by People.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t go through life thinking about how I need “product.” Specific products, yes – but having seen this bumper sticker, I am left without a clue as to what this company offers.

As for powered by people – is there any company yet that was begun and maintained by robots?

On the other hand, I have been spending a large amount of time lately on airplanes (due to a large volume of work in the Chicago area – one reason for my infrequent posting of late!), and when I fly, it is usually on Continental Airlines. Some years ago, that company launched an effective “parallel” tagline… [Read more...]

Do You Have a United Image?

I flew into Chicago recently, which is a hub for United Airlines. There were loads and loads of United planes there, of every size and shape…the ideal place for a unified, “united” brand image.

But that wasn’t the case. Because the planes also were of every branding scheme.

Once upon a time, when you saw United airplanes, they all looked like this:

Then, they went through a re-branding some years back, keeping some elements of the “U” logo, but making major color changes:

So far, so good. As always, it takes a while to re-paint planes, but soon, there were very few of the older design left flying. [Read more...]

What, Me Worry About my Product Name?

In the most recent edition of Inc. magazine, which arrived in my mailbox this week, I noticed a review of new video projectors (the on-line article is here). Now I like technology and gadgets, but I simply do not understand what thought process – if any – goes into the naming of many of these products. In this case, all six of the models reviewed had clearly passed through the Alfred E. Neuman brand-naming process:

  • Sony VPL-FX40
  • Panasonic PT-DW10000U
  • NEC NP60
  • Sharp XR-30X
  • Toshiba TDP-FF1AU
  • Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080

Names only a product engineer could love, or come up with. [Read more...]

Ad Value or Add Value?

One of the first bridges to be crossed when launching or building a brand is advertising. How much time and money and effort do I spend “reaching” my target audience with advertising? What is the “ad value” – what’s the ROI?

Advertising certainly has its place in building brand awareness. But perhaps, first and foremost, you should ask this question…how do I add value?

What are you doing, not merely to reach your target audience with a message, but to be a valuable resource? Do you add value, or just add noise?

From the beginning of my new business launch just over a year ago, I started a weekly e-newsletter joined to a blog, in which I highlight news, links, resources, my own commentary, and other stuff. It’s a mix of industry information (pharmaceuticals) and some lighter fare as well. It’s been quite well-received, because many of those in my target audience do not have time or expertise to gather all this info. It’s a weekly investment of time gladly made, because it’s one unique way in which I seek to add value.

This week, I received a very encouraging e-mail, from someone on the list (whom I’ve never actually met):

    I have to say the information that you share with everyone is fascinating and informative, and also fun. I have passed your weekly news on to several of my colleagues here at _________, but wanted you to know how much I look forward to receiving your email every Friday…You really do excellent work in your investigation of current items, future items and even nostalgic things.Thank you so much.

It’s not the first such note I’ve received, but this one certainly made my heart sing, because this person was gaining value. If you invest in adding value to your community, it’s a near certainty that you’ll eventually gather a return on that investment.

So, before you get all caught up in ad value, take a creative look at how you can add value. If others aren’t doing it, why shouldn’t you?

“It’s our Biggest Sale of the Season!!”

It’s wearying, listening to the tired and noisy pitches from auto dealers – is it not?

Then, there is the experience of listening to the pitch from a sales person when you finally succumb to the inevitable, and force yourself to go to a car dealer because…well, you’ve got to buy a car.

Does it have to be this way? How would you change it?

That’s the challenge taken on this month by the BrandingWire team (BrandingWire is a collaborative of 12 marketing bloggers, who comment on one branding challenge each month). Automobile sales and marketing is so high-profile, yet seemingly so locked into decades-old promotional models that most of us despise.

There’s the element of the Transactional Model – it’s all about getting you to make a decision, TODAY! There’s the deception and manipulation aspect of price negotiations, including some backroom sales manager. There’s downplaying the value of your trade-in. And we could go on and on… [Read more...]