Archives for December 2004

Tsunami Relief Links

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

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I’m feeling like a bit of a wanker for not yet posting some links for donations to aid the Tsunami victims. I was reminded by Denise Wakeman over at Next Level Biz Tips. These are from Denise’s site (Thanks Denise):

American Red Cross
Disaster Relief Fund
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, D.C. 20013
1-800-HELP-NOW
https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp
(indicate the International Response Fund)

Doctors Without Borders USA
P.O. Box 1856
Merrifield, VA 22116-8056
http://www.doctorswithoutborders-usa.org/donate/
(888) 392-0392

You can also get a load of info about the disaster at The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog.

Further, if you’re interested in volunteering your services, I received this message from Umesh Kumar:

"We do need urgently anyone keen on volunteering thier services. Visit us www.rescue-foundation.org for further details. Regards and a Very Happy New Year."

Understanding Small Business Branding

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

I’m making my way through The Brand Gap, by Marty Neumeier. Actually, it’s my second time through because it’s a lightning-quick read. Although his central idea is a bit difficult to grasp, there are some worthwhile concepts to be culled. I’m going to use some of Marty’s words to help provide some clarity about the importance of branding your small business.

As any good branding book should do, Marty provides his definition for the term "brand."

"A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a GUT FEELING because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a PERSON’S gut feeling, because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not companies, markets, or the so-called general public . . . When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand . . . a brand is not what you say it is. It’s what THEY say it is."

I love bruschetta (it’s the Italian in me I guess). And when I have a craving for bruschetta, it’s the bruschetta served up by New York Pizza, a little pizza place here in rural Northeastern Connecticut. No other restaurant can fulfill that craving.

It may be a stretch to say that "breathtaking bruschetta" is the NY Pizza brand. But the fact is I don’t even have to think about the answer when someone asks me where they should go for pizza around here (I love their pizza too). I know in my gut.

When people talk about intuition, they’re talking about the "gut feeling" Marty mentions above. It’s not thinking. It’s not feeling. It’s knowing. It’s the integration of rationality and emotion.

"Oh, you need to go to New York Pizza, and be sure to try their bruschetta."

The restaraunt owners don’t have to shell out the dough to buy ads. They don’t have to call me on the phone, and invite me to come in. They don’t have to offer me a discount on their prices. They don’t need a website. They had me at hello (cruel Jerry Maguire reference – sorry).

They don’t have to do anything except do what they do best. Pizza and bruschetta. They have one happy customer (me), as well as the person I just referred to them. Call it referral marketing or word of mouth if you like, but the only WORD that matters when it comes to word of mouth is BRAND. GUT FEELING.

Some questions to ponder from this idea . . .

1. What’s the gut feeling I want people to have about me, my company or my service?

2. Who are the people I want to have that gut feeling?

3. What am I doing to contribute to the creation/maintenance of that gut feeling?

4. What am I doing that detracts from the creation/maintenance of that gut feeling?

Happy branding.

Solopreneur Reality Check

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Caught this funny little blurb in the Chicago Tribune this morning. You’ll have to log in to read it, and it’s free. If you’d rather forgo that, here’s the scoop. The headline of the article caught my eye because it said:

"I thought I’d spend more time creating."

Those words are from Ralph Velasco, a photographer from Chicago. He’s lamenting that he spends more time marketing than being creative.

"When deciding to follow my dream of becoming a professional photographer, I made the mistake of thinking that the majority of my time would be spent doing what I love most: seeking out and creating interesting and unique images of Chicago’s–and some of the world’s–great architecture, landscapes and editorial subjects . . .

"In starting RVP, what I didn’t fully factor in was that in reality, the majority of my time would be spent marketing and running the business side of my dream. I soon came to the realization that the time actually spent out in the field finding unique perspectives of a variety of subjects would represent less than half of my workday."

Of course, there’s not a solopreneur reading this who can’t relate to those words. And it brings to mind the words of legendary ad man, David Ogilvy, who, in seven words, captured the cold, hard reality of the "free agent" lifestyle:

"If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative."

I realize I may be taking his words out of context (or not), but the fact is, as a solopreneur, I am – first and foremost – a marketer. That doesn’t mean I have to put on my magical marketing hat each time I need a new client. In fact, that type of on-again-off-again approach drains me quicker than a PBS special on 17Th century ballroom attire. No thanks.

For me, what works best is to be always on. Always marketing. Of course, it helps tremendously to know who my ideal clients are. The biggest marketing mistake I see solopreneurs committing is they don’t clearly define their ideal client. I think marketing today is about connecting with people and engaging in a conversation with them.  If you don’t know who you’re talking to, or if you try to converse with too many different types of people at once, your message falls on deaf ears. And you’re back to watching your PBS special.

If you’re a solopreneur, I’m marketing to you right now. Does it feel like I’m marketing to you (if it does, I’m not doing it right)?  It doesn’t feel like it to me. Some call it relationship marketing. Others call it brand building. For me, it’s a conversation (you can talk back by clicking on the "comments" link below), and I get to express my creativity at the same time.

If our friend Ralph Velasco up there could figure out a way to merge his marketing with his creative endeavors, maybe he’d be celebrating instead of lamenting. Of course, you have to give him credit for getting some good PR out of the deal. Maybe his lament is really marketing in disguise. Hmmm.

Branding Is Demonstrating

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Sometimes the words just aren’t available to express my ideas. I hate that. For example, I was speaking with a client recently who thought if she could just get her website copy right, she’d get more business. Inside I was feeling that was hardly her problem. Of course, blurting out "that’s not your problem" would surely necessitate a quick, savvy response as to what the real problem was. And I knew what the problem was. I just couldn’t find the words to express it (maybe I should start taking gingko biloba).

Fortunately, I’ve become a rather comfortable resident of the blogosphere over the past six weeks. And as a resident, I found refuge in the words of this post over at Whisper Blog. I’ll boil it down for you.

"Branding is demonstrating. Advertising is explaining. What you fail to demonstrate, you are left to explain."

Have you ever been to one of those home shows? You know the ones where a colossal coliseum is crammed full of vendors selling everything from Ginsu knives to garden tractors to gold plated tire irons. I’ve been to a few, and it never fails that I end up mesmerized by some guy selling a four hundred dollar set of "gourmet" cookware. I’m certain that if I cooked anything other than frozen pizza, pasta and peanut butter souffle I’d have cookware coming out my Cornish game hen house.

And what is it that so mesmerizes me each time? It’s the demonstration. The way this graceful, gliding gourmet navigates his cooking area like an Olympic skater rounds her final figure eight to take home the gold. The way he slices, dices and chops the vegetables into perfectly fine floret-shaped morsels. The way the sauce pans shimmer, the Hollandaise simmers, and the poached salmon leaps off the plate in an eruption of flavor that reduces a grown man to tears (the guy next to me). 

Fortunately, just as I’m about to reach for the magic money card, my inner adult chimes in. "Take it easy there Julia Child. They’re just pots and pans, and you don’t cook."

Put a perky guy in front of me, and let him try to EXPLAIN why I should buy that same cookware, and I start to look very much like an extra from "Night of the Living Dead."

How To Read/Write A Blog

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

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Since blogs are still pretty much in the early adopter phase, I thought I’d provide a few good links to help get some folks up to speed (if you’re not already).

About Blogs, in general – Technorati provides a tidy little summary about blog basics, as well as an FAQ that lends great support to the hotly debated notion that blogs are the greatest thing since Victoria’s Secret.

How to read a blog – John Dvorak (Dvorak Uncensored) posted a neat little primer that’s basic yet comprehensive (is that a contradiction?). Yes, I’d be happy to tell you myself how to read a blog, but I’m really not sure how I do it. It just happens.

How to write a blog – Alot to talk about here.

1. First off, the boys over at Business Logs created the PDF whitepaper, Writing For the Web, that you can download for free. Lots of good stuff about blog writing, including (following is from their site):

  • Choosing your voice and being consistent with it.
  • Understanding your audience before you begin and as you go.
  • The type of posts will best suit your company.
  • Making things easy to read.
  • The importance of humor.
  • The necessity of honesty

2. Seth Godin has a short but interesting post titled Beware the CEO blog. Even if you’re not a CEO, you need to know get this.

3. Dennis Mahoney, writing from A List Apart, drops a thunderously entertaining load of words when he describes, simply, How to Write a Better Weblog. My favorite line (well, one of my favorites) is "Being a writer is funny. Don’t take yourself too seriously."

4. And well, you just can’t leave out Debbie Weil when you talk about blogging. She writes BlogWrite for CEOs, and her stuff is phat (ooh, damn, did I just say that?). Really, I couldn’t pick out just one post from her site. There are so many good ones. Get over there and checkem out. Even if you’re not a CEO. Blogging is blogging, whether you receive stock options, decide the dinner options or both.

Fun Stuff For Coaches

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

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I thought about maybe selling these to coaches, but what the heck, it’s Christmas. If you want them, they’re yours to use on your website or wherever.

      

      

Creative: Marc and Tom Need a Job

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Link: Marc and Tom (thanks to Jennifer Rice for this link).

Would you dare use the word "blowjob" on your resume. These guys did.

Nuff sed?

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