Archives for January 2007

Want To Make Your Brand Shout Out From The Crowd?

I jumped into my car, reached for my seatbelt and looked up at the campervan parked in front of me. The message on the back appeared to be hand-written, like someone had just dipped their finger in a can of paint. It read: I love every body. Yours is next. Taken with their humour, I scanned the remaining area for more information about who this person was. The print scrawled across the back window read:
www.wickedcampers.com. Sometime later I spotted another wicked looking camper. Instantly recognising their trademark style, and eager for more wicked wit, I searched for the slogan and wasn’t disappointed: The liver is evil. It must be punished.

Targeting those on a backpacker’s budget, the Wicked Campers image is reminiscent of the old VW Combi Vans. Each one is themed to give the van its own personality complete with a name derived from the hand-painted, colourful, quirky images adorning the vehicle. The wicked finishing touch: an original, irreverent and witty hand-written “message” on each van. This company has very cleverly tapped into the backpacker culture, and in doing so has skillfully created their own.

By opting for outrageous antics Wicked Campers have built their marketing into their brand identity. This is a great illustration that marketing is no longer what you do to a brand after it’s built. To get mind space in today’s noisy marketplace, brands need to build marketing into their brand.
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9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses

Think branding is only for large multi-national corporations? Think again. Here are 9 easy tips you can use to grow your brand with your customers.

  1. The design of your logo really doesn’t matter. Would you choose MSN as your search engine over Google because of their logo? No, having a nice professional logo is great, but it very rarely increases sales. I’m all for a professional logo, but don’t think you need to spend a fortune on it. It’s more important to include your logo on every piece of communication. Put it on business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, yellow page ads, building signage, newsletters, etc…
  2. Have a professional website. It’s not just good enough to just have a website, you must reflect your brand image. If your known as a top notch photographer, the last thing you want is a website designed 10 years ago. It doesn’t reflect well on you. Everyone, yes everyone, uses the web today to check references. If someone recommends your service, you can almost guarantee that they will go online to look for you. Your website design should be updated at least every two years to stay current.
  3. Blogs are good. Blogs help your business on multiple levels. First off, valuable content on a consistent basis will make you look like an expert. People are looking for experts, not apprentices. The software that powers blogs has multiple advantages. It’s very easy to publish. It’s a database driven environment where style is separate from content so you will not need to go back to your web design agency for every little change. And use of tags and sitemaps make basic search engine optimization easy. But the real reason blogs are great is that they enable conversation. Two-way dialog is much more valuable than a company that just dumps messaging and collateral on their customers.
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Do Your Customers Love Your Product This Much?

Here’s an example of customer evangelism that most companies could only wish for. Apple of course has legions of people who are just as much fans of the products as they are customers.

Mac, you’re beautiful.

Crowd Sourcing Your Tasks: Does it Work?

Crowdsourcing is a viable alternative to hiring freelance professionals.Seeing as most businesses have a limited marketing budget, a new and attractive option for webmasters and small businesses might be to use crowd-sourcing.

Unlike hiring a freelance professional to do the work, you can put it to the crowd instead! They can write your code (like at www.cambrianhouse.com), give you ideas, advise you in certain areas (like at www.innocentive.com or www.linkedin.com) and even design your website for you (such as at www.sitepoint.com/contests)!

Aside from the obvious benefits such as price, competition and the chance to advertise your project – you don’t have to pay for the designs you don’t use. To top it off, you can define a strict creative brief for your crowd of designers to abide by.

Despite the fact I haven’t used it yet, the quality of the content produced at Sitepoint.com seems to be quite promising. Just take a look at this contest for an Autism site.

Not only do the designs look professional, but at the cost of a few hundred dollars, it seems to beat the prices of a LOT of graphic designers out there.

Has anyone actually tried one of these services out? Or have you been scared off by something? I know submitting your work to the internet can publicise it to your competitors but for many people I can see it being a fantastically viable option. Checkout Crowdsource for more alternatives.

How To Market A Band “These Days”

Marketing bands on MySpace and other Social MediaThanks to new technology and the ease of recording music these days, artists are able to produce wild tunes for people with even the most particular tastes. Many people don’t realize this but their bands (or Brands as we might call them) are effectively targeting ultra specific niches.

They’re using marketing principles to create and deliver tunes to their fans (customers). Unfortunately, due to the fact most artists are too busy to read about and coordinate their own marketing, many of them struggle to get off the ground.

Although I have focused this toward bands, branders might also find this useful. Anyway, here are some popular ways to get the word out about yourselves.
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“Lightning In A Bottle” Book Review

Lightning In A BottleI’ve just finished reading Lightning In A Bottle (aff) – A book on how to develop great ideas by two consultants at a leading market research firm. I decided to share this now, since many people have a New Years resolution to start a business or launch to a product — BUT this book is not delimited to these people.

It begins by making some bold claims such as “Why Market Segmentation is a Sham” among others. The most surprising claim of all, is that the authors, David Minter (President) and Michael Reid (Principal) of Minter and Associates state that their process for developing ideas will improve new product success rates from 1-in-10 to a staggering 1-in-2!

In other words, how to reach a success rate of 5 times the American national average! [Read more…]

Text-Link-Ads Review – A Monetization Solution For Small Business Bloggers?

This is a sponsored review containing affiliate links. I’ve been using Text-Link-Ads on this blog for a while as a means to monetize it. Far and away Text-Link-Ads is the best method to make money from a blog like this, focused on small business marketing and branding. The people behind the company contacted me through the ReviewMe.com site and requested a review, and I since I have a good history with Text-Link-Ads I decided to oblige.

Bear in mind this isn’t an article about marketing or branding a business, rather a service that other bloggers may consider as a monetization method to use on their blogs. The small business niche can often be hard to monetize given the nature of the audience, so if you blog about small business or similar topics you might consider testing Text-Link-Ads yourself.

If nothing else this article will serve as a fantastic example of an online business model that generates revenue as a “middleman” service using a many-to-many system, which is ideal and affords the owners near-unlimited potential for growth and scale without significant increase in infrastructure costs. You may also find the ReviewMe model interesting because it is also many-to-many and is owned by the team behind Text-Link-Ads. Two great small businesses concepts that created unique ways to make money online and satisfy the needs of two types of users – publishers and advertisers – using the new darlings of the web media world – blogs.

How It Works

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