Archives for October 2011

Claim It! Own It! now Promote It!

It’s time your brand got out from behind that inspiring advertising slogan and actually stand for something. A large part (and I would argue) the most important part of your brand is your positioning. Where can your brand take the high ground? What is your brand leading in? Are you the only something? Positioning is absolutely based on differentiation. I hear countless companies state things that don’t really make them different, but actually make them blend in. For instance, “our people make the difference.” Sure, you and a thousand other companies.
Or how about “we excel in service.” If your competitors are still around, perhaps they do as well.

Taking a position based on differentiation takes moxy. Not only does it take guts to take the high ground, it takes commitment to own it. By owning it, I mean that you have to live the brand promise in the position you take. If you say you will deliver that pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free, then you had better do exactly that. Your customers have no appetite for false claims. They will eat your brand for breakfast if you don’t deliver. Deliver and they will love you and reward you.

For your brand position to work it has to resonate with your customers. It has to speak to them. One of my customers, Suntrition, whose brand positioning is: “Leaders in small-batch, oral-dose manufacturing,” speaks directly to their target audience. Small suppliers in the nutraceutical products industry. While all of their competitors are seeking the large contracts and giving short -shrift to the little guys, Suntrition has chosen to specialize in small batch production. They are laying claim to this high ground. It’s working. At recent industry B2B trade shows, small batch suppliers flocked to their booth refreshed that someone actually values their business and is actively seeking it. They not only came home with hot leads, they are setting sales records.

The difference between a slogan and a positioning statement is that the slogan inspires and the position resonates and sells. It’s no reason that sales staff and management are rejuvenated when they actually develop their differentiator and take their branding more seriously. Now marketing truly has a story to tell.

Big, Big, Big, Big… Small!

There is a commercial for the Smart Car – a tiny two seater – that has all kinds of people proclaiming ‘Big’ from singers to politicians, business owners to children. At the end, one lone guy sees the Smart Car and says… Small! Implying Big is not the answer, Small is.

While I didn’t think the commercial is particularly clever, it drove the point home for me. Sometimes the solution you’ve been seeking is the opposite of what you have been doing all this time.

Many small businesses often start off by de-valuing their products and services to get things going and then we get stuck there.

I’m not saying having low priced products is bad or even a no-no. Sometimes you need that. What is a mistake though is staying or suppressing your pricing for everything you do, while maintaining a high quality product that in no way reflects your pricing. Very soon, you will feel like you’re working too hard, running out of steam. All of a sudden, the dreams of financial freedom seem just as far away as when you were working at a regular job. You may even begin to resent your business because it doesn’t seem like you’ve come very far. What can you do? Go the opposite way.

Start creating high end products that bring you more per sale, products that people want to buy more of – yes, believe it or not, low prices can reduce sales.  Consider products from Apple. You’d call them anything but cheap. Yet, the iPhone 4S sold over 4 million units in just 3 days. The cherry on top, most Apple customers are fiercely loyal.

Wouldn’t you like to have a business like that? That’s why we invited Armand Morin a genuine Internet Marketing authority to share his knowledge about creating high end, high value products in an exclusive webinar.

The webinar is scheduled for this Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at 9 p.m. U.S. Eastern time. To join us, register here.

It is not everyday we can host webinars with legends like Armand so we are very proud to be able to offer this to you for no charge whatsoever. We’ve already invited people on the mailing list so the webinar has already begun to fill up. Because seats are limited, register today to make sure you save a spot for yourself.

We know you will get a lot of golden nuggets from this webinar. We always do when attending Armand’s webinar. Be sure to attend with pen and notebook in hand. See you there!

It’s Time To Step Up Your Game

The passing of Steve Jobs this week got me thinking of another iconic American CEO who was also loved by consumers the world over.

Before I reveal his identity, I have to say that Steve Jobs has been compared (this week) to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, in their contributions to our modern lifestyle.

Steve Jobs I believe, surpasses these gentlemen because of a personal connection he had with his audience – the consumer. How many deceased CEO’s can you name that have had the general public laying wreaths at their doors? Not only do their customers not mourn their passing, they really aren’t aware they even passed. When the day comes that Bill Gates meets his maker, will he see the same outpouring of love? I wonder. For all that critics say about consumerism, you have to admit, even they were silenced this week. This is the epitome of a super brand, where both the corporate brand and the personal brand of the visionary are perfectly aligned with their buying audience.

The other American icon that I believe shares the same love that Steve Jobs has, is Walt Disney. He was an independent thinker, and he developed amazing things, ignoring those who thought he was nuts. Walt Disney’s passing was met with the same level of sadness and admiration for his achievements. We need visionaries like Walt and Steve to help us rise about the mediocre.

Take a look at your own brand. If you passed away tonight, would your customers miss you? Could they replace you easily? If so, what do you have to do to build your brand into something iconic with your stakeholders? Does your brand relationship change lives? Your brand doesn’t have to be as massive as Steve, or Walt’s to resonate with stake holders. You only have to make your passion contagious and provide an experience that makes it a pleasure to interact with you.

Maybe the next Steve Jobs or Walt Disney is you!

The Wrench Is The Key!

There is not much point in addressing your corporate brand if there isn’t the will to implement the strategy developed. A worse situation is where the upper management have the desire to implement the brand strategy but there is no buy-in among the employees and other stake holders for that matter. When I facilitate my process, “Brand Navigator,” the very first step is to pick the branding team. This group of individuals are made up of the stake holders of the company from the top down. The head of the company who is the visionary is a must attendee. From there, I request other individuals who are not just from the management level. One very important person or persons is what I like to call the wrench. This person is a leader among the employees. They are looked upon as the spokesperson. They are known as a wrench, because they tend to throw a monkey wrench into initiatives they deem frivolous and put upon. The key is to make them part of the solution, they in turn become advocates for the new brand strategy and willingly push it out to their constituency among the stakeholders. Wrenches can be powerful allies. It is key to understand this dynamic. Wrenches are typically good employees as well and they can be quite passionate about the company. It is very important to get them on-brand.

Some companies take it upon themselves to implement internal branding efforts to help their staff buy-in to the strategy. This is done in a myriad of ways including role-playing, internal communications, brand training, etc. Delivering the brand promise from shop floor up to senior management is crucial to the success of your brand. I’ve been a lot of reading this week on this topic and I believe from the examples i read that getting buy-in from employees will be difficult if the initial strategies were developed by senior management exclusively. Selling it after the fact could possibly lead the wrench, to “go throughout the motions” to please management, with the staff walking in step with them. This effort was described as the bridge from developing the strategy to rolling it out. From my perspective, it’s a bridge on a weak foundation. I believe that in order to effectively roll out the strategy the solution has to come from all stakeholders together. This is the way to develop a strategy that resonates with everyone who’s livelihood depends on the success of the company.

I enjoy delivering positioning strategies that the entire company is excited about. They are excited because as a cohesive unit they took the high ground together. Branding can never be a solo act. Every solution I facilitate as a team effort is very powerful.
It empowers everyone and it absolutely resonates with customers. This is when you know it’s the right move to make. It takes much of the risk out of the strategy, regardless of how bold a statement it may be.

The three musketeers had it right, “all for one, and one for all.”

How Well Are You Reaching Out to Bloggers About Your Brand?

When it comes to online marketing, one of the best ways to organically reach out to web users is by utilizing the popularity of blogs. Oftentimes online entrepreneurs will initiate their own blogs in an attempt to capitalize on their ability to link products with real people. But an ironclad tactic for the non-writers among us is to reach out to existing bloggers about providing their readers with information concerning a product or service. It’s an easy and honest way to let people learn about what you have to offer. With that said, reaching out to bloggers about using their site for commercial purposes is easier said than done.

Bloggers are more times than not particularly passionate people. They’re especially passionate about their blogs, and when offered the chance to premier a product or service the initial reaction is often one of revulsion. They aren’t for sale, nor is the trust they’ve established with their loyal readership. When flat-out asking blog writers if they’re interested in promoting your product or service for a fee, don’t be surprised if they never write back or write back with some serious self-righteousness.

So how do you successfully reach popular blog writers? It requires a little bit of “thinking” like a blogger. Your introductory email must be as eye-catching as a popular blog title, or else the blogger will probably delete it along with the dozen other similar requests that appear in her inbox everyday. Your email must be persuasive and to-the-point, similar to a strong blog post.

But above all, you must know your audience. In this case, your audience is blog writers.

The passion of a blogger must be incorporated for the marketing tactic of blogger outreach to be successful. The fundamental first step is to take the time to read the blogger’s posts. It’s not enough to simply see a tech blog and contact the owner; by being able to cite specific articles and describe how they incited you to initiate outreach with the writer, you make them know you read their content and weren’t simply robo-emailing. That goes a long way in the mind of a writer and will increase your odds of forming a successful business relationship.

When discussing business, place the power entirely in the hands of the blogger. Tell them that the content surrounding a link is entirely up to them to create. Make it a point to say that you aren’t interested in content that directly endorses you (when it comes to backlink based SEO that’s irrelevant anyway.) That sounds so much better than simply requesting for the blog owner to churn out some quick content for a check. Chances are, a successful blog writer will be much more willing to casually plug a product per their own style of writing rather than simply do the bidding of a paying marketer. Both will net you near-equal results if approved, but only a cordial effort to contact a blogger will increase the likelihood that you will be emailed back.

There are hundreds of thousands of writers working within the blogosphere. They provide the key to millions of web users getting to know your brand. Make a dedicated effort to utilize blogs for your brand, but don’t forget that it isn’t as simple as borrowing a standard play from the marketing outreach playbook. Bloggers need their egos stroked and they need to know you want their opinion, not buy-off their integrity. Keep that in mind, and you’re certain to come into contact with more bloggers than you otherwise would.

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