Archives for September 2012

When Will Branding Help?

When ever I sit down with owners of companies it is inevitable that the question arises, “When will branding help?”

The easy answer to this is when the perception on the street isn’t what you, the leader of your company would like it to be. If your market doesn’t having a flattering opinion of you – branding can help. If your offering doesn’t differentiate itself from other similar competitive product offerings and you can only sell on price – branding can help. If your sales staff are tired and unmotivated – branding can help. If you’d like to freshen up your brand set forward on a new more aggressive path – branding can help. Branding can also help to uncover issues and circumstances that are acting as barriers to your growth. It can also help to establish a more appealing brand that attracts potential investors or buyers. Branding, dives into the heart of your business and reveals compelling positions and opportunities. It strengthens perceptions and invigorates stakeholders, encouraging them to be advocates for your brand. A reinvigorated brand can do wonderful things. Branding is a top-down initiative that requires a visionary as a leader. It is not for the weak of heart or will. It embraces change and encourages leaders of companies to step up.

Most companies don’t address their brands but chose to allow the marketplace to define them. These companies look like the competition, sound like the competition and battle on price with the competition. These companies believe that their brand is their logo and that changing that logo will eliminate any issues that they are suffering. This is one business majority that you might want to steer clear of. This mob, don’t believe that they can have any affect on their brands. These brands allow the economy to affect them and in doing so are sheltered from opportunity.

When will branding help? Branding helps very day, every month and every year that inspiring leaders embrace opportunities and refuse the negative. Branding helps when it is your goal to over-deliver and make your relationships with your customers top priority. Branding always helps.

Tips For Improving What You Already Have


As entrepreneurs, we often rush to get a project out and to market. Even though some parts of the process may not be complete but because they are not critical to the brand nor for sales, we launch the product with the intention of coming back later to complete or improve it. The problem is, later almost always never comes around and before you know it, we’re off to a new project or some other priority comes up.

However, growing a business doesn’t always mean creating new things. It also means making what you have better. The thought of going back and looking at everything you have seems like a rather daunting task and it can be. To get you started, the following are some pointers to get you going.

Promoting Yourself More

This is more of a problem for websites than actual storefronts if you have one. Take a good look. Do you have banners or clips that lead people to areas of your e-store or deeper into your content? If not, add them. They can be traditional banner ads that promote your own inventory or special offers. Or, they can be blurbs. In short, keep people clicking around your site for as long as possible.

If you’re on social media, take some time to review your own stream as well. What have you posted in the last 7, 14 or 30 days? It’s OK to not be self promoting on every tweet or post because social media doesn’t work that way BUT, if all you are posting is other people’s blog posts, funny stuff, personal references and so on, that’s not going to work either.

Go through old posts on your blog and pick out those that have done especially well and re-post them to your social networks. Make sure you update your post to have a call to action to join your list or buy your products too.

Implement split testing

When sending out email campaigns or advertising online, it is very easy these days to test out two or more versions of your ads and emails. Doing this will quickly tell you which headline or ad copy gets more attention, more traffic or more sales. You’ll also stop wasting money on ineffective advertising too.

Update literature and autoresponders

Things change over time and you may have new hours, new products, discontinued ones or simply information that is not relevant anymore in your communication. Update them and while you’re doing that, ask yourself if the designs can be updated to look more current, to reflect your brand today. Do you need to do it?

Make your sales process smoother

If you have a service business, is the process for taking a lead to a customer and completing the project fluid? Do you have all the contracts ready and/or do they need updating? If you sell online, is your ordering and delivery process confusing? Do customers tend to get stuck in one area regularly? How can the process be smoother and easier for your customers so they have the best experience as possible?

Qualifying your leads

Building a list can be an expensive, resource intensive process. You want to make sure you don’t just end up with a list of names, but one that is ultimately responsive. One way to guarantee that is to build a more qualified list. There are many ways to qualify people before they get signed up. Through the proper advertising copy, even your offers. If you use WordPress to manage your website, consider a plugin like Survey Funnel. It leads prospects through a series of easy questions and subscribes them to different lists based on their input. This way, you can always craft your message so they are highly relevant to the reader.

Embrace The Limb

brand positioningConsidering all the words I write on branding, essentially all I’m saying is that if you’re not playing, you’re losing. That’s not to say that you’re not successful, but that you’re not being the best you can be. I’m saying that marketing can be a little easier when you compete as a leader not a follower.

Most companies advertise by using campaigns to inspire consumers to buy in the moment. They use any number of proven techniques to get the attention of you the consumer. A number of these techniques have even taken on a life of their own. Ie: When something is new and improved, or there’s 50% more etc., you see these statements contained in a burst, or a banner, or a peeled back page – these visual gimmicks are called violators in the industry. There are violator companies out there, who do nothing but generate these cues. Color is used for its psychological effects, sound and smell are often brought into play. Tantilizing visuals are also used to stir those emotions. As this paragraph outlines, there are any number of tried and true ways to advertise and they are consistently used by everyone who advertises.

The one thing that every advertisers does not use is positioning.

Why?

Because to position wisely, you must be a leader. As we see in life, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are vastly more followers than leaders. Many businesses like the tried and true. They don’t enjoy going out of their comfort zone and they pay a high price for this. It is much easier to do nothing and be content with what you have. A lot of people are afraid of “Leader” because they fear being called out on it. This is a just fear if they’re really not a leader, but are pretending to be. It’s not enough to say you are the Leader, you must BE the leader. Act like one and win like one. Without knowing it, we all lead in some way. It’s within all of us. Maybe it’s the ‘no brag rule’ that our Mother’s instilled in many of us, or a childhood shyness we never quite outgrew. If you ache for your brand to lead, then positioning should be a must-do in your business bucket-list.

This is where I typically come into the picture in the role of Brand Consultant. I take heads of companies through the maze of their business environment and deliver an awareness of their brand. This clarity provides the fuel that satisfies their hunger to lead. Often times, the positioning developed accurately reflects an area, they currently dominate but have not articulated effectively. I inspire them to “bold-up” as it were. If you couple the Leadership Positioning with traditional marketing, then you have a very powerful message to resonate with customers. Without positioning you are simply one of many. Your competitors are many as well. Without Positioning, everyone is saying the same thing in different ways. All the slogans while inspirational, don’t resonate. Leading gives the customer something to embrace and understand your value.

As a category leader, you must embrace the limb. That is to say, you have to climb out onto the limb first, then with all confidence embrace it. To benefit from this precarious location you have to put in place processes that encourage and sustain your leadership. Brands grow or decline with time. Depending on the foundation laid out, your brand will go in one of these directions. Establish a strong set of Brand values and stick with them. The leadership position you embrace, must where to these values as they are the foundation defined.

Do Any Of These Brand Infractions Sound Familiar?

• You use many inconsistent color schemes in your promotional materials.
• You don’t always use your logo in your marketing materials.
• You use many icons to represent your company.
• Employees have differing opinions of what the company does to make money.
• Suppliers don’t know what is expected of them.
• Customers see your company as simply a commodity. (price only)
• You have no relationship with your top customers.
• Organizational communications are lacking.
• Staff moral is low.
• You have no brand values to speak of.
• You have no idea what customers, suppliers or employee think about your company.
• You have no idea what differentiates your company from the competition.
• You’ve never analyzed the competition’s brand
• You don’t know what your brand personality is.
• How you answer the hone doesn’t reflect what the logo says.

If you see yourself in any of these off-brand infractions, you should strongly consider addressing your brand. Any one of these problems WILL cost your company money, (not might cost you money BUT will cost you money). You see, your company has a brand whether you want one or not. If you don’t take control you allow your competition to define you in the marketplace.

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