Thursday, June 17, 2010

Your brand is the most important asset you have, it’s the virtual you.

Recently I had the pleasure of working with an incredible
photographer. It was during a photo shoot that I realized
that he, in particular, was more than a picture taker, he was
an image maker. He takes the subtle nuances and feelings of a
person, place or thing that can only be experienced in real
life, then conveys as many of them as possible in his
photography, so the viewer can experience those same nuances
and feelings via the photo. It is these subtle nuances and
feelings that also make up a person or company's brand.

A lot of small businesses joke with me when we talk about
their brand, "I am not a brand, Coke, Nike and Wal-Mart are
brands." I usually reply "Yes you are!" Every person, place,
thing or entity is a brand. They all emote feelings and/or
images when we talk or think about them which in turn defines
their brand. The big question is "Is the brand fully defined
and who defined it?" When we mention Coke or Nike or Wal-Mart
certain feelings and/or images immediately come to our minds.
These companies spend billions defining their brand and what
it means to consumers, hoping that the feelings and/or images
result in sales.

A brand can be defined by the company or by its consumers. If
consumers define a brand the company has lost control of the
brand. For example - Brand A is viewed as a cheap alternative
to Brand X yet Brand X sells much more product because it's
brand is viewed as a better value, even though it is more
expensive and lower quality. Brand A did very little
marketing and let each consumers define their brand, while
Brand X executed a well thought out marketing strategy to
define and manage its brand.

Everything a business does defines their brand. How the phone
is answered, the appearance of a delivery person, how an
invoice looks, even how timely their collections are; these
are all reflections of the business which ultimately defines
the brand even more than marketing. Accordingly everything
that touches a client should be reviewed as a marketing and
brand defining opportunity. Consumers indirectly view it this
way, so should businesses.

For most small businesses, their brand is typically the last
thing they think about. Yet over coming a bad or consumer
defined brand is much more expensive and time consuming then
properly planning your brand strategy as part of your
marketing strategy. A well defined and supported brand
facilitates and accelerates word-of-mouth marketing,
referrals and loyal recurring customers - the very things
that will determine if a business is slightly or extremely

Small businesses have more to gain by properly defining their
brand because they can focus on the specific needs of their
market much better than the national brand of a big box or
chain store. Small businesses need to invest in their biggest
and most competitive asset, their brand, before someone else
takes control for them.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Good marketing is stuck in your business, and it’s probably not what you think marketing is.

When someone hears marketing they think, well crafted
messages, logos, press releases, and advertising. They are
all a part of marketing, but what about your everyday
information? Things like your lunch specials of the day,
industry news, do-it-yourself information, an employee of the
month memo or a list of products that have price reductions.
All of these things tend to get posted in your business and
never make it to your website or the web. It's a shame
because this type of information can be more helpful than
most marketing. It's the type of information that people are
looking for everyday.

People are always looking for information to help them make
their lives easier, whether it's parenting, working, fun
seeking, purchasing, house work, etc. The simple information
that you produce and use everyday in your business, can be
re-purposed as marketing.

As marketing? Yes marketing? In fact this type of information
will probably do a better job in connecting you with the
right consumers on search engines and social media, than most
other marketing. It will help you because it is real and
focused, not made to sound self-promoting. It contains just
enough text to convey the information without the extra
marketing speak. Good simple information, properly placed on
your website and the web is a powerful online marketing tool.
Try it!

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