Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010: The Year Of The Web

Make 2010 the year that you take advantage of the web more to increase your business opportunities. Take the month of January to investigate gateways that you can use to best exploit the net. Some suggestions are to join Linked-in, start a blog, commence building an email database, get on Facebook or twitter. Html marketing and building a resource website.

You've ignored the web too long now. All of your customers are online. You should be there speaking to them.

Make Print Interactive With Your iPhone


How cool and powerful is this? Just put a 2D barcode on your print materials and using the camera function on your iPhone scan it and be taken immediately to your website or anywhere on the web. The scanning app is free and so it the barcode generator. Put it on your business cards, brochures, a t-shirt or a billboard for that matter. Bring print coupons to life!

App: NEOREADER (Free)
2D barcode generator website.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Which One Are You?

Watching a show on television that was featuring businesses who struck gold through Oprah, I was struck by one in particular. The logo on their building was different from the one on their door which was different from the one on their packaging and so on down the line. This is symptomatic of a business allowing sign companies and printers to determine their brand image. From my point of view it is better to have a bad logo and use it consistently across the board than to have several different ways of presenting your name. This type of scenario just instills confusion among your target group.

The saving grace for this company was of course the big O. After Oprah's generous endorsement, this company's cache skyrocketed. Now they are doing it right. The thing is, consistency doesn't cost more money. As a matter of fact it can cost you less because it reduces costly confusion. The featured company didn't have to wait until Oprah put them on the map to get this right. Get it right from the moment you decide to start your business. Once you establish your brand image, guard it aggressively. If you want to be taken seriously and look like a player, then number one on your list of rules should be, to be consistent with your brand image. That goes for colors as much as the actual image.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Strengthening Brand America

A terrific interview with America's leading place brand expert, Ed Burghard. Ed discusses place branding and its unique attributes.
If place branding is of interest to you, then you will definitely appreciate Ed's views on the subject. His opinion on branding mirrors my own.

Ed can be found at the Burghard Group.

How To Find An Audience For Your Brand.

Finding an audience for your brand to speak to takes a considerable amount of fortitude. First you have to determine who that target is and secondly discover where they hide out. Once you find their hot spots, you have to keep in mind the old adage that people like to buy but they hate being sold to. This is very important to keep in mind.

One of my favorite venues for connecting to my audience is blogging. The experience you are having right now in your quest for information to move your own brand forward. Blogging allows you to build an expert profile. It is also a fabulous way to build an audience - your very own network. One of the untruths of blogging is "build it and they will come." You have to go out and lure your audience back to you.

You do this by visiting other blogs within your category and also where your audience hangs out. Start by leaving comments that show that you know your stuff. Become an opinion leader at that blog. After a while the owners of the blog get to know you as much as their readers. This is your opportunity to ramp up your influence and request to write for that blog. Once you get their approval, write as much as you can. Readers will follow your opinion back to your blogs and websites. This is where you have an opportunity to capture their interest.

Once they are at your sites, have an email harvester in place to get their email, so that you can launch a coordinated information program. This keeps your opinion in front of them. You are building a quality relationship which in turn can lead to sales. The process works but the effort must be consistent and the intent honorable.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back From MOOB

MOOB stands for Mind Our Own Business. It is a mastermind group that I've been part of for going on seven years now. We are made up of business owners: Marcia Hoeck/Grosse Isle Michigan, Marcia McMIllen/Covington Kentucky, John Norman/Chicago Illinois, Richard Harrison Bailey/Mishawaka Indiana and myself, Ed Roach/Leamington Ontario. We meet roughly every 3-4 months and spend an all day session sharing ideas on how to improve our businesses and deliver a superior product to our customers.

This latest session hosted by Richard Harrison Bailey/Mishawaka was as invigorating as the very first, years ago. As you can imagine, we have become very good friends as a result of this group. Businesses have changed and adapted. Inspiration is rampant and encouragement is honest and invigorating.

The one constant among all in the group is the capacity to implement the strategies discussed. Much of what I do today I can attribute directly to a MOOB session.

Even as the global economy has had a negative effect on a few of our membership, it has not beaten them down by any stretch. Rather it has empowered them to re-direct their energies into redefining themselves. Their new focus has brought new successes to their doors and this MOOB session was witness to their new opportunities. This group never loses hope and consistently pushes forward. It is a testament to the spirit of the entrepreneur.

I am the lone Canadian in a group of Americans, so by definition we are an international organization (Sounds good eh?). I only mention this because the Canadian perspective is a little different than the American one. But we all benefit from both perspectives. To us, MOOB is integral to our success personally and professionally.

Much has changed in seven years.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Self Publishing Made easy!


Have you got a book in you but don’t want the expense of publishing it?

Well thanks to on-demand printers like LuLu.com and Blurb.com you can write your book, - upload it into their templates - and publish it - easily marketing it to the world on Amazon. They even give you a free ISBN number. You don’t even bear the cost of printing. When a buyer orders a book, it is then printed and shipped directly to them. You are paid a fee for your ownership.
The printers get the printing and a royalty fee.

Being an author on your business expertise, is an awesome way to reinforce your expert profile. On-demand printing pays you for the priviledge of publishing for you.

It’s a great model and you get your thoughts into the hands of potential customers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Van Heusen, Dressing For Brand Success

Van Heusen roots go back well over a century. Innovation and insight having played a large role in it's continuing success starting g with its self-folding collar in 1929. Today the company owns and distributes many of the top selling world brands such as Calvin Klein, Geoffrey Beene, and IZOD to name a few.

Unlike many fashion brands Van Heusen has not built their success on a legacy of creative advertising. No break-out marketing efforts from this company. Their success can be tracked to retail marketing at the store level. Van Heusen has allowed the department stores to promote their brand through their own sales promotions. You know the brand because you know the department store brand as well.

Even in it's infancy, innovation was the key to moving the brand forward catching the eye of the consumer. Its brand image is middle of the road appeal with a touch of fashion to sweeten the offer. The Van Heusen website is just slick enough to portray a quality image without alienating men who really are a little uncomfortable with fashion. Van Heusen is a practical alternative to trendy or high fashion brands who sell with provocative sex appeal. This brand personality is reflected in their current product innovations positioned to differentiate them. One is the whitest shirt in the industry and a line of shirts with detachable cuffs and collars.

Building on their keen understanding at the shop floor level Van Heusen has taken to giving many of its exclusive locations a makeover and embracing relationship marketing as a way to draw its consumers into a stronger relationship. A customer who loves the brand is also an advocate of the brand. They have even taken to having coffee events at stores where good customers are drawn in for a meet and greet of sorts. These initiatives provides Van Heusen with valuable consumer feedback on its redesign and display changes. To encourage easier browsing, garments are no longer stacked but hung. Collections will now have a concerted display to help consumers coordinate their choices.

As you can see, legacy brands like Van Heusen don't get that way from following other fashion brands but by stepping out and leading the way. By identifying how their audience reacts to their products and how they want to be serviced, Van Heusen continues to retain its brand equity without losing it's focus. From every touch point, their consumer experience is the key in their positioning strategy. Van Heusen intimately understands its audience and continually refreshes it's brand to maintain that loyalty. Staying relevant within its department store distributor family is also important to the overall success of Van Heusen.

Everything in tandem makes a fantastic case history of the success of as true legacy brand.
Van Heusen roots go back well over a century. Innovation and insight having played a large role in it's continuing success starting with it's self-folding collar in 1929. Today the company owns and distributes many of the top selling world brands such as Calvin Klein, Geoffrey Beene and IZOD to name a few.

Unlike many fashion brands Van Heusen have not built their success on a history of creative advertising. No break-out marketing efforts from this company. Their success can be tracked to retail marketing at the store level. Van Heusen has allowed the department stores to promote their brand through their own sales promotions. You know the brand because you know the department store brand as well.

Even in it's infancy, innovation were key to moving the brand forward catching the eye of the consumer. It's brand image has middle of the road appeal with a touch of fashion to sweeten the offer. The Van Heusen website is just slick enough to portray a quality image without alienating men who really are a little uncomfortable with fashion. Van Heusen is a practical alternative to trendy or high fashion brands who sell with provocative sex appeal. This brand's personality is reflected in their current product innovations positioned to differentiate them. One is the whitest shirt in the industry and also a line of shirts with detachable cuffs and collars.

Building on their keen understanding on the store floor, Van Heusen has taken to giving many of it's exclusive locations a makeover and embracing relationship marketing as a way to draw it's consumers into a stronger relationship. A customer who loves the brand is also an advocate for the brand. They have even taken to having coffee events at stores where good customers are drawn in for a meet and greet of sorts. These initiatives gives Van Heusen valuable consumer feedback on its redesign and display changes, as well as it's latest collections. To encourage easier browsing, garments are no longer stacked but hung. Collections will now have a concerted display to help consumers coordinate their choices.

As you can see, legacy brands like Van Heusen don't get that way from following other fashion brands but by stepping out and leading the way. By identifying how their audience reacts to their products and how they want to be serviced, Van Heusen continues to retain it's brand equity without losing it's focus. From every touch point, their consumer experience is key in their positioning strategy. Van Heusen intimately understands its audience and continually refreshes it's brand to maintain that loyalty. Staying relevant within its department store distributor family is also important to the overall success of Van Heusen.

If you want to better understand how to encourage your customers to become an advocate for your brand, you might consider studying the efforts of a legacy brand like Van Heusen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Commitment To An Idea

Well, as you can see from all the short post-links to Brand Booster 21, Vera Raposo and I are finally finished with the series over at her blog: Small Business Branding. One thing that I learned was that 21 days flies by. When we initiated the series, I had the feeling that the 21 days would poke along. Nope.

I think we helped an awful lot of small businesses according to the stats and so these results makes you appreciate all the effort it takes to implement such a program. Vera and I put it all together back in September and launched on November 2nd. It is our intention to put together future products to help SME's attain their business goals.

If you didn't have the chance or simply weren't aware, the posts are still available to read. Like anything else in business, having an idea and implementing it are two entirely different concepts. Challenge yourself to jump into an idea with both feet and benefit from your efforts to move your business forward. I am asked regularly to join forces with other entrepreneurs to develop information based promotions. This is how I pick up consulting/coaching opportunities.

What ideas are you contemplating, but putting off for now?

DAY TWENTY-ONE: Wrap up

Vera wraps up the 21 day event with the three most popular posts and requests your input as to the effectiveness of the series.

DAY TWENTY: Brand Booster 21

Second last day at we are covering'"Public Speaking An Other Promotional Vehicles".

Friday, November 20, 2009

DAY NINETEEN: Brand Booster 21

"Get Out There And Nurture Your Brand" - thats the call to arms today in The Branding Experts' and Small Business Branding's 21 day branding lessons.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

DAY EIGHTEEN: Brand Booster 21

Everyone can benefit from Developing Their Expert Profile. Discover how you can accomplish this at Small Business Branding.com's free branding lessons.

DAY SEVENTEEN: Brand Booster 21

Find out more about "Email Marketing", in today's session.

DAY SIXTEEN: Brand Booster 21

"Blogging As A Marketing Tool." Today's topic.

Monday, November 16, 2009

DAY FIFTEEN: Brand Booster 21

Today Vera and I discuss "Branding Your Online Brand". Enjoy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

DAY FOURTEEN: Brand Booster 21

How about we discuss "Brand Logo" today over at the Brand Booster 21 at Small Business Branding. Seven more sessions to the end of our course.

DAY THIRTEEN: Brand Booster 21

Brand Booster session today is "Brand Image." Check it out!

How To Resist The Restraints of Time



So many in the world of the SME (small and medium size enterprises) are cursed by time restraints. Every effort to reach out for new business is predicated by a desire for immediate results. Marketing programs whether off-line or on are geared for long term benefits. One of my favorite marketing media is blogging. It "absoltuely" builds my expert profile and brings me leads.

But the hard truth of the matter is it took about a full year before my blogging efforts brought me any initial response. To many entrepreneurs this is unacceptable. To these folks, the idea of planting seeds is for farmers only. They continually search for the magic bullet. That's why the desire for SEO is so appealing to many. They figure all they "really" need are the right collection of key words and phrases and the world will immediately follow google to their front door.

Of course when this doesn't happen the bemoan the money they spent and continue to search for the fast solution.

Blogging has staying power but it takes effort and patience to build your brand's profile and trust. Over time search engines love blogging because of the fluid content. Better than SEO if you only treat it as a one time effort and not a maintained effort.

Awareness advertising works on patience as well. Consistent messaging builds trust and recognition. Continuing effort breads familiarity and then potential for leads is the result it delivers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

DAY TWELVE: Brand Booster 21

Today we are discussing one of my favorite mantras - Consistency. Consistency can save you money when you take it seriously with your brand. For more details drop into the sessions for a read. Brand Booster 21 ends in 9 days!

DAY ELEVEN: Brand Booster 21

Today we are discussing Differentiation As A Strategy.

We are more than half way through our 21 day branding instruction marathon over at Small Business Branding.com Subscribe to the feed and see each day's lesson.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

DAY TEN: Brand Booster 21

Today we are discussing Competitive Analysis.

DAY NINE: Brand Booster 21

The eigth day's session is on Targeting Your Audience.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DAY EIGHT: Brand Booster 21

Today's session is on "Stake Holder Perceptions Of Your Brand".

Sunday, November 8, 2009

DAY SEVEN: Brand Booster 21

Today's session is about "Unique Selling Point/ Brand Positioning".

Saturday, November 7, 2009

DAY SIX: Brand Booster 21

Today's session is on Validating the work done to date.

DAY FIVE: Brand Booster 21

Today's session is about your Brand Promise.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

DAY FOUR: Brand Booster 21

Today's session is about determining your brand's personality.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When To Know When It's Time To Re-Brand.


Re-branding. It's a term that you hear a lot these days. When you hear the term in relation to changing one's logo, this is an incorrect use of the term. Changing the logo won't re-brand anything. If you understand that your brand is essentially your reputation and is the result of every touch point in your company. If you’re merely change your logo without addressing the core issues for the re-brand then changing the logo changes nothing.

To help you determine if re-branding is for you, let's look at some brand viruses and see what we can do for them:

• Prospective customers don't know what we do.
Over time, you become known for doing so much for people that they have trouble putting their finger on your one big specialty. This results in your becoming a commodity. If they could focus on one great thing about you, they are more apt to knock on your door for that one compelling thing. The differentiator is your door opener.

• Your image is dated.
Your noticing that your customers are getting older and older. The younger skew doesn't even have you on their radar. Your logo looks as if it were designed in the sixties or seventies, and you are supposed to be a progressive company. Updating your logo and corporate palette freshens up a tired image.

• Sales are flat, and the sales staff are not motivated as much.
Chances are that they have no compelling story to tell. Going to market with a unique positioning strategy making you the leader in something, or the only distributor of something reinvigorates the sales staff. They have a focus and are embolden to drive the message home, especially if the positioning strategy is a powerful one.

• Advertising isn't effective as expected.
Many B2B advertising is simply all about the wrong person. Grab a trade magazine and you will notice the advertisers bragging about themselves. They show a picture of their building, tell a great story of how successful they are in your field, and show pictures of work similar to yours that they've done. What they (or you) are not doing is explaining how you can take their pain away. Your goal should be to remove the barrier that keeps them awake at night. It shouldn't be about you; it should be about them.

• You're a little out of touch.
Remember when you started your business, you used to attend all the Chamber functions and networking events, but over time you fell away from it? Well as younger businesses came on stream, your brand fell off the screen with each generation. It's time to reconnect with your business community. Get out there and share your knowledge. One thing great about graying hair - it represents wisdom.

Over all re-branding your company should involve an overall strategy that juices every stakeholder in the company. It is a wonderful opportunity to start over and position the company for growth in the emerging economy.

DAY THREE:Brand Booster 21

Today's session article is about Brand Values.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DAY TWO:Brand Booster 21

Today's session article is about assembling your branding team.

Monday, November 2, 2009

DAY ONE: Brand Booster 21!


Today is day one of Brand Booster 21 over at Small Business branding.com. Authored by Vera Raposo and I to help small to medium sized business to focus their brands and give them a leg up on their competiton. It's free and and new step appears every day for the next 21 days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What's That You Say?

Recently a customer asked me what difference it would make if the CEO of a company were the author of a blog but didn't allow comments? My immediate answer was that that I didn't think that they should have a blog if they had no intention of allowing comments. For me a blog is something that allows comments, even if those comments are criticisms. How you address criticism can be particularly powerful.

I feel that if don't wish there to be comments, then frame the site that way - more like a news service. For me at least, blogs are an opportunity for two-way communication. It's a venue to interact with customers and advocates of your company. Feedback allows for an opportunity to improve.

Two-way blogs are fantastic brand tools. It empowers your audience and gives you front-line exposure. Shutting down conversation harms your brand by making your reader suspicious as to why you refuse to listen. Why is it all about your opinion when in reality it's all about your customer - or it should be.

Think twice before you shut the door on your customers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boost Your Brand in 21 Days!



Starting on November 2nd, over at Small Business Branding.com, myself and Vera Raposo (owner of SBB) will be hosting a FREE branding course we call BRAND BOOSTER 21! Every single day for 21 days, we will present a new article dealing with one aspect of your brand with the goal of providing solutions to helping you make your brand more powerful.

Mark your calendar and hustle over to Small Business Branding.com and begin your 21 day course - it does a brand good. We look forward to your participation and comments.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Smile and Move

Here is a great PR idea for you and very inspirational as well.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Marketing Tips Tele-Seminar mp3, Online Branding

Yesterday I was featured on Marcia Hoeck's "Marketing Tips Tele-Seminar" in a one hour interview on - Online Branding. This is a topic I am asked to discuss quite often these days. Marcia's free series might interest many of you as it is a regular feature. I'd recommend visiting her site and signing up for the series.

Interview with Christian Home Business Connection

Blog owner Laurie Neumann from "Christian Home Business Connection" contacted me a short time ago to interview me as a small business owner. Laurie was interested in my work habits and take on running my business. It gives a good over-view as to how I operate. Enjoy the article.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Financial Benefits of Branding.

I spoke to a group of CFO's in Ann Arbor Michigan a few years ago on the benefits of branding. This group didn't care about marketing benefits but only how branding can save money. Bottom line.

Number one - consistency. How the brand image is delivered is crucial. If the brand image is consistent across all media, then there is little room for confusion , making it cheaper to promote the company. Inconsistency results in confusion. Confusion is a costly error. If you buy into differentiation and go to market with one thrust, then marketing costs are focused on that unique selling point. For every product or service you add to that you not only increase the marketing costs but also add more competitors to the mix.

Another financial consideration for branding is luring prospective investors or buyers. If the brand is focused properly, the brand is more attractive to investors or buyers. They have their act together. When the brand is strong, the resulting passion among all stakeholders holds a great deal of value.

To view branding as simply a marketing function is a gross misunderstanding and appreciation of what your brand IS. Your brand at the end of the day is your passion and reputation. If nurtured properly, the financial benefits are obvious.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Too Can Partner in You Tube.


Using video, create a channel on the popular video site, You Tube. Whether you manufacture something or have some great case histories to share, use a You Tube channel as your delivery vehicle. Join forces with a complimentary company and share audience to diversify your content. Both companies can cross promote to generate leads. Use it as a promotional hook to get people to come back to your website to access more content and join your list for future updates and offers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Marketing Using Direct Mail - Online and Off.

OFF-LINE:
Direct mail takes on any number of forms. I utilize a mini portfolio with inserts that fit into a shirt of jacket pocket and full color postcards. My clients use vehicles such as 9" X 12" portfolios (folders), four page full color sales flyers, full color sales sheets, book marks, booklets, standard three-fold brochures, and any number of lure packages. The latter, lure packages are sometimes called bulky mail. This item is intriguing in that they contain items that recipients can't help open, because curiosity overtakes them. I've taken the effort to send a folding chair promotion to a serious prospect I wanted to get a meeting with. In effect, I sent the chair to sit in while we met. I've used fishhooks, fake rolls of money etc. Creativity is the criteria. They will dispose of a letter, but a box is something they will not so easily discard without looking.

No matter what the package form, the message must also be compelling. Don't ramble on too much about you. It's about them - what their pain is, what is in it for them? Other than bulky mail, be prepared to send any direct mail piece more than once. An intriguing idea I've used in the past involved a scenario involving a second party. Understanding that our targets are sometimes too busy to read a lengthy offer, I put together an audio CD and packaged it with a coupon for a FREE coffee and donut from a local donut chain. The drill was that they drop by the drive-through and pick up the free coffee and donut and while driving home, then, pop in the CD and listen to my story and pitch.

Is your business complimented by another? A bookkeeping business is complimented by an accountancy, a law firm, or a business consultant. By joining forces you can benefit from each other's lists and join marketing dollars allowing all participants to benefit from larger budgets. Build joint products and sell them as a group.

No matter what the idea, good direct mail is first and foremost the message, the vehicle of delivery (brochure etc.), the audience, the method of delivery, and the follow-up. If your market is local and relatively targeted, deliver it personally and put your money towards making it memorable or interactive like the CD idea above. I would always have any traditional direct mail campaign tied to an online component.

ON-LINE:
The main difference with on-line marketing is that everything is digital. No bulky packages here. BUT, the advantage you have is that the message is delivered straight to your target's in-box. Delivery costs are also remarkably low, if not free. If you are working with an email service, your marketing can be validated. You can use analytics to determine if your target actually opened the marketing email. Try that with off-line direct mail. The email is also linkable allowing you to lead the target through a sales channel.

Offering something of use to your audience for FREE allows you to begin or add to your opt-in email list. Email harvesting as I call it, is the process you'd use to get businesses to join your marketing list. Once on your list, you can start marketing services that they would find compelling. You can use different promotions and sign-up forms to break your audience down into niche markets. If you are that bookkeeping service we mentioned earlier, you could segment your lists into different types of businesses. You would then market to those niche groups speaking their language and offering them assistance based on needs unique to their industry.

On-line marketing allows you to send people a printable coupon offer when you would like them to show up at your place of business. Using some creativity, you can use this mode of promotion to aid traffic. In case you haven't seen it already, I have a video on my website that explains how I utilize on-line promotion.

As I have already mentioned, it is still first and foremost the message that is vital here. No matter how you get the message out there, if the message is about you and not them and their pain points, you are more or less blowing smoke. If you have a realistic budget, you can use direct mail to build and maintain awareness, generate traffic, and get response to an offer. Off-line, a 4-6% response rate is considered excellent. On-line I've enjoyed on average a 25% - 40% open rate. My main focus is on-line because it allows me to consistently place my message in front of my audience several times a month. NON-STOP.

I think the worst thing you can do in direct mail is make it an ego piece about you. While there is nothing wrong with bragging, the lead-in message must be something that addresses their pain points. Give them a great reason to call you and not the competitor. Have fun with your marketing, it will make your brand shine. Never stop promoting yourself. Your brand can't grow unless it's fed.

Article topic requested by: Thomas Chappell at .GreenTech Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona

Monday, September 14, 2009

Use The Web Domain As A Marketing Tool


Do you want to take advantage of something in the marketplace that resonates with your target audience. A great example of this is the green movement. You may also have developed a unique process, that you'd like to promote. Use domain names as a way to build brand recognition. For instance if you have an organic fertilizer, instead of directing traffic to the company's domain, use a marketing domain, such as: "www.GetTheLeadingOrganicFetilizer.com" or that improved process: "www. TheBestNewProcessForSomething.com"

Use your imagination to sell through the domain name. Even using your slogan as a domain would do the trick. The names are pointed to a splash page or the corporate site. They are cheap to buy and are effective.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Small Businesses Are Afraid Of.

A study was recently conducted (March) that spelled out the fears and pain points of small businesses. Tops on the fear factor is 'not marketing effectively'. Clocking in at 38%. The other two in the top three fears is , 'never being able to retire (33%) followed by 'staying abreast of new technology (20%).

A good short article on the findings can be found at Business Know-How.

As the article states, the study was done to assist vendors in communicating effectively with small business.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Professional Tear-Off Tags!



We have all seen hand-made versions of this idea at our local super market or conveneience stores. They are typically displayed on the community bulletin board. They are offering free kittens to a good home, or some other situation wanted notice.

Why not do the same thing with your business. Ie: “Want to save $500. on your insurance policy? Give me a call.” The cost is minimal and under the radar. Great for almost any industry. In some cases you might want the contact info more hand-made looking. This could help make the tags look more personal. Perfect, if your customer is the general public.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hey! I Think They're Getting It.

More and more clients are beginning to realize the relevance of building their expert profile online and benefiting financially from their efforts. I am getting increasing requests to help entrepreneurs start blogs, make their web presence more valuable to visitors and develope tools to build opt-in lists.

I think the idea of developing a niche market of their own to sell to, carries some intriguing possibilities. The moment that you recognize that you are a product to develop then the easier it will be to put yourself out there. I know for me this was a turning point. Prior to this, the idea of putting my opinion in front of thousands of readers was very daunting.

After years of building my personal brand, it has rewarded me with consulting, speaking and design projects that otherwise, I would never have had the opportunity to accept. Recently, as a matter of fact I was sent to Prague to speak for a half an hour. Expenses and a fee were covered. The experience was very rewarding.

Now my clients who opt to build their personal brands online, will also benefit once they have paid their dues and work to build a strong meaningful brand.

Are you ready to take yourself to the next level? Going from a reader to being read carries with it many rewards. It validates your years of experience. It says that you are indeed an expert. Do it and just watch the doors open in front of you. Unlike traditional marketing, this is very hands on and the reward is personal AND financial.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brag! Brag! Brag!


All our Moms told us that it’s not nice to brag. Well it’s about time you start (I’m sure your Mom won’t mind).

Don’t just assume visitors to your website, or readers of your promotional materials will understand all your accomplishments. Don’t hide these gems in the small print or some obscure link. Milk any impressive accomplishment. Customers want to know as much about you as they can. Understanding your facts will make you more desireable in their eyes.

It also differentiates you. “Bragging rights” is King in the world of branding. Now is not the time to be shy and humble. Scream from the mountain tops and claim your success territory.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Let Them Wear Swag!

Are you looking for some un-monetary way to reward employees
and suppliers who might go above and beyond in their duties?

This idea was tabled during a committee meeting I was involved
with yesterday - logoed apparel, and various gifts such as spa visits
and iPods.

Your HR people would put together a points system based on
valuing the effort. Recipients would use these points to “buy”
specified goods and services from a list.

This is a terrific way to reward exceptional effort within your
company.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How To Be Found Online!

Everyone wants to be on the first few pages of a Google search. You might consider search engine optimization (SEO), or a large online promotion.

What I've found to be very effective is blogging.

Blogging builds your expert profile and exposes your personal brand. The entry costs are minimal. One platform, Blogspot is free. Search engines love blogs because the content is constantly changing. SEO can't touch blogging in this respect. Posting weekly or more at a minimum will get you noticed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Conquer Your Fears!


Every one of us has fears we'd love to conquer. Is it a fear of the water? A fear of heights? How about public speaking - does that get you spooked? Fear keeps us from reaching our fullest potential. Let's make the summer of 2009 the time that you confront and beat a particular fear. Choose one fear that you would like to beat and develop a plan to attack it.

The only way to beat a fear of anything is to approach it head-on and throw yourself into it. If you have a fear of water, use this challenge to sign up for swimming lessons. If it's public speaking, arrange to speak to a group of people on a subject you are passionate about. Don't put much thought into it - just jump in and go for it.

Conquering a fear will be a tremendous attitude boost, and it will invigorate your personal brand.

Great article on using social media to grow your personal brand

I've discovered a great blog written by Hasan Shirazi called: Steps To The Top where Hasan discusses using socila media to improve your personal brand. The article is honest and direct. I love the comprehensive array of links to assist you in your social media efforts. A good source to bookmark for future reference. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Competition is Gunning For You!


Don't kid yourself, the competition is anxious to see your lifeless body behind them. Now is not the time to for a wait and see approach. Are your branding weapons locked and loaded? Now is the time to check your battle readiness outline:


• Increase value to your customers
• Optimize your positioning strategy
• Over deliver
• Be the best at what you do
• Upgrade technology to increase productivity
• Use the web as a lead generating tool
• Respond faster than anyone
• Increase face-time with customers
• Be totally accessible
• Surround yourself with knowledgeable people
• Improve your expert profile

All strategies are go, take aim, and fire!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

68 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd.

Mike Michalowicz - the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur has a terrific post where he features the opinions of 68 individuals (myself included) on how to differentiate your business and stand out from the crowd. Bring a coffee, it's a generous read.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things That Should Be On Your Radar!

There are plenty of tools on the web that you should be investigating to better your business opportunities. I speak to groups of business professionals and what I thought was common knowledge is completely new information to
many. That realization led to this week’s tip - put these on your radar:






Blogging - great for building your "expert profile" and reaching out to a global audience with your opinion

Blog Commenting - Google blogs in your industry and comment on them, leading readers back to your websites and blogs

Blog Writing - Discover significant blogs in your industry and offer to write for them, leading readers back to your websites and blogs

eMail Marketing - build a list of potential customers and put a message directly in front of them, (this weekly Branding Tip for example)

Public Speaking - a great way to show your expertise and gain warm leads

Skype - use the web to speak to long-distance customers for free or close to it

Webinars - hold classes or virtual conferences to sell your services

Free Analytics - track the success of your websites, blogs and email marketing efforts

eBooks and Newsletters - offer them for free to build traffic or sell them online

Online Payment - use Paypal's donation code to build a simple pay area for customers to easily pay you, (great for non-profits)

Video/Audio Podcasts - record tips on what you do and offer them for free to readers of your websites and blogs

Virtual Networks - join online networking groups to build relationships

These dozen should keep you busy. All of them can be done for FREE if you tackle them yourselves.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Love Sales People.

I can't tell you how many times I've been interrupted during my early evening hours by the voice of a telemarketer on the telephone trying to get me to purchase their wares. Being an entrepreneur and small business owner, I can appreciate how difficult it is to sell. It is my policy to listen to their pitch and then express my desire to purchase or not. Of course most times I will never purchase as I don't like buying without doing my own research.

What I do though, is listen and learn who has the better approach to getting my attention. The vast majority are simply reading off a script, these people lose me instantly. Every once in a while, you will get the one person who is convincing in their delivery. This person has the magic of salesmanship. This person leaves me with a tip or two.

I also observe customer service when I shop. What intrigues me and what disgusts me. I find I am always aware of the sales activities all around me. One simple technique which is sage advice is to use the person's name if you can. A restaurant server makes huge points when they remember a patron's name, and uses it throughout their visit.

Watch and learn the next time you leave your office. Give the sales people you come in contact with a break, and just appreciate that they are trying to earn a living as well. Even if their delivery is bad you will learn a tip from them as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Increase Brand Recognition With An Icon










What do the MacDonald's, Nike, Apple, KFC and Allstate brands have
in common?


VISUAL BRAND ICONS.

Brand icons are sensory symbols that represent the corporate brand.
As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." You are better able
to remember visuals than even the spoken word. Many companies
have even dropped the text part of their logos in favor of their icon.
The most obvious of these is Target department stores.

Do you have an icon in your brand image? If not, you may be wise to
consider one. Icons can even be a scent (Cinnabon) or a sound
(Harley Davidson). Improve the memorability of your brand image
with an icon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Job Hunting With A Personal Brand



Are you using a basic resume to get the attention of the HR person at a company you like to work for? Draw positive attention to yourself through your personal brand. Taking a page out of branding 101, build your expert profile and prove to your potential employer that you are the expert they would benefit from. Start a blog and post a number of articles on the field you are applying for. It doesn't matter what that job is; you have the expertise in your past experience.

Go to the blogs of companies that you would enjoy working for and leave comments. Make sure that your comments reflect positively on you. Be sure to strongly emphasize your blog address in your resume. Don't just rely on a traditional resume delivered in email or snail mail. Take a critical eye to your social network postings to be sure that your personal brand is not taking any negative hits (even in good humor). Be sure that any photo of yourself is friendly and flattering. Your bio is your chance to brag a little.

Get that job that you'll love doing!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Light A Flame Under Your Leader Brand!


As the head of your company are you exhibiting the traits of a leader? You will command more respect if you position yourself as a definitive decision maker. Wishy washy gets you no points in the decision arena. Your employees are looking for you to lead. Even when your decisions are tough ones, stake holders appreciate the difficulty in your choices.


A company leader who actively builds their brand based on a powerful strategy will inevitably attract valuable talent to their firm. If you wonder at times why the competition consistently attracts top talent it is because their brand attracts them like mosquitos to a flame. It is within your grasp to extinguish their flame while sparking renewed life in your own. What will it take to become an inspiration to your stakeholders and admired by those who would wish to be a part of your team?

A strong brand leader can accomplish all this and MORE.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Opt-in Email - The Perfect Crop!

Now that you have your lure in place, ie: an eBook, or video, white paper - something of value to your audience, you are ready to make it available for FREE. If you are using an email service such as iContact or Constant Contact, you can get the sign-up code to paste into your html page. Now on your landing page, you would promote this lure or (email harvester). You would have a text link or button leading to the sign-up page. Once submit is selected, their email goes into your database and they are delivered the FREE document. As time goes on and your list grows; you will see your private marketplace expand. It is your job to go out onto the web and spread the word of the availability of your free information. Not only do you benefit from a growing list, but it compliments your expert profile.

The fact that audiences are a diverse group, it would be recommended that you have multiple email harvesters all emptying into the same database. You could segment them to track which product interested them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Share Your Expertise And Build Leads.


The hardest realization for any small business person is to come to grips with the fact that they are experts in a given area. It's not that they don' t think that they are knowledgeable in the category; it is just that they are modest about their achievements. They have been instructed since they were very young, not to brag. Now here is the Branding Expert telling them to do the opposite. If it is of any consolation, I am asking you to deliver your knowledge in a digital format that provides expertise your target audience can use to make their lives better. Determine what information would be very valuable to your audience and deliver it as a PDF file.

When you design the look of your eBook, make the cover very interesting. It is no different from a book on the shelves of a brick and mortar bookstore. Your cover has to be compelling to the reader. On the inside be sure to use your brand logo on every page. Reinforce your brand image consistently through out the entire eBook. Make any web links in your eBook live. You want it to be very easy for the reader to connect with you once they've had a chance to read it.

Once your eBook is written and turned into an interactive PDF file, its time to leverage its value as an enticement to register with you. Readers who sign-up at your website to get your free eBook, are providing you with an opt-in point of connection. Think of this growing list as your own personal marketplace. Use it with respect, but to be sure - use it!

Next ... How does an Email harvester work?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Are The Two Faces Of Your Brand Teasing You?


During the course of a consulting call this week, we discussed whether the face of the brand should be the individual or the company? It depends on what your overall goals are. If you are looking to build your expert profile and then develop that profile into a product, then it would be wise that you be the face of your brand.

There was some concern that the company could not grow past the personality. I didn't think that would be a problem, so long as the ongoing plan was to one day melt the personality brand with the corporate brand. At some point the name BECOMES the company, it no longer represents you as a personality. Toyota, Mrs. Smith and Betty Crocker are good examples of this. If you become a product or the brand icon then it is easier to remove you someday.

Take my own situation: A few years ago I left a business partnership of 25 years to re-invent myself as The Branding Experts. Now years later, I wish I had branded myself Ed Roach-The Branding Expert. I promote myself as a product. It is my intension to move in this direction over the next several years as I build my brand further. What is great about branding is that you can evolve. In my case it is taking place as a natural extension from my existing brand. Through my expert profile - The Branding Experts IS Ed Roach and vice-versa.

My consulting client chose to also promote herself as a product ultimately morphing into the brand icon as her expert profile builds and strengthens. Keeping this goal in mind will influence every marketing and brand decision as we move forward.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Branding Relevance to Recuiters and Graduates

I had a terrific article sent to me from a Colleague entitled: "Recession Can Be A Gift Horse To Recruiters/Graduates" by Prof. Daniel Muzyka. The article outlines why companies should be showing more respect towards students because of their value to you further down the road.

I was struck by it because I actively engage students as a part of my marketing efforts. I see them as potential future customers. I want my brand top of mind with them. They get the opportunity to pick my brain today and benefit from my experience.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interruption/Permission Synergy

A reply I posted to a comment from Andee Sellman, from One Sherpa, in regard to my article, "5 Reasons Branding Won't Work" on Small Business Branding blog:

Andee,

Interruption marketing (if I understand your definition correctly) generates awareness and in many cases is the markets first exposure to a brand. Visionary products (ie: Apple) find their way into our consciousness this way. It can set the tone for your brand.

Permission is effective once a basic trust has been established. I think both work in tandem and work nicely to make your brand experience rich.

As you can appreciate, my efforts to advance my brand as a consultant is powered by all my avenues of promotion. I am 100 % aware of my brand every time I put my messages out there - including how I am replying to comments on my posts.

A good example of this synergy between Interruption and permission is public speaking. The audience is attending at their own free will to get some information that I possess. This is permission based. At the end I briefly pitch my services while I still have their undivided attention. Interruption. I also subtly have my brand and services through out the presentation which builds additional trust between my audience and myself.

Post seminar, if they visit my online presence and subscribe to my list, then my brand is again strengthened. As you so aptly put it, "permission marketing goes the journey. "We only have their permission when we also have their trust. Betray that trust and you have nothing but snake oil.

Break the ice with Interruption, take them downtown with permission. What a branding story!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Create Your Own Market!


Increasingly small businesses lament the dwindling of their markets and the narrowing of their opportunities. From my perspective, I'd say the situation is a case of them allowing the economy to affect them instead of them affecting the economy. The answer to that dilemma is to be proactive. Most of the subscribers to my information materials and products receive them because they filled out a form to get something from me. You too, should do what I call "eMail harvesting." Over time, this important group of people grow to form an exclusive market for us to talk to.

My subscribers are all business people who are searching for branding information to grow their companies. They are ALL my target audience. You too should start building your own audience to share information with - expanding your marketplace in a very cost-effective way as opposed to traditional media. Depending on how you organize your audience, you can fine tune the messages you send to them.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Business Books - 75% Filler?

It's just my observation, but I feel that most books on business are essentially 75% filler. What I mean by this is that every author has a great premise and they get their point across in the first few chapters. But once that is achieved, they just repeat the same information over and over - just to fill 300 pages. I always have at least one book on the go, and this always seems to be the case. The only books that seem to break this mold are books by Jeffrey Gitomer, and Dan Kennedy to name two. These two gentlemen, discard the B.S. and just give you the information. Gitomer doesn't feel the need to write a big book of fluff, (his books are even small and a quick read).

I wish more business writers were more concerned with getting the information across and less interested in making sure their book "looks" serious at 300 pages. As a entrepreneur, I am just interested in getting the information. If I capture one nugget of wisdom that helps me to grow my business then that is worth $25. to me. I wish we could go back to the simple books of our childhood - one to twenty pages. Maybe I'll take on that challenge, when I put out the second edition of "The Reluctant Salesperson."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

5 Reasons Why Branding Won't Work.


They're never going to buy you're the expert.

Here's the thing, you really are an expert in your field, but here's the rub - YOU don't believe it. If you don't believe in yourself , don't expect customers to believe in you either. You have plenty of sales-worthy knowledge and a waiting audience. Roll up your sleeves and jump in. Failing isn't the problem, refusing to get back up is.

You've got a wild idea, but nobody's going to buy it.

Isn't it better to try your idea and fail KNOWING they don't like it, rather than presuming to know they don't like it and never really finding out?

The timing isn't right.

That's the same as giving me a dozen reasons why you CAN'T do something rather than reasons why you CAN.

Branding is expensive.

Ignoring your brand is the real money pit. Placing ad after ad saying nothing special or countering a competitor makes you a follower. The competitor is actually defining your brand and you're throwing money at defending yourself rather than leading with a strong positioning strategy, which gives your customer a compelling reason to buy from you.

I tried re-branding: I got me a new logo and tag line and guess what? Nothing changed!

What did you expect to happen? Your brand is your REPUTATION not your logo. All you did was spend some cash putting a new face on an old problem. If somebody tells you that re-branding is changing your logo - RUN as fast as you can - they have no idea what branding is!

As much fun as this post was to write, the honest truth is that all of us have to pay very close attention to our brands, how we sell ourselves and be open to new opportunities. Stop blaming the economy, stop blaming yourself and stop blaming finances. If you try and win - great! If you fail - so what? Keep moving, keep learning. You can't reach your goal by standing still and that I can guarantee you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How To Open Doors To Your Brand.


What are you doing to improve your brand? Are you aware of what people are saying about you? It's not enough to be just using traditional marketing to get your message out.

It's time to take your brand to the next level using online marketing. You will have to ask yourself, "What is it I do that keeps customers coming back for more?" "What do they love about me?" You are looking to develop a compelling message beyond lowest price. Bring this message to the public aggressively using these five methods:

ONE: Blogging
Blogging allows to speak to existing customers and potential new ones. You have the perfect opportunity to build your expert profile and lure publicity your way.

TWO: Public Speaking
Target different professional groups, and use as an educational opportunity. Every engagement typically generates a few leads. Quickly positions you as an authority.

THREE: html Marketing
Relies on your building an opt-in email list, then marketing to this captive market with strategic messages aimed as various segments within the overall group.

FOUR: Social Media
Twitter, Linkedin and facebook are all social media that allows you promote yourself in a more communal level. They are time-consuming but can over time, build a dedicated audience.

FIVE: Resource Website
Change your existing brochure website to a website that provides more information and free tools for your readers and visitors. A great platform to distribute digital products.

Online marketing is continually moving, but with consistent effort and on-brand maneuvering, you can harness the web to open doors beyond your local market.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Webinar Your Way To Closing!


Staying in touch with customers is very important for business development. Adding value to the relationship keeps them interested in your services. One way you can provide value is the use of web-based-seminars or webinars. Lets say that you sell a multitude of products. You can use webinars to introduce a new product or service. What these are essentially is conference calls where your customers are invited to listen in as you introduce the product and walk them through the benefits. This can be accomplished with videos, and power point.

You can also offer incentives to participate with suppliers' swag such as logoed hats, mugs etc. You could even offer a draw. The whole point is to offer a way for customers to learn more from you. You become more valuable to them. Make the webinars into a bi-monthly event. What ever time-line you settle on; the most important part is the question period at the conclusion. It gives sales an opportunity to see just who specifically is interested in further contact and that makes closing so much likely.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Read Any Great Books Lately?


If you're like me, I always have two or three books on the go. I'm always looking to improve myself. One business classic I'm reading is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Originally written in 1937, Carnegie's book still resonates today. Human nature is timeless. You can see many modern self-help books echoed in this classic.

Zoom ahead to 2009 and two new books I've sunk my teeth into is "Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet" by Jay Conrad Levinson, Mitch Myerson, and Mary Eule Scarborough, and a terrific book on personal branding called "Me 2.0" by Dan Schawbel.

First let's take a look at the latter - Me 2.0. If you are fresh out of university or are soon to be, this book is for you. Schawbel nicely explains personal branding in all its depth and makes it relevant to the young professional. Following his proven processes and competent tips, you will have a keen advantage in your quest for a career, or to simply differentiate yourself in the job market. Of course, Me 2.0 is relevant to any age group, because the principles are timeless. If you are interested in personal branding, Me 2.0 is really the only book you'll need to get started. My favorite line in the book is, "It's not whom you know; it's who knows you." On-line this is key. Me 2.0 is jam-packed with tons of thought provoking techniques to make your personal brand shine.

The second book I highly recommend is Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet. Years ago I bought the original Guerrilla marketing books and LOVED them. Straight forward, down to earth, no BS tips on promoting yourself without breaking the bank. This new book successfully carries on the legacy. From the moment I started thumbing through its pages, I started smiling. If you want to market yourself online, this book will save you weeks of research. The unique experience of the authors, makes this book invaluable. They don't speak above you or try to make eCommerce some new magic pill to riches. The authors are frank and inspirational. You will find yourself nodding as you read every page.

Understanding personal branding with Me 2.0 and marketing the result with Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet is a double-barreled strategy you should embrace.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Double or Nothing!


Your business card is a simple and effective tool in sales. That little 3.5" X 2" message can make or break your first impression. How much importance you put on it will make you money or leave it behind. Your brand relies on it to succeed. Let's assume you've had your logo done professionally, and let's also assume you've positioned yourself properly. The next question is, have you exploited everything about this pocket billboard?

Have you used BOTH the front and back of your card? Utilizing both front and back allows you to refine your message. The back of your card is the perfect spot for your elevator speech. You can use it to point out your positioning or brand message. It represents a total image.

Have a look at stock weight as well? If is too floppy it feels cheap to the touch. You want some bite when you flick it. Saving a nickel on design will lose you that first impression and bruise your brand.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Your House In Order?


PLACE BRANDING.

Are you looking for that magic bullet that will reinvigorate your community and attract investment? Direct your attention to place branding. Like corporate branding, place branding embraces positive experiences to lure and win site opportunities, for communities around the world. Ed Burghard of the Burghard Group - a leader in place branding recently interviewed yours truly on the benefits of place branding whether done on a large or modest scale.

The Burghard Group also has launched the Brand America initiative whose goal is to provide accurate and accessible data to states and communities wishing to exploit their positive brand experiences. Place branding is a critical strategy that compels investors to chose based on a powerful brand. If you are new to place branding, The Burghard Group is a great resource to get a handle on its value to economic development officials globally.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Give Back Bucks.


Employees and suppliers are often over-looked as advocates of your brand. Both have a vested interest in your success. Here is an idea that will nurture their love for your brand.

Give Back Bucks!

Have some paper money printed up that has your company logo on it, and make it in various denominations? Put together a program that rewards efforts that are beyond what is expected. Your supplier group will probably be the most surprized to be included. It will prove to them that you view them as part of your team and integral to your success.

As they collect your Give Back Bucks, they can spend them on various branded products and clothing items. An added bonus is that your advocates now are advertising for you.

So don’t just give away those branded sweatshirts - allow your team to happily deliver better behavior to earn more bucks to spend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Write Your Way To FREE Publicity.


Publicity - it is seen as free advertising. Everybody wants positive publicity. Wouldn’t it be great if you could control publicity?

Well you can.

There are two ways to get publicity that you can do today that has a good potential for success.

The first method is to develop a media center on your website. This involves having a canned article of different lengths. The media center should also have pictures that can accompany your article. Also, include your company’s logo and a bio of yourself. Now you have to contact different media of your choice, and make them aware of your ready to print good news stories.

The second method is to go to blogs in your industry and offer them your articles. Blogs and traditional media are looking for content continually. You will find that blogs are anxious to take your material.

Which ever method you favor, the trick is to be confident in your attempts to get publicity that compliments you. Don’t assume media will not be interested.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are You Getting My Weekly FREE Branding Tips!

Every week I email several hundred companies my FREE branding tip of the week called, "Ed Roach's Two Cents Worth." For a taste, take a look at this week's installment.

For more like that, just sign up and start getting great tips every single week delivered to your in-box!

How Branding Can Impact Your Bottom Line

So - you've decided it's time to cast your own shadow. You are an entrepreneur at heart, and you've got the encouragement of family and friends. You've talked to an accountant and corporate lawyer. You signed a lease on a great new office, and it's decorated beautifully. You've joined the appropriate local business clubs and lined up a modest operating line with the bank.
You have a cool name, and logo, and you're ready to launch.

Or are you?

Read more of this article I've just posted over at Startupnation.com...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Comply or DIE!


Differentiate or die - stand out from the crowd - swim free from the sea of sameness, these phrases are the mantra of the modern branding mind set. You and I know that they are true, but their implementation is a challenge. Finding that nugget that compels your target audience can be a daunting task at best. If you want the point of differentiation to hold water and last, it has to be something that comes from the core of your brand. It must compliment your brand values and frustrate your competition.

One solution might be - Compliance Branding.

If you are in an industry such as manufacturing or the food service industry, you are currently heavily regulated. If you are a manufacturer who exports, you 'enjoy' an increased level of scrutiny. CTPAT is among the latest. The food service industry must meet stringent health and safety compliances. At the end of the day, adhering to industry, and government compliances make you competent to do business within your category, but it does nothing to differentiate you. You are simply on an equal footing with your compliant competitors.

Compliance Branding builds on the already established trust that your competitors have for compliances. They recognize that, if you are compliant you are a professional in your field, and they will be protected in doing business with you.

So to benefit from customers who trust and respect compliances, you should develop and implement your very own self-administered compliance. Take a hard look at how you do business. What processes are in place that your company uses to improve your productivity or service delivery? Are these functions proprietary? They must be your own. I have to stress that this tool must be real. Your self-administered compliance cannot be advertising spin. It must in trackable and validated like any standard compliance. There must be regulations in place to keep it real.

Let's say you have a chain of restaurants, and of course there are compliances that you are forced to have if your wish to stay in that business. Many time these compliances are the minimum standards. Here is your chance to shine. Make it your goal to raise the bar and implement a cleaner than clean compliance. Together with your management staff and front-line employees, try to come up with a procedure that follows this initiative through to completion. Develop a validation and follow-up process to check the validity of the claim, into the future - self-policing your compliance. There should be penalties for any deficiencies.

Your next step is to give it an image. This should take the form of a crest or symbol. Now when you launch it, you can claim that you are the only restaurant with "XXX Cleanliness." It is a great PR topic and good news story. Because it is your compliance, your competition can't apply to get it. It will probably drive them crazy trying to determine how they can also be awarded this honor. This marketing initiative can be effective in nearly any industry.

Ideally, having the assistance of a Compliance Branding consultant will have you self-compliant quicker and I just happen to know a good one :)

My Newsletter Is Available On Your Mobile!



My FREE monthly eNewsletter, "USEFUL INFORMATION" is available on your mobile phone right now. Just go to my information signup page and request the the FREE Newsletter.

It is currently in it's 56th issue. It contains a feature article that I author and information I collect and present for you so that you can apply it to your business today.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Do You Purchase For Pleasure or Pain?


We are all consumers. Our motivation for purchasing has been studied from every possible perspective. Two avenues of purchase I find intriguing are pleasure and pain. An example of this would be upgrading my Mac because it is too slow. My pain is performance. How about purchasing a ticket to a Star Trek movie? Your pleasure is - you're a Trekkie. Off the top, I figure that most of my purchases are pain based. This topic came up in a discussion with a friend. Most of his purchases are pleasure based. He upgrades his computer to have the latest and greatest. He said pleasure is his motivator.

When you try to connect with your customers, do you try to determine if their motivation is pain or pleasure? Understanding this would give you quite an edge in the discussion. If they purchase for pain, they are probably reacting to something. It is a defensive move. If they are purchasing for pleasure, it is probably an offensive move. If they are releasing a new product, they will purchase promotional tools to tell the story. If the products are under attack from competition, they are purchasing tools to defend the position.

Your brand's success will be rooted in either a pain or pleasure benefit. Neither is right or wrong. You only have to identify the money maker and embrace it. I've seen some identify a negative attribute and try to change it thinking that every negative "must be bad." Not every time. Sometimes the negative is what brought you the success.

Case in point - Hospice. Most people relate Hospice with death or last days. Death frequently would definitely be a negative. But Hospice is different. They are renowned for how they handle death and caring for people in their final journey. So it could be said that death has made Hospice powerful. They are the experts in handling death. The ultimate "pain purchase."

What is your biggest motivation for purchasing: pleasure or pain?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Opinion Super-Sized!


I've put together a two volume collection of all my articles over the past 2 1/2 years. Every now and then I get requests for articles I've written and so that has inspired this collection. I'm offering both at a price that saves you 66%.

Branding and its principles are timeless, so all the tips and direction presented will be an enlightening read. All of the articles offer up practical tips and direction that will inspire you to strengthen your brand. There are over 100 articles across 2 volumes that are aimed specifically at entrepreneurs like you.

Looking Back For Business

We are always looking ahead for new business. Wondering what is over the horizon. One often over-looked direction for new business is behind you.

I'm talking about your legacy clients or past customers. The folks you did business with as far back as your beginnings and have lost touch with for what ever reason. Use this reconnection as the perfect opportunity to re-introduce yourself to them. Tell them what has changed with your company since you last spoke. Take the opportunity to listen to them. If they take you up on the offer, then you have your warm lead.

Ask to reconnect over a cup of coffee. There may be money in the those memories. Who would have thought that something old could be something new again.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is The Internet Undermining Brand Profit?


I've been reading opinion online that suggests that the internet by it's nature is undermining the brand and by extension reducing profits of companies. Before the internet allowed people to search for goods and services globally, there was less downward stress on price. The internet throws many industries into the abyss of being just a commodity. Ebay and other auction sites make the only relationship a person has with a brand solely commodity based. Commodity is the enemy of profit.

You see it all the time - service and goods providers openly boasting how they can provide what you need for the cheapest price. Any business they pick up will be lost next time when the buyer finds it for even less someplace else. This is a never ending downward spiral.

The manufacturing industry has seen this model with with reverse auctions from customers. With global competition comes a reduction in profit from the shear scale of it. In years gone by, you competed in a market where the standard of living was on a level playing field. Today that dynamic has changed. In some sectors, a particular price is lucrative where in others it is inadequate, but commodity being what it is, there is no relationship to bank on and price wins out at the expense of profit.

Building a strong brand is one way companies are combating this issue. Companies like Apple have successfully leveraged brand to offset a reliance on price based promotion. If companies are successful in building strong relationships with customers, price is not the main impetus for purchasing. If the brand is powerful, then profit has fighting chance.

While the internet offers a broader audience for a brand, it is a double edged sword. There is probably no better reason to strengthen your branding efforts and using the power of the web to nurture a relationship with your buyers. Ignoring the brand relationship with eat away at your profit margins unendingly.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Co-operative Networking IS Smart!


If you’re smart, you’re looking into promoting yourself online using html email. You know, that’s email where you send a graphic instead of just text. The graphic also has the ability to link to other locations. Perhaps to your website or a special splash page promoting an important product or service.

In order to be effective, you have to have a decent mailing list. Like any other form of direct mail, it’s a numbers game. The more names you have, the greater the possibility to make a sale. If your email list is a modest one, I would suggest joining forces with a friend whose contacts compliments your industry and combine your lists. If you could do this with three to five friends, your
email promotion could take on a mini-virtual trade show.

How cool would that be?

I'm Quoted On "Online Branding" Story

Check out today's article in the Windsor Star (Windsor Ontario, Canada) on branding yourself online.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pump Up The Volume!


One thing a challenging market accomplishes is, it lets you know how safe your brand has become. It's a scary place to be. From the day you opened for business, until this revelation, your brand has had its ups and downs. For the most part, you've done an outstanding job just making a living by doing business in the moment. Building a brand that takes you forward, takes an focused effort. That effort has you pumping up the volume on your brand awareness.

What can you do to build your expert profile, and push your brand to the point where customers search you out? Over time, they come to rely on you for your expertise as much as anything else. Focusing on your brand and how to improve it, will invigorate you to the point that your worries about the economy drift away and you start to recognize opportunities.

Developing a brand positioning strategy that differentiates you is an inspiring goal. Where once, you watched and sometimes reacted to what the competition was doing to determine your sales initiatives, you now are poised to take a leadership role. Your brand has the momentum it needs to jump up and shout - THIS IS WHAT - ONLY I CAN DO FOR YOU TODAY!

What ever you do to enhance your brand, pump up the volume and make it better. If it is important to your brand values that you take an interest in your community, pump up the volume and go the extra mile. Actively participate, rather than just donating funds. If your team decides that it has to reach out and open up new markets, pump up the volume and go global. Embrace the fear of failing and crush it!

If your brand is to reflect a company who knows no bounds, then it is your responsibility pump up the volume and take the risks that deliver results. This market is not for the business person who loves to wait and see - that's the mind set of a follower. This is your chance to pump up the volume and make an winning impression.

How have you pumped up the volume in your search for success? Many of us here can learn from your story, please share it with us in this space. Pump Up The Volume!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How To Use Compliances To Beat The Competition.

Compliances - those nasty regulations that are imposed by business associations and the governments can actually be used to your advantage. The notion is to develop your own self-administered compliances and market them as differentiators. Drop by my compliance blog, Compliance Brander to read my 5-step solution to making this happen. The great news is that this technique is relatively new in branding, so it's the perfect time to jump in on the ground floor.

Compliance branding is a classic example of changing a negative to a positive and using that change to your advantage.

Friday, February 6, 2009

You Can't Keep An Entrepreneur Down!

Who is Margie Stein?

Margie Stein is an entrepreneur from Naples, Florida. Together with her husband Michael, they own Stein Builders. Stein is a premium home builder in the greater Naples area. The sub-prime fallout has dampened the new home building market there, not unlike anywhere else in North America. Margie could have just sat tight and sucked it up. But that's just not in her blood.

Margie is an inspiring individual who makes her own opportunities. Margie also happens to be a client of mine and I was taken by her tenacity to learn new skills and succeed.

What she decided to do was start a new business online. With little to no training, Margie has managed to generate more than $15,000. in the last few months alone using the business model (Shop for Income) with a minimal entry fee. She didn't have the benefit of an extensive email list or expensive coaching. Margie achieved her modest initial goals through her circles of influence. Imagine what she'll be able to earn after her first year, when she's had the chance to really promote this opportunity. If you'd like to discover how Margie did it, email her and she'd be delighted to share her knowledge with you.

If you're a start-up looking for something that has real potential online, from the comfort of your home, this might be something to investigate.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Made The Homepage of Business Week!

I got a great compliment this week over at Business Week. I just happened to be on their blog and commented on how I handle personal presentations. Shirley Brady, their Community Editor contacted me asking if I wouldn't mind them putting me on their homepage with a link to the story. I of course love it. Go and check out the article and see if there are tips that will help put you at ease the next time you have to present in front of an audience.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm Looking For Your Opinion...

Have you had a chance to pick up my free ebook: The Reluctant Salesperson, to the right, on the side bar? I'd really like to know what you think of the content. Comment below and tell us what you think. -Ed

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Blog Successfully.

Yaro Starak is offering up a nice bit of free information for any of you who are interested in drawing traffic to your own blogs. It is an interview with one of his mastermind students who gets nice numbers on his college football blog. There is no charge and it is exactly what I do to get traffic here. If you've got about a half an hour, or do what I did and listened while I worked - I think you'll appreciate the insight. Blogging in number one in my book for building your online brand.
 
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