Friday, December 30, 2011

DoYou have A Mobile Brand?

So I guess that was 2011. It was a pretty good year for the Branding Experts' brand. Interesting opportunities and a growth of my brand strength within my marketplace. I have an affirmation of my promotional strategy from reputable online experts Hubspot. I turned to them this week to see if there was anything they could add to my existing efforts. Their honesty impressed me with this reply after our half hour telephone discussion - "If only you had a problem I could help you with ... your marketing and sales philosophy matches perfectly with Hubspot's." I regularly download ebooks from them and subscribe to their newsletter. They put out great no B.S. info on current online topics for business. FYI: I am not an affiliate - just a fan.

As part of my Christmas week re-evaluting efforts I am in the process of redeveloping my website. My stats made me aware that almost 25% of my visitors have done so on a smart phone. That lead me to add to my list of to-do's a mobile version of my site. I wouldn't have even considered it if it was under 10%. I plan on having the landing page offer you the visitor a web or mobile choice. This will also help me see if they actively choose the mobile version.

I strongly believe it will help my brand image among prospective customers. You could wait and see, but leaders accept the obvious and do it now. It's all about making it easier for customers to find and benefit from your assistance. If you've been following my opinion for any period of time you know my strategy is to lead not follow.

Have you checked your stats on this lately? What are your customer's actions telling you?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Positioning Is King!

Online and off, one the most important services I am often engaged to perform is the development of a positioning strategy for small to medium size businesses.

A positioning strategy is not simply a cleaver slogan but a powerful and dynamic stand that your brand takes in your category. Right now as you read this, I believe that you are sitting on something that would absolutely position you as the leader in your marketplace. All too often, we as small business people think that advertising an inspirational tagline, will draw in customers. But that really isn't enough to make them engage you.

You have to been seen and believed to be a leader. Customers like to do business with leaders. Your position has to resonate with them. When was the last time you bought something based entirely on the slogan? We purchase all the time on our perception of their brand position all the time. They belief that they have something that is better than everyone else. Apple is a good example of effective positioning. You can benefit from the same thing and have your brand raise the bar and claim the high ground. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is Social Santa coming down your chimney this year?

Has SME's (small to medium enterprises) taken up the social networking banner? I'm coming off one of my branding projects and as part of the research we asked the brand customers if they use Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or None of the above.

100% of the respondents answered "none of the above." 100% can you believe that? Wow. 

That flies in the face of what traditional media says on the subject. But in my local market, ( southwestern Ontario/Michigan ) it does resonate to some degree. Most of whom I speak with have very little knowledge on the subject, or are curious but noncommittal. They hear the buzz, but don't understand what it means for them. Since I work with predominately the heads of companies, they understand the passive approach of traditional media, where you run an ad or send out PR and wait for a response (if any). Social is very much a hands on, labor intense exercise. It also has to be on-going and non-stop. This takes quite a commitment. 

I see it in my wife Rose. She loves Facebook and spends hours every evening doing her thing on her MacBook. In my region, there are the social guru's who try to help SME's grapple with it. Even after all this initial startup effort, those who carry it forward are a small minority. Myself, I am 100% committed to blogging. Here and at my own blog (Brand Corral), I try to keep the information flowing. My efforts have definitely been rewarded with leads, projects and publicity. Friends and colleagues are fascinated by the results i've gotten. But as I share with them - it's got nothing to do with luck but solid effort. I'm going into my seventh year blogging now, and it is my number one online marketing vehicle. Offline is networking, which to me is live blogging in a sense.

Clients I have convinced to blog are still hard at it and are getting results. Any reaction they get is attributed to their efforts and opinion. They have embraced social media and are forming relationships with readers in their categories. They too, are getting leads, projects and publicity. 

It escapes me why any modern SME would ignore the potential of social. The only explanation I have is that the traditional media when reporting on it view it from strictly the personal side. They appear never to speak from a business to business perspective. When they do address business it is more the consumer versus business side. So the natural reaction is going to be - "How does that help me get more business? I don't care that a potential customer's cat's birthday is tomorrow." 

Facebook is introducing Timelines now. I understand that they are considering a business version. This hesitation on their side, will only exasperate the business person trying to come to grips with all of this. I only use Facebook and Twitter to promote my articles to try and draw audience back to my blog and website. I yearn for a productive presence on Facebook. Over time I'm confident the social media will shake out and a business fit will flow from it. I admire those of us who have successfully integrated Facebook and Twitter into their marketing efforts with results. I envy you. Myself, I love blogging, and have centred my efforts there. 

This year for Christmas, why not give yourself the gift of committing to one of the social medias to start building your online audience. I know for a fact that your SME is on the good list of Social Santa, so you're deserving!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Seven Secrets to Disaster Preparedness for Your Brand

Guest article by: Karen Post

It can strike without warning. It can slay your stock and drive away your customers.  It’s bad news when your brand undergoes a complete meltdown.  The good news is there are proven strategies to get your business back up and running after a cataclysm.

Today’s competitive and transparent environment offers any number of threats from within and without, from customer complaints, negative press, product recalls, natural disasters, to financial failures.  A single individual with a strong social media following, or the poor performance of a highly visible employee, can turn the company tide.  These events can blindside even the strongest of brands.

Karen Post knows that a loss can be a gain, and she has the turnaround examples to prove it.  BRAND TURNAROUND (McGraw-Hill Professional; December, 2011; Hardcover, $28.00) examines the seven principles and strategies that will protect your brand against any corporate storms that may arise without warning – and get you back in the game.

Ford. Barbie. Exxon. Martha Stewart. Tylenol.  Eliot Spitzer. BP.  JetBlue. Michael Vick.  Harley-Davidson.  Pee-Wee Herman.  Here is a diverse mix of more than 75 brands and celebrities, and Post’s fascinating post-mortems of how their public profiles tanked and how the losses in each case were specific and unique.  All the examples Post features in the book were once at the top of their game, fell from grace, and rallied back in the face of loss using a series of Post’s key survival principles.

Researching the keys to brand recovery, Post has put together a strategic game plan that needs to go operational within the first moments of crisis: 

·       Take Responsibility – Shift the brand tide from crisis to composure. This chapter examples a wide variety of instant handicaps and how they should be handled immediately.
·       Never Give Up.  After suffering losses, here are profiles of companies and brands that bounced back stronger  - and why.
·       Lead Strong – The special qualities of the people behind the turnarounds, responsible for making key decisions in the turnaround process.
·       Stay Relevant – How to indentify, prioritize, and craft a strategic communications and relationship-building program.
·       Keep Improving – In addition to returning to that original state of glory, brands must also show that they are committed to doing even better than before.
·       Build Equity – In the face of scandal, successful brands create bonds with an increasingly cynical consumer market that will stick by them through good times and bad.
·      Own Your Distinction – Call it your unique attribute, your “Brain Tattoo.” What’s your compelling differentiator?  What are the unique qualities of your brand that will fuel your comeback?

Writes Post, “If and when your brand gets hit by outside forces and uncontrollable situations, or if the bad or weak in you and/or your brand explodes, remember, there is life after a disaster and brand meltdown. Take a deep breath and apply the seven game-changing strategies.”   
BRAND TURNAROUND offers the keys to rallying in the face of disaster.

Read more Brand Turnaround success stories and blogposts at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How To Release Your Brand

So many businesses around us pay very little attention to their brands. Some are under the illusion that to have a brand is a question of choice. As some have said to me, "Ed, I'm not ready for a brand just yet. I'll let you know when I am." What they fail to understand is that they have a brand, whether they want one of not. From the very first hour a person decides to put out their shingle, their brand also begins its journey. In straight terms a brand could be replaced by the word - reputation. Everything that your brand touches and everything that touches your brand affects it. Some allow their brands to grow and morph on its own - in other words do nothing and ignore their brand. Failing to define your brand leaves one uncomfortable reality - it allows your competition to define it for you. Once that happens it is very expensive to claw it back and change the negative perception of your marketplace. This is critically true if your competition is perceived to be the leader in your category.

Are you allowing your brand the freedom to flourish? Without a strategy in place, your brand is not properly positioned to take the high ground. To be the leader it rightfully deserves you have to takes steps to cut your brand free. Look for the restrained brand behind barriers such as:

• Weak uninspiring slogans
• Tired or unprofessional logos
• No brand values to speak of
• Multiple logos
• No local profile
• Just like everybody else marketing
• Uninspired sales staff
• Off brand employees
• Drowning in the sea of sameness
• You're competing on price

To breadth fresh life into your tired brand, you have to get out there on-line and off. Make your presence known. Start building your expert profile. It's time to come out from behind the mediocrity. It can't be business as usual anymore. As the head of your brand you have to start showing your passion and spreading it among all stakeholders which include clients, employees and suppliers. Your positive attitude would be a terrific start. Nothing motivates a brand better than a passionate leader. People take notice and look for cues to react. There is nothing more satisfying than having your leads react the way you intended. When stakeholders get the message and deliver their business to your doorstep, your brand has succeeded in leaping the hurdles. 

The one important message here is that once the brand strategy is in place, you have to continually nurture it. It can't be allowed to grow on its own, it has to be guided. Getting it right is key to your brand's success. There is no easy strategy, it has to be constant, consistent and contagious. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Brand!

Another great brand move is acknowledging your customers and advocates at Christmas. Ending the year on  a high note is very motivating while you're moving into a new period. Looking back over the year appreciating those who saw fit to trust you and bring you business. Every year I put together something I think will resonate with this supporting cast of players. For the last several years, I put out a quality calendar of my water-colour paintings ( a serious interest of mine ). They were well received as most never had any idea that I painted.

This year I took my motivating slogan "Lead don't follow." and put it on black mugs and sweatshirts. I will wrap this package up and present them. I didn't want to just put on my logo which would be more or less an ad for me, and instead put a motto that my supporters could definitely live by. Having gone through my process, they 'get' that statement in a big way.

It is not so important what you give, it is the appreciation you show for their support that counts. It makes your brand shine that much more in their eyes. It's all part of the big package. If you're in retail, you can offer customers back a percentage of their yearly purchases. This has the added benefit of drawing them back into your location as a premium customer.

The reaction this effort produces will immediately resonate with you. Nothing feels better than giving back.

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