Monday, May 31, 2010

Ask and Discover A Stronger Brand Inspiration

The next installment of my eInterview series is on it's way to this blog. The next interview is with PR guru Drew Gerber and his perspective on the value of your brand in relation to public relations. I am enjoying this effort. It's fun to have people I admire give me their thoughts on branding. What I find especially rewarding is the fact these individuals are so open and willing to share their thoughts with us.

It speaks highly of their brands. How about yourself? Are you willing to provide value when called upon for your assistance? Myself, I mentor and provide other forms of guidance to young business people at the starting line of their business careers. As they say, give first and it all comes back to you. I enjoy listening to other opinions on branding and that is where I got the notion of asking personalities of note or of interest to me for their opinions. We can all learn from asking questions. Every day I do a little more to push my business forward. The web allows me to spread my influence to a global audience. I love what I learn from each new client and from each new bit of information I discover.

Have your read a great book or article recently? Why not take the time and contact the author and share with them what you got from their writing. It could even generate a great new point of influence for you. I know from my own experience with blogging, some of my regular commenters have become familiar to me and we have shared notes from time to time, and promoted each other's services. That to me is the best kind of networking. The kind where I'm not conscientiously trying to network, but where it happens naturally.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Teaching A Dog New Tricks

I heard a great speaker on SEO (search engine optimization) yesterday during an event I spoke at. My topic was social media marketing. The SEO speaker was Jim Beretta from Communitech. Jim put much of the SEO spin into perspective and cut out all the BS.

After listening to Jim, I got inspired and hit the Kindle store with my iPad in tow. I found a great little book that I have already put to good use. I'm hoping that by the end of June I will see if all I have been learning will bear fruit and see my numbers and ranking surge. The book is called, SEO Made Simple by Michael Fleischner.

If you have an iPad or a kindle, the ebook is 30% less that a hardcopy version. AND you get it instantly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

iContact Special Offer

I personally use iContact for all of my email marketing and I think you should benefit from using it too. From May 26 – May 31 2010, they’re offering up to 20% off their email marketing prices when you use coupon code MAY2010.

With iContact, I can easily create, and send my email newsletters or promotions. Everything about iContact is easy and makes my email marketing really efficient. I've been using them for more than two years now, and I like how simple it is to use and track the results of each mailing.

To sign up today visit iContact right now to benefit from this special by the end of the month!

How To Discover The Social Media Fit!

Every week it seems there is another channel we can use to market our companies. Social Media for one appears to be leaping on to the stage at every opportunity. My inbox is constantly pushing out new sites to sign up to in the promise of delivering to us a new and exciting piece of business. I'm sure, like me, you wonder is it worth all the hype and will they get me any more notice than what I am experiencing with my current nest of sites.

All I can advise is that it is extremely important that you do your research and see what "appears" to be a good fit for you. By that I mean, how much effort you have to put forth to get the results you hope to achieve. You can't do them all and be effective. As long as you realize that social media marketing is unlike any other traditional channel, you will appreciate what it takes to build audience. That difference of course is that social marketing is not about selling but is about the conversation. Branding loves social marketing because that conversation leads to relationships.

Social media also can be powerful in the right hands. Would you enjoy knowing when a key person in a business you have been aching to do business with leaves, opening the door for a new relationship, quite possibly with you? Trolling social sites can harvest this type of information. Developing a social media guide for your employees, can establish points of reference and alert them as to how the company wants them to identify themselves when ever they comment on the company online.

How ever you use the medium, finding that great fit, reduces unrealistic expectations and allows you to connect with your audience in more meaningful ways.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Survey Your Team

This week's podcast looks at surveying your brand team to discover what environment it exists in.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Social Media Marketing Smarts

As I sit here putting together the graphics for a presentation I'm doing next week on Social Media Marketing to a small group of auto industry stakeholders, I'm wondering at what awareness level they are at.

Typically, businesses don't even have online marketing on their radars. They all have profiles on the various sites and a basic database of opt-in emails, BUT they are not even aware that they are walking around this environment with their eyes closed. Granted the whole point of this event is to open those eyes.

What I'm hoping for is that not only their eyes are opened by their minds as well. Online marketing is an entirely different mindset than traditional marketing. Where they are similar is the determination and strategic thinking that is needed to exploit the opportunities. They have to understand that it is more important to speak to 15 highly targeted people with a compelling conversation than to speak to 15,000 people with a sales pitch and no direction.

As a colleague of mine puts it, " Social marketing isn't really about marketing, it's about the conversation."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Be A Message Tailor

By guest writer, Maurice Marwood.

When selling yourself, your product or your service, always focus your discussions on the features that will be beneficial to your potential customer. And a feature that's a benefit to one customer may not be a benefit to another. Therefore be prepared to tailor your message to the specific needs of each customer. And, of course, in order to do that you must know your customer and his/her needs.

Brand yourself as a "Total Solution Provider."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shout It Out Everywhere!!

Have you figured out a powerful brand positioning strategy yet? Well, let's say you have. Now you have to develop a brand image that reflects that position and roll it out across every touch point of your brand. Your website needs to reflect the positioning. Your business cards and marketing materials do too. If positioning was just a slogan change, it could probably wait until the materials run out. But a positioning strategy is too compelling a message to ignore due to design/printing costs.

When ever I'm asked, "do I have to change my cards?" myself and my client know that the answer has to be "yes you do." When the message is consistent across all channels, sales and marketing are then working hand in hand for your success. Since the positioning strategy is a compelling reason to buy from you, it puts your business out there as the leader. You can't afford to roll it out slowly at the risk of underwhelming. It's time to shout out that difference you've worked so hard to discover.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How Dare I Expect Payment!

It never ceases to surprise me how people feel no remorse in using you at your expense. As any reader to my blog can attest, I pay huge attention to my brand. I believe that bad practices can hurt me financially, but more importantly it can damage my hard earned reputation. If you ever want to find out just how branding badly harms you, do something stupid that damages your reputation. See hard it is to change that negative perception once the word gets out. Trying to get it back is like trying to herd bees with your hands.

Recently, a client whom I did a project with under a tight time restraint called me quite indignant at the tone I took in my email regarding a long over-due payment. They were "quite insulted" with my approach that I was willing to take interest-free installments or off to collection we go. Didn't I understand , that they hadn't been paid by their client yet, so this should be explanation enough for my dilemma.

Small business people every where work very hard at building their businesses and are more than willing to cut people slack if they show, "a willingness to pay." In my 30 years in business, I have NEVER stuck a supplier because I've not been paid. If I engaged your services, I am liable to pay you. Period. Without suppliers/contacts who trust my brand I am no where. When ever this happened over the years, my "willingness to pay", has provided me suppliers/contacts who helped me through it.

But... in the end they still got paid in full.

Over the years I've heard it all. Happy clients until the bill arrives - then there's issues. Sad thing in this case is that this is a young person starting out in a new communications service. I've had several lunches, imparting my experience to them in an effort to help them avoid pitfalls I had experienced coming up. This mentoring has obviously fallen on deaf ears.

What bad business practices practices get your dander up? I'm offering you the opportunity to vent here, share your wisdom and show my readers that everyone has to deal with unfortunate situations.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How To Make Your Best Impression?

What impression are you making on people? When you meet them for the first time - after you've given them your business card - then they get back to their offices and decide to check you out. What are they going to discover? Will they see a professional image that compliments their impression of your personality? In person you talk a great game, but if your support materials including your web presence were done on the cheap, you may be torpedoing your brand from the very start. Consistency of presentation is so important in taking the lead to the next level. Even after reading my articles, potential leads ALWAYS check out my website to get a read on who I am.

It is important that what they discover compliments and even surpasses their expectations. I can't afford to have a communication channel back-fire and miss the positive perception I want to leave with a potential lead - and neither can you. Everything that I do has a common theme and message.

You are not doing your brand any favors, when your brand doesn't stand for anything. If your brand image is telling a weak story then you are going to work harder to land that sale. This is a common mistake I see when coaching small businesses with their brand strategies. They all understand what I'm recommending, but they have difficulty implementing it. Once they roll it out properly, their brands take on a renewed confidence and from there they are on a journey that makes their brand stronger and stronger.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Public Speaking Podcast

Look at public speaking as a great way to build your personal brand and get leads.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mistakes. Little Business Lessons.

Guest writer: Karen Behune Plunkett

So- how do you make right decisions? Frankly, in one word – EXPERIENCE, and through experience we will make mistakes. They play a pivotal role in growing and learning about our business, brand and our life itself. Mistakes should be looked at as the “learning curve”. I always say, you remember your mistakes much more vividly than your successes. The true mistake would be if you didn’t learn anything from that mistake and just kept duplicating it.

While striving to achieve our dreams, life shows us that that through a series of set-backs and comebacks, sometimes overnight successes takes years. Perhaps the real danger is too much success very early in the game. You have missed the lessons needed to be learned for correcting or repositioning from the mistakes, and left less equipped to handle the inevitable challenges that will surely come. Call me crazy- but I believe there is great value in a business person who gets that….someone who understands that making a mistake, is just another opportunity to do it again-more successfully.

Contact Karen Behune Plunkett

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How To Put Color To Work!

In your never ending quest to make your business more successful, you no doubt have considered what images to use, how your logo positions you, what words are just right and most importantly what tone does your brand take. All of these elements are incredibly important, but there is one element that flies under the radar of many companies. That element is COLOR. Can can be used to great effect as an icon that represents your brand. It is powerful and more memorable than a photo. If I say for instance, "What can brown do for you today?" What company instantly pops into your head?


Color can differentiate you on a sub-conscious level. Used consistently AND from a strategy of differentiation, color can be powerful. Branding allows you to own a color.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How To Bring Down Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand should be the poster child for positivity. Everything about you should say that you are likable and a pleasure to be associated with. Inspiring those around you should be your goal. Every entrepreneur wants to associate themselves with influential people, because referrals are the best form of lead. If a person finds you likable, always seeing opportunities and beaming with a positive attitude, they want more of you. Don't you find yourself getting pumped when you share a lunch or coffee with positive people? They're contagious!

Or the flip-side, negative people who always whine and complain and blame their failings on everything but themselves can bring you down faster than anything. Negative people where negativity like a badge of honor and they excel at it. The trouble is that it leads to massive failure. This is a sure fire way to drag down your personal brand. To make matters worse, negative people attract other negative people. It becomes a spiral down.

Look around, are people you associate with complaining about the economy consistently? It's time you pulled back, and actively search out people who see negatives as a positive source of opportunity. You know the old quote - "when one door closes, another one opens" - this comment is alien to negative people. Your brand is in your control, IF you are pro-active and are open to opportunity. If not - YOU lose, it's pretty simple.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tear-Off Tags Podcast

A grass-roots advertising channel with a cleaned up image.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shout Out To Oceans & Fisheries

From my stats I see that I have someone from Oceans and Fisheries visiting here at my blog. Being originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, I'm curious about them. If you happen to read this, how about leaving a comment and introducing yourself. I still have many ties back east, and it being a small world, I always wonder who is visiting.

I appear to draw an audience from everywhere really. Some weeks for instance I might get a good number from India. Why some weeks, I get more from one area is unknown to me. But, it happens that way it seems. The great thing is that my information appears to resonate with small business people no matter where they live. It's a universal message. If you're up to it, why not tell us all where you're visiting from? The web is a fascinating portal. Commenting is an optimum way to promote yourself as well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Over Delivering Is Good Brand Medicine

If you'd love to make a great impression on a new customer, all you have to do is over deliver on the promise. If you've already quoted them a fee, surprise them with rolling some of the lesser costs into the main one. If delivery is not usually free, make this delivery free. Going above and beyond in your service to them and you will see a loyalty to you begin to grow. Nobody enjoys being nickel and dimed to death, so small things make big impressions. They are noticed more than you might think.

Even when volunteering to help someone out, over deliver there as well. Giving more always comes back to you in a positive way. More is always good, and more is great for your brand.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Job hunting? Look At Yourself First.

This afternoon I'll be speaking to a young group of newly arrived immigrants to Canada. My message will be that when they are searching for employment or looking to start a new enterprise, they should start with addressing their personal brand. I know for many of my colleagues, they don't hire from a resume but by referral or personally knowing someone.

Their strategy to strengthening their personal brand should have an online and offline component. Online, all social networking and professional networking sites should have a consistent profile and have flattering material to witness. Offline, I will be encouraging they join networking and professional associations. I will also suggest that they give back to their host communities by giving of themselves by volunteering. All of these activities will go a long way in distinguishing themselves in their community.

By consciously trying to stand out they have a greater chance of reaching their career goals AND their self-confidence will spike as well.
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