Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 Networking Tips I live By!

1) Don't hand out a business card unless asked for one.
2) Get involved in committees. It provides the opportunity of showing your value.
3) Sit at a different location at each meeting. People are a creature of habit. Break it and meet new people.
4) Don't ramble on about yourself, ask about their businesses and barriers.
5) Join multiple groups. Spread your influence around.
6) Put some real effort into connecting people. Do this even if there is no immediate reward for you.
7) Drag yourself to meetings even at times, "you just don't feel like it." I find low expectations sometimes turn into the best meetings.
8) Don't sell yourself, but give lots of free advise willingly, (don't make them ask for it).
9) Help new people over come that initial hesitation of not knowing anyone in the room. Introduce them around.
10) If you are the newbee, make an effort to have at least one meaningful conversation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Claim It! Own It! now Promote It!

It's time your brand got out from behind that inspiring advertising slogan and actually stand for something. A large part (and I would argue) the most important part of your brand is your positioning. Where can your brand take the high ground? What is your brand leading in? Are you the only something? Positioning is absolutely based on differentiation. I hear countless companies state things that don't really make them different, but actually make them blend in. For instance, "our people make the difference." Sure, you and a thousand other companies. Or how about "we excel in service." If your competitors are still around, perhaps they do as well. 

Taking a position based on differentiation takes moxy. Not only does it take guts to take the high ground, it takes commitment to own it. By owning it, I mean that you have to live the brand promise in the position you take. If you say you will deliver that pizza in 30 minutes or it's free, then you had better do exactly that. Your customers have no appetite for false claims. They will eat your brand for breakfast if you don't deliver. Deliver and they will love you and reward you.  

For your brand position to work it has to resonate with your customers. It has to speak to them. One of my customers, Suntrition, whose brand positioning is: "Leaders in small-batch, oral-dose manufacturing," speaks directly to their target audience. Small suppliers in the nutraceutical products industry. While all of their competitors are seeking the large contracts and giving short -shrift to the little guys, Suntrition has chosen to specialize in small batch production. They are laying claim to this high ground. It's working. At recent industry B2B trade shows, small batch suppliers flocked to their booth refreshed that someone actually values their business and is actively seeking it. They not only came home with hot leads, they are setting sales records.

The difference between a slogan and a positioning statement is that the slogan inspires and the position resonates and sells. It's no reason that sales staff and management are rejuvenated when they actually develop their differentiator and take their branding more seriously. Now marketing truly has a story to tell.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Deere To Your Heart Branding

When I moved into this neighbourhood 12 years ago, the neighbours all told me the riding mower I had to buy was a Deere. I had come from the city and I only ever owned a regular push mower. I was prepared to do a lot of research for my first rider. But they insisted that for the 2 acres I had to mow, John Deere was the mower of choice. We bowed to their experience and bought a Deere. Here 12 years later I still have the same one.

What else do we purchase based on the opinion of people we respect? Looking around my home, I see plenty of products that carry logos of products that my friends also own. In the Spring Rose, my wife and i bought a hot tub. We looked around, but in the end we bought the brand one of our best friends bought. In purchasing the tub, we discovered why they recommended the dealer and model they did. The experience was head and shoulders above the competition. The tub was also the most expensive. Price never entered into the equation other than we had a top limit.

How much of what we buy is more because of our friends? Maybe this is another good reason why consumer brands should pay extra attention to social marketing. Turning customers into advocates for their brands can make life-long customers. Even how we choose our friends is based on criteria we admire. Our wives love to match-make with our friends. That's how seriously we trust our friends' opinions. We bet our lives on it.

The best ribs are at a certain butcher shop, call Lyse, she'll help you find the perfect house. I only trust my books with Janice or all my computers are Macs. It sounds like we're selling, but in reality we're sharing our life with friends. We want to share experiences. We don't like to see our friends ripped off. You in return can trust their opinions, because they have no ulterior motives. This is why referrals are the finest leads you can get. Shared experiences. 

MLM (multi-level marketers) rely of this dynamic to increase sales. They know that all the ladies attending the house party will buy something from their friends. And their friends and their friends and so on. If you've ever experienced a house party, you will be amazed by how much an individual will spend on products they've never heard of and have not researched. The power of relationships transcends everything here.  

Even when I discover a product or service, I'm anxious to tele my friends about it so that they too can benefit. If your buddy discovers the slice-free golf ball, you can bet he's going to bring it your attention. This advocacy works across all relationships whether personal or business. Finding strategies to develop them should be paramount with you. It's relationship marketing in its most powerful sense. 

Branding Without A Net Is A Risk Worth Embracing

A powerful brand position is one that puts it all on the line and leads. No Plan B means that failure is not an option. 
With branding you plan for success, you don't plan for failure.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's Your Success With Social Media Been?

Social media - we read about how powerful it is, but I want to know what the reality is on the ground. Are you seeing any leads from social to speak of? Myself I see success with blogging and email marketing. What has your experience been?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How To Make Blog Reading Work For You

Even before I sat down to write this blog post, I was out in the blogosphere reading other people's blogs. This is something I have done most every night for the past five or six years now. It is other people's opinions on branding that helps me to fine tune my service as well understand other points of view

I often discover blogs that have nothing to do with branding, by following reader's links from their comments on one of my blog articles here. Often times they
have blogs of their own and I get to see where their head is at. Because I blog, I especially like the "groups" and "answers" sections in Linkedin, as they allow for conversation and the exchange of ideas.

If you only read blogs but are hesitant to comment then you are missing out on the best part of blogging - the conversation. A benefit of this conversation is people following you back to "your" website or blog. Commenting also benefits search engine spiders. By commenting you are growing your expert profile and if you comment enough at a particular blog, then you quickly become a thought leader there.

If you remain anonymous in your blogging and never comment then you are missing out on opportunities. Journalists scour blogs for sources for articles. I've gotten requests for my opinion from many news sources and also leads for branding projects all from my blogging efforts. For me, blogging is a major marketing effort as well as reading portal. Those who know me, are familiar with my blogging rant. Even if you never start your on blog (don't get me started on that), commenting can still draw great and positive things back to you. 
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