Posts Tagged branding expert

Your Brilliant Business

Your brilliant business is caused by people doing more of the right things – Thinking – Adding value – Loving what they do – Taking initiative – Exploring options and providing great service to name a few.

Well that’s my view.

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

We could spend ages debating the issue, what a brilliant business is, how it’s measured and the results it provides. But I want to focus on the ethereal things which caused it to be a brilliant business. The initial points I put up are a big part of that.

Let’s go back to the start, your business started with an idea, you could see what you wanted, probably saw yourself running it, and could proabaly see how things would turn out. In your minds eye you saw a plan of action coming to reality and all the key pointers I started this article with are what bought the dream to reality.

It was you in the beginning who put in the effort, you did the thinking, the planning, took initiative, explored options and provided great service to ensure prospects and customers would come back for more.

The next step in your business was a big one, you took on staff, partners and or associates who could see what you saw, felt what you felt and heard the positive accolades for the products and service you provided for customers. You managed to  encourage your ‘team’, they got motivated, excited and became driven to follow in your footsteps.

The results spoke for themselves, happy customers, great products and services and the bottom line reflects the top level positive work everyone puts in.

There it is, your brilliant business, brilliantly utilising your ‘soft resources’ to ensure the ‘hard resources’, products and services, are in the right place at the right time for your ideal prospects and customers.

Sadly all of this is not a common occurrence, in fact it’s a rare situation, in a world where hope, excitement and the ‘thrill of the chase’ has been eclipsed by businesses which start up and fade, some fast, some slow.

All of the main points mentioned and so much more information is available to those who want to ensure their ‘business idea’ is given the best chance of survival in the ‘formative part of the business process’ and thriving in the maturing part of the process, yet too many fail fast.

All that was required was the right sort of research, a solid plan of action and the ability to cause people to follow your brilliant lead. Alas too many businesses do not have that and what could be a great start soon becomes millstone.

Let’s ask then, what sort of business do you want to have? One with brilliant prospects and outcomes or one doomed to failing fast? Now ask what will you do to make sure it’s not the latter!

Regards

Steve Gray

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Retail therapy…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital photos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital photos.net

As we come into winter in Australia there are going to be plenty of businesses finding their retail stores are not full of people and hope they can make it through the leaner times with the profits they (hopefully) made during the peak summer months.

On many occasions I have spoken to retailers who say “Oh well what can you do, it gets quieter and you hope for the best, you get on the phone and have a chat to friends, get the juniors to clean up a bit and even open a bit later.”

I have seen many retailers in shopping strips sitting waiting and hoping… some survive some fade away.

How do you get around this issue and ensure your business can make it through tough times and perhaps thrive even though the temperature outside is telling you this really is “the winter of our discontent”.

Add to and ‘milk’ your database – If your business is interesting and has had customers come to your store for those one of a kind items you are known for, then you probably have a database of interested persons. If not then start building one! Make contact and start inviting them in for a fantastic shopping experience. Email and snail mail them AT LEAST 4 times a year (although you can readily do more with Email). Add a subscription service to your website, blog and online store then do everything you can to get people signed up and steadily build your numbers.

Shopping experience – You have a shop… what’s the ‘experience’ like… Do people love your service, your personality, the extras you add on, the items you sell? Or do they just come in because they have to and hate every minute of it. My view… Go for a stunning experience. Figure out how to do that with some brainstorming, internet research and KICK BUTT! – BRILLIANT service should be the first step, great displays, fast transactions, wonderful Staff, acknowledge all people who enter the store with a solid heart felt “Hello!”

Use your time – When it’s quiet in the store, develop your marketing plan and act on it. Devise a HEAP of ways to contact your database, build your database and keep them coming back for as little cost as you can. Email and facebook pages are one way, tweaking your informative and engaging website is another, adding to your web blog is yet another. Oh and here’s a critical one… do not vacuum the floor when people are in the store or anywhere near the store and see you  (or any staff) doing it, I hate it with a vengeance and will avoid the store at all costs (the noise is one thing, the tripping hazard of the cord is another and it’s just plain poor form!)

Get Excited! – If you are running a boring ‘old fart store’ with little life, a gruff disposition and a cold shoulder, prospects will find it hard to want to become customers, let alone repeat shoppers (clients). The more you can add excitement to cause people to want to shop in your store, more the more value you can get from them.

Cause people to take action – Ok so it’s quieter at certain times of the day. Can you run an event (an in-store demonstration or special display) or sponsor a catch up for a small group. Or perhaps you offer great package options you can make happen only at special times, to cause people to come in and stay there for a while. Or what about an in store treasure hunt… each day you could give people clues about where to find the treasure, perhaps online.

Give simple and effective reminders – Promo products can do this, drop a printed pen into their bag of purchases, give then an imprinted gift for purchases over $x. Chat to your friendly branding expert to get more ideas and ways to engage them more often. Add business cards in the bags each time (about 3 each time) people soon keep them for friends if the service is sensational and the experience and products are good.

Create an online shop – People like to buy, so sell to them in a way which fits for them, at home, anywhere in the world! Make it an easy to navigate online shop with Pay Pal as the payment device. And put on those things people can’t really get anywhere else. Avoid discounting the prices, buying is buying! then promote it on your FB page, twit about it, email people overseas and interstate (try to keep your locals shopping LIVE… They will find the online shop soon enough! are there other online or local shops you can connect with? Perhaps they can link to your shop too, you could have a whole community of connected businesses all working together feeding each other leads.

Get out there! – Sitting in your shop will cause  you to go nuts. Get you and your staff out in front and hand out goodies to prospective customers, give business cards,  chocolates “With the compliments of shop X”, a flier, an invitation to an event. (You can have them excited before they even enter the store!)

All of these tips are simply about loving people so they can love you back, and if you love your staff they will love you and the customers, Go on explore ways to give UNCONDITIONAL love to everyone you come into contact with. I think in an ideal world you could get so busy you would have to hire someone to keep this list of innovative connection options happening, as you could be too busy manning the till! Now that would be nice…

 

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Franchise Marketing 2

As a Franchisor, you have created a marketing plan of action and an aim. Let’s say you want to get your franchisees more corporate leads, by creating a targeted direct mail campaign to ensure clear penetration into a specific market. You call your friendly branding expert to get some ideas and explore some concepts.

You decide to send out a suitable small gift with a personalised note advising businesses of your new corporate level services.  The letter attached to it gives them a local contact and some information on the new services and why they should choose you, it includes a call to action “call now” for a free sample, analysis, quote etc.

You then advise the Franchisee they can call the prospect and you provide an easy script for them to follow. It’s simple and should provide some solid leads over time. It can also be followed up and the contact details added to the franchisees database to market to later on.

The challenges, as stated in the first article, clear communication to the franchisees needs to take place so they know what’s taking place and why. A great marketing plan can only be great if the people on the front line know what is happening and why.

You could create a short video which you email to them to outline the process, or a step by step text email.

You could follow these up with a phone call, or have a webinar to outline the process and let them know why you picked the gift you did and how you worked with your friendly branding expert in the process.

Getting the communication right at every stage of the process should cut down on the amount of hassles you experience internally as well as ensuring you are setting great plans in place to develop and implement the marketing campaign.

There are lots of ways to market a business and if your task is to organise it for someone else (in this case franchisees) then get the process right so you can expect the right message to be delivered to the right people, so solid results can be tracked. This will then give  you great evidence about what works and good directions to take in the future.

  • Get people on board – Communicate the aim clearly to them.
  • Make the process easy to implement – Show them how to implement it and measure the results.
  • Make the most of it – Show them ways to build the relationship beyond the initial campaign.

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Making the Marketing Difference

You are up to your elbows in marketing challenges, pressures from all sides are making your job NOT what you want, a lot of hassle. How do you find time to get out of the pressure cooker and search for solutions to give you breathing space?

Image courtesy of Image Majestic http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Image Majestic http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Chances are if you have the time to read this, that’s probably about as good as things will get! So let’s jump in and see if we can provide some fast answers to your marketing department challenges.

Marketing relief options…

  • Get support – There are a whole host of “marketing supply” organisations all wanting to take your cash and supply you with goodies, but use the ones who can take the pressure off. The good ones do this by doing at least SOME of the thinking and organizing for you as well as supplying great products, the great ones will show you how to use the products as well… Try calling your friendly branding expert and see if they can do it for  you.
  • 1 hassle or five+? – If you look after marketing for a single organisation there is probably less hassle, however if you are looking after multiple organisations (in the case of a franchise group), then you might have a whole range of conflicting forces pushing and pulling. Find ways to keep these forces off your back, perhaps by educating the end users on how to fully use the marketing devices provided to full effect.
  • Think, not do… – It’s easy to say it but sometimes hard to do it! Perhaps it’s outsourcing the “practical side of things” and even some of the thinking, so you can plan better what’s coming up next. A friendly Branding Expert should be able to assist you with this and not just be a provider of products.
  • Plan – Yes the thinking part means you can be more strategic in your approach so planning has to be next. Figure out if you have to get more new customers, keep existing ones interested or support an organisation you are sponsoring. Then build your calendar of marketing options from there.
  • Keep your people informed – if you are a one person marketing dept or a 100 strong team, your wider network of staff in the organisation will probably need to know about how to handle the promotions and various processes you will put in place so use your intranet, email and or training sessions, to give them information and get feedback on what’s taking place, often great ideas can come from some very unlikely sources.

Now you are back on track, see what’s out there to make your job easier and less hassle.

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Don’t do it! – How not to be part of a trade show

A recent trade show, lots of activity and displays for all sorts of interesting suppliers, generally a good time was had, however one thing which struck me was the appalling use of mobile phones by those who’s stalls were not doing a brisk trade.

There were staff sitting and standing about texting or chatting on their phones, some CLEARLY bored out of their brains.

Dear Boss… Tell them not to do it please!

I was embarrassed for them and I was a spectator.

If you take a stall at a trade show, you are on show, the business is on show… Therefore make sure you do the right thing and present professionally and do it well.

Firstly, these people may have had no idea what to do when they got to the show, they may have been told to “Turn up and chat to people.”

Secondly, if you feel you must text or email people use a lap top or an i pad so you look like you are doing business, or don’t do it at all.

I fully appreciate it can be a hard task to be at a trade show and be attentive all day long, it really is a draining experience.

May I suggest.

These people need to have something to do,

  • Set the situation up so they have appointments with people before the event, book some prospects to drop in and see what’s going on.
  • Make it clear about the things they can and can not do while on the stand texting for more than 30 secs is a no no!
  • Ensure you use a friendly branding expert to have creative ways to work with the people walking by the stand. It may be a giveaway you actively hand to the people, get the chance to chat to them and find out more, qualify them to see if they are a fit to what you have on offer, if they are then get their details and reward them with a better handout, this time with solid “remember us” branding on it.
  • Perhaps involve the people in a survey.
  • Consider other novel approaches to create interest. A juggler, a celebrity… make it so the people walking by want to stop, engage them, qualify and go form there.
  • Just because a person is not a prospect now, does not mean they can’t change if they move companies or start a different business later on.

Simply put, having people just sitting or standing about mindlessly not engaged in “working the crowd” are a liability, not an asset. perceptions and image are often paramount to ensuring your business puts it’s best foot forward.

Oh and to finish, “To the man who was so rude as to ignore myself and my friend by looking straight past us once he had figured out we were of no use to him, think again. The scan tag telling you my line of business is only one of my business activities so you gave me a BAD impression of your business, so the very important question I wanted to ask you will wait for the next celebrity speaking bureau chief I meet.”

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Marketing Interview

Alan Miller, a freelance Journalist from Sydney interviewed me recently about Marketing, Enjoy!

Steve Gray has been in business for 30 years one way or another and has published hundreds of articles on business topics, from Leadership – Innovation – Communication to Marketing and Management issues. His hard won marketing experience means he is able to assist organisations to effectively get their name and message to their customers.

A.M: Steve you have done lots of things in business, you are a Trainer,  a  writer on a  range of business issues, a business mentor and a speaker on Leadership, Innovation and Communication issues, how did you come to get so involved in business?

Steve: I’m an artist by qualification, and over the years I have been introduced to business, from printing T’shirts in the beginning to design and photography (all fairly art related) then over time I grew my knowledge base and things spiraled from there.

A.M. I was surprised to learn you know a lot about marketing, which is the focus of the interview today… Is there a reason for that?

Steve: Like all businesses there is a need to get your product or service noticed, I placed adverts for my own business like most people and failed at it. I soon learnt a great headline helps, then you go from there, I read more, asked more questions, used my design and art training to explore more options and innovate a little. The more I explored the more I learnt. I note now there are always things to learn and check out like social networking and the culture developing around that to make it work, it’s quite fascinating.

A.M: Steve, what are some of the basic mistakes people make with marketing their business?

Steve: Having an aim (more new customers, more repeat business, raising brand awareness) and of course a plan of action which leads into an investment of time and effort rather than a liability. With no aim the shotgun goes off and hits very little you want it to hit.

A.M: Do you find many organisations have no marketing budget planned?

Steve: Often! This can be due to having no plan, no idea about what they need to do and what it might cost, Yet it can be so simple to develop.

A.M: What are some of the great things which have wowed you in regards to marketing and great brand placement?

Steve: We are seeing more integrated approaches emerge, people want to stand out from their competition, so a directory advert for example is only one approach, a newspaper advert is another… It’s when people start to realise they need to be more targeted and put a range of things together. E.g. a direct mail piece to prospects, followed  up with a phone call and a chat to see if there is a fit to their needs from your business (esp in B2B sales) then there is social media and websites where people can let a lot of people know about their expertise and keep their info and details in front of more of the right people, that’s becoming more powerful.

A.M: Is bundling of a range of marketing devices a way to go?

Steve: Clearly the one shot advert approach is a loser these days. You should realise prospects need to see your details more than once to be remembered, so the exposure side of things is a big issue. Therefore an advert with a call to action, perhaps a branded product as a reward for taking action can sit on their desk for ages, and that’s good! So take it a step further and have the info you want to tell people about readily available to them, a business card is one way, but there are more options to keep your name in front of them. From articles and information on the web to branded products people use everyday.

A.M: Should people link their promotion to their website or social media? And how would they do that?

Steve: Of course they should, I see it like a ring of connections where people can get in at most points and be guided to learn more about the business as they go. Perhaps via an active Face book page, or a group in Linked in (for business) this can lead to articles on their website, which can then get them more info via an email campaign. It doesn’t need to be difficult either! The more people get to see your business name in front of them the better. Couple the strong image retention provided with great service and you will be on a winner.

A.M: Do many of your clients have a marketing plan and should they?

Steve: Few do, and yes they should, at least a one page plan and a calendar of when they want to do things, then stick to it. Tweak it when things don’t work and know what does work.

A.M: How will social Media impact on marketing, in comparison to say branded items?

Steve: A branded item with a message can let people know you have a social media presence, so use it to do that (that gives it an aim then…) from there it’s up to you how you use the social media to blow your own horn and let your target audience know more about things which can be of value to them.

A.M: Do businesses need to be creative geniuses to make their marketing work or look snappy?

Steve: It’s great if they are, but not essential, pay someone else to be the creative one. However make sure it leads to a good aim or end product, like getting you more business, retaining customers. It’s great to have a creative approach and be noticed, but if all you get is a 2 minute wow factor then where’s the value in that? If on the other hand the creative approach meant you were handing out branded devices with your business details on them then your name is in front of more people for longer, that’s got to be good! Chat to your friendly branding expert for ways to get the message right and connect it with other things you are doing in your business.

A.M: Not everyone needs a marketing company to do their marketing for them, most can’t afford that, how would you help these kinds of organisations?

Steve: I suggest they create a plan of action knowing what the outcome is they want, then build on that plan and take action to get the results. Consistency is important. There are other branding experts who are not part of a big marketing company who can be of assistance, have a chat to them for friendly advice.

A.M.: A plan is one thing, implementing it is another…

Steve: Sure it is, if you want to get new prospects to look at what you offer, then you need to consider a way to do that, for instance in a business to business environment things can be different so the approach can be perhaps more targeted, therefore how you implement the plan is vital. You might start with a list of ideal customers or industries then figure out ways to get your name in their hands, your ongoing aim would then be how you keep it there. Your plan therefore should focus on ways to get your name in front of them and then what you can do from there.

A.M: There are many ways a business can market themselves, what works?

Steve: There are lots of things which work… Junk mail can work well, adverts in newspapers can too, and the same with branded products. It comes down to your target and the best way to get to the target. e.g. if I want to target accountants and I send out brochures to every household in town I have wasted a lot on the ones who are not accountants. Think about how your target wants to be presented to, then do that.

A.M: You mention branded products, many people would look at branded products as great giveaways at a trade show or convention, how can they be used by the average business to market themselves?

Steve: It depends on the aim, if they want to reward existing customers and say thanks, they can hand out simple things to remind them about the company, pens, calendars, imprinted note pads, things which would be useful for the end user and keep the business details in front of them. They can be also used as a device to get the attention of a new prospect, most people love gifts and they need not cost a fortune.

A.M: How should organisations go about choosing from the vast array of options available to them for marketing?

Steve: Chat with your friendly branding expert and explore what the businesses aims are, then look openly at ways they might be able to provide direction for the organisations aims and objectives. It might mean they have to create some great graphics to launch a message, brand some products and develop a way to get them in from of the right people. The big thing is being able to make the right connections at the right time so your marketing becomes the all important investment it needs to be, and not just another business expense.

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Creative marketing for 2011, will your business win this year?

Its a tough time to be in business, GFC might be over to a degree, but buyers are holding back on spending, the following ideas are sure to get your friendly branding expert chatting and I am sure you will find ways to connect better with existing customers and excite new ones in the process.

Content creation on your website etc is one thing, but getting your target to see it is another. here are a few ways to explore a few pieces of the puzzle and develop a few answers. If nothing else this should be a spring board for your people to come up with some new options, share those in the comments!

  • Build digital communities people want to go to and stay at…. Give them reasons to stay, a gift, a prize and offer, an alliance, a chance to get tokens to build towards a bigger gift. along the way, they get your message.
  • Word Of Mouth as a way to get people to check out your social media information, blogs etc… so make a  you tube video of some people telling each other about your service. Imagine an office where two people are filmed by an apparently “sneaky camera” they talk about some of the benefits of using your biz, they say the biz name poorly at first (so you can’t quite hear it) then it gets clearer over time. have an anonymous you tube acct so it’s not your biz acct, then as they walk off the camera sneaks up and your biz card features on a desk..
  • Hand out your branded gear in an area where you are more likely to get to the sorts of companies which might use your services. Chat to your friendly branding expert for ideas and options.
  • Link a series of approaches together, your linked in group, with your face book page, with your blog, with your website, with your email’s and links on faxes out and adverts with QR codes to a starting point on your website.
  • Have fun doing suitable “stunts” and get media attention which features your website, a “mob event” for example try a creative dance group for some ideas.
  • Provide a suitable enticement via a promotion to get people to head over to your blog and sign up… If they are your target market then great! if not just give them the thing and move on… its a number game.
  • Create a PDF of value to your target market, they can only get after signing up to your blog. advertise it on  your facebook page and linked in group, while twittering about it a few times.
  • Create self qualifying adverts, “When you want what we have go here…” then lead them to your website and give them a reward for doing so.
  • Fortune cookies with a pr code in it to link to a specific page on your website.
  • Create a you tube video with your website featured in it, make it interesting, like have a home movie, or show  a calm and beautiful scene of rolling waves make it short and to the point, heck make a bunch of them, then send links to them via your email list, of course the videos have your website details across the bottom.
  • Load your autoresponder email outs with great tips, hints, ideas and links to your various resources. keep adding to it with brilliant information so they want to stay subscribed.
  • Develop strategic digital partnerships with others who can link to your target market, this way you can get more leverage and be seen as a go to person for resources and ideas.
  • Repetition, repetition,REPETITION!, some things just don’t change! Your adverts need to be seen by people multiple times to be effective… So will it be a branded product, a link to your site, PR codes (more linking…) emails to your targets or all of them! yep do the lot, one of them will be the one which connects!

More ideas you want to share? Use the comments section in the  header for this post to let us know..

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