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Archive for May 2013

Naked Branding Could Change The World

Naked Branding Could Change The World

Most companies have two brands.  One is the (cool) brand you promote.  And the other is the brand you live and breathe everyday.  Social media provides a great opportunity to provide brand transparency and help to create authenticity in branding.  At that point, companies can have one brand.  They can stop telling everyone how wonderful they are and  start BEING wonderful.

The Naked Brand documentary  talks about the amazing potential of this new advertising and branding model and a video sampling of the film appears below.

“Corporations have incredible influence on the world we live in and that’s given them free reign to pollute, collude and mislead us, but advances in technology are rapidly making them accountable not just to shareholders, but to everyone. The Naked Brand is a story about how corporations can help save the planet one small step at a time. It’s an introduction to a bright new future where companies tell the truth and work hard to create better products and a better planet.”

The Naked Brand. Simply genius.

Watch the brief video here. It’ll inspire you!

The Naked Brand – Official Trailer from The Naked Brand on Vimeo.

Is Small Business Getting Too Big?

Is Small Business Getting Too Big?

Big Small BizIs is possible that small business is too big?  The latest reports from the Small Business Association claim that 99.7% of non-farm businesses in the U.S. are small businesses.  Sounds pretty big to me.

When the SBA began, small businesses had to have less than 250 employees.  Today, as most believe, a small business must have less than 500 employees.  That’s just not the case.

The guidelines for defining small business vary by industry.  The maximum number of employees can be as high as 1,500 and annual receipts as high as $35.5 million.  And, the SBA just tweaked the guidelines, adding more than 20,000 new firms to that not-so-exclusive small business list.  Small businesses can be s small retailer with with 12 employees or an aircraft R&D company with 1,500 employees.  It can be a local car rental business earning $35.5 million, a soybean farm earning $750k or a web design agency with $83,000 in receipts.

For me as a marketer, the utility of targeting small business as a niche declines significantly as the niche balloons into a majority.  There are thousands of folks out there claiming they’re small business specialists.  “We have 20 years of experience in small business marketing.”  “We’re the pre-eminent online marketers for small business.”  “Home of the small business advertising agency.”

When 99.7% of the country’s businesses are small business, it isn’t useful to target small business.  What do these 28 million businesses have in common?  Nothing in my mind.  Small business has simply outgrown their niche.  Funny to think that the SBA who was designed to help small business people may have accelerated the demise.

Either we, as marketers, need to create new definitions for ‘small business’ or the S.B.A. needs to think about their very complicated guidelines.


Small Business - Niche or Not

Stop Talking to Yourself… No One’s Listening

Stop Talking to Yourself… No One’s Listening

ListenWhen you’re busy talking to yourself, you’re probably not listening to your customers.  You know your business inside and out.  You know all of the funky terminology and the acronyms.  You know all of the details of your product or service that lie 27 layers under the surface.

When you go to an accountant to get your Tax Return completed, do you want to know that you can deduct the price of your new computer because State Law 2877 wasn’t passed at the 128th session of State Legislature?

When you buy Crocco Cream, do you need to know that the reason it smoothes your skin is because the structure of the CaH2OH ionized particles has the uberant genometability to pass through your pores into the denatured pollicules of the itinerant sub-cuticle and carbonize the helio-elasticin due to its unique fragilistic retinoiditis?


Respect their point of view

Your customers may not have the same knowledge and perspective that you do, but they are the key to your success.  It could be that if they’re confused, it’s because you didn’t do a great job of explaining your products and services.


Talk at their level.  Don’t talk down to them. 

Did you ever talk to someone who clearly thought they were smarter than you?   You know those people who have all of the answers and don’t think you have any.  That sigh of exasperation they have.  The way they roll their eyes.  Do you enjoy those conversations?  Well, your customers don’t enjoy it when you treat them that way.


Listen between the lines 

It’s great when you promote customer engagement.  You blast your customer service number all over the place.  Your customer service email address is everywhere.  And then your customer calls.  They’re confused.  You’re doing a million other things as you try to answer their questions.  You’re really not giving them your full attention.  Your answers are simple, one word answers.  And you’re certainly not listening “between the lines”.  To do that you need to give them your full attention.  Answer their questions and then… ask them questions to be sure you really understand what’s going on.   Your objective is not just to answer questions.  Your objective is to understand them.


Focus on benefits, not features

In every industry there are long lists of technical terms and technologies.  Legal and financial services are full of complex terminology and a unique writing style that can be near impossible to read.  Surely, you have some customers who understand it all.  Most do not.

If you’re buying new phone service, do you need to know the technology of fiber optic services or do you just need to know about the benefits it provides?

Some people don’t want any deep detail.  Some want a small taste (so they can feel like an expert).  And some want the full onslaught of detail.  The best solution is to make it available to them in easily digestible bits and bytes.  Bottom line – Don’t speak geek unless it’s requested.


Mutual understanding

After you’ve gone through all the steps, make sure that you understand your customer and that they understand you.  That confirmation helps to seal the deal.


Happy, satisfied customers are going to take your business to the next level.   There are a few keys that unlock that door.  One of the biggest is to stop talking to yourself.  No one’s listening.

USA is #1 in Country Brand Ranking

USA is #1 in Country Brand Ranking

worldThe U.S. is the #1 brand on planet earth.  Odd statement, but according to Bloom Consulting who just issued the2012 Country Brand Ranking it is true.  The company implements a unique methodology using variables in order to position the countries based on facts and mathematical algorithms.

I’ve taken a cursory glance at their website to try and figure out how these figures are amassed and analyzed but I’ve not been able to get any great insight.   Data certainly does push the world these days.  Politicians and marketers love to quote numbers.  And much of it is poorly conceived and coarsely analyzed.   I post this study in solidarity with the big and small data out there that is being misquoted and mis-characterized as you read this.

I hope that your reaction will be like mine.  For me, just knowing that Luxembourg wasn’t able to grab out #1 spot will help me sleep much better tonight.


Click on the image to toggle the detailed view.

Brandify Yourself and “Create a Business People Love”

Brandify Yourself and "Create a Business People Love"

BrandifyBrandify is an amazing tool for businesses who want to strengthen their online branding.  In addition to a range of services they offer for a reasonable monthly charge, they also offer a fantastic range of free tools.  No credit card.  No promises to pay on “Tuesday for your hamburger today”.   Walking through a few simple steps, you can submit information about your website and your online social network.  They will evaluate it all and give you clear, concise steps for improvement.

Here’s Brandify‘s vision in their own words:

Our vision is to build a robust set of tools that enables a small business to enhance its brand, reach more customers, and better engage those customers.

We believe the speed at which information is transferred in today’s digital world gives small businesses a tremendous opportunity to reach and engage more customers simply through enhancing their online presence. We became convinced of this when we read a BIA Kelsey study stating 97% of consumers research products online before buying local. And on average consumers use 7.9 different online resources to review information.

For these reasons we created Brandify to provide insights into how well your business shows up online. And we use this analysis as the foundation for simple, straightforward guidance to enhance your social media, online listings, and search engine results. The outcome of all this is that you’re able to reach and engage more customers, making it more likely that those customers will believe in your brand and ultimately spend their money with you. So get Brandified today!

Brandify yourself and “Create a Business People Love.”  www.brandify.com

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What Are People Saying?

We recently engaged Susan to help with a new product line launch.  Her strategic approach to the project, combined with her project management skills, led us to a great launch.  We would certainly not have been as successful (or as profitable) with this new product line without Susan’s help.

C.E. Accessories Company

How We Can Help You.

We are marketing consultants based on Long Island, NY. Over the past 20 years, we've built fierce market leaders in a broad range of businesses - from tiny start-ups to global Fortune 500 companies.  Our experience spans multiple industries from consumer electronics to financial services and from food services to photo.  We're looking forward to talking to you to see how we can help take your business to the next level.