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Market !NC Blog

Small Business Branding from Costco…Aisle 12

Small Business Branding from Costco...Aisle 12

When small business owners find out that I’ve spent a great deal of my corporate life at large companies, they all say the same thing.

“You don’t understand.

We’re too small to have a brand.

We don’t have time for strategic plans.

We don’t do that.”


Truth be told, they don’t understand.  Most of the business rules that apply to multi-national, multi-tiered, multi-billion dollar businesses also apply to small and mid-sized businesses.  And yes, even to start-ups.  Here are the Big Four:

  1. Mission statements matter.
  2. Meaningful core values matter.
  3. Respecting the market and your partners matters.
  4. Living 1 , 2 and 3 above creates your brand foundation



I went to Costco yesterday after a long hiatus. I walked through those doors and I swear I heard angels singing and harps playing.  Heaven!   Not only did I save $300 on my new eyeglasses and $75 on the Vitamix 5200 but the store was clean, Costco employees were all quite professional and well spoken … and I got a huge frozen yogurt for $1.35.  In many ways, Costco hasn’t changed in the last few years.  But, what does this have to do with small business branding.

First thing to understand is Costco’s mission:

“To continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. In order to achieve our mission we will conduct our business with the following Code of Ethics in mind:

Obey the law
Take care of our members
Take care of our employees
Respect our vendors”


Many people believe that missions and strategy and core values only live on paper.  There are billion dollar companies who do just that.  Sad, but true.  But, those who take the time, thought and energy to create mission statements and core values that are meaningful to the company and the market put themselves in the game.  Those who have the focus and discipline to live and breathe their mission and values are far ahead of the game.  They will build a firm foundation for their brand, an operating code for employees, differentiation from competitors and a connection to their customers.

Would you rather hire a Professional or an Amateur?

Would you rather hire a Professional or an Amateur?

Would you rather hire a professional or an amateur? That’s like asking, would you rather get the right things done or do you want to waste time and money?
Small businesses struggle with balancing time, money and resources.  Sometimes the thought of hiring a professional is daunting.  It can be an investment of time, energy and (yes!) money.  Think about hiring a professional as an investment.  Is the time, energy and money I spend on this project today going to bring a viable return on investment tomorrow?

Want Better Work from your Agency? Be a Better Client!

Want Better Work from your Agency?  Be a Better Client!

Mark etingPartner

Getting the best work out of a marketing or advertising agency requires work.  Getting better work requires that clients do better work.  Sometimes the relationships between great clients and great agencies look like Pushmi-Pullyu of Dr. Doolittle fame.  Good agency-client relationships are partnerships.  Too often, clients fall into these 3 traps.

1. We Love Whatever You Do (Until You Do It) – These are the clients who insist that “the agency knows best” don’t realize the importance of outlining needs and expectations.  Putting the agency on that kind of pedestal actually sets a low level of low expectations for the agency…. “we’ll take whatever you deliver.”

2. We’ll Know What We Want When We See It –  It is highly unlikely that an agency will meet your needs if you can tell them the who, what, when, where, why and how of the project.  Let’s face it.  These are people who don’t want to spend too much time thinking about the issues at hand.  Agencies are not going to live inside your head.  This is a ‘no win’ scenario for an agency because, if results don’t pan out, it will always be the agency’s fault.

3. We’ll Just Know If We’re Successful – Without objective, measurable goals there can be no success or failure.  If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?  If you don’t agree to goals in advance, it’s too easy to get ‘mission creep’ where the goals increase as the project progresses.  And,without a goal, it’sat  just too easy to say “that didn’t work”.

Good relationships with agencies are partnerships.  Agencies want to be successful … and they want you to be successful as well.  If you want better work from your agency, be a better client.  Here are a few tips from Beloved Brands

16 Companies from “Boring” Industries Creating Remarkable Content

Remarkable Content Boring Industries

When we talk to companies about the practice of creating content to help attract new business, one of their number one concerns is that their products or services are not interesting enough to warrant blog posts, videos, ebooks, tweets or eye-catching photos.

To prove it’s possible to create exciting content despite being a seemingly boring company, we’ve compiled 16 examples of brands that are telling stories in ways that get people talking about their products — whether they’re selling cleaning supplies, vacuums, real estate, or other (sometimes) snore-worthy products.

In this collection, you’ll find examples of exciting content from industries such as File Storage, Real Estate and Insurance.

Download E-Book Here

Brand Yourself to Differentiate Your Business!

Brand Yourself to Differentiate Your Business!

Branding YourselfMarketing yourself is a great way to differentiate your organization and build your business’  brand.   Are you looking for the key differentiation between your business and the hundreds of others that your customers can easily find?  Then look no further than the essence of “you”.

As a small business owner, you may just be one the the biggest determinations of your business’ success.   There may be hundreds of other companies like you out there.  But, there aren’t hundreds of  “you”.  Branding is all about finding the unique, meaningful differentiation in your business.   Could that be you?


It has never been easier to locate people or suppliers in your industry, who are capable. Search engines and social networks allow us to find capable people and check them out, without even picking up a phone.

Your capabilities
So, if you are relying on being capable, as a way to build your business, you are going to find yourself consistently fighting to get noticed. You will find yourself consistently having to justify your fees. You will find yourself consistently having to compete against all those other capable people and businesses. You will find yourself unable to look to the future with confidence.

Of course, it is essential for you to be capable. However, that’s not even the baseline any more, now that prospective clients can find 10 capable alternatives on Google, in seconds.

Being more than capable
Fortunately, although there are thousands of people, perhaps millions, who are capable in your area of expertise, there is only one YOU.

You are unique.
You have a unique set of life experiences.
You have a unique personality.
You have a unique mind.
You have a unique way of solving problems.
You have a unique set of contacts and resources.
Focusing on what makes you uniquely valuable, is what allows you to rise above your competitors and grow a successful business. Learn how to provide a great service, then learn how to do it your own, unique way. The only place someone can get your unique service… is from you.

No more competition. No more fee sensitive clients. No more poorly suited clients.

Just clients and customers who ‘get’ your unique way of doing things and value you!

From by Jim Connolly

What Are People Saying?

Outspent and with mediocre brand imagery scores, Susan developed a strategic plan that focused on influencers across a broad range of target audiences. This plan maximized the impact of the marketing dollars and resulted in increased brand awareness, retailer placement and sales revenue.

J. RutherfordVice President, Corporate CommunicationsFujifilm Holdings

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.