Archive for the ‘Brand Positioning’ Category

Wisdom of the Masters

Branding and Marketing may be modern terms, but the concept of branding is reflected in the wisdom of

Young Thomas Edison

I never did a days work in my life. It was all fun.

the masters.

Thomas Edison was a master marketer and a prolific entrepreneur.  His flair for showmanship is evident in the master presenter, Steve Jobs.

Edison introduced the light bulb by inviting potential investors to a banquet at an upscale restaurant.  He met his guests outside and led them up a dark staircase into a dark ballroom.  When the tension had built to the proper peak, he flipped a switch and the room was magically illuminated with his newly designed light bulbs.  The stunned investors enthusiastically and quickly handed over their money.

Dramatic revelation was a standard for Steve Jobs.  Remember the way Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone?  He introduced the iPod with touch controls, revolutionary phone and internet.  When he had built the tension and excitement to the optimal level, he announced that all 3 devices were in the one iPhone.  Steve’s flair of presentation is reminiscent of Edison.

Product Philosophy

Edison was a born capitalist.  His primary motivation was money.  He openly declared, “Never invent anything which won’t sell.”

By contrast, Einstein was 180 degrees from being a capitalist.  Einstein embraced being frugal, passionate about causes and being practical.  Einstein was so practical that he thought luxury was contemptible.

Because Einstein believed in the power of the imagination more than knowledge, Einstein would have been a very creative marketer rather than following the masses.  Einstein’s practice of marketing would have followed the thought pattern of Warren Buffett on investing. “If everyone else is going right, go left.”

Marketing Philosophy of the Masters

In today’s marketing that would mean that if everyone is going toward online marketing, Einstein would do the opposite and focus on the traditional print marketing.  That theory makes logical sense because it affords greater impact to the print marketing message; the printed marketing message would not become lost in the online chatter.  Einstein would have embraced the high quality, convenience and cost effectiveness of an online printing company such as PrintPlace.com.

Gandhi held an encompassing mindset.  He would have found a method by which he could combine online and offline marketing methods.  He would not worry about what others were doing with their marketing; he would create the change he envisioned.  Gandhi would merge the modern methods with the traditional marketing methods to form a unified and more powerful marketing impact.

Edison would take Einstein’s “do the opposite” theory and expand it into a personal limelight directed at himself.  Edison was media savvy.  He wrote his own press releases and relished the spotlight of organizing and conducting his own press conferences.  He delighted in announcing dramatic and innovative breakthroughs long before the invention was ready for a debut.

Edison would have embraced the idea of sending out a flyer announcing a coming attraction or a pre-release postcard to whet the marketplace appetite for a new product.  He would print a colorful hang tag to direct even more attention to his new creation.

Branding

Edison was the epitome of branding.  His image was carefully cultivated, promoted and publicized through his printed materials, public appearances and media strategy.  Edison didn’t wait for third-party endorsements; he gave himself the title of “the world’s greatest inventor.”

Branding and marketing have been present for hundreds of years.  The wisdom of the masters is reflected in our moguls of marketing today.  Edison demonstrates dramatic flair, personal promotion and big, bold displays.  Einstein would seek the highest quality at the lowest price; he would be very creative and imaginative with his marketing.  Gandhi would find a way to bring all of the marketing media together in one harmonious and highly beneficial campaign.

Are you seeking more success in your life and career?  Inquire about hiring Elaine Love as a business and communications professional – business coach, presentations coach/trainer and content writer.  Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/about or www.Elaine4Success.com

Three Business Success Questions

Would you like to have a more successful business, a more successful career?flhrroadking_140x105

 

The outrageously successful companies in America are obsessed with outstanding customer service.  Regardless of the industry, the product or cool new idea, the common denominator is people.  Successful businesses all know that first and foremost, they are in the people business.

 

When Harley Davidson, the American icon for motorcycles, needed to rebrand in order to survive, they asked three important questions.

 

Who are we?

Who are our customers?

What do they expect from us?

 

These three questions apply to every one of our businesses as well.

 

Who are we?

 

Until we know who we are and what we represent, our customers cannot possibly be clear.  What does the confused or overwhelmed mind do?  Nothing.  Can you imagine someone saying, “I have no idea what you do or what you stand for, but here is twenty thousand dollars.”  Not likely.

 

Statistics have proven that teenagers who made up their mind not to take drugs before the temptation arose were far more likely to resist the temptation when the situation arose.  They were clear about who they were and their values.

 

As business professionals, we also decide who we are as an individual and as a company.

 

Who are our customers?

 

Until you know exactly who your ideal customer is, how can you possibly write a marketing message which will appeal to exactly that particular company or individual?  Customers are attracted to you because you offer them a benefit – you solve a problem for them.  Since different benefits appeal to different market segments, it becomes essential to know the benefit you offer, the problem you solve and which customer needs to solve that specific problem.

 

Young parents are likely to be more interested in planning for a college fund for the children than in their Medicare benefits.  You write a different message to someone in their early thirties than to someone in their early sixties.  Identify and market to your ideal customer

 

What do they expect from us?

 

Of all three questions, this one receives the majority of the press attention.   It receives more ink; more words are written about customer expectations.  Unless we know what our customers expect from us, how can we design our customer service to meet and exceed those expectations?

 

Customers have a right and an expectation that we will be there for them after the sale.

 

In the case of Harley Davidson, the customers expected a reliable bike which would have the distinctive sound of a Harley.  “Nothing purrs like a Harley.”  Customers expected a certain feel to the ride; they want just enough vibration.  They expected the value to hold; European bikes at that time had a very short life span before replacement; a Harley Davidson bike maintained its value for decades.  Harley was American made; this fact also appealed to their ideal customer.

 

One of the most memorable slides in the Harley Davidson rebranding presentation is a picture of a rough motorcycle gang.  The caption to the slide is, “Would you sell an unreliable bike to these guys?”  Harley developed a reputation of being consistently reliable for a long time span.

 

The more you know about who you are as a company and as an individual, the profile of your specific customer, and what your customer expects from you, the more likely you are to succeed; the more likely you are to have a successful business.  Why more likely?  Knowing the answers to those questions is extremely important, doing something positive to meet and exceed those customer expectations is essential.

 

Your customers are people.  You are in the people business.  Your main focus must be meeting and exceeding customer expectations – customer service.  Braggadocios customer service.

Death to the Boring Business Card

As 2012 nears its demise, so has the bland, boring business card.  Why deliver an ordinary, average cheap first impression when you can hand someone a classy, innovative, yet, at the same time, professional card.  Your smile and greeting are the first impressions you deliver.  Your professional business card is the lasting impression you leave behind. Your business card should be distinctive and has to represent the quality image of your business that they will retain and refer to frequently.

 

Value in the Marketplace

 

It is now so easy to get inspiration in designing your business card online. There are tons of articles, even websites, celebrating creative business cards. As tempting as it is to go crazy in designing a unique business card, focus first on the primary purpose of a business card.  Your business card is not only supposed to be unforgettable but should, more importantly, be representative of your brand and the services you offer. There are plenty of printers online, like PrintPlace.com, who provide design inspiration, downloadable business card templates and cheap printing prices for business cards and assist their customers in creating the look and feel they prefer to make their business cards stand out from the plethora of other cards on the market.

 

And when it comes to standing out, Richard Moross, CEO of Moo.com says that “nothing has yet matched the power and simplicity of handing over a well-designed card–it starts a conversation.”

 

Granted there is a unique factor in the origami, concrete, wood, rubber, metal, sponge and hinged cards, but how can you conveniently carry them in your wallet?  They serve as a grin at the moment of impact and land in a drawer rarely, if ever, to again see the light of day.  Have you ever attempted to fit any of those specialty material cards in a card case on your desk?  If you are having difficulty carrying and displaying them, how do you expect your prospect to use them?

 

How Can You Stand Out from the Masses?

Here are some tips on what to include and not to include on your business card.

 

Include

  • An attention-generating image.  Don’t be afraid to be visual.  Keep it relevant to your business:  a product, service, caricature, or graphic design.  yoga_one.sm

 

  • A fun, curiosity- inspiring sloganA one liner to entice a smile and a desire to follow up with you to learn more about what you do.  Giving the impression that you enjoy what you do attracts others.  Remember the old adage “catch on fire with enthusiasm and the world will come for miles to watch you burn.”  Your business card can help you convey that message.

 

  •  Contact information – Include the basics: phone, email and a link to your online world.  Use a QR code, a link to your social media site or a link to a fun video; select a blog page, free offer page or an entertaining site.  Critical – test the link to be certain it functions with a variety of smart phone apps. 

 

  • White space – Sometimes less is more.  You card is a call to action.  Keep it clear, crisp, open and inviting. 

 

Avoid clutter

  • Avoid including your birth certificate, family history, a map to your business and every conceivable way to contact you.  Including too much information wastes valuable space on the card.

 envelope card

  • Printing your entire 30 second elevator pitch.  Keep it brief. You card is an invitation to connect with you to learn more, not the entire sales presentation.

 

  • Avoid linking to a tidal wave of information page.  The confused or overwhelmed mind does nothing.  Avoid too much blah, blah, blah.

 

 

Be Creative, Classy and Unique

 

  • Use top quality paper – Avoid the “this card is a free service of  Cheap.you.”  Use a 14pt cover gloss 2 sides, gloss one side or uncoated card.  My preference is gloss for the front and uncoated for the back to allow for writing notes. 

 

  • Select vibrant attractive cards. Colored paper or at least color on the face of the card adds appeal.  Be certain the print is clear and not so small you need a microscope to read the sq business cardwords.  Printing which is too small or very difficult to read results in a throw-away card.

 

  • Die-cut cards – stand out from the crowd.  (A die cut is created by using a sharp steel blade formed into a specific shape, then cut through the paper. Think about how a steel cookie cutter would work; just substitute the dough with paper. The shapes for die cutting are nearly limitless—circles, squares, holes, curves, stair-stepped, rounded corners, sharp points, just to name a few.)  Fun shapes and designs help you stand out from the crowd.

 

  • Fold over cards – Affordable and different from the average and yet they still fit in the standard business card holders.  Increase your creativity and display space.

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  • 4 Color printing – Express yourself in your company colors.  Make your images come to life.

 

  • Unique sizes and shapes – Round the corners, die-cut unique shapes.  Express your individuality.

 

 

Here are some designs to kick-start your creativity in coming up with the best business card for your business.

How important is your competitive advantage?

Develop your Competitive Advantage

What is your competitive advantage?  Why would people choose to do business with you instead of your competition?  We are in the midst of a challenging economy in United States as well as many other countries right now.  Competitive advantage is even more important now than at any other point in my lifetime, perhaps yours as well.

 

 

If you are an investor, you may be thinking, “How does this relate to me?  This is my market.  There are more sellers than buyers right now.”  True.  If you are the seller, how do you attract that ideal buyer or investor?

 

Fine tune your competitive advantage

 

What is the value, quality or delivery you offer which is superior?  An investor wants to know what you have to offer now; they will build on their additional advantages.  Unless you have something intriguing to offer, they are on to the next opportunity.

 

So what if they don’t invest in your business?  Developing a stronger competitive advantage will make your business more profitable in the interim.

 

Do you believe you have an excellent product or service?  If not, improve it until it is excellent.

 

How to improve your competitive advantage

 

Interview your current customers.

 

  1. What do they like about your company or product?
  2. What do they NOT like? (Not a fun question but very informative.)
  3. What would they like to have but do not have at this time?

 

Interview your competitor’s customers with the same 3 questions.

 

Interview prospective customers.  You will be amazed at how powerful it is to ask them what they want rather than endeavor to sell them something.

 

Now do something with this valuable feedback.  No, not stuff it in a folder to be reviewed at some distant point in the future.

 

Research how other companies have overcome these “dislike” issues.  You are probably not the only one to ever face these challenges.

 

  1.  Contact your mentors or icons in the industry.
  2. Search for information.  Use the internet as well as current print publications.
  3. Visit some of your competitors or purchase a product from them.
  4. Do a blind test and purchase from your own company.

 

Take a vendor to lunch.  Ask their experience with how other companies handle similar situations you deal with in your day to day operations.

 

Ask you CPA.  They work with other companies.  Look outside your industry for ideas

 

Form a plan to improve your competitive advantage

 

  • Find a way to build on your current advantages.  Emphasize them in your marketing

 

  • Compile all of your research information into an organized format.  Brainstorm.  Use the “How can I” approach rather than “That won’t work.”  A positive attitude does wonders.

 

  • Make a list of actions to be taken.  Prioritize the list and add a timeframe to each.

 

  • Take action.  Start the plan immediately

 

Competitive advantage is even more important now.  Adopt the attitude of Amazon in 2008.  The CEO called the key staff together and said “There’s a big recession coming.  Let’s miss it.”

 

Whether you are a seller, buyer, investor or customer, competitive advantage is paramount.  Take action to make your advantage outstanding in the marketplace.  Your employees, customers and bank account will thank you.

 

For more information on competitive advantage, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com.  Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching.  Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com.

Steps to Start a Niche Business

Starting a successful small business has steps

Your business may start small; yes, it starts as small as the initial idea. Specific steps to start a small business exist. Discover those steps and be willing to take the action indicated and success knocks on your door. Even better, success flows into your bank account. Are you ready?

“Get rich in a niche.”

Define your market niche. So you ask, “How do I do that?”

When the idea first started nudging at the back of my mind to start Mountain Castles Property Management, several questions came to mind.

1. Where is an unfulfilled need?
2. What services are currently available?
3. What services would people pay for if they were available?
4. What is the biggest unsolved problem?
5. Who has the answers to these questions?

Even though question one was highly significant, the logical sequence to these answers started with question two. Start with what is known. Existing property management companies knew what services they currently provided. Let the interviews begin.

Harry Lambart held the prestigious position as CEO of Steamboat Premier Properties. “Harry, may I take you to lunch and ask a few questions?” An endless stream of questions flowed about marketing methods to obtain new properties to manage, marketing methods to attract new vacation or long term renters, employee compensation plans, fees for services currently offered, and the biggest challenge with the property management business.

Pages and pages of notes later the excitement continued to escalate. The steps to start a small business were in progress. Step one – idea creation. Focus the idea into a specific market segment, a niche. Step two – determine the potential for the idea to reach a large enough market to become profitable and a small enough market to establish a unique place in the marketplace. The best way to accomplish this feat is asking wise questions.

Research multiple sources. If your market is as vast as optimal, there will be varying points of view and a variety of services offered. Remember the object of locating an untapped lucrative niche market.

Research all aspects of your target market. In the example above, the interviews ranged from property management companies to real estate sales agencies on the services aspect. The interviews continued with second home owners, vacationers, and lift operators. Yes the seasonal workers who converge on the ski areas are potential renters. Frequently they are wearing their expensive season ski pass as a fine piece of jewelry; when the Aspen, Vail and Steamboat passes cost over $1,000 each, they do rival the cost of a fine piece of jewelry. Expensive hobbies require significant income.

Caution even though the primary goal of these athletic young individuals is to grace the ski slopes with their skis and snowboards, they frequently work two or three jobs and live a communal existence in order to afford their ski resort existence. You may rent to two or three and suddenly discover five or six actually living in the property.

How can you prevent this “roommate expansion” issue? Construct a specific contract and do reasonable property inspections. Research what is considered “reasonable” and follow the legal guidelines. Sometimes a simple late night drive by counting cars in the driveway or parked on the street provides excellent information.

This example is specific to property management; however the principle applies to all businesses.
1. Research the existing comparable businesses.
2. Research the legal parameters of your proposed business.
3. Interview a variety of business owners in your target market.
4. Interview potential clients for your proposed business
5. What organizations, associations or individuals would have additional valuable input for you?

This is a small section from my new book. The purpose of the book is to shorten the learning curve of new entrepreneurs and provide belief in themselves and their dream. The anticipated publication date will be May, 2011. Hire Elaine Love to speak to your group and rekindle the fire of productivity and profitability. Hire Elaine Love as your personal coach and mentor IF you decide to be all that you can be and are willing to take action. Contact Elaine at www.ElaineSpeaks.net or www.Elaine4Success.com.

Brand Positioning

success plan

A tight economy requires you to stand out from the crowd.  In an affluent economy, there is plenty of money to go around and people are not as cautious to spend.  When the economy tightens as it is now, money does not flow as freely.

Your brand positioning becomes even more significant now.  Create a unique niche in the marketplace.  Your business name, logo, colors and tag line all identify you.  Keep every aspect of your brand consistent.

Your business name should be short, catchy and reflective of your business.  Make a careful study of names before you select the perfect name for you and your business.  My property management company was “Mountain Castles” with a tag line under the name of “Comprehensive Property Management.”  Look carefully at the logic.  The property management company was located in a ski resort, hence the reference to “mountain.”  The focus was single family homes; a man’s home is his castle.  Mountain Castles thus represents high quality single family homes in the mountains.  The tag line of comprehensive property management indicates the focus is property management rather than real estate sales.  There are numerous real estate sales firms who work with single family homes but very few property management firms who specialize in homes rather than condominiums.  At the time of the creation of Mountain Castles, all of the other property management companies in the resort focused on vacation rentals.  With the increase of homeowners who chose to have a second home in the area, but did not choose to rent to vacationers, it became important to notify them that Mountain Castles offered other services than just rentals.  Mountain Castles offered homes for rental by vacationers, long term rentals (yearly rentals), and executive properties (non rental property management.)  Comprehensive property management also encompassed the impression of a variety of services offered to each of the management classifications.

Refining the niche from business to ski resort to real estate to property management to homes adds clarity to the initial impression.  Individual business branding becomes important in capturing the attention of the homeowner seeking services.  The name alone conveys a powerful brand recognition.

As a generally accepted rule, you have 3 seconds to capture the attention of a viewer as they browse through the internet, a magazine, a brochure rack or even a sign on your business establishment.

Create a powerful individual business brand by carefully selecting a name which conveys the focus of your business.  Using your name may be a stroke for your ego, but will it serve your ultimate purpose of attracting highly qualified customers?  If you are an extremely well known movie star or sports star then your name as individual business branding significance.  Be careful about being a legend in your own mind.  Use your name in your business name only if it will increase your curb appeal.

Your brand positioning is enhanced by your logo and your colors.  Stay tuned for more articles to enhance your image and help you stand out in the crowd in a positive way.

For more comprehensive information on individual business branding, or brand positioning, join me at http://www.elaine4success.com/

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