Are you sometimes bewildered about where to turn to learn about marketing your business? What follows is a short story (I promise) about my own transition from a traditional marketer to an on-line marketer, that I hope will benefit you.
When I was a little girl (yes, it was many decades ago) my mother bought our family a complete set of Encyclopedia Britiannica books. It was a huge investment at that time and she had to forego other necessities to do it. She taught me how to use these books and I'm eternally grateful that she did. The books provided many happy hours of reading and became the foundation of my life-long love of learning. Unfortunately, I don't still have that set of books. Fortunately, I have found a new treasure to replace them - the Internet. And it's become my new BFF (best friend forever).
My absolute favourite use of the Internet is to make it be my institute of higher learning that I was unable to attend previously, for a variety of life-interruption reasons. Now, there is no excuse for not being able to learn whatever I choose to add to my existing knowledge and skills.
Marketing strategies and skills are one great example. There is more than enough information available for just a few keystrokes. Just "Google" whatever you want and it shall be delivered faster than the speed of light! Another technological marvel I love is my Kindle book reader. I can locate a Marketing book on the Internet that I want to read, and download it to my laptop or Kindle in under 60 seconds.
My latest Marketing book find is by David Meerman Scott, titled "The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly" (whew, that's one long title). I found it through reading Scott's blog and bought the e-book version it for my Kindle through Amazon. You can also order it in hard copy.
I highly recommend this book (I have no affiliation or connection with the author) to any business-to-business or business-to-consumer marketer interested in learning the new best practices for marketing on the Internet.
Meerman Scott's book is truly the only book you need to read about on-line marketing. It covers the theory as well as practical recommendations for social networking, blogs, news releases, podcasts, and videos. Of course, you can read other books on these topics. But, if you only have budget for one marketing book, this is the one to buy. Other books will only tell you the same things in a different wrapper.
I do feel obliged to warn you. On-line marketing is no easy fix for whatever ails your business' bottom line. It is the worst of all four-letter words - WORK! But, that being said, it goes a long way towards making up for being hard work, because it is affordable by even the smallest of small businesses. There can be a long learning curve if you are not computer savvy. And, even if you are computer and marketing savvy, the "new rules" of on-line marketing will take some getting used to. Especially so, if you have relied on traditional marketing methods up to now (such as print, broadcast, cold calling, and trade shows).
Meerman Scott's book shines a new light on these now polarized strategies. Traditional marketing is considered "push" marketing, where you push your message out to the general public, whether they want it or not (he calls it "interruption marketing"). He advocates a totally opposite approach - "pull" marketing where you pull specific target customers into your circle of influence by providing compelling content which meets THEIR needs (not yours).
If you are serious about becoming a successful on-line marketer, I recommend you read Meerman Scott's book and follow his advice. Unfortunately, the old rules of marketing are now about as relevant as my mother's beloved set of Encyclopedia Britannica. As Bob Dylan says, "The times, they are a changin'".
You are invited to comment on this blog post, or any of my other posts. Agree? Or disagree? - let's start a conversation!
In a previous blog post I recommend why and how to take advantage of three social networking services: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I also mentioned that I would write subsequent posts on each of these "Big Three" social networking sites, and the video sharing network YouTube. This final installment of four is dedicated to getting you started with YouTube.
YouTube, the free video sharing website, is an especially useful tool for those in
the livestock business to advertise videos of animals for sale, or to showcase a herd
sire. You could even share a video of yourself giving a sales pitch for your business.
Videos are streamed to users from the YouTube website or, more importantly, can be viewed from blogs and your own business website. Not sure if your customers hang out on YouTube? The website http://www.website-monitoring.com/blog/2010/05/17/youtube-facts-and-figures-history-statistics/ lists the following data:
- YouTube exceeds 2 Billion views per day (Nearly double the prime time audience of all 3 major US broadcast networks combined).
- More videos uploaded to YouTube in 60 days, than all 3 major US broadcast networks created in 60 years.
- 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
- The average user spends 15 minutes per day on YouTube.
- 70% of the traffic comes from outside the U.S .
To open your (free) YouTube user account, you can visit the website at: http://www.youtube.com/. (To view sample horse videos, type the words, “One Hot Krymsum” in the YouTube search box and check out the videos you find there. To view sample cattle videos, type the words, “WLB 76Y” in the search box.) I think you will quickly appreciate what videos like this can do for your livestock sales program.
Similar to Facebook, once you have opened a YouTube personal user account, you can then set up a free YouTube “Channel” for your business and customize it to match the style of your website if you like. Check into the YouTube Guide at this link: http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guide.cs&guide=2403720&topic=2403637&answer=2403640.
The other significant advantage of having a YouTube account with uploaded videos, is that a snippet of computer code can easily be copied and pasted into any webpage or blog page, which creates a video viewing window. YouTube supplies this code and it is easy to insert. If you are not comfortable doing this, you can ask your webmaster to do it for you. Then, your video runs right there on your webpage and visitors don't leave your site. This can add a very dynamic feature to an otherwise static webpage. And, it can keep web visitors coming back to see if you have uploaded any new videos on your site. For a sample of how this works on a webpage, click here to see a sample linked video. (Scroll down to the link below the stallion's pedigree for the video of his dam.)
Launched in 2005, YouTube supports AVI, MOV and MPEG video formats from most digital cameras, camcorders and cell phones. Nowadays, everyone seems to have access to at least one of these gadgets. You can even upload a video directly into YouTube right from your computer’s web cam. So, as I mentioned above, you can easily create a video of yourself giving a sales pitch for your business.
You are invited to ask questions and/or to post a comment in the space provided below regarding your experience using YouTube for business or to point out other advantages and disadvantages not mentioned here.
The key to successful branding…
If the key to successful real estate selling is location, location, location! – then the key to successful branding is repetition, repetition, repetition! – until a brand becomes “top of the mind” when consumers think of a product or service. What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions “cola”? I’ll bet it’s “Coca Cola” – not any of its competitors. So you say, “But I’m a small business and don’t have the marketing resources of Coca Cola?” Of course not, but you can use the same principles to be successful in your marketing niche. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – use what already works.
How to create a brand…
Your first step is to create your brand. Not exactly sure what is meant by branding? According to Wikipedia, “A brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan. The word brand began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. A legally protected brand name is called a trademark. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – it affects the personality of a product, company or service.
Photo by Marnie Somers
Choosing a style of brand…
Brand names come in many styles. A few include:
Acronym: A name made of initials such as UPS or IBM
Descriptive: Names that describe a product benefit or function like Whole Foods or Airbus
Alliteration and rhyme: Names that are fun to say and stick in the mind like Reese’s Pieces or Dunkin’ Donuts
Evocative: Names that evoke a relevant vivid image like Amazon or Crest
Neologisms: Completely made-up words like Wii or Kodak
Foreign word: Adoption of a word from another language like Volvo or Samsung
Founders’ names: Using the names of real people,and founder’s name like Hewlett-Packard or Disney
Geography: Many brands are named for regions and landmarks like Cisco and Fuji Film
Personification: Many brands take their names from myth like Nike or from the minds of ad execs like Betty Crocker.
Why you must have a brand…
The act of associating a product or service with a brand has become part of pop culture. Most products have some kind of brand identity, from common table salt to designer jeans. A brandnomer is a brand name that has colloquially become a generic term for a product or service, such as Band-Aid or Kleenex, which are often used to describe any kind of adhesive bandage or any kind of facial tissue respectively.
Bridging the gap between brand image and identity…
The outward expression of a brand, including its name, trademark, communications, and visual appearance. Because the identity is assembled by the brand owner, it reflects how the owner wants the consumer to perceive the brand – and by extension the branded company, organization, product or service. This is in contrast to the brand image, which is a customer’s mental picture of a brand. The brand owner will seek to bridge the gap between the brand image and the brand identity.
Effective brand naming…
Effective brand names build a connection between the brand personality as it is perceived by the target audience and the actual product/service. The brand name should be conceptually on target with the product/service (what the company stands for). Furthermore, the brand name should be on target with the brand demographic. Typically, sustainable brand names are easy to remember, transcend trends and have positive connotations. Brand identity is fundamental to consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand’s differentiation from competitors.”
Changing your brand identity…
Perhaps you already have a logo which appears on your business card/stationery. If you are satisfied that your logo is the absolute best visual representation of your business/product/service, then you are already on your way. If not, then spend some time thinking about what might serve you better, based on the definitions above.
How colour affects your brand…
If you decide to create a new visual identity, then be aware “That color is one of the most important components in creating brand identity”, according to Branding Strategy Insider. “In a visual system, the two most powerful components are the consistent recognizable shapes and colors. It is best if these shapes and colors are distinctive (at least within the product category). Color can have a significant affect on people’s perception of a product or brand. For instance, burgundy and forest green are perceived be upscale while an orange label or package indicates an inexpensive item.”
Implementing your new/revised brand…
Once you have satisfied yourself that you have exactly the right brand for your business/product/service, the next step will be to incorporate it into Your 2011 Marketing Plan In 7 Easy Steps, (my previous blogpost), paying special attention to Step #7.
As always, I welcome any questions or comments or suggestions you might have to add to this post.
Have you heard the saying “Fail to plan? Then plan to fail!” Well, now’s the time to create your marketing plan for 2011. Don’t know where to start?
Seven simple steps to ensure your marketing plan is ready to roll out January, 2011:
1. Set goals and objectives…
Decide what you want to accomplish overall in 2011. It could be to sell X number of units, or increase sales by X percentage, or convert X number of prospects into customers. Best practice is to break these overall goals down into quarterly, monthly or even weekly goals to determine if your goal is practical and achievable.
2. Plan for seasonal adjustments…
Budget constraints, economic fluctuations, and new market trends happen, but it’s important to have a year-long marketing plan which allows some wiggle room. You may decide to weight your marketing initiatives more heavily in certain months to coincide with known holiday events and to cut back in other months, and still achieve your overall goals and objectives.
3. Conduct your own market survey…
Look up information you already have access to – i.e., your own best customers and identify their common denominators to help to target your marketing message. You should also research the current and forecasted markets for your industry in pertinent trade magazines or on the Internet. Evaluate what your competitors are doing to be successful and what you might offer to stand out from the competition.
4. Draft out your campaign strategies..
Include specific examples of what you intend to do to increase revenues. Do you need to target a new niche market? Identify which marketing tools you will use, print or broadcast media, website traffic, email campaigns, and cold calls. You should also identify and draft the specific holiday campaigns, time-limited discount offers, etc.
5. Connect with your networks…
Obtain feedback from your personal and business circles and mentors. If you have staff, enlist their help and ideas and get them to buy-in to your plan. Don’t know who your networks are? Then now’s the time to define them. You have clients (existing and prospective), close friends and family, colleagues, staff, personal acquaintances, neighbours, associations you belong to, sports you participate in, school chums, church groups, and on-line social networks you can tap into. Go one step further and write down each type of network and list the names which belong to each one. It will amaze you how many people you know.
6. Measure results against goals and objectives…
Always try to determine which strategy or campaign brought you those new clients or increased sales. Ask why they are buying from you – was it a certain ad? specials on your website? word of mouth? It’s the only way you can find out what works and what doesn’t. Check your website traffic after each promotion or campaign is launched to see if it reflects increased traffic. Keep records of the results, then you can apply this data to next year’s strategic marketing plan.
7. Maximize Your Return On Investment (ROI)…
Always cross-reference all your tools in your marketing plan. For example, be sure you put all your contact information, including your email address and website on your printed materials, business cards, magazine ads, and use your website to reflect your print or broadcast marketing campaigns. Then each marketing tool compliments and enhances the visibility of the other tools. Keep your brand imaging the same on all your tools so that your target market gets used to recognizing your brand and it sticks in the top of their mind!
As always, you are invited to comment/contribute to this post to improve this blog.
I’m thinking of starting a blog/thread containing marketing tips, would anyone find this of value?