Issue 1

December 2004

(C) Copyright Athol M. Foden

In this issue:

  • Grow your business
  • Raise your profile
  • Fashion colors
  • Branding tech support
  • Reach out and touch your customers

 

 

Worksheet of the Month

While we are on the subject of growing your business, let's start the New Year off right and do some budgeting. Click here to download a Free budget spreadsheet if you haven't done one before -> www.FodenPress.com

 

Grow your Business

Every farmer knows one good bull is not going to make him rich. One packet of seed is not going to allow him to sow all back forty acres. And all business executives and Wall Street types talk about business growth, and growing new markets. They are using terminology that has crossed over from our old agrarian ways.

But on the farm, the farmer sows the seeds, waters and cares for the plants, then returns to harvest the crop. Who does that in business? If you are a one-person business, you do it all. Otherwise, different people in the company play different roles.

"Oh, I get it," I hear you say. "The engineers make the products or services, and the salesmen grow the business."

Wrong. Salesmen harvest the business. That is their job. To go out and gather the results from all the work others have done. Engineering created the seeds. Marketing planted them. Support and accounting nurtured them.

So… marketing, what are you doing to grow the business? What seeds have you planted this month? Do you have an annual plan, like a farmer does, so you know when to plant, when to water, when to hoe, when to prune? If your company wants to grow its business, someone needs to work on it. Wouldn't improved search engine results help grow the business? Wouldn't a lead generation campaign help grow the business? Wouldn't some press coverage help plant seeds that the salesmen could later harvest? Wouldn't a demo or tradeshow appearance help pollinate the target market?

None of this happens without someone taking some action. You don't even need a full-time marketing person. But you do need your own version of the farmer's almanac.

 

 

Call for Name Entries

We have the Oscars, The Emmys, The Espy's and the Golden Globes. We even have many marketing and graphics design awards.

But what were some of the best and worst names for 2004? Yes, we need your help to kick off the "Brandies" - the awards for different brand names. How can you build a company brand without giving it a proper handle for the world to connect with it?

Visit www.BrighterNaming.com to submit your candidate names - and you could stand a chance of winning your own set of engraved brandy snifters.

 

Raise Your Profile

How many times do you get to make a good first impression?

This is so important that more than one welfare back-to-work program makes members first practice just entering a room (on time), giving a big positive smile and performing a confident handshake. That is all they do the first few sessions!

How many words can your brain process in six seconds? Answer: 5-8 words or one picture!

OK, I know we only research companies for products or services that best match our needs, and we do it analytically with the best solution or mind, and we are not affected by the emotional feel of their website, or literature, or trade show booth, or lobby appearance, or company culture or banner ads. After all, we are diligent hard working people trying to solve a problem, build a product, get help, or forge a partnership. We have very clear goals and a desire to maximize revenue. Sure!

Did we forget we are people selling or buying from people? And we have left and right brains, however hard we try to deny it? And we want comfort and trust to spend our money? The major brands in every field know how to provide this environment, but some small efforts on your part can dramatically elevate your company image above the herd. Starting with some dynamic image or graphics view when people enter your website.

That is why I loved the image on the home page of Nielson Design the first time Jeff show it me. Any company can be the black and white ass (though some are not even that neat and tidy). And anyone can get some stock photo pictures of donkeys and bulls. But who can have the idea and skill to actually shoot them as original digital photos, and compose them so that the bull clearly has a better image than the donkey?

OK, I know, you don't want bulls in your storefront window. But you still don't have to settle for mediocrity when good art doesn't cost more. View Jeff's work at www.Airtronics.com and www.SilWebb.com for some business sites that clearly have raised their profile above those of their competitors.

 

SV Marketing Services

 

 

Fashion Colors

While some of those new miniskirts might be catching your eye, an article on colors in fashion caught our eye. The author claimed that fashion colors are often opposites of our countries mood. For example, during the dot com boom years, when we were all optimistic and full of hope, the predominant color in ladies fashion wear was black. I remember it well because I once followed a lady into a parking garage simply to compliment her on wearing an elegant cream colored trouser suit - because I was so sick of black and more black.

But today, the somber mood of the country, the president and the wars overseas, has lead the fashion mavens to break out the colors for the ladies. I have researched two different experts, but they can't agree on the real "in" color. It is either orange or pink, depending on who you ask. Or maybe both. Doesn't matter. But nice to know we can use color pictures again and it might actually make a difference.

PS Green was the color of 2004, and there will be a lot of hold over of this too.

Employee Branding

Notice how the staff at Southwest Airlines dress? Notice how friendly and energetic they are? Wouldn't you be in a better mood if you had to run around all day and the company uniform was sneakers and shorts?

And what if the people surrounding you were chosen for their personality skills as opposed to their computer terminal or baggage handling experience? It's not just about getting from A to B as cheaply as possible! It's about being treated right.

 

Branding Tech Support

In a future issue we will show you how to quantitatively measure and rank all your brand touch points. But it doesn't take a lot of analysis to realize that your own employers are major brand touch points. And some a lot more than others.

There is an important fact about human personality and branding:

Employees are creatures of their environment

If you have delivery people or uniformed service people then it is obvious. You can control your brand right down to the buttons on their jackets. But what about the typical high tech company?

Start with your customer service department. Does it look and feel like your brand? I've told many a group that the next time I am VP Marketing or Branding, I am going to start here. Supply them all with company shirts, hats, coffee cups, pens, mouse pads and posters. Right after they all are handed their own personal business cards that I'll encourage them to include with any shipment or letter. After all, they are in reality often the face of your brand.

Let's take a minute to look at an interesting example from that staple sustenance company for late night workers everywhere. Ok, so you don't know? Bet you can taste Taco Bell, KFC or Pizza Hut as soon as I mention them. They all have the same parent and the same MIS support teams at Yum! Brands (what a great name that is!) They all have similar mission-critical cash register and telecommunications needs running off the same platforms, and none of them have technology support people in any of their thousands of outlets. From an MIS point of view, it makes little or no difference whether they are selling tacos or chicken wings or pizza slices.

But if you visit their technology support centers, one support room feels like Taco Bell. Purple bells, hats, banners, and Mexican themes. The next support room has red and white tablecloths, pizza posters, and square flat box décor everywhere in the hut. And, of course, the third support area looks like a welcome party for the Colonel himself. Good employee immersion! Great empathy entwined with their business and the reality of being at the other end of serving customers. It makes them look, feel and act like the employees out in the field, so they can really be on the right wave length.

If your tech support is outsourced to Asia how are you going to rise to this challenge? We don't know the answer to that one offhand. But if it is local, then make sure, as a bare minimum, that when you order those nice polo shirts for the tradeshow marketing team, you also order one each for everyone in tech support. And present them before the show, before the press release, before the first analyst or beta user calls for help.

[Part of this article is an extract from Brighter Branding: Branding for the Average Propeller Head. Please see www.FodenPress.com]

UC Marketing Courses
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Product Management: Driving Products to Market.

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Details and other marketing courses in the education section of SVMarketeer.com.

 

Reach Out and Touch Your Customers

A CEO of a company once yelled at me, "You branding people. If you think I am going to go out and buy billboard advertising you must think I am crazy."

Never mind him, if we had thought that fact, we would have been crazier! That kind of advertising seldom works for technology companies. What works better is some sort of much more personal message. In later issues of this newsletter, we will step back and examine how a brand is a promise of an experience. In fact, the sum total of all the experiences. So if you "touch" your customers very often, then these are all brand experiences and you probably don't need to advertise much.

Amazon.com touches you every time you visit their site by giving you a very personal experience. Starbucks doesn't advertise, but they have spent a lot on merchandising (and particular on planning their stores), so that every time you smell that coffee it touches you emotionally. But Coca Cola or Visa or McDonalds can easily be forgotten - and they don't naturally touch you day to day. So they advertise and spend a fortune doing it.

So what can you do to build a loyal band of followers? How can you do it for very little dollars, but in such a way that your customers appreciate you are reaching out to them, even though they may not currently be in regular contact with anyone at your company?

Remember the old-fashioned newsletters we used to get in the mail? Or the great magazines we still get from AAA, RCI, Kaiser or AARP? We love the color. We love the contact and information, even if we only glance at it. On a subtle level we feel that we are being remembered. I even met an old man in a coffee shop who thought that catalog and mail from Sears was personally for him only!

Well it has become the age of color, and in some markets, color, music, fireworks, flash and dash. But we are still communicating with people. And engineers are people too. And they might just like to hear from you, just like they like hearing from their favorite sports team, hobby or kids school. But they don't have time to read much. So a short, branded newsletter, via email or regular mail, with dynamic pictures and diagrams, some educational articles, some fun, some news items, can be a powerful way to reach out and touch your customers. After all, you are reading this one aren't you? Imagine what it could look like if someone with some graphics talent was involved too!

This newsletter sponsored in part by:

Company and Product
Naming Services

company product names
www.BrighterNaming.com
The Power of ®

Not a dummy? But didn't study marketing at college?
Catch up quickly with one of these marketing books.

Download your own copies at Foden Press now.

How to do it. By people who have done it.

Brighter Names: Naming for the Average Propeller Head
Brighter Branding: Branding for the Average Propeller Head
Spreadsheet Marketing: Planning for Success

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