Issue 3

Sept 2005

(C) Copyright Athol M. Foden


In this issue:

  • The Golden Thread
  • The Brand Promise
  • Search Engine
  • Email Newsletters



Worksheet of the Month

Trade Show Checklist

Exhibit and conference season is upon us. Many have bought my Spreadsheet Marketing book just for this comprehensive checklist to manage trade show booth and efforts.

Click here to download a Free proven trade show checklist spreadsheet ->


The Golden Thread Brand Promise

A Brand is:

  • A name.
  • A logo.
  • A mark or symbol.
  • A famous company or product.
  • A set of values.
  • A name and logo.
  • An advertised product.
  • An identity.
  • An image in someone's brain.
  • One's perceptions and feelings about a product.

When I ask a group of students or non-marketeers what a Brand is, these are the typical types of answers I hear. If you read a lot of fancy consumer books on the subject, they so often take a different tack and produce high brow quotes like: "The sum total of all the buyers impressions and values associated with a product".

However, if you are the marketer of the product, the answer is very simple:

A Brand is a Promise

Perhaps you want to print that statement out as big as possible, and stick it on your wall. Your brand is not your corporate mission and strategy. It is neither your slogan nor your "elevator" pitch, nor your name and logo, nor the values under which your founder went into business. And it certainly is not your advertising or promotional campaign. To clarify a brand even further, a promise of what? Well, that is also simple to state:

A Brand is a Promise of an Experience

At every branding meeting and all marketing, sales, support, engineering and other business discussions, if you remember nothing else other than your brand is your promise to your customers of their experience with your company, products and service, then you will be way ahead of the non brand-centric competitors. A brand exists solely in the customer's mind. It cuts through the clutter of marketing and product messages and carries an implicit and powerful message of differentiation. The experience of this brand promise creates loyalty. This is both an emotional and factual bond between you and your customers, however technical the products or services.

Here is a suggestion to keep everyone focused on doing the best they can for the brand:

Your brand is the Golden Thread that runs through all your
product, business, and customer actions.

Knowing your brand, its values, and what promise it stand for, can greatly simplify and focus many of your business decisions. At the same time, keeping this golden thread of values prominent at all times will help preserve it. Allow it to grow in value because branding is not something that happens overnight. Customers have to experience you and your services in order to trust, believe and propagate the message.

Next issue we will look at how to find, measure and rank your brand touch points.


[The above is a short extract from Brighter Branding: Branding for the Average Propeller Head. See]

Train your new sales and marketing people quickly.

Next Fundamentals of Sales and Marketing course starts Sept 15th at U.C. Extension in Silicon Valley.


Are you Linked In yet?

Grow your business network dramatically. Start by linking to me or someone else you know.





Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization and marketing continues to fascinate me. I am especially proud when simple websites I build myself generate more genuine leads than those done by talented graphics artists. I have seen sites in the last month where the owners categorically says their web master has put all the magic words in for the search engine. So they are done. And then I check them out and see they haven't even put a title line up - the most important item for all search engines. But they have spent thousands of dollars on fancy graphics….none of which the search engines can see! And nothing ever changes on their home pages, so the search engines have no incentive to re-index the site at regular intervals. And there is little or no content that uses the right words that people are searching on. Then they wonder why some boring text-only blog hosted on a service gets more hits than them!

Today there are SEO (Search Engine Optimization - aka Organic Search) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tools to help practitioners of these consulting and marketing niches. I have been privileged to be a beta tester for SEMphonic, for example, which magically analyzes all the keywords on any competitor's site. Plus I have been spending my own hard-earned dollars paying Yahoo and Google for keyword ads. Rates, positions, words, messages change there dynamically so it is very difficult to plan and budget precisely, but at least you can measure and test with enough metrics to make your head spin.

Creating a search engine-centric site is only half the battle (maybe less even). Who is going to register you with all the right entities? Please don't use one of those paid, automated services that claim to push you into 4000 engines. There aren't that many - 3,000 of these are ones who say please send us the contacts, then we can legally blast you with email to sell anything we choose. But there are some key search engines for which you need to carefully tailor your submissions. I think the few major ones are obvious, but do you know about important ones like And what about all the industry directories that are somehow in your business arena. Do they all know about you? Do they all have hotlinks to you? What about the local city, county, and area directories? Your associations? And do you have local and geographic specific keywords?

Do you even know what actual words people are searching on? Most search engines score pages based on suitability and popularity. Google, unfortunately, is very biased to popularity as measured by links inbound to you or other sites that mention you. They also score the pages based on certain text headings and emphasis. So Google does not try to give you the most relevant pages, only the most popular. Which means you really have a lot of work to do if you are a new kid on the block.

In a future issues we will surely talk more about the continued power of the press, but for now realize also that each time you put out a press release, you are potentially also generating a large number of links to your website. Even if no one reads the press release and no editors pick it up it will sit in the news databases. Of course, this assumes you put the release out on some electronic wire service. Make sure you use one that also feeds the news areas of Yahoo, MSN, Google, etc.

Finally, if you want people to link to you, expect to reciprocate. A links/resources section is a great place to start. And let it grow and grow and grow. The resource and name critic sections on my naming website have now grown to over a hundred pages. And the extra pages don't cost an extra penny which is one reason I love the internet. We even landed contracts from Chicago and from South Carolina in the last few months because those area names are hidden in Brighter Naming's web pages.


company product names

Last issue we asked: Where is this Silicon Valley landmark?

Did you recognize it as Mountain View's City Hall dome?


Email Newsletters

One of the other subjects discussed at length in branding is brand touch points. If a brand is a promise of experience, how do you stay in touch with customers who do not touch the brand each day. McDonald's and Pepsi Cola use expensive advertising to try to lead you to the product, since you won't naturally touch them each day. Starbucks does not use advertising at all! But they have their own brand experience stores on every other corner where they touch many of their customers daily. And creates a personalized experience for every individual book nut each time you visit them.

For the rest of us we need to be more creative, or else employ some traditional old techniques. Are most of your clients on email? What if we combined a traditional old technique (the newsletter) with a modern brief email message to create a colorful electronic newsletter? Yes, just like the one you are reading. But with your brand image. Your products. Your personnel and customer stories. And much better graphics?

It is not free. And there is work involved. But there are no printers and mailing labels and post offices to deal with. Just like the old newsletters, it requires articles and editing, and photographs (nowadays so easy with digital cameras) as well. Plus of course, like before, you need a list of names. But you only need email addresses, not street or office addresses. And you need to use a service to keep it legal to protect yourself from the spam demons. (NOTE: Never do bulk email from your own domain servers!).

The hard part is finding someone with a good writing style, knowledge of web page layout, and the energy and time to make it happen. You need to get it out the door while the news is still fresh. Developing the first one is quite hard as you strive for the right tone, style and size, while wrestling simultaneously with cleaning the list and formatting the HTML correctly and legally. Believe it or not, most of the new anti-spam laws have been developed in conjunction with the direct marketing associations, so proper direct email can get through.

It does get easier for subsequent issues, and can generate quick feedback, provided you have a writer that still believes in the medium (and hasn't run off to blogger land). Needless to say, it is the perfect medium to communicate with internal employees and partners as well, from fêting their successes to announcing future plans. For this reason, many companies farm the job out to one of their agencies or a freelancer, who are then contractually motivated to deliver on time and on budget. But make sure they know about your brand's golden thread - so it is carefully preserved and correctly propagated.

This newsletter sponsored in part by:

Company and Product
Naming Services

company product names
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