Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘brand

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imagesThere is no shortage of ways in which you can get your name and brand out in the public eye. Between straight spot buys on TV, radio, placement within print and outdoor, you can carve out your own slice of the medium and craft your message for maximum impact.

But that doesn’t prevent those who sell media from thinking of additional ways of getting advertisers to spend money. You can always purchase a sponsorship. You can sponsor shows on TV, holes during a golf tournament, or printed materials for a non-profit’s event. These are great ways for ad sales reps to earn income beyond the standard selling of advertisements (internally, you might hear reps refer to this as “non-traditional revenue” or NTR).

But is this right for you?

In the case of cause marketing (marketing of an event connected to a cause such as the American Cancer Society’s Rely for Life), this may be a great opportunity to generate goodwill toward your organization in the form of displaying that you care and that you are a part of the community. Selfishly, it also puts you in front of a particular segment of people that you may want to reach. Even if it’s not just cause marketing but a local event, you may also find value in your sponsorship given that your company’s brand will be seen as involved.

Through years of both sponsoring and creating public events, I’ve gotten to know what really works from sponsorships and what might not necessarily generate value for your marketing dollar. The biggest mistake I’ve seen people make is to give dollars to sponsor something and then not worry about how they will be represented. If you’re worried about maximum exposure, then make sure that your providing a banner, sign, or logo and know where it’s going. Unless your signage is truly unique, then having it placed among so many others is simply spending money to become part of an ignored background.

How many times have you been to an event and seen how many benefactors were listed in a program? How you bothered to look at every name? Have you done business with an organization because they were listed among so many others in that program? It’s likely they got lost in the shuffle. They weren’t worried enough about their placement to make their sponsorship marketing purchase worthwhile.

Take control over how you will be presented. Where will you be listed? How will you be listed or placed? How many other people will be listed with you? Is your competition also participating? If this is the first year you are participating with an event, is there something “extra” that they can do for you? All things you’ll want to think about before consenting to sponsor an event.

Have you sponsored an event that you found to be exceptionally worthwhile and enhanced your business through its participation? How you given an event sponsorship dollars only to find it was a total waste? And if so, what did you learn from the experience?

Written by Jeff York

August 22, 2009 at 9:53 am

Moving the needle

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mathteacherAnybody here love math when they were in school?

How about you marketing types? How much do you love math?

I know someone that loves math. Your boss. If you’re charged with marketing tasks, you had better know this is more than just being creative and clever. Your CEO (and your CFO) wants to know what have you done for the bottom line? Did the latest marketing campaign generate more sales? Did the most recent branding effort generate more recognition? If you spent money, you better have made money. Did you move the needle?

When I was Creative Services Director for a couple of television stations, my actions and initatives were constantly questioned (by myself and others) if they satisfied at least one of the three ‘R’s: ratings, recognition, and revenue. If my activity wasn’t geared toward moving the needle in one of those areas, then it wasn’t worth doing. And let’s face it, focusing on ratings and/or recognition is simply an indirect way to build revenue.

If you’re not being held directly accountable for your metrics, then your company is being done a disservice. If that’s the case, you would be wise to start building your own tracking systems. Or else, how are you going to know if new efforts are moving your company in a postive direction?

Tell me your name

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df07_12_18_javaOnce upon a time, there lived a coffee brand. The ad agency for the coffee brand created a tagline for that brand that integrated the name of the product into the message.

Fill it to the rim with __________.

Unless you’re pretty young, you know exactly what the product is. Here’s a few more.

___________, take me away.

Please don’t squeeze the ___________.

Seemingly since the 80’s, there’s been a movement toward non-identifying taglines:

Just do it…It’s the real thing…Think different. Three exceptionally strong brands without indentification. Which is better? I don’t know if there is one right answer, but I’d love to hear your feedback on that.

As the (former) Creative Services Director for a FOX affiliate, I created the station’s tagline: Your FOX Station. I really didn’t care if people knew FOX 44. All I needed to achieve was people to know that they were watching the (only) FOX affiliate in the market and remember it long enough to write it in their ratings diary. When I did research before launching that tagline, I was shocked to see how many FOX affiliates were employing the same strategy. None.

In creating a tagline for your company, I suggest bucking the trend. Integrate your name or trigger into the brand. That way your messaging refinforces your brand.

What are you doing now for your tagline? What research did you conduct before launching the message? Do you have any lessons that you learned that you can share with us?

Written by Jeff York

January 3, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?

Who are you?

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If you’re a small business owner, you often have to grapple with ways in which to grow your business.  You want to attract the largest number of customers as possible without growing too fast and becoming a victim of your own success.  You might be faced with the temptation to expand your company’s core business to offer more services and more products to attract even more customers.

A smart move?  Maybe, but consider this…who are you?  What do people know you today as?

Before you start diversifying into new offerings, consider the confusion that this can cause with your current customer base.  Will your new lines make your existing customers think you’re going to be leaving them behind?  Is your new production complementary to your existing offerings or is to something completely different?  How will you be able to position your company that makes all your offerings a complete package?  If you’re not having this conversation with your marketing department/company before going down this road, you might be setting yourself up for problems with brand confusion and lost identity.

Just more food for thought…

Written by Jeff York

July 6, 2008 at 4:40 am

Are you being sterotyped?

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Well? Are you? Are you being stereotyped? Clearly, you are.

Let’s face it, people pre-judge us every day. People that we may have never met, that may not have heard us speak yet, have already made judgments about us. It might come from the clothes we wear or the way we carry ourselves. Hopefully, they have taken the time to talk with us a little. From what we say and how we say it, people make further judgments about us. For better or for worse, we are judged.  It’s human nature.

They stereotype us. And that can be good.

Let me explain. There are some things we have no control over. The color of our skin, hair, eyes are all items we have no control over. Whether people find us attractive or repulsive have some root in elements that we have no control over. However, essentially everything else we have full control over. From the way we conduct ourselves to what we wear conveys a great deal of non-verbal clues as to the type of person we are. Wear a nose ring and spiked hair and people may immediately discount you as unprofessional. Wear an expensive suit and people will think you are professional. Conduct yourself with confidence and people will instill a degree of trust in you and will want to work with you.

It’s all about building your image. Take a look in the mirror. Would you do business with you? Would you do repeat business with you? Do you project a degree of professionalism and confidence? If you were a business, what kind of business would you be? Are your competitors envious?

We have full control over these aspects of stereotyping that others project on us. Give some thought as to the image you want to project. Tie that into your efforts toward building a personal brand. If you’re coming up short, that’s OK. It’s not too late and today’s not too soon to start making changes.

What efforts have you made to project an image that speaks to your credibility? Have you built an image that’s helped you in your professional (or personal) life? What success stories can you share that we can all learn from?