Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘branding

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?

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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?

I’ve got a website. Now what?

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Who needs a website anyway?

Ask any marketing person today and they will say if you’re in business, you need a website. Why? First, all of your competitors have one. If for no other reason than to be on the same level as them, you need one.

So, all you need to is plant your virtual flag into the cyberground, toss up a page with your name on it, and you’re done…right?

Sure! Do the bare minimum. Expect the bare minimum. Want more? Do more!

Today, busy professionals use every tool at their disposal to find out which companies are worth doing business with. Who are the cream of the crop? Who is worth their time? One of the most accessible tools today is the Internet. Look up their website. How’s it look. In a brief period of time, can you get an excellent sense of who they are, what they do, and exactly what they can do for you? If not, try Googling someone else.

Let’s say you’ve put together a nice website. The content is clear to understand. You’ve got pretty pictures. Now what?

Have you asked your website what else it can do for you?

Let’s say your website has a well written paragraph on your front page. Do your visitors want to read it? Or would it be better to have a video where your CEO can invite people into the site to explore and interact? Is your navigation consistent and intuitive? What else can your website do for you?

Time to visit your website and look at it critically. Maybe it’s time to visit your competitor’s websites as well. What are they doing that’s different and memorable? Are they gaining a leg up on your company through superior web branding? Do the websites have returnability because there’s frequently updated worthwhile information?

What do you perceive as goals for your website? What have you accomplished through a web presence that perhaps your office/store location haven’t been able to do on its own?

Written by Jeff York

July 12, 2008 at 6:10 pm

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?

Be a brand

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All day, every day, I’m thinking about my clients and how to make their organizations rise above their competitors and become more successful. If you’re like me, you focus on the company, the brand, and the image. But what about us? Are you working on your own personal brand?

When you’re out looking for a job or if you’re in the consulting business like me, you’re looking for people to hire you based on you. Your background, your abilities, your personality, your connections all come into play. When you submit your resume, you want it to be memorable. You want to be memorable. There is real value to that end in building a brand.

Today, the tools for building a personal brand have never been more accessible or powerful. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal. If you type in “Jeff York” in Google, I’m aiming to come up first. Unfortunately, I’m handicapped by having a common name. I’m also challenged by having the same name of an actor that had a long successful career from the ’30s through the ’50s. But he died 13 years ago so hopefully I will have some success.

So what can you do to build your own personal brand? Blogs such as this one help. Joining networking websites such as LinkedIn also help. I would suggest that you spend some time reading some of the experts in the field. Efforts put toward this endeavor will pay substantial dividends today and into the future.

Make your own brand. If you can’t market yourself, why would you think an organization would want to pay you to market them?

Written by Jeff York

June 7, 2008 at 9:19 pm