Friday, January 29, 2016

Good branding will accelerate your business’s growth

By Sharon Lee

A strong brand gives you an edge over your competitors.

Branding is not only about getting your prospects to select you over the competition, it is also about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem.

Your brand is the sum total of many aspects of your business. Branding includes a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements that identify products or services of a seller.

The objectives that good branding will achieve include:
  • Clearly delivers the message
  • Builds your credibility
  • Emotionally connects your target prospects with your product and or service.
  • Motivates the prospect to buy
  • Creates user loyalty
To succeed in branding, you must understand the needs and wants of your prospects and customers. This achieved by integrating your brand strategy through your company at every point of public contact—think of branding as the expression of who you are as a company or organization and what you offer.

If your brand could speak, how would it complete the following statements:
  • I am ________________
  • I exist because ________________
  • If you relate to who I am and why I exist you might like me, you can buy me and you can tell others about me
If you are effective in creating a good brand, it will live within the hearts and minds of prospects and customers. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.

A strong brand is invaluable when you battle for customers every day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all, your brand is the source of a promise to your buyers.

 A brand is a foundational component of your marketing communications and one you do not want to be without. A brand is strategic and marketing is tactical and what you use to get your brand in front of consumers. That's why it carries a great deal of importance within a business or organization as well.

Your brand serves as a guide to understanding the purpose of business objectives. It enables you to align a marketing plan with those objectives and fulfill the overarching strategy.

The effectiveness of brand doesn't just happen before the purchase, but it's also about the life of the brand of the experience it provides to buyers. Did the product or service perform as expected? Was the quality as good as promised or better? How was the service experience? If you can get positive answers to these questions you've created a loyal customer.

And it’s important to realize that good branding not only creates loyal customers, but also loyal employees. It helps them understand the purpose of the organization or the business—a strong brand gives your team something to believe in, something to stand behind.

Defining and developing a brand takes expertise, care and effort…

Friday, January 22, 2016

9 simple rules for creating ads that work

By David Ronald

All businesses need promotion. After all, no matter how awesome your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it.

Advertising is a little bit of a black art. Some ads go are highly effective while others hurt more than help. It can take a bit of trial and error to create an advertisement that really works. Here are 9 simple tips that will increase the odds of your success.

1. Determine what will make you stand out—identify and evangelize the key things that will make your prospects pay attention to your company’s product or service. Show your potential customers why your business should be their number one choice and why they shouldn’t even consider your competitors. If you do this effectively, there is a good chance they won’t.

2. Use a headline that grabs viewers’ attention—people are exposed to multiple ads each day and can’t possibly read each one. This is why you have to make sure that your ad actually grabs and keeps their attention. Some headlines are newsworthy, such as in the release of a new service or product. Others have a very strong benefit. Most are specific, as opposed to general, in their facts.

3. Focus on benefits—explaining the features of your products or services is important, but articulating the benefits for the buyer is what it’s all about. After all, people are more interested in what they get from your services than what you do.

4. Make people an offer they can’t refuse—buyers love a bargain, so offer them a good one increases the probability of a sale. Once you come up with your irresistible offer, make sure that you advertise it proudly. When people see that you have something great to offer them, they will have a difficult time resisting it.

5. Make your offer as risk-free as possible—people are nervous about spending their money. And if people fear that they’re going to lose their money and regret their purchase, they are unlikely to purchase your product. But, if you remove these doubts, people are given an incentive to give your product or service a try. So it’s a great idea to offer a money-back guarantee.

6. Use testimonials—people trust other consumers and want to know what they have to say about a company. You can’t make people look for online reviews about your business, but you can give them the same peace of mind by adding a testimonial from a current client who is pleased with what you have to offer. Seeing that other buyers just like them are happy with your product can encourage potential customers to give you a try.

7. Include a call to action—don’t just inform your prospects about what your company has to offer; encourage them to take action. Tell them directly to click on your ad, order your product, pay for your service, etc. For example, your call to action can encourage people to email you for more information, to fill out a form to find out more about your services, to join your weekly or monthly email newsletter or purchase your product.

8. Create a sense of urgency—you don’t want to just plant a seed with your ad, you want people to move forward. Consider, for example, making an irresistible time-limited offer. Or bring in an upcoming season or event when your product will come in handy to make people buy now.

9. Complete contact information—your ad should include a link to your website for more information as part of the contact information. If your offer include an offer to download collateral, consider making that item gated (ie, the viewer has to provide their contact information before accessing it). Include a QR code if your advertisement is in hardcopy format.

Advertising is important and good advertising will help your company succeed.

Thanks for reading.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Lean concepts can ensure your startup succeeds

By David Ronald

You may have had a great idea for a game-changing product and started your own business. And you may have launched your product and experienced some early success.

Before long, however, cracks began to appear and the numbers started heading in the wrong direction. Things aren’t working out quite the way you had expected.

Don’t panic. Many founders think that the first version of their product will also be the final one—in reality, however, significant refinement is almost always necessary.

Here are some suggestions for how you can use lean startup concepts, popularized by Eric Reis (, to improve your business:

1. Use evidence to unlock success
Lean startup concepts move beyond favourable opinions and towards gathering valuable, usable evidence. Adopting it enables you truly observe the effects of a product, seeing it in action and recording exactly how it is received externally—it allows you to measure what works and what doesn’t. As many businesses are now adept with using analytical tools and measurement systems this shouldn’t be daunting. Think of lean as a scientific method, with change grounded in data from behavior, not whims.

2. Reprogram your attitude to failure
While I’m a fan of Ries, I also share the success story of inventor Dr Norm Larsen ( to help others understand why we chose to go lean. Although he may not have realized it at the time, Larsen implemented a lean approach when he devised his most famous product: WD-40. Viewing his work as an experiment, he constantly adjusted and refined the product until satisfied, which is exactly what we do. You know why Larsen’s product is called WD-40? Because versions one to 39 all had failings.

We can learn a lot from Larsen’s persistence and approach. It shows how rethinking our attitude to failure can enable us to learn and adjust quickly, bringing us closer to success.

3. Climb aboard
The lean approach involves your entire company, not just management. For it to work, everyone needs to be invested. I’ve found that once staff are signed up and have a sense of ownership and involvement, they will work with you to achieve tangible goals. It’s all about empowerment; Team members will work towards collective success based on their individual performance, not distant corporate objectives.

I strive to create an environment where people aren’t scared to try new things or speak up when they feel adjustments should be made. This approach has helped me create a culture of collaboration and innovation, which has invigorated the company across all departments and levels.

4. Take a practical and philosophical approach
You may wonder how to maintain momentum when the business flourishes beyond the startup stage. Positive or negative, all business changes must be consistently addressed and managed. A key consideration of lean is that ultimately it’s a mindset. With the right care, attention and with the senior management team leading from the front, a lean culture can be maintained with scale and with confidence.

5. Take as much (or as little) from it as you want
Remember, when it comes to going lean you can be a fan without being fanatical. With the Ries model, we take from it what we need and tailor it to our business. Like all business approaches, nothing is set in stone. That’s the beauty of lean: It encourages constant analysis, adaptation and refinement.

It’s within the capabilities of your business to achieve success. If you value business or product development as a constant work in progress, the lean startup approach can give you the framework to help your business flourish.

Thanks for reading.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

5 secrets of successful word-of-mouth marketing campaigns

By David Ronald

Companies that achieve word-of-mouth success story typically don’t accomplish it by chance—they have, instead, thoughtfully planned and developed marketing campaigns intended to create buzz.

Examples of companies or organizations that have done a fabulous job with word-of-mouth marketing include Apple (who wasn’t talking about the new iPhone 6?) and the ALS Association (their Ice Bucket Challenge went viral in a matter of days).

(Click here to read our white paper on word-of-mouth marketing:

While all of these companies/organizations are completely different, they employed similar strategies in launching their campaigns.

To follow in their footsteps, your WOM (word-of-mouth) marketing should:

1. Be unique—in order for your campaign to be effective, irrespective of whether you’re offering a new product or service, it has to be unique. In the examples above, the companies offered something that no one before had ever offered. While you may not have the means to develop an entirely new unique product line, you do have the means to think about marketing that product in a way that is creative and engaging.

2. Send a message—just as important as being unique is sending a message that meets consumer needs. People don’t just love Apple because their products perform better – they love Apple because their products are trendy, user-friendly, and look awesome. When you purchase an Apple product, you’re saying, “I’m hip,” or “I’m technologically savvy,” (ie, the message that Apple sends to its customers is that an Apple product will make you cool). If you want people to talk about your product, then you need to create a message for buyers that is just as tempting.

3. Guide the conversation—the point of WOM marketing is that it focuses on one customer talking to another potential customer about your product. Remember, however, that when people talk, the talk isn’t always positive. If you want to improve your marketing strategy, you can take small steps to guide the conversation that people are having about your brand. For example, you can highlight and promote certain products or services in store, on your website, and on any of your social media sites. One word of advice that will help you to direct (or avoid) negative conversation is this—if you have any potentially bad PR that people may discover, you should get it out in the open sooner rather than later—honesty is key to WOM marketing success.

4. Broaden the buzz—if people are talking about your product, that’s great—your WOM marketing is well on its way to being effective. A few people, however, talking about your brand is not nearly enough to make your marketing as successful as it could be. Once people start talking, it’s your job to broaden the buzz by building communities on social media, reaching out to influencers, and sending out hints about business or product updates, news and other exciting ideas.

5. Not ignore basics—while you should certainly look to companies with successful WOM strategies for inspiration, ensure that you don’t forget about the most basic element of a marketing campaign: your customers—if you want your customers to love you and to talk about how much they love you, you have to exceed their expectations. And do so consistently. Offering great customer service, going out of your way to keep customers happy, and always putting the customer first is the most essential aspect of a WOM marketing campaign.

Great word-of-mouth marketing epitomizes all of the elements mentioned above and employ all of the strategies that other companies have used to be effective.

Thanks for reading.

Leave us a comment if you found this information useful.

Friday, January 1, 2016

12 marketing tools that will help grow your revenues

By David Ronald

Building a company is an exciting venture, but creating and sustaining demand for what you are selling can be challenging. This is where marketing comes in.

There are many marketing options available to help a startup grow revenues. In this blog post I’m going to review the key ones:
  • Advertising—the goal of advertising is to attract new customers. After all, no matter how awesome your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it. Although there are many forms of online advertising, some of the most effective methods are search engine ads, banner ads and social media ads. Click here to read more about these three different types of advertising:
  • Branding—a powerful brand increases the probability of your company’s success. A strong identity builds awareness, evangelizes your company’s story and, ultimately, increases return on your investment. A brand is much more than a name or a logo—it’s the sum of all the creative touch points of your company. And a strong identity gives you an edge over your competitors. Here’s a blog post describing how we developed the Alphabet brand:
  • Content marketing—content marketing alters the way you sell by shifting the focus from hyping your products to adding value to prospects’ decision making. Content marketing is about creating relevant, informative and unbiased content that attracts buyers and converts them to loyal customers. Click here for our white paper on content marketing:
  • Go-to-market strategy—good marketing seldom occurs by chance. Developing a marketing plan is priceless because it sharpens your awareness of what makes your business unique and how to evangelize it effectively. A well-crafted marketing plan explains the benefits of your product, evangelizes how you are better than your competitors, describes the channels you will use to reach your target audience and how you intend to price your product. Click here for an article describing why marketing planning is priceless:
  • Messaging—a comprehensive and carefully-crafted marketing messaging architecture should underpin all your evangelism, from your sales collateral to your media interactions. This architecture informs how you talk about who you are and why you exist; it communicates key points you consistently make when you reach out to your target audiences. See this article for an explanation as to why vendor personas are an important consideration in messaging:
  • Public relations—good PR is about building and sustaining a groundswell of brand support, incrementally changing buyer behaviors via a steady stream of relevant and candid communication to both media and consumers. A well-constructed PR campaign ensures your company is seen in the right places and remembered for the right reasons—and, perhaps most importantly, at the right time. Click here to learn what startups can accomplish with good PR:
  • SEO—search engine optimization can have a dramatic effect on the success of any business regardless of its size. And, while some people may want you to think that it takes years of dedicated study to understand SEO, the truth is that you can learn the fundamentals in hours. Moreover, SEO is steadily becoming more intuitive and less technical. Check out this article for seven tips on how your company can leverage SEO and increase sales:
  • Sales enablement—your success maps directly to the proficiency of your company’s sales team. How does sales enablement help? The goal of sales enablement is to ensure that every one of your sales reps has the training, tools and metrics needed to optimize each interaction with buyers. Click on this link for our white paper on sales enablement:
  • Social media marketing—why should you utilize social media marketing? When used correctly, social media can be an effective tool for growing your business—it can send traffic to your website and convert visitors into leads and customers. The benefit of using social media to market your business is that no matter how specific your business is there is an audience for you on social media. Here’s a description of how social media can help any company grow revenues:
  • Video marketing—video is one of the most effective forms of marketing. It is a powerful way to connect with your audience on an emotional level and increase consumer engagement. It can also give people a reason to talk about you—video is shared more than any other source of content. And, once in a while, a video goes viral. What’s more, research shows that over half of buyers feel more confident about buying a product or service after watching a video. Read this blog post to learn more:
  • Website design—a website is one of the most important investments you can make. You want a website that captures interest, holds it and brings you sales. If your site looks professional, your potential clients will think you’re a professional who has enough clients and enough income to have a site built for you. If potential clients visit your site and it looks half-assed and home-built that’s how they’ll perceive you. Click here for five secrets that website designers don’t tell you:
  • Word-of-mouth marketing— Word-of-mouth marketing helps create and sustain demand for what you are selling by nurturing a passionate community that speaks positively about you. At a minimum, this community should consist of your customers, who can serve as references, participate in webinars and speak at conferences. It should also include media and analysts who provide favorable coverage of your company and product. And can also include influencers such as industry luminaries and bloggers. Click here for our white paper on WOM marketing:
I hope you found this review of marketing tools useful. Did we leave something of this list? If so, leave us a comment telling us what it was.

Thanks for reading.