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Posts Tagged ‘small business marketing’

As many of you know,  I have lately blogged at Balihoo, where I work, and have not been doing as much on rootbeermarketing.com. BUT…I think many of the Balihoo posts are relevant and useful to small business. Below is one that will be on the Balihoo site early next week. Let me know what you think…are you ready to do a Google Ad Word test? Maybe Beyoncé or The White House will be your next new customer!

I just read a great article, at the NYTimes.com, outlining a small business’ success using Google Ad Word. Definitely check it out!

My key take-aways from the article:

1. Be creative and specific with your keywords
2. Test, learn, repeat
3. Have a plan for how to continue the conversation with the customer–such as, a compelling website or microsite.
(FYI: This small business has done business with Beyoncé and The White House…and, in both cases, the company was found via online search!)

Have you tested any keywords lately? What have you learned? How have you improved your results?

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Large companies spend a considerable amount of time and resources developing their strategic positioning and the corresponding “positioning statement.” The process includes competitive analysis, long-term vision development, audience segmentation…and so on.

For most small companies, a simple positioning statement is a good starting point, and sometimes it is all that is needed to stay on track and keep your marketing moving in the right direction. The positioning statement is a concise sentence (or two sentences, at most) describing what your company/product does and what distinguishes you from your competition.

Here is the formula for a simple positioning statement (this is a fill in the blank exercise):

Company/Product: _________
Provides/Offers/Delivers: (explain what the company/product is or does)
To: (target customer)
Uniquely: (competitive differentiation/customer benefit)

I performed this exercise for rootbeermarketing.com in about 10 minutes. Below are the steps I used to get to the simple positioning statement. This is an iterative process…in 10 minutes, you should be able to get to a usable statement. But, after using it awhile, reflect on if it is on-target. If not, spend a little more time with it. Also, run it by a few of your customers; see if it resonates with them. You also want to evaluate your positioning statement on a regular basis, especially as your company adds new products and/or expands in to new markets or customers segments.

Step 1: Quickly fill in the blanks…don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I will use my rootbeermarketing.com exercise as the example.

Company Product: Rootbeermarketing.com
Provides/Offers/Delivers: big company marketing ideas
To: small businesses
Uniquely: In a way that is easy and quick to use

Step 2: Use it in your 30 second introduction.  A 30 second introduction is how you quickly explain verbally what your company/product does. It’s also how you introduce yourself at networking functions or answer the infamous “what do you do?” question.

“Hi. I’m Susan Tormollen. I host rootbeermarketing.com, providing small businesses with easy-to-use and quick-to-execute marketing actions based on big company marketing concepts.

Step 3: Evaluate if this is the best way to present your company/product. Does it clearly and concisely explain the company, name the target customer, and communicate your unique attribute as a benefit to your customer? In the rootbeermarketing example, I pondered…

Is rootbeermarketing.com a company, a blog, a website, a resource?
Do I offer “smart” marketing concepts (like my blog states)? Is that what the customer wants? Is it really unique?
Am I providing marketing insights to small businesses or to small business owners? What type of small business owners?
Are the “10 minute actions” the “product” I am providing, or the unique differentiator?

Step 4: Tighten the positioning statement.
Here, I try it again, and admittedly, this takes a couple attempts before I get to the version I feel is most accurate.

Company/Product: rootbeermarketing.com, a blog
Provides: actionable marketing ideas based on big company marketing concepts
To: busy, small business owners
Uniquely: in easy-to-use and quick-to-execute “10 minute actions”

“Hi. I’m Susan Tormollen. I host rootbeermarketing.com, a blog providing busy, small business owners with actionable, easy-to-use and quick-to-execute “10 minute marketing actions” based on big company marketing concepts.

Step 5: Practice your 30 second introduction. Make sure  it rolls off your tongue every time you introduce your company and what you do. Feel free to add a benefit-oriented sentence, or elaborate a little more to in order to provide a  personalized message.

“Hi. I’m Susan Tormollen. I host rootbeermarketing.com, a blog providing busy, small business owners with easy-to-use and quick-to-execute “10 minutes marketing actions” based on big company marketing concepts. The 10 minute actions help busy business owners, like yourself, do smart marketing quickly.

Step 6: Run in by your customers, get feedback. So, for the rootbeermarketing.com example…let me know what you think.

10 minute action x 2:

    First 10 minutes: Fill in the simple positioning statement. (Steps 1-4)
    Second 10 minutes: Practice your 30 second introduction (Step 5).
    Lastly, run it by a few customers. Sidenote…as I worked on this exercise, I realized I have been inconsistent in how I refer to the blog/company. I’ll need to decide (quickly) on a consistent name and capital letter structure. Do I refer to this “business” as rootbeermarketing.com, rootbeermarketing.com blog, or Root Beer Marketing? I’ll keep you posted, as this actually opens up a small can of worms, and a lot of thinking…

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The first step for promoting your small business blog and website is self-promotion/cross-promotion. These steps are simple and quick, and it’s a great way to keep you top-of-mind for all the people who already know you and your business.

1)      Put your URLs on all your social media pages.

  • If you have a Facebook page, list your URLs and do an entry talking about your newest post, web update, or even a quick “If you know someone who needs X, make sure to send them to my website http://www.yourcompanyhere.com
  • If you use LinkedIn, add it to your profile under the blog and websites section, and talk about it in your “post an update” area.

2)      If you have a blog independent of your website, link to it from your website, and vice versa.

3)      Include your website and blog URL on your business cards, brochures and promotional materials (and while we are at it, consider putting your BUSINESS phone number on all your online promotional spaces—of course, be careful about including home, personal or combination phone numbers online).

Here’s a little case study: I did #1 above and put my blog on both my Facebook page and my LinkedIn page. Within 24 hours, over 10% of my Facebook and LinkedIn contacts had clicked on my blog.

Simple and efficient–that’s smart marketing!

10 minute action:

  • Do the first 2 actions listed above. It will take 10-20 minutes depending on how familiar you are with content updates on your social media sites and website.
  • Next time you reprint your printed marketing materials, add your website and blog URLs
  • Let me know what type of spike you see in clicks following your self-promotion/cross-promotion.

 

 

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I was just checking my email at the GoDaddy.com site and came across Bob Parson’s “16 rules for success in business and life in general” (Bob is CEO and Founder of GoDaddy.com, and has also founded many successful software companies).  Check it out…I think it’s a good reminder, plus I always like being encouraged by other entrepreneurs.

Here are the 2 things that resonated with me during my 5 minutes on the site:

1) Rule #8 Be Quick to Decide — “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow” (General George S. Patton). 

Do you agree?

2) The GoDaddy.com site brings to life the company’s brand personality;  I recall when I set up my account with them, the customer service representative and tech support folks, also had the same sense of entrepreneurial spirit, urgency, and fun, all without taking themselves too seriously. It’s a good example of a company embracing their brand. (per our last blog post)

Have a great day. Happy Selling!

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Last night, I saw the movie, “The Joneses”, and it reminded me how powerful a strong brand can be and how persuasive the users of products/brands are. (and if you see the movie, it will also make you think about the positives and negatives of commercialism in our society, but that’s another topic for another day…)

There are 3 marketing components to a brand:

1)      Brand Strategy: The definition of the brand’s audience and the objectives that the brand needs to achieve (I came upon a good article on brand strategy by Laura Lake at about.com )

2)      Brand Positioning: The identification of what the brand does and where it competes

3)      Brand Personality: The impression and value customers have of the brand

Did you know that your brand personality is ultimately determined by your CUSTOMERS, not by you?  For example, you can claim to be the “healthiest Mexican food in town,” but do your customers believe it? When your customers want healthy food, do they think of you?  Are they even willing to pay a little extra for your food because they know it is healthy? Ultimately a strong, well-defined brand adds value to your company by building awareness and recognition, securing new and repeat business, and potentially even enabling you to charge a premium for your products and services.

Let’s get back to the healthy Mexican restaurant example…you can say “healthy” on all your promotional and communication materials, like store signage, radio ads, coupons, in interviews and articles, but there is far more to demonstrating the brand personality than TELLING customers (although you do need to do that consistently)…your customers have to experience and believe your brand personality. Everything your company says and does needs to reflect it.

There are some simply ways to ensure your customers experience and believe your brand:

  • Educate your employees and make sure they understand and believe in the brand– educate them on why healthy food matters, why the company thinks healthy food is important, how your company makes the food healthy (local growers, healthy oils, healthy preparation), and how the customer benefits from the healthy food and why they do or should care. Can the person who answers the phone, clearly articulate to a customer why the food is healthy? Does the person responsible for developing new menu items believe in the importance of healthy food? Can your wait staff answer questions?
  • Integrate your brand personality in all areas of your business. For example, do you sponsor the local beer fest or the 10K run? One of these is more consistent with a “healthy” brand personality than the other. However, if your restaurant was “the most fun Mexican restaurant in town”, your sponsorship choice might be entirely different!
  • Communicate the brand and its importance to all your partners: your suppliers, your partners, your marketing firm, even your accountant!
  •  And, as discussed in the last post, provide your customers with ways to share their experience…you can do this through customer testimonials, a Facebook page for your company, a blog on your website, even a “word-of-mouth” promotion. One of my favorite restaurants is Flying Pie Pizza  in Boise, Idaho. They have customer comment cards on every table. Flying Pie Pizza makes it fun and easy for customers to say great things about them—and they promote the heck out of it. (and if you click on their website you’ll notice it is a little eclectic, just like their company and their delicious pizza)
  •   Above all else, remain consistent in everything you do!

10 minute action:

  1. Identify if you have a brand personality (if not, please let me know and we will discuss branding in more detail on this blog)
  2. List the ways your brand personality is demonstrated
  3. Write down 3 additional ways to demonstrate  your brand

 

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