Archive | September, 2009

The number 1 marketing tip

30 Sep

Are you trying to sell something?  A product or a service? You probably are if you are reading this post, and my blog generally. You want more people to know about what you do, what you produce, what you sell. That is the entire point of any marketing communications effort.

However, beyond your product brochure, your social media strategy and your web page lies something much more important in your quest to sell: what it is that you are selling, exactly. Are you selling a product? If so, what is that product? What makes it good? What gives it the edge over other similar products in the marketplace? Are you providing a service? What does that service do for the customer?  Why does the customer need that service?

I bring these questions up because the number one marketing tip is  this:

Know your product or service.

If you don’t, you will not be able to sell it to anyone. Period.

Let me give you an example. I was shopping for mascara the  other day at a department store cosmetics counter. I wear contact lenses so mascaras that flake are not an option, since it would make my eyes water. I had been buying one particular type but wanted to try something different. I asked the saleswoman about several different types. She could not explain what the differences were, and whether they would be suitable for me other than to assure me that they would be fine. I was not convinced because she did not seem to understand her product. I ended up buying the same old product because I knew it. She did not sell me. And the reason she did not sell me is because she simply did not know her product.

I don’t care if you are selling mascara or high end real estate. If you don’t know what you are selling people will not buy it. It really is that simple.

Slogans have impact

29 Sep

We know of course that a good slogan or tagline is key in helping to make a business stand out. Slogans should be short and sweet and descriptive.  Many slogans lack this last one: descriptive. They may be short and sweet, and maybe even clever, but they don’t say anything.

I came across this wonderful blog entry in Budget Travel’s blog about travel slogans. The post talks about some memorable slogans such as “Virginia is For Lovers” and other not so memorable ones.  The author talks about many of the Central American tourism slogans that just don’t seem to translate. El Salvador uses “Impressive!” and Guatemala uses “The Soul of the Earth.”

In any case, let this be an example about why you should choose your slogan carefully. Although brevity is good, description is better. What do you do? What makes you special? (The answer to this is never that you are unique…as I have said before few things are unique).

Do you have examples of slogans that you just love? Or that you just hate? Please share!

Why bother with print?

25 Sep

A Caffeinated Op-Ed

Today I want to question the Washington Post. Specifically, I want to know why it bothers searching for subscribers, and indeed, printing its newspaper every day.  It seems to me, more and more, that the Post wants to get rid of subscribers and concentrate on giving away its content for free.

I often visit washingtonpost.com to see the weather, latest news, blogs, etc. I also get a subscription to the paper because I like to read printed material with my morning coffee.  Today, as I was checking the WaPo website I saw that they have redesigned the Sunday magazine. And this is the kicker–all of it is available online for free, two days earlier than subscribers get the same material.

Subscribers PAY. Website visitors do not pay. Why on earth would you make MORE content available earlier at NO COST? How is this a smart business decision? Why would you not embargo content until paid subscribers can access it?

It seems to me that the Post is doing what it can to make sure people do not buy or subscribe to the printed newspaper. Anyone looking to save 75 cents per issue can just log on to the website and get all the content of the printed piece plus early content and not pay a cent. That translates to at least a $6.00 per week (the Sunday paper costs $1.50).

Should I cancel my subscription? I ask that to the Washington Post. Why on earth should I continue to pay for something I could get for free????

How are you perceived?

23 Sep

“Quick, acute, and intuitive cognition.” That is how Merriam-Webster defines perception. It is a quick assessment of what is before us. It is how we form impressions and judgments.

Have you ever considered how you are perceived by a potential client?  Potential friend? Man/woman on the street? Obviously, we may not care how a complete stranger perceives us, but in business we should definetely be concerned with the image we are giving potential customers, clients or partners (a partner can be anyone who we do business with–from someone we network with, to someone who refers business to us or an acquaintance we run into occasionally).

There are many angles from which you are perceived:

  • Personal appearance and demeanor
  • How you sound
  • Online presence, which includes your websites, what is written about you, your blog, and your social media presence
  • Articles about you
  • Articles you’ve written
  • Your marketing materials (brochures, postcards, reports, etc)
  • Your behavior and actions
  • Your associations

If people have a positive perception of you it will help get business. A negative perception on the other hand will impede your success.

How to assess

Start with a simple Google search on yourself to see what comes up. Negative, positive or neutral?

Turn a critical eye on your website and/or blog. Would a visitor to your site know what you do and why you are qualified to do what you do? What would he/she think of your services?

How are people responding to you on social media? How many followers do you have? More importantly, who is following you? Quality is important here. How about on Linked In–do people accept your requests for connection? Are you giving them enough for them to want to connect with you?

When you go to an event, do you feel confident? Do you ever feel unprepared or frazzled? If so, what aspects of you appearance and demeanor need work?

It is hard to self-assess from all these angles so it may be best to ask a trusted friend or colleague to give you some feedback.  A marketing consultant (such as me!) can help assess your marketing materials.

Have you assessed how you are perceived? Please let me know how you did it and what helped.

Culture in communications

22 Sep

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s very insightful Outliers. I recommend it if you want to think about success as being a meeting of opportunity, chance and ability. And,  my friend and colleague Daria Steigman just posted a question about culture in social media on her blog, Independent Thinking.

Daria wants to know if culture affects communication. Outliers can answer this question. Without a doubt, the answer is yes. In Outliers, Gladwell talks about the Avianca plane crash a few years ago on Long Island, NY. The plane crashed because it had run out of fuel after circling for hours due to bad weather in the area. Gladwell thinks that if the culture of the first officer flying the plane had allowed him to be less deferential toward the JFK control tower, he would have been able to make an emergency landing at Kennedy. Instead, he was not forceful in telling the tower that the plane was dangerously low on fuel. I highly recommend you read the book to fully understand this concept.

Suffice it to say that different cultures expect different communications from different people. Some cultures are more hierarchical and others less so. Some are more cooperative. Some are more focused on results. Whatever the differences are, any communications messages must reflect these nuances.

In Spanish, for instance, there is a difference between the more familiar “tu” and the more formal “usted.” In certain Spanish-speaking countries, everyone uses tu and it is considered old-fashioned to use usted. In other countries, if you don’t know someone, you automatically use usted. Clearly, an ad written in one of the pronouns that doesn’t take into consideration the norm of the country may insult or offend or not reach its intended audience.

Culture matters in communications. A good communicator always knows his or her target audience, and one of the most important qualifiers to that target is culture.

Why we blog

18 Sep

Many of us have blogs to help our business, express our opinions or other reasons. I’d like to have a more scientific approach. If you have a blog, please complete the following survey (it will take about 1 minute):

Click Here to take survey

Thanks! I will post results here.

Proving once again Mother was right

17 Sep

Mom was right about minding your manners. Although behaving appropriately and properly seems to be lost these days,  it is still the best way to behave, especially if you care about your personal brand and personal marketing.

This evening I was at an event about social media. Lots of people were tweeting and in this context that is acceptable behavior. However, lots of people, especially a very obnoxious man behind me, were chit-chatting during the panel presentation. This is not acceptable. It shows lack of respect for the speakers, the audience, and very poor manners. Of course, this is no way compares to the congressman shouting “you lie” to the president or the obnoxious rants of a self-absorbed, self-important rap/pop star (I am omitting the names because you know who I am talking about and I am sick of giving them any more publicity).

Manners and considerate behavior are in free fall in our society and we should be concerned from a personal branding and marketing perspective, among others. Why? Because someone who has bad manners shows him/herself to be very self-absorbed, even narcissistic. And do you want to do business with someone like that? In the end, we always want to do business with people we like and maybe even respect. Let me tell you, if I ever see the man whom I mentioned  was seated behind me, I will not want to meet him. And why should I? He has shown me through his behavior that he lacks common courtesy.

The takeaway is this: mind your manners to show the world your best self, and in the process you will help improve your personal brand perception.
On Monday, Kami Huyse discussed this very issue on her blog, Communication Overtones. She came to a different conclusion. She thinks the overemphasis on personal branding has allowed character to fall by the wayside. I think society and culture have more to do with that.  I was thinking about it this evening and really, I don’t think you can fault personal branding at all. In fact, as I said before, if you care about your personal brand, you should aim to be civil, be polite. It is better to be known for your ideas, your experiences than for your crassness and lack of manners. Right?

What are your thoughts on this subject?