Category Archives for "Small Business Management"

marketing clarity

The secret to success: Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

Clarity is the key to many things… relationships, international relations, politics and parenting would all benefit from more clarity. But let’s stick to the subject at hand; Business Clarity. Specifically, clarity in branding, advertising marketing communications and management in general.

Doesn’t matter what form of communication we’re talking about — from a quick tweet or a simple email to an in-depth webinar or long-term TV campaign — you need to be clear about what you’re trying to say.

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Making websites work — on many levels.

It’s been very interesting to witness the progression of web design over the last 20 years. Trends come and go at a fashion-runway pace. Technology changes even faster than that. The graphic style is continually evolving, but there’s not a lot that I would really call strategic web design.

Regardless of the latest trends or technological bells and whistles, there are some timeless facts about strategic web design that will always apply. First and foremost: The most effective websites are multi-dimensional. That is, they communicate on many different levels…

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4 How to hire the right marketing person, the first time.

I don’t work with Fortune 500 companies. My clients rely on small, efficient teams of people for all their marketing needs. If that’s your situation, or if you have a fledgling start-up, you better think carefully about the type of marketing person you hire to spearhead the effort.

The most common mistake is hiring a specialist… someone who’s deep into SEO, or social media, or web programming, or brand journalism, or graphic design. Whatever. Those “doers” are all important players in your marketing mix, but what you need is a thinker/doer. An idea guy who can wear many different hats.

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2 Paralysis by analysis – How fear and data can kill great marketing.

In golf, over analysis never produces good results. If you’re thinking too much — plotting the shot, rethinking the shot, regripping the club and worrying about the position of the left pinky at the moment of impact — you’re going to fail.

Businessman ThinkingSame thing happens in many marketing departments and small businesses. People get stuck in a rut of overanalysis. They think things to death and worry about all the wrong details. When they finally pull the trigger on something, it flops. Which, of course, makes it even harder to pull the trigger the next time.

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2 Non-profit branding… a story of start-up success and failure.

In 2009 I called it “A feel-good brand in a bummed out world.” It was the type of organization that genuinely touched people, and put smiles on faces. For me, a few minutes at Working Wonders Children’s Museum was a sure cure for a crummy day.

WWLogo - smallOur story of success, and failure, is valuable for anyone who’s starting a new business or running a non-profit organization.

When we started Working Wonders we did a lot things right. It was “by the book” all the way. First, we thoroughly researched the market and determined that there was a gaping need. Then we wrote a mission-focused brand strategy, and built a business plan around that. We came up with a great name, designed a nice logo and put an operational plan in place based on our cohesive brand platform.

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7 The corporate head shot vs. good personal branding.

Recently we had a client who didn’t like the photos we had taken for her website. Said they didn’t look “professional enough.”

In other words, she didn’t like that we did something different than the usual, corporate head shot.

The problem is, in this case, “professional” translates to invisible. Everyone has a boring “professional” portrait with no personality. Doing the same thing is the worst thing for your personal branding efforts.

14 Successful brands are built on beliefs. Not products.

Most people never think about the important underpinings of their brand. They just want to deliver a good product. Build the business. Make some sales. And earn a good living.

That’s understandable. But the most successful small businesses — and all the beloved, billion-dollar brands — are built on a solid foundation of shared values and beliefs. And those values go way beyond product attributes.

4 Class A Offices. Class C Websites.

Moved into a swanky new office building last week. (Great views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, Three Sisters and the Phoenix Inn parking lot.)

The Alexander Drake Building, Downtown Bend, OR As I was unpacking boxes, lifting heavy furniture and contemplating the feng shui, it occurred to me that professional service firms spend a lot of time and money on their office space. And rightly so.

7 Verbal Branding & Brewpub Beer Snobs.

I had an experience in a brewpub recently that was inspiring and insulting at the same time. It proved the point that what you say, and how your front-line employees speak, can have a major impact on your branding efforts. It only takes one bad experience…

craft beer brands and branding tipsKeep in mind, this Oregon, where there are more brewpubs per capita than anywhere on earth. So craft brewing brands are plentiful and the competition is stiff. If you don’t like the food or the service or the beer in one brewpub, just walk around block and try another one.

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1 If you got hit by a bus, what would happen to your brand?

Death and taxes. Death and taxes. The two are always lumped together as inevitable parts of life. So why, as business people, do we obsess over taxes and ignore the issue of death?

Nothing derails a small business faster, and more dramatically, than death. When a partner or key employee dies, or experiences a death in the family, the business suffers. No two ways about it. The question is, is your brand strong enough to survive a devastating personal loss?

My dentist lost his 3-year-old daughter in a drowning accident. How do you go back to drilling teeth after that?

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