3 Steps to Ease Your Way Into Mobile Marketing

Given the number of mobile devices in the world (over 6 billion in 2012) and the percentage of entrepreneurs who report an increase in business after adding mobile marketing to their advertising (84 percent), don’t you think it’s time to go mobile? Ease into mobile marketing with these three manageable steps:  Step 1: Be locally relevant Tapping into your local market is an easy and affordable way to test out a new mobile strategy. To give your business a little boost in local search results, make sure all your online promotional materials include a complete and accurate address and a local telephone number. Mobile users responding to surveys have been pretty clear: if an online listing or ad doesn’t contain locally relevant information, they’ll just find one that does. Furthermore, they cite local information, local offers and special promotions as the top-ranking reasons they engage with mobile advertising. Step 2: Create value, not offense Because mobile devices are far more intimate than other media channels, it’s important to offer value to users. If you don’t, you’ll be perceived as a pushy invader of personal space. Use opt-in programs as much as possible, and remember to offer special deals and information …

5 Great Apps for Small Businesses

Run Your Business While You’re on the Run 2013 has become the year of the mobile device. A great number of business owners in the U.S. and Europe are now virtually running their companies from their smartphones, and more converts are joining every day. So let’s talk today about how apps for your mobile device can help you run your small business more efficiently. None of the apps we’re looking at today are especially new on the scene. That’s the point – these are tried and true, high value business apps to help you manage everything while you’re on the run.  Dropbox Dropbox has been king of the cloud since online storage began. It provides users with easy storing, sharing and management for all kinds of data. Save a file to Dropbox and it’s accessible from your mobile device. Share files and folders with colleagues with a simple link. Dropbox works on just about any mobile device, laptop, or desktop system you can name.  Evernote Evernote is the ultimate librarian. The app allows you to clip interesting articles, take notes on them, and save it all into a file containing related information. Using a system of notes, notebooks, tags and …

Zeroing in on the True Value of Social Media Marketing

Surveys conducted at the end of last year show a general trend of businesses moving into social media marketing while reducing their advertising in other online and off-line channels. Is the shift paying off for them? The answer depends to a large extent on what goals each company sets for their social media marketing. Visibility is easy to achieve. But does having thousands of Facebook fans drive purchasing and build the bottom line? It might – if those fans are responding, evaluating, and making recommendations within their own network of friends and family. Research has showed us repeatedly that people trust online consumer reviews and recommendations from family, friends and associates more than they trust messages from corporate marketing departments. There’s a great payoff to be had when the goal of a company’s social media marketing is to inspire this kind of advocacy. Build the right kinds of relationships Too many businesses are inundating their social media channels with product updates and thinly-veiled advertising. Remember that “social” is something that you are – be social! Instead of giving away free stuff to people who never intend to purchase, run contests featuring real people using your product. Look to create brand …

How You Can Apply Personal Branding Strategies to Your Dating Life

We’re going to do something a bit different today and a bit tongue-in-cheek as well. I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine, where he was explaining that he had recently begun to apply certain basic branding principles to his dating life, apparently to great success.  At first, I wasn’t quite sure if he was pulling my leg or making a joke, but as he made his case point by point I found myself agreeing with him.  I’ll lay out his basic thought process: The basis of any branding effort is consistency.  In the arena of online dating (primarily where this applies to according to my friend,) having control over your own static profile gives you absolute messaging consistency.  You can select each and every profile photo to maximum effect, to give off a certain sort of impression, and if you fail to do so it is because of your own poor selection. Another important element of branding he pointed out was relevance.  In online dating, he was able to make a clear and succinct demonstration of how he would be relevant to his date’s lives.  He could focus on promoting the facets of his personality that …

Sometimes, the Secret to Success is Failure

It’s a sad fact that not every great idea results in instant success. There are lots of stories about great thinkers and entrepreneurs who failed, started over, and rose from the ashes of their failures to build legacies. Henry Ford had five failed businesses before he founded Ford Motor Company. Bill Gates quit school and started a business called (wait for it) Traf-o-Data. It went under. This list could go on, but you get the point. If your small business is struggling and you’re afraid it might fold, don’t give up yet. It might be time to consider a business pivot. Simply put, a pivot involves re-evaluating what is and isn’t working in your business, and shifting your focus appropriately. Preparing the pivot The toughest part of making a business pivot is simply admitting that you’ve made a mistake. It may take some time to get over this hurdle, but once you’ve made the leap, things will get easier. Revisit the research you did at startup. Are you reaching the customers you originally targeted? Did you target the right group of consumers, or do you need to identify a better market? Is your product priced correctly, and does it deliver …

5 Ways to Build Brand Trust

You already know that it’s hard to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. By creating a relationship of trust with consumers and prospects, you can add value to your brand and differentiate yourself from competitors. The Values Institute has identified five values as major components of consumer trust. Here’s how your brand can build trust by targeting each of these values: Ability Guarantee that your brand comes across as competent throughout all consumer touch points. Make sure your website is attractive and easy to navigate. Customers should be able to find (and ideally, purchase) what they’re looking for easily. Your business space should be equally welcoming, with employees ready to assist and advise. Concern Show concern for each and every client with outstanding customer service. Build brand trust by displaying a real interest in your customers’ needs. Offer a customized experience, with recommendations tailored to specific client requirements, and solid rewards for returning customers. Provide an easy method for customer feedback, and respond to that feedback. Connection As discussed in earlier posts, brand trust is formed by shared values. Demonstrate your values through your social media presence, your superior level of customer service, and your support of community activities that give …

Creative Brand Consistency – Hitting the Target

It’s easy – and dangerous – to confuse consistency with endless repetition. Brand consistency should never equate with boring. So how does a brand communicate a consistent message over a long period of time while staying creative and relevant? Let’s take a look at how the Target chain does it. Target is a business behemoth. The discount chain operates more than 1700 stores, covering almost every state in the U.S. with plans to expand into Canada. In business for just more than 50 years, Target has steadily built its reputation and its personality with a consistent, yet always evolving message of high quality and low price. Visual Impact Target’s bright red and white bulls-eye is one of the most recognizable images out there. To build brand awareness, the image is used on billboards, print and online advertising – even store rooftops. (And a distinctive bulls-eye parachute appeared in every episode of “Survivor” season two!) Bullseye, Target’s mascot dog, has been everywhere, walking red carpets and even on display in Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum. Promotional Messaging Over the years, Target has spread the word that good taste and low prices can peacefully co-exist. In the early 2000s Target launched the incredibly …

The Importance of Brand Consistency

When a person behaves consistently, we learn to trust them. And when their behavior is arbitrary or erratic, we begin to doubt them. People respond to brands in exactly the same way – consistent behavior builds loyalty and trust. When your brand is consistent across all touch points, a long-lasting bond of trust is established. Consistency is vital to the well-being of your brand. Here are few ways to build and maintain it: Visual Consistency When developing your brand’s visual identity, look to brand personality for defining characteristics. Choose elements – logos, graphics, typeface, colors – which reflect that personality in a unique and easily identifiable way. Then keep these elements constant across all media! This includes billing and shipping as well as in-house and promotional materials. Message Consistency Once again, look to your brand’s personality to determine the tone and content of messaging. Use the work you’ve already done developing that personality to guide you in the creation of your brand’s unique voice. Find the words and concepts that best portray your brand personality and put them to work in all brand messaging. Remember the importance of message consistency as you make use of the various social media platforms. …

The New Flipboard and Small Business Marketing

Flipboard was unveiled in 2010 to a nearly unanimous chorus of rave reviews. This nifty app aggregates news, Twitter and Facebook feeds into an easy to read, graphically rich interface that looks like a glossy magazine. Last week Flipboard launched an update for iOS that created a bit of media buzz. Flipboard’s new version allows users to curate and create their own custom magazines. Most media reviewers have been saying that the new Flipboard is easy to use, more fun, and even more addictive than before. What has been mostly absent from the majority of press coverage, however, is the potential this app now has for small business marketing. The new Flipboard is designed to let readers compile a magazine based on their own personal interests, or to assemble career-boosting information. It’s also a venue for publishers to share their archives and spotlight special collections. Unless designated private, all Flipboard magazines are public. Users can share Flipboard content on their Facebook timelines, and magazines can be commented on and liked. It’s even possible to subscribe to another user’s magazine. Flipboard is made even more customizable with its new Content Search feature. Readers simply enter a topic, name or #hashtag to …

Refining Brand Personality

By now you should have a deeper understanding of brand personality. Now I’d like to address some specifics about distilling, or refining your brand’s personality so that it reflects your values and communicates them clearly to your target market. Remember that consumers are much more likely to purchase brands whose personalities are like their own. There are five basic types of brand personality: Excitement Exciting brands are daring, energetic and cutting-edge. For a good example, check out the Red Bull brand. Competence The competent brand is reliable, intelligent and efficient. FedEx has done a great job positioning their brand as highly competent. Sincerity A sincere personality acts in ways that are considerate, compassionate and family oriented. Dove is a great example of a sincere brand. Sophistication A sophisticated personality will distinguish itself as elegant, romantic, and perhaps just a little bit ostentatious. Chanel is the classic sophisticated brand. Ruggedness The rugged brands are outdoorsy, athletic, unpolished, rough and tough. Think about North Face or Harley Davidson and you’ll have the idea. More than likely, your brand fits into one of these general categories. Now let’s distill the generalities into a clear-cut, distinct personality that makes you stand out from the …