Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Recently I had the pleasure of working with an incredible
photographer. It was during a photo shoot that I realized
that he, in particular, was more than a picture taker, he was
an image maker. He takes the subtle nuances and feelings of a
person, place or thing that can only be experienced in real
life, then conveys as many of them as possible in his
photography, so the viewer can experience those same nuances
and feelings via the photo. It is these subtle nuances and
feelings that also make up a person or company's brand.
A lot of small businesses joke with me when we talk about
their brand, "I am not a brand, Coke, Nike and Wal-Mart are
brands." I usually reply "Yes you are!" Every person, place,
thing or entity is a brand. They all emote feelings and/or
images when we talk or think about them which in turn defines
their brand. The big question is "Is the brand fully defined
and who defined it?" When we mention Coke or Nike or Wal-Mart
certain feelings and/or images immediately come to our minds.
These companies spend billions defining their brand and what
it means to consumers, hoping that the feelings and/or images
result in sales.
A brand can be defined by the company or by its consumers. If
consumers define a brand the company has lost control of the
brand. For example - Brand A is viewed as a cheap alternative
to Brand X yet Brand X sells much more product because it's
brand is viewed as a better value, even though it is more
expensive and lower quality. Brand A did very little
marketing and let each consumers define their brand, while
Brand X executed a well thought out marketing strategy to
define and manage its brand.
Everything a business does defines their brand. How the phone
is answered, the appearance of a delivery person, how an
invoice looks, even how timely their collections are; these
are all reflections of the business which ultimately defines
the brand even more than marketing. Accordingly everything
that touches a client should be reviewed as a marketing and
brand defining opportunity. Consumers indirectly view it this
way, so should businesses.
For most small businesses, their brand is typically the last
thing they think about. Yet over coming a bad or consumer
defined brand is much more expensive and time consuming then
properly planning your brand strategy as part of your
marketing strategy. A well defined and supported brand
facilitates and accelerates word-of-mouth marketing,
referrals and loyal recurring customers - the very things
that will determine if a business is slightly or extremely
Small businesses have more to gain by properly defining their
brand because they can focus on the specific needs of their
market much better than the national brand of a big box or
chain store. Small businesses need to invest in their biggest
and most competitive asset, their brand, before someone else
takes control for them.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
messages, logos, press releases, and advertising. They are
all a part of marketing, but what about your everyday
information? Things like your lunch specials of the day,
industry news, do-it-yourself information, an employee of the
month memo or a list of products that have price reductions.
All of these things tend to get posted in your business and
never make it to your website or the web. It's a shame
because this type of information can be more helpful than
most marketing. It's the type of information that people are
looking for everyday.
People are always looking for information to help them make
their lives easier, whether it's parenting, working, fun
seeking, purchasing, house work, etc. The simple information
that you produce and use everyday in your business, can be
re-purposed as marketing.
As marketing? Yes marketing! In fact this type of information
will probably do a better job in connecting you with the
right consumers on search engines and social media than most
other marketing. It will help you because it is real and
focused, not made to sound self-promoting. It contains just
enough text to convey the information without the extra
marketing speak. Good simple information, properly placed on
your website and the web, is a powerful online marketing tool.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Recently we asked "Do you use coupons or special offers in
your marketing?" The resounding answer was yes: 88% of survey
respondents said they do. The interpretation was that maybe
the economic times called for a way to bring in more people
and keep cash flowing. So this week we will talk about the
power of offering deals, and how they can be used as a
powerful marketing tool for your business in good times and
Everyone likes a deal, even the mega-rich. There are two
deal types that consumers respect and respond well to: work
& reward and one-time/blow-out. Work & reward
involves a reward for consumers doing some work where
consumers feel that what they are gaining is more valuable
than what they are giving up; if there is no give and take,
there is no perceived deal. A blow-out or one-time deal is
something that is drastically reduced in price with the
perception that the reduction is a once in a lifetime offer.
Examples of "real deals"
Â· - A "buy one get one free" requires the consumer to
buy something in order to get the deal
Â· - Save $100 off the normal price of a $500 item
because we need to reduce inventory or we made a great buy at
a drastically lower cost. Only 10 are available at this
As the saying goes "If it sounds too good to be true...it
probably is." Consumers are skeptical, so when you want to
create a "real deal" follow this simple rule - Consumers know
you are trying to lure them in, so be straight forward about
it and either give them a reward for their efforts or a
price/discount that they can't pass up. As obvious as this
may sound, it is not practiced often. When it comes to deals,
quality is much better than quantity. One well advertised
"real deal" will produce more new sales and customers than
many so-so discounts that just dilute your regular offer.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The new economy of today presents a great opportunity for
local businesses to not only succeed, but expand their
customer base. You might wonder, How can I compete with large
stores and internet retailers prices? Well, in actuality the
bargains the large chain stores and internet offer are hardly
the deals they seem to be. At the end of the day, the
savings are quite minimal and the customer doesn't receive
the service, advice, or personal touch offered by local
In today's market, customers are seeking quality products for
their money. They're choosing how they spend their money
with more caution and rely on more information when it comes
to purchasing products. It's not about getting lots of items
cheaply, it's about customers getting products they want,
they need, and that will last. Local businesses can easily
tap into this customer mindset by providing quality service
and specialized products. As a local business, you offer two
things that larger stores do not: quality service and
1-Be helpful and give advice.
People will always pay a little more for better service if
they know you and feel they can trust you and your products.
Don't ever be hesitant to give advice because you fear those
potential customers will take your advice and then go buy it
on the internet or at a bigger store. Sure, some may, but for
most people, the sense of trust and interaction will prove
beneficial in the long run and next time they could buy from
you if your advice holds up. Providing help and advice is the
key to building customer-owner relationships.
2-Go the extra mile for your customers.
Making a customer's experience run smoothly will ensure will
become a repeat customer and pass the word on to their
friends. As a local business, you enjoy the benefit of being
geographically close to many of your customers. People value
their time, so if there's a product a customer needs to be
ordered, or they call and ask if you have this product, offer
to deliver it for a small fee. Let them know about events
related to your products in your neighborhood, county, or
region as it applies.
1-Be readily available for your customers.
How many times have you called a big store or shown up and
the person there didn't know how to help you? Local
businesses can be reached by phone and e-mail-answering
specific questions about products. By keeping your online
presence up-to-date, you can increase contact with your
community and customer base: update your online calendar of
events, announce new products, and be open to providing
advice for your community makes you stand out.
2-Let the big businesses in your area know you exist.
Big businesses carry a lot of products and sometimes
sacrifice specialization in one product for a diversity of
many products. Check out your local larger competitors, see
what it is they do and don't carry, and let the person
working there know you about your store. Perhaps when a
customer comes in to their store and can't find what it is
they need, the person working there will suggest your store
as an alternative. You offer a specific product and service
to the community, so let everyone know you're part of it!
3-Interact with your community.
Trying hosting events or showing up at local activities that
are related to the products you offer. By hosting events in
the evenings or on weekends based on products, skill sets, or
holidays, you will engage and interact with your core
customer base. This not only allows you to get to provide
your own kind of outstanding service, but it also allows you
to get feedback from your customer base and stay competitive.
Events are also easy to advertise with social media and can
easily be forwarded, which is why maintaining your online
presence is crucial.
The past few years have taught us to be creative with both
our money and our businesses and fortunately the online world
has made customer-business interaction increasingly easier.
By interacting with your customer base online, at your store,
and in the community, your reputation will spread and your
store will thrive in any economy.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I have been a part of developing over 1000 websites for small
to mid-size companies and the Fortune 100. When we finished a
website and it went live, our clients breathed a sigh of
relief. "Phew, glad we got that done," as though it was never
to be touched again. I understand building a website takes
effort, but a website that is not updated regularly is
nothing more than last week's newspaperâ�¦ its only good to
line the cat's litter box.
A recent survey stated that most websites are updated
quarterly with the large majority only updated 1-3 times a
year. This is a big problem considering that the survey was
taken with small businesses; the group that has the most to
gain from their website. So why is updating your website
frequently so important?
Search engines like updated websites
Search engines record how often you update your website. The
more you update your website, the more they will rank its web
pages and the more people will find you on search engines.
Reach more people
The more you update your website, the more content it will
have and the more likely people will find you when they are
looking for information.
Your customers will visit it more often
An important part of updating your website is to keep your
customers informed. Whether it is news, a sale, an event, a
change in policy, etc., all of this is valuable information
that your customers want and can use. The more you update
your website the more you will connect with your customers.
It will also help attract potential customers.
You need to look current
Updating your website frequently will make it, and your
business, look lively. Customers like doing business with
lively companies. If your website is not current, it looks
like your business is outdated, stale and old.
Updating does not have to be hard
I suggest updating your website at least twice a month, if
not more often. You can update your website with simple
things like announcements, special offers, news etc. Updates
don't have to be big news or events, just information that
people can use. I suggest that you devote at least 30 minutes
a week to updating your website. Once you are used to it, it
will be easier and more productive. You will see the results
in a few weeks. In fact, I challenge anyone out there to show
me where updating their website consistently did not result
in an overall increase in website visitors.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
businesses? Social media is simply a new way to connect and
communicate. The big difference is that consumers are in
control of whom they get information from and connect with.
It also goes beyond connection in that we all are publishers
and consumers, there's no middle man (aka publishers) telling
us what we can or can't read or publish. For businesses,
social media is a very powerful way to stay connected with
customers and attract new ones.
What are the different types? There are 3 big ones,
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There are many others such as
My Space, Ning, etc. yet for now, these are the ones you need
to concern yourself with, as a business. The important part
is to understand the differences and how each one can benefit
Facebook is for personal connecting. It is great for
connecting and staying in touch with friends, schoolmates,
neighbors, etc. Accordingly, it is a great place for
businesses like restaurants, retail shops, etc. that sell to
individual consumers. How? Simply get your customers to
become a "fan" of your business. On Facebook, someone who
connects with you is called a "fan" if you are a business.
LinkedIn is for business connecting. It is great for finding
and connecting with colleagues, clients, potential clients,
vendors, etc. Accordingly it is a great place for a business
like printers, marketers, lawyers, etc. who sell to business
consumers. LinkedIn is like Facebook in that people connect
with you if you invite them or they invite you.
Twitter is about real time communication in short bursts.
Twitter lets you send out 140 characters of text to anyone
who is following you. It is best used for instant
communication. Good business examples are breaking news or
information, special deals or last minute changes.
Individuals and celebrities use it to tell their friends and
fans "this is what I am doing or thinking right now" I don't
recommend this for business until you fully understand the
media. I suggest you use it for instant communication of
timely information for your customers and followers whether
they are individuals or businesses. Similar to Facebook and
LinkedIn you can invite someone to follow you but they
ultimately decide to or not.
So how do I get started and what do I do? First, set-up
your business on the social media that will help your business
type. Second, start letting everyone know that you have an
account so they can follow, friend, fan or connect with you.
Third, start sending out information that is educational,
entertaining or informative. Forth, strike up a conversation
with those that respond to you. It's that simple. Social media
is a lot more effective and practically free compared to many
other traditional marketing and communication methods.
Last week's poll RESULTS
How often do you Twitter?
Everyday - 12%
4-5 times a week - 25%
1-3 time a week - 37%
Once a month - 12%
Never - 12%
IHO - I think it is safe to say that small businesses are
finding out that Twitter is a powerful marketing and
communication tool. According to our poll results they are
using it on average twice a week.
This week's POLL
Do you use coupons or special offers in your marketing?
Please vote at www.EggZack.com/Blog
If you have an idea for a poll send us an email at
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
First let's define community. Community simply means a place
of like minded or interested people. The strength of a
community is sharing thoughts, ideas, conversations, etc.
This is what neighborhoods, clubs, churches, non profits and
the like do, they form a community around what they are
So how does this translate into business and marketing
opportunities? Let me explain with an example.
You sell oysters and have two options to market yourself. The
first is to display and sell your oysters at a seafood
festival with 5,000 visitors. The second is to advertise in a
well read local publication with 100,000 readers. They both
cost the same, so which one do you pick. I would pick the
festival because each person at the festival has the same
interest as you - Seafood. You have a better chance of
gaining new customers with this community of like minded
people as opposed to a larger more diverse community of
100,000. Quality versus quantity.
But what if you could combine the two and benefit from both
quality and quantity. How? Create your own online community
of people with the same interest that your business has. With
an online community you can have both the quality of
relationships and quantity of marketing to anyone. This is
online marketing at its best.
An online community can help you reach and connect with more
people, more effectively. And the cool part is that you don't
have to do all of the work, you simply need to be the
catalyst and manager of the community. How?
1st - you need to provide the interest, and the place for
people to meet.
2nd - you need to provide the means for people to
communicate, share and keep informed
3rd - you need to manage the community so that it provides a
reason for people to come back and to tell others
A good example is a blog about seafood where you can share
with your community your love, questions, ideas and thoughts
about Seafood. You simply need to start it, post your
thoughts, invite people to participate, and keep the momentum
moving until the community does a lot of it for you. People
will in turn share their thoughts, ideas, etc with the
community too. Your genuine efforts will be rewarded with new
and more loyal customers.
Creating a community around the interests of your business is
one of the most effective forms of online marketing.
So why doesn't everyone do this. Simple. It does not produce
instantaneous results, it requires an investment of time. Yet
the benefits are long lasting and much more rewarding than
multiple instantaneous gains. In fact the return far exceeds
the investment. Start building today and harvest soon there