The building of a brand icon “When Andy Warhol wanted a shape to represent mass culture, he drew the [Coca Cola] bottle and when Volkswagen wanted to celebrate the shape of the Beatle, they compare…
Source: A Brand Icon: Coke Bottle Still in Great Shape 100 Years Later!
Whenever I give a presentation on marketing, one brand I reference frequently is Coca Cola. In over 100 years of marketing, Coke is one of the most iconic worldwide brands. Today, Coca Cola has receded in sales inside the company but it’s recognized everywhere. Few people on the planet don’t know what it is.
I tip my hat to them. Coca Cola initiated many of the marketing communication methods still in use today. Their distinctive bottle design, branded cups, machines and dispensers, logo’d merchandise beyond the product, giveaways, brand extensions (Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke), sponsorship, product placement and more, have become so commonplace it’s hard to remember when that kind of marketing didn’t exist.
I also chuckle at myself because I paid them to visit the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta years ago. I gave them money so they could market to me. I even bought some logo glasses in the gift shop.
If you have one lesson to learn from Coke, besides being delicious, is that being true and clear about your vision can help sustain you for the life of your business and, possibly, beyond.
The Reports of The Death of Email Newsletters Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Believe it or not, ezines, or email newsletters, are still an incredibly effective communication tool for local small businesses because of their in-depth material. I started my email newsletter a couple of years ago but it was a few years in the making. I wanted to do this for a long time but never thought I had anything important to say.
Then, I got on Facebook and people told me they liked my writing and how I’d helped them. After all, helping is exactly what I wanted to do. So, I fundamentally shifted my view of my business and realized that I was being of service to others if I shared my local small business marketing ideas with more people.
The most important marketing tool you have, besides yourself, is your knowledge. And, your knowledge can help people. You probably already know that because your customers tell you that…I hope.
Knowledge is the heart of content marketing and in today’s world, content marketing is king. Content marketing means sharing information with your customers and prospects to educate them. Local small businesses now have to work harder to attract savvy customers. With fierce competition, they need better reasons and experiences to buy and choose from us over the other guy.
Launch Your Local Small Business Email Newsletter In 5 Steps
1) A Marketing List
Over the course of several emails, I outlined how to build your list. You can refresh your memory here, here and here.
2) A White-Hatted Email Marketing Service
What’s a white-hatted service? Benchmark Email, the one I use, is. It’s like an old Western movie. The good guys wear the white hat and the bad guys wear the black hat. The major ISPs like Yahoo, Earthlink, Google, Hotmail, AOL et al, look for companies that have healthy emailing practices and identify them as white hats. The white hats pass through the servers unabated because they’ve proven their trustworthiness. The black hats get stopped at the door, shuffled to a SPAM folder or completely deleted off your server, unknown to you. No, spam filtering isn’t perfect but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.
If you just send one from your email account, you are inviting trouble. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) i.e. Comcast, ATT, views your large list suspiciously and you can get jammed up by the recipients ISP, blocking you forever.
White-hatted services like Benchmark also offer tons and tons of templates that make your newsletter practically a no-brainer. You try it FREE for 30-days, play with it and see if it works for you.
3) A Viewpoint
Your email newsletter need not consist of anything more than a short article and, occasionally, an offer like a discount, free consultation or an event. If you hate to write, you can hire someone to do that or you can use a service for your industry. If you work for a large national firm or franchiser, they will often supply the materials to you. If you create a goal of 250 words or less, you can do it. That’s a single page, double-spaced. God knows, you cranked out more than that in college.
Here’s a link to get lots of inspiration for creating blog postings because it’s effectively the same as writing an article. The difference is you send your newsletter out and your blog waits to be discovered.
26 Blog Posts to Write Before Your Competitors Do…(with Examples)
4) An Album of Complementary Photos
Dollar Photo Club is the BEST place to get images to use in my newsletter aside from my own photos. I like Dollar Photo Club because I pay for the image which makes its a clean-cut transaction where I don’t step on someone’s toes. You won’t run into copyright issues or upset someone because you stole their image. iStockphoto.com used to be my go-to place for finding images. They just got too expensive for providing me with a good supply of images.
You can resort to using your own photos. If you take lots of them, good for you. I just can’t keep up with my own demand. So, stock photos work great for me.
You can use flickr as well though I’ve completely struggled on how to use their images, giving credit to the owner and sizing it to fit my blog.
5) A Commitment, A Re-Commitment
You have to commit. I’m actually recommitting because getting a newsletter together isn’t simple.
- You have to do something no less than once a month or you will be forgotten, ignored or worse.
- Oh, trust me, it’s a struggle to get this baby out. I stay up late, fit it in between client work, try to get an advanced start, work through illness, skip meals. I’m expecting it to get better. I know it will. But, I’m committed. Your kind words spur me on. And, when you cry “uncle”, I’ll stop.
Good luck! Let’s see what happens.
When I was in college, I took ONE, count it ONE, philosophy class at the University of San Francisco because it was a graduation requirement. Catholic Jesuit education prides itself on producing well-rounded students. I certainly enjoyed the breadth of my education… just not philosophy.
It’s really, really hard to grasp something I found so nebulous and confounding. Go look up metaphysical, ontological, epistemology and coherentism. You’ll be ready to pull your hair out like I was. Somehow religious faith is easier for me to grasp than philosophy though I admire its philosophy hitmakers like Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, and Aquinas.
Which brings me to branding. I find it in the same category. I often get asked by local Bay Area business owners if I do branding. My pat answer is no. I can help you create a logo, a website, find the right thing to say and help capture and promote the uniqueness of your business. But, I don’t do branding.
Why? Because branding isn’t a formula or a puzzle. Branding isn’t a THING, it’s a way of being. Basically, it’s your business’ personality and essence. It often results in feelings from your customers, the best one being loyalty. See! I’m starting to wander off into philosophy.
One key element of branding is customer service. That’s out of my hands. That’s up to you, Mr. and Miss Business Owner. Then, there’s your values, your philosophy, your mission, your approach. So, the relationship of local business owner and marketer is to get your brand identity created and then, promoted to get you customers. Marketers can only help your local small business marketing so much. The rest is up to you.
Staeven Frey of QCMG Agency in Nashville, TN does such a good job describing Branding 101, I’m sharing it here and bowing down to his great description.
The entire article, Brand Messaging 101: How Do I Do That? is available at this link. From Staeven Frey:
First, before I can share with you what brand messaging, I want to share what its not.
Brand Messaging is not a formula
Brand messaging is not some formula you can put together to execute seamless communication tactics…blah blah blah…those fancy words don’t mean anything. And while this is a “1-2-3″ kind of post, we’re talking about principles and big ideas–what I would call variables, but not prescription items that go into a formula. A better term altogether is “equation,” since everyone’s equation is different–and one size does not fit all.
Brand messaging is the voice you use
Its the combination of tone, message, verbals, non-verbals. Its the complete verbal + visual equation of how you express yourself. Most people use their voice in person, but when you’re an organization, you use other things too. Brand messaging is the full range of “stuff” that you use. Its business cards to print to your building–everything that shares yourself with the world.
I write this to dissuade you from believing that if you just get the right logo or the perfect business card, your branding woes will be over. Do do those things and, then, just be really great at your job. Help get the word around and create the brand that you are proud to own.
Message Is Not The Media
A Great Local Marketing Messaging Cuts Across All Media Channels
It’s tempting with all the new marketing channels created by the Internet to get caught up in the hype of the latest and greatest toy. Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, SnapChat seem like huge engines to get your local business notices. No doubt, your social media toy is shiny and cool. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about Facebook and Twitter. You cannot turn anywhere and miss the conversation about them. But, those are the media channel from which you communicate. The media is the means to get your message out, the way to interact. Your MESSAGE is why they engage with you.
Without your strong relevant message and/or noteworthy activities like client successes or new products, it will not matter what media you choose for your marketing. Think of it like the news. While the news can be crazily sensational, it constantly piques your interest. You can pique prospects’ interest if you have a great, interesting, compelling message.
In ancient times, storytellers told tales and lessons from ancestors. The town crier delivered news of the day and messages from the leaders. In some cultures, there were drums delivering information. Stone tablets were another favorite from the Bible. Then, we evolved to pen and paper. That guy, Guttenberg, changed the whole world with a printing press, creating mass media nearly overnight.
Throughout the evolution of communication from the stone tablets, printing press to Internet-driven citizen journalists and content publishers, it’s the story, the substance, the essence that have mattered most to the recipient of the message. The method (AKA as the media) of message delivery is not doubt a big deal. While television networks, radio stations and networks, newspapers (until recently), printers and Internet companies are HUGE businesses, they only deliver news and messages created by others.
The Truth of Messaging
Your local business marketing message has to pique a prospect’s interest. They are not robots. They want to be excited. They are curious. They want to feel safe. Message matters because however a prospect encounters you, they want to know what you do, what you think and how your business can help them.
It is ESSENTIAL for a service-based companies to have a strong message. You have no product that your prospect can hold and they really, really have to trust you to buy from you
Think about your own experience. What’s the last thing you bought? How did it catch your eye? Why that product? Why not something else? Why are you spending your money there? Use that experience to think about what message “they” sold you on and use it to influence your message
Worried about scaring them with a “negative” message? Study after study shows that humans respond to problems better than goals. You won’t be negative or scary if you come from a genuine place of help.
3 Ways To Develop A Strong Message
Answer one of these questions. Write out your story. Cut it down to a few lines or just one. Tell that story to everyone.
- What problems do you solve for your clients?
- List them out
- See if you can consolidate them into several major themes
- Keep in mind that clients will pay for results. So what results can you deliver?
- What successes have your clients had from working with you?
- Along the lines of results, what numbers or statistics did you clients achieve.
- Think of what happened when they came to you, what you did and what happened from working with you.
- You can deliver that story in about 3-5 lines.
- What is the most passionate, core idea of your business? What motivates you?
- You probably give free advice. That’s your passion.
- Your passion drives the free advice – a belief that everyone deserves….(fill in the blank)
- What would you stand on a soap box and tell anyone who’ll listen about your profession.
With a strong message, you’ll find others responding to you and trying to help you because they understand you. After all, isn’t that what we all want? A little understanding.
Given the explosion of blogs and bloggers, you probably think you’re going to get lost in a churning sea of information. That’s entirely possible. But, there are some things you can to do pull your blog into the boat and save yourself from drowning or getting lost at sea.
Why should you blog? For local businesses it’s a surprisingly good way of adding “juice” to your website. Google’s algorithm (the formula for delivering results) is constantly on the hunt for three things: 1) relevance, 2) freshness, and 3) connection. When you blog, you do all of those, making it far more likely that your business will turn up in the highly coveted organic results. Remember, Google wants be the go-to search engine so they give you results that really match your query. Then, the look for websites that are tended to. A blog shows that you tend your website without you constantly having to update your other pages. As far as connections go, the algorithm looks for social media connections and links. Comments go along ways to. See if you can solicit comments from some of your fans and remember to post your blog to your Facebook Fan Page.
In this infographic, that’s intended for new local business blogs, there’s great advice for both new and experienced bloggers to get discovered by Google. Of course, Google isn’t the only search engine but it’s used by 70% – 80% of all users. So it’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room. It cannot be ignored. Appealing to Google is the best way to juice up your blog.
Infographic by Digital Philippines