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.
Honestly, one of the most annoying habits of my college-aged niece and my high school-aged nephews is their near refusal to answer the phone. Texting seems to elicit better responses, albeit, sometimes not as much or as often as I’d like. I know they’re actively in touch with their peers. I guess I have to accept that their aunt is lower on the totem pole.
So, if you’re employing Millennials, consider that their similar communications habits. In a world overrun with 50 ways to communicate, they are dependent on their ability to control their world, starting with the phone. I admit I don’t like the constant disruption of the phone, either. It breaks concentration when uninterrupted, focused time is a precious commodity these days. That’s a lesson for all of us.
Hey, maybe these whippersnappers are on to something!
“You shouldn’t be surprised that Millennials won’t answer the phone. However, their excuses might surprise you.”
Calls can sever focus, disrupt work flow, and draw people away from crucial projects.
- Texting allows users to respond at a convenient time between tasks.
Calls presume that the person you are calling should drop everything and adhere to your agenda.
- Texting (like email) is passive communication that doesn’t presume a real-time interaction.
Calls give the perception of more airtime, so callers can neglect to gather the necessary information up front and will talk out loud until they land on the intended message.
- Texting forces you to put your thoughts into words, which can be edited or condensed, and allows you to communicate the essential information for maximum efficiency.
Missed calls result in phone tag, a supremely idiotic and unnecessary game in an age of bountiful communication alternatives.
The time costs of a “quick five-minute call” can exceed 20 minutes, including the salutations, pleasantries, small talk, goodbyes, and time it takes to refocus on the original task, which, some experts say, can take 23 minutes after a disruption.
- Texting limits unnecessary salutations and the exchange of irrelevant information, and the time cost can be as low as a few seconds
Probably time for older employers to adapt to their employees behavior. At the same time, I hope Millennials realize, soon, that texting lacks tone and sometimes you need tone to make sense of what’s being communicated. That’s not a bad two-way street.
Source: 5 Reasons Millennials Aren’t Answering Your Phone Call | Inc.com
Take an honest assessment of where your business is today. Get out a piece of paper (or an electronic doc) and make note of what you need to: Start doing Stop doing Continue doing based on last year’s results. What’s not working in your marketing activities? Where are you dropping the ball with customers? How can you improve your profit margin? This one step alone will make a huge difference in creating new strategies and action steps for the coming year.
Source: Is Your Business Ready for 2016?
If you’ve read the EMyth or follow any of their advice, you know how valuable and wise Michael Gerber’s former organization is. I know I’m already looking ahead to 2016, making plans and charting my course.
In the linked article, there’s great advice about not just skipping the last 2 months of the year but using it to reflect and map out your business’ plans for the 2016 into 2018.
One of the many great pieces of advice:
- Start doing
- Stop doing (emphasis added)
- Continue doing based on last year’s results
If you’re feeling out of tune with your company’s direction or are overwhelmed with the details of running your business everyday, you owe it to yourself and to your customers to have a plan. Planning always gets pushed aside for the urgent. Planning isn’t urgent but it’s necessary. I guess I’m in the same boat as all of you. Time to book some library time for myself and plot a course for 2016.
Have you ever attended a networking event where someone just went up and shoved a business card or flyer in your hand?
I had a guy at a chamber mixer start talking to me about freestanding saunas and telling me that I should have one, that it was only $6,000 to buy one and all the health benefits. I kept trying to get a word in and tell him that I hated saunas because I feel claustrophobic in them. How did he know that’s where I wanted to spend my money or if I had the room? It was annoying and funny at the same time. He was just clueless.
Don’t be THAT guy!
The Achilles’ heel of networking is too many people expecting too much in a short amount of time. Marketing and relationship-building is an investment. Networking in an investment. People you meet are not ATMs. They are people craving connection. The first thing to deliver is openness, genuine curiosity and authenticity.
My friend, master networker, Kristy Rogers of Kristy Rogers Connects, teaches her clients how to be a pleasure to do business with. Every step of interacting with other people should be a pleasure. That’s not stiff, boring or clinical. It’s authentic, warm, caring. Isn’t that what we want in the human experience anyways?
Ivan Meisner, Founder of BNI (Business Networking International) , wrote recently in Entrepreneur magazine online:
Many people rely on referrals from others as a primary source of business. However, not everyone who relies on referrals is successful. Why is this? I’ve studied these folks — and those who are not successful seem to have “surface level” referral relationships.
They know just enough about their referral sources’ businesses to get by. They don’t actually know a lot about the people themselves. They tend to say vague things like: “He is really nice,” “You’ll like her; she’s a good person,” or “Well, if you just meet with him, I am sure you’ll like him.” If pressed further, they probably couldn’t tell you much more about those people — and they almost certainly have not built enough social capital with them to count on them when they really need something from the relationship (and vice versa).
Most people go to a networking event to “meet” people. So many think “meet” means get sales, failing to realize that marketing is like dating. If the guy wants to marry you on the first date, RUN! He’s probably a stalker or remaking an episode of Criminal Minds. If you don’t date like that, why do you market like that?
Before you become the Networker From Hell, consider this:
5 Do’s and Don’ts To Being A Pleasure to Network With
It’s time to have a little fun, support the group that’s running it, try out some wine, get some good food and meet people like you would at a social function…within limits like staying sober and not being obnoxious.
1) Go to network with an open heart
I had a business coach who would ask me after every event if who I met was a lead or not. I DID NOT like that. How should I know? I had met them for a few minutes, I had no idea. BUT, I did know that would meet for coffee or a chat on the phone and figure out how we could help each other. Maybe we couldn’t. Maybe they were someone who could help me or I could refer them. I just didn’t know until I talked with them more. All I’ve ever wanted to do is meet great people. I’ve learned…Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and been surprised…a lot!
2) Be genuinely curious
Ever heard this before? Act like the host. Most people don’t know what that means. To me, you just ask good, open-ended questions and pepper in some conversation extenders like:
- “What do you do?”
- “Tell me more about that.”
- “How did you get into your business?”
- “What were you doing before your current job?”
- “What’s the best part of your business?”
- “Where else are you networking?”
- “That sounds good.” “I never thought of it like that.”
You don’t have to be fake. It’s just like meeting a new friend.
3) Don’t drink too much. Stay away from hot-button issues?
Oh, regrets. I’ve had a few. Being tipsy at a business function has never served me well. So, I won’t drink at networking functions anymore. But, staying away from hot-button issues? I’ve had some great conversations when disagreeing with others. I look for people who have a strong opinion. It doesn’t faze me. Do what fits your style and taste. You may not like to be so outgoing. That’s okay. As long as it’s not insulting, I think having a different idea is good. Either way, just don’t be afraid to be yourself.
4) Commit to get deeper
Someday you’ll have to ask Speaking Guru, Lynn Kirkham of Yes! You Can Speak, about our initial deep conversation. The amount of people we had in common was astonishing! We discovered we had a mutual good friend (to both of us) and we called her from my cell phone but Lynn was speaking. Our friend was soooo confused…at first. After that, Lynn and I quickly bonded. It just took a while for us to get really deep. The more we got to know each other, the more we strengthened our friendship and business relationship, to do business with each other. Getting deep can create incredible referral sources for us and create wonderful friends.
5) Be in it for the long haul
Getting referrals, good ones, takes time. Having great connections takes time. Go to your networking knowing you want to meet quality people that see it like you do…long-term. In the “marketing is like dating”, it may not be marriage but a steady long-lasting relationship is an beautiful outcome.
See. You can save yourself from becoming the Networker From Hell and be a pleasure to network with. Just need a little gumption and commitment!