Make an Impact

Marketing Insight to Grow your Business

What’s Your Story? January 28, 2009

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Every company has a story. A pregnant, working mom is frustrated with the lack of professional maternity wear available. She takes a chance and launches a clothing line. An immigrant family’s love for traditional Russian food inspires them to open a restaurant. A struggling college student launches a tech support company in his dorm room. Over the years, he transforms it from a one-man operation to a division of Best Buy called Geek Squad.

People don’t identify with products or services. People identify with people. And, there is a story behind every person. The first step to building a relationship with  your market is to open up and share your story. Where did you come from? How did you get here?  And, how does your story shape the way that you do business? Put the story on your website and, if it’s really interesting, pitch it to local media. They love a good human interest story!

While tactics like coupons and discounts cost money and only serve to cheapen your brand, sharing a true story about your path to success costs little and will work to strengthen both brand perception and market share.

 

Integrated Marketing Summit Lacked Realistic Takeaways November 18, 2008

I attended the Integrated Marketing Summit last Thursday. I signed up for the same reason every company decides to go to a conference- to learn some applicable tips from the big dogs and to get my networking on. I mingled and made some solid connections during the networking mixer but I must admit I was a little disappointed in the content of the conference.

The Summit website said that we should expect to hear “the latest thinking on integrated marketing, presented by high profile dynamic gurus, with great examples and stories to share from a national and international perspective.” The speakers were impressive, no doubt- VP of Communications at Mars, VP of Marketing at Coca-Cola, along with Creative Directors from The Martin Agency (masterminds behind the UPS whiteboard campaign) and Gigante Vaz Partners. However, these companies’ marketing budgets are no noubt impressive as well. Sure, it’s interesting to hear how a company like Mars built buzz through TV interviews and social media for a campaign that involved building a giant Statue of Liberty M&M and sailing it in the NY Harbor. But, what about that story is applicable for a start-up, boutique marketing agency like mine? It seems that I wasn’t the only one who shared this sentiment. By the time the third presenter stepped down from the podium, everyone at my table was discussing how jealous they were of the speakers’ budgets. Rather than vigorously scribbling down new, exciting ideas of how to incorporate integreated marketing in their businesses, people actually started to look a little deflated. I realize that the speakers intended to inspire us with success stories but they failed to inject their tales of marketing grandeur with some good old-fashioned, realistic takeaways. And, that’s why the Summit missed the mark for me. It was a classic example of neglecting the needs of a market. At least the sushi and the conversations I shared with fellow Atlanta professionals were memorable!

 

Sometimes you’ve got to roll up your sleeves July 18, 2008

…and do some nitty, gritty marketing research. It’s not the glamorous, creative or “fun” work that us marketing geeks get excited about, but it is a necessary (and, yes, sometimes evil) part of growing your business.

When was the last time you took a close look at your position in the market compared to your competitors? Market Opportunity Analysis is something most companies do when they begin business or when they are about to launch a new product or service. But, that’s not the only time it can provide value. Keeping tabs on the current trends and needs in the marketplace is a solid way to ensure that you are marketing your company in the most strategic way possible. It can help you identify unmet needs in the market and align resources to deliver continued value to your customers. Market Opportunity Analysis may sound like no fun at all, but the return on investment will be something to smile about!

 

Position Yourself as an Expert; Part 1: Be Everything to Someone, or You’ll Be Nothing to Everyone January 3, 2008

Since I started freelancing I have noticed something time and time again. Companies all over the nation seem to be suffering from an identity crisis similar to what a teenager goes through in those first painful years of highschool (sans the acne). They silently wonder;

  • Who am I?
  • What makes me special?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What if I fail because people don’t like what I have to offer? 

These are valid questions for both a teen and a business, but it seems that many companies are failing to answer them. I’ve seen web design companies that sell self-help books and IT consulting companies that offer-gasp-landscaping services. It’s like walking into a diner and the hostess asking if you would like your car washed and your teeth cleaned while you wait for your patty melt. It seems businesses are afraid to focus on their strengths and provide specialized services because they think it will limit their market. But, who said a limited market is bad? The sooner you realize that you can’t be everything to everyone- the better off your company will be.

Let’s take that hormonal and confused teen into consideration again- we’ll call her Suzie. On top of school, Mom wants Suzie to play soccer, Dad wants her to be on the debate team, her friends want her to sing in their rock band and she wants to take art classes. Worried Suzie may disappoint her friends and family, she decides to do all of the above. With too much on her plate, it’s not long before she is missing soccer practice, failing Algebra, forgetting the words to her songs and struggling to keep her eyes open through art class. Suzie spread herself too thin by trying to please everyone and, in doing so, she inhibited herself from excelling at anything.

If you want to avoid going down the same path that poor, misguided Suzie did, now is the time to take a long, hard look at what your company has to offer and who you want your market to be. Focus on offering the services and products that your company delivers best and position yourself as the expert in that particular segment. Answer the questions that Suzie did not and you have a MUCH greater chance at surviving in this giant high-school that is the business world. Plus, you’ll have someone to sit with at lunch.