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When You Package the Game You Own the Game

One of the tools I’ve successfully employed over the years is packaging.

packaging

photo credit: Fl??d via photopin cc

Now, for many people, the idea of packaging is limited to boxes and bows. In a mostly service kind of business, packaging is all about how you package concepts and principles in ways that define your core difference, methodology and brand.

Here’s the thing I know for certain – effective packaging of your particular form of service is the path to far greater profits.

I’ll use some examples from my company to shed light on the various opportunities behind this concept of packaging for service oriented businesses.

Brand

The name of my company was not always Duct Tape Marketing, but I chose that name as the foundation for my “packaged” approach to installing a small business marketing system. Even the concept of installing marketing created a new package for how to think about marketing.

My brand then inherited some of the mostly positive associations that people already had developed around all things duct tape and that further enhanced the idea that what I was doing was unique.

Point of view

Another crucial element to this idea of packaging is what I call your “point of view.” I developed 7 foundational principles that the Duct Tape Marketing system is built upon and each of these steps became the building blocks for creating a consistent and persistent message for how my approach to marketing is unique. (Here’s the ebook that outlines those 7 steps if you’re interested.)

The point of view runs through most every element of content for awareness, education, trust building, conversion and follow-up. It’s the basis of ebooks, webinars and paid speaking worldwide.

When you create and nurture a meaningful package of principles you also start to build a common language that your community, or in my case, network of Duct Tape Marketing consultants can begin to understand, share and extend.

Methodology

While our point of view helps tell the story that attracts potential clients, it’s our working method that helps us stand out and deliver results. We have, you guessed it, 7 stages, all named and communicated, that each client goes through on the way to creating and implementing their unique marketing action plan and system.

When providing a service it’s essential that you are able to both demonstrate the tangible deliverables that are coming down the path and orient the client as to where they have been, are now and are going in the process.

Process

Every one of our stages breaks down into a series of named and branded deliverables. This tightly packaged approach has lots of flexibility but it also keeps the level of consulting consistent in a way that it can be duplicated in the hands of others.

Again, this provides a highly detailed road map for what many might consider an intangible. Packaging like this allows you to turn intangibles into tangibles consequently making them much easier to sell.

Tools

We’ve created a set of about fifty tools that we employ in various ways with most engagements. Again, these tools have names, many are client facing and most are used to educate as much as help in the delivery of a consistent end product. (Here’s an example we call The Talking Logo)

Tools handle the routine so we can focus on the creative and tools can be used over and over again creating a much more effective and efficient way to work. (These tools also used heavily in the lead conversion process.)

Pricing

My final and perhaps most important aspect of packaging thinking has to do with pricing. Most service firms sell their time and are often assessed by the “going rate” in the industry.

When you sell a package you are selling a result based on the accumulation of previous results. Which is another way of saying it no longer matters how long it takes you to get a result, the evaluation is based on the elements of the package and the total perceived value.

A sale of a seemingly intangible thing comes down to “here’s what I’m going to do, here’s what you’re going to do, here are the results we can expect and, by the way, here’s what it costs.” That’s the value of a highly developed and fully packaged service.

When you own the package and the package is completely aligned with a point of view, methodology, process and tool set you effectively eliminate comparison and ultimately stand the chance to own the game.

How to Anchor Your Brand With a Great Story

Shinola is a hot brand. The start up retailer has recent appearances in CBS News, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, New York Times and a host of daily newspapers and news shows to prove it.

Shinola

First off, let’s face it, Shinola is doing something a little unique. They are manufacturing low priced, upscale watches in a newly opened factory in the US – in Detroit to be more specific.

In addition to watches the brand has sourced US made leather goods, bikes and a handful of decidedly upscale accessories to round out their retail offerings. The company currently has three stores in Detroit, Kansas City and Manhattan.

So, why all the buzz?

Shinola is tapping a proven formula for branding success – a compelling story.

Not just a great story in the that’s entertaining kind of way, a great story in that it allows people come on in and feel like that are joining something valuable as a way of expressing their values.

The story invites us to support a social cause of sorts, to fight back against hard times, to support something hand made in Detroit.

polishAn introductory video on Shinola’s site starts with this line. Welcome to Detroit the new watchmaking capitol of America.

We believe in the beauty of manufacturing and the glory of industry.

Almost every element of the Shinola brand promotes the resurgence of American industry and uses Detroit, perhaps the greatest symbol of the hard times faced by American industry, as the backdrop and rallying cry for joining the movement.

To anchor this heritage kind of feel, founder Tom Kartsotis researched, found and purchased the rights to the once popular Shinola shoe polish and used this in conjunction with a Detroit manufacturing plant to create a brand narrative that allows people to dream a bit about why buying a Shinola watch is aspirational.

Now, here’s the point where I need to inject for the sake of balance that Kartsotis is the founder of Bedrock Brands, also the founder of the popular Fossil brand of watches. Shinola is no bootstrapped start up struggling to invest in becoming a part of the American dream, but they have showcased the power of a great story, a story people can tell themselves, in building a business.

The Shinola brand clearly uses its story to tug at the heartstrings of those wanting a return to the values and virtues of a time gone by when American manufacturing ruled the world and for that they have critics who question their authenticity.

One recent New York Times article offered this assessment – “Shinola is a self-described luxury brand animated by do-gooder impulses, taking the conceit of “Made in Detroit” and squeezing every last retail penny from it.”

When you bank on a great story you take risks and, like any great story, you need to live the story to make it so.

The 5 Small Business Marketing Pillars

Enjoy this guest post from Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Patrick Giammarco

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photo credit: Sam Beebe, Ecotrust via photopin cc

It’s no secret. These are challenging times for small businesses. We’re all searching for the answer to the question: “What can we do to win our share of business and escape the struggle?”

This time around branding seems to be the latest marketing trend small businesses are looking to for relief and to help ease their pain.

For small businesses, branding can be a savvy marketing initiative, but only if several important questions are answered first.

Questions like:

  • What are your company’s business goals or “end-game”?
  • What is your point of differentiation and core message?
  • Who is your Ideal Client?
  • What is your current position in the marketplace?

Branding is something you do after you’ve figured out what it is you’re trying to brand and should be fourth among five linked small business marketing pillars: strategy, differentiation, positioning, branding and marketing communications.

  1. Strategy - This is where branding should begin. All the goals of the branding program should align as closely as possible to the overall business strategy. This is also where critical marketplace questions need to be answered. Questions like: What business are we in? What service(s) do we provide? Do we provide significant benefits to our clients? What is our end-game or strategic goals?
  2. Differentiation – I talk a lot about differentiation because I believe that a clear differentiation strategy is the foundation of real competitive advantage. Prior to developing a branding strategy, small businesses must understand the ways in which they are uniquely valuable to their customers.
  3. Positioning – Don’t confuse positioning with branding and differentiation. Positioning is a separate principle that relates to a firm’s placement on a client’s mental map. Before creating a branding program, a firm should know what “spot” it holds in the marketplace today and whether or not their strategic objectives anticipate their customer’s future perspectives.
  4. Branding – I’ve said it before… branding is more about fulfilling an intangible emotional promise than about a logo or color scheme. Everything a firm does and says will be conformed to build a customer’s expectation.
  5. Marketing Communications – Perhaps the most familiar pillar. Many small businesses haven’t fully aligned resources to effectively communicate branding promises through carefully crafted messages and images. Consider carefully the words and visuals that will most effectively communicate the strategies identified above.

Small Business Marketing Takeaway:
Branding is crucial to the success of small businesses, but be careful not to let branding initiatives drive strategy. The reason some small business branding efforts fail is because firms don’t first understand where branding fits along the continuum of other marketing initiatives. You don’t need millions of dollars to address the five marketing pillars above. Many small businesses are able to do the most relevant strategic work first and develop sophisticated branding strategies on a modest budget.

21.thumbnailAbout Patrick Giammarco: I’m a marketing consultant and digital technology and Social Media coach. I am also the owner of PWG Marketing. As northwest Ohio’s only Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, I bring focus, control, clarity and confidence to small business marketing by installing the Duct Tape Marketing System. Visit www.pwgmarketing.com or email me at patrick [at] pwgmarketing [dot] com to schedule your complimentary Signature Brand Audit.

10 Tips To Help You Build A Successful Small Business Brand

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Ross Kimbarovsky   – Enjoy!

A brand is the sum total of the experiences your customers and potential customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility. Your brand lives in everyday interactions with your customers, the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, and in your posts on social networks.

How can a small business develop a strong brand on a tiny budget? Here are 10 tips to help you get started:

1. Be unique. One of the most iconic brands of our time – Apple – was reborn after it launched, in 1997, an innovative campaign inviting people to “Think Different”. Today, Apple products are perceived to be better designed, more fun, and more reliable than products from Apple’s competitors. What makes your business unique? What’s your story? What do you do that others in your industry do not do?

2. Grow your community. Many of the world’s best brands, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Virgin, and Skype, spend modest sums on advertising and instead, focus on building and improving their communities. Those companies understand that if people trust a brand’s community, they will extend trust to the brand.

Small businesses have many opportunities to build online and offline communities. For example, you can build online communities on Twitter, Facebook, your small business blog, on Instagram, or on other social networks. And remember that you can’t be in all places at once. Pick one or two places where you can focus building your community, and invest your time and resources there.

3. Build great products and services. Earlier this year, market research firm Millward Brown published its annual BrandZ study, ranking the world’s leading brands. When you consider that the number one reason people write about brands is to share experiences (see graphic below from the BrandZ study), Apple’s top ranking is not surprising – people love Apple’s products.

Some companies stop focusing on building great products and services when they become successful. This is a mistake. In 2008, Nokia was the world’s ninth most valuable brand. In 2011, Nokia was ranked 81st and this year, it fell even further. Even a strong brand will suffer when it creates average or below average products or services.

4. Have a good name and logo. A strong brand is easily recognizable. Recognition starts with the name of your business. The name will appear on your business cards, letterhead, website, social networks, promotional materials, products, and pretty much everywhere in print and online to identify your company or your company’s products and/or services.

It’s not enough to have a recognizable name. People commonly associate brands with the brand’s logo. As you think about your logo, keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your company. A good logo builds trust and a strong logo will help to pull your brand together. Think about the logos of some of the world’s most admired brands (Apple, Google, Amazon). How do you feel (emotionally) when you see their logos?

If you want to learn more about naming your business, we invite you to read 10 tips for startups and small business on naming your company. If you want to learn more about getting a great logo, we invite you to read 10 logo design tips for buyers.

5. Find your voice. What you say is important, but don’t overlook how you say it. Your company’s “voice” is the language and personality you and your employees will use to deliver your branding message and reach your customers. Successful brands speak with a unique voice. Think about the brands you admire – what makes them unique? How do they communicate with you and other customers? What do you like about their voice?

6. Be consistent. Many small businesses mistakenly change their messaging depending on their audience. For example, a company might take a more serious tone on their website but a very lighthearted tone on their Facebook fan page. This can confuse your customers and potential customers. To build and maintain a strong brand, every aspect of your brand should be as good as your product or service and you must be consistent in presenting your brand. This includes not only your company’s name, logo, overall aesthetic design, products and services, but also includes your marketing materials, website, appearances at trade shows and conferences, content posted to social networks, etc.

Why should you care about brand consistency? You should care because brand consistency leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to trust.

Many of you recall that Duct Tape Marketing recently redesigned its website to better and more effectively communicate with customers and potential customers. The old site was cluttered and at times, confusing. A cleaner design and greater consistency resulted in significant benefits.

7. Keep your promises. Although this is common sense, you’d be surprised how many small businesses tarnish relationships with their customers by failing to keep their promises. Happy customers who feel good about your business are your best source of referrals. For example, Zappos has built great trust and credibility with customers by promising quick delivery (2-5 business days) but Zappos goes even further and upgrades most customers to free overnight shipping. As a result, Zappos has very loyal and zealous customers.

8. Stand for something. Think about brands you love. Those brands commonly stand for something (or against something) and connect with their customers emotionally. One of my favorite companies, 37signals, develops software to help people collaborate. 37signals believes that most software is bloated and difficult to use. They don’t compete on features – they compete on usability. They have developed a reputation as a company that stands for easy to use software.

What does your business stand for (or against)?

9. Empower your customers. You are not in control of your brand. You can set your brand’s direction, but how your brand is perceived is determined by your customers and potential customers. People can become your brand’s ambassadors – spreading your ideas and brand to their own networks. Spend time nurturing relationships with such people. Who are they? What can they give and get in order to help your brand? Ultimately, successful brands recognize that if they help their customers succeed, the customers will in turn help the brand succeed.

10. Deliver value. Value doesn’t always mean lowest price. You can focus on product leadership (having the best products in the marketplace, like Apple), operational excellence (having the lower prices in the marketplace, like Ikea), or great customer service (Virgin, Zappos). You can also focus on a combination of those things.

As you think about the value your company delivers – you can ask the following questions: What sets your product, service and company apart from your competitors? What value do you provide and how does that value differ from that provided by your competitors? Think about which of the benefits are emotional – the most powerful brands tap into emotions.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments. What makes your small business unique? What’s your story?

Ross Kimbarovsky co-founded crowdSPRING, the world’s #1 marketplace for logos, graphic design, and naming. Buyers who need a professional logo, website, custom graphic design, industrial design or written content post what they need, when they need it and how much they’ll pay. Once posted, creatives submit actual work. Buyers select from among actual work (an average of 150+ per project), not bids or proposals. crowdSPRING has helped tens of thousands of small businesses meet their creative needs. You can follow Ross on Twitter @rosskimbarovsky and @crowdSPRING and on the crowdSPRING Small Business Blog.

 

The Brand Personality Test

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Bob Bare – Enjoy!

Does Your Brand Pass The Personality Test?

Consumers often seek out brands they like, know, and most importantly, trust.  A brand’s functionality is crucial, but the emotional benefit attached is equally important.  Marketers help cultivate this consumer-brand relationship by aligning their brand’s identity with what consumers aspire to be.  This job is not always easy and must be nurtured over time.

What is brand identity and how do you create one?

The best way to distinguish your brand’s identity is to fully understand what the term really means.  Your brand is what your company stands for and what it is known for.  Think of it as a lifestyle, embodying the characteristics of a particular person, group or culture.  Luxury-based brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel are often associated with a lavish lifestyle, so consumers who purchase these high-end products might like to feel sophisticated or elite, whereas a brand like Campbell’s is often associated with family and comfort.

Creating a solid personality for your brand is something that takes a lot of consideration, time, and commitment.  Marketing experts use a number of tools, tricks, and techniques to define a brand, but it is not always easy to keep the consumer-brand love affair alive.  They can expect that today’s price conscious consumer will shift between brands to find the best deal of the day.

So as a marketer, how do you keep the flame alive and stop consumers from finding someone new? It’s simple.  Offer them just what they want, when they want it, in a manner that appeals to them, and you can be sure that they will stay.

Brands with Benefits:

Start by defining your brand’s strengths and unique benefits.  Is your brand fast-paced and energetic? Stylish or practical? Casual or professional? Marketers sometimes use the car analogy to get the descriptive words flowing. If your brand were a car, would it be a minivan or Maserati?

Keep them coming back:

Next, determine what makes consumers return to your brand versus going somewhere else. What added value do you offer, or could you offer, that would attract new customers and keep the current ones interested?  It is crucial to stand behind your brand and deliver on what you promise.

Experience is Everything:

Also remember that your brand is the experience customers take away when doing business with your company.  Was their experience easy and gratifying?  Did they feel well educated with their purchase?  Was the checkout process safe and secure? 

Make Messaging Memorable:

“Just do it” is a slogan that resonates with consumers beyond the sports enthusiast. Memorable messaging will help you create a feeling just as Nike did with this powerful message.  Equally important is an impactful logo and great graphics.  Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.

Consistency is Key:

Once you determine the look and feel of your brand, keep it consistent across all channels.  Every detail matters, from your packaging and website to your press material and social media initiatives.   Remember that continuity is key and repeating those elements throughout your entire marketing campaign will help garner a greater impact with your audience.

Repetition is a Must:

Experts talk about “The Rule of Seven,” the number of times a prospect needs to see or hear your message before they take action.  It’s time to put your message out there and take the noise level up a notch.  Remember that you need to shout it loud and clear for potential consumers to take an interest, remember who you are, and buy your brand!

It’s time to take the personality test: 

  1. Do you have a powerful and unique reason why your potential clients should invest with you instead of one of your top three competitors?
  2. Can you articulate your brand clearly and concisely without hesitation when asked?
  3. Can your employees and/or friends correctly describe to you what your branding strategy is?
  4. Does the message your brand expresses inspire loyalty and trust among your current customers?
  5. Does the message your brand expresses attract and comfort new clients?

If you answered yes to these 5 questions, your brand has passed the personality test!

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons aditza121

About Bob Bare

Bob Bare is an author, speaker and founder of More Power University, an online business school and community for entrepreneurs looking to start, build, and grow their companies to the elusive seven figure sales mark.  A 40-year serial entrepreneur, Bob is known for his ability to create, grow, and turn around a successful multi-million dollar business while keeping his vision and values in sight.

Think Like An Editor

I’m writing a series of posts over at Colourlovers for HP and what follows below is an excerpt from today’s post. I’m also doing some fun video interviews with real small business called Local Color.

So often content producers have no real plan. If they write a blog they simply decide that day what they plan to write. First off, this makes the writing process more difficult and makes repurposing much harder.

Effective reuse comes from planned reuse. The best tip I can give you is to sit down once a month or so and create an editorial calendar. This allows you to create some goals, but it also allows you to think big picture about what needs to be written to create a body of work that will have multiple uses.

You can always slip hot topics into your calendar on the fly, but you’ll find that if you do keyword research for your industry and use that list for topic focus, you’ll get far more bang for what you write and you won’t feel nearly as much pressure always trying to come up with topics.

Read the rest here

The Organicism of Small Business Branding

sweetriot logoOrganicism is a philosophical orientation that asserts that reality is best understood as an organic whole. So, now you know I know how to use Wikipedia, but the word Organicism has such a true ring to it for the small business. Small businesses do have brands, can take full advantage of branding, but not like BigCo. A big brand can create the impact it’s after with slick ads, spokesperson celebrities and decals on NASCAR winners.

A small businesses brand is almost always experienced more organically through stories, surprises, flourishes, people and processes. It’s much more than a logo, product package, colors, and tagline. Everything the small business does is a part of who they are and that’s about as close to defining branding for the small business and you’ll get. In fact, my definition for small business branding is: the act of becoming more knowable, likable, and trustable.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Sarah Endline, CEO and founder of Sweetriot, a New York based maker of dark chocolate. Sweetriot had created a product that is growing in popularity and a brand that is expressed in every aspect of the business. Their mission, positioning, and story set the table for a unique brand, but it’s how they carry that brand message intentionally through other supporting elements that ignites the entire brand expression.

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Do Small Businesses Really Have a Brand?

BrandingYes, if you have a small business, even a one-person shop, you have a brand. Many small business owners don’t think this way, but when you grasp what a brand really is, I think it may become a clearer. Read the rest of my thoughts on the Small Business Marketing Guide site brought to you by HP. I talk about Brands vs Personalities – love to hear your take.

Please join me and a very fun panel of small business branding pros on Wednesday, March 18th at 11am CDT for – The “Truth” About Small Business Branding – using your small business brand to outsmart the competition – a panel discussion featuring practical branding tips and tactics from leading small business branding experts.

Panelists:
» Karen Post – The Branding Diva & Author of Brain Tattoos
» John Moore – Creator of Brand Autopsy & Author of Tribal Knowledge
» Sam Horn – Author of Pop! – Stand out in any crowd
» Aaron Weiss – Chief Product Officer for MarketSplash

This won’t be your typical Branding 101 discussion, trust me, these guys get small business.

Register here for the Truth About Small Business Branding