Month: June 2013

Steps of the Branding Process – Starting From Step 1: Strategy

I came across this fabulous infographic that visually captures exactly what I cover in my weekly blogs: the idea that good marketing begins with a strategy.

Some of the stats here are also quite interesting, though keep in mind the sources quoted are a couple of years old.

What I particularly want to draw your attention to, besides the fact that everything begins with a marketing strategy, is how all marketing tactics are linked either directly or indirectly. This diagram is to marketers what a skeleton is to doctors – the strategy is connected to the plan, the plan is connected to the logo, and the logo is connected to the website, etc. (sung to the theme of “the shank bone is connected to the thigh bone”). You get the idea. Together all the parts make up a successful marketing approach.

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Was this infographic helpful?  Did it give you a visual to better understand how all the pieces fit together? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

Class is in Session – Take the SMB Marketing Test!

Quiz-PictureMany SMB owners find that their business is lacking proper (professional) marketing.  This makes sense, as many business owners are not marketing professionals and have focused their business on selling their products or services. Often they do not have an internal resource to handle their marketing and rely on their sales team, administrative assistant or themselves to conduct their marketing. Recently, with the advent of online marketing, the challenge for many SMB owners is that their customers have become more sophisticated and therefore demand a more sophisticated approach. For example, a few years ago I may have only had a handful of appliance repair companies to choose from, but today I have literally hundreds just in the GTA available at my fingertips thanks to the Internet.

The point is that demand is dictating supply, and therefore many SMB owners need to step up their “game” in order to compete.

Sounds simple, unless you’re like many SMBs who have never done any professional marketing and do not understand what professional marketing really is and how much it will or should cost. This is the predicament many SMB’s find themselves in because what they don’t know is that they are likely to hire a marketing agency that isn’t really a marketing agency (which I blogged about two weeks ago – “What Do You Mean It’s Not a Real Marketing Agency?”)

Test yourself and see how many questions you answer “no” to.  If you find that is the majority, it might be time you consult with a professional marketing agency.

  1. Do you have a marketing strategy?
  2. Do you know what your unique selling proposition is?
  3. Do you know exactly who your target audience is?
  4. Do you target your audience with regular communication?
  5. Do you have a company vision or mission statement?
  6. Do you set yourself apart from your competition?
  7. Have you ever conducted a customer survey? Do you have customer testimonials?
  8. Have you ever conducted a competitive analysis?
  9. Do you have a professionally designed website?
  10. Do you change the content (images or text) on a frequent basis?
  11. Do you engage in any online marketing?
  12. Do you engage on your social media sites regularly?

How did you do? It’s amazing how a simple looking quiz can potentially change your entire business.

I hope these questions raised a few questions of your own and help you on your journey to be the best at what you do in your industry. If you have any more questions of your own, please feel free to engage with me in the comments below. I look forward to chatting with you!

Top 10 Marketing Mishaps – A Play Back

This week I’d like to share with you this entertaining short video from WatchMojo that counts down their top 10 worst marketing mistakes in history.

I hope that this video provides a humourous look back and serves as a reminder that we don’t always get it “right” and that even the “big guys,” “the untouchables” and “the big kahunas” like McDonalds, Coke and Ford get it wrong sometimes, too!

Consider that when you’re a big brand like these guys and you get it wrong… everyone is watching!

How many of these mishaps do you remember? Does it help bring perspective to your own mistakes? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

What Do You Mean “It’s Not a Real Marketing Agency?”

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Is your marketing being created by a marketing professional or a company who is disguised as a marketing agency? It seems like a strange question coming from an owner of a marketing agency, but over the past few weeks, I have received an increase in clients coming to our agency after hiring another “marketing agency” and not being satisfied.

This is what happens when you have an unregulated industry – anyone, without any marketing training or expertise, can open up shop and offer marketing services. I am all for enterprising ideas, but the issue here is that it is often the SMB owners who suffer at the hands of these so called marketing agencies, and this undermines our industry and leads to a sentiment of discontent by many SMBs who feel marketing agencies don’t really help them grow their business.

As it stands, it seems to be an endless cycle of SMB owners digging deep into their pockets with little return. Often the cycle is a SMB feels they have a marketing problem but they are not exactly sure what the problem is. They consult a marketing agency; the agency creates an online marketing campaign or integrated solution and the SMB sees some results, but after a few months of continuous investment and no results, they become disillusioned with what marketing can do to increase sales.

How can we stop the cycle? Education. I’ve outlined some key lessons for SMB owners who are looking to hire a marketing agency:

1. The term marketing company has come to mean different things: everything from a company than sells mugs, pens, and other promotional trinkets to an online marketing company. A true marketing agency is one that offers strategic guidance for your company.

2. When you are reviewing marketing agency sites, spend the time to really read the words they’ve chosen. Although it may say “marketing,” are they referring to integrated marketing, online marketing, branding or websites? If they say terms like strategic marketing, do they show examples or feature client testimonials that highlight this expertise? What exactly are they offering?

3. A marketing agency should have an understanding, if not internal resources, to handle market research. Research is a fundamental of true marketing as it helps marketers establish consumer and client needs and experiences, benchmark results, test advertising direction, brand experience, as well as develop competitive analyses.

4. Marketing is not all “glam”. At its core it is all about planning and measuring results.  You have to have a strategic marketing plan in place. It will tell you who you are, why you are unique (USP), what the industry is doing, what your competition is doing and outline the steps to get you to where you want to go.  It is the “holy grail” for marketing success.

5. Unless you are looking for a quick fix or you already have a strategic plan, your marketing agency should not be focused on offering you integrated solutions without conducting any research, analysis or finding out more about who you are and what your goals are. They should be focused on connecting your business goals with a strategic marketing plan.

Like all unregulated services, the emphasis is on you to do your due diligence, learn all you can about the industry and potential agency and then take it from there. Remember it is your money, your brand, your company and any marketing agency worth their salt will work with you, make recommendations and only act once you’ve decided if what they are recommending is right for your business.

Have you hired a marketing agency that was not really offering true marketing services?  Were you disappointed with the results?  If so, why?  I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.