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Archive for the ‘messaging’ Category

Humanizing your brand

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 22, 2011

Borrowing an idea from a Mashable article I just read about preventing “badvocacy” (which is a new way of describing how certain unhappy campers can badmouth your business through social media channels), I’m thinking today about how brands can and have become completely dehumanized.

It’s easy to think of a huge corporation with a well-known brand as having no soul, as though everything were completely automated and run by robots. When something goes wrong with that company’s product or service, it’s easy to get angry at the machine. It’s not personal; it’s business. (Hey, didn’t Tom Hanks’ cutthroat bookseller character say that in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”?)

So what happens when it’s your small business that draws the ire of an unhappy customer? And then, when that unhappy customer goes on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter to complain about your company, how are you supposed to react? It certainly feels personal when you’re the only person behind your brand, like someone is mad at you–not your company, but you personally. It’s really hard to combat a growing chorus of online negativity if you don’t already have a personal association with your brand.

Now think about the positive side. If your business succeeds in making a customer happy enough that she wants to help other customers find out about you by singing your praises on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, does that feel like personal praise for you as a person or like good publicity for your brand? Any kind of feedback in this fast-paced online world reflects instantly on your brand, positive or negative. And that also reflects on you, the person behind the brand.

If you want to help your customers feel like they’re either shaking your hand in thanks or slapping your face in anger, put a human face on your brand. Post your photo on your About page, and use it as your avatar when commenting on posts and websites. It’s much harder for the viral feedback machine to go completely negative and out of control if your brand image is personal, warm, smiling, and human–just like everyone else.

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In praise of clever slogans

Posted by Vicki Moulton on September 28, 2010

You see them everywhere, those little taglines designed to bring a company’s purpose to life. Some have even been set to music (remember “plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is”?).

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably been through the exercise of creating your own slogan. But have you ever stopped to think why some slogans stick with you, even after just one viewing?

The slogan’s job is to raise a question, touch a nerve, or identify a need. The slogan is not your only marketing tool, and therefore it does not need to be all things to everyone.

The slogan IS…

  • memorable
  • an enhancement to the overall brand
  • focused on the customer benefit and/or key differentiator between you and the competition

The slogan IS NOT…

  • a definition/explanation of the company name
  • an explanation of the logo design
  • a literal statement about how the company functions

Think about some memorable brand slogans and how they say a lot with very few words (and remember that all of these companies hired big ad agencies to create these slogans–all trademarked and used here for illustration purposes only):

  • Nike: Just do it
  • Kaiser Permanente: Thrive
  • Avis: We try harder
  • MasterCard: Priceless
  • GE: Imagination at work
  • Allstate: You’re in good hands
  • ING: What’s your number?
  • Weight Watchers: Watch yourself change
  • Capital One: What’s in your wallet?
  • Taco Bell: Think outside the bun

I particularly like that last one. There’s something clever about how it takes an overused business term and turns it on its head while slamming the competition. (Or maybe it’s just time for lunch.)

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Attracting the ideal

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 1, 2010

If you’re having the kind of year I’m having so far, then you’ve probably been struggling a bit trying to find the right kind of client for your business. You know, the kind that appreciates what you have to offer, wants to work with you right away, and remains loyal for the long term. In other words, the absolute ideal.

I found this article by Angie Segal of Action Coach very inspiring. It’s reprinted here (in edited form) with permission.

“What Kinds of Customers Are You Attracting?”

How do you get the customers you want and deserve? Are you randomly stabbing at the marketplace, or do you have a plan for getting the type of customer you want to work with?

Here are some tips for planning to attract the ideal client:

First, decide who your ideal client is and write it down. What size are they? Where do they operate? What do they look like?

Next, describe this ideal client to everyone in your sphere of influence. Communicate this clearly. Then ask your partners and alliances to describe your ideal client. How they answer this question will tell you whether you’ve been specific enough.

Find out where you can interact with people who fit your description of the ideal client and attend those functions.

Finally, look at yourself and make sure you present yourself in a fashion that would attract those people. In other words, dress for the job you want.

Clarity is a key element in finding your ideal clients. Once you are clear on whom you are trying to meet, and your actions are in line with that, it’s easy to find your ideal!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Walking the talk

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 30, 2010

After spending the past couple of months crafting some quick-and-easy social media marketing solutions for clients (and prospective clients), I finally decided to start using my Twitter account. 

Yes folks, it’s true: you can find me on Twitter @movickmarketing! I figure it’ll be much easier for me to convince my clients that Twitter can help with business promotion if I actually use it myself.

Yesterday I placed an ad at marketmommies.com for the social media marketing packages–in partnership with Fern Carbonell of Exemplus Virtual Assistant Services (tweeting @Exemplus_Fern)–which I’m cross-promoting through my Facebook fan page and Twitter, and on this website… look at the top of the left rail!

It feels like something great is right around the corner. Maybe it’s just as simple as finally taking my own advice.

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Managing social media time

Posted by Vicki Moulton on November 4, 2009

social media face_cr2As a small business owner, I can attest to the incredible time-draining potential of social media sites like Facebook. If you’re not careful about managing time spent on these sites, a quick updating session can turn into an all-day marathon.

Here are some great tips (from SmallBizTrends) for getting the most out of social media tools to help market your business:

*Be purposeful. Make a list of what you’re trying to accomplish with social media, and identify the actions that will help you achieve those goals. Don’t just click around on shiny baubles. That’s a neverending game with no winner.

*Focus your attention. Figure out where it makes sense for you to engage–Twitter, LinkedIn, a local listserv–and limit your time and energy to a handful of useful sites. Then outline what, how, and when you’ll be engaged beforehand to help maximize your time.

*Avoid overload. Use tools to help you manage the stream of information coming in. For example, if you’re using Twitter, a 3rd-party tool like Tweetdeck can help you manage conversation and schedule tweets ahead of time.

*Set limits. Schedule social media time the same way you schedule in all your other commitments. Set aside time to talk to people, to tweet fun things, to connect with your audience on Facebook. This helps users learn to trust that you’ll be online regularly.

Small business owners have an advantage over big companies because they already know how to talk and engage their customers in a more personal way, making communications more human and relatable. Social media sites are a perfect fit for small businesses.

Don’t be afraid of jumping into the social media pool. The water is a lot warmer than it looks.

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Making connections

Posted by Vicki Moulton on October 7, 2009

lotus lampI’ve been looking over my notes from the “Brand Reinvention Summit” (yes, this makes post #4 about this event… so sue me). Besides the authenticity theme, I found some other good advice, common to most of the speakers, that I wanted to share here–in particular, the idea of connecting with others through and with your brand.

With the following list of quotes, I’m giving each expert due credit:

Kaira Rouda (Founder of Real You and Real Living): “Today’s business is based on true connections, on networking. The way to connect is to tell your story. It helps your customers and employees understand you better.”

Mary van de Wiel (Brand Analyst, Master of Zing): “Make a connection… The explosion of social media has fed the human desire for connection… It’s about telling stories, being one-on-one in meaningful relationships. It allows people to see that you ARE who you say you are. When you feel connected, in a group especially, you feel supported.”

Anita Campbell (Founder/CEO of Small Business Trends LLC): “Are you different? Can your clients connect with you, communicate with you, develop a relationship with you? The client needs to feel comfortable with you as a person. This is not a business-to-business relationship we’re talking about: it’s person to person.”

Anita Campbell: “A passion, a hobby, a travel destination–something like this might be the one thing that sparks the interest of a potential client. You would never know this if you didn’t share it. You want to work with people you like, and so do your clients. This kind of information could provide a common thread.”

Simon Sinek (Author of Start With Why): “Are you courageous enough to be completely open and honest in your business? People tend to be very insecure about how they’re perceived by the world around us. But if you’re honest, people will be drawn to you and put their trust in you.”

Liz Taylor (Founder of Wow-at-Work.com): “Share and bounce ideas off of other people. Connect with others. Get those ideas out into the open. Be provocative. Take a risk.”

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Being authentic

Posted by Vicki Moulton on October 4, 2009

abstract panelsThe experts agree: authenticity is key to building a memorable, believable, and irresistible brand.

Be yourself. Embrace and tell your story. Find and follow your true passion. All of the experts that participated in the “Brand Reinvention Summit” said pretty much the same thing. Either they all drank the same kool-aid before they were interviewed, or this is good advice. I’m betting on the latter.

Here are some selected nuggets of wisdom from the Summit (specifically from the 6 out of 10 interviews I had time to listen to):

“As you build your business, you are the torchbearer for your brand.”

“Your website needs to reflect a live presence, someone who is taking care of their brand. The lights need to be on, and someone needs to be home.”

“Your website is an extension of your brand—a living embodiment of your company. If you don’t keep it current, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”

On using social media effectively: “If there’s something you really love, let it come through. Whatever makes you excited is something good to convey to the world.”

“We use war metaphors for marketing… launch, campaign, etc. Marketing isn’t war. Effective marketing is really more of a seduction. You take someone out, turn the lights down low, pour the wine, and make them fall in love with you.”

“If someone challenges your thinking, that opens up a new opportunity to think creatively. Welcome diversity and invite challenges. This brings more energy into your communication.”

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Branding bonanza

Posted by Vicki Moulton on October 2, 2009

grafittiSo far I’ve listened to 3 out of 10 of the 1-hour interviews with branding experts that make up the “Brand Reinvention Summit” webinar (see previous post), and that took the better part of one day… with constant interruptions, of course. I have until tomorrow morning at 10am to get the other 7 done before the “free” part of this webinar disappears.

There is absolutely no way that I can get through the whole interview library before tomorrow at 10am, unless I stay up all night. That means I have to make do with the information that I have time to listen to (and hopefully get some notes from a friend who also signed up for this).

The way this thing is set up, there is no possible way to download anything for later listening. In fact, you can only listen from beginning to end, with a pause capability but no fast-forward or rewind. To get those conveniences, one must fork over hundreds of dollars to the webinar creator, Mary van der Wiel (“call me Van”). This is a brilliant business move on the part of Van, but it’s incredibly annoying for (full disclosure here) working moms like myself who (a) never get more than 15 minutes at a time to focus on work while the kid is awake and (b) don’t want to pay such a high price.

Anyway, so far I’m finding the content to be pretty useful, if a bit heavy on jargon and light on substance. I will post a more comprehensive review over the weekend, highlighting the information that I think will come in handy for clients and colleagues alike. Stay tuned!

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Zinging along

Posted by Vicki Moulton on September 28, 2009

zing_girlI just signed up for a virtual seminar on October 1-2 by Mary van der Weil (of Zing Your Brand fame) called The Brand Reinvention Summit (a.k.a. The Blah to Zing Summit).

Here’s a bit of promo material for the summit that I found particularly thought-provoking, not only for my own business but also for my clients and colleagues:

Looking to reinvent your brand so you can get a leg up in today’s economy? Take on the role of Brand Agent/Provocateur and watch your business turn around and take off!
In today’s over-saturated and over-competitive marketplace, you are your BRAND. So it needs to be highly individualistic, energized and hugely compelling. It needs to stand out – and show up – and communicate your unmistakable ZING across to your target audience.

I’ll post a review here after the summit. Here’s to all of us finding our “zing”!

Posted in MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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