Build a brand, not a slogan.

– Establish your brand and set yourself apart from the competition.

Why is building a brand important? When all other things are equal (or viewed as equal), your brand is the differentiator. Building a distinct brand that resonates in the consumer’s mind should be one of your company’s main objectives.

Here are five basic ways you can begin to build a brand that makes a difference:

1. Think long-term
Building a brand begins with a consistent approach to communicating who your company is and what you stand for. The words that you select to use to describe your company will be used by the consumer to form your brand image, so they should be selected carefully. Your companies brand or slogan of the moment will not become recognizable overnight, over several months or even over several years. You need to expect and commit to use them over a long period of time. Once you’ve committed to brand building.

2. Use Research
The best way to find how your company is perceived is to conduct research. Start your research with your customers. Find out why they selected your company over your competitors. What are the attributes you possess that elevate your company in the mind of the consumer? You need to also talk to potential customers to find out what are they looking from companies in your space. You’ll garner just as much if not more insight from the people who aren’t doing business with you and you do from those who are. Use this research to help you identify your companies, strengths and weaknesses.

3. Recognize your Faults
Now that you’ve used research to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, take a hard look in the mirror and see your company through the eyes of your customer. Are you really delivering on your promise of outstanding service or huge selection or whatever? If you are great, but chances are your customers will tell you that your not as cool as you thought you were. That’s a good thing. One of the best ways to overcome objections is to know what the issues are. Once you know where the issues are, you can be prepared to overcome them and you’ll also know what things your company is really good at.

4. Play Up your Strengths
Hopefully, the research and review have shown you that your customers view you differently, than you view yourself. The next step in build a brand is to take the things you do well — customer service, high quality materials, low price, whatever — and

5. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
This one’s pretty simple: Your brand and brand promise will be built on your companies ability to give the customer exactly what you say your going to give them. If you don’t, then customers will discount your brand to the benefit of your competitors who are or are perceived to be delivering on their promises.

Posted in Executive Prospectus Tagged with: , , ,

Understand your Customers through Research

Don’t worry research is not as hard as it sounds and it’s not something exclusively for huge conglomerates or companies with massive marketing budgets. Every company can do it and more importantly, every company can benefit.
Everything you need to know about customer research you learned in 5th grade science class:
  • What is the question you want answered (hypothesis)?
  • How will you test it (experiment)?
  • What do you results say (evaluate)?
Do those three things and you’ll be able to make better decisions that will lead to better results.
Here are five keys to customer research:
1. The Research Plan.
Begin by figuring out what you know, what you don’t know and what you’d like to know. (what’s the question?) Then figure out how to gather the data (how will you test it?). Will you send out a survey, test offer response, conduct a field study, etc?
Say for example you want to figure out if it makes more sense to offer 20% off or buy two get one free: A simple way to test would be to put together two offer emails, that are exactly the same except for the offer copy and send them to two groups of customers that are roughly the same size.
When the customers respond, track the results. Did more customers respond to 20% off or buy two? You should also consider which one generated more revenue – more customers may have responded to the % off, but the fewer customers responding to the buy two offer might have generated more total revenue.
Evaluate your results. If 20% offer was better, what if you’d offered buy one get one, did you have to offer 20% or could you have offered 15% and gotten similar results, what if you’d offered 25% off?
Results often lead to more questions and as you can see, research isn’t something you do once. The best results come from continuously testing, measuring and evaluating.
2. Current Customers.
Find out what’s working by asking your current customers. You already have an existing relationship with them, and you can find out you what they liked, why they bought and what sets you apart from your completion. Their feedback will give you your competitive differentiators and should be the key sales points.
3. Potential customers (and your competition).
Learn how to improve by asking your competition’s customers or reviewing your competitors websites, sales materials, etc.. What is your competition’s value proposition? How are they positioning themselves? Ask their customers why they chose them over you.
The honest feedback may not be what you want to hear but it’s the key to uncovering your faults and finding out how you need to improve. If you can’t improve, then at least you’ll be able to address the issues pre-sale rather than post-lost sale.
4. Non-Customers (and other industries).
Explore untapped markets by evaluating other industries and talking to non-customers – people who aren’t in the market for your products. Why don’t they want what your selling? What are they looking for? Is there an untapped market in another industry that you or your competitors are missing or could easily exploit? If so, you can gain market share by getting their first.
5. What’s it all mean?
While research can be complicated and technical, it’s also something that can be done relatively easily. Every company already has or can easily start to gather a wealth of information — from customers, competitors, industry and trade sources. By planning appropriately, then compiling and evaluating this data we can make better decisions, increase sales and improve revenue.
You should also recognize that it’s a continuous process, because the answers to the first question should lead to additional questions, answers and more questions….
Posted in Executive Prospectus Tagged with: , , , , ,

Five Steps to Building a Successful Marketing Campaign

1. Create a Plan
Too often, the success or failure of a marketing campaign is judged on the back end results. Unfortunately, these results can be dramatically impacted by the amount and type planning that was put into the campaign on the front end. More simply put: poor planning leads to poor results.

The stage for success is set at the beginning of the planning process. A proper marketing campaign plan will answer: who, what and how.

  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • What do you want to say?
  • How do you want communicate it?

If your plan does not answer these questions, then you’ve left opportunity on the table.Your plan should also include what you hope to achieve as a result of the campaign — is it sales, awareness, etc. These goals should be tangible and measurable. Depending on the length of the campaign, you should also outline what adjustments you’ll make to the what and how from above and include those as contingencies.Once completed, you should figure out how will you evaluate the success or failure, what will you hope to learn and how will you use these key learning’s in the implementation of future campaigns.

2. Understand (Research) your customer.
By understanding your existing customers and knowing what your potential customers want, you’ll be able to craft a message that appeals most to each particular customer. Unfortunately, without speaking to every single customer, that’s impossible to know, so you’ll have to put your customers into clusters or segments based on how they respond (or how you expect them to respond) to your messages or offers. By putting customers into groups, you can more easily test your various offers and the response that each generates.Many companies also use various socio-economic demo graphics that are way too complicated to explain here. Bottom line: Research is the key to knowing the who, what and how.

3. Execute the plan.
If you’ve put the time into your creating plan and into understanding your audience, then the execution of the plan should be the easy part. The key here is to execute the entire plan start to finish, don’t stop midway through because you think you’ve achieved your results.

4. Keep score.
You’ve set the bar in the planning process, now measure the response in relation to the bar. Be prepared to make adjustments according to your plan based on the response.

5. Review and repeat.
The planning for your next campaign begins here. By understanding what you did to achieve the results, what worked and what didn’t work, you’ll be able to figure out which levers work best. Over time, this knowledge accumulates (and if you use it) you’ll find that your campaigns become more and more successful.

Posted in Executive Prospectus Tagged with: , , ,

Five Easy Ways to Improve Any Website

– Get the basics right and make the sale.

1. Your Website is a Salesperson not a Billboard
Many companies use their homepage as a huge billboard with flash animation and many more believe that the home page should tell the visitor who they are and why the company is so great. In reality, customers are visiting your website because they’re trying to find something. You need to help them find it.

The most important thing you can do to improve your website is use your home page to sell. You need to view your website as your virtual sales person working 24 x 7 x 365 and equip it with the same tools that you would provide the sales team. Save all the bragging about yourself the about us or company info pages.

2. Make it easy to buy, sign up, get information and navigate
When customers arrive at your website they need to easily understand where to find what they’re looking for.

  • The best way for you to do this is to make your navigation intuitive and easy. People have been trained to look to either the top or on the left side for the main navigation. There’s no reason to stray from this format.
  • Featuring products and allowing people purchase directly from the home page will increase your sales.
  • The ability to sign up for special offers or newsletters and to share your site with friends is also a key element and both should actually be featured on every page.

3. Engage customers with content
Content is not just important in search engine optimization, it’s the key to keeping customers engaged with your website. The more engaging your content is the longer people will stay. And the longer they stay, then the greater your chance of moving a widget (generating a sale, sign-up or download).

4. Integrate rich media: video and podcasts
Adding rich media elements like videos and podcasts will offer your visitors another reason to stay on your site. You should also create individual pages and with transcripts of each podcast because that generates the type of keyword rich content that the search engines love to see.

5. Drive traffic with online and traditional media
Put your URL on everything. While natural search results will generate much of your traffic, online and traditional media should both be used to drive traffic incremental traffic. And generally, more relevant traffic means more sales, sign-ups, whatever.

As we’ve explained in other articles, ideally you would want to use landing pages that highlight the specific offer that your featuring in your online and tradition media.

Reliable, affordable business hosting from Yahoo! Web Hosting

Posted in Executive Prospectus Tagged with: , , , , ,

Improve Your Take Rate with Landing Pages

In our previous article, Five Steps to Building a Successful Marketing Campaign, we outlined five steps that go into building a successful marketing program. If you’ve read that, then you understand the importance that planning and research have in marketing success. Even if you foolishly elect to ignore all that advice, you can improve your results by doing just one thing differently: use online landing pages to take your customers directly to the specific information that you want them to see. Landing pages by themselves are not the answer, but you can improve your results just by implementing one.
Here are the five steps you need to know to make the most of them:

1. Create One (a landing page).
You’re going to make an offer that customers are going to respond to, don’t make them search for the offer/product again by sending the main page of your site. Take them directly to a landing page that delivers on the offer you sent. From your landing page, customers should be able to do three things:

  • Learn about the offer
  • Buy whatever widgets your promoted in your communication
  • Shop for other widgets

2. Get People to Your Page.
Consumers respond to offers, so you’ve got to have something to offer. Without something to respond to, then your limiting your traffic and therefore limiting your ability to sell. So the first step is to extend an offer with a call to action that drives customers online to the unique landing page that you’ve created for this offer.

3. Know the Context of Your Copy.
You can link to the most appropriate location in your site based on the context of your copy. If you’re talking about the offer, link to the an offer specific page; when discussing a product, then link directly to the product page; if your talking generally about the company, only then should you consider linking to the main or about us page. BUT whatever page you take them to, make sure it pays off on the offer and the customer can still do the three things we explained in the previous step: learn, buy or shop.

4. Measure the Response.
Free Download, 20% Off, Buy Two, Get One Free – your customers won’t all respond to the same one offer equally so it’s important to test variations and to measure the response of each. Since each will appeal to different customers at a different time, don’t completely write off an offer if it’s not successful. Use the response information to better target your messages and offers.

5. Monitor the Results.
The great thing about online is that it’s an extremely flexible medium. You can immediately change the copy or offer if one element is not performing relative to the other variables. To get the most out of your campaign, you’ll need to monitor the response and sales rate of your offer. Know matter how the campaign is performing, you should plan on making some adjustments. Use the data you’ve gathered to make those decisions, then monitor and repeat until the program is complete.

Your marketing efforts and develop a consistent call to action for all your material and plan your channel

For example:

  • Get 30% off widget X for more details visit
Posted in Executive Prospectus Tagged with: , , , , , ,