If you are the owner or founder of an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) or are the person responsible for sales or business development in any size organization then your reputation – your personal brand is paramount in your personal success and the success of your organization.
‘Brands are like people’ is an analogy often used to describe the companies they represent.
Virgin is the brand built by Richard Branson and the two are hard to separate. Consumers buy into the personality of the founder and what it represents and promises.
In many cases however ‘brands are people’ – every celebrity is a brand, from Oprah to Dr.Phil, to rock stars and actors to sports people like Beckham.
Business brands take on or communicate the values of their founders. This is especially true for start-ups and new businesses, professional services firms where the names of the founding partners make up the brand names. Although this is not the best way to brand your services business this is still the dominant reality for many.
So the brands are designed and communicated by people. People, especially in services industry is who we all buy from! So it makes sense that ‘these people’ have an optimal representation of who they are and what makes them special in the place where it matters most, the place where positive perceptions are formed – online!
Your online identity and representation is made of your online assets:
- Blog / Website
- YouTube Channel, etc
The most important of these in the SME (B2B & Professional Services) is LinkedIn, and we’ll cover this next.
For a Free and No Obligation Discussion about your specific needs contact us today.
LinkedIn, is the most exciting of all social media and one that is not being used to anywhere near its potential by 95% of users.
In fact it is the greatest Personal Branding, PR and Business Development Tool for B2B and Professional Services since…EVER!
With LinkedIn you can:
- Take control and promote your personal and company brand
- Promote all of your online marketing assets from one central location
- Be proactive in the way you network
- Headhunt, recruit and be headhunted
- Develop new business and maintain / improve existing relationships, generate leads and accelerate sales
- Advertise – reach an exclusive, well educated and highest income demographic online, with laser sharp accuracy
- Ask for advice, the ultimate in ‘crowdsourcing’ from those best qualified professionals
- Find experts and partners
- Increase your personal productivity
- Conduct extensive research on industry trends, consumer opinions, companies and individuals
- Conduct reference checks
and much more!
For a Free and No Obligation Discussion about your specific needs contact us today.
Marketing consultants like to observe company brand positioning and how it changes over time.
We like to compare the efforts of those companies with explicitly stated brand positioning against those that imply their brand positioning and do not use a positioning statement.
As a business owner or marketing manager it pays for you to watch these very things.
Marketing consultants like to watch the progress of companies and how they communicate with their target audience – how their positioning allows them to make their message stand out through creativity because marketing consultants start most new engagements by reviewing the positioning of the brand they are going to work with.
Nowhere is this comparison between brands easier to make than in the medium of print, especially when one is on a plane, killing time reading an inflight magazine. Here’s my exploration of a high interest category – men’s luxury watches.
The following ads provide a gamut of the good, the bad and the ugly of brand positioning and creative communication:
“Live your Passion”
The positioning statement slogan of this brand together with the vintage classic car – says follow your dream and tells me this is a watch for leaders not followers, people who are into style which is timeless rather than fashion which changes.
The short copy explains the features of the watch, namely it’s display of lunar phases. Would you pay $4,500 or if that makes you a lunatic I cannot answer, but the ad certainly gets my attention and tells me what the brand is about, which is important as I and assume many of the readers have not come across this Swiss before.
“Engineered for Perfection”
Not sure whether this is the official slogan / positioning for this Swiss brand or just a headline for the ad, but the ad backs up it’s claim of evolution by telling me about it’s revolutionary anti-shock and illumination systems.
The design tie to BMW is obviously an attempt to target the carmaker’s well to do target audience and tap into the equity of the global German brand.
“Real Watches for Real People”
This well known Swiss has at first what seems like a great slogan / positioning statement but is it?
It only takes a second for one to ask:
- Are all other watches not real and are all non-Oris wearing people fake or do they simply not exist?
- Do only real people go scuba diving to depths of 500m?
Maybe for this product Oris should have focused on the diving enthusiasts instead? The slogan really has the potential to irritate non Oris owners rather than inspire them to purchase one.
“Precision is my inspiration”
Probably the most well known of the lot, this Swiss probably thinks that their brand name and product shot is enough to grab attention. They do provide a QR code for more information on the product and maybe this is enough, however I can’t help but think their slogan means much more to their marketing team and advertising agency than their actual target market.
Precision may impress someone, it maybe something we rely on, but “inspire”…really?
“Watch Your Style”
A bit lame and cutesy when you think about the target audience. Telling them they “need style” is almost offensive. The attempt at building on the 40-year history is also not something that will win over the prospective buyer when most of the category players have 3 times that under their belt! At least the watch itself, the ad, and its placement on the back cover of the magazine will get attention.
“Dedicated to Perfection”
The positioning statement / slogan for Seiko and “You are the Power” – the slogan for the watch model “Kinetic”
The first non-Swiss in our evaluation, presents a real problem – MIXED MESSAGES! And based on my limited understand of watches there are plenty that are “self-winding” although this maybe a real point of difference in the non-Swiss category at a price point that is much lower than most of the European rivals.
This advertisement tells me that this is the first Swiss Made automatic time piece – still not sure of what this is, even after a quick look at Wikipedia, the biggest issue I see with this ad is the actual product – a watch that you have to tune yourself, but that’s only me… If I were to part with a small fortune, this would be the last thing on my mind. If I were the ad agency I’d be focusing on other features of this timepiece.
“You Deserve a Real Watch”
Again pretty lame for a slogan, which is not in any way supported by the copy in the advertisement.
The headline is catchy and the watch features certainly make it unique, but does it mean that the watch that you currently own is not a real one? It appears the functionality (or gimmick) of dual faces is enough point of difference and what constitutes a real watch for them.
This double page spread feels like a waste of space. They could say something, tell us a story, inspire us, and explain why this is a classic timepiece, but all we get is 3 features, none of them terribly exciting in my humble opinion: rose gold, automatic movement, and a Hermes alligator strap.
No headline, just the brand name, oh wait the headline / slogan maybe in French, something about measuring and re-measuring to suggest precision, but that is only a guess, which means only the French speaking will get to understand this attempt to gain credibility in the category. A reliance on the style of the piece is all consuming from this advert, which makes me question why it needed the dps?
Ok, so this is probably an unfair comparison. A great, old fashioned Direct Response advertisement.
A brilliant headline, great copywriting telling a very interesting story that delves into a fascinating time in history – the roaring 1920′s and the rivalry between two of the world’s richest men!
Of course in this type of advertisement all features of the product can be described in great detail and I couldn’t help but read this ad from start to finish. Would I buy a replica? Probably not, but for at least 10 times less than the average price of a premium Swiss timepiece, I bet a few will, just for its value as a conversation starter and general trivia.
Marketers are often divided about Direct Response and Brand type ads.
All these adverts were in a monthly inflight magazine, which is premium print cost; many of the placements appear to be quite similar in layouts, which is normally fatal in a branding campaign where you are telling your story. Some too are actually uninspiring or uninformative which draws me to the conclusion that they are not likely to generate great results but are here because the competition is.
I believe there’s no reason that branding should be separated from creating immediate demand – both are possible with a bit of planning and creativity!
From a Marketing Consultant’s Perspective…
Yesterday I read possibly the best and worst article about LinkedIn.
Here is the article that made me so happy and then half way through as frustrated as I ever get. So in today’s world where Content Marketing is king, and Inbound Marketing rules, what’s one to do but take to the keyboard and vent one’s disappointment? Well that’s only a part of it, as a marketing consultant and one that also provides LinkedIn training to clients, I know that I have to deliver some solutions to our valued clients, prospects and colleagues.
In summary, the first half of the article promotes all of the amazing benefits that can be gained by correctly using LinkedIn. However the reasons given by the author as to the prospective “decline” of the medium are more of an indication to the author’s own lack of strategy to deal with the so called “information overload”.
On the other hand, assuming that there is a slight possibility that the author’s predictions turn out to be correct and people begin to leave LinkedIn for greener social media pastures, this will actually mean that those that are left and are truly using this social medium correctly to their own advantage, will have an easier time of it!
Here are the 9 problems mentioned in the article and my recommendations on how to best overcome them, after all problems are just challenges that have not been solved satisfactorily!
Problem 1: The dinosaurs have arrived in droves
• Late adopters are joining
• They won’t last as they have no idea of what to do
How exactly does this pose a problem I am not sure!
• There are plenty of users who value LinkedIn and use it correctly
• Dinosaurs who use faxes and rely on their PA’s will as dinosaurs tend to do, die out. They are probably not the type of people YOU should be targeting or networking with anyway.
Problem 2: Information Overload
• Too much going on, profile changes, updates, group notifications, etc
• There are simple technical things you can do to control what you see on your Home page
• There is a way to control how often you get your Group Digest if at all!
• Most importantly you need a strategy as well as discipline that will provide focus of what you should pay attention to and what to ignore. It is no different to managing your email, which by the way most of us could improve tenfold!
Problem 3: Quality of information in many areas is poor and incorrect
• user generated content is LinkedIn’s best friend and enemy
• That can be said about Social Media in general
• Again becoming more astute about what to read and how to do your ‘due diligence’ on the validity of content is something that I have no doubt will be a growing area of education for marketers, journalists, students and consumers in general! Welcome to the new world!
Problem 4: Groups are poor
• Self-promotion, useless posts, and ‘quick hit’ requests are common, ie: “I’m selling this – want one?”
• the author even suggests turning off group notifications
• True, many groups can be poor, some are not with very strict posting guidelines that are policed
• Don’t join 50 groups as the author rightly observes some tend to do
• Take the online etiquette / law into your own hands and “flag” discussions as inappropriate and they will be removed!
• As the author suggested ‘one’ solution himself, I don’t know why this was raised as a problem in the first place. My feeling is that “negative controversial headlines like “LinkedIn is becoming LinkedOut” was an exercise in PR and why not! It was successful!
Problem 5: News Updates
• The news feed is clogged up with 95% of jargon, irrelevant rants, promotional messages, rehashed articles, and recruiters posting the same jobs day in day out!
• There’s a lack of original thought or opinion
• Again I see no problem but a massive opportunity for those that have something to say that is worthwhile and can deliver their opinion in an engaging way! By being original and adding value to your network it will be easier to stand out in the “sea of sameness”!
• Firstly there’s a technical solution to decreasing the type of information you deem to be of no value
• You can also remove the offenders – that is dis-connect from them! and if you want to stay connected but don’t want to see their updates on your home page, you can click Hide when you move your cursor over the update.
Problem 6: User profiles BEWARE!
• “There’s an ex-employee who has a warrant outstanding for his arrest and yet he has a glowing profile”.
• Recommendations are biased.
• Genuine people remain without a competitive advantage. The liars look just as good.
• Actually quiet to the contrary I have read somewhere, I’m sure that someone in the recruitment industry who is a true professional will find this, that people in general tend to NOT “fib” on their LinkedIn profile as they would on their resume! After all the chance of “getting found out is a lot higher on social media”. Just a few weeks ago I met someone who was silly enough to make themselves out to be so much more important than they were! When I examined their LinkedIn profile I realised that they straight out lied about their level of seniority at a major corporate entity!
• Additionally the ability to see who this person in question has a ‘connection in common’ with me, allowed me to get feedback about them that I would have otherwise never received as I wouldn’t have even known who we have in common in the first place!
• LinkedIn RECOMMENDATIONS CAN BE BIASED but you also have to know HOW to read between the lines. It is only human to give a recommendation back when the person asks, and other times you have to do it for political reasons. This is the process I follow:
1) I refuse to give recommendations to people who’s work I have not experienced or am not sure about.
2) If I really have to recommend them I will never recommend their technical skills but talk about attitude and make the recommendation very general – nice guy! Like I said read between the lines! Good recruiters do!
• Finally, “genuine people”, by which I hope the author means people who have the best skills, will always have a competitive advantage if they firstly know themselves well enough to know what makes them unique (Branding 101) and can then eloquently communicate their point of difference! “Genuine people” who are talented, hard working and positive will always have more Recommendations than those trying to cover up with “smoke and mirrors”. An incompetent idiot is unlikely to get 20+ people recommending them! Keep in mind that Recommendations are like Testimonials, no-one ever puts a bad one on their website, however we all know that Testimonials still work and it is better to have more than less, when it comes to building credibility!
Problem 7: People shared in common aren’t so common and I am losing faith
• People don’t help random people just because you’re a LinkedIn connection.
• Yes they do!!! And if you want to know why, please connect to me! I know, blatant self promotion, but as all good content marketers know I needed an “in text call to action”!
• Ok, although I was serious, when I said connect to me, I will give away some more free advice! make sure that when you connect to someone you can actually become memorable by adding value to them right there and then! I have done it 3 times this week. Yes it can be labour intensive, but ask yourself why you are here on LinkedIn – to connect or network and networking is all about building relationships.
• Here’s a major clue about what I mean; make sure you ask for and accept introductions in a way that will add value and leave a positive perception with your new connection!
Problem 8: Diminishing value of connections
• It’s simply too easy to connect and this damages the value for everyone.
• LinkedIn should cap the number of connections and charge to connect. All of a sudden, users would think twice before connecting.
• I just don’t see it…maybe the author can explain to me, I will invite him to comment on this! 🙂
Problem 9: Recruiters will lose their competitive edge as more sign up for LinkedIn Recruiter
• Being on LinkedIn was more of an advantage a few years ago than now!
• We should all know that technology in today’s day and age is unlikely to provide you with a sustainable competitive advantage. Relationships with customers and prospects will!
• Technology will not make you a better listener or problem solver.
• Technology will not assist you in communicating with prospects so as to change what they think and feel about you and your organisation! That’s up to you and your marketing consultant, unfortunately if you can not afford one, one will not be appointed to you, although I am sure that most marketing consultants would love this idea in our common battle to eradicate bad business communication!
• There are so many problems (let’s be positive, I should say opportunities) most recruiters face when it comes to developing their brand and marketing in general, let alone using LinkedIn in a way that is optimal, I don’t even know where to start, but here is a link to a very detailed blog I wrote on the topic.
For a Free and No Obligation Discussion about your specific needs contact us today.
What are you going to do differently in 2013?
Checklist for New Year
The Mayans were wrong, we are all still here, your clients and prospects still need you, but
they are increasingly harder to communicate with; grabbing attention is more difficult and
keeping it is even harder.
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is not only the definition of insanity but
it also means that today you will NOT get the same result, but one that is substantially worse
– you will be going backwards.
For your convenience we have prepared a summary of Hubspot’s 27-page Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013 and one we have turned into a simple Marketing Action Plan Checklist.
1. Inbound Marketing (Get Found*, Convert, Analyse) will become more important and both
small and large enterprises are dedicating more of their budget to online / digital and away
from Outbound / Traditional Marketing.
*Get Found = Social Media+SEO+Blogs+PPC
- Do you have a costed Marketing Strategy Plan for the year?
- Have you established your KPI’s, e.g.: Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Sale
- Are you being found by enough new prospects?
- Are you getting enough referrals?
- Do you have a Referral Strategy?
2. Marketing Communication is moving away from Campaigns to Real Time Communication thanks to Social Media and immediacy of client expectations. Prospects are increasingly contacting / finding (Inbound Marketing) prospective suppliers / sellers and they want answers NOW! Technology will keep driving these changes with new widgets, gadgets, readers and scanners, RFID tags, and of course apps! Gamification will also grow as a marketing tool beyond product placement to improve the delivery of content in a more enjoyable way.
- Do you have all of your Social Media profiles set up correctly; do they reflect your
company and personal brand?
- Do you know which Social Media channels to focus on?
- Are you interacting with prospects and customers via Social Media?
- Do you have a Content Marketing Plan so that you can be “active and successful” on Social Media?
- Have you personally or your company carved out a niche that you are known for?
- See how we deliver Content Marketing for our clients
3. CRM and Unified View of the customer will become more and more important, and some
of the new systems are now integrating Social Media information for their client records.
- If you are thinking about these issues please give us a call. Choosing the CRM system
(or getting the most out of your existing one) is a minefield and we have access to a number
of world-class experts at qubePartners as well as our own team that can assist you.
4. Mobile Optimisation of Websites will keep growing and become a must have channel for
- Pretty easy to do depending on what your current website has been built in. Give us a
call and we can provide answers very quickly.
5. Social Media, Content Marketing and Off Page SEO will keep overlapping and merging
and On-Page SEO “tricks of the trade” will play a less important role. Social Search and User
Generated Content with Facebook’s and Google’s focus in this area will undoubtedly
make a big impact!
- Start treating these practices not as separate channels, but as one part of holistic
- Have a Content Marketing Plan for each of the channels and work out how they
should be integrated amongst each other and your website.
- Check out our website dedicated to LinkedIn Training and Consulting
6. Smart or Dynamic Content (ala Amazon Recommended for You) will enable you and your
competitors to serve up highly personalised messages to the right audience at the right time.
- Can you easily segment your database and get insights into the behavior of your
- Can your CRM, ERP, Email Marketing technology / software act on the insights?
7. Story telling will become even more important as companies scramble to be seen more
human (than their competitors) and develop a trustworthy, approachable and caring brand
- Do you have a powerful, unique brand with an interesting story to tell clients and
- Are all your staff singing from the same hymnbook?
- Download our Brand Design Questionnaire from our Free Marketing Resources
Section (it’s the 4th document down the page) – knowing and acting on the answers in
this document should be the cornerstone of your marketing communications.
“The advent of social media has meant that the world of separate internal and external
messaging has disappeared. If a customer talks to your Customer Service department, they
expect the same response they’d get if they talk to marketing, or sales, or engineering.
Creating a unified external face is critical. If you want to build long-term relationships,
you’ve got to have a consistent, human voice – coming from all levels of your organization.” –
NICK JOHNSON founder useful Social Media
8. Email will not die but become more personalised, relevant and targeted based on real time
- Are you communicating regularly with your database and is the marketing
communication tailored to different segments?
- Are they engaging with your content and offers?
9. Content will remain King and more marketing teams and departments; small and large
businesses will invest into more quality content and attempt to make it go viral or at least
improve the chances of it being passed onto to a secondary audience. With falling production
prices and better and simpler technologies, we see Online Video as the ‘biggest and most
effective mover and shaker’ in Content Marketing. Most small businesses do not have a great
website, let alone reasonable video content, so this area will keep booming.
- Do you have great content?
- Is it promoted sufficiently? No point creating more content if not enough people are
engaging with what you have!
- Check out our great Fixed Fee Marketing with Online Video Marketing Packages
10. “Sites like Pinterest and Instagram prove that visual content is really worth 1,000 words
(or in instagram’s case, $1 billion). Infographics, photos, picture boards, video, and other forms of rich-media will increase over the coming years as humans look to digest more information faster than ever before.” – Hubspot Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2013, p.23.
- Does your brand have a well developed visual palette?
- Do you have a suitable image library? Make sure this is part of your Content
Wishing you a healthy and productive 2013. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any assistance in improving your marketing results.