Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Branding, a commonly used term throughout the business world, essentially means to create an identifiable entity that makes a promise of value. It means that you have created a consciousness, an image, an awareness of your business. It is your company's personality.

Numerous businesses try, but many fail at creating a successful brand.

Why ? This is because …….

Too many companies think of branding as marketing or as having a catch phrase or a logo. It is more than simply vying for attention. A brand warrants attention on a consistent basis, represents something that your audience wants but does not get from your competitors. For example, it could be providing the best customer service in your industry . Gaining potential customers attention is not just only through your tagline or logo but by actually providing the best customer service in your industry.

Too often, in a shaky economy, businesses are quick to change or alter their identity. Too much of this confuses your steady customers. For guidance, think of big brands , Nike for instance, has used "Just Do It" as a logo for years. One rule of thumb is that when you have become tired of your logo, tagline, and branding efforts, that's when they begin to sink in with customers.

You will never be able to brand yourself in such a way that everyone will like you. Typically the best you can do is to focus on the niche market for your product.

If you are not the fastest overnight delivery service in the world, do not profess to be. Too many business owners think that they are providing something that they don't. Know your strengths and weaknesses through honest analyses of what you do best.

Often business owners let the marketing and advertising department handle such things as "branding," while they work on sales and other important parts of the business. But sales and branding are tied together as integral aspects of your business. Many Fortune 500 companies are where they are today because smart branding made them household names.

If only the people in your office get a joke, it is not going to play to a large audience. The same holds true for branding. If your campaign is created for you and not "them," your brand will not succeed.

Many companies come up with ideas to market themselves and establish a brand identity but have neither the resources nor a plan as to how they will reach their audience. You must have a well-thought out marketing plan in place before your branding strategy will work. For help putting together a marketing plan, see How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Business.

Business-to-business-based companies are most guilty of piling on the jargon. From benchmark to strategic partnering to value added, jargon does not benefit branding. If anything, it muddles your message.

Being different for the sake of being different is not branding. Yes, you will be noticed, but not necessarily in a way that increases sales.

Companies that have succeeded in branding need to know when to stop establishing their brand and when to maintain that which they have established. Monitor the results of your branding campaign. If your small business is a local household word, you can spend more time maintaining your professional image.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Thomas Edison is credited with developing more than 1,000 inventions.

His friends and family called him crazy because he refused to give up on any of his ideas. His persistence and tenacity in finding practical solutions to any problems he encountered became his hallmark. The word failure wasn't in his vocabulary. He simply believed that with hard work and determination, he could achieve anything he set his mind to.

Edison's success teaches us that if we give up too easily, we can lose out on all kinds of opportunities for advancing our businesses. No matter how well you execute your plans, you will always encounter complications along the way. If you want to persevere in the face of challenges and achieve your goals, you must remain committed to succeeding. No matter the circumstances.

Adversity is a great teacher.

It keeps you focused and alert to new expansion opportunities for your business. When you encounter a roadblock, use your determination to spur you on.

As entrepreneurs, we know there's a wide range of issues that arise each day. When a problem develops, your first step should be to clearly define it. Once you've put it into perspective, you can brainstorm techniques to maneuver around it, over it or through it.

Don't discard an idea simply because you've never tried it. Your determination to find a solution will lead you down a path you could never have imagined before. List every possible option, consider the pros and cons for each, then choose one to implement.

Your unique set of talents forms the basis for your entrepreneurial success. Affirm your natural strengths by continually developing your inner resources. If confronted with unfamiliar territory, reach out to others. Develop a circle of associates to help each other find new, innovative insights for resolving problems. The knowledge exchanged during these encounters will strengthen new talents and reinforce your determination to succeed.

Your commitment to achievement is a valuable asset. Cultivate an unwavering stance on the road to accomplishment. Don't avoid what's hard. Face it, evaluate it, and find a way to conquer it. It's natural to adjust your action steps and strategies as you learn. Your steadfast pursuit of new problem-solving techniques will help you accomplish what once seemed daunting.

Patience, willpower and hard work pay off in unexpected ways. When faced with a dead end, don't consider it a failure. Think of it as part of the necessary process of elimination on the road to success. Keep on task, and be willing to wait for an answer to present itself. Find joy in discovering new possibilities for growing your business, even though there may be a winding road to the final remedy.

Thomas Edison's aspiration was to do everything within his power to free people from drudgery. Take a page from Edison's book by reflecting on the inspiration behind your business. This passion is a great source of motivation that can't be easily shaken by self-doubt. Find opportunity in every circumstance, and you'll be successful in all your endeavors.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Today, it takes more than just having a Web site to make the Internet work for your company.

Sites are highly competitive and proper site design has become an area of concern to businesses that want to use the Internet to the fullest.

Below are common Web site errors that occur.

Pick a domain name that is memorable and relates to your business. Since people are likely to forget very long names, shorter domain names are typically better, but not always. A name like "" can be too vague and says nothing about the content of the website.

Why have a Web site with content if no one can access it? Good design is largely based on consistency. Menus should appear in the same place on every page, links should all be the same color/typeface, and a logo of some sort should be clearly visible at all times.

Although flash animation may look amazing, it may be too complex for casual Internet users. Though aesthetics certainly matter, it must be in balance with functionality and ease of use for the typical user. Also, a more complex design takes longer to load on many computers.

Not only is content time-sensitive, but so is format and design. There will always be new tools available to make Web sites better looking and better performing. It is not cost-effective to create a Web site and let it sit. Update content regularly and take advantage of (appropriate) new technologies to make the site look better.

Make sure every link on your site works. You'll lose users quickly if they see a "404 file not found" error message, find broken or incorrectly labeled links. If you have a large site, consider adding a form so users can "submit a broken link," which lets users know you are on top of any problems they discover.

Users need to be able to contact you with questions, complaints, and suggestions. A "contact us" page, like an Internet business card, should be available from any part of your site. Also, be sure to actually answer these messages either personally or through an auto-reply.

Detailed reports of visitor traffic are available for your Web site. This service may be offered by your hosting provider, or obtained data through a third party. By monitoring your statistics (like visitors turned customers, users on broadband, and so on) you can tailor your marketing and design toward those who visit most, or find weak spots based on who you are not attracting.

As attractive as some of these services are, realize that the reliability of your business depends on the reliability of your hosting. A good host service should have minimal downtime, offer services like shopping cart systems, and have good customer support. Be sure to read reviews and apply for free trials (if possible) before you commit to anything.

Spiders are what search engines use to find your page. You want to make sure your page are designed so that you show up high on search engine rankings. This process is called search engine optimization (SEO). There are, however, ethics and strategies to SEO. Some practices (like hidden text, redirects, and so on) will result in your being banned from search engines.

Search engine optimization is complex. To move up in the listings on Google and other search engines, you may want to hire a professional, especially if your business relies heavily on generating business from the Web.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


The decisions you make about who you're going to sell to, call and build relationships with have a major impact on your success.

Here are some tips for learning how to tap into your natural-born instincts.

When meeting prospects for the first time, look and listen
This advice is so basic, but it's amazing how people rarely look you in the eye, especially when it's something important. This conveys that they're not comfortable with the information they're sharing. Also, listen to what prospects say and how their actions match their words. Do they do what they say they are going to do? Sometimes when we take a back seat in the conversation and really listen with our eyes and ears, our instincts will reveal something.

Learn to listen to your natural instincts
For millions of years, we lived in the wilderness and trusted our instincts to survive. But today, business owners rely on technologies and other modern resources to provide answers and information. These days, we're rarely in touch with our natural instincts.
How many times have you said to yourself, "I should have done that deal," or, "I should have listened to my gut and not done that deal?" The next time your instincts push you in a direction, don't ignore them. Listen to what your gut is telling you and act on it.

Develop honesty, integrity and rapport
Our instincts work best when the customer sees us for who we really are. Your instincts will read situations much more clearly when your customer opens up and both parties are being true to themselves. I've always done well working with people who say with their actions, "This is who I am, like it or not." They are confident in their abilities and have the track record to back them up. My gut instincts are very positive about these people, and it usually works out well.

Do your research
A little fact-finding won't hurt.
It can provide support and reassurance for what your gut is telling you.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Most marketing programs come with a healthy price tag.
That is, with one exception ….. public relations.
Several PR tactics can be mastered by do-it-yourselfers.
You can use them to reach and persuade customers at virtually no cost.

Try any of the following tactics to spread the good word about your business.

Meet the press through media relations

When you think of PR, media relations is probably the tactic that often comes to mind. The goal is to gain coverage in print, broadcast and online media through interviews and articles. To build relationships with members of the press …..

First, identify which medium your target audience looks to for information on your market. Develop a list of editors and journalists and familiarize yourself with each publication, website or broadcast program you plan to pitch. This will ensure that your message is on target.

Next, send a press release or pitch letter to your target market's preferred media outlet. Follow up the release with phone calls to the targeted journalists. Don't be surprised if you're asked to send your materials again, since the media is deluged with press releases. You may not get placements on your first calls, but as you develop relationships with members of the press, you'll establish yourself as a resource and eventually win coverage.

Get local attention with community affairs

For some types of businesses, building a positive company image and high visibility within the local community are primary PR goals. You can enhance your company's position through a community affairs campaign that supports key issues, philanthropic endeavors and community events. For example, companies targeting the Latino market often take visible roles in local Latino community life, from street fairs and festivals to charitable giving. This establishes them as caring community members, increases their visibility and name recognition, and yields positive PR.

The key to success in community affairs is to put your efforts into activities that will gain recognition from your primary target audience and garner local press coverage. When a Washington, DC landscaping company refurbished a rundown inner-city playground, it built tremendous word-of-mouth and earned coverage in local media and an entirely new level of name recognition in its principal market area. Get the idea?

Become a recognized expert with a radio press tour

Would becoming known as an expert in your field propel you and your business forward? Setting up your own radio press tour is easier than you think, and it's a great way to spread your name and message while building sales. Once you're established as an "expert" you'll get ongoing requests for interviews and comments from print and online media. A little coverage generally breeds more.

Talk radio programming nationwide covers a broad range of topics, from gardening to child safety and business finance. What types of shows do your best prospects listen to, and what can you share that will interest them? Talk show producers are looking for guests that can present unique, compelling ideas and present them in a way that won't put their listeners to sleep. Choose a story angle or topic that lets you shine, then write a media alert. This is similar to a press release but concludes with your availability for interviews and how to book you.

Fax or e-mail the alert to targeted producers along with a separate page with information they can use as a basis for your interview, such as "10 Tips for Back to School Safety," or "6 Ways to Save Money at Tax Time." Then follow up by telephone to pitch your story. Be persistent. You may need to send several alerts and tips sheets for a period of time before securing an interview. But once you give a great interview, you can bet the producers will want you back for more.