I am helping a client to decide which of three potential logos they would like to use for their remodeling business. Would you take 5 minutes and answer a short survey? You will be asked to rate the three logos on a few different attributes and then pick your favorite. It is fast and we’d love your input!
Update: the survey is now closed and the results are in. If you would like to see what you all picked visit the blog entry on this small business logo decision.
I came across a very interesting blog entry from Guy Kawasaki about:
- how he uses Twitter
- his favorite Twitter tools
- techniques and
- the use of ghost writters – yes ghost writters.
What was most interesting however, was his approach is to using Twitter as a live broadcast medium. He uses a team of 4 ghost writers as researchers to find interesting content and to tweet that content. He also re-tweets the same content over the course of a day.
He looks at Twitter like a TV news outlet. TV stations re-broadcast the same news more than once in a day because few people are watching all the time. The same is true with Twiter. The feed is extremely perishable. It is easy to miss a tweet so he posts it more than once.
He also comments that he sees himself more like PBS — he is providing a public service and he also has sponsors to help pay for the overhead — including the team of writers.
I think this is a very interesting perspective. Guy’s Twitter content is not so much a personal relationship with Guy (although he claims to answer direct tweets) but about building the Guy Kawasaki brand.
Read more at:
Palo Alto Software, the makers of Business Plan Pro and Marketing Plan Pro are giving away free copies of Business Plan Pro Premium on July 1st as part of a program to support entrepreneurs and businesses in their home state of Oregon. The company has long been an advocate for small business and this is a very generous act on their part.
The software is available from dozens of locations (mainly Chambers of Commerce and SBDCs) around the state. It will only be available on July 1st and the unlock code will only be valid for 48 hours. You can get more details at: http://www.paloalto.com/boost/
I attend an excellent sales training class every Wednesday morning and this week Jeff (our trainer) presented an interesting perspective about failure in the role of success.
The worldview for failure is usually:
Failure <- Me -> Succes
In this view we can either fail or succeed depending on how we do.
An alternative, but better in my opinion, view is:
Me -> Failure -> Success
In otherwords we cannot really be successful unless we fail. If we think of many of the great entrepreneurs/inventors such as Edison for example. They had many more failures than the successes they became known for. The key is to learn from our failures and use that information to get to success. This means also that failure is not necessarily a reflection on our self worth as an individual — it is part of the process of success.
I presented the “7 Steps to Successful Small Business Marketing” at a class full of entrepreneurs at Clackamas Community College last week. It was a fun group and we had a great time. I had intended speaking for an hour or so plus questions but we eventually wrapped up after 2 and a half hours. It was great to have such strong engagement with the attendees. I love groups where there is loads of discussion.
At the end of the class I distributed an evaluation form with one of the questions being “Tell me something you learned”. The most common answer was that attendees wanted to do a better job of identifying their ideal customer.
The ideal customer is a critical concept to successful small business marketing. The big idea is that we want to primarily attract only those customers that we love. For example, these might be customers who appreciate what we do, are easy to work with, refer us frequently and pay on time. Lets face it, all of us have had customers that have dragged us down. Perhaps they were unpleasant or took up way too much time. So how do we identify these ideal customers and attract more of them?
Step one is to take your list of clients and divide them into two groups — what I call my naughty and nice list. Most small business owners can do this pretty easily. At least the extremes will be pretty easy. The ones in the middle might be more difficult.
Step two is to look for areas of similarity. What do the top “nice” people have in common? How would you know one if they came up and kissed you? Or more practically how would you describe them to someone else? We may be looking here for insight into: their specific needs, demographics, geographics, sociographics, etc.
Step three is to interview a sampling of the ones we want to attract more of. We want to be like the flower attracting the honey bee. We don’t want the flies and the wasps so what attracted the honey bees to us in the first place? We talk to our ideal customer and find out why they picked us, why they didn’t pick out competitor and why they keep coming back to us. What is important to them and what problems do we solve for them.
With this information we can create our messaging to appeal to the ideal customer. We will use this messaging on our website and in our promotional materials. If we do it right our marketing tools will be more effective and bring us better and more profitable customers.
Each year the Oregon Chapter of the American Marketing Association holds their conference. This year the theme is on branding in the era of social marketing.
Forward ’09: Brandologie is the latest in a series of professional development conferences held each spring in Portland, Oregon by the American Marketing Association (AMA). AMA Oregon’s conference attracts hundreds of senior-level professionals from throughout Oregon, Washington, California and Vancouver, B.C. This year’s event looks at the science of branding, with two tracks and keynote presenters from around the globe. For the first time, AMA will also be hosting a concurrent event: The Placement Project. Directed toward job seekers, young professionals and students, this event will focus on the fine art of personal branding in the age of social marketing.
We’re in a world now where people use brands to construct their personal, professional and social identities-where the meaning of a brand is based on the connections between people that transcend charts and graphs. It’s all about cultural relevance and emotions-not hype.
Here are some of the speakers:
Gavin Coombes | CEO | FutureBrand Singapore
Ken Smith | Acount Director | Wieden+Kennedy
Jody Turner | Founder and CEO | Culture of Future
Tim Stock | Partner and Managing Director | scenarioDNA
Mike Sommers | SVP Product Management | KickApps
Jared Reitzin | CEO and Founder | mobileStorm
Dani Zizak | VP, Director of Global Marketing | Wolverine World Wide, Inc
June 3rd, 2009 at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon.
To learn more, visit www.ama-pdx.org
I am just wrapping up my attendance at the Sage Insights conference in Nashville. It is a conference for Sage VARs/resellers and vendors. We had a Duct Tape Marketing booth at the trade show part of the conference.
Myself, John Jantsch (founder of Duct Tape Marketing) and a couple of other coaches got to talk to many of the Sage VARs and we made a few interesting observations:
- There is a lot of small business talent out there that is not being fully realized.
Loads of people who came to our booth told me, “if only people knew about us, we would be doing great”. I love it when people tell me that because it means they believe they are offering a great service. I like working with people who want to please their customers. It also means I can usually help them. Their problem is one of creating awareness – of getting the word out and there are lots of tools that we can deploy to do that
- More than can be done than often you might expect
We also found some people who have almost given up on their marketing. From what I can see, this happens when business owners do their marketing in an unstructured, almost random way. They usually haven’t taken the time to build a strong foundation in refining their target market and creating a strong and consistent marketing message. As a result their marketing tactics fail.
I also find there are business owners who quickly dismiss some potentially very helpful marketing tools. We talked about Twitter for example and while Twitter might not be for everyone, there can be some good business applications that they were unaware of.
- Lack of Time
Some of the Sage VARS we met told me that they know they need marketing help but they are not prepared to spend time on their marketing. I know how busy the average small business owner can be. I have the same challenge. But we are talking about the long term health of the business. Spending time on your marketing is not optional if you want to grow. You always have to be filling the pipeline with prospects. When business suddenly slows is not the best time to start. Marketing is an investment not a cost. The time you spend on the right marketing will pay back dividends in the future. Part of my role is to help clients make the best use of their time. I help them stay on track and create effective marketing programs.
Google now has made available a new service called Google Profiles. As the name would suggest you can add a personal profile which becomes indexed by Google. Since so many people use the web to find people it is probably a good idea to create your own Google Profile and grow the internet real estate connected with your name. Of course with a name like mine (which I like to say is popular, rather than common) there are rather a lot of results for a Michael Thompson search. Some of the results include some unsavory characters it seems.
Regardless, I just added the Michael Thompson Google Profile and I see my entry is already showing up at the bottom of the search results under a new section called profiles. I’m not sure what they will do when there are hundreds of people with the same name profiled but for now I am one of the first and I am on the front page albeit on the bottom.
In the Google Profile you can add links which I have done for my website, Twitter Feed, LinkedIn and Podcast. You can also add pictures and of course plenty of space to talk about you.You can also set it up so that people can contact you directly although your email address is kept hidden.
So what are you waiting for, take 5 minutes and grab your profile!
There is a lot of hype around Twitter for business but how useful is it really? The answer of course is – “it depends”. It depends on what you want to accomplish and how much effort you are prepared to put into it. Twitter is a tool and like any tool it is impotent until used in a productive way.
As a way to spark some thought, here are some of the ways Twitter is being used today:
Customer service — Twitter can be used proactively or reactively and it lets people see the quality of your customer service (for good or for bad). Southwest airlines reportedly scan Twitter to identify people who are having problems or who are commenting about their airline. Comcast does the same and try to address problems using Twitter. Palo Alto Software (home of Business Plan Pro and Marketing Plan Pro software) have a Twitter service which I have used to troubleshoot a problem although they did point me to a live person on the phone at one point. I thought it was excellent service and I hadn’t expected such a rapid reply.
Reputation management — you can use Twitter to search what people are saying about you. Just go to http://search.twitter.com and enter your keywords. Don’t forget the capabilities of the advanced search.
Promotions — if you have a large number of followers it can be effective to use Twitter to inform people of promotions or events. You can also ask your followers to reTweat your announcements to their followers. TweatDeck makes it easy to reTweat.
Network — you can use the aforementioned search capability to find people who have an interest in a particular topic. These might be people you could network with or form strategic partnerships with.
Twitter as an internal tool — some companies use Twitter as a way to keep communication going internally.
How are you using Twitter?
For us small business owners (and probably others too) the upcoming Google Voice looks to be a revolution in the functionality of phones. It is going to be interesting to see how the established phone companies respond particularly since my understanding is that the service is free.
Read this link to learn more about Google Voice. Here is how Google describes their service:
“Google Voice is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more”