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Roberta Guise advises small business owners and professionals who want to build a profitable stable of customers, save money on ineffective promotions, and through precision marketing, branding, or placements in the media be visible and get known.

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What’s in a brand name: a tale of three Imagos

Most business owners spend a lot of quality time thinking about what to name their company.

The name can emerge from something that's near and dear to the owner's heart, such as my client's dog daycare business, Dog Dynasty. They use a crown on a dog to reinforce the tag line, Where dogs rule!

For others, the name evolves from a philosophy the founder wants to convey — here's another client, The Monk Dude. He's a yoga monk who also plays a mean guitar (I'm biased, of course), and uses music in his meditation offerings and practice.

Given how important a company's name and brand identity are, I want to share with you this head-scratcher. Two San Francisco Bay Area companies have given themselves the same name: Imago. Both firms even chose similar butterfly logos, the icon being a nod to the final stage of insect development during its metamorphosis.

One may reasonably wonder what kind of name search these two biopharmaceuticals firms conducted before locking in their brand identities. One is Imago Biosciences 

and the other is Imago Pharmaceuticals

San Francisco Business Times biotech reporter Ron Leuty, in writing about the Imago duo, asks, What’s in a name? Look back to the opening of this post for a couple of ideas.

As of this writing neither of the Imago companies appear in the first 4 pages of Google search results. I did, however, find a recent news release about yet another company named Imago, though it’s a video technology firm based in Europe. No surprise, this Imago also uses a butterfly in its logo:

As Leuty asks in his report on the first two firms, is this a case of brand confusion? Absolutely it is. Imago Biosciences and Imago Pharmaceuticals are in a similar industry. And none of the three firms called Imago owns — the URL belongs to an unrelated company.

Could one of them use No, because that URL is also taken. And think about it — when did you last have the urge to type “.net”? Don't add to the confusion by using an alternate domain extension (example, .net instead of .com). If you find yourself attached to a name and another entity owns either the name or the URL, let it go and come up with something else.

What if you’re an investor in one of the Imagos? You may want to have the company rebrand. Otherwise you risk a potential intellectual property kerfuffle that could negatively impact the company and the product.

The takeaway lesson for small business owners: be original when naming your company and branding your products or ideas. If you're not using your own name as the company name and brand, look to something personal or special in your life that you can present with words and visualize with a logo. Don’t use a name that’s taken, even if you're not in the same industry as the firm with the name you want to use. It’s not worth risking customer confusion and potential legal problems.

Do you think two companies in a similar industry can both have the same name? What would you do if you were naming your company, product or service, and discovered the name you thought had no equal and was the best in the world, was owned by someone as a website URL but didn't appear to be trademarked?

Roberta Guise, founder and principal of Guise Marketing & PR and Thought Leading Women Initiative, advises small business owners, nonprofit leaders and experts on how to create an enduring brand and be ridiculously visible. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, ask for a complimentary 1/2 hour consultation. You'll be glad you did! 415-979-0611.


How to be a media magnet

In a previous post I wrote about the good things you can expect when you make the media your BFF. This article deep dives into the “relations” aspect of media relations, fitting in as a longer view type of visibility strategy.

Have you noticed how some media outlets quote the same experts over and over, or interview them on their TV or radio talk shows on a regular basis?

This isn’t a fluke. It also doesn’t mean that the expert has the best answers, or that they got lucky.

The name you keep hearing and seeing is because:

  • That person developed a relationship with editors or a show host
  • Gives valuable content the media can use as quotes
  • Is a reliable expert source
  • Presents well on camera or at the microphone
  • Is easy to work with and responsive
  • Is reliably contrarian or has novel approaches to the topic

By targeting even just a few select media contacts and focusing on building a relationship, it’ll make your efforts to get published or interviewed by order magnitude more effective.

Top 6 keys to enduring relationships with the media

Whether you’re seeking to be an expert source in print, online or on TV/radio, and plan to contact just one reporter or 100, use these 6 keys as a guide to developing enduring relationships with the media.

1. Be intimately familiar with the audience you want to reach

Get crystal clear in your mind the target market (or markets) you want to reach, and specifically who buys from you. Because it’s the buyers whose eyes and brains you want to get your ideas in front of. Remember that your buyers are also consumers, which means many of them pay attention to consumer media.

2. Be intimately familiar with the publication

Acquaint yourself with a target publication or media outlet, and only then introduce yourself. There’s nothing that riles up editors more than someone who appears unfamiliar with their publication’s content, format, topics and style.

3. Be intimately familiar with the reporter’s beat

Know what the reporter generally writes about (for example: environment; education/schools; technology; politics; lifestyle, etc.) Study their reporting style (hard news, feature, investigative, humorous, serious). With this level of understanding you’ll know who writes about your topic, and you’re ready to introduce yourself and pitch relevant ideas.

4. Be interesting so that the media find your ideas and expertise appealing

Being interesting means that you’re current with what’s going on around you and can deftly tie your ideas to news, trends and public conversations. If your ideas are novel and fully developed, or you’ve conducted research, you’ll be better-positioned to influence an editor to start a public conversation, with you and your ideas at the center.

5. Be a valuable resource

Let editors and reporters know they can call on you any time, and you’ll be there for them. But don’t wait to be contacted. Initiate a conversation by letting them know you exist, the topics they can contact you about for your expertise and opinions, and that you can provide resources to “round out” their story.

Ask what else they could be looking for. Here’s what this can look like:

I contacted a reporter to thank her for an article she had written about a former (female) politician, and strategically asked what other kinds of stories she was interested in.

She responded, “Women doing unusual things.” I had a client who does unusual things: she’s an engineer who designs big public structures to be safe from terrorist attacks. I pitched a story idea to tie in with the 10th commemoration of the 9/11 attacks.

The journalist liked the idea, and garnered her editor’s approval for a Sunday front page (and website Home page) profile of the client just before 9/11/11.

6. Be nice, two ways

Even if a reporter is brusque with you, keep your nice on. Reporters are always on deadline, so if you decide to call one the first words out of your mouth after you introduce yourself must be, “Are you on deadline?” That short question will help win you a friend.

If you read a piece on your topic that you disagree with, or you think is wrong, resist the temptation to scold the writer. Instead, thank her for the piece, and offer another view (yours) without lambasting hers. If you don’t control your impulse to give a piece of your mind, the only place on that reporter’s desk you may get to live is her blacklist.

Becoming a media magnet is part tenacity, part opportunity, and focus. It can be intense or more occasional, as fits your schedule and temperament.

How easy (or challenging) has it been for you to develop relationships with the media?

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. She also enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611.


For a new take on time, take a new approach

When December rolls around we’re always amazed that another year has just blown by. Where did the time go? we ask, incredulously.

Turns out you’re not imagining time appearing to speed up as you get older. It’s in your brain.

Time didn’t move fast enough when we were kids: boring class, end of school, the next birthday. And when the Big Day arrived, you wanted it to last forever.

As adults we still want some things to blow by, such as dreary desk work and long-winded bores who torment us to tears with never-ending stories about themselves.

But what about experiences that delight, such as the client relationship that’s like a tightly-choreographed dance that we step through in exacting synchronicity? In cases like these you know the heady feeling of wanting time to stand still.

So as you slide towards the end of the year and think through plans for the next 12 months, try one or more of these not-so-usual ways that I personally use when I want to slow down the perception of time —

  • Meditate for 10 minutes
  • Develop one or more items of intellectual property
  • Sit and think for 5 minutes
  • Swim in cold water
  • Watch birds
  • Listen to music without doing anything else
  • Hand-write a thank you card to someone you appreciate, put a stamp on it, and walk it to the mail box

I’ve got big plans for making next year slow to a crawl. What will you do to make it feel like time has slowed for you?

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. She also enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611.


How to make the media your BFF

If your mission is to change the world with your ideas, or to give customers and other stakeholders multiple ways to access your expertise, you need the media as a public platform for your message. In this first of four blog articles about getting your message and ideas distributed to a broad audience, we’ll look at the top three reasons why knowing how to work with the media is not only not optional for advancing one’s business or cause, it’s foundational.

I’ve heard many reasons from clients as to why they can’t do media outreach:

Not enough time.

Costs too much.

What I want to say has already been said and I’m not adding anything new to the conversation.

I don’t know how.

I'm afraid/worried about negative feedback.

If any of these are your reasons, or you have others, I encourage you to let go of that line of thinking for a few minutes—at least until you’ve finished reading this.

Why you should love the media

If you want your ideas to spread and change how people think, make the media your BFFs. Here are the top three reasons why.

1. Editors and reporters are the primary influencers for spreading our ideas to the broadest possible audience or that audience we want to reach, even if that audience is very narrow.

2. You get 3rd party endorsement when you’re quoted or written up, which still carries tremendous cachet and credibility

3. Editors are the gatekeepers to the influential blogs that at some point you’ll want to have a presence on.

Let’s turn this “love” into a strategy: to accelerate your being known as a leading authority or thought leader and to get your ideas heard outside your immediate sphere of influence—go beyond the people and stakeholders you know and who know you.

Specifically, do what you can to get your name consistently in traditional and online media.

Traditional media still refers to print publications and TV/radio. Print includes local and national newspapers, and the primary professional or trade publications that your target market reads. Just about all publications these days host websites, meaning your exposure quotient is multiplied.

The top traditional print media strategy to aim for is a regular column. As an example, my client, Loraine Huchler P.E., CMC, founder of MarTech Systems, Inc., is a chemical engineer who advises Fortune 100 companies on risk management and best practices for water used in manufacturing.

Since 1999, she’s had a quarterly column in her industry’s leading publication, HydroCarbon Processing, and is also a senior contributing editor to the publication. With this dual relationship she’s developed and nurtured with the publication’s editors, she’s maximized her visibility to her marketplace.

The regular exposure has helped her build a large dedicated following, with readers becoming long-term clients. And while getting clients is key, the true value of a column is the opportunity the platform offers to write-up your ideas over time, with your name attached to them, exposing and making them accessible to the broadest audience.

An effective online visibility strategy is to secure a guest blogging or “contributor” opportunity. National dailies such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, for example, often offer blogging slots for a few people with outstanding ideas and excellent writing skills. Monthly name-brand business-focused magazines such as Fortune, Fast Company and Forbes use guest bloggers.

Be sure to explore blogging opportunities on influential sites in your area of expertise. Technorati is an excellent source for finding prominent blogs (be sure to check out the Top 100—if anything, it’s a barometer for what large numbers of people find interesting).

Another traditional media strategy: submit opinion pieces on a regular basis to local and national print news media. Opinion pieces are also nicknamed “op-eds,” in that these are opinion pieces that in print publications were always on the page opposite the publication’s editorials.

Writing opinion pieces on an issue you feel strongly about that’s in the news or trending gets your ideas in front of a large readership. For published examples, look at some of my opinion pieces in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, and La Prensa (twice). Check submission guidelines, such as these at USA Today and Washington Post, and follow them religiously.

When you’re ready, put being on TV/cable and radio as a guest expert, commentator or analyst in your action plan. I’ll cover these media in a future post.

Take the time to get to know a few editors of publications where you want your ideas to appear. Don’t be disappointed if you’re not published on the first try, or the second or even third. This is about developing relationships, so start by being a useful resource, and don’t expect anything in return.

Be patient, and persistent, and you’ll soon find you have a roster of editors and journalists you call your new BFFs.

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. She also enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611.


Gain influence with your ideas by straying from the pack

This graphic is based on a visual by Alan Weiss, Ph.D.

With traditional publishing giving up its dominant perch to e-publishing, social media and mobile displacing face-to-face communications, and all things digital making 24/7 appear quaint, the diligent consultant, small business owner or nonprofit with a distinct message has a lot of noise to cut through to be heard and not get caught in the maelstrom of an always on, always connected culture.

For a high-achieving professional with an important message, you can’t afford to let the noise drown out your message

So consider this option: instead of staying with the pack in your efforts to be heard, move off to the side. You’ll find a less-populated space, where your ideas can be so well known they shape how people think.

People who influence at this level are thought leaders, or public intellectuals, or thinkers.

As I noted in another article comparing experts to thought leaders, thought leaders are deeply knowledgeable people who want to make a difference and change the world.  They are notably influential. We let them influence us because we believe their ideas are important.

Earlier this year I led the first Thought Leadership Symposium for Women. I founded the Symposium to give high-achieving women the framework and tools for developing their ideas and voices as influencers and thought leaders in their field of expertise.

19 insights emerged from the Symposium that participants said would further their own thought leadership, and I’d like to share their comments here—the comments apply to anyone seeking to advance their standing as a known thinker.

  1. Looking for thought leading role models from 20 years ago isn’t relevant to how one needs to develop today. The competition wasn’t as fierce then. Non-fiction books had yet to take off. Across the spectrum, the landscape for ideas today is much harder to break into. On the other hand, technology mitigates this disadvantage somewhat by putting much more control in the hands of those who develop intellectual property.
  2. Writing and presenting peer-reviewed papers are critical to advance one’s standing
  3. Conduct strategic planning around thought leadership if you want to develop your standing as a thought leader.
  4. Thought leadership requires intensive work and personal commitment, now and in the future.
  5. Identify the kernel of your thinking and make an all-out effort to develop it. Effort and resources will be different for each person. For your idea to develop and have a platform to stand on, you must be fully committed to it.
  6. Efforts to build thought leadership require meeting new people, speaking to new audiences, and taking risks.
  7. Will need to educate clients on consulting practice changes, in order to retain these clients and gain entry to buyers at higher levels in their organization.
  8. Not all aspects of my core thought leadership topic will be directly tied to my consulting practice. It will encompass broader thinking, and connect my knowledge and insights to a much larger community.
  9. The Symposium format was an opportunity to spend dedicated and focused time with other consultants who want to spread their message much farther than their direct client and prospect base.
  10. Provided a platform for testing ideas and getting frank feedback from peers and experts.
  11. Having Symposium leaders and specific topic experts gave attendees a forum for digging deep into a variety of topics to learn from.
  12. Having a deep understanding of my core topic and getting it down to a few, pithy memorable words, is crucial.
  13. Need to know how to translate the complex jargon of my subject matter into more accessible language without inadvertently stealing someone’s idea, because many of my peers and I have brainstormed informally over the years, ideas fly, and it’s impossible to determine whether what I think is my original idea, is in fact someone else’s, or partly someone else’s. Honoring idea ownership is key.
  14. Spend time on self-reflection and discovery so that you advance into a new level of understanding.
  15. Determining who will be the first audience for my idea.
  16. Some of us already have so much IP to support our core idea, that now we need to funnel and focus it. Assess and use existing IP, repurpose where possible.
  17. Get the same speakers again! Their varied perspectives, styles, and subject matter really gave this the feeling of a true symposium (versus a workshop) and everything complemented everything else. It really made the whole event profound.
  18. The focus was around how one can make a difference, even in a niche market, rather than on egos and how wonderful each individual could be.
  19. The leaders presented the content framework and guidelines, then got out of the way so that group discussions could take over. People began the process of putting ideas into action during brainstorming and talking over with colleagues.

Attendees all agreed that being a thought leader is more than just about making money or doing well in one’s profession. It’s about making a difference and wanting to leave a legacy of ideas by adding your voice to the important conversations that affect our lives.

Share your idea for making a difference. What do you want to do now, or in the near future, to influence how people think?

Roberta Guise enables successful individuals to become thought leaders. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to accelerate their marketing results, be visible, and change the way people think. A small business marketing consultant and speaker, she is the founder of San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. If you'd like to know how to apply these concepts to your situation, call for a free 1/2 hour consultation. 415-979-0611.