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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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Friday
Mar092012

Go deep and a little bit wide with your expertise

General Electric, the conglomerate that once brought “good things to life” and now is “imagination at work,” has changed its management philosophy.

The Wall Street Journal reports that instead of advancing a generation of generalists who, as leaders, know a little about a lot across the company, GE is now hedging its bets that sales will grow if their leaders develop deep expertise.

As a small business service firm or individual professional, you’re not surprised. You know that to thrive and provide the most value to clients, it’s mandatory that you practice in a core area of exceptional expertise.

To illustrate this point: Think how you buy outside services for your business. You most likely look for an expert or company that specializes in a specific function, such as accounting or information technology (IT). Small business owners rationalize that they’re likely to get more targeted expertise and better service from hiring a firm with a singular focus.

But suppose you have competencies and talent in a number of key business functions, or disciplines, and you decide to put it all on the table as managed services, for example. Would it be a case of trying to be all things to all people?

Not if you successfully argue that your company — with its core areas of expertise offered under an umbrella of streamlined, focused services —delivers extreme savings, ROI, and pain relief to specific, targeted classes of business.

To build a story about your offerings that’s a magnet to prospects, create messaging that shows, without doubt, how they’ll be better off when they outsource business functions to your company. And build a separate case for each business function, being sure to articulate how your work with the client will build a better future for them and their business.

Tell your story: how has your business model succeeded with multiple service offerings?

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. www.guisemarketing.com

Tuesday
Jan242012

How to create knockout marketing materials that get you noticed every time

Your marketing materials, which include everything from your logo, business card, Web site, brochure, fliers — essentially everything visual that has your name on it — speak volumes about you. Yup, even in this multi-tasking, warp-speed world, first impressions still count.

Here, then, is my simple rule-of-thumb for how your marketing materials should look: create them to the level that reflects how much you’re asking clients to invest in you.

You’ll be glad you talked to yourself

If you ask and answer the right questions about what to do before you start producing your materials, you’ll save time, money and grief. The result: you’ll have a repeatable framework for creating winning marketing materials that get you noticed every time — and help win you the client.

The following ideas are from a comprehensive check-list I’ve created. If you’d like the full check list for free — which you can use as a template for planning and developing all your marketing materials — just email me.

Key elements to keep in mind

Think through the following elements before you start creating your marketing piece, again during development to be sure you’re on track, and periodically once your promotions are “out there,” to assess effectiveness. If you’ve already got marketing materials, use the checklist to see how they measure up.

Target markets

Know as much as you can about your target prospects, such as what they value, how they buy, and why they really buy. Customize your message for different target markets, because one size doesn’t fit all. This principle also applies to your Web site.

Identity — “Look And Feel”

How do you want your prospects to perceive you? Formal or informal, trendy or conservative? Is this identity consistent with your values? Example: if your business personality is whimsical, create materials with a look and feel that bring on a smile. Be sure that your written messages, graphics and type faces are consistent across all print pieces and your Web site.

Messages (what’s in a word?)

You’ll be most effective when you demonstrate how clients are better off from doing business with you (your value). Clearly and succinctly tell people exactly what you do and the services you offer (features). Show one thing that differentiates you. Example: we all say that we provide quality customer service, but how many of us promise to return phone calls within 2 hours?

Testimonials

Gather testimonials from your happy clients. Edit into pithy, results-focused quotes. Please, don’t use statements that have only quote marks and no name attached. Nameless quotes lose all credibility, because they look like they could have been made-up.

Marketing/promotion pieces to produce

Examples that you can produce:
Logo, letterhead/business card system, service brochure, speaker brochure, product brochure, postcard/s, new office announcement, sales letters, promotional items (“ad specialties” such as logo pens and tee-shirts), Web site, table-top promotions, fliers, banners, signs. The list is endless.

The money question

Establish a budget. Costs generally will depend on these four items:
1) Who will write and edit? 2) Who will design? 3) Who will print? 4) Who will oversee and manage the entire process?

Some key design guidelines

Layout – Make it “clean.” That is, not cluttered and easy on the eye. Do the most important points visually stand out?

Headline — Create a powerful, compelling headline that visually, and with words, draws the reader in.

Colors
— Be sure they properly represent you (see “Look and Feel” above)? Do they work with the message? Are they appropriate for the target market? Are they your established business colors?

If you are not a designer by training, hire one. It will be a worthwhile investment. Homegrown materials that you create yourself look, well, homegrown. If it hurts you to write, hire a writer. A professional writer will take your ideas and massage them into words and concepts that flow and show you at your best.

The result will be rich-looking, effective marketing materials that get you noticed, convey your value, and win you the client.

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. www.guisemarketing.com

Tuesday
Nov152011

Drawing the line

Guest post

This piece from American Association of University Women member, Donna Seymour, looks at sexual harassment in schools from another vantage point. I’m posting it because it’s imperative that we get the word out, and work with students to find solutions. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment box!

Drawing the line

The lesson from the latest research on sexual harassment in schools, "Crossing the Line," is that when it comes to students harassing students in a sexual manner, there is no line. Harassment of this nature is so pervasive that our schools, the workplace for our children, is literally occupied by a harassment culture that is as hyper-sexualized as our society, our mass media, and things as basic as our clothing choices for the youngest of our children.
 
What the Crossing the Line report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), shows is a snapshot from one year in the life of the average student. Nearly 50 percent of all students are experiencing some form of unwanted harassment of a sexual nature during that year.
 
This study backs up two previous AAUW harassment studies from two previous decades that show the same result, when looked through the lens of the total experience of students during their school years. We have a harassment culture that is so pervasive that not to experience some form of harassment of this type while in school is unusual.
 
Given this environment in school for our young people, is it any wonder that that we have street harassment? This kind of harassment so saturates our society that women walking down a public street can expect cat calls, rude and offensive remarks, and outright lewd behavior, with no hope of let up. It is to be endured, rather than taking the chance of confronting your anonymous harasser for fear that something far worse will happen.
 
In the military, harassment of a sexual nature is so pervasive that an October U.S. Government Accountability Office study reported 82 of 583 service members surveyed had been sexually harassed in the last year, but only four had formally reported the incident. The study found that one of the reasons a service member may not report an incident is because it would not be taken seriously.
 
The study said the Department of Defense must improve its commitment to preventing sexual harassment. Nearly half of all service members surveyed said they think people they work with could get away with sexual harassment, even it were reported.
 
The harassment culture is met by a culture of silence and a culture of endurance. What our children are experiencing in school is playing out on the larger stage of life in America. How do we transform the harassment culture and end its chokehold on our society?
 
It is past time for the harassment culture to be acknowledged. It is not just “the way things are.” It is something we can face, recognize, reject and change. The Crossing the Line report offers good suggestions for action.
 
The students themselves had proactive ideas for reducing sexual harassment in their school, including designating a person they can talk to (39 percent), providing online resources (22 percent), and holding in-class discussions (31 percent). Allowing students to anonymously report problems was a top recommendation (57 percent), as was enforcing existing sexual harassment policies and punishing harassers (51 percent).
 
Instead of Crossing the Line, we should be Drawing the Line. Taking these suggestions seriously can and should spur strategies and approaches for responding and preventing sexual harassment in schools.
 
Donna Seymour, Potsdam, NY, the Communications Director for AAUW-NYS, is a member of the St. Lawrence County Branch, AAUW

Tuesday
Jul192011

Look before you click

If you’re like most people, you aim to control what others know and say about you. So you’re careful about what you reveal, and to whom you reveal it.

With social media we’re getting used the fact that whatever we post or share becomes part of the big public conversation. But how many times do you carefully review an email, that old technology, before clicking Send? Do you read and re-read what you’ve written? Do you double check who the recipients are? And do you open the attachment to ensure it’s what you intend to send?

An employee at Chevron didn’t check. This past Friday, he inadvertently sent an email to news media wire services that included documents revealing internal information about his company’s energy trading operations.

Oops.

He tried unsuccessfully to recall the message. Minutes later he sent a request to various news services, asking them to delete the information he had accidentally sent.

The media response was swift and sharp. The Wall Street Journal said, “Chevron’s Email ‘Oops” Reveals Energy Giant’s Sway Over Markets."

The San Francisco Chronicle, through their Bloomberg News affiliation, chimed in with, “Chevron E-Mails Show $363.8 Million Trading Profit This Year.”

And this tweet circulated through StockTwits: “RT @BloombergNow Chevron E-Mails Show $363.8M in Trading Profit."

The articles exposed the usually unobtainable content in the errant documents, with just passing mention that they landed this content through a mistaken distribution.

Like it or not the media did their job, which in this case was to report news from a publicly held company.

The lesson one can learn from this incident, no matter how small or large your company, is simple: check, then check again before you click Send, Post, or Share. Because after the click your words and ideas are public, and up for grabs.

And when it comes to working with the media: assume that anything you say or send them will be considered fair game for publishing.

Have you ever clicked then wished you could take it back? Share your experience in the Comment box.

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. www.guisemarketing.com

 

Friday
Apr152011

Pay equity for women still a sore point

Imagine yourself as a woman who works in a large retail chain. You do your best work, and each time a position opens up you aim to be promoted, only to be turned down. Finally, you ask your supervisor why you’re being passed over for a promotion, why men are getting the promotions instead. “Dust the cobwebs off your makeup and doll up,” you’re told.


This is an extreme example of what plaintiffs are alleging in the gender discrimination lawsuit against Walmart that’s currently before the Supreme Court.

Because I’m passionate around issues of gender equity, I wrote an op-ed on pay equity, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 10. If you leave a comment on the Chronicle website you’ll be adding to the conversation on this important topic.

On April 12, Congress reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close certain loopholes in an old law that makes it too easy for gender discrimination in the workplace to take place. Here’s a good explanation of what the Paycheck Fairness Act will do, if it’s passed.


April 12 was also Equal Pay Day, which, as Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis notes, is the day on which women will have worked one year, three months, and twelve days to earn what men earn in one year.

So what would you do if you discovered that a colleague at your employer, working under the same job description and with similar experience, was being paid more than you?

What would you do if an employee of yours didn’t meet your grooming standards?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders in their field of expertise. She also works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. 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. www.guisemarketing.com