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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

Thursday
Dec302010

Top Ten Branding Stories and Videos of 2010

Lists give a convenient way to organize a topic, where you can scan and get a bucket-full of ideas in a flash. And it’s helpful to remember that lists are subjective. Within this context of opinion, I offer my top branding stories of 2010.

1. Conan O’Brien announced his new show name with much fanfare. Lesson: as Conan says in this video, keep the brand simple and pure.

2. Sticking to the simplicity theme, I foot tap and hum every time I see the iPad TV ad. Like the original iPhone ad, the music is raw and simple; the product, as we know, is Apple’s deliciously elegant design. In fact, any Apple ad is worth studying for excellence in branding.

3. Dos Equis vs Old Spice ads: videos that go viral don’t always translate into increased sales. Lesson: the story must feature a concept that’s enduring and makes the viewer want to be the person or associate with the type of person in the ad (and by extension own the product associated with the person in the ad). The Old Spice videos did not increase sales. The Dos Equis ads did.

4. The Gap flap: the venerable Gap clothing and retail icon rebranded itself this year with a new logo. It was easy to miss, because the new brand icon created such an uproar it was pulled after a couple of days. Side note about the type face, or font, in Gap’s abandoned logo: Helvetica type face can look strong and inviting, versus AT&T’s usage, which to me seems wimpy.

5, Part I. BP did such a lousy job presenting its public face after the Deep Horizon oil well disaster that the company’s value plummeted more than $32 million a day.

5, Part II. Tony Hayward, BP’s CEO at the time of the disaster, told the world what he wanted most, adding fuel to one of the biggest public relations fires in history.

If you had been BP’s CEO, what would you have done differently? If you or your small business were to make a mistake that put your name at the top of the news reports, how would you handle it? Do you have a crisis communications plan in place?

6. Toyota occupied our minds earlier in the year with its massive automobile recall. Here’s one authoritative view on how Toyota is fairing today, along with a video of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak commenting on his Toyota experience and problems with his Prius.

A branding list would be boring without videos, some gone viral. Here are my favorites.


7. Digital Nativity

8. Blendtec/Old Spice new Will it Blend?

Be sure to listen to the background music. Why do you think the producers chose that style of music?

9. And for instant translation from English to Spanish, and Spanish to English on the iPhone, there’s the Word Lens app.

10. Your choice here: what’s your favorite branding story of 2010?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. 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

Tuesday
Nov022010

Build your reputation around your name

A recent article in BusinessWeek on naming companies lamented how hard it’s become to create a novel, catchy name.

This is hard news to swallow if you’re a startup with a new product to sell.

But if you're a small business owner who sells  ideas and services to people in business — even if you sell products such as books, videos, CDs, software, and business systems — there’s no need to go through mental contortions to divine the perfectly witty name for your company. The perfect moniker for your company is your own name. Why?

Your reputation is built around your personal name. People remember you, not necessarily your company. When a client refers you they think of the value you personally provided. It’s you, the person, who comes to mind, not your company name.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t create a corporate name for your business, especially if you set up your business as a C or S corp. Just don’t spend too much time trying to come up with something catchy.

Pile your efforts into fortifying your brand around your own name. Mine is “Guise,” plus what I do, “Marketing & PR.” A strong tag line will support your name. My tag line is, “Be Visible!”

By using your own name you’ll save money and time on extensive name searching. You still need to do a search, but if you can add what you do to the name like I’ve done, even if it’s your last name plus “Consulting” or “Accounting,” for example, you’ll have your company named in next to no time.

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. 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

Tuesday
Oct262010

Thought Leadership is Serious Business

I’ve been noticing lately that some people use the terms “thought leadership” and “expert” interchangeably. They are related, but in practice an expert and thought leader are light-years apart.

An expert is someone who is well versed and practiced in his or her field of expertise. They may be writing about what they know and have even written a book, they get quoted in the media, and are paid to speak at meetings.

A thought leader: Shows the way…Has followers…Has a depth of knowledge in their area of expertise…Owns a new idea in their area of expertise…Writes about it prolifically, successfully communicates about it, the idea resonates… Influences people to change the way they think and behave…Inspires many people…Is well-known by many people in a niche, or industry…Is quoted extensively in the media and by other influential people…Is invited to keynote at important meetings…Knows other thought leaders...Is on a mission to make the world a better place by changing the way people think, and who won't rest until they succeed.

Look at the writings and ideas of such thinkers as Riane Eisler, Marshall Goldsmith, Helen Fisher , Alan Weiss, Margaret Wertheim, Seth Godin, and Margaret Wheatley, and you’ll quickly understand why the term “thought leader” is not synonymous with “expert.”

No one is born a thought leader. Great thinkers become that way because they have an extraordinary passion to change the way people think and behave, have a deep knowledge of their subject, and continually put their ideas out for all to see. If you want to make a lasting contribution in your field of expertise, influence many with your ideas and lead a more fulfilling life, choose the path to thought leadership.

If you were to become a thought leader, what would that be for you?

Roberta Guise enables successful women to become thought leaders. 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

Thursday
Aug272009

Play with fire if you dare

In the old world order, companies were like fortresses.

In that old world, before the Internet, blogs, and social media such as YouTube, Yelp! and Twitter, your complaints about a big company would echo only in your head.

Today, you or your company’s reputation can go up in flames in a flash, with negative messages echoing across the Internet faster than a lightning strike.

An early sign that technology was giving people a voice came in June 2005, when tech writer and author Jeff Jarvis wrote a post to his blog under the title, “Dell sucks.” Dell dissed Jarvis, he got mad and he blogged about it.

Thousands of people left comments of support on his blog, and word spread. His blog posts ranked increasingly higher on Google.

In August, just two months after his first Dell post, Business Week ran a story about Jarvis’s Dell experience. Dell got the message, and made the needed changes to its customer service practices.

2009 brought us David Carroll’s song about United Airlines breaking his guitar – the song went viral on YouTube. United Airlines also made the needed changes to its customer service practices.

That’s two individuals who had monumental impact on two gigantic companies.

No business is too small to be the subject of negative comments or reviews that spread like wildfire.

Conventional wisdom decrees that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, that all visibility is good. If you believe this, ask yourself how much it could cost your business if disgruntled customers started writing about their experience, and word spread?

In this new world order, don’t wait till fire strikes to take preventive measures. As long as your shingle is hanging out for all to see, do whatever it takes to have happy customers.

That means learning what gets customers upset, understanding how to avoid upsetting them in the first place, knowing what they want, and “calming them right away with words that defuse anger and defensiveness,” says Rebecca Morgan, CSP, CMC, author of the business bestseller, Calming Upset Customers: Staying Effective During Unpleasant Situations.

Customers are a business’s crown jewels. Take good care of them, and they’ll last an eternity.

Roberta Guise works with experts, small business owners and professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen their marketing edge. A marketing consultant and speaker, she owns 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