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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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Entries in small business marketing (6)

Friday
Nov212014

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 www.Imago.com — the URL belongs to an unrelated company.

Could one of them use www.Imago.net? 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. www.guisemarketing.com

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
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

 

Saturday
Nov202010

The new rules of marketing lead to influence

It’s no secret that overnight, it seems, marketing has turned on its head.

So-called brick-and-mortar promotion campaigns, such as sending seminar fliers through the U.S. Postal Service, seem quaint today. And then there are not-so-obvious changes that are driving a stake in the heart of what once were considered best practices.

Old rules

Let’s get perspective about what’s going on. In the old days — an eternity of three years ago — under the old rules:

  • If you offered value, people would buy
  • People would pay for your content
  • Communication used to be one-way, or one to one, meaning I’d communicate with you, and perhaps you’d respond
  • The only way to be extraordinarily visible was through print, TV, and radio; and speaking, networking and email
  • Only reporters and editors saw your news releases and pitches
  • Reporters and editors were gatekeepers to your news
  • It was hard to measure results of press release distribution unless you paid through the nose for a clipping service
  • The only way to measure marketing results was using direct marketing through the mail, or until a few years ago, through email.

New rules

Most small business marketing is now being carried out on the Internet. And with this comes a new set of rules. Here are the top seven.

  1. To win the minds and wallets of people whose spending is inconsistent, offering value isn’t enough. You must be relevant. If your content doesn’t offer something people can use either right now or soon, they’ll pass you by.
  2. People expect to access your copyrighted content for free.
  3. Technology, which has become deeply embedded in the collective DNA, is a hungry beast that needs to constantly be fed with content — your content.
  4. You control when, where and how your news and content will be seen, because many of the gatekeepers of the past don’t exist online. This control is yours to harness.
  5. Free online measuring tools such as Google Analytics enable you to know, with precision, how well your various marketing activities are doing. Use these tools for the story of how and how many people are gravitating to your website.
  6. You can, and should, publish your own content, most notably through writing blog articles, through such other online media as video and eBooks, and distributing news through press releases.
  7. Engage in conversations with one person or many people at the same time, using such social media as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The new rules of marketing enable you to become a center of influence, because the public nature of social media opens up your conversations and ideas for everyone to see. Your message can spread quickly and to a broad audience, because the people in your network are interconnected with other networks; if they think your message is valuable, they’ll pass it along.

Today, it’s much easier to be visible and assert your influence than in the past, because there are fewer barriers stopping people from finding out what you have to say. And that’s a foundational step towards building trust and relationships, which may lead to future business for you.

Which new rule is working best 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

Saturday
Jul102010

Be fresh and crisp. Your reputation is at stake.

I went shopping today for mixed spring greens at a tiny local natural food store. I go there when I want a nice big fresh salad.

The object of my culinary desires was mixed spring greens. The greens are usually so crisp at this store you can virtually hear them brushing up against one another as you scoop them into the bag. But today they were tired and wilted, while some of them had turned black and soggy. I asked a worker whether there were fresh greens in storage.

I’ve asked for fresh salad greens at a big supermarket. There, the produce person willingly brought out a box overflowing with crisp leaves, promptly replacing the existing box with the new one.

At the little store the worker brought out a bag with fresh greens, held it open for me to take what I wanted, then silently took the open bag back into storage, leaving the wilted, soggy salad greens in place.

We’re all susceptible to harboring soggy, wilted areas in our businesses. And that could be costing us sales and repeat business.

Perhaps you have a service firm and pride yourself on results. But you find it hard to respond in a timely manner to client emails or phone calls. I can assure you that if this describes you, your clients are not happy that you keep them waiting for a response. The results of a customer survey I conducted for a client shocked her when I showed her they were crazy for her work, but found her hard to work with because they felt she was never available.

Sometimes the soggy area is more like a bog. My architect husband and I recently interviewed a contractor for a major remodel to our house. We’ve both known this contractor professionally for years – my husband has recommended him for many jobs. He promised an estimate “in two weeks.” Three months later, and he still hasn’t sent us the estimate.

It’s been said that people will tell at least 10 others when they’re unhappy with a business. We’ll never be able to recommend this contractor again, and when our remodeling colleagues ask about him we’ll be obliged to tell them why.

As for the little store that got its salad greens wrong: I’m willing to give them another chance. If they fail me again, they stand to lose thousands of dollars they would have got from me over time, because I’ll be food shopping somewhere else.

What can you do to ensure your services or products stay “fresh” and “crisp?”

Roberta Guise 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