Branding in 2011 – Top five vehicles

As business owners peer into the New Year how will they measure their brand value in the coming year? How will they improve it in a culture that has limited stickiness to it in forms of loyalty? What vehicles of marketing will be most valuable in brand building in the coming years?

Here are my top five lists of Brand Building Vehicles for 2011.

1) A Viral Social Media platform – You cannot deny the massive movement in social media. Businesses large and small must invest and work on the viral effects of their social media. Contests, content, video, give-a-ways, consumer content… etc. If your company has not changed their hiring practices to either have a full time Social media talent on staff or have hired a professional to build and support these efforts in 2011 make this your first priority.
2) Community Branding – Attach your business to as many community functions as possible. In this economy consumers are going to be looking more and more to their community for family entertainment and feeling of a connectedness to their neighbors. Companies should update their brand marketing, Pens, calendars, t-shirts, etc… Plan to give out new (updated) products to customers and clients this year and freshen up your brand. Be a sponsor of a community event and pass out free items branded with your website and social media sites helping drive new traffic and increase brand awareness.
3) Mobile Web – The invasion of the Mobile App is contagious. Smart Phones will out number traditional phones 2 to 1 by the end of 2011. Consumers at this point don’t even know what they want to down load as an app. Consumers want a function that improves the quality of their lives all bundled up into the apps on their phones. Us this for your companies brand. The Mobile Web marketing engine has already changed from “you must be in the app store” to community based apps and web marketing. Local business must now have a functioning mobile web application that provides information, links, maps, special offers. Use the mobile web and app movement to build your brand loyalty and 1 to 1 marketing capabilities. Using a mobile app/Web platform to launch SMS text marketing campaigns and viral contests with new customers can become a complete marketing engine in 2011 that will provide not only brand loyalty but also brand growth.
4) Video Blog – A picture is worth a thousand words right? Well a video today is worth ten times that because if it has value to the consumer they will share it with the world. It is like word of mouth marketing on steroids. How many times in the last year has someone sent you a video from you-tube? Video Blogs can be added to most company websites and will create great results on search engines.
5) E-mail Marketing or Direct Mail Marketing – I am split here on this one because I believe there are two types of consumers that we need to be aware of here. The First is a “paper free believer” they want everything via electronic media. They are almost reposed to believe we still print newspapers and direct mail wasting our natural resources. The second is the “stop bugging me in my private space group” This group could be the traditional group that still has not embraced the technology, or the professional group that is still in the belief that people are wasting a lot of valuable time using the social media.
Whichever group you are targeting both media can be used to enhance all four above and can be effective ways of building up a base of consumers in 2011. Less competition has survived in the current economy that means your business has market share to capture. A good Direct Mail campaign can give you a fresh new group of consumers into the top of your marketing funnel.

Each of these Brand Building vehicles can be done on almost any marketing budget and be effective. In 2011 take action and start early, the greatest growth in market share will happen early in the cycle. Don’t let your business be caught on the sideline as your competitors steal the market. If you are not sure where to start check out a few of these sites for help: http://www.wcmobi.com ; http://www.copmanycasuals.com/valetbranding ; http://www.opvinc.com .

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Customer service is still alive!

I just returned from a morning date with my wife and just had to share this great customer service message.
After a find cup of coffee form Starbucks, Pepermint Mocha, we decided to head over to the local Game Stop Videon store to see if we could find that last minute gift for the children.
Have you ever noticed that when you get great customer service now a days that you kind of step back and don’t know how to handle it?
Well I have to give praise to Game Stop. These employees where in a great mood, and they seemed to know everything you could ever want to know about any game.
Made my wife, who is a huge customer service fanatic, tell me about how impressed she is with that company.
Just so you know that praise does not come often from her.

What ever happened to customer service in retail? Did WalMart and the giant box stores kill it?
Did consumers become so demanding that service is bogged down by dealing with those customers?
Anyhow, great job GameStop, You have hired properly for your niche and have reason to celebrate.

Poll – Media spending

Goals 2011 – empowering your team.

Setting Goals for 2011

So you, like the best business leaders in the world, will spend time in the next week developing the goals and visions for your company in 2011. Let me take a few minutes of your time and give you my advise for maximizing your success in 2011.

First lets make sure we are on the same page in the reality of our expectations in 2011. If you are setting business and company visions for2011, your employees are the entire key to your success in the New Year.
No matter what size of organization or company you manage it is the staff, employees, sales people and mid level executives which will determine your ultimate satisfaction in fulfilling your goals for 2011. It is the employees that bring the attitude of, success or failure, every day to work. It is the people you have hired that feel entitled to their paychecks and personal goals in life that your company will help them achieve.

If you can realize that simple fact then you have hope in 2011. Today’s employee is likely to carry around a definitive amount of entitlement in your organization. The expectation that they get paid no matter what the results are from the company. I won’t try to pinpoint why or when this happened but this is not the generation that believes that they owe their employer anything for just employing them. My point here is to help you succeed with what you have, be it a highly motivated or highly dysfunctional staff.

How to achieve your company goals in 2011:
1. Empower the vision – Set a challenge for the staff or team to help you design the goals of the company in 2011. Empowering the voice of your team is the most important step in engaging your team to the success of the company in 2011. Each employee must have a chance to establish a voice in the company that is encouraged and listened to in the process. Employees that have a voice will establish a deeper since of purpose to the companies’ success. This does not mean that every idea is used, it simply is a communication tool that will help employees feel empowered to help with company success.
2. Set up benchmark rewards – once the vision has been articulated; roll out a rewards system that is based on the growth and success of the new vision. (In the last weeks we have heard of the team from Hot Tamales which won a trip to Fargo ND instead of Hawaii.) Important here is that this reward can in no way have a chance of decreasing already earned bonuses or pay structures for it to be considered a true reward.
3. In smaller organizations meet with every member of the team 1 on 1 to discuss how they feel they can best help the company reach this new goal in 2011? Then turn around and ask what you can do to help them be most successful in achieving this task. If you work for a larger corporation then to do this with your immediate management staff and ask that they do it down the org chart in a like manner. Then ask them to report up in a simple document an employee vision sheet and additional tasks they will need to achieve to help the staff reach goals.
4. Post company visions and goals, success stories, celebrations that occur on company social media sites. Give employees a way to show the world the great work they are achieving. If you have not started a company Facebook page, Start one immediately. In my opinion it is a company requirement for any business with more than one employee.
5. Review often and repeat the process with staff often. In this age of entitlement employees need to be constantly feed encouragement and given the opportunity to express opinions in a free environment, to do this once and never return to it would be considered just another management tactic that makes them work harder with no reward.
6. Look for opportunities with in your group to allow your staff to run the show. How often do we fail in letting our organizations grow by trying to keep it under our control at all times? Trust and celebrate the growth of your team. Help them be successful and coach them up when they stumble.

These simple but yet time-consuming tasks will help you be successful in 2011. Have a wonderful New Year and enjoy getting to know your team and watching them grow in 2011.

Hyper Local Mobile Web

Hyper Local Mobile 2011

I recently have been talking with local business owners about marketing strategies in 2011. The addition of Mobile App / Mobile Web marketing seems to be a category of interest to many small business owners.

The questions that small business owners have about mobile marketing seem to resonate around three issues: 1) Will anyone really want to down load an app for my business? 2) How will I use it to market and grow business? 3) Can I afford it?

So let me offer up a few quick tips on making your local business Hyper Local in mobile marketing.

Start with knowledge that the time to start is now.

The exceedingly rapid growth of smartphones, in comparison to the overall cell phone market, makes Apps and Mobile Websites critical, must-have marketing tools. By now, all the “savvy customers” have already migrated to smartphones, and the rest of the market is following right behind.

This 2011, smartphones are expected to outsell conventional low-feature cell phones. And as this shift continues to take place, the use of Apps and Mobile Web browsing will become the new standard by which YOUR customers engage with the brands and businesses they patronize.

Don’t simply hand over your customers to your competition – just because you fail to recognize how important Marketing Apps and Mobile Websites are. Take note: consumers are quickly adopting new mobile standards, and marketing to your customers is forever changing right before your eyes.

§ PERSISTENT EXPOSURE: With your app’s icon residing on their phone’s home screen, your customers are constantly reminded of your business. With your own iPhone App and Mobile Website, your business is able to “persistently reside” in your customers’ phones – available to them anywhere, anytime – where they can access your information with a simple click of your app icon. Absolutely no other marketing tool can deliver the same “real 24/7 exposure”.
§ Your Customers and future customers will not only down load an app but they will find your business more valuable with a mobile website that allows them to connect with you from where ever and when ever they desire.
So how does your business market your company using a Mobile Website?
§ Hyper Local will take on new meaning again with mobile websites in 2011. Consumers will communicate and learn about local services and business offerings with their mobile device. Local business will be able to create fresh content about their business or promotions easily and routinely. Business owners will have a mini traveling brochure of their business available to customers 24/7.
§ As a local business owner you will need to create monthly marketing strategies when developing your mobile website. Are you offering content or information that is helpful for your client’s lifestyle? Are you offering VIP only discounts to mobile members? Are you providing links to your Social media outlets via your mobile site? Can clients use a mapping feature to find your location?
§ Is your mobile site set up to communicate changes or alerts to your clients? Does your site utilize SMS Text Marketing in either broadcast format or Bounce Ad format?

Can you afford Mobile Marketing?
§ There are options for every business. Most small business owners don’t need to invest in Mobile App using OS technologies. In many cases local business owners can us a web based app program to build a Mobile App and Mobile Website for their business. http://www.wcmobi.com offers a three tier system including a Mobile App + Mobile Website and SMS text marketing all for under $100 a month.