This is what you can get with a free online logo generator. Nothing terribly original or appropriate. But then again, you get what you pay for, right?
People often ask our company to give away our services. The blunt reply would be the rhetorical, “Why? You wouldn’t give away your services, would you?” These are the kinds of clients who would rather dicker with us about a few hundred dollars than make certain that they have the best logo that is most representative of their business for the Wichita market.
As you can see from the photos above, a free logo generator will give you a bunch of options, but most of them will be completely irrelevant. After all, what do a cupcake, Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and a sailboat have to do with Valé, which is a marketing firm? Truth be told, a good branding company like ours can make the story of your brand fit with the logo, but there’s no sense making it hard on people.
A step up from the do-it-yourself (DIY) logo is to submit your case to a $500 service. The problem with this, again, is that your information goes into a hopper for service providers with very little engagement or ownership. What usually comes back are very trite, simplistic and literal graphic translations of your brand. When you work with a firm like ours, it just doesn’t work that way. You get one-on-one attention that you need from start to finish, rather than spending $500 to avoid spending $750, when you’ll probably want to spend that $750 in two or three years, anyway.
Remember, there are no cheap ways out. Do it right.
Today, I found my bacon connection. Today, the worlds of business, personal life and bacon collided in a delicious, greasy, explosion of network connectivity that rivals the best of multi-level marketing down-chains. Today, I received a Facebook friend request from someone connected to me in all three areas. When I looked at the person’s public profile, I realized we have 18 mutual friends, but we did not go to school together. We don’t even live in the same town. We don’t work in the same industry. We’re not related. But we both love bacon.
Wichita marketing tastes better with bacon.
As someone who advises dozens of Wichita businesses on marketing plans, digital marketing strategy, and creates digital content for Wichita Facebook pages, I was both bemused and amazed at the depth and breadth of the electronic network at our marketing disposal. After all, this person has never emerged as a Facebook suggestion before, despite being a friend of 18 of my 1,398 friends (as of 530 CDT Aug 16). It was our bacon connection that brought us together. And now, I’m thinking to myself, “What else can I find out about this person that will benefit us both?”
Well, it turns out this person is actually from the town where I went to high school, but I never knew her because she is five years my junior and I didn’t move to the town until my sophomore year. But because we both like bacon, and because I created a bacon page with a growing Facebook fan base, we got connected. I’m looking forward to learning more about what she does in her job and where further connections might lead.
With previous Facebook-kindled re-connections, I’ve actually been able to gain project-based business.
I think there are really three big takeaways from today’s experience:
1. Our network is more vast and complex than we can imagine.
2. Facebook brings us a quantum leap closer to comprehending and utilizing our network.
3. As a Wichita marketer, I owe it to myself to be everywhere in that network I can efficiently touch. Even if it means creating a new Facebook page about green beans.
When it comes to cooperative or co-op marketing, there are really only a couple of things that can go wrong. The first is not doing anything at all. The second is doing it poorly.
In the interest of helping you consider how to use tie-ins for your Wichita marketing campaign, we thought it would be a good idea to look at some well-known recent examples. Then we’ll look at some specific ideas for implementing Wichita marketing tie-ins.
Transformers Dark of the Moon: Movie/Game Tie-In
Why it makes sense: For starters, the third installment of the movie trilogy and the companion game are part of the same franchise. But just as important, most of the people who will see the movie are gamers or parents of gamers.
The producers have done a great job of creating a seamless overall experience between the movie and the game. It’s a smart move because most movie producers think the movie/game tie-in are an automatic winner. Not so. Just ask the guys who did the Thor movie and game tie-in. It works for Harry Potter. It works for Transformers. Because they’re amazing movie franchises.
So the lesson for you, Wichita marketer, is to make sure you’re not expecting the product or brand you’re cooperating with to carry the weight. At best, you’ll be an also-ran.
Cars 2 the Movie: State Farm Insurance
I thought this was a brilliant tie-in. State Farm is such a wholesome, all-American, family brand, and Cars from Disney Pixar is a perfect fit.
Why it works: The creative on this campaign presents the need for insurance and the tremendous inconvenience of an accident in a cute way. The tie-in makes sense because the brands share the same values and they are both huge heavy-hitters.
We can learn from this for doing similar tie-ins for a Wichita marketing campaign. First, it’s important to pick a partner that shares your brand values. Second, it’s crucial that you create a sense of value through partnering with a credible brand.
Green Lantern Movie: Subway
It’s pretty simple to tell you that this is not a very strong tie-in. Why? Well, for starters, the whole “green” tie-in between Green Lantern and avocados is pretty weak.
If I were your branding consultant and you wanted to link these brands in this way, I would recommend pumping up the health and flavor enhancement of the avocado to “give” you the sculpted body of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. I would also get the avocado industry association involved.
These are some ways to enhance this particular tie-in. Otherwise, it’s kind of dumb.
Captain America Movie: Norton Antivirus
Captain America IS the shield. Norton is a shield. This is truly a match made in brand tie-in heaven. In particular, this video appeals to comic book, superhero and computer geeks everywhere. It’s just a natural fit.
What can you learn from this one? It’s easy: If there is something about your brand that is so iconic that people will recognize and appreciate it, you need to partner up with another, very similar icon. So, from a Wichita marketing standpoint, you might combine the YMCA with your heart specialist practice. Get the family playing and exercising to promote heart health.
OK. I’m going to write for five minutes. Then I’m going to stop. That should be plenty of time for me to show you how fundamental marketing is to your Wichita small business. Click here for more information.
1.) Every single person in your operation touches the product or service in some way. Therefore, they are all responsible for marketing.
2.) Wichita marketing is not just promotion. It is product, distribution and product, first.
3.) Observe how quickly companies like Wrigley’s adapted their basic product packaging after products like Five and Stride hit the market. Product. Price. Packaging.
4.) If people can’t find you or have a good understanding of your product, you’ll never be any better than you are right now.
5.) It’s one of the few things about your Wichita small business you can actually contro
You know when you see something a dozen times and you don’t really notice it? Like this funny little sign on the “can” at Jimmy John’s.
It’s amazing how the most subtle things can have such a great impact in us. Even subconsciously. I bet I’ve walked past that sign on the restroom door a dozen times. I didn’t notice the little pun, but as part of the overall Jimmy genre, it worked. (See below.)
Contrast this approach with the screaming “buy a car now” approach on radio and TV and in print. With a few exceptions, the auto dealers are in our faces. Nothing subtle whatsoever. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Jimmy John’s ad, but I go there all the time. The same can be said for many other highly successful companies.
Two strategies. Both arguably easy to ignore. One subtle. One overt. One works. One…not so much.
You might want to sit down. At least before you start reading this post. But afterward, you’re going to want to stand up and go do something amazing with your Wichita marketing strategy. Read on!
1. Throw money at the problem
You’ve heard it said you shouldn’t just “throw money at the problem.” We take issue with that. Because you can’t make a return without expending resources. The questions to ask are: How much to spend and how to spend it? Think about it. You can’t make money in the stock market without buying stock. You just need to make good decisions about building your stock portfolio and don’t reckless spend your capital. The same is true of your advertising. Select a trusted advisor (one who won’t eat up your capital in fees) and put your money to work in strategic ways. Even in tough economic times, there are cost-effective ways to steal customers from your competitors and keep your own customers coming back. Social media is a great place to start. You’d be amazed how cheap you can buy ads on facebook. Here is a great article on social media from entrepreneur.com: 5 Tips for Social Media Success.
2. Sharpen your saw
When the chips are down and it’s difficult to generate revenue or cut costs any further, sometimes the best thing to do is invest in human capital. That could mean going back to school, attending that seminar you’ve been putting off or sending key employees to training. This kind of investment can pay all sorts of dividends. First, we guarantee you will unearth some nugget that will lead to better performance on the job. Second, educational events are great places to network. Third, you can leverage what your employees learn to help everyone on your team serve customers better. Here’s one of our favorite sites for marketing know-how: http://marketingprofs.com.
3. Trim the fat
This one is easy. Sit down with your small business advertising agency (Don’t have one? We can fix that.). Find wasteful, unnecessary and underperforming parts of your marketing plan. Now get rid of them. One great way to do this is to request a FREE Marketing Needs AssessmentTM from Valé. Call (316) 305-8358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Be crafty
The tougher it gets out there, the more creative you need to be. You haven’t been at it this long just to let a little economic downturn get in your way. We have a theory that creativity trumps competition, high costs and a slow economy every time. Wishing you could afford to spend $2,000 a month on broadcast or print advertising? Try doing some engaging YouTube videos for pennies on the dollar and starting a buzz about your brand. Wishing you could send out a fancy direct mail? Skip it. When was the last time you hosted a party for your most important customers (MICs) and their friends? Hors d’oeuvres and beverages are a lot cheaper and allow intimate time for you to turn good customers into brand ambassadors. Use your favorite causes and industry issues as platforms from which you can promote your knowledge. Check out http://facebook.com/causes.
5. Start a new category
If you can’t beat ‘em, leave ‘em. The tendency for any market space is for it to become increasingly homogenous over time. That’s the opposite of what you want to happen. You don’t want to be mixed in with the two-percent milk. You want—regardless of price and quality—to be the cream sitting on the top. The best way to get there is to create a new category. Sometimes this can be done by borrowing from another category. Take malt liquor. Some brewers have created 40-ounce alcoholic energy drinks, setting them apart from the standard beverage. Activia did the same thing by adding digestive enzymes to yogurt. While these are easily imitable, others aren’t. Novo Nordisk pioneered the insulin pen, creating a discrete, convenient insulin delivery method while the rest of the industry was pursuing the very homogenous strategy of producing purer insulin. If “think out of the box” wasn’t such a cliché, we’d tell you to do that.
6. Improve your serve
This one is even simpler than the last. Simply put, outstanding customer service is your best marketing tool. When we advise clients about their brands, we always teach that the brand is represented in everything you do at your business. It’s in the way the phone is answered. It’s about how you handle customer complaints. And if your customer service doesn’t live up to your advertising, you can be sure many of your clients won’t be back. There was a little bike shop that made it a policy not to charge customers for an obscure $0.17 nut or two-bit bolt. This made it easier for them to wait on other customers and it sent the part-seeking customers away delighted. Now, which bike shop would you return to when it came time for your next purchase? The one that made you wait ten minutes while they looked up the price for a little bolt or the one that said, “No charge. Have a great day.”? I once stood in line for several minutes at Walgreens (one of my favorite stores) while the clerk argued over a sale price and tried to find it in the customer circular. Word to the wise: Rather than bickering with a customer over $1.00 and making seven other customers wait while you do it, just remember: “The customer is always right.” There are no exceptions.
This is the most important impression of small business value to me:
1. Providing for others’ needs
2. Mutually-beneficial relationships
So, it’s natural for me to think of what Wichita small business does as a sacrifice. And to think about what Valé does for our clients as service. But most poignantly to recall the sacrifice and service of Jesus on the cross as the penultimate example for how we all do business in a Wichita rent by recession and political strife.
Wichita small business will emerge better off from our current economic situation if we help each other and stick together. Here’s what that means to me in practical terms.
1. I must go the extra mile to deliver results for every dollar you spend with me.
2. You will be better off if you accept the recommendations of Valé for your small business.
3. Our rewards will be great if we work together to help what Jesus calls ‘the least of these.’
More and more of our small business peers are falling into that ‘least’ category. And for those already there, the squeeze is getting tighter and desperation is setting in.
There is joy in giving. So whether you are giving advice or assistance, selling a valuable product or service, making a donation, or helping someone who needs a hand, remember the words of Jesus on the cross: ‘I thirst.’
Many thirst for all kinds of ‘refreshment.’ As we go out in the world and do our business, let us make it our business to care for others.
Like many of you, we at Valé encounter many potential Wichita small business customers who say they don’t have the funds to put toward our particular service. And while we don’t try to “hard sell” these prospects, we are perplexed at how these small business owners expect to grow their revenues without the right blend of promotional strategy.
No matter your business, you must promote.
Take, for example, the clothing retailer who plops down $20 per square foot for prime real estate and stocks the store with thousands of dollars in inventory only to put little or nothing toward promoting the store in the best promotional channels. It’s the small business marketing equivalent of buying a top-of-the-line car and not spending money on gasoline so you can drive it. What’s the use?
A friend of mine has an expression. You’ve probably heard it before: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.” You might have heard it another way: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”
Relying solely on old-time methods, such as print, broadcast and the phone book are not going to get it done for your small business. You must have a solid Web site with strong content, a strong social media presence, a smart e-mail marketing campaign and good use of Google and Facebook advertising. A healthy dose of public relations is also in order.
But sitting back and doing nothing? Well, there is a time and a place to avoid spending money. We’re simply advocating spending money in the right way under the guidance of a trusted small business marketing advisor. And if you look at the strategies mentioned above, you’ll see that they’re much less expensive than the ones you’ve used in the past. And more effective.
When you’re a small business owner, there are some rare moments when you’re not busy doing your job, or several jobs, or someone else’s job. So, when you’re not up to your “you-know-what” in alligators, here are 10 small business tips for things you can do to improve your small business marketing, management and financial prowess. You might even discover some ways to save or make some money for your small business. Heck, everyone needs some time to stare at the proverbial belly button.
Small business thinking time is fun!
So, here they are:
1. Read an online article or blog post about something that will improve your business.
2. Call some customers you haven’t seen in awhile.
3. Take a nap.
4. Work on your social network. Work the phone and your Facebook page.
5. Walk around the shop or office and connect with your employees and teammates.
6. Revisit your three-year strategic plan.
7. Call a supplier contact and pick his or her brain on industry trends.
8. Make a list of three things that will make you a better small business owner.
9. Take some time off and spend it with your family or other special people.
10. Try to find ways to save $500 per month in your business.