Tag Archives: building brand awarenes

Why Blog?

I get asked this question from many business owners who are contemplating stepping into the social media waters.  How is the investment of time and energy going to turn into more business?

It is important to ask how you can measure a return on the investment because if as a business owner you simply don’t have time to consistently contribute valuable articles to a blog, you will surely need to hire someone to help you.

Here is the answer I give.

First, blogging will not produce an overnight success; it will take time, probably even months of time.

Secondly, you need to have specific goals you want to accomplish.

Thirdly, you should research to see if there are conversations taking place out in social media that pertain to what you do, your skills, your industry, your competition, your passion.  If you find that conversations are taking place, then you must become part of the dialog or you risk being left out.

Blogging enables you to help people who have questions or problems that you can address.  Once you’ve entered the dialog, it is imperative that you are genuine.  Ideally, you become an expert in your readers’ minds and that converts into trust, which as we all know, is the key to making the purchasing decision.

Like any other marketing effort you make, and blogging is just a part of your overall marketing plan, you must measure to see if you are achieving the kinds of results you set out in the beginning.  Tools are available that will give you eyes into what is happening.  Are you getting comments?  Are you having conversations?

Jeff Bulla has conducted an interesting survey on blogging in his article “11 Reasons Why People Blog.” It is very eye opening.

If you have questions or are unsure about whether blogging makes sense for you, drop me a line.


The CMO Outsource

A Timely Referral Can Help Your Brand

I had reason lately to think about the movie “The Miracle on 34th Street” with the young Natalie Woods.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it is a charming Christmas movie that is a favorite of our family during the holidays.  There is a particular situation that occurs during the movie.  Having been provoked by the self proclaimed Santa Claus, and also because it made brilliant marketing sense, Mr. Macy decides that if there is anything that a Macys’ customer is looking for that Macys doesn’t have, the salesperson is to immediately refer that customer to Gimbles, their most potent competitor.  Well, not to be outdone, Mr. Gimble catches wind of this and promptly gives orders that Gimble customers are to be referred to Macys if they cannot be helped at a Gimbles store.  This back and forth builds as each store tries to “out-nice” the other.

You’re probably asking, oh this is a very nice story David, but what’s the point?

I am a constant observer of what is happening around me, as it relates to how companies market themselves and their brands, and I am usually supplied with plenty of writing material, both positive and negative.

My wife and I were traveling this week and she was in desperate need of a pair of comfortable walking shoes.  We were in a beautiful shopping area in Naperville, Illinois and came upon an Eddie Bauer store.  We were both very familiar with Eddie Bauer and decided to go in.  Once inside we realized there were no shoes anywhere to be found.

An alert young man approached and asked if he could be of assistance.  We explained that we were from out of town and needed shoes.  He explained that this particular Eddie Bauer didn’t sell shoes, but a catalog was available to order them and he offered to help us with that order.

Since it was not feasible to order shoes, we again explained that we needed these shoes right away.  We asked, “Do you know of a shoe store close by?”  His answer was what dumbfounded us both.

In his kindest way he answered, “I am not allowed to tell you.”   It was evident that he was not comfortable with being the messenger of this news.

I am positive he was then looking into two faces with jaws dropped and that speechless, incredulous look of, “okay, well then.”

Needless to say we left immediately.

I have known the Eddie Bauer brand for a number of years and have purchased and been very pleased with the items I have bought, but nothing in that brand experience has prepared me for what we ran across that day, and it has tainted my impression of this store in a very negative way.  In fact, I proceeded to tell a number of other people of our experience that very evening.

You know they say that if a person has a good experience with your brand, they might tell four people but if they have a bad experience they will probably tell ten or more people. Talk about viral marketing!

I have to believe that this policy, clearly articulated by this young man, is the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps the young salesperson was quoting a general policy, not a hard and fast rule that circumstances don’t allow for a modification, for if that is not the case, sell your stock in Eddie Bauer because they will not last.

Have you had any similar experiences you would like to share?

David The CMO Outsource

Those Blasted Bungled Botched Blogs

Bad articles thrown in the wastebasket

I’m kind of particular about what I spend my time reading.  There’s just not enough time in the day for reading badly written blogs, yet small businesses trying hard to get some momentum, some attention, frequently turn to putting out blogs that aren’t well written just for the sake of getting more eyeballs.  Not a good strategy since your blog can contribute to your overall brand.

I don’t know the author, but if you have a few extra minutes and want a good example of what not to do, go to “The Hyperlink In Between Written Content for Sites and Branding.” I’m not sure whether they were making a joke to make a point but I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Make Sure that Punctuation and Spelling are Correct-This seems obvious but I must admit, I see mistakes all of the time.  It is really about attention to the details.  If you are focused on the details in your blog, then you’re probably focused on the details of serving your customer.  For some great direction and many humorous tips, I recommend Liz Craig’s blog.
  2. Give People Credit Where Credit Is Due -As was once said, “when you steal from one person it is called plagiarism, yet when you steal from many, it’s called research.”  (I can’t remember who to give credit to for this quote)  It is really easy to put links into your blogs that will take readers to your source’s website if they would like to learn more.  It helps their website by having an inbound link and it is the right thing to do.
  3. Be Careful When Using Humor-It is really a cool thing if you have the talent to be funny when you write but you know, it’s not really all that easy.  That’s why comedy writers get paid so much. What seems funny to you may not be to your readers and in fact could alienate them.  If you are a frustrated comedy writer and your blog is your outlet, use humor cautiously and judiciously.
  4. Give your Opinion on Your Subject-If all you’re providing is information, people can go to a zillion places on the Internet to get information.  What people really want to know is what your spin on this subject is.  Why do you have a passion to write about it?  Let people inside your head (I know in my case that’s a scary place to be) so they’ll get to know you and you become a person to them instead of just a company.  This is where you can build trust.
  5. Have Fun and Tell Stories-People will travel far to hear a good story.  Surely you have actual life experiences that can bring a rich texture to your subject and help your readers relate to what you’re saying.  It will gain you many loyal readers.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


The CMO Outsource

Give a Little to Get a Lot

Helping hand

I think all of us are moved by people we see who commit their lives to giving to others.  Selfless acts of kindness, love, sympathy, camaraderie and generosity can touch an inner part of us and make us pause and think, “I wonder if I had the strength to do that or maybe even the time.”  After all, we are all very busy people, what between work and family there is precious little time for much of anything else.

This isn’t going to be a post dedicated just to acts of kindness, although, according to The Artist Farm in “Warning: Life is Risky and Will Cause Death,” with each passing moment, we are one breath closer to our last breath.  Helpful acts can bring great joy.

Rather, this post is about how giving a small piece of your knowledge to those who could become a client or customer one day can be very smart marketing, and it may just be the right thing to do.

There are a number of sales training courses that will tell you to be cautious of the trap of free consulting, that it’s a lot of fun to show people how much you know, how smart you are, and shouldn’t you really be charging for those great ideas?  I believe there is a fine line between what some people call free consulting and what I call helping people out.

I believe that most entrepreneurs become so because they have a passion for something, whether it’s good food, excellent financial advice or just building a business that can be sold for a huge profit.  There are always opportunities to use this passion to help entities that are having trouble helping themselves, or to give guidance to a protégé who will some day improve on what you have done.  Every time we turn around, if we open our eyes, there are ways we can help and use our talents to make a difference for someone else.

It’s really not that hard, and it doesn’t really need to be a Mother Teresa moment, although she did provide us with a great quote, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

If you help someone who has a question, and the advice you gave them was valuable, don’t you believe that they will tell a friend, who will tell a friend and so on and so on?  You can’t get much better word-of-mouth advertising.  Better yet, maybe, just maybe they will do the same for someone that needs their talents.

Think about it and give me your thoughts.

David Soxman, Marketing Consultant

Successful Marketing Plan Execution

Hitting the target

It was one of those perfect October Saturdays.  The air had that fall crispness that’s so refreshing after a hot summer and the sky was that brilliant turquoise blue that only comes this time of the year.  You were ready for a great football game, after all your team had an incredibly talented roster of players, were coached by one of the best, had the most sophisticated set of plays and the morale was at its highest.  You just couldn’t lose…..but you did.  What happened?

What we have here is a failure to execute!

A well researched, documented and detailed strategic marketing plan is nothing but great intentions unless it is executed flawlessly.  Absolute attention to detail is the key and if executed properly, the plan will deliver on the increased sales that were the initial objective.

Here are some important things to remember:

  1. Make sure that you have the right resources in place and that they are committed to the plan. If internal departments were involved in creating the plan and had input, chances are very good that you will have their buy-in.  There’s nothing worse than generating great leads from a direct marketing action only to have the sales department not follow through.  Not only will the leads become stale, but the expectations of the prospects will not be met, generating negative impressions.  It’s also imperative to have the right external resources.  The selection of the right mix of vendors to perform the tactical actions is critical as their performance directly relates to your success, so it’s important not to fly through this step.
  2. Be sure to build in proper lead times. Things don’t happen as quickly as you might expect.  Sometimes a new website can take as long as sixty days to complete.  A good rule of thumb is to be working three to six months in advance and if your campaign is particularly complex, involving both offline and online efforts, you may need even more time.  There is a potential danger: allowing too much time, where other priorities start jumping in the way.  It’s a bit of a balancing act.
  3. Determine up front what every department, vendor etc. is going to need in order to properly execute their piece. If the sales department needs to upgrade their Customer Relationship Management system in order to follow through on leads, make sure that takes place before you start spending money on generating those leads.  Also, if one of the goals of your plan is to increase sales by 15%, you’ve got to have the capacity to produce or you’ll end up with unhappy customers.
  4. Hold people accountable for their commitments. A solid project management tool can be instrumental in documenting and communicating critical dates and benchmarks as well as formalizing expectations.  Who is supposed to be doing what and by when will keep the execution of your marketing plan from unraveling or underperforming.

Ongoing monitoring and follow-up is going to be a necessary aspect throughout the life of your marketing plan and most important, stay committed to the plan.  People and vendors will bring ideas or great media buy deals to you, which must be weighed against the plan to determine if they meet your plan’s objectives.

Lastly, if all of this coordination is outside of your ability or time constraints to manage, consider bringing expertise in to help, something we are very good at.