Category Archives: Branding

How to Distinguish Yourself in a Crowded Marketplace So You Win More Sales

If you want your business to grow, it’s critical that you set yourself apart from the competition. Many companies struggle with that idea but it’s not too difficult if you know the steps you must take.

If you fail at distinguishing yourself, you could end up having lots of conversations with prospects that end up going nowhere.  You’ll waste money on advertising that won’t get noticed and time on networking that doesn’t lead to presentations and therefore sales.

Let’s face it, unless you have a product or service that is truly unique, other entries in your industry will make the same client claims that you make.  And your prospects will either hire the person they like the best or the one who gives them the cheapest price.

So what’s a Biz Dev person to do?

Here are the 5 MUST DOs that will allow you to eradicate the competition and win more sales.

1. Define how you exceed market expectations
Everyone says they deliver exceptional customer service. That won’t distinguish you. Saying you focus on the customer is a big yawner as well.  If you’re a printer, on-time delivery is an expectation every client has.  If you’re able to design and print faster than anyone else, simplify the review/approval process, customize publications at a cost-effective price or deliver products to worldwide locations in a snap, you might have an edge.

2. Assess your past engagements
Make a list of your biggest success stories.  Notice what they had in common.  Were they all from particular or related industries? Did you sell or service them in a similar fashion? What made them so successful?

3. Identify your process
Determine what it is that you do with each of your clients.  Even if you think there isn’t a process you follow, I challenge you to discover it.  It’s there.  What’s the first thing you do?  Is it an assessment?  Do you ask them a series of questions followed by some recommendation(s)?  Do you have them do certain things?  You may have a number of processes you do under different circumstances.

4. Name It & Claim It
Once you’ve defined the steps you take, claim them and NAME them.  Acronyms are great but not necessary. For example, the steps I take clients through who are looking for more balance and joy in their life is RENEW.  Release, Elect, Nurture, Eject and Win.  While there are a lot of coaches who help people gain a stronger feeling of control over and balance in their lives, how many have a SYSTEM like the RENEW System?

5.  Tell your hero’s story
Share with your prospects and clients how you got where you are today.  Perhaps it’s the story of how you developed the system or how you grew up and led you to the life you have.  Your story is your own.  No one else can tell your story.  That makes your story a key ingredient in distinguishing yourself and your business from the rest of the world

I heard a marketing consultant/speaker share what it was like growing up the ‘baby’ in a family of 8 children.  His slogan was “Being heard above the noise”.  He tells his audience what it took for him to get heard above the noise of his children and helps business owners come up with their own stories so they can get heard above the noise.

You have everything you need to set yourself apart. You just need to look at who you are, how you got where you are, what you do that’s unique for your clients and the results you help them produce. This will distinguish you and help you win more sales.

Using Video Marketing to Build Your Personal Brand

I learned a ton recently about creating videos.  I’ve also been studying how to use videos for marketing yourself and your business online.

Watch this video and then read the tips that follow:

1. Use an interesting (but not too distracting) background.
Having a background adds visual interest. Make sure it’s attractive, neat and adds either credibility or fun.

2. Use natural sunlight if at all possible
Natural light is the very best. It’s much cheaper than having to buy studio lights and works better than artificial light.

3. Add an opening title slide and credits or a call to action at the end.
These items will make your video look more professional.  The call to action is what will drive traffic to your website if that’s what you’re trying to get people to do.

4. Include occasional comments to highlight certain points.
It’s easy to add text in Windows Movie Maker Live and iMovie.  Again, this makes your ‘production’ seem more polished and professional.

5. Optimize your video for the key words you want to be known for.
YouTube is one of the most searched websites online. When you optimize your video by including keywords in the description and tags, people who are looking for what you’ve mentioned, will find your video more easily.

6. Use variety.  Add a few special effects.
Variety will stimulate the minds of your viewers and keep them watching through to the end.

7. Be entertaining, not just educational.
When people are having fun or being deeply moved, they’ll stay engaged.  Even if you’re training them on something, they’ll remember your message more if it engages their emotions in addition to stimulating their brains.

Video marketing is becoming the standard medium for branding and online communications.  Make sure you incorporate this strategy in marketing plan.

How to Accelerate the 3 Stages of Business Growth

For the last several months, I’ve been constructing a model for building a highly successful business.  Based on what I’ve done to build mine over the years and harvesting the wisdom of brilliant mentors I’ve studied with, I’ve outlined a comprehensive, yet simple model for success.

The model extends well past theory and includes 7 practical steps business owners must take if they want to thrive and enjoy life rather than being consumed by the ‘job’ they’ve created for themselves.

Today, using the metaphor of how bamboo grows, I’ll share with you the 3 stages you must master to enjoy massive business growth.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, spurting at times, almost 4 feet in a single 24-hour period!  At the beginning though, it appears to be growing (on the surface) quite slowly.

There are 3 stages of bamboo (and business) growth: sleep, creep and leap.

1. Sleep
During the first year of a young bamboo plant’s life, most of its energy is devoted to

laying a strong foundation via the root structure.  Plant shoots peak out above the ground and underground rhizomes shoot out horizontally.

2. Creep
As the foundation builds, the plants continue to grow but most of the ‘work’ is still being done underground.  The roots branch and spread even further.  They provide water to the leaves and the leaves use sunlight to produce food that the roots need to expand further and stock up on energy for next year’s shoots.

3.  Leap
Once the foundation has developed (and this may take years) the above-ground plants grow rapidly.  Each year, as the stand of plants matures, the diameter of each new cane that develops, is generally larger than those that were ‘born’ last year.

So, as with your business, the huge bamboo stand of plants isn’t built in a single year.   But once the foundation is laid, growth seems almost miraculous.

Here are a few of the steps you must take to enjoy miraculous business growth.

In the Sleep phase, you dream.  You envision and clarify your ideal clients, your ideal work day and your overall ideal day.  Without this step, you’ll feel unfocused, frustrated and stressed.

You also clarify what you’ll be offering to the market place and how to best distinguish you and your business from all of the other vendors with similar offers.  You work on branding and understanding exactly how people or companies benefit from working with you.

You define your ‘product mix’, create revenue goals, set prices, deterimine sales channels and schedule your major marketing activities.

In the Creep phase, you launch your marketing efforts in a focused and aggressive manner.  You identify what you need to run a successful business from an internal perspective and from an external marketing perspective.  You implement your marketing plans and measure your success.  If you skip this step or do it poorly, you’ll feel scattered and leave money on the table because you miss opportunities that are right there in front of you.  You’ll use the wrong approaches and waste precious time and money.

In the Leap phase, you work on leveraging your success. You work ON your business not just IN it.  The focus here is on time mangement, automating and systemitizing. You document and delegate, work to continually delight your customers and build internal financial metrics and controls.

You also start to convert your ‘secret sauce’ into products that you can use to build revenue that is not dependent on you actively working with clients.  You build raving fans, referrals, affiliates and perhaps joint venture partners. You enhance and expand your online marketing efforts. NOw that you’ve got your systems in place, you aggressively drive traffic to your website to generate qualified leads.

During this phase, you’ll probably encounter more leadership challenges so you’ll also work on improving yourself while managing the issues of leading a team of employees or contractors.  You may even decide to pursue bigger, better and more well-heeled clientele.

If you don’t Leap successfully, you’ll survive but miss out on the mega-growth that you probably dreamed of when you first launched your burgeoning empire.

While I’ve laid out these 3 stages sequentially, you’re almost always working on some aspects of each of them.  At various phases of your own evolution, you make focus on different aspects of this model. You may elect to restart the process at stage 1 if you decide to revamp your business.  You may jump in at Stage 2 if you love the clients you have and the work you do, but the model isn’t generating enough cash.

And as you grow, you’ll need to work on Stage 3 to Leap into an even more prosperous future and create the lifestyle of your dreams.

Is Your Brand Increasing Your Sales or Killing Them?

mercedes-logoI talk with a lot of marketing strategists who extol the importance of branding for a company’s success but it’s like pulling teeth to drag most of them down from the conceptual clouds and get specific about exactly what they mean.

Every company has a brand whether you’ve proactively designed it or not.  Your brand isn’t just the way you present your company; it’s how you’re seen in the eyes of your prospects and clients.

coke_logoMost of us recognize the highly advertised brands like Coke, Mercedes Benz, Nike etc., but someone the connection between what those big companies with huge advertising budgets do doesn’t clearly tell  smaller business owners what they should do and why.

According to Rob Frankl, “branding is not about getting your prospects to choose you over your competition; it’s about getting your prospects to see you as the only solution to their problem.”Nike-Logo

Here’s what I discovered when I went on a quest to clear up my own vagueness about this topic.

There are 3 major components of a brand: content, style, and graphics.

Content derives from your values, beliefs and key messaging you deliver to the marketplace.  What do you say about your company or products and services?  Why are those things important to you?  Do your ideal clients actually care?  How do you know?

Style reflects the personality of your brand or firm.  Are you intelligent, fun, stodgy, casual, conservative or out in left field?  Again, is there a style to market match?  You need credibility with your marketplace and the way you ‘behave’ in your market will either attract or repel them and determine how much they trust you.

Graphics is all about the visual, physical representation of your company. It includes colors, font, logos and photography.  It is the first thing people tend to focus on and create but really should be the outflow of the first two components.

You must know who you are but if you create your brand just based on your internal interests, you could miss the mark by a mile.  You must also thoroughly have and understand your target audience before you attempt to ‘present’ yourself to them.

It your brand is appealing, it will make people want you.  Real branding raises your bottom line revenues, lowers customer acquisition cost, increases customer retention and profitability. So review the way you’re portraying your company, check with your clients and prospects to understand how they view you and if you’re confident you’re sending the message you intend, market the heck out of it (in all of the right places, of course)!