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Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

6 Must-Have Elements for a Winning Presentation

April 18th, 2013 ::

Travis KalanickThe best presentation I ever encountered was at a startup conference in DC almost 2 years ago. The presentation was given by Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, who was entertaining and had everyone laughing while he shared the story of how he persevered and started Uber despite a hostile regulatory environment.

Travis’s presentation stuck with me to this day. I am sure a lot of other people remember it too, because he got a big reaction. After the conference, he was mobbed with people who wanted to chat with him.

Because being boring – and being bored to death – is something I avoid like the plague, I decided to make a list of all the reasons Travis’s presentation was so darn good. Here’s how to be like Travis:

1 – Love your subject

The more passionate you are about your subject, the more energy you will bring to your presentation. Your knowledge of – and love for – your subject will just pour out of you and wash over the audience. You will engage your audience and really pull them in. In turn, your audience will believe in you.

2 – Understand your audience

The presentation Travis made to a bunch of startup founders was peppered with jargon the community understands and full of curse words. I doubt he’d give the same presentation to potential investors. Instead, he’d focus on numbers – revenue, profit, and loss projections – and use financial terms.

3 – Have a conversation

All of the best presentations I have ever sat through, watched, or listened to included this very important element. I like to be talked to and feel like the speaker is conversing with me. I don’t like to be talked at, which, for me, feels like a lecture. Which do you prefer?

4 – Know your stuff

The more you practice your presentation, the more comfortable you will be with the material and the better your delivery. Travis didn’t have notes. He walked around the stage, telling his story. He knew the points he wanted to make and how to make them.

5 – Be visual

The most remarkable thing about Travis’s presentation was his PowerPoint deck, which contained zero words. It was all images – images that related to the points he was making. This is a brilliant idea, as you want people to pay attention to what you’re saying, not what is written on a slide.

6 – Practice timing

Watching Travis was like watching a seasoned standup comedian who knows exactly how and when to say something to elicit the biggest reaction. Practice your timing – where you should pause, how to deliver a punch line, and the most powerful way to make a point.

Do you have any other tips for an awesome, engaging, and fun presentation?

Image courtesy of washingtonian.com

10 Online Marketing Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Reputation, Part 2

April 16th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series 10 Online Marketing Mistakes

Damaged!Your online reputation includes your website, blog, downloadable content, and social media accounts. Because they are always “on” and ready to make a good first impression, you want them to do you proud and accurately represent the quality of you and your work.

If you missed my first post on mistakes 1-5, you can find it here. Here are the final 5 most common online marketing mistakes that, if you’re making them, are damaging your reputation:

6 – Focusing on sales over relationships

While I am sure that you, your company, your products, and your services are all great, don’t talk about you, it, or them. That’s sales, and I have never met anyone who said, “I love to be sold to!” Instead, show how great you are by sharing your knowledge and helping others. That’s how you build relationships, and relationships drive sales.

7 – Writing vague blog posts

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. Rambling blog posts that circle around a topic and never make a point or reach a conclusion are a complete and total waste of time. Make your point up front, and then write a blog post that supports your point.

8 – Not proofing content

The is my second biggest pet peeve. Keep your spell check and grammar check turned on. In the digital age, you literally have no excuse for spelling and grammatical errors. As for punctuation errors, learn what dashes, colons, and semi-colons are for, and learn how and when to use a comma. If your content is sloppy, what will prospects think about your work?

9 – Not editing content

This is different from proofing content, which is more mechanical. Editing means checking your content for clarity and length. Is your language clear? Can you tighten up sentences or paragraphs and still get your point across? Does your content flow nicely from one point to the next?

10 – Forgetting about your mobile site

How many of you have a smartphone? How many of you read email? How many of you look up a business on Yelp before heading there? Exactly – most of us do. Just last weekend, my husband looked up a restaurant on his iPhone. Their site was not mobile-friendly and was thus impossible to navigate. We decided to dine elsewhere. So, do you have an optimized mobile site yet?

What do you do to make sure your online reputation shines?

Image courtesy of timelineimages.com

10 Online Marketing Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Reputation, Part 1

April 15th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series 10 Online Marketing Mistakes

Damaged - ouch!The online reputation you have can make or break your brand. You can only physically be in one place at a time, but online, you are in several places at once and accessible 24/7. Your website, blog, downloadable content, social media accounts – they are always “on” and ready to make a good first impression – or are they?

Here are the first 5 (out of 10) common online marketing mistakes that, if you’re making them, are damaging your reputation:

1 – Not updating or maintaining your website

Because your website is your digital calling card, it is incredibly important to make a strong first impression. Keep your website fresh with new information – new projects, clients, testimonials, press mentions, maybe a Twitter feed.

Web design and development best practices and must-have elements have changed a lot in the past couple of years. If your website includes Flash or is more than a few years old, consider having it redesigned.

2 – Using auto-play video

If you have a video on your website that automatically plays as soon as someone lands on your site (or Web page), for the love of all that is good in the marketing world, please turn it off. It is annoying, and it definitely will not win you any friends.

3 – Neglecting your social presence

Once you start a blog and make your presence known on Facebook, Twitter, etc., don’t stop. The whole point of “going social” is to be social – to have conversations, answer questions, help solve problems, provide resources, and ultimately build a community. You can’t build something by taking frequent and extended vacations.

4 – Over-communicating

This can be interpreted in two ways: sharing too much, and sharing too often.

By sharing too much, I mean sharing personal information that is totally irrelevant and inappropriate or sharing professional information that is angry in nature (like complaining about a bad client).

By sharing too often, I mean posting company-focused news/updates on Facebook and Twitter more than once a day. I have noticed that a social media marketing professional whose brand I “like” on Facebook does this every day – she sends out at least 3 posts on Facebook back-to-back every evening. Hello, un-follow button!

5 – Over-automating social media

When Twitter was first adapted by the business community, it was popular to auto-send a Direct Message to new followers. Amazingly enough, people and brands still do that, even though the practice is highly frowned upon. Do you automate your phone calls to your spouse, mom, or kids? Of course not – you’re not a robot. Well, you shouldn’t do it to your social media followers either.

Do you see these mistakes being made? Which one bugs you the most – and why?

Image courtesy of timelineimages.com

6 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand

March 25th, 2013 ::

buillding your personal brandWhether you’re a small business owner, blogger, or employee at a large company, your personal brand is the most important thing you have. It’s a combination of your personality, skills, experience, knowledge, and network – and most importantly, how you are perceived by others.

Here are 6 ways to cultivate your brand:

1 – Have an online “home”

Why: Showcase who you are and what you do without the constraints of a structured box (like your LinkedIn profile).

Back in the day, if you wanted an online presence, your option was a website. Now, you have many other options: You can set up a free account with About.me or Flavors.me, or you can set up a free blog through Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr. Your choice – just choose one and use it!

2 – Make your CV interactive

Why: Engage people by using the power of visual content to your advantage.

If you want to really stand out and get people to sit up and take notice, create a video, infographic or SlideShare presentation to showcase you and your work – and embed it into your website or blog.

3 – Create your own content

Why: Content – visual and text-based – will keep your site fresh and demonstrate your knowledge.

Creating content on a regular basis is the best way to demonstrate your knowledge. If you choose to blog, one short blog post a week is fine – share success stories and your deep subject knowledge. If you choose to go visual, consider video blogs on your own YouTube channel – that you also embed in a blog post. If you are a designer (web, landscape, interior, clothes), upload your work on your blog.

4 – Clearly demonstrate your value

Why: You need to differentiate yourself from everyone else out there.

Your approach to your work is different from everyone else’s, so be absolutely sure to explain what you bring to the table. What are the benefits of working with you, and what kind of results do you deliver?

5 – Be “you” on social media

Why: You and your company are two separate entities.

When I set up my Twitter account a couple of years ago, I purposefully chose to be me, not my company. Same on Instagram and Pinterest. That’s because, from my perspective, these are more personal social networks and a way to let people get to know me better. If my company should suddenly collapse, well, no biggie – I’ll just shut down a Facebook page and continue to maintain my other social networks.

6 – Build a portfolio of success stories

Why: It’s an ideal way to show why you’re so great.

Customer or project success stories demonstrate how awesome you are in a very tangible way. These stories need not be long – just state the problem, how you addressed it, and what the result was. If your customer can tell it in his or her own words, even better.

Are you cultivating your own brand? What other tips can you add?

Image courtesy of success.com

4 Lessons On How Customer Service Is Your Brand

February 26th, 2013 ::

Customer serviceIt’s not a secret that your brand is very closely tied to you and your employees. The customer service you provide speaks volumes about your company and values and leaves a very strong impression – for good or for bad.

Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing and author of The Book of Business Awesome, put together a great Slideshare presentation for Citrix about how you can take your company from good to awesome. It’s worth reading, as I am not really going to share what is in the presentation.

What I am going to share is 3 lessons in branding via customer service that he provided – as well as one of my own. All of the stories drive home the fact that you and your employees are a critical part of your brand.

The Ritz-Carlton Goes Above and Beyond

When a little boy left behind his favorite stuffed animal, Joshie, following a family vacation, the Ritz-Carlton didn’t just mail it back posthaste. Nope, the employees took photos of Joshie enjoying his extended vacation – on a chaise lounge by the pool, on the golf course, hanging with friends, getting a massage, etc. When Joshie arrived home, the photos were enclosed, along with his own Ritz-Carlton employee ID. As you can imagine, this story went viral.

A CEO Saves the Day

A few years ago, my husband went to Neiman Marcus to buy me a Tom Binns necklace as a surprise birthday present. When the jewelry counter employee refused to help my husband track down the necklace, my husband went straight to the source: Tom Binns. The company’s CEO was horrified by my husband’s experience, and she personally packed and mailed the necklace, including a handwritten note. My husband and the CEO are now on a first-name basis, and we tell this story every time I wear the necklace. I am not a big jewelry person, but I am a big Tom Binns fan.

A Delta Flight Attendant Said What?

Stratten was waiting on an impossibly long security line on his way to a Delta flight at JFK. He was nearly at the front of the line, when a crew of Delta flight attendants pushed their way to the front of the line, bumping and pushing Statten without a word. When he said, “Come on now. Not even an ‘excuse me?’” he got a nasty retort from one flight attendant, “We said excuse me. Why don’t you open your ears?” Stratten jumped on Twitter, where he has more than 135,000 followers, and got a reply and apology from Delta pretty quickly.

FedEx Employee Plays Catch

This is another story that went viral. A FedEx employee was caught on video chucking a computer monitor over a gate at someone’s house. Instead of ringing the bell and walking it up to the house, he decided to play catch – with the ground. FedEx had to go into major crisis control mode. They responded super fast and published a blog post on their corporate page titled, “Absolutely, Positively Unacceptable” and their senior vice president of U.S. operations recorded a video to apologize. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

So, how do you ensure your employees represent your brand more like the Ritz-Carlton and Tom Binns and less like Neiman Marcus, Delta, and FedEx?

  • Be passionate about your work and customers
  • Show your employees how they make a difference
  • Empower your employees to help customers – and then recognize or reward them for it
  • If you need to apologize, do it swiftly and genuinely

How has customer service improved or hurt your experience with a brand?

Image courtesy of postcardmania.com

6 Ways to Build Your Company’s Brand

January 10th, 2013 ::

Build your brand, grow your businessOf course you know that your company’s brand is about more than your name, logo and personality.  Once you have those nailed down, here are 6 other simple ways to build and strengthen your brand:

Tell a story

Think about what makes you different from everyone else; if you’re not 100% sure, ask your clients why they work with you or buy your products. Build a story around your uniqueness and weave it into your communications.

Build a community

Talk to your online and offline audience. Find out how they’re doing, what they want, and what they need. Empower them to contribute – with ideas, feedback, guest blog posts, photos, etc. Give them a shout-out (with their permission, of course) on social media or in your newsletter.

Provide a great experience

Elevate your clients’ interaction with you and your company across the board. Build a product that is easier to use and provides better value than the competition. Continually keep clients up-to-date on project progress. Host an annual party – a BBQ, bowling afternoon, brunch. Follow up a month after the sale to see if they need anything or have any questions.

Keep promises

Because customer service is so often ignored, especially by large companies, one of the best ways to grow your business is by doing what you say you’ll do. Happy clients will spread the word about you, especially if you go above and beyond expectations.

Take a stand

Whole Foods sells sustainable, organic, all-natural foods. Nordstrom prides itself on exceptional customer service. Apple designs products that are user-friendly and stylish. Decide what your brand stands for, whether it’s more reliable products, faster turnaround, or more personal service.

Be honest

Lying is the fastest way to erode trust and damage credibility. We all make mistakes, big and small, so when you do mess up, be honest about it – and then do everything you can to fix it as quickly as possible, whether it’s providing a refund, replacement product, or free service.

What are your favorite brands, and why? How do you try to emulate them?

Image courtesy of mymagneticblog.com

Fan Engagement Lessons From the Top 5 Brands on Facebook

December 19th, 2012 ::

cheering audienceAccording to the Track Social blog, the most successful brands on Facebook have a mix of 4 critical elements: presence, audience, engagement and buzz. So what are the global brands of Facebook, Disney, YouTube, Coca-Cola and MTV doing to engage with their audience and create buzz?

I visited their pages, and here’s what I learned:

Facebook: Clever

Talk about engaging content! The first post I saw was the story of how Jay Jabonet began a campaign on Facebook to buy a group of children in the Philippines a boat so they didn’t have to swim to school anymore – the post included a video. Facebook also has a really fun “X is like Facebook” series (Halloween and pools, for starters), which I think is very clever.

Disney: Visual with a purpose

Their timeline is full of visual content with purpose: photos of the newly opened Fantasyland at Walt Disney World – with a link to buy tickets. A happy family decked out in Disney gear to promote a sale at the Disney Store online – with a promo code and link to the site.  There are also lots of fun stills of characters from movies, along with their more famous quotes.

YouTube: Funny

It’s hard to go wrong sharing funny videos on your Facebook page – like Mariah Carey singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” backed up by Jimmy Fallon and The Roots playing toy instruments.  They also share company news you can use – like Virgin America will be offering selected YouTube series as part of their in-flight entertainment.

Coca-Cola: Brilliant branding

From Coke’s adorable polar bears promoting My Coke Rewards to an endless sea of Coca-Coca bottles (“like friends … the more the merrier”) to promoting the (RED) album in support of World AIDS Day, Coke really mixes it up while not losing sight of what their brand stands for.

MTV: Celebs

If MTV’s timeline is any gauge, pop culture is extremely engaging. Right now, MTV’s cover photo is the Jersey Shore cast – with a reminder of what day and time it airs.  Their timeline includes a “Last Fans Standing” contest, a picture of Mike’s abs, photos of One Direction and Justin Bieber, and a promotion for their “Big and Best of 2012” livestream performance on December 12.

What brands (big or small) do you find most engaging on Facebook, and why?

Image courtesy of visualphotos.com

5 Steps to Connect With Industry Influencers

December 5th, 2012 ::

Meeting an influencerWhen you’re growing your company and building a brand, one of the best ways to accelerate that growth is by connecting with the influencers in your industry – the Tony Hsiehs, Mark Zuckerbergs, Thomas Kellers and Martha Stewarts. One recommendation from them, and you could see a significant uptick in sales.

Here’s how to start building those connections to influencers:

1. Start small

If I was a fledgling clothing designer, cold-calling Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief at Vogue, would be a total waste of time. Instead of going after the top influencers, start connecting with others who share your interests or expertise. Do this by joining the Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Twitter hashtags, and influential blogs that are relevant to you and your industry.

2. Actively participate

The more you chime in on the conversations, the more exposure you will get, from your name and company name to your ideas and expertise.  Each connection you make will grow your network and move you up the networking ladder, so to speak, towards viral growth.

3. Get them talking about you

One of the best ways to get people talking about you is to share your wisdom. Help others, answer questions, and share your expertise freely. Be sure to ask for help and feedback as well in order to strengthen the connections you have.

4. Ask for introductions

One of the beautiful things about LinkedIn is the ability to look up your connections’ connections, allowing you to ask for a warm introduction to someone you can possibly do business with. As you build your network elsewhere, don’t be afraid to ask for warm introductions, including to influencers.

5. Add value

Once you get that sought-after introduction to Richard Branson, you have to go beyond a “Hey, I’m Monika! SO nice to meet you!” and offer something of value. Would you like to guest blog for them on your area of expertise, or maybe solve a problem you know they are having?  Think about the best way to build a relationship, add that person to your network, and possibly do business with them.

If you are connected to an industry influencer, what other relationship-building tips can you recommend? (Going to college with someone doesn’t count!)

Image courtesy of partner.kansas.gov

How Can Your Business Become a Breakout Brand?

November 23rd, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Want to make your business a “breakout brand”? Then you’ve got to make consumers “fall in love” with you, according to a new survey  commissioned by rbb Public Relations and conducted by IBOPE/Zogby International.

What exactly is a breakout brand? “Breakout Brands recognize the value of emotional attachment and have adopted strategies [for]…delivering better services and/or products, elevating a category with new ideas and focusing on the customer, not the competition” is how the study defines the concept.

Being well-known or admired isn’t the same as being a breakout brand, the study notes. While 23 percent of consumers immediately identified Apple as a breakout brand, some big names–including Nordstrom and BMW–did not make the cut despite being well-respected for their quality and service orientation. The top 10 breakout brands customers chose are Apple, Amazon, Chick-Fil-A,Wal-Mart, Costco, Starbucks, Google, Zappos, Toyota, Ford, Trader Joe’s and Southwest Airlines.

 strong majority of 
respondents (85 percent)
 say it’s very or 
somewhat important  
to do business with 
a company they have
 strong emotions for. Breakout Brands
 inspire these 
connections, which leads to strong brand 
ambassadors arising 

In addition, nearly all respondents (92 percent) say it is very or somewhat important for a company they do business with to show interest in them personally. Those living in the South and Central regions were far more likely to say personal interest matters to them than those living in the Northeast and on the West Coast. Millennials (18- to 24-year-olds) are the age group most likely to say emotional connections matter.

Emotional connections pay off for brands: The study found some 83 percent of consumers are willing to pay more when they feel a personal connection to the company. In fact, almost 20 percent of consumers would pay up to 50 percent more for a product or service from a brand that puts them first.

Instead of trying to chase their competitors, the study’s authors advise, brands would do better to focus on putting the customer first. Rbb notes that certain industries have greater potential to benefit from breakout brand behaviors. Specifically, customers say personal, proactive customer communication is more important in healthcare, professional services and technology, while it’s less important in the beauty products and apparel industries.

Does your business have the potential to become a breakout brand? Rbb says the strategy can work for any size company, and has created a whitepaper that you can download for free to learn more.

Image by Flickr user Sean McEntee (Creative Commons)

5 Storytelling Elements That Will Improve Your Marketing

November 20th, 2012 ::

BooksStorytelling is a really important way to connect with your audience – it is at the heart of families, communities and cultures around the world. Storytelling will help you develop emotional connections and build relationships.

My favorite ad campaign of all time was created by K-Mart. I believe it ran during the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France, which just proves the power of a good story – it sticks with you, even 20 years later.

In this campaign, K-Mart ran a new ad every night in which a middle-aged man wandered through a K-Mart calling, “Valerie?”  He’d always appear in a different department, and he’d always be looking for Valerie. I couldn’t wait til the Closing Ceremonies, as I fervently hoped he’d find Valerie. After all, he’d just spent 2 weeks looking for her every night on my TV screen!

A friend of mine, Khris Baxter, has been a screenwriter for more than 20 years. If you’d like to integrate storytelling into your marketing strategy, follow his 5 tips to ensure you make an impact:

Passion –Your story must be appealing, personal and original. If you want it to be  important to your audience, it needs to be important to you.

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to ask local Democratic committees to host his fundraising events at a place of local significance. He would open his remarks with what that local place and its history meant to him. This homage to a place of local sentiment created a rapport that made people open their wallets and donate to the party.

Hero – Every story needs a hero in order to earn audience buy-in. If that hero is an underdog, all the better. People love to root for the underdog.

Ronald Reagan used heroes to make abstract or difficult concepts concrete. Reagan would point to an “American Hero” placed at the edge of the Congressional Gallery who exemplified an issue’s human face: a single mother without health care, or a wounded veteran.

Antagonist – What is the threat faced by your hero? For a doctor, the threat is disease. For passengers aboard the Titanic, it’s the onrushing and frigid seas.

In the stellar 1984 Apple Super Bowl commercial, the antagonist was IBM (the PC).

Awareness – What did the hero learn? What’s that Eureka moment when the hero knew what he had to do?

Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered a mold that had blown into one of his petri dishes. He was looking for a way to kill germs. He had tried for ten years, and overnight, the winds brought him the answer in the form of a spore that settled in the uncovered dish and grew to become a colony that eradicated the deadly staph colonies within the dish. That was his Eureka moment, even though it took another decade to figure out how to produce penicillin in mass quantities. Fleming was knighted and won the Nobel Prize in medicine.

Transformation –This is the point at which your hero emerges victorious. He learned something, or he overcame a challenge.

As ever-quotable Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

By the way, our friend in K-Mart never did find Valerie.

Image courtesy of revolutionbooksnyc.org