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Brand Strategy: Establish Your Competitive Position

We’ve laid the foundation to build your branding strategy in a previous post. Now, let’s talk about your competitive position, which in a nutshell is your differentiation in the market.

Now, I could bore you with a bunch of technical marketing jargon, but that’s what you’d hire a marketing pro for. Instead, here’s an easy to use quick version in lamens terms so you can begin to create your differentiator to establish your position in the market. Answering these questions will put you on the right track!

Develop a market profile as related to your niche. For example, I’m a marketing strategist for small businesses in xyz industries, and I’m based in Atlanta, GA. So, I may start with finding out how many small businesses in xyz industries there are in Atlanta, how many years they’ve been in business, their growth rates, key decision makers, and publicized new projects.

List 5-10 of your direct competitors. I use spreadsheets so I can sort data easily. For each competitor, fill in these characteristics and you’ll have an easy-to-update competitor profile:

How do your clients find you and your competitors? Are they using Google search? Are they looking through print ads? Do they issue requests for proposals? Seek out professional associations for referrals? Are they searching social media? Different industries use different tactics to find resources, so first and foremost you must learn how your industry operates.

Ask what your client needs and wants. It’s easy to sit and think about what you think your client needs. But, did you ask them? Ideally, you want to get out in the market and find out what keeps your prospective clients up at night. Do this via informational interviews with prospects and q&a with your existing clients. Hint: If you can help your client solve a problem, alleviate a burden, and get back to focusing on their responsibilities, you’re on your way to getting hired!

Identify your competitors’ weak spots. If you can find opportunities that your competitors are not taking advantage of, you may have found a goldmine to exploit!

Now that you’ve gone through this process, here’s the ultimate question to be answered:

What is your value to the market?

  • Are you the lowest price?
  • Is your product the absolute best out there in terms of benefits?
  • Do you provide a competitive solution to a challenge with a focus on client-service?
  • Are you a convenient option?

Your answer to this question is the foundation of your BRAND. There are no shortcuts! If you think you can skip a couple of steps because you think you know most of the answers, you are more than likely mistaken unless you develop marketing strategies for a living. Great brands don’t just happen, they are cultivated over time. Spending time understanding your competitive position will help you with your sales pitch, newsletter copy, e-blasts, web verbiage, etc. Once you finish this analysis, you will be able to assess your competitive position, your competitive advantages, and you’ll have an understanding of what your clients need and want. You can further develop your branding strategy based on your clients’ needs, putting you one step closer  to getting hired!

Ciao,
Miss Kemya 

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Why Use Social Media As A Marketing Tool?

I read an article this week that made my jaw drop! It talked about how 64% of small businesses don’t think social media is important. What?! If this is the case, this means these business aren’t incorporating social media into their marketing strategy. My only caveat: there was a small sampling of business owners, and stats can always be misconstrued. However, these stats are alarming, sample size and industry aside, so I was compelled to discuss.

I could write a thesis on the value of social media but neither of use has time for that. I will give you a some answers to help bridge the social media divide, from the perspective of a person who started a marketing career before the age of the internet and social media, back when we used phone books, land lines, and unannounced drop-ins to prospect for clients. <I see you looking at my pic trying to guess my age>

So what’s wrong with this notion that social media is not important? Understand the correlation between “traditional” marketing and social media as a marketing tool:

  • Small businesses look for inexpensive ways to communicate their products to the public. If you have time to market your business, you have the resources you need to use social media. You can use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, etc. and shell out $0 monetary costs. Don’t believe me? Ask me and I’ll show you.
  • Small businesses thrive on word of mouth marketing. Social media is the most organic form of word of mouth marketing there is. The whole point of social media is to build your street credibility through word of mouth. That’s why you can message, repost, retweet, comment and share, it’s all about communication, no physical boundaries required!
  • When you run a business and marketing is not your strength, you usually hire someone for marketing, correct? This marketing person usually teaches you some tips and tricks you can use on a daily basis, and then they build the bigger marketing plans and strategies. So why are you not using your hired marketing person to understand social media?
  • Your brand is your image. It doesn’t matter what you think of your image, it matters what your clients think of your image. What does your brand, your image, look like when it’s stuck in the twentieth century? I’ll let you ponder that for a moment.

So why am I disturbed by the statistics of small business owners who refuse to adopt current marketing practices? Because they are missing out on a huge opportunity to catapult their businesses to the next level. Because small businesses provide a big chunk of the private sector jobs in this country. Because I recognize that small businesses are the life blood of our economy. This is no secret! Thus it is very important, not only to me but to us, for small businesses to stay strong, adapt to a changing business climate, and rebuild our country.

Know a small business that’s falling by the wayside because of their inability to adapt new, broader means of communication to grow their business? I will almost bet it’s because they don’t understand the value of using social media. I just have one favor to ask of you: email this post to your fellow business owners that have this notion, since they’re probably not regularly using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. so they won’t see it online. Or better yet, print this post and drop it in snail mail if you can actually find a postage stamp.

If you or someone you know fits in the 64% category, I implore you to join us on the other side. How? Call me. I happen to be a Strategic Marketing Consultant who finds value in social media.

Ciao,
Miss Kemya

3 Quick Tips For Using RSS For Business

Ever been puzzled by this little orange symbol that appears on blogs and websites?


And why should your business be using RSS feed anyway?

If you are in business of any kind, here’s 3 quick tips for using RSS feed to subscribe to websites and blogs to help your business.

1. It provides one neat place to keep track of updated content from your favorite sites. No more surfing individual sites for content. aka time-saver

2. Makes industry research a much simpler task. Keep up on trending topics by following the leading sites, experts and authorities in your industry. aka easy-research

3. Your clients/potential clients can subscribe to your updates if you give them the RSS feed option. Not everyone wants to share their email address to receive your newsletters. But they still want to keep up with your content. aka non-intrusive

BONUS TIP:  Site owners can see subscribers, so think beyond the basic orange button. Think synergy, sales, and relationship building. If you have the RSS feed option on your site, you may be building a potential client base without realizing it. Think about it: there’s a reason I’m subscribing to your site.

Readers, how do you use RSS for your business? Do tell!

Ciao,
Miss Kemya

PS – Have you clicked the button to subscribe to this blog? What are you waiting for?

Connect On Facebook and LinkedIn With A Personal Message

Let’s face it, in order to build your professional network you will want to forge relationships with people who you don’t know personally. You can use social media as a starting point. However, don’t go spamming people with blank invitations to connect!

Quick Tip: When you send a Facebook Friend Request or a LinkedIn Invitation to a person that you don’t know personally, you should always submit a message explaining why you want to connect.

The note doesn’t have to be too fancy or deep, but you need to give a reason for the connection.  I have heard too many hi-profile professionals say the same thing: they will not connect with a stranger who sends a canned invitation with no explanation. Think about it: why would I add a complete stranger as a friend or connection? I don’t know you so why give you access to my colleagues and network to sales pitch, or worse, tarnish my image? A professional that understands the power of social media will not let that happen. So take 3 minutes to write a message to let someone know why you want to connect. If your request is ignored, don’t take it personally, maybe you can think of another way to “connect” with that person.

Note: This does not include “Open Networkers” – as the name implies they are open to connecting with everyone.

Ciao,
Miss Kemya 

Are Networking Mixers A Waste Of Time?

Before you get all defensive, I know plenty of people swear by the networking mixer as a great way to cast a wide net and meet a bunch of potential clients. As a general rule I don’t attend these types of events unless I have a purpose. Mingling by itself is not a purpose; I mean a defined (often quantifiable) objective.

What prompted this post? I recently attended the worst networking mixer ever! I mean poor sound quality, multiple presenters just pitched and offered nothing of value, no traffic flow or structure within a huge lounge space, and… the attendees didn’t actually network. I went to meet a friend (and future client), and we both wanted to learn more about the hosting organization. My friend and I actually had a great time together. Unfortunately I noticed something awkward about the rest of the people there. I thought I’d have a little fun and show him why I’m so “particular” about attending networking events and adamant about having clear objectives if I choose to attend.

We both sat back and observed everyone’s behavior, as a social experiment of sorts. Then, I would go up to people and intentionally not offer my name or biz, but start a conversation with a “What’s your name?” or a “What do you do?” – and would you believe not a single person reciprocated? Yes, it was that bad! To make matters worse, my friend knew several people there and they all failed my test as well. Needless to say, he was stunned! But now he understands why I’m so strategic in spending my time and resources as I build my business. Running around to go to a bunch of events for the sake of going is simply not an option for most small business owners, a lesson he clearly understood after this experiment. I never did find any movers and shakers there to talk business. 

On the flip side, I attended an unrelated mixer a couple of weeks later because I wanted to meet and get to know a particular person that I chatted with a couple of months ago online. I had a fantastic and productive time at this mixer! Not only did I meet this person, but the attendees were engaging, lively, and prepared to socialize and talk business. Of course there were a couple of duds, but I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the interactions all around me.

Today’s Lesson: Do not attend a networking mixer without a clear objective. The challenge with networking mixers is that so many people go to say they’re pulling long hours, working so hard to meet prospects and trying to make sales. In reality, they’re going to have hors d’oeuvres and cocktails!

What are your thoughts on this often-used activity? How have you benefited from attending networking mixers? Are you intimidated by networking events? Post a question/comment and share your experiences!

Ciao,
Miss Kemya

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