The difference between success and closing next year…

The silver bullet for marketing a successful business”¦doesn’t exist. Sorry to disappoint you. There’s a world of difference between closing in six months and seeing year two come and go. A lot of it is hard work, timing, patience and the ability to adapt. I’m going to say this over and over again over the course of these posts so let me get it out of the way. Your marketing/brand materials are only one aspect of your business. Depending on your industry they could be a very big thing or the thing that keeps you fresh in your prospects minds.

When it comes to the marketing and design aspect of a successful business it comes down to three simple things:

  • A clear message
  • A consistent brand identity/message
  • The ability to see beyond what you like and into what your prospective customers

You have to simultaneously predict the future, correct the problems of the past and be able to change on a dime if the marketing shifts.

You don’t have to throw all of your money into your marketing materials, and I highly suggest you spend what you can afford, but make sure that you put your best possible marketing foot forward with each piece you put your companies brand on. The major corporations that you see on a daily basis put the same kind of care and effort into each marketing piece. You need a plan of action, a budget, a visions for your message, a target audience and reasonable sense of what you expect to receive; you’re return on investment (ROI). These things are established in your marketing plan. Rather than go over what’s all ready been done on Technosailor, take some time and read Steven Fisher’s Marketing Plan Series.

Let me put something into perspective for you. Coca-Cola historically has put close to forty percent of their profits back into the marketing of their business. They have 400 brands in over 200 countries and they have advertisements in every possible avenue of marketing. You can practically go anywhere in the world and people will know the Coca-Cola name. They are in almost every store, office vending machine and are a house hold name to people who don’t even drink the stuff. But if they are that well known why spend the money?

Because they want to be the only cola you think of”¦even when you’re not thinking about it. Because they know their competitors are working just as hard to get your attention. Because without you, and everyone else who drinks their product or who will ever try it, their company and product simply wouldn’t exist.

Do you think of marketing your company in the same way? Do you keep your competitors in mind when you’re working on your website, advertisement, elevator speech or whatever aspect of marketing you’re working on? Do you put a dedicated effort into making sure every piece of marketing you pay for supports each other while simultaneously keeping awareness of your product? Is it more than just a business card, a brochure, or a website to you? They are to Coca-Cola. They are to your competitors. They are to your customers and prospects. Your marketing materials are just one of the several crucial pieces of the puzzle that makes the difference between success and closing next year.

It’s time to get Wicked”¦

After much arm twisting, pleading, begging and bribing of Aaron, Technosailor himself, and Steven Fisher, of VentureFiles fame, I bring you the content whose focus is to help you get into the mindset of the visual side of marketing your business, product or self. Each week, I’m going to go over topics from what to look for, and expect from, a designer, the things you should think about for your marketing materials and most things marketing/design related for the new, or current, business owners.

Really the decision to create a blog that is geared not to designers, but people either in their first year of business or are just wanting to think about the visual branding of their company, all started over a couple cups of coffee. There was no real arm twister, or the like, but a general idea that this type of blog series might be worth while.

My name is Michael Dougherty and I’m bringing my years of experience to help be the translator between the business owner and the designer. Being of the rare breed of designers who balance well between print and web (there’s a world of difference between the two) that designs with a focus on sales and marketing my clients, I spend a lot of time finding creative solutions to help business owners, marketing managers and start up companies effectively understand why a visual brand is an extremely effective tool for their business that not only needs to be created, but maintained and nurtured.

To get it out of the way, the tone of this blog series will not be stuffy, terminology laden, or over your head. I understand that things like bleed, font weight, appropriate resolution for the medium and a wide variety of industry related terms may turn you off or confuse you. So relax. If those do pop up from time to time I’m going to find easily understandable comparisons to put them in plain speak for you. This series should feel like a conversation with someone over a cup of coffee.

So grab a cup of your favorite beverage, of course mine being coffee, and join me each week for a rare glimpse into the mindset, expectations and opinions of a professional graphic/web designer. I also look forward to hearing your horror stories, successes and thoughts on each topic.

So That's What You Believe…

Just some random thoughts I have.

  1. Social Media is only as valuable as what you put into it.
  2. Your Blogging success is not based on the number of pageviews, but the number of “conversions” (forget advertising here, folks. Think deeper)
  3. Your company needs to be blogging because you can then facilitate the conversation that is happening anyway
  4. Presence Marketing can be the most effective use of social media. Read: Twitter rocks
  5. You can be more effective as a well connected, thoughtful blogger with 500 subscribers than you can as a “powerhouse” blogger with 500,000.
  6. Search feeds can be more important than blog feeds
  7. The best networking happens over alcohol, after 10pm
  8. Ask questions, receive feedback, take action.
  9. Great business is birthed out of great community which is made of great individuals with great ideas.
  10. Share and share alike.
  11. Don’t be offended if someone criticizes you.
  12. Be honest and constructive, not destructive
  13. Laugh at yourself
  14. Don’t oversell by spinning.
  15. Recurring sales come from trust.
  16. You cannot control your brand, but you can influence how it is percieved
  17. There are valuable things in social media. Everything else is not valuable.
  18. Early adopters are geeks, but they are also filters.
  19. Never say never, but if concerned, proceed with caution. But do proceed.
  20. Generations change. Practices change. Principles remain the same.
  21. A blog is the best resumé someone can have
  22. Your archives will always be there. It’s your chance to shape what they will look like.
  23. Think differently about the value of traffic. It may not be as effective as you think it is.
  24. Do not be afraid to be vocal.
  25. Think clearly and coherently and shape your words, but spend more time thinking than you do writing.

What would you add?