How To Succeed In Business By Being Really Smart.

When you are starting your own business, or even re-branding an existing one, there are a number of things you need to do. And these break into two distinct areas.

  1.  Things that you can do yourself, and
  2.  Things that you might need help with.

So your very first order of business is to sort out which goes where.

For example, when I decided to re-brand my own business a few years ago and move from being exclusively a freelance creative supplier to being able to attract and manage communications for small to medium sized businesses, I went through this process. While I could handle most of the strategic focus and creative side of the branding and communications myself, I found that I did need a very reliable and creative web developer, because the last thing I wanted to do was build my own web site. I also needed a high end graphic design person who could create original digital artwork that would enhance what I was thinking. And as things have grown I have developed relationships with people in the area of, business planning, marketing strategy development, public and media relations, media buying and negotiating, photography and illustration, web and social media marketing. These people:

a)    Broaden my reach in terms of the size of businesses I can approach,
b)    Make me look as big as I need to look when I need to look big, and
c)    Make my life easier.

Do-It-Yourself Branding Is Almost Always A Recipe For Failure

A lot of people who start small businesses tend to do so on the basis of a connection they have developed, a product they have created or have gotten the license to represent or a marketable skill set they possess.

They may be very sure of themselves when it comes to sitting down with an interested prospect who is ready to buy, but may very well need a lot of help in really defining their company, creating the right communications strategy, developing the branded image and effectively targeting their marketing so that they can attract those interested prospects in the first place.

One of the key reasons that the majority of business start-ups fail has very little to do with the quality of their offering, their skills or even their salesmanship.

It mainly has to do with the simple fact that they started their business without allowing for professional help to do the things that they are not good at. What this means is that they end up positioning themselves inaccurately or amateurishly which leads to any or all of the following situations:

  1. They either miss their target audience, or
  2. They connect with they target audience, but send them the wrong message which, in turn confuses them,
  3. Their target audience, who will judge them by the quality of the corporate identity they have created, will see them as amateurish and not ever develop the confidence they need to do business with them.

19163463 copy 3 Creating & Building Your Business Means Doing It Right…From The Start

The majority of people who start small businesses tend to completely underestimate both the need for and the cost of creating a communication strategy and a corporate identity that identifies and puts forth the true USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of their company.

There are a number of reasons why this can happen. Money is the most prominent. But there is also the outmoded notion: “If you build it, they will come.” While this notion speaks to the confidence that the business owner has in his product or service, this becomes a very difficult row to hoe in today’s ultra competitive billion web site business universe.

Smart Communications Development  Means Finding Economies Of Scale

Most small businesses can’t afford a full service advertising agency to create an earthshaking campaign that will make them a household name overnight. What’s more realistic is finding a strategically oriented creative person who can see their USP, and build a professional corporate identity around it.

The economies of scale kick in because a multifaceted individual who can create communications strategies, write and art direct the materials needed to get a business off to a professional looking start, will cost a good deal less than three individuals doing each of those functions in tandem.  The difference will be not noticed creatively, but will be obvious from a cost perspective. This person will also have access to the other services you need (web site design, printing etc), but will not broker these services, so you will not have to pay markups on them.

All in all, it’s a very smart way to go about establishing your corporate identity, or re-branding your company in a way that will effectively reach and talk to the people you need to talk to in order to make your business grow. It will also give you more time to do what you’re good at and because you will be spending less time trying to figure out how to do the things you’re not good at.

If anything you have read here has struck a chord, then perhaps we should have a no-obligation conversation about your business, where you would like it to be going and the most efficient and effective ways to get there.

O&U Signature Jim Murray, Creative Director
Direct Line: 416 463-3475
Email: jim@onandup.ca
Web Site: www.onandup.ca

 

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The Top 10 List Of Elements Most Often Lacking In A Company’s Marketing Materials.

Next to your actual sales force and your own undeniable powers of persuasiveness, web sites, corporate brochures and identity kits should be among your hardest working marketing tools.

In order to make sure you’re maximizing the power of these tools, I have put together a checklist of attributes which no self-respecting corporate identity package should be without.

1. Synergy With Your Company’s Overall Image.
This synergy is the key to building awareness of your company as a brand. Everything should look like everything else, because that’s what makes you look professional.

2
. A Strong Selling Proposition.
Without it you might as well just write your communications materials in Latin.

3. An Appealing Look & Positive Feel…
that’s both ‘in character’ and inviting to read. People read things that look appealing and interesting. Anything else, they tend to ignore.

4. Consistent Narrative Logic Flow From Top To Bottom.
Bad grammar is running rampant in communications these days. Bad grammar can make you look like a not-so-bright, and therefore not-so-trustworthy company.

5
. Obvious Corporate Identification.
It’s all the rage in the design world to play down logos. But that’s how most readers end up missing them.

6. First Person Focus
If you’re always talking ‘to’ your prospects as opposed to ‘at’ them, chances are they’ll be paying greater attention to what you have to say. Never talk about your company in the third person. If you do, people will think you’re weird.

7. Simplicity. Simplicity. Simplicity…
in the use of supporting language and graphics. Remember, you know more about your business than anyone you are talking to. Showing respect for what they don’t know will always be rewarded.

8. A Definite Selling Attitude Throughout.
If your communication isn’t selling your company, it’s unselling your company.

9. Testimonial & Case Study Support
Your satisfied customers are, bar none, your best salepersons. Anything that quantifies results is going to be more meaningful to your readers than abstract notions or platitudes. You’ll be surprised how powerful these underused selling techniques can be.

10. Concrete Reasons Why The Prospect Should Be Doing Business With You.
Too many companies fill their communications with reasons why they are so great, but they seldom turn it around and give their prospects a real sense of what’s in it for them.

If you find your marketing materials to be lacking in any of these areas, contact me ASAP. I can help you rectify that situation quickly and cost effectively.

O&U Signature

Jim Murray, Creative Director
Direct Line: 416 463-3475
Email: jim@onandup.ca
Web Site: http:www.onandup.ca

Does Your Company Have A Consistent ‘Voice’?

One of the most effective ways to make sure your company’s message is getting through is being able to speak to your prospects in a consistent voice.

From the content on your web site to the copy in your trade ads, sales letters and collateral material to any media or digital advertising you may do, the tone and manner of your communication is something you want to be sure is coming across in a consistent, informative and persuasive way.

A lot of companies underestimate the power of consistency in their communications. In fact, many companies ignore the notion altogether. This is mainly because they lack the basic understanding that the tone and manner of their communications are the main elements that define the character of their brand or their company. And that companies, like people, are judged by the quality of their character.

Left Brain and Right Brain Functions.

19163463 copy 3While the benefit and support for the product or service work on the analytical side of the prospect’s brain, the brand character, or tone and manner, work on the emotional side, helping to paint a picture of the company as an entity they want to do business with…that they would trust…that would also do the best for them.

The art of persuasion is one in which the analytical and emotional sides of the communication work together, so the prospect takes away the facts about the product or service and, equally as importantly, a good feeling about it.

Because a lot of this engagement happens subconsciously in the prospect’s brain, the writer must be very careful in how he chooses to phrase his messages. Inconsistency breeds confusion and the minute the prospect becomes confused by mixed signals they are being sent, you can lose them.

The Power Of A Consistent ‘Voice’ Should Never Be Underestimated.

Consistency and character in communications are always beneficial improvements to a company’s image.

Many communication writers tend to concern themselves mainly with the development of big ideas that will attract attention to the company they are promoting. And this is fine. But attracting the prospect’s attention is no guarantee of a sale. Because if they become attracted, they are going to want more information before making their decision. And how persuasively this information is communicated to them is critical.

As a writer with extensive experience in both big idea thinking and consistent character oriented copy execution, I understand the work I do for my clients needs to balance both elements, in order to effectively attract and convince prospects. Over the years my efforts in this area have helped to produce excellent results for clients across a spectrum of B to B and B to C market sectors.

If any of what you have just read has struck a chord with you, we should talk.

Because if your business is not optimizing every opportunity to effectively connect with prospects, then it’s basically squandering that opportunity. And that, simply, does not have to be the case.

O&U SignatureJim Murray, Creative Director & Writer
416 463-3475  •  jim@onandup.ca
www.onandup.ca

Onwords & Upwords Case Histories

The following panels are detailed case histories which I have compiled over the years from projects I have worked on as a writer. art director or both.

They give ample testimony to the fact that strategically sound creative development is a very good marketing investment. There is a mix products and services here as you will see, and not every case study will be of interest to you. Please use the index to reference the projects and market areas in which you are most interested. Feel free to contact me at any time to discuss a branding or communications challenge you may be facing.

O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS2 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS3 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS4 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS5 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS6 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS7 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS8 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS9 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS10 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS11 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS12 O&U CASE STUDY MASTERS13

Branding & Marketing Free Advice Series Part 6

ON VIRTUALITY:

Though virtual communication groups have been around for a while, it’s not until the last decade or so that they have become generally accepted among all but the largest client organizations.

For the companies that use them, virtual groups have a number of advantages over their bricks and mortar counterparts:

1.     Virtual groups are almost always comprised of senior level personnel, whereas traditional groups tend to have a mix of experienced and not-so-experienced personnel. This translates into easier to manage relationships and higher levels of client satisfaction.

2.     Virtual groups have no ‘offline’ or support people or heavy real estate costs to cover in their pricing.

3.     Virtual groups make personnel available to clients on an as-needed basis, which further contributes to lower costs.

4.     Virtual groups tend to deal with individuals or small, specialized suppliers for services, as opposed to larger supplier services companies, making their outsourced costs lower.

5.     Virtual groups generally work on a project basis, which means they are much more strongly motivated to complete a project quickly and efficiently.

In terms of communications suppliers, there really are two different worlds.

While larger agencies and designcos certainly have their client base among the large structured organizations, virtual groups serve a valuable purpose, because larger communications companies could actually lose money attempting to service many types of smaller clients.

In Canada, with its substantial number of small to medium-sized businesses, the virtual communications group is definitely the right choice for those companies with smaller budgets and a more cost-conscious mindset.

O&U Signature

Jim Murray, Creative Director, Project Manager
416 463-3475  •  jim@onandup.ca
www.onandup.ca

Branding & Marketing Free Advice Series Parts 1-5

ON SMART MARKETING:

If you want to do a good job of branding or rebranding your product or service, but you don’t have a ton of money to do it, there are a number of people out there whose experience base qualifies them to wear more than one hat. Working with one or two people who can handle multiple functions will lead to economies of scale that can make the work you need to do much more affordable.

Of course, there are a lot of people out there will tell you they have more than one skill set to offer, but it would always be smart to ask for references that can confirm their talent levels in the various disciplines you need them for.

It may take a little extra time, but the savings, both in terms of money and hassle, will be worth it.

ON TRUST:

The biggest challenge to the process of branding and marketing development is for clients and suppliers to learn to trust each other. The key to developing trust lies in the mutually understanding that everyone is on the same team and wants to achieve the same results.

Creative people, by and large, are driven by the need to create an environment of trust because when trust isn’t a worry, they don’t second guess themselves and generally come up with their best ideas.

When clients develop the level of trust they need with their suppliers, this does two positive things. 1. It frees them up to concentrate on whatever it is they do best, be it creating or tweaking their product or service or sales. 2. It removes the ‘us vs them’ barriers and allows them to actively participate in the branding process.

Some of the best client relationships I have had over the years involved clients who were actively involved in their branding process. Their input and insight was invaluable, because, after all, who knows more about their business? And we taught each other a great deal in the process. And by the way, the process always had a positive result.

ON ELEVATOR SPEECHES:

Anyone who networks will tell you that the concise ‘elevator speech’ is a business essential. Unfortunately many people do a crappy job of it. This is mainly due to the fact that they don’t factor in one very important thing, and that is the person they are trying to communicate with.

The whole idea here is to make sure, not just that the person gets what you do…but that they get what you can do for them.

Walking the talk, here’s my elevator speech. “My job is to create communications that make it very clear to your prospects that you would really be worth doing business with.”

Simple, clear and focused on the ultimate purpose of virtually any form of communication.

ON WEB SITES: 

If you are in the process of planning a new web site or renovating an old one, do yourself a huge favour and hire someone to design and write/rewrite your site.

There are a lot of businesses out there who have their sites designed by amateurs, web programmers or, even worse, do it themselves and the sites show it. It isn’t just for aesthetic reasons, or even enlightened self interest, that I recommend this course of action, as evidenced by the attached article.

At the end of the day you really want your site to help build your business and that’s what good design and content will do for you. It won’t necessarily be cheap, but it will elevate your site to the rank of professional looking with increased search engine friendliness and that’s both good business and good PR.

ON BRANDING:

When it comes to branding your business, your vision of what your business is all about, and where you want it to go are the two most critical elements. If you hire somebody to help you realize this vision, the biggest mistake you can make is assuming they know what you know. They won’t…because they can’t.

Branding and marketing are front end loaded activities. In order to do them in a way that will brand your business effectively and help move forward, the people who are helping you need to know almost as much as you do. If you think this will happen by some sort of mystical alchemy combined with intuition and experience…it won’t.

Take the time to explain your vision up front and the pros you hire will make it happen. Don’t take the time to do that, and you may not always like what you end up with.

O&U Signature

Jim Murray, Creative Director
416 463-3475  •   jim@onandup.ca  •  www.onandup.ca