Seattle Businesses – Don’t miss this brand and marketing workshop!

Maria Ross - Marketing and Brand Expert

Maria Ross - Marketing and Brand Expert

Defining a brand strategy is essential for all businesses and a task that many small business owners find daunting.  To be successful in any economy or market, businesses need to have a defined niche and a sound strategy for how they are going to position themselves in the market place.  Regardless of how good a product or service may be, positioning and perception make all the difference.

Taking the time to define a marketing and brand strategy are a wise time and money investment that will pay off quickly.  Two of Seattle’s big brand and marketing dynamos, Maria Ross, Marketing Director for Red-Slice and Whitney Keyes of Whitney Keyes Productions, are holding a workshop to guide you through the marketing maze and help you find practical and creative ways to attract new customers  – and keep the ones you have loyal to you.  The workshop is being held February 11th, 2009, and is an excellent opportunity to get practical strategies from Seattle marketing dynamos.  For more information about the workshop, just visit: Branding Workshop.





5 Basic Elements of Targeted Marketing

tragetThere are many styles of marketing, but only one that truly works in all applications. That one style is known as Targeted Marketing. Targeted Marketing uses information and planning to reach the right people at the right time. Below are the five basic elements to effectively and efficiently utilize this style of marketing.

1. Know Your Audience: Just like you know your products or services, you likely know who will benefit from them the most and why. What problem does your particular product solve? Are there any other problems that that same product solves? Who has these problems? Bingo, you have found your target. Now you must learn about your target market. What are there habits? Where do they shop? What media sources do they use frequently? Why do they hang out? What do they like and dislike? Knowing your audience in this way will help you to focus your marketing efforts toward them in an efficient manner. If you were trying to reach an 80 year old man you wouldn’t post an ad in Vogue would you?

2. Optimize Your Efforts: For every company this element will vary slightly, but the general emphasis here is to make sure the tools and information you have available to your clients are working for you. If you have a website, make sure the content is updated on a regular basis, the metadata is accurate and accessible including keywords and a site map. The same goes for brochures and other informational leaflets. The information needs to be accurate and honest and the appearance needs to be clean. No one likes looking at something that hurts the eyes. If there are too many bells and whistles or too many vibrant colors you are going to lose your audience. Simple is usually best!

3. Be The expert: Develop the ‘Know, Like, Trust’ effect by becoming an expert in your market. Write articles, have free information available, be honest and upfront. If you have the opportunity to share something that you know and enrich someone else’s business/life they will become a source of referrals down the road.

4. Plan Your Attack Strategy: Whit the information you now have you should be able to formulate your marketing plans. Know what you are willing to spend and where you want to spend that money. Figure out if your going to use mail marketing vs. email marketing and know where you are going to get your mailing lists from. (It is always best to use a source you can trust) Know what keywords are best for finding your information online. Figure out where you need to be so that your customers will find you instead of you having to hunt for them.

5. Befriend the media: The media is a huge source of referrals and are more than happy to learn about new inventions, new techniques, new anything. Use the media to your advantage by sharing information. Think of this as an extension of both elements 3 and 4. You are more of an expert in the public mind if the media mentions you or your business. Press releases, on air spots, and other media events should be a part of your attack strategy.

These five elements take planning and effort to be successful. Just as you wouldn’t leave the house without your keys, you don’t want to start your marketing with only one element in place. Figuring out who your marketing needs to reach, where to find them and how best to reach them makes a huge difference in any marketing plan.

Know Your Product’s Value

Just like every person is special, so too are the products/services you sell. Take a minute and consider that value. How are your products going to help, change, or enhance your customers’ lives? This is the information your prospects want and need in order to go from window shoppers to customers. Your prospects likely didn’t come visit your site to read a manual on what the product does. They want a clear, concise description that conveys how that product will help them. You need to address the question in their minds: Why do I need it?

Effectively describing your productss value will draw interested individuals to you. Three things that must be in the description are:

1. What is the product? Is it a DVD on sales practices or a video game for young adults?

2. Who will benefit from this product? If you’re marketing a video game, then knowing the content will tell you the audience it will benefit. Young Adults, Elementary school children, Teens…

3. What does it do? What about this product will help, change, or enhance your target customers’ lives?

Descriptions are usually only a few sentences in length because people rarely take more than 30 seconds to decide to buy. Because of that, keep the following in mind: the product name should tell what the product is. Use descriptive words, numbers, and pictures to help convey your message. Keep your product summary short, but have more information available if and when the customer is interested. Some customers never read more than the little sales blurb before buying. Always tell what the product will help, change or enhance in your customers’ lives.

Viral Marketing in Any Market

The term ‘Viral Marketing’ is fairly new however the concepts and practices behind it are not. All Viral Marketing is, is a message that is simple and catchy that gets forwarded on through a social network. Think of it as a chain letter. The original letter was sent to perhaps a list of 40 people. Those forty people sent the letter on to ten more, who sent it to ten more, and so on down the line.  By the time this one letter has been sent on 5 times it has reached 64 individuals. With every successive step, the letter goes to exponentially more people.

The Internet has made Viral Marketing faster and more effective by making it simpler and easier to do. Though mail or email is still the easiest format to have forwarded, website pages and social networking group sites are getting a taste of this trend as well. In an age of instant everything, viral marketing is an instant path to millions of people worldwide.

There are several ways to incorporate Viral Marketing techniques into your business.

First: you must come up with a short catchy tag line for your business. This tag line will be incorporated into every step of your business, so be choosy when making that decision.

Second, incorporate that tag line into all of your materials. This includes your email signature, your letterhead, business cards. Anything that is sent to anyone should carry your tag line.

Lastly: Integrate your tag line into your marketing plans. Your tag line becomes like a virus. It is remembered and referenced by anyone and everyone who comes into contact with anything from your business. This includes a newsletter that a customer forwards to a colleague, a business card that was handed from friend to friend.

Viral marketing is here to stay. The use of it will not only draw customers during a marketing campaign, but on an on-going basis.



How To Reconnect With Your Audience

Have you lost touch with your core audience? Wish you knew how to stay in touch with everyone while still having time to run your business? There are ways to stay in touch with your target market, stay current on the trends they are most interested in, and still have time to run your business. Here are three of the best ways to stay in touch and stay on track!

Get Involved: Find out where your audience is and be there. This could be an online forum, networking group or other physical or online location. Take the opportunity to test out ideas with others and get their feedback and reactions.

Show Your Thanks: Show your customers that you appreciate them and they are more likely to become repeat customers. Send them a note of thanks. But don’t stop there! Continue to stay in touch. Make your customers feel like they are special, because they are.

Keep Talking: Communicate with your customers and keep them informed of what is going on not only with your business, but the industry itself. Whether you do so with emails, newsletters, a blog or some other format the most important thing is to stay in touch. In today’s market communication is key!

How to Set and Reach Your 2008 Business Goals

2008 – A brand new year you can use to craft new goals and get your business moving along the path you define.  Right now we are helping a number of clients get back on track or steer in new directions by updating and following through with targeted marketing plans.  In a number of cases we update business plans that have been left on the side and help figure out what needs to go back on track and where the business plan needs to grow with the business.  It’s a great time to regain control of the reigns of your business!

Below are a few helpful tips that will get you started in the right direction.

Be specific when setting goals.  ‘Improve marketing strategy’ just won’t keep you focused.  Set goals such as review Google keywords once a month, post to blog 3 times a week, post to industry blogs once a week, send out a newsletter once a month, send favorite clients an appreciation card every quarter, etc.

It’s important that your goals are clear and measurable.  Instead of ‘increased sales of xyz products’, try being more specific.  Look at market trends and what is realistic for your target clients.  Consider defining specific goals such as “Increase revenue by 20% for product X by the end of the second quarter”.   Next, define how you will accomplish this task.  Does it mean revising your pricing, updating your marketing strategy, or redefining your target market?

Also, keep an eye on the future.  Where do you want your business to go, and where is it currently positioned to go?  It the answer isn’t the same to both parts of that question, it’s time to do some re-evaluating.  Notice trends in your industry and buying trends in your target market and tweak your business appropriately.  Now is a great time to review your business plan and decide if adjustments are necessary or if you strayed too far from your original goals.  Reviewing business plans quarterly is especially important during the first few years of business.

All of this can seem overwhelming.  Please feel free to contact me if you need help defining your goals and taking measured steps to reach them!


Kind regards,