Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Strong is Your Brand?

Branding is everywhere. We can drive by a store and see a red and white circle logo, walk down the soda aisle and see red, white, and blue packaging, or turn on the television and hear a squealing pig and these provoke feelings in us. They remind us of our experiences with taste, with customer service, and with quality, and they invoke a positive or negative emotion based on those experiences.

These are examples of companies that spend millions each year solidifying their brand. Their goal? To invoke positive emotions and instant recognition so consumers will buy their products or shop in their stores.

But how solid is your brand? What emotions, if any, does it invoke in your customers, past, present, and future?

Everything your company does contributes to your brand: The way your receptionist greets visitors, the ease of use of your web site, the information posted on your blog or social media sites, the quality of your products and/or services, and your consistent use of a design that brings it all together.

Stop and take a look at your brand from your customers' perspective. Be sure everyone in your organization is aware of their potential impact on your brand and review your marketing strategy regularly to assure your organization's overall image is strong and invokes the emotions that will ensure your success.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are Hand Written Notes Still Appropriate?

When was the last time you sent a hand written note to a business associate?

With all the new media these days, we seem to get lost in a sea of emails, RSS feeds, tweets, and Facebook posts. We send electronic invitations, correspond via email about business matters, and even send and sign contracts electronically. But is there still a time and place for a hand written note?

Absolutely! Direct mail has become almost impossible to penetrate because there is just so much there. We lug it all in, sort through to pick out anything important, and the rest goes directly into the recycle bin without being read. A hand written note; however, is guaranteed to get read. And, more importantly, the recipient will remember they received it, the person who sent it, and its message.

Every business professional should keep personal stationary on hand. Dust off that Mont Blanc and use any occasion to send a note that will get read and remembered.  Be sure to hand address the envelope as well!  Here are just a few opportunities to send a note:

·         Anytime there is something to celebrate (a promotion, recognition in the news, an event, a new product, etc.)
·         To respond when you receive a gift
·         In follow up to a business lunch or dinner
·         After you see someone at a conference or meeting
·         When you just want an excuse to touch base

Your challenge this week is to send hand written notes to 5 business associates. Are you up to the challenge?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Remote Technologies Help Improve Your Efficiency?

I was talking with my teenage children recently about all of the things we didn’t have when we were their age: computers, email, Internet, cell phones, iPods, iPads, etc.  Of course, they started hyperventilating at the thought!  It really is mind-boggling when you think of how technology has changed in just the past ten years, and I can’t even fathom where it will go in the next ten. 

I can’t imagine running a business today without a computer and Internet, let alone a smart phone!  And, as technology continues to change and improve, new tools are constantly emerging that can improve efficiency.

Our business is operated 100% remotely. We have staff in Florida and Colorado and customers in states all across the country.  We are constantly searching for and adding new tools to our repertoire that help us better access each other and our customers.  Here are just a few of our faves, many of which are offered free or at a very reasonable cost:

Couldn’t do business without this one. Chat, talk, call phones, text, and more with people all over the world through your computer, tablet, or phone.

A great way to share and store files remotely for access from anywhere, through any device, by anyone you choose.

A very easy way to send and receive large files.

Adobe® Connect™
A web conferencing solution for web meetings, eLearning, and webinars.

A web-based screen-sharing program that allows users to access their desktop from any Internet-connected computer.

Google Alerts
A great way to monitor your company or other topics of interest.  Get an email once a day or every time your topic hits anywhere on the web.

These are just some tools that help us every day.  What other tools do you use to improve your remote working ability?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What are Your 2012 Professional Resolutions?

It’s hard to believe it is 2012!  It’s also that time of year when we make new personal resolutions to do all the right things like eat healthier, stop smoking, exercise more, and so on.  But the beginning of a new year is also the perfect time for each of us to think of what we want to accomplish professionally over the next 12 months, both individually and for our organizations.

In your professional life, think about who you want to be at the end of this year.  Is there something new you want to learn?  A new professional organization you want to join?  Can you think of new ways to expand your professional network? 

It’s also a great time to think about what you want for your organization this year.  Dust off that business plan and take a new look at the goals and objectives.  Are they still in line with your organization’s vision?  Do they need updating? 

Someone recently asked me what I think of marketing today.  Without hesitation I said that I think it’s completely different than it was just a couple of years ago.  Particularly for small businesses, if you aren’t already, you will have to connect and stay connected with your customers and potential customers through new technologies and social media.  No longer can you develop a brochure and mail it out or place a print ad and expect them to work for you like they may have in the not too recent past.  Things are changing so quickly and businesses have to be changing constantly to keep up and stay in the game.  So our job is to keep finding new ways we can help our customers reach their customers better.

Stop and think about what you can be doing better or smarter in your organization to help your customers and in turn help your business.  Take some time this week to think about what professional resolutions you have, both personally and for your organization.  Click on the comment section below and share them with us – we can all benefit from each others’ thoughts and ideas!