Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What’s the magic touch? How many marketing touches do you really need?

It used to be that you needed 6-7 marketing touches for your prospect to become top of mind. There’s not much current research on this, but a Google search now will return answers of anywhere from 7 to 23. There really is no magic number; it’s about converting those touches into trust. Getting someone to trust you with the information you provide them. It will require multiple touches, for sure, but it’s not important how many. It’s important what kind.

Every organization needs to have a strategic approach to touching potential customers. It should be an integrated strategy that includes multiple marketing avenues. Those avenues may include things like social media, blogging, workshops, conferences, networking, press releases, direct mail, email, and more. But throwing messages out there in these avenues won’t do the trick. You have to have a strategy.

Strategic marketing is about meeting your customers where they are. They have a problem; you have a solution. You build trust through your message and through your actions. They hear or see what other customers are saying about you. Trust. They read an article about how you solved the same problem for another company. More trust. They read your case studies and blog posts where you tell them tips to take to solve their problem. Even more trust. Then, when the timing is right for them, when the need is greatest, you make the final connection.  You seal the deal and then you continue building the relationship by solving their problem and providing exceptional customer service. They become a testimonial and the circle continues.

So it isn’t a science how many marketing touches you need, but it is a science to make those touches count. Content, consistency, multiple avenues, and exceptional customer service. These all build trust and are the magic combination that will convert your touches into a better bottom line.

Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of
ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tool Review: Skype

Of all the tools we use in our daily business, Skype is by far the most important. Since day one, Skype has allowed us to communicate with each other, and with some of our clients, seamlessly. We literally work together all day long some days and communicate as if we were in the same room, while in fact we are in different time zones.

One of our clients has representatives overseas and we communicate by Skype chat and Skype call on a regular basis.

Skype offers lots of different options and various versions, including a free version, pay as you go, subscription based, and monthly. They also offer other pay as you use it services, such as Skype Wifi. Skype is an exceptional tool for work-at-homers, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and businesses of any type.

Whichever options are best for you, we recommend you check them out and integrate them into your daily business.
What's your favorite and most helpful business tool?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Defining your target market(s)

One of the key elements to any strategic marketing/media plan is to define your target market(s). Most companies don't have just one market. It is critical to your plan's success that you clearly define each of them so you can be sure you are reaching them all.

We've worked with the workforce industry for years and they have many different targets to consider in their marketing/media efforts:
  • Job seekers - those who use their services to find a job, get a better job, or start a new career path (this includes multiple targets in and of itself -- youth, adults, dislocated workers, veterans, those with disabilities, seniors, etc.)
  • Businesses - those looking for job seekers to fill their open positions
  • Board members - those in the community who sit on or may be interested in sitting on their voluntary boards
  • Partners - other organizations in the workforce community who are part of their local or regional workforce system (service providers, training organizations, k-12 and post-secondary education providers, etc.)
  • Legislators/Funders - those who can affect funding
  • Staff - from multiple agencies who make up their system
  • Vendors - those who help provide the tools to deliver the best services
Any marketing campaign must address each of these different targets and sub-targets in the right way in order to engage them and keep them engaged in what you are doing. Messaging has to be targeted to each individual market to assure you are addressing each target's need(s).

Think about your target markets. The most obvious is your primary customer. Who purchases your product and/or service? This may include multiple markets. Include your partners, funders, board members, suppliers, staff, etc. Each of these is critical to your organization's success and should be considered as part of your overall strategic outreach plan.

Once you define the appropriate markets you can start to think about how best to reach them for maximum results. What target markets do you have that are different than those listed here and what are some of the challenges you have in reaching them?

Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tips for the Best Logo Designs

One of the most important elements of your brand is your logo. It is the vital cornerstone to every other part of your brand. The most important part of your logo is how you incorporate that into your overall brand strategy, but there are some important things to consider when designing your logo.
  1. Keep it simple - Think of Target, Pepsi, McDonalds, BMW...their logos immediately came to mind, didn't they? All of these logos are simple and have been around for years. Logos should not be too intricate wth a lot of extra elements. Keep in mind the different ways you may use them. A photo or graphic with a lot of intricate background going on may look good on a website, but won't transfer well to a shirt or promotional item and won't be able to be seen well at smaller sizes.
  2. Make it work in color and black and white - Unless you are designing your logo for a team or something else color-specific, logos should be color transferable in case you change your mind about colors down the road, or need to change it up for a special event or campaign. Most organizations should design their logos in black and white and then change to color once the design is complete.
  3. Choose a graphic that provides a snapshot of who you are - ideally your logo should tell people who your organization is at a quick glance. Most companies don't have the marketing budget McDonalds has so they have to be recognizable without a multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaign. Many organizations choose to use the name of their company in their logo to help that process.
  4. Marry the logo with the perfect tagline - Every logo should be accompanied by a tagline that represents your company in a brief sentence or phrase that packs a big punch. Remember any of these?
    1. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
    2. Takes a lickinig and keeps on ticking.
    3. Just do it.
    4. Drivers wanted.
    5. Got Milk?
Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of
ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making Your Home-Based Office Work for You

So you’ve decided to go to work for yourself, or to telecommute and work from home. Working from home can have many perks (and a few challenges), but one of our favorites is being able to set up your home office to work best for you.

Priority one? Have a separate and dedicated space for your office. With a door. That can close. And lock you in or out depending on the day.

Seriously, having a dedicated space that is for work and work alone is vital to having a successful work-from-home environment. When you let other stuff leak in, it makes it very difficult to transition from work to home, from mom or dad to entrepreneur, from your at-work-you to your rest-of-your-life-you.

Next, it’s important to set up your office to work for you. Have a dedicated workspace – set it up the way you want to – not the way the old guy in facilities management makes you. Think about how you work best and buy the essentials that will make life easier. I’ve been saying for years that I need a new scanner. I have a multi-function machine that scans single sheets on the platen, but I scan a lot. I recently bit the bullet and bought the right scanner and it made my life so much easier. It’s a small thing, but it made a big difference.

Of course, decorate your office to match your personality. You don’t have to have tan walls anymore (unless you absolutely love tan). You can choose something different – even something different than the rest of your house, because there’s a door. That locks.

If you like to move furniture around and change things up from time to time, buy mobile furniture and choose pieces that can work in different layouts within your space.

Add music, or incorporate Feng Shui -- whatever makes you feel good about your space. And, be sure to add some treats for your best furry friend.

Whatever you do, make it your own space. And make it work for you so you can better tackle those minor challenges that will come from working from home.

What are some of the ways you’ve made your work-from-home space work for you?

Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of
ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Does your organization have a culture of customer service?

Excellent customer service is hard to find any more. Companies tend to focus more on turning customers than on retaining them. We’ve talked before about how every customer experience helps you build your brand. Take a moment to think about what message your organization’s customer service is sending. What culture do you cultivate?

I’ve had a few different customer service experiences lately… some not so good and some so good they will keep me coming back. Here are just two examples:

My husband and I are in the very early stages of looking for a new vehicle. For us, this is a journey. We do a significant amount of research when buying a vehicle. We shop, not only the automobile, but the dealer and the service department as well. After doing a lot of research online, we were recently ready to go visit a couple of dealerships for the different brands and models we were considering. We went to one local dealer that happened to be the only local dealer for one of the vehicles we were considering. The lack of a customer service culture was evident as soon as we approached the lot. Just driving in was confusing. The used car lot was next to the main road and the new cars were in the back. Nothing was marked well, and the lot was sparse with vehicles.

When we finally reached the new showroom, we were ‘greeted’ sluggishly by a hostess who in turn slowly sauntered to the back to try to find someone to help us. This person in turn literally sighed his way toward us. Later we learned they don’t work on commission, which in this case provided absolutely no incentive for him to be helpful. I’m not a fan of the hard sell, but some effort would have been appreciated. The culture, or lack thereof, was palpable through each step of the way. We had pretty much decided against the vehicle just based on that experience, but the clincher was the ‘service’ department. The waiting area literally consisted of two metal chairs and a soda machine at the end of the concrete showroom.

Although the vehicle we had been researching gets excellent ratings and had been part of our short list for months, it is now completely out of the running, all because of the lack of a customer service culture.

On the other end of the pendulum, we had dinner the other night at Ocean Prime. If you have ever had the pleasure of eating here, you know that this is not just dinner, it’s an experience. And, it’s not just because it’s an upscale restaurant, because there are a lot of those in Orlando. At Ocean Prime, the customer service culture is evident from the moment you make reservations. Their job at every turn is to make your experience fabulous. If you have one near you, go there (and try the chocolate peanut butter pie!).

We commented throughout our evening about the culture. The Maitre D welcomes you with a warm smile, and assures the chosen table and even the seats at that table, are perfect for you. We thought she was a manager, she was so much a part of the experience for each table seated. The dinner club atmosphere, complete with excellent live music at the perfect level for dining, make you feel at home. Our waiter, Joey, was completely professional. Each member of the team helps the others. And thank you’s are abundant between them. We were blown away when our waiter from our first visit months ago, Gary, stopped by to welcome us back. We still don’t know if he really remembered us or if they had that information in their computer, but it was an excellent touch either way. Of course the food was amazing, but that’s not what will bring us back. It was the experience. The knowledge that we could take a few moments from our crazy busy life to spend together and to be treated like royalty.

So, we’ll be moving on to another car dealership and vehicle, and we’ll find the right one at the right time. But we’ll definitely be back to Ocean Prime because they have an amazing customer service culture. And we’ll request either Gary or Joey, because they deserve it and so do we. And now we’ve told our friends. And so on…

We’d love to hear about your experiences with customer service culture. Please respond in the comments section below!

Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of
ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tool Review: Gotomypc.com

When you own a business you can never be far from your computer.  Recently I went to visit family and was considering whether or not to bring my laptop.  It was vacation after all.  Though my business partner can certainly cover me, there are files and programs on my computer that she doesn’t have on her computer or in our shared files.  I had heard about gotomypc.com and decided to research it.  Finally I decided to do a 30 day trial, and I was completely impressed.  With a simple sign-up I was able to access my actual desktop and every file and program on my laptop from a computer clear across the country.  Ease and peace of mind without having to schlep a laptop through the airport!   Their monthly prices are reasonable – about $10/month on an annual plan. 
It occurred to me recently that this may be a great solution to remotely help friends and family who are struggling with their computers.  My mom, who cannot live without her computer, but has trouble finding her way around it sometimes, often asks me how to find things on her computer.  That is somewhat difficult clear across the country.  But with gotomypc.com, I could access her computer (only with her permission and knowledge of course!) and help her with whatever she is trying to do. 
Check them out:  www.gotomypc.com

Kim Luedke is Co-owner of ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff.