What Do You Stand For?
What does a consumer think of when they hear your company’s name? You’d be amazed how different it can be from what you’d like them to be thinking.

Typically, they might not think of you at all. Or it might be a fuzzy, don’t-really-know-much-about your impression.

Good vs. Indifferent

There’s a radio campaign on the air right now for Romano’s Macaroni Grill which is smart, targeted, and makes me want to go there. As a bona-fide Italian, I tend to avoid any place that has ‘chain’ written on it. But I love what their commercials are telling me and how enjoyably they say it. No gimmickry; just well-conceived, nicely-produced work.

I told one of their competitors that they were literally eating his lunch. He wasn’t sure what to do about it. I offered to meet with him – no charge. He said he was too busy to get to it (but he acknowledged he could probably benefit from it). Is it any wonder he’s closing stores versus opening them?

This isn’t about how capable I am; it’s about how asleep some entrepreneurs and company managements are.

Think It Through
How do you want consumers to perceive you? Are you smart? Sassy? Great value? Convenient? (a word to the wise – if you’re all of these things, refrain from saying it all in one ad. The mind can only hold onto one key idea at a time.) What have you budgeted for your marketing program? Anything? Too little? Too much (yes, it’s possible). Who are your customers? What are their habits in terms of TV or Cable or Social Media? How can you reach them
Marketing and Advertising work when there is planning and strategy involved. Seat of one’s pants doesn’t cut it. Find out about your customers. Call them from time to time. Ask them if there’s anything you can be doing that would be helpful to them. Or, email them the same thing.

It isn’t You Versus Them. It’s You Because of Them.

The Right Message Throughout

Moreover, make sure whatever messages you send (and advertising = messages) represent your company accurately.

There needs to be a decided point of view. This comes back to the initial quote at the top of this article: What do you want them to think? That you’re buttoned-up? Friendly and Fun? Unique? Relevant? Affordable? All these things? (If so, be prepared to prioritize them for your Message Givers – i.e, your advertising and marketing people).

It starts, simply enough, with what’s on your Business Card. How it looks, what it says.

The same messaging should be reflected throughout everything that emanates from your company – from stationery and brochures to television commercials and online communications.

Consistency matters. Carving out a niche in prospects’ minds matters. The resources you choose matter. I had a very successful business owner tell me he was happy with a resource he chose – though getting the work was like pulling teeth. Sometimes, that’s too high a price to pay.

Know Your Business

You probably think this is stating the obvious. Except that I’m somewhere between puzzled and impressed with the way business owners describe their businesses. It’s the answer you want to the question people invariably ask you, “What do you do?” “I make widgets” is an answer. “I have the largest-selling widget business on the West Coast” is a better answer (if it’s true). “I make widgets with a special feature that cuts ten minutes off of the time it takes to install.” Or, “I make widgets that cost less than any other widget on the market.”

See the point? Be specific and sell while you’re doing it. Sell not only what you do, but why it’s good; ideally, why it’s better.

Bottom line, Smart Marketing amp; Advertising Are Selling

From the benefit your product or service provides to the logo you use on your business card, to messages you communicate – and communicate consistently — it’s all selling. The challenge always is to decide what your best selling points are and then to make them in a way that allows people to think positively about your brand.