Category Archives: Business Development

2010 In Review or in your Rearview?

Yep. It’s time for the lists again.

End of year = lists of best of, lists of worse of, lists of lists …

Here’s Dog-Eared Pages TOP 10 list: (drum roll please …)

How to rocket your marketing message to the moon in 2011:

1) Craft something that’s unique. What? Your marketing message sounds like the competition? That’s like nails on a chalkboard. Liven your product or service’s special selling points within your messaging. Review this year’s success. Do you have some concrete numbers you can place within the messaging? Think how powerful your message can be if you can say something like, “9 out of 10 skiers in Denver choose Pete’s Ski Shack for all their slope needs” ….

2) Leverage social media platforms … they’re free you know. Once you have your unique message crafted, now it’s time to get down to business. Think of it as a stamp. Every time you speak about your company … STAMP … your marketing message to it, especially in the social media realm. No matter what you are using, Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn, if your unique message is not out there, people don’t know what is different about your business. Find new ways to impart that to the masses.

3) “Shout It Out” Have you declared a message about your company and “become the broken record” of your brand? Do you tell everyone around you about your company and it’s mission? If not, now is a great time to start. Make sure your unique message stays consistent and blankets all marketing materials you produce. Yes, even the pocket folders.

4) Let Testimonials Take A Front Seat If you haven’t had a chance to gather some client feedback, the end of the year is the perfect time to listen. Find out how your product or service is working with a simple survey. I like Survey Monkey. Ask why they choose you, why they need your product/service or even what is it about the company that needs improvement. And, while you’re at it, capture some testimonials about their experience working with your company. Once you have gathered their testimonials, make sure you have their permission to use them in your future advertising effort. Testimonials can pay off in a big way and if your clients communicate a message that resonates with your unique marketing message-BONUS!

5) Speak Customer Speak, Not Industry Speak What you say and how you communicate it with your customer base is very important. If you are using industry jargon like ROI or CPE or bit-mapping, your customer may be confused. This is not to say that you should talk down to your clients. I cringe anytime someone says, “We need to dumb down our marketing messaging”. No, you just need to be more aware of your clients. Know what is important to them. Think to yourself, if I was a client of the service/product I sell, why would I need it? What issue/event causes me to need it? Then speak to that with your marketing messaging, in their words.

6) Rid Your Messages of Superlatives Super what? Superlatives are those words that make your company and the items provided sound too good to be true. Those “$5000 words”. ICK! Scrap that stuff. If you find your messaging saying anything like “The best, An Outstanding Value, Top-notch, Most Beautiful, Unmatched Quality, the “you know what” police are on their way.  While your company may be great at what they do, don’t oversell with flowery words that are limp.

7) ID Wants, Needs, and Desires Make sure that your messaging speaks to the real reason people buy from your company. What void do you fill? Is that void mentioned in your unique marketing message? One of my favorite tag lines I saw this past month was “We Scoop Poop”. It’s direct, it tells the need they fill and what it is they do. Even if it’s a dirty job, they nailed their marketing message in only 3 words-BRAVO!

8) Support Your Message No matter what venue you are using to promote your product, make sure what you say is in line with how your company is different. Even in your public relation materials, you should speak with the same messaging. If you are giving away calendars, those words that speak to your business’ uniqueness still need to be present. Support your unique messaging across all formats.

9) Use $5 Words Instead of $5000 Words There is no reason to speak in verbose words. It can be an immediate turn off for many people. If your business comes across as ego-centered or too elite, it can send your customers quickly into your competitor’s offices. Use common words that your target market would use. Much like speaking “industry talk”, using big words can work against your messaging.

10) Focus on one thing Even if your company is great at everything it does, having no more that two outstanding (opps-superlative) things that your business can do is key. Don’t try to sell all aspects of your business in a small print ad. Just promote the one main thing you wish your target market to know. That’s it. It’s then up to your sales force to showcase the rest of your greatness.

Here’s to a Happy 2011!

Wishing you much success –

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Can opening an email be as exciting as opening a package?

Recently I received and email with the subject line: 6 Career Tips Your Dog Knows. Being a “Dog-Crazed” person, I was instantly all ears. Here’s the article and I really like the parallels it offers. Check it out for yourself. 6 Career Tips Your Dog Knows.

All of this got me to thinking about the power of subject lines. What do you place within your subject lines? Do you use bright colors? All uppercase letters? Or do you take some time to think about what will resonate with your reader?

Here are some interesting articles I ran across on how to get your audience to open your emails.

Subject Line Comparisons

15 Rules to Writing Subject Lines Right

Tricks to Grab Reader’s Attention

10 Email Subject Line Blunders

So what subjects get your reader’s to open?

Happy  emailing –

Sarah @Dog-Eared Pages

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Has The Expert Left the Building?

Being an expert in your field seems like a monumental task. Think about it. Knowing everything you can get your hands on about the topic seems almost impossible. However, with the vast resources that hang out  on the internet, becoming an expert in your field is easier than you think, just don’t let it be a crutch.

Gardening Has Gone To Google?

About three weeks ago, my husband and I went to a local garden center to purchase some flowers to “beautify” our yard. Growing up with a father that had a degree in Botany and Fruit Science and a mother that literally spent every summer taking us to the area greenhouses to learn more about native plants, I feel like I could potentially be an expert at anything that’s green. However, I am not. There are still plants that trip me up from time to time. So as the two of us browsed through the nursery, we stumbled upon a few plants I didn’t know. I was curious and read the little card that was placed within the pot of the plant. “This should be planted in full sun, with proper drainage.” Followed up with a scientific name I couldn’t pronounce. What the heck is this I thought. Then a lightbulb went off, let’s ask one of the nursery employees what it is and how to take care of it.

Carrying the plant toward the front counter I approached a dirt-covered associate and inquired about the plant. Her first response, why don’t you just look it up on Google. Google!!!! Yes, I know that resource, as I writer I use it often to research facts, figures and stats. But seriously, I now need to go to Google instead of asking you about a plant? My dad would have been dumbfounded much like his daughter was at the response. I am pretty certain I stood there like a child who just found out the candy store was all out of lollipops. I swear I didn’t move for at least 30 seconds. Then she asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”  (I digress and for fun I asked another associate for help with an Orchid. I know this is shocking, but I got the same response.)

While I might expect this reaction from a big superstore garden center, I was shocked to see that this well-respected speciality greenhouse wasn’t able to educated it’s customers on the plants it grew. Yikes! This of course got me to thinking about how important educational marketing is for business owners. Think about it. If you’re not perceived as a leader in your business sector, why would a potential client choose you?

How Does Educational Marketing Make Your Business Grow?

1) Nurture the important benefits of your company and share with your clients. If you want new clients and to help maintain the ones you currently serve, what have you done lately to nurture those relationships? Have you called them to survey how you’re doing? Have you provided them educational information so that they can learn more about your product or service?

Solution: Begin an email marketing campaign. Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your current clients and foster new relationships with prospects. Check out this article about how to effectively sell your company’s benefits.

2) Become a social butterfly. Using social media like Twitter and Facebook is another great way to share information you gleam each week. You don’t have to spend hours updating your page each day.

Solution: When you sit in front of the computer and read an interesting article over your “first” cup of coffee, if you find an article that would be of interest to your clients, post it or tweet about it. It takes 2 minutes and can create a raving set of “groupies” in your garden. Read more about the impact social media can make on businesses.

3) Incorporate new species of flowering connections into your  company’s landscape. Networking with like-minded business professionals is a great way to grow your business. Not only can you meet new people who can connect you to their business, you can also build relationship with other experts. In addition, you can showcase your expert status by offering educational presentations that inform and enlighten. I can’t tell you the numerous speaking events I have attended. Some are boring and drab, but for all of those presentations, there is the 20% that are amazing, motivating and inspiring.

Solution: Be one of those speakers and people will flock to you and your business. Schedule a speaking engagement and showcase your vast knowledge of your business and the customers you serve. Look into some ways you can connect.

While I love Google, I hope that business owners and their employees don’t abuse it, thus loosing potential customers and or clients. We cannot put our businesses on autopilot and hope that someone will come back. The internet is a great resource, but it’s just that, a resource. Keep in mind that no matter how tempting it may be to refer a client to “learn more by Googling”, there’s still nothing like talking to an expert to really solidify the customer experience. As for the garden center I visited, let’s just say, next year, I’m going somewhere else!

Happy educating-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Opps … Your Brand Is Showing

If you haven’t had a chance to catch the Oscar winner for best animated short, Logorama, here’s a quick clip.

It’s a marketing geeks paradise I admit, but what an ingenious idea … branding, branding, branding as far as the eye can see. Who would have thought a movie made entirely of company logos would turn so many heads? Not only did it turn my head, it got me to thinking about my client’s and their branding.

What would it be to have no Branding?

Think of it. How would your company function if you didn’t brand yourself? Customers walk into your store or call your customer representative and while you may be a great service provider, they can’t seem to refer you any business and actually forget about you.

Like it or not, without branding you have no name, no logo, no tagline, no selling features; it’s just you and a desk and a handful of employees. Frightening.  What’s worse, without being able to talk about your company, remember you have no naming convention, you have to say “we”, “us”, and throw out the “we’re #1 in client satisfaction”. This is why branding is so very important.

Play the “I Spy” game of branding.

Often I have my clients play “I Spy” with the brands around them. I know, I spent way too much time when I was younger sitting in the backseat of the car on family vacations trying to pass the time … But seriously, take a look around you. What brands do you “Spy”? How are they different from one another? How are the same? Which ones stand out from the others? When you start to think about other people’s brands, you remove the emotional attachment of your own brand and clearly begin to see what works and what doesn’t.

Tip: Ignite Your Brand

Make a list of the brands that are around your place of employment. How do they motivate you? Do they motivate you to do anything or are they just “pretty”? Now, take what you have seen and turn inward to your current brand. Are you motivating people to do anything? Do people even know you exist?

Play “I Spy” and take the journey to a new and improved branding experience.

Happy Branding-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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New Year + New Ideas + Fresh Perspective = Blogtastic Results

This year I am starting a new blog post each week called BlogN2010. This will be a place where business owners can find tips, tricks and tasty tidbits that can help make your company blog fresh, profitable and a “must-read”. Stay turned for more blogtstic ideas!

Keeping fresh ideas pouring out of your blog posts is a challenge many blog writers face (myself included). Yes it’s a type of writers blog, but often times, it’s more than that. I constantly find myself asking:

What will people want to read?

What is timely and a topic on everyone’s mind?

Do people really care?

Bottom line, if you’re a small business and you need some fresh ideas for your up-coming blog post this year, here are a few things to consider before posting your masterpiece.

3 Business Blog Post Brainstorm Igniters:

1) Become Dear Abby-Offer Tips, Tricks and Tangibles

Let’s face it, you’re in business for a reason, you know something that people will pay for and need. So that means there are millions of things you can provide including tricks and tangible information that can help your readers. Providing educational tidbits is one of the easiest ways to bring what you know about your industry to light.

What’s more, not only can you provide valuable information, you can also provide advice. Take for instance the top three things your clients constantly ask your opinion about on a weekly basis. By taking those common questions, you can offer valuable advice that educates your customers and helps them better understand the importance of the services you provide.

2) Extra! Extra! Read All About It! – Bring fresh industry news to your readers.

Offering your readers insight on your industry’s new innovations, changes and newsworthy updates shows your readers that you’re on top of it. Trust me when I say your customers don’t have time to monitor your industry and their industry, so you must be the watchdog for them. Not only does it keep you in front of your clients, it also offers them a chance to discover additional products and services they may want to purchase from you. Plus, it’s easy to do. Find two or three industry blogs that you can follow and subscribe to their RSS feed. You can also go to Google Alerts, key in your industry and Google will email you news articles, industry topics and research on our designated profession.

3) Yes, pay attention to the person behind the curtain- let your clients walk in your shoes.

I used to work in television. I can’t tell you the many times people asked me to take them behind-the-scenes so they could see how we went about  putting a newscast together. For some reason, people love to see what it is other people do. Humans are curious and when you peel back the curtain to show what happens behind closed doors or even how your team works in the field, they seem to hold you in high regard. Now I am not saying that working at the TV station won me a ton of dates or anything, but what it did do was help people understand what I did on a daily basis and generated a ton of respect. Two things all business owners want! This is a great place to start your blog.

If you’re new to blogging and you’re looking for additional inspiration, check out The Writer’s Block by Jason Rekulak. It’s a handy little book that really jump-starts the brain. You can also keep a folder on your desktop and place interesting articles your run across in it. Keep your eyes open, blog topics are all around us!

Happy blogging-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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The ‘Wild Rumpus’ of Storytelling

With the release of Where the Wild Things Are this weekend, I found myself falling quickly back into a magical part of my childhood. Siting next to my grandfather as he transformed a $2.99 paperback book into a fantastic journey. With each page, the smell of a new book and the hope of following Max as he explored a magical forest all from his imagination, I sat motionless waiting for the wonderment to wash over me.  In only ten sentences (that is all that’s in the entire book) I was quickly transported to the land of monsters, being crowned Queen of the Wild monsters and dancing with the monsters in a “Wild Rumpus”. As I look back, the story was mesmerizing, it had a way of grabbing my attention and making me want to know more. I told every friend I had about the book and before long, my whole first grade class was reading the book.

All of this reminiscing got me to thinking about marketing for business and how the way your story is conveyed can really make the difference in what your customers believe.

Combating the Big, Scary Monster or Does Your Company Have an Engaging Story?

It’s often frightening to think what it is that makes our business stand out from others. What is unique about your company? Does the customer you serve find that your service is head and shoulders above your competition? Do you know why? These questions, among many others are often hard for business owners to define. It’s not always easy to step outside of our businesses and really experience what you provide from the customer’s perspective. Take a look at this article from Entrepreneur.com  for some story starters and begin defining your story.

Are You a Kid Hiding in a Wolf Costume or What Can Storytelling Do To Showcase Your Business?

So many business that are launching a new website or implementing a new marketing tactic fall into the same trap. “Me too” marketing. Often they take inventory of what their competitor is doing and say we do that too.

For instance. Say you own a bakery. You competitor is within one mile of you. You can’t exactly use the same wording as they are, like “Your neighborhood baker”. If you used the same type of marketing, potential clients could get confused as to which one of you was the “neighborhood baker” that advertised in the local paper. What could be worse? Well, imagine if that same potential client went to the “other” bakery and had a horrible experience. Just think how you could loose out on clients the next time this potential customer’s friends mentions the neighborhood baker. They might say the experience was awful and if you were to run an ad with the same tone, they might think it was you!

Instead of copying what your competitor is doing be aware of their tactics and  brand yourself in a different light. For instance be “that baker on the corner who makes biscotti that is perfect to dunk into coffee”. Your true customers will remember the little things you do that are different. They will talk about those little things with their friends and then their friends will talk, etc. Word of mouth marketing is great, but for it to work, you have to have something that makes you stand out of the crowd. Be the expert in your field. Be the place people are talking about favorably. Have something unique that your customers can cabbage onto and tell others to see for themselves.

Let the Monsters Romp or How Your Customers Can Help Sell Your Business

Finally, the glue that holds your storytelling together in the world of marketing effectively is utilizing the valuable chapters your customers provide for your story. Client testimonials on a web site, in a promotional brochure or even better in a television commercial are invaluable. You can talk all day about how great your product or service is, but potential clients understand your bias and often discount it. However if the average Joes and Janes rave about your biscotti and how it is perfect with their favorite cup of coffee, they’ll be thrilled to be quoted in your advertising pieces. What’s even better? Do you know a famous person or person of influence within your community that raves about your product or service? Have you approached them for their insight. It could be worth its weight in gold!

Bottom line, don’t be afraid of marketing your company’s message through crafty storytelling. Just like a good book, a well-defined marketing story can intrigue, inspire and yes, involve your customers. Getting the word out there is your next step.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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The Game of Phone

Picture 1Okay so I must admit that I have been hooked on the iPhone since it was first released. I have drunk the Apple-favored Kool Aid and feel somewhat lost when I misplace the phone. As I talk with many of my clients I discover that they too, whether or not they have an iPhone, feel unorganized and somewhat lost without their smartphone to guide them. So, when I stumbled across an article about Mobile Marketing in a recent edition of Ad Age, I thought I must share the article with you. Not only are we headed to a time when people are more connected than ever to one another, they are connected through their mobile devices, spelling opportunity to business owners.

According to the Ad Age article, many experts in the mobile field expect the mobile marketing industry to explode and become an “apps-focused” reality. Many large corporations are looking into the mobile realm and developing apps that not only promote their brand, but push it in an innovative and engaging way.

All of this got me to thinking what is it that marketing consultants and creative advertising gurus can do to make their client’s brand (pardon the pun) “ring in people’s ears?”  If it’s not an app, what is it that will engage your customer to react and stay engaged with your brand?

We at dog-eared pages would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Phone Ringing!

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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