When to market your business, in the good times or the bad?

goodtimesbadtimesAs with most businesses there is an ebb and flow to sales, productivity, and growth. I was at a business meeting at my favorite breakfast restaurant a few weeks ago. They have a few locations throughout the city and suburbs. This one in particular was not up to par as the ones I frequent more often. While the food and service are still consistently good, it is in a little older area of town, in a little older building, and was considerably less busy than the other ones.

As I was leaving I was speaking to the cashier, who it turned out was the co-owner of the restaurants in town. I asked about the decline in business and she agreed that it was becoming a problem for this location. I spoke to her about her marketing efforts. She said they are doing the same marketing approaches that they always have done. I asked if she and her husband would like to sit down and I could discuss how my marketing firm could come alongside them with a fresh approach to increase awareness and drive people to their restaurants. She said that things are getting tight and wasn’t sure if they could afford to do anything different.

Her response is not uncommon to business owners that may be experiencing a slump or may just be stuck in a rut and aren’t growing. Business owners can be divided almost down the middle into two ways of thinking about when to market:

  • The business owner that is thriving tends to push off marketing and business development efforts until you either get to the bottom of the barrel or you lose the big client that was paying all the bills,
  • The business owner that is in a slump or has plateaued believes they simply can’t afford to put money into marketing when their business is slow.

Both mindsets are at risk of skewing their growth and could permanently damage their business. The savvy business owner is the one that knows even when you are very busy you still market your business. The well can dry up at any time and sometimes for reasons that are out of our control. One of the outcomes of the recession is that business owners have been knocked out of their comfort zone and are being required to do marketing and business development differently.

Short term and long term marketing strategies are necessary to amp up your business. While short-term strategies will focus on sales and business development, there are several long-term strategies that will create sustainability and mitigate many of the slumps and plateaus from extreme ways of thinking about when to market your business. For our discussion here I want to focus on the long term strategies that can move you out of the slumps. Tammy Hawk-Bridges, author of the book Yanking Bootstraps – Bootstrap Your Business to Success, discusses long-term strategies. She provides several long term actions that can move your business forward quickly.

1.    Focus on new business often. Come up with a business development, marketing plan that you operate inside every single day! Waiting until you are thirsty to dig a well makes the process very difficult. If you make business development a consistent effort you will always have great prospects.

2.    Build a strong pipeline. This partners with #1. You need to fully understand the pipeline process. Think of a funnel, it’s very wide at the top and gets narrower as it goes to the bottom. The top is how many leads need to go in and the bottom is where only a few customers will come out. So for example if you want 100K in sales you could potentially need a prospect pipeline that is worth 400K. This is a great eye-opener and once you do this exercise you will realize immediately why you don’t have enough sales.

3.    Tools that attract prospects. It’s time to put some great tools in place that can create leads for you even when you aren’t trying to sell. This is the wonderful think about new marketing strategies! You can put great content out there and then people will come to you! Be the light and they are the moths, attract your ideal client to you. You needFire_Moth_by_maxine_photo to have great information that they need to run their business.

  • Grow your list – come up with a how-to or EBook of sorts that your ideal client can download from your website.
  • Internet optimized – Make sure your website is ranking for keywords that are relevant to your business. You want people to find YOU before your competitors.
  • Review your website – Is it focused on your ideal client, is it a great resource of information? Does it make someone want to get in touch with you?
  • Email Marketing – This gets you in front of your customers and ideal clients on a regular basis. Be a great resource of information, earn trust, and be authentic. Above all read your analytics and use the information to identify prospects!
  • Blogging – Create great content that brings prospects to YOUR door. This is a lot of work and only the truly committed will succeed at it but the payoff is huge when it hits! No more hitting the pavement for sales!
  • Sharing – Share everything! Social media and the digital world is built to share the love! Every blog article you write share it across all social media channels. Write great content that makes others want to share it and guess what? You are viral!

 4.    Treat it like a real business. You need systems in place for success. Set financial goals as well as goals for leads and business won. Close your business out every month and get real about where you are.

5.    Accountability. Hold yourself accountable for your own success, adapt to a NO EXCUSES and no self-inflicted obstacles mentality!

It is human nature to pull back when business is slow or forget marketing is needed when business is booming. When to market is now. It’s proactive and preventative at the same time. Take stock, take control and let’s grow our businesses together! What do you think?

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

Richard Rose, CEO, Kroma Marketing

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You Will Be Judged . . . Or Ignored

Judge-and-JuryAs marketers, we are inclined to take risks. We have to step out of the routine and ordinary in order to help our brand become extraordinary.

Simple right?

…A concept that has been taught, written, and lectured about in our digital marketing age…

But, we forget about the risk that we take so we pursue the safe and comfortable marketing rout. We are afraid we will be judged… or ignored.

Those are pretty much the only two choices.Jim's Plumbing

Being judged is uncomfortable. Snap judgments, prejudices, misinformation… all of these, combined with not enough time (how could there be) to truly know you, means that you will inevitably be misjudged, underestimated (or overestimated) and unfairly rejected if you take bold marketing approaches.

The alternative, of course, is much safer. To be ignored.

Up to you.

Tell us what has worked for your business. We want your comments at Kroma Marketing.

colespriggs

Save the Fonts! Save the World!

Header-image-for-blog

Most people won’t notice a good typeface when they see one, but, most of the time, THAT IS THE POINT! If a website is designed well, the font will portray a feeling to the site that gives your entire site the vibe it deserves. First off, there is no perfect font. Every designer has their favorites, but no designer uses their favorite on even half of their work. So how do we pick the right one? Well, start with not picking a bad one!

Sure there are tons of “fun looking” looking fonts out there that you may think fit exactly what you want to say, but, more often than not, it really is just “fun looking”. The question is: will someone actually read it? In today’s world, it is much too easy to add any font you want to any medium that calls for it.

Here is what to stay away from and why you should stay away from them.

comic-sans

Even though you might love it, this font is bad, bad, bad, bad, baaaad for your site. The appeal is the hand-drawn nature of the font, which may give it that “fun” aspect you are going for. In reality, this font was designed to do just that. Unfortunately, on today’s web, hand written fonts don’t fit in the clean cut digital world. This font is over used and is unappealing to every audience older than 5 years old. What is easier to read: a hand-written three page paper or a typed three page paper with Times New Roman?

Copperplate--Gothic

This font was a poor attempt of modernizing a block print typeface. Lesson on modern typefaces: they are made to be “modern” and we all know “modern” things always expire. This font was created in 1901. Needless to say, it is outdated. Please refrain from old, “modern” fonts.

Brush-Script

NO, NO, NO, NO . . . it does not look like a brush stroke. Once again this is another font that was created to mimic a handwritten feel but with a “50’s large letter” effect. Dated? Yes.

Arial

Maybe Arial is not that bad of a font, but only in a few scenarios. Let’s say you own a sleep therapy company, this is the font for you. Maybe you only want the viewers to look at pictures instead of reading your important information. Either way, this font is BORING. People WILL be uninterested in most everything you have to say, because this font generates no interest at all for your important information.

Papyrus

Ah yes, we almost left out the worst font in the world. This is the third replica of a hand-generated font, and once again, it is over used, hard to read, and just doesn’t look right. Nearly every designer will name this font as one of the top five fonts in the entire world. This font is not only hated, it is loathed entirely.

Do your end user a favor and don’t choose these fonts for paragraph text. They are all very hard to read and are unappealing for your over-all website. Every decision is important for your site. However, if it’s amazing but nobody can read it then what is the point of having a site in the first place? A recent statistic shows that any site that has these five fonts anywhere on it, Google then deletes the site from its search results . . . ok maybe that’s not a real statistic, but it is funny. Don’t get me wrong, any font can be used correctly, but do the web world a favor and use a good font. Save the fonts, save the world!

What are your thoughts on fonts? We would love to know! Kroma Marketing

lukecoselmon

In Denial

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” —C. Northcote Parkinson 

De · ni · al:  a river in Egypt; refusal to admit the truth or reality. (Merriam-Webster)

Probably one of the biggest examples of denial in recent history is the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, the denial of terrorism “poster child”. It’s denial at its worst, albeit. There isn’t any upside to denial at all other than blissful apathy until the realization of what the denial has wrought. It really is bad news all around.

In business, denial will most likely lead to financial failure. Yet businesses are still in denial regarding not only the need but the necessity of social media on a daily basis. Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report “The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” [Report PDF; sponsored by SAS] discovered that most of the commitment to social is future-oriented. The report went on to say, “Although 79% of the 2,100 companies surveyed are either using or planning to use social media channels, a measly 12% of those firms feel that they are using them effectively.” Only 12%. Pitiful, when you think about how brands are being represented on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, to name a few.

But is it just the non-use of social media that makes business efforts ineffective or the fact that there is still not an “all in” belief in the necessity of social? Rob Ployhart, a professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, believes there is a “skepticism” in social media because companies haven’t seen the data showing the return on investment from social media. Ployhart says the ROI data will most likely be available within the next three to five years, making social media more credible in the eyes of some businesses.

Until then, what does a company have to do to engage in the social impact of business? Believe. They have to put their faith in it and engage in it daily or they’ll be left standing on the sidelines in their cynicism.

The facts are all there. Businesses engaged in social media are investing in their own future. Ployhart says, “In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology. I’d be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage.”

The experts are all saying the same thing:  businesses that are engaging in social media have the upper hand.

It’s almost 2013. What’s on the horizon, then, for engaging in social media in business?

According to Simon Mainwaring, New York Times bestseller We First and social branding consultant to Fortune 100 brands, “Every company or institution must now function as a social brand due to the mass adoption and penetration of social media in our lives as citizen and customers (and by social brand I mean an organization that uses and engages in a real time dialogue with its customers using mobile, social and gaming technologies to build its reputation, profits and social impact.)”

So, if you are in business and you are in denial of the social media bull breathing down your neck, don’t turn around. Just get on the social media train and ride it all the way into the station. That’s where you’ll find relevant business being done. Welcome to the new world.

Are you in denial or are you using social media in business? We would love to hear from you. Kroma Marketing.

Happy Thanks-Giving!

What are you looking at!?

Ever get that feeling that the “Happy” in “Happy Thanksgiving” isn’t so happy? Think about the last few years. People have lost their jobs left and right. Gas prices couldn’t be higher (oh man, don’t jinx it!). Sandy. Obamacare.  Ke$ha. Let’s just stop there.

As we approach this holiday season, and I mean HOLIDAY (since we have 5 shopping weeks, not 4) since Black Friday seems to have taken over the calendar to become “Black Part of November and Most of December”, let’s take a moment to think about the things for which we are grateful, and let’s NOT include the YouTube video of that “It’s Thanksgiving” girl! I know this sounds very rudimentary but sometimes we need to go back to the basics and acknowledge the people who are a part of our business.

Customers or clients would be number one—without them, well, you know. What is it that makes them believe in you and your business to cause them to stick around? Look at the relationship you’ve created. What do you do that sets you apart from your competitors, those little differences, engagements and practices you need to repeat with future customers? Be grateful you still got it! How can you show them your thanks?

Direct reports,  the front liners, the doers and movers. Ok, not every one of them is your favorite but what does each employee bring that is unique to them and which only they can provide? Be grateful you’ve got these people! How can you thank them, every day? Sometimes we need to act like we have the greatest business in the world with the best employees and the most amazing clients. If we do, we may just raise the bar, and they may just jump high enough to clear it.

“If your treat an individual… as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will BECOME what he ought to be and could be.”  Johann Wofgang von Geothe

It’s like the trainers at Sea World. I heard it asked how they train these giant mammals to jump in the air as if they are floating over the training pole. The trainer explained that they start with the bar under the water and of course reward them every time they go over it. They keep raising the bar until a 20 foot long, 4 ton Orca is jumping 20 feet over the water. If the trainer wasn’t holding fish to entice the whale, do you think that whale would jump? No!

Then why expect people working for us or with us to do their jobs without appreciation or thanks. It really isn’t rocket science, but we act like it’s the toughest thing in the world to stop what we’re doing and let people know we appreciate what they do.

Let’s just do it every day—say thanks for the small things and before you know it, they’ll be sailing high above the level they were.

How will you be thanking your clients, employees, coworkers for Thanksgiving? Here at Kroma Marketing, we’re having Thanksgiving Dinner together, with maybe a little “thanks giving” in the conversation!

Happy Thanks-Giving!

Epitaph

George Lewis – When The Saints Go Marching In

Yesterday I went to a funeral. I know you must be thinking, “Why in the world do I want to read a blog about going to a funeral?” But it wasn’t just any funeral. It was a celebration of a man my family has known for many years, who has impacted his world, who has made an impression so great, people from all over the world wrote epitaphs of love, honor, and respect. If you had been sitting there and hadn’t known him, you would be able to walk out of that church with a great admiration for the man.

It got me thinking, what do I want people saying about me when I’m gone? And what about you–what do you want people to say about you when you are gone?

But why plan for the end of life when you could plan for now; so what do you want people saying about you tomorrow? And what about your business–what do you want people saying about your business tomorrow?

It doesn’t have to take a funeral to put things in perspective. Or does it?

I think by now you’ve read the statements regarding the importance of social media. If you aren’t using social media for business, you could be playing your own funeral dirge . . . soon.

Jeremy Blanton in The Social Revolution says,“The ROI of Social Media is your business will still exist in 5 years,”and he said that in June of 2011.  Eric Qualman said in May 2010, “Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.” He also said, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” We are almost in 2013. Watch this:  http://youtu.be/QUCfFcchw1w

It’s not too late but you’ve got to jump on board now or you could be hearing this soon:

Magnificent Sevenths – Funeral Procession: In the Sweet Bye and Bye

Talk to us . . . does social media make you feel impending doom or celebration? We can help you celebrate and embrace the future instead of dread it. www.kromamarketing.com

Emotional Investment . . . Emotional Capital

Upon sending our daughter off to her first school homecoming dance with a boy we hardly know, I realized the emotional investment it took to prepare her and us for this giant leap and to making sure she was safe and in good hands. Of course, my husband made sure to grip the boy’s hand, make eye contact with him, pull him in a little and say “Make sure my daughter gets home safe, son.” All the while, my husband was grinning a little evil grin to remind the babbling boy that he knew where to find him should anything happen to her.

Emotional investment . . . emotional capital. In the age of social media becoming one of the greatest influences on how we do business and how we market business, we need to pay attention to the things we do to invest emotionally in making our business a success so that the emotional capital that is gained is positive. Since social media has come into play, it’s more important than ever to realize the immediacy of what we do to invest in connecting with the customer.

First coined by Coca-Cola president Steven J. Heyer, “emotional capital” is the value of the feelings and perceptions held by the customer towards your business.  I can think of nothing that will influence that value more in today’s business than social media. Our investment in connecting with our audience through the social arms of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or blogging through Reddit, Tumblr, Blogger, or sharing media through Instagram, Youtube, or Flickr will say everything about how our business values knowing our customers and what they want.

In “The Key to Social Media Success Within Organizations” Huy and Shipilov explain the study they did to see what resonated with organizations internally that builds emotional capital. They found that there are four components that make the difference to the internal customer:

  • Authenticity
  • Pride
  • Attachment
  • Fun

What if we marketed our business the same way to our external customer and used social media to do it? What would that look like?

1. We would create connection with the customer through our blogging or posts that reveal the authenticity of who we are as a business and what we really want them to know and to feel as a customer.

2. We would show our pride in the quality of what we produce as a business by displaying it through our social networks and how we interact with and treat the customer in going above and beyond their expectations.

3. We would connect with the customer on a more personal level to show that we as a business are committed to attachment with them for the longer term.

4. We would show the fun side of the company through Youtube or Facebook and how we as a company are just people too through celebrations and achievements we have made along the way.

Emotional capital can be a positive or negative value. If we are to make it positive, we need to invest in social media to make it happen. The customer is watching to see if you are committed to connecting with them. If you don’t show up on the social media scene, that will be their answer.

Let us help you make that connection. www.kromamarketing.com

The ROI Mammoth or “Aaaaagggggghhhhhhh, this ROI blog is going to kill me!”

As a blogger, I pride myself on good research, creative content and being relevant. For this week’s Kroma blog, I was asked by my boss to write on the ROI (Return On Investment) of digital design. Inside I thought, “Uh oh. That doesn’t sound like as much fun as what I’ve written on, oh . . ., up until NOW!” But, I thought, “Ok, maybe it will be a great time to brush up on this ROI thing and learn something that will help our clients understand it.” Hours of research later, late nights with coffee stains on my shirt, bleary eyed, frustrated, and nowhere close to a final blog copy here I am; empty.

What I have learned is that the ROI idea is huge, very ethereal to a lot of people and it’s very relative to the object of its assessment. Just what is the return value? In fact, there are bloggers out there who say that ROI is such a broad idea that we sometimes ask the wrong question:  What is the ROI of such and such? When the real question should be:  Did such and such turn out to be worth doing?

In Social Media and ROI: Some clarity. (Again.) Olivier Blanchard says, “ROI went from being a simple financial calculation of investment vs. gain from investment to becoming any number of made-up equations mixing unrelated metrics into a mess of nonsense . . . They measure nothing. Their aim is to confuse and extract legal tender from unsuspecting clients, nothing more. Don’t fall for it.” Wow, well that just instills confidence, doesn’t it?!

I think the main thing I learned on this ROI quest was that value is relative. What return we get, depends. (Don’t you hate it when you ask someone something and all they can say is “It depends.”) It depends on what you expected of the investment as to the value it gains. It depends on the formula you use to calculate the ROI. (Apparently there are various calculations. Very confusing!) There’s also the value that isn’t inherent to the outcome i.e. not monetary but still valuable. All in all, there really isn’t a clear cut way to determine the ROI of anything unless you determine what it is you are looking to calculate in the first place. So, it just depends.

If you aren’t much clearer on ROI, you’re in good company. Let’s commit to this:  know your product, see the value as more than a monetary input or outcome, and determine ahead ”What is value?”

Talk to us. Let us know your questions on ROI or marketing or social media. We can help you sort all this out for your company, here at Kroma Marketing.

The Digital Turning Point

Let’s start by taking a quick look at history, the evolution and adaptation of the consumer, and… ultimately your new customer. In 1936, in the wake of the Great Depression, consumers began to work and shop like never before.  The growth of factories masked the rumble of the Second World War in Europe. People began to shop and spend like never before. It was seen as patriotic, a way to bring the US to its feet.

The 50’s and 60’s brought on the selling generation. The hard sale was the only sale to make. Door to door salesmen and keeping up with the Jones was all the rage. What you wanted was driven by your neighbors and what you could buy was dictated by the stores in your city. What helped to increase our spending? Why, the credit card!

Then television began to create an insatiable appetite for more! Bigger! Better! We started to want things that we could never have, let alone never knew about.

Our desires for new products lead the greatest spike in our purchasing when the influence of the internet spread nationwide. Not only where we pushed to buy a product we didn’t need, we could purchase that product in the comfort of our home with the click of a few buttons.

We were a consumer culture that had profligate excess. By 2006, one in ten U.S. households was renting a self-storage unit to hold our piles of “stuff” (New Consumer).

Then in 2007 it all came crashing down. In the cusp of our current recession, we began to see a historic shift in the behavior of consumers. We are witnessing a broad and fundamental movement away from mindless hyper consumerism and an approach that has shifted our society to conscious, purposeful spending.

So what does this mean?

People still want more, but they are defining that differently.

“72% of people are shopping more carefully and mindfully than they used to” (RSCG)

“70% respect people who live simply” (U.S. World Report)

Our discontent has led to a new outlook on life.

“72% are making an effort to improve their life” (RSCG)

“50% of people have re-imagined their life on a simpler level” (SNC)

We shop with a purpose.

“69% claim to be a smarter, more cautious buyer than they were a few years ago” (RSCG)

“62% of consumers will do lots of research and screening online before they ever make a purchase” (U.S. World Report)

There is no doubt that we are in the mists of a new consumer. This isn’t just the 20 something’s or rowdy teenagers; this is a shift in buying habits that has affected us all.

We demand engagement and information to be at our finger tips. We have lost our trust in the big cooperation’s and we verify everything.

Now I could go into far greater depth over the subject matter, but the bottom line is that consumers have begun to shop differently. And, if your business has not started to realize this cataclysmic shift then you have failed to see the crash of your business.

Give your consumers what they demand. Engage and inform. Be authentic and transparent. Let them research your identity online only to find the completely genuine company that you are. Go digital, the right way, and you won’t be let down.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Positive and NEGITVE comments are welcome!

(If you would like further information on this subject you can contact us or check out thenewconsumer.com and read “The Soul of the New Consumer” by David Lewis & Derren Bridger. I highly recommend them!)

Sources: thenewconsumer.com, U.S. World Report, Euro RSCG Worldwide, and Soul of the New Consumer.