competitive advantage, differentiation, marketing consultant

Why It Literally Pays To Be Different

I recently consulted with a small business that was having difficulty maintaining a steady stream of customers and revenues.  There is a very crowded marketplace for this business’ services, i.e., many other businesses offer very similar services in the same geography and some are franchises of much larger chains, and therefore, likely have access to marketing activities available through their central organization/office.

After assessing this small business’ competition — something I do as part of my standard pre-work for a conversation with any organization looking for assistance with their marketing — I pointed out to this small business owner that, if they had any chance of succeeding at all in their over-crowded marketplace, they would really need to identify what differentiates them from their competitors, particularly since they did not want their differentiator to be lower/better pricing than their competitors. Then, they would need to market and create awareness of that difference.

A caution and a challenge regarding identifying and promoting your difference from competitors — your differentiating attributes must be something your target audience values, and if you’re the high-cost provider of a product and service, then, in addition, your target audience has to value those attributes significantly enough to be willing to pay extra for those services.

I attended a Webinar this week on how to grow a successful consulting practice. While as a marketing professional, I have spent countless hours trying to identify, and then figure out how to promote, program/product/service differences for a variety of organizations in a variety of industries, the Webinar was a good reinforcement that as a consultant I need to heed the same advice I give my clients. I’ve got to offer something unique and different from all the other management consultants out there.  Fortunately, I launched my business with that awareness and understanding. You can learn more about why I view my organization to be different from my competitors by reading Results’ first newsletter.

My husband and I are big fans of Ray Davies of Kinks’ fame and of his song “I’m Not Like Everybody Else“. There are many benefits to not being like everybody else, and for a small business owner they can be huge financial ones, as long as not being like everybody else and the reasons for it, are favorably viewed by your target audience.

brand promise, competitive advantage, differentiation, marketing consultant, Memorability, Passion, taglines

To Tag or Not to Tag?

When creating new branding — whether it’s updating and refreshing an existing brand or a brand-new brand 🙂 — marketeers are always faced with the question that has plagued generations of marketing professionals:  whether or not to incorporate a tagline in an organization’s branding.

As with all life decisions and activities, there are pros and cons to incorporating a tagline. I have zero doubt that Nike would enjoy the strong reputation and revenues it has achieved without its “Just Do It” tagline. Who wouldn’t be inspired by or motivated to purchase a product associated with that message?  When I had to choose a company’s advertising to analyze in graduate school, I chose Nike because I found their messaging so likable and upbeat. How can you not like their ad messages and taglines that encourage everyone to be their best — regardless of their life status, their age, their gender, their athletic capabilities, or their love or skills for one sport over another?

I just listened to a video about why the ad agency that came up with Nike’s tagline — and yes, it’s so powerful and timeless  that it has now been in use for more than 25 years — and the gentleman who generated the phrase and proposed it for Nike’s advertising suggested it because he saw the power of it being able to unite a variety of proposed ads addressing diverse sports interests.  Nike is probably one of the best representatives  for a big “pro” of including taglines in branding.  A memorable and moving tagline can support interest in and pull together diverse program and product lines and provoke immediate recognition of  and positive emotion toward an advertiser.

On the “con” sign, the biggest challenge with a tagline, particularly if it’s part of a logo and/or associated with your larger corporate brand/identity versus an individual program or product is that it can weigh you down sometimes if it’s too limiting and really doesn’t apply to all your programs or services, if it doesn’t make sense to your target audience, or if target audiences simply don’t like or agree with it.  I think we’ve all read some taglines and said “what?” to ourselves. Those responsible for creating taglines need to be sure to think objectively and even consider testing their proposed tagline on their target audience to ensure effectiveness and appropriateness.

And, that leads me to Results’ tagline.  You’ll see I haven’t incorporated it officially into my branding or logo. As a new business, I’m still getting the “bugs” out of mine, and it varies slightly when I need to give my elevator pitch unexpectedly.  But, it goes something like this — “maximizing results through research-supported marketing activities”.  Yeah, it’s long, but I do believe it’s truly reflects Results’ philosophy that research should be conducted and/or considered before marketing implementing activities, and without a doubt, conducted during and after the activity is occurring. Learn more here.

You’ll see I love Jimmy Dean’s “Shine On” tagline and have included that in my “About Us” message because I find that tagline to be inspirational and believe others to do.

Not so much for a marketing decision or education purpose, but more just to inspire yourself today and in future days to step outside your comfort zone, take a few minutes to watch this Nike ad video.  Just Do It.

 

 

keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, staying current

My Hands-On Refresher Course

 

 

school girl

 

(image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

One of the many benefits of starting my own business is that, while I have a couple of individuals who are assisting me with research and lead generation, I am the one developing, researching, and launching any marketing activities to create awareness of and grow my consulting business.

As you would expect, like most strong marketing professionals, I worked my way up from more junior marketing positions to more senior ones.  Despite having earned an M.B.A. — where I focused on marketing electives such as marketing research, product strategy, advertising, and marketing operations — I hadn’t studied marketing as an undergrad or worked in marketing prior to my graduation from B.U.’s  Graduate School of Management; I had to pay my dues at the ground level.  But, I welcomed it and am glad I had the experience, so I could learn all the “ins and outs” of both traditional and digital marketing and communications.

There is definitely great value in being the one who has to do the hands-on work of using a web site content management system to launch new pages, of establishing a social media profile/page in Twitter or Facebook, or of writing ad copy for Google paid search/pay-for-click advertising.  While as Digital Marketing Manager at a health plan, I was very involved in all the details of digital/online activities, served as digital champion and sought senior leader buy-in to embrace the new and growing world of social and digital media, once I was promoted to director, I found myself more removed from all the intricacies of online presence and more involved in strategy/bigger picture decisions. While as Principal of Results, I’ll always need to determine and drive my business’ strategy, I’m glad to be back in the trenches getting my hands dirty implementing marketing tactics.

Having to launch and oversee Results’ day-to-day online activities myself has been a great hands-on refresher course. Constant Contact continues to improve its offerings and tools for small businesses, and things in the world of social media and online advertising are ever-evolving, so it’s been both interesting and educational to be involved in online activities from start-to-finish.  It’s been great to have to reacquaint myself with and consider just how does a company improve its rankings among search engine results (something I thought of all the time in the aforementioned Digital Marketing Manager position)?  It had been a while since I thought about SEO (search engine optimization), but thinking about it related to my own business and well as a commercial real estate firm client has been a fabulous reminder of all the many variables, such as social media presence, links to and from your web site, and key word tagging of web pages, that impact search ranking results on Google and Bing.

In addition, investigating advertising and business development opportunities to grow my own business has reminded me of all the collateral, information, and support tool needs of a sales force and the very hard, as well as creative work required, to develop and maintain customers.  And, it has caused me to revisit more traditional advertising opportunities available to smaller businesses that I employed in the years when I oversaw marketing activities for a community bank, such as local publication and movie theater advertising.

I am really enjoying the journey of both  learning what’s new and familiarizing myself with old tactics and tools, and I believe it will only enhance what I can bring to small business clients, and start-ups, in particular.  I’ll be up-to-speed on what it takes to launch a business, create awareness, generate sales, and eventually grow revenues because I’ll have built a house, renovated it along the way, and hopefully, if I’m successful, will be able to put on some additions. I look forward to helping small business owners see their dream home come to life!

 

 

brand promise, marketing consultant, mission statement

Keeping Up the Fight

As I’ve expressed to friends and family members, I want my new venture, “Results Communications and Research” to be about so much more than making money. Having known some really strong fighters — several are no longer with us, but many are — I want to offer as well as be a source of inspiration to those who find themselves having to fight hard to stay emotionally and physically well.  I want to “pay it forward” to thank all those who inspired and supported me when I needed it most — through my battle with cancer and subsequent health issues resulting from cancer surgeries and treatment — and be a light in the darkness to those who need it.fighter girl

(image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

In keeping (hah, hah) with the above, I have created a “Keep Up the Fight” page here at allintheresults.com where I plan to share inspirational words and music, and honor inspirational people and organizations  — individuals and teams of individuals that refuse to let life’s challenges beat them or beat down the vulnerable populations they serve.

I hope you’ll visit this page when you find yourself in need of inspiration. Maybe you’re struggling with the demands of caring for an elderly parent or a sick loved one, maybe you’re feeling ill yourself, maybe you find yourself in a difficult employment situation, or maybe you just need some inspiration to keep up with the financial and physical demands of 21st century lifestyles. Regardless, I hope you’ll visit this page regularly, make suggestions for additions to the page — whether they be quotes, songs, people, or organizations you admire or that inspire — and that you’ll share this page with others who may need it.

I’ve already made a couple of additions this week based on items that friends told me inspire them.  Thank you!

I’ll look forward to learning more about what inspires you when you need it most, so please do share it with me at gail.moraski@allintheresults.com.

Importance of taking break, keeping a balance, marketing consultant

The De-Grid Pledge

I was so inspired by an article I read in “Shape Magazine’s”  May edition last night that, as soon as I got situated in my home office this morning, I had to share its reminders and insights.  You’re probably thinking I’m going to blog about how to change poor exercise or eating behaviors, but this post is about another widespread behavior that could be equally, if not more, damaging to the health of individuals across the Globe — what I call “grid syndrome”, the need to always be “on the grid” or connected.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t read, thought, or taken action related to the ideas and concerns in the aforementioned article (“Get Phone Smart”) before.  But, I’ve been giving a lot more thought recently to the  impact of  “grid syndrome”, and this may be the last “alert” I needed to put new healthy behaviors in place — consistently and permanently.  I believe this “Shape” piece was one of the more comprehensive ones I’ve read on the constant-need-to-be-connected topic. It reminds readers of both the professional and personal impact of feeling the need to always be “plugged into” the outside world — whether it be with friends, family, or strangers — via the internet.

While I was a very early adopter of “LinkedIn” and “Twitter”, and a fairly early adopter of “FacebooK’ compared to many of my friends and family members, I have become both a bit leary and weary of all forms of social media.  I don’t like the way I have to pay homage to/”feed” them all the time, and therefore, how they make me feel somewhat imprisoned.  It’s a good thing to have a lot of friends, particularly in the world of social media, but what if work, family, health, and other needs, don’t allow you to read and respond to the hundreds of updates that friends and acquaintances post, particularly on “Facebook”? Are you a bad friend?  Have you missed the one opportunity to learn about some really important occurrence in a family member’s or friend’s life?  My thought and hope is “no” and “no”.

Let’s all ‘fess up.  How many times a day do we feel the need or desire to post the smallest of thoughts or activities on social media for validation that it was a smart/good thought, or a heroic, important deed or action? How did we survive in the days prior to social media without validation from so many close and not-so-close acquaintances? Looking back on my internet-free days, I feel confident in saying that, for reinforcement related to less impactful thoughts or actions, we did a quick check-in with ourselves, and for the bigger life thoughts and actions, we reached out to friends and family members via phone or in-person for support or feedback.  And, didn’t the self check-in build confidence in ourselves, and the family/friend check-ins build stronger relationships?

This past weekend, I visited Boston’s wonderful Museum of Fine Arts for the fabulous annual “Art in Bloom” event with several women I have known for thirty years now.  During our lunch break to fuel up for more art and flower arrangement viewing and chit-chat, I posed a question I’d been pondering regarding “Facebook” — were people starting to be feel the way I was, and that I had heard people were feeling, i.e., burnt out on it?  Two of my lunchmates chimed in immediately that “yes”, they were, and I think all of us present wouldn’t have traded our wonderful day together for hundreds of shared posts on “Facebook”.  We are friends that hung out frequently  in our early twenties, before major life changes like marriage, children, demanding jobs, moves, etc. lessened the frequency of get-togethers.  It was the early-to-late-1980’s, when mobile phones were only for the very wealthy and the internet wasn’t even something we could possibly dream of or anticipate.  But, somehow, and quite successfully, we made plans to meet up or travel together to the “Jukebox” in Boston, the former “Chevy’s” in Quincy, Duxbury Beach, cross-country skiing in New Hampshire, or a road trip to Falmouth, without e-mail, cell phones, Facebook, or texting!  And part of the fun was calling one friend to ask if they were able to reach another friend — by  phone or in-person, of course — to alert them of that evening’s or weekend’s plans.  There was an excitement and energy to making all the arrangements that brought as much fun and camaraderie as participating in the activity itself.

It’s so fun to reminisce about a less complex and “freer” time, and that brings me back to the personal and professional impacts of “grid syndrome”.  As they pointed out in the “Shape” article as well as many others I’ve read, doesn’t it truly take away from your enjoyment of a day visiting a local farm, traveling to the seashore, or watching a play-off game, if you are constantly thinking about what witty remark you’ll post, or if you feel the constant need to take photos to upload vs. just enjoying the event by yourself or with loved ones?  I strongly believe that it does. And, what about the professional impact of always being plugged in?  As the aforementioned article and other publications have pointed out, many individuals have found themselves more sleep-deprived and anxious as a result of feeling the need to be constantly “plugged-in”.  The lure of reading that one last “Facebook” post, sending a status update, as well as the bright light of computer screens and cell phones keep us up or our minds racing later than would be ideal for functioning well in the morning.

While it would seem contradictory, stepping away from work e-mail at a reasonable hour, say no later than 8 p.m., will in the long run make you a better manager, employee, business owner, etc.  Because, as the article explains, you’ll arrive at work more rested — leading to better performance, idea generation, and enthusiasm — attributes your employer or your clients are sure to value.

Because I am both a business owner and a marketing consultant, without a doubt, you will still find me tweeting and posting about marketing issues.  And, you’ll still see me using all forms of social media to share what I believe to be information that helps others — whether it be a health and wellness tip, a link to support a charity, or some other information that keeps people safe and healthy — because this is what I believe is the true value of social media, and the internet, in general — to spread information that will help others.

In recent months, I’ve cut back my “personal”  participation in “Facebook”.  I still post regularly on my “business” “Facebook” page at allintheresults.  I’ve always tended to go in spurts on the personal posting side anyhow. I wanted to see how much I would miss it and if I would feel less anxious if I stayed away from it. Not enough time has passed to draw a conclusion, so I plan to continue my experiment to lessen my exposure to “grid syndrome” triggers and see what the results are — very much in keeping with my love of research and analytic nature! I don’t consider myself a social media addict, but then again, that’s a common cry among addicts.

What I’m pledging here, and I ask my friends, family, and colleagues to hold me to this, and to strongly consider taking the De-grid Pledge:

  1. Unless a non-movable, tight work deadline requires it, I won’t use a computer, cell phone or other hand-held device for work-related purposes after 8 p.m.
  2. I won’t use a computer, cell phone or other hand-held device for personal/social interactions after 9 p.m, but preferably, will de-grid even earlier in the evening.
  3. I’ll be fully present and engaged in any social/fun activities with family or friends, and not think about what I’m going to post or share about it online.
  4. I’ll employ more “old-fashioned” means of staying updated with friends – calls to land lines, breakfast/lunch/coffee/walk get-togethers, cards, and letters, and spontaneous visits (with a quick call ahead of time, of course :)).

I’m hoping to generate some lively discussion on this topic,  and that some of you will pledge to join me in my pledge. I’d love to hear what other components should be added to this pledge.  And, I can’t wait to check in six months from now to see and learn who is sleeping better, is less stressed and anxious, and who’s enjoyed the wonderful daily activities of life as God meant them to be.