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strategy

Go Lady Gaga Over Your Small Business

Lady GagaWe are a boring lot.

And sometimes in business, boring is good.

But none of us are Disney.

We are the scrappy startups.  The overlooked niche player.  The guys and gals battling with a lot similar folks for the attention of a media- saturated market.

This is tough stuff.

But at some point you have to ditch the me-too approach and at least for one moment experience the freedom of being different.

Not just different for different’s sake.

That’s dumb.

But different with a purpose.

That’s Gaga.

If you have the skills to back it up (like the woman above who’s been playing the piano since 4 and singing in nightclubs since 14) there really is no excuse to step up your game when it comes to marketing.

Find something, ANYTHING to set yourself apart.

People can get your service anywhere, your product is already in the market, there are not a lot of NEEDS out there.

The way you say what you offer makes a difference.

You’re going to have to say something.  You’re going to have to let people know you exist.

So why are we being so boring?

Because we’re afraid.

We don’t know what our brand stands for.

We sell everyone on features and skip the benefits.

We go through the motions to keep the lights on.

And we don’t think big enough.

If you are in a rut, think of a 24 year old woman who in 24 months went from an unknown to the biggest pop icon on the planet because she had some skills and dared to expose her freaky side.

Be really really good at what you do.

Be daring too.

Then everyone…

Will want to know you.

Why You Should Consider Big Head Design

Big Head DesignYou know your website needs a lot of work.

You must get going on social media.

You need to jazz up your print.

You want a new marketing strategy, a fresh approach.

You want to make people stop, look and listen in this fast-paced new media world.

There are a lot of companies clamoring for this kind of work.

But it all comes down to trust, doesn’t it?

If you have a small business in Orange County, or anywhere else for that matter, we recommend you consider Big Head Design.

Why?

Because Justin Moore-Brown, the principal behind Big Head Design, will go above and beyond what your average marketer/designer will do.

And he will do it in style and enthusiasm, with a smart, strategic focus.

We know he’ll do a great job.

He created the award-winning (Hermes Creative) logo for this site, for example.

What kind of a guy is he?

The smart, enthusiastic, creative, I-have-a-plan kind.

The kind you can absolutely trust.

Follow him here to find out more or visit Big Head Design here.

Door to Door Dinosaur

Door to Door Dinosaur

Last Friday night, my son and I were reading his favorite book, “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?”.

It was 8:30 PM.

The doorbell rang.

I went downstairs and opened the door to find…a dinosaur…holding a business card and a flier.

He proceeded to ask me a series of very well-rehearsed open-ended questions.

It seems he was with the local dry cleaner.

And apparently they had fallen on very tough times.

They were facing  extinction.

Some meteors had hit.

Meteors like inbound marketingpermission marketing and mobile marketing.

They were scared.

So they were knocking on doors, desperately seeking assistance.

But I couldn’t help the dinosaur.

Because he knew nothing about meteors.

So I told him I would call him later.

And teach him.

10 Ways to Close The Expectations Gap

Sometimes I really hate marketing.

Because, well, sometimes it’s downright embarrassing (see left).

Usually because of a huge disconnect between what a business claims to be and what it actually is.

It’s why a lot of non-marketing people hate marketing too.

It’s all bullshit, they say.

So what can you do about it?

How can you square the image you present with the product you provide?

Here are some ideas:

1. Shut down the dream machine.
It’s great to dream big. Everyone gets excited about their business being a massive success and making them rich. But the fantasy can interrupt you daily duties when you see how far away you really are.  So get humble. Set little goals and then big ones. You can still be a tiger.  Just eat the elephant one bite at a time.

2. Thank your lucky stars.

You are here.  You have an idea.  You have skills.  You have customers.  You are healthy.  Now take all that appreciation and share it with your customers.  Help them to appreciate what they might be overlooking.  Help them to get excited about the mundane.  You can do mundane right?

3.  Set goals but be flexible too.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Set the course early, agree on it, pivot if you need to.

4.  Communicate, overcommunicate, communicate again.

Sometimes you don’t want to talk to the customer because it’s an invitation for criticism.  But even if they just want to vent you’ll accomplish something by generating a little goodwill.  That’s gonna close the gap too.

5.  Let them know who you are at the outset.

It’s like any relationship. You don’t want to base it on a lie.  If you can’t do something, say you can’t or find someone who can.

6.  Make sure they know who they are.

This is where you can easily get tripped up.  You may want the business but you know your client is in fantasy land.   That’s just going to come back to haunt you.  Because they may just end up transferring their fantasies about themselves and put them on to you.

7.  Be an adult.

No one is going to save you.  There is no dream client.  This is all about working hard and staying the course and sticking to your principles which leads to…

8.  Know what your values are.

Stand for something.  Stick to your principles. If you show them early then no one is going to be confused later.  This may require some thought and quiet time to figure out.  It will be the best time you ever spent.

9.  Choose an end date, and end it.

Hit the goal, get paid and move on.  If they want to renew then they can.  Don’t let the relationship drag on.  Absence make the heart grow fonder.  If they appreciate you they will come back.  In the meantime, there are lots of fish in the sea.

10.  Remind them what you’ve done.

They will forget.  They will take you for granted.   Find a clever way to remind them how awesome you are.  It’s amazing how well this works, especially if you do it tongue in cheek.

Two Guys One Fiesta and No Fear

So my buddy Justin Moore-Brown, aka @BigHeadAsian on Twitter, aka  my partner at OCJobTalk, has launched his latest project with his friend Anthony called twoguysonefiesta.

It is their attempt to be chosen as Ford Fiesta Agents, which I guess means they get a car to drive around for free in exchange for promoting it online.

Sounds pretty sweet!

If you go to their site you can tell they just flat out GET IT when it comes to social media.

They are self-deprecating, fun and passionate about the product.

What more could Ford want?

Good luck guys!

Social Media is the Elephant in the Room

elephantThere is no denying that 2009 was  the year of social media.

The explosion of Twitter and the continued growth of Facebook (now with over 350 million members) has led even the most hardened marketing critics to one inescapable conclusion:

Social media is here to stay.

The question to ask yourself is what the hell are you going to do about it.

I saw way too many toes in the water this year and lots of half-hearted efforts.

Mostly by old-school business owners who can’t get past the fact their entire way of advertising and promoting themselves has experienced a seismic shift.

And their only way of responding is to shout ROI ROI ROI!

That’s all well and good and it is true that unplanned, ill-conceived social media practices yield very little.

But that also assumes you are willing to play the game we have agreed to play.

You can get a return on your investment but first you have to make the investment.

Then we have to agree on some kind of strategy.

Then we will measure what is truly important, not what you think is important.

And after all that, if we don’t make any headway, then you can say that social media does not pay for itself.

No one in this space has ever declared themselves to be a social media expert, for the mere fact that social media has no future as an independent silo.  It is simply an aspect of the future of PR, communications and marketing.

As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet in a few years we will look back at the term social media and “social media expert” and chuckle, like a lot of early adopters have been for awhile.

The bottom line is that you have to do something about it and ignoring it will not work.

All communications and marketing is now social.

There is no more one-way conversation.

So you have a choice.

You can join in on that conversation, or you can take a seat on the couch.

Although, there’s not much room there.