Small Business

I'm really tired of people thinking that their logo is their brand. No...that's your brand image. Your brand is also not your tagline or your style or anything else that has to do with how you look. The best definition of a brand these days is that it's your customer's perception of your product, service, company or person. 

Don't feel dumb if you ask this question. We took a few weeks in my masters program at WVU to dive into this very question. In marketing, almost everything is squishy and this is probably the squishiest part. I bopped around my favorite sites and didn't find anyone with a really concrete definition of "strategy" vs "tactic" (even the dictionary is pretty ambiguous) so let's work with this one: 

This weekend I was having breakfast with a stockbroker friend of mine who told me he thought my job must be really stressful, and asked how I dealt with it. A broker in this economy and market thinks MY job is stressful? I brushed it off, telling him I used to be in IT and this was nothing compared to working with a bunch of left-brained gearheads. In fact, I only have one token friend in technology now, and that's Gerard McClean. It's all I can handle. But he pressed me about it and so I told him. I meditate. I meditate all the time. No, I don't get in a lotus position and chant "Om". First of all, I have arthritis and these knees won't bend anywhere close to that. And I'm not very good at it and I get distracted when I'm doing it. But I try to do it once a day at least. And the difference in my stress level is pretty incredible. Years ago, I was in a horrible marriage and terribly depressed. The antidepressants they gave me literally made me crazy and I jumped out the window. Since it was the first floor, I was okay, but still had to find a way around the depression after I dusted the leaves off my butt. (I have a neighbor who thinks I'm absolutely nuts. I don't blame him.)  I went on retreat and met a former Catholic nun turned Buddhist taught me how to meditate. And I've been doing it ever sense. Here's how. 

[caption id="attachment_3964" align="alignright" width="300" caption="This is a Filofax."][/caption] I've had a couple of experiences recently that have made really question whether information is really a competitive edge anymore. I'm not talking about proprietary recipes, or things that can be copyrighted. I'm talking about the kind of information that USED to be a gold mine and is now available to everyone if they look hard enough.  Information is no longer for's for sharing. Collectively we can get better and make more money. For example, when I was in sales 100 years ago we kept our client lists very secret. Those relationships and those names were to be guarded with our lives. A colleague of mine once left his Filofax at a bar after a networking event at a bar. Our manager almost fired him, sure that our competition had snapped it up and were busy calling his contacts. Even names of producers used to be sacrosanct...only to be known by those publicists in the "in" crowd. I don't think we can use information as a competitive edge anymore. Anybody can buy a subscription to Cision and find out who to pitch. HARO goes out multiple times daily with key information that used to be shared among only a select number of people. Company LinkedIn pages often list key managers. It's all OUT there already. Why should we pay for it? 

Andy Boyd is works in the credit card industry. But you can still trust him.  Do you own a small business? If so, there is a good chance you are facing an uphill battle when it comes to your marketing campaign. But as we all know, getting your message in front of the right people is essential to your long term success. The way that you do this depends on many factors including your industry, knowledge, and overall goals. Why not take marketing cues from companies that are currently running successful campaigns? For example, credit card companies are well known for marketing their products with a high level of success. By taking the principles of what they are doing and combining with your current strategy, you can formulate a plan that will yield the results you have been searching for. Here are three ways that credit card companies market themselves. As a small business, you can learn from these strategies.

Thanks to Gareth Boyd, Beth and Brandy for their wonderful guest posts this week, allowing me to take my first real vacation in 10 years. The key to making money online is the ability to convert your traffic into sales. Contrary to popular belief, traffic is the easy part of internet business. The ability to convert that traffic into money is what sets the pros apart from everyone else. The following is a list of seven tips to analyse your traffic and increase conversions. 1- Use a heatmap program for your website. There are a variety of options, but a heatmap will show you where your clients are moving looking and where they're clicking.

Thanks to Brandy Olson for this guest post on something I had never heard of. But then again, I'm not as smart as my phone these days.  Very soon Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will be widely available on smartphones and in the hands of consumers. Devices equipped with this technology will be able to communicate with other smartphones, tags, and stations using the same. Communicating with vendors, retail store, and other people can become as simple as swiping your phone over another device. Many smart phones already come equipped with an NFC device, which many experts believe will become the standard tool for making payments to readers at cash registers. 

By Thomas Douane As Steve Jobs steps down from his position at Apple, he leaves behind a legacy that doesn’t seem to be lost on anyone considering how many retrospective pieces have been published. However, this media storm is unsurprising. Jobs’ roller coaster career with the company and ultimate redemption borders on a fairytale and has led to a consumer base that identifies with Apple tech at an almost genetic level. One undeniable element Jobs brought back to the ailing company was a design philosophy based on things humans recognize as objectively beautiful. Apple designs appeal to something deep within us, far past the aesthetic surface. There are things we mechanically recognize as beautiful, things we immediately if subconsciously find comforting or soothing. It’s an important lesson for any industry: How can you get in tune with the most basic functions of your audience? Bloggers often publish list pieces due to the cursory nature of reading on the Internet. Media content providers calibrate the length of their video production to the attention span of their target demographic. Here are the top three ways Apple has effectively tapped into our biological attraction, making their products more appealing to our deeper sensibilities.

[caption id="attachment_3654" align="alignright" width="221"] Find these icons at[/caption] Those wanting to self-market their new business, book or product with a limited amount of funds typically turn to free resources in order to get the promotion they want. One of the more popular choices is utilizing one of the leading social media networking sites— Twitter. And it's a great avenue to pursue too. Just about everyone has one including high-profile bloggers, celebrities, powerful industry executives and most importantly tons and tons of prospective customers and clients. It's a great way to reach potentially hundreds of thousands of people at no cost. Using the site may seem simple. After all who can botch a 140 character long sentence? But the truth of the matter is that a lot of people do so on a regular basis. So many in fact that instead of building a strong clientele base, some entrepreneurs and business owners actually turn-off their customers via tweets instead. To make sure you don't use the site incorrectly, brush up on some common "tweetiquette" by learning a few simple rules: