Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Global Perspective

Many business owners only think about their local clientele.  They want to make sure they take care of the customers coming in the door of their establishment.  That’s admirable, especially if your business is a restaurant or retail store.

A service business like a plumber or electrician may think more regionally and not have clients or prospects walk in the door, but any territory beyond that is rarely in their vocabulary.  That’s a fault with most businesses who may think globally, but act locally.  The reverse is what’s happening in the world’s economy today.


Thinking local but acting globally is the realm of the Internet, an essential location for any business to have a presence.  The old adage about the three most important keys to success in business holds true – location, location, location.

Think of it this way – Any consumer in the world can access your corporate web presence.  Anyone!  So what?  What if a corporate executive from Sri Lanka is relocating to your community and looking for a general contractor to build a new home for the family?  Does your website … as a general contractor … let the executive know you are a professional and can get the job done?  Is it relevant?  And does your web presence enable the potential customer to contact you easily?  What if the business person wants to build a new factory and employ 450 local workers?

Granted, the example may be a rare circumstance for a general contractor, but how do you know who’s viewing your web presence?  Have they gone there intentionally or discovered your site at random?  Did a social media post in LinkedIn trigger the investigation of your company’s capabilities?

Whether we like it or not, having a business presence on the Internet exposes our products and/or services to the global marketplace.  It opens the door to doing business with people from every nation – from South Africa to Germany and from China to Chile.  It also means you should be sensitive to requests from foreign countries and be amenable to providing your goods and services to residents of those nations if the opportunity presents itself.

You may not want to go global, but the global market is out there if you want to expand your business.  If you want to avoid thinking or acting globally, you still need a web presence for your business.  There’s no avoiding that in today’s business environment.

Make sure your website is mobile enabled so the younger generations can view it on their smart phones.  You need to make sure your content is also relevant to the market segments you want to reach.  Have a call to action, too.  The future is here, now.

Brand Your Work – Work  Your Brand


Business Challenge: Managing Life Cycles

Every business goes through cycles, whether the owner cares to admit it or not.  Business owners must first understand these cycles exist and realize when their company is entering a new one.   The challenge is knowing how to manage the changes required to survive and  thrive.Business Life Cycle Diagram

It begins with the start-up phase, where plans are made, products are defined, and strategies are formulated and implemented.  This can be a difficult period for the business owner because hopes and dreams are attached to the success of their venture.  Failure is a real possibility, but motivation is fueled by emotions rather than clear-headed thinking.  From an outside point-of-view, an entrepreneur or potential business owner should stop and think about what they’re doing before getting in too deep.

Have someone look at the financial projections objectively, or consider hiring a firm such as Brand Irons to conduct a feasibility study to clarify the route to profitability. Base your business decisions on cold, hard facts instead of wishful thinking.  Emotions can be brought back in with your marketing strategies.

Once the tough stage is behind, the next business phase is either a growth spurt, the transition to a different attack plan when there’s no growth, or closure.  Growth is often the easiest phase for owners to manage. It requires adding production capacity, employees, sales people, and other elements that are indications the business is doing well.

The caution in growth stages is to continuously keep on eye on the numbers.  Growing your business means adding more revenue, and it also means adding problems tied to that growth.  Outside advice can prove valuable in matching projections to actual results and avoiding sugar-coating what may appear to be a rosy picture.  Stay real.

As the company grows, business expands to fulfill the demands of the marketplace.  There are many lessons where companies tried to expand too quickly and lacked the marketing or infrastructure or management to handle the expansion.  Krispy Kreme doughnuts tried an expansion program and had to re-trench, as did Sonic with drive-in restaurants in northern climates.  Controlled expansion is far more manageable, despite how strong a management team you may believe is in place to handle it.

One of the most difficult phases in the life cycle of a business for the owner to grasp is when the business has entered a maturity stage.  Maturity can be caused by product or service obsolescence, changing market conditions, an inability to adapt to changes, the aging of owners and management, as well as time itself.

When it becomes obvious that a business has reached maturity, the critical decision is determining what to do about it.  The major factor to look at is whether the products and/or services are still relevant to the consumer.  Changes are needed when you can determine that what you’re doing is no longer relevant.

The logical choice for handling maturity is the next phase in the diagram, which is transition.  Transition might involve selling the business, turning it over to a different management team, or implementing changes to adapt to the market’s demand.  Keep in mind that maturity is a good phase for a business and may last for quite some time.  Successful businesses start out with an end result in mind, making the transition a planned event.  Mature businesses should also be considering transition options.

At every stage in the life cycle of your business, you can benefit from the advice of professional business consultants, such as your accountant, attorney, insurance agent, financial planner, and yes, a business and marketing advisor.  Their role is to help you make more money and reduce your risks.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand  

Brand Success: Band-Aid

A key to the success of your brand, or any other brand, is to be first in the mind of the consumer.  Do you ask for a facial tissue, or for a Kleenex?  Do you ask for a soft drink, or for a Coke?  Do you ask for an adhesive strip, or for a Band-Aid?


The 3rd Immutable Law of Marketing is the Law of the Mind, as defined in Al Ries and Jack Trout’s 1994 book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.  Briefly stated, it means that being first in the mind of the consumer is more important than being the first to the market with a product or service.  The success of Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages is a perfect example of a company owning the consumer’s mind.  The Band-Aid brand name today is synonymous with a first aid product, but it is also identified with a method of providing solutions to problems.  It has become a common term in everyday language, which solidifies that place of ownership in people’s minds.

How many times have you heard someone identify a temporary solution as needing a “Band-Aid” for fixing the problem?  The benefit to Johnson & Johnson is that every time the name is mentioned, in whatever context, it reinforces the brand’s identity in the minds of consumers.  The consumer may not know that Band-Aid is a Johnson & Johnson product, but they do know what a Band-Aid can do for a cut, scrape, or other minor injury.  The consumer doesn’t ask for a Curad bandage, even though that might be what they wind up using to patch up a small injury.  They ask for a Band-Aid.

Owning the consumer’s mind, however, does not excuse Johnson & Johnson from continuing to provide a quality product to customers.  That sense of ownership comes right back to the company.  Johnson & Johnson’s reputation, to a certain extent, is built on the credibility they’ve established with the Band-Aid brand, and other brands in their portfolio.  Johnson & Johnson must constantly monitor quality and sustain the brand’s identity at an exceptional level to continue their ownership of the consumer’s mind.

The success of the adhesive bandage for Johnson & Johnson has enabled the company to diversify and offer other medical-related products to that consumer market.  Gauze bandages and a host of other products have found a place because the Band-Aid brand is so strong.

While this may be a great success story, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with your business.  Good question.

Your brand may never achieve the level of ownership Band-Aid has in the mind of the consumer, but it could.  You may need professional advice, but if you can become the leader in your industry and own a specific category or niche, there is an excellent chance your product or service can become the preference of your customers and others.  It takes market research, graphic development, and a number of other pieces to put it all together.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand