Monthly Archives: December 2014

Making Changes

You’ve probably heard the analogy about large corporations being like an aircraft carrier or battleship while smaller companies are compared to PT boats or cruisers.  It’s the analogy that making a course correction or changes within a large corporation is more difficult and takes longer than the same action with a smaller vessel.

CVN-76 USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier

CVN-76 USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier

There’s an element of truth to the analogy, although you must remember that larger businesses have more resources at their disposal when it comes to making changes.  An aircraft carrier, for example, has the resources to protect the direction its been going while it prepares to make a course adjustment.  It has a much greater reach and a larger crew than the destroyer running alongside.  In fact, the destroyer can be part of the larger aircraft carrier’s entourage and thus help affect change more quickly.

Enough of the military perspective.  We’ve advocated for several blogs about the importance of constantly taking a step or two back and looking at your business from a different perspective.  We are against change for the sake of change.  However, if a change is warranted for whatever reason – economic downturn, cost inefficiencies, product obsolescence, poor performance, or lagging sales – the more rapidly and efficiently change can be made, the better off the company will be when it comes to survival over the long haul.

Smith-Corona once owned the market for typewriters but failed to make an effective transition to computers.  IBM, on the other hand, had a large market share with their Selectric typewriter and made a relatively successful change to the world of computers.  Similar comparisons can be made in other fields – Motorola with portable phones, for example.  The company once owned the manufacturing sector for portable phones and now has a smaller share of the market but is making a comeback.

Change is a constant in every business environment.  The key to staying ahead of change is to remain abreast of what the consumer wants and is willing to pay for.  How does a company do that?

First, at least some of the corporate culture needs to embrace the concept that change is the only thing that’s permanent.  Change is happening all the time as consumers age and change buying habits – purchasing online versus at the retail outlet, for example.

Second, engage strategic partners such as Brand Irons to put a finger on the pulse of consumers and more clearly define marketing direction or internal changes that may be a necessity to move in the right direction.  The slogan below links to our website.

Third, be pro-active in making changes.  Waiting, although it is a decision, can be disastrous if your competitors move more quickly and capture a big chunk of your market share.  It’s your business to gain – or lose.

Be sensitive and open to change.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand 

Getting Your Ads To Work

You should expect your advertising to generate sales.  If it doesn’t, it should at least build or reinforce your corporate brand image or create leads for your sales force to follow-up on.  Preferably, ads = sales.

A common refrain you hear from advertising sales representatives, whether cable, TV, radio, or print distribution channels, is:  “You have to give it time, or you need more frequency.”  That’s a veiled excuse to capture more of your advertising budget on a media that is not likely to produce the results you desire.

So, what’s the secret to getting your advertising to work?

Telling a Secret

Planning and taking the time to think things through.

Let’s look at an example.  A radio station claims it is the #1 station in its market, and is the place your company should be advertising.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Think about this for a few minutes.

First, what do you do when you’re in your vehicle and listening to the radio when a commercial comes on?  Odds are you change the channel, like most people.  If the majority of listeners does the same thing, what chances does your advertising message have of being heard … or acted on?  You have to pay attention to consumer habits when it comes to your target audience being receptive to advertising messages.

The same concept applies to targeting a younger audience with a television or cable TV ad.  Most of them record their favorite programs and play them back with the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) so they can fast forward through the commercials.  Your 30-second spot now plays back in about 5 seconds, if it’s noticed at all.

Similar considerations are relevant to newspaper or magazine ads, although various market segments react differently to classified, display, and insert advertisements.  And most consumers now go online to check out a company or product’s website before they make a call or head to a store, so relevant content is an issue with an online presence.

Everything seems so complicated, so what should you do?  We recommend engaging a professional marketing consultant to help with getting the most out of your advertising budget, which is a portion of your overall marketing strategy.  In lieu of an engagement that is proven to make you far more money  than you will invest, you can take the time to look at establishing a budget and then thinking through where it is best to invest those funds.

It starts by clarifying who falls within your target market zone.  If you claim “everyone” needs your product and/or service, you will waste your advertising dollars.  Even if you determine it’s women vs. men, hang on to your wallet.  The market segments most likely to purchase and use your product and/or service can be much more narrowly defined.

Once you’ve narrowed the field to your primary prospective audience, figure out what advertising medium is most likely to get those people to react favorably to what it is you offer.  It may be your website or social media, signs, a billboard, or traditional media.  Use that medium with the right attention-getting device and the correct call to action and you will greatly increase your odds of success.

Brand  Your Work – Work Your Brand

Business Plans & Branding

Developing your corporate brand begins with your business plan.

Circle B brand

Some professional advisers insist that business owners should complete their own business plan.  We agree – to a certain extent.  The business owner must provide the input to a business plan.  Without the owner’s commitment to completing and implementing a plan, however, the process is a waste of time.

A business owner knows what they want to do but may need the skills of a more experienced planner to compile the plan more effectively and obtain financing.  Many people in business also don’t know what they don’t know, which means having someone with the expertise in many different areas to assist can save time and money.  Expertise in leading a sales team may not translate well to budgeting and financial projections.  Being proficient in production techniques may leave something to be desired when it comes to choosing advertising channels or defining consumer markets.  Professional consultants earn their fees by having the knowledge that proves beneficial in a variety of areas.

The first step in starting a business involves some soul searching and market research.  When Brand Irons meets with a prospective client, it is essential to be open and honest in the discussion.  We look for commitment to the process of planning as well as to the long-term success of the business concept.  We also recommend a feasibility study to assess the economic and market conditions, potential profitability, and other financial considerations before deciding to proceed.

Spending a little money up front to know the idea has merit is a wise investment.

While the cost of a feasibility study may be daunting, if the results indicate a better-than-average potential for return on investment (ROI) and the owner decides to go forward, the foundation of the business plan has been put in place.  Assembling the rest of the plan and crafting a strategic model to implement is relatively simple once the decision is made to proceed.

What few people who want to start a business realize is that only one out of every 50 business ideas is commercially viable.  That’s a 2% success ratio!

With the proper guidance from business and marketing consultants such as Brand Irons, you can craft a brand identity for your business based on the foundation provided by your business plan and strategic model.  Your business is unique, which is one of the reasons you need professional assistance in compiling a brand strategy that is consistent with the unique nature of your business and capitalizes on your assets.  The result is a more focused approach to marketing your business and reaching your desired audience.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand