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Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

If you don’t control your personal brand, Google will!

By | Branding, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Changes in how people communicate, research and connect have created the need to own your digital footprint or personal brand. To do this effectively you need to follow a few steps. I have researched personal branding and come up with my checklist. Hope you find it useful.

“Your personal brand is comprised of your character, competence and charisma. It’s who you are, what you do and why you’re special. You have to create it, claim it and then make sure everyone in your network knows about it!”

“The fundamental unit of the new economy is not the corporation but the individual” Tom Peters

Process- BRAND YOU!

Below is a process will you need to address to create your personal brand. Google yourself? Do you come up? Control what is being said about you, how you are represented and seen. If you are not online you are invisible.

1.Planning Stage Why: Your goals for branding yourself? 

“ Vision is a love affair with an idea.” Clarke and Crossland.

  • Visibility, Preference, Credibility, Engagement, Influence, Perception

Who? Who is your audience and who do you want to influence? Choose a Niche or target Audience (make branding easy) “

“It is easy to decide what you are going to do. The hard thing is to decide what you are not going to do.” Michael Dell

  • Key stakeholders
  • Influencers
  • Niche

2.Extract and Get and External View Point

What is your current brand identity? Identifying brand You. Me Inc.

This involves looking at yourself and your attributes in a brutally honest way. It takes guts to unflinchingly take stock of the details of your life, personality and achievements.

Like Improve upon


External Feedback – current reputation

  • 360 reach – online tool
  • What words would you use to describe me?
  • Listen to how you are introduced.
  • What am I good at?

“All the worlds a stage. I love the Brand You idea, the brand you life. It is my life. My love. My art. My craft. My performance.” Tom Peters

40 yrs 11000 days to go! Life is short, play more…



Your personal ethics: What you stand for? 3 Brand rules: clarity, consistency, constancy. One core message.

“Create a cause not a business.” Gary Hamel

What do you want it to be? Own your brand.

  • Work out what traits you want to scrap and what you want to profile.
  • What is the pitch? Take a position. What do you want to be known for?

3. Express Stage – Getting your message out there How to we reach your right target market of people you want to influence? Choose the right tools!

“We are CEOs of our own companies: ME Inc. To be in business today, our most important job to be head marketer for the brand called you.” Tom Peters

Using collateral: your look feel style – evaluate your touchpoints

  • Positioning Brand Statement – attach and idea to yourself
  • Elevator pitch – express your essence in a sentence
  • Profile
  • Portfolio
  • Biography
  • Press Kit
  • Cover letter
  • Social Media profiles; Linkedin Profile
  • Recommendations
  • Success stories
  • Your brand identity system – Name in font, tagline, colour, thank you notes
  • PR
  • Domains
  • Website
  • Email accounts and signature
  • Phone message
  • Texting
  • Pictures
  • Events
  • Office environment
  • Personal style; (reflect your brand) grooming, clothing, posture, communication style
  • Forums – On and Off Line
  • Networking Associations

End game is a media/communication plan for me.

4. Ongoing Measurement

  • Google
  • Google Alerts
  • Network expansion
  • Projects
  • Recommendations
  • PR
  • Vizibility

If you are not branding yourself, you can be assured that others are doing it for you!


Reach – Online branding

Selfbrand Catherine Kaputa

Colin Wright – How to be remarkable

Jump start your personal brand

Tom Peters the brand you 50 – Amazon

Dan Schawbel – Personal Branding Blog

Personal Branding Slideshare – Kristian Andersen

Your brand surey – Brand You

Online ID calculator

Personal Branding Summit in itunes

Online Johari Window – your key attributes

Personal Branding


“Personal branding is all about soft power. It’s about knowing how you add remarkable, distinctive, measurable value,and being able to communicate and market yourself and your ideas. The reason most people don’t succeed is not because they lack business or technical skills. It’s because they lack soft power skills: the ability to communicate well, to influence and persuade, to build a powerful network of business associates, and to plan a career strategy the maximizes your strengths and the realities of the marketplace.” Katherine Kaputa


Contact: Danielle MacInnis to do a Personal Branding workshop today. Download this article here.

How well do you know your customers?

By | Marketing Strategy, Sales Process, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Having an “outside in” approach to your business is difficult. It requires you to shift your focus from running, managing and developing your business to that of your customer. This mind shift of really stepping into the customer shoes and then developing a marketing strategy  is critical to be a successful small business (well any business really) and yet most companies are still selling a promise to customers that they can’t deliver or one they don’t want.

I hear customers I interview say all the time;”If they had only asked me what I wanted I would have told them.”

Your customer’s perceptions of you are not based just on an email, your website or going into your store to buy something. Their perceptions are formed when you live up to your promise or break it, generally after the sale. What happens when the product breaks, they are left on hold for 10 minutes, they are given the run around! It is hard to keep promises. It is hard to always treat the customer well, but that is why it is more important than ever to preempt their concerns and stay ahead of their expectations to deliver a really compelling customer experience.

It is about identifying with the customer journey that you can really ensure that your promises are kept. If you make promises that are not kept the customer will judge you as a liar and customers will tell others, as we all hate liars.

If you want to gain some customer insights and map out your customer buying path book a marketing strategy session today.


Related posts: Creating a customer centric culture

Podcast on creating a customer centric culture

Why a clear Value Proposition is important and how to create one

By | Marketing Strategy, Small Business Marketing, Value Proposition | No Comments

A Value Proposition is why your customers buy from you. What value do you deliver? How to you communicate this to your prospects and buyers?

Your value proposition serves a few purposes:

1.It defines the audience and target market. Do you help me?
2.It positions your company in a market or category. Position the problem that you solve.
3.It clearly communicates the key benefit to the customer/prospect. Can I see the benefits and I understand the how you do it.(ROI and emotionally)
4.It builds a foundation for credibility that you and your company are credible. Proof it to me. What is the evidence. Here is where you explain the why you are distinct?

RainToday has a great training video on how to create a value proposition.

Click here to learn more and play the video

Value Propositions are built on three foundations

1.ReasonateNeed and wants (emotional and RIO)

2.DifferentiateThe best option

Distinction between you and competitors?
How difficult to substitute your service or product?

3. Substantiate –  I trust you and I believe you. proof, rationale case

You need all three to make the sales process smooth. If one is missing then the sales path is much harder.

What I really like about this presentation it is really step insight your prospects head and position your service or product as to how it meets their needs.

Visit our marketing templates on how to identify your ideal customers and core messages.


Does your website get found in online search?

By | Marketing Technology, Online Marketing, SEO, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Here is some great information from GrowthPanel on how to determine if your website content meets your potential customer needs

Search marketing is about gaining visibility on search engines when users search for terms that relate to your product/service/organization. For most companies, ranking highly in search results isn’t luck – it’s a result of solid effort in one or both categories of search marketing.

  • Organic Search:  When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the organic results are displayed in the main body of the page.When prospects search for information about your products and services, it’s important to rank high in search engine results. By “optimizing” your site, you can improve your ranking for important search terms and phrases (“keywords”). You can also improve your ranking by getting other important sites to link to yours.
  • Paid Search:  Paid search enables you to buy listings in the “sponsored” area of a search engine. There are a variety of paid search programs, but the most common is called pay-per-click (PPC), meaning you pay for a listing only when a user clicks your ad.

Search marketing in B2C is straightforward — searchers look for products/services to purchase or research prior to making a purchase decision.

For B2B, it’s a little trickier. Just like consumers, business buyers use search engines to find products and services. Studies show that most business people research problems, potential purchases, and prospective vendors online, and they use a search engine to facilitate the process. And the higher the price of the product or service, the earlier in the process they begin their search.  A search marketing firm, Enquiro Search Solutions, conducted a study among nearly 1,500 businesspeople and found that:

  • 93% research business purchases online and 89% of that group uses a search engine
  • 64% start the research process with a search engine
  • 83% of business users prefer Google

The higher the price of the product/service, the earlier the buyer uses a search engine for research. Business buyers also tended to use search early in the buying process:


  • In which of these buying phases were you when you used a search engine?
  • Percent
  • Very early in research, little knowledge of product or service
  • 46.2
  • Later in research phase, some idea but wanted comparisons
  • 30.2
  • Knew exactly, wanted reviews/articles
  • 11.3
  • Knew exactly, wanted to find best place to buy
  • 12.3

If you’re B2B, what does this mean for you? Below are some suggestions. When you understand users’ needs as they search for solutions, you can improve your site to meet their needs.


Visitor Stage % Ideas for Improving Your Website
Very early in research; has little knowledge of product or service 46.2 Focus on creating trust and educating your prospects. Prospects at this stage aren’t ready to buy, so make them comfortable that you’re a resource. If you try to close the prospect now, you’ll fail.Make sure your website offers valuable, unbiased and general information. Prospects aren’t ready for detail at this phase; they need basic information about the solution and how it’s relevant to them.

Create content that shows how your solution generally differs from other broad options.

Create a white paper that prospects can download by providing some basic information so you can follow up when the time is right.

Encourage visitors to call (or allow you to call) to provide information.

Later in research phase; has some idea but wants comparisons 30.2 Encourage visitors to call and speak with a rep.Provide comparisons to enable them to easily see how your solution compares with your competition.

Offer a quote or more detailed information if they provide very basic information so you can follow up.

Late in process; knows what s/he wants; needs reviews/articles to choose a specific solution 11.3 Offer case studies and articles that are easily accessed from the homepage – these prospects are closer to buying and know what they want.Encourage visitors to contact you for a detailed quote or to purchase.

Provide comparisons to enable them to easily see how your solution compares with that of your competition.

Use testimonials and endorsements to provide social proof.

Knows exactly what s/he wants and is ready to buy; wants to find best place to buy 12.3 Make it very easy to buy the exact product/service they need – they should be able to easily find it from the homepage.Make sure you deliver the product info they want in the fewest number of clicks possible. The more they have to hunt for information, the more likely they are to leave.

Make sure the checkout process is simple with all information (like shipping) disclosed early.

Make sure your return policies, warranty information, and other details are simple and logical to find.

Evaluate Search Marketing Options

There are two basic categories of search marketing: organic search (referred to as “SEO” for search engine optimization) and paid search (referred to as “SEM” for search engine marketing).

Category How It Works How You Do It
Organic Search (SEO) When you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo!, the “organic” search results are displayed in the main body of the page. If you don’t find what you want on the first page, you may click several pages deep, then try another term if you’re unsuccessful.Search engines “spiders” or “bots” visit websites, grab information and calculate the site’s subject matter.

The engines return sites that the database believes are most relevant to your search.

If a user is searching specifically for your company/product/service, you may show up on the first or second pages without doing anything special to your website.However, if you want your site to show up when a prospect is looking for broader information, you should “optimize” your site to show up for different search terms.

“Search engine optimization,” or “SEO,” can be a complex topic. Yet there are simple things you can do to greatly improve your rankings and generate free traffic to your site.

For some businesses, generating only a handful of additional serious prospects can make a substantial difference in revenue. Using SEO may easily produce these additional prospects.

Paid Search (SEM) Marketers bid for placement for selected keywords or phrases. There are different types of programs including the most popular “pay per click” (or PPC) option – a marketer only pays for the listing if the user actually clicks the listing.PPC is a true pay-for-performance program, can generate very targeted traffic and it is instantly measurable.

Paid listings are displayed differently than organic listings. They may be displayed at the top, side and/or bottom of the page (varies by search engine).

Google and other content networks also allow you to pay to place text, display and video ads on other sites, triggered by content that is relevant to your selected keywords. This is covered in 21 – Online Advertising, since these ads don’t display on search engines.


To generate traffic through paid search, you create an account with one or more paid search networks. You then choose your program, your keywords and phrases, and enter bids for placement.When your program goes live, the network bills your account for the traffic you receive. For example, if you’re running a PPC campaign, you’ll be billed for each click on your listing.

You’ll need to designate a “landing page” for these campaigns, and you’ll want to make sure your landing page is designed to convert your visitors so that they continue to click deeper into your site. For example, if you used your existing home page, it might not be specific enough for your visitor, and you may loose them.

A good paid search program involves continuous keyword research, careful monitoring of your bids, and strong focus on converting your click-throughs into active prospects for your company.

Here you can evaluate your marketing goals to determine if SEO, SEM or both are right for you.

Marketing Goal SEO SEM
Need to generate traffic very quickly X
Need to generate more traffic and have time to research, rewrite and potentially redesign your site to capture more qualified traffic X X
Need to generate as much traffic as possible to your site X X
Want to generate traffic to very specific subject areas on the site X X
Want to invest in a long-term search marketing program X
Want to generate traffic for a wide variety of keywords X
Want to launch time-sensitive campaigns that focus on very specific topics or offers X
Want to build more brand awareness through publicity X  X
Need to establish a stronger brand presence on the web X  X
Have a very small marketing budget and are looking for measurable, repeatable programs to generate leads X X

In SEO, your ultimate goal is to get your site listed in the top 10 Google results (the first page) for a few targeted search terms that your prospects are using. Most keywords have a great deal of competition so the task is challenging, but you should still try to rank for very targeted terms. At the very least, your prospects need to find you in the top 10 when they enter your company’s name in the search bar. To optimize your site, you’ll need to make sure its content, design and underlying coding are attractive to search engine spiders, the programs that crawl the web, decide what each page is about and rank pages against other.

What to do next?

If you would like some help setting up your SEO visit our Digital Marketing Services Page.

Do you have the right sales tools?

By | Sales Process, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Sales materials  and tools are designed to help you move prospects forward in the sales process. Each piece should have a specific job: to answer a natural question that the prospect has at a specific point in the process.

Literature and tools are powerful because they can:

  • Carry authority and credibility if very well done
  • Convey your message consistently
  • Convey your brand positioning and value proposition in a memorable and powerful way
  • Increase your efficiency because they are passed along to multiple people within an organization rather than delivered verbally by a salesperson on a one-to-one basis

Tools and literature help convey product information and answer your prospects’ questions. You can use tools and literature to generate new leads. For example, white papers and case studies are very popular tools to offer in email and internet marketing campaigns. Prospects can download them to gain valuable information, and you can capture names and email addresses for further follow up.

What kind of sales literature and tools do you need? Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and think about the questions and objections you’d have at each stage of the sales process.


Here are some examples


Sales Tool/Literature Piece  Typical Use 
Company brochureA printed piece – it can be as simple as a one page tri-fold to an elaborate four-color bound piece, or a PDF for delivery via email. When you introduce yourself and your company. People don’t typically read it, but they will probably skim it and expect it. It can be a valuable tool in conveying your brand positioning through visual design and production quality.
WebsiteYour website is an incredibly important sales tool. Some consumers and most businesspeople review a prospective vendor’s website, and many of them make a decision whether to do business with that company based on the website alone.Since a website is typically the most complex sales tool, use 12 – Websites to evaluate your current site if you have one, and then develop requirements based on your needs. Prospects typically look at websites early in the sales process. You can also use your site to generate new prospects through internet marketing efforts.
Product/service data sheetsOne-page sheets with product specifications and photos. To convey detailed or technical product information in a simple format.
White papersA research report that provides news, “best practices,” scenarios, and/or data in an informative, neutral (non-salesy) tone. To educate the market about a problem and potential solution. It isn’t meant to sell the features or benefits of a product or service — it’s meant to quantify a pain and entice the prospect to continue to seek a solution.A valuable white paper is a popular offer for email and internet marketing campaigns — it can be used to generate new leads and nurture existing leads.
Case studiesShow how a client’s problem was solved by your product/service. After a product presentation, shows in detail how a customer benefited from your product/service.
Reference listsA list of current customers, often segmented by industry or division. People typically like to review references either before they start the sales process, or right before they purchase.
Hard copy newsletterProvides valuable information while keeping you top-of-mind. Typically 11×18 folded to create four usable pages. To gain more information about their product, service or industry.



Sales Tool/Literature Piece  Typical Use 
PowerPoint presentation templatePowerPoint is an electronic slideshow software by Microsoft. It’s used to provide visuals during a presentation. Viewing during a presentation and potentially a handout, but rarely as a piece of standalone literature.
Product demoPhysically showing how the product works To show how the product/service works.
Product sampleGiving the product to the prospect to review/use. For people to feel, test and use the product.
FoldersHold literature and business cards – can be printed to convey ideas, themes or messages. To hold other information, such as a brochure, data sheets and case studies.



Templates  Typical Use 
Proposal templateStructured delivery of your quote of your product/service delivery and price – provides an opportunity to make another impression when prospect is making the decision to purchase. To review your price for the products/services offered.
Sales letter templatesTemplates of different letters for your salespeople to use during the sales process. To ensure that salespeople are conveying your messaging and to speed up the letter-writing process.
Email templatesSame as sales letters – templates your sales team can use in the sales process. Same as sales letters.



Interactive Tools Typical Use
Email newsletterDelivered via email, this newsletter will provide answers to questions and links to sites that should help prospects. To gain information and ask questions.


Once you’ve generated a list of potential tools & literature, figure out exactly what each piece should accomplish. Then determine the:

  • Literature & tools you need
  • Singular objective of the piece (each piece of literature or each tool should be designed to meet a very specific objective)
  • Step in the sales process where it should be delivered

Here is my list of sales tools

Sales Tools

  • Brochures
  • Corporate overview
  • Press Kit
  • Testimonials
  • Case Studies
  • Style Guide and visual library
  • Business cards
  • Proposal Letter
  • Quote template
  • Packaging of proposal – Folder
  • Competitive report
  • Gartner report
  • Industry stats
  • Project sheets
  • Contract
  • Product information
  • Company Blog
  • Video presentation
  • Slide presentation
  • Ipad presentation
  • Pricing information
  • CRM – data management
  • and forecasting
  • Customer Feedback Survey
  • Partner list
  • Marketing Calendar
  • Value proposition
  • Segmentation and focus on VIPs
  • Thank you letter
  • Thank you Cards
  • Merchandise
  • Gifts
  • Target customer profilingProspecting Lists
  • Social Media
  • Personal Profile – good picture
  • Voicemail message
  • Recommendations (LinkedIn)
  • Car signage
  • Uniform
  • Business card
  • Entertainment allowance
  • Sales training
  • Scripts
  • Overcoming objections
  • Building Trust/ Relationships
  • Touchpoint calendar
  • Online portals
  • Screen sharing
  • Quota and commission structure
Do you have any more to add? Here are 100 content examples to download from the content institute.
If you need help creating great sales tools visit our sales tools page.
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