Niche Marketing – Image Marketing Consultants Explains How To Hedge

There are trends and there are fads.  In your business you have to hedge your bets that your popular product or service will turn out to be a mere fad, like $4.50 gourmet cupcakes, and not a trend like nonfat milk.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that the bubble has burst on cupcakes, with Crumbs Bake Shop stock sinking from $13 per share to about $1.70.  Not only is the Crumbs chain but also bakeries across the nation are experiencing significantly depressed demand.

That’s why Image Marketing Consultants warns about the risks involved in niche marketing.  Sure, specializing in a one product or service has been profitable and a tactic to establish a strong brand identity.  However, given the rapid changes in the marketplace, especially consumer preferences, businesses shouldn’t bet the ranch.  They can introduce complimentary products and services, as has PepsiCo.  They can also, under another brand, diversify, keeping the brands separate, as has News Corp.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Storytelling: Image Marketing Consultants Explains Importance of Narratives

Organizations are being hammered with the mandate that they have to “tell stories.”  That means that instead of describing the benefits clients/customers can get from doing business with them, they frame all that in a narrative.  The reasons are obvious.

From the get-go, human beings need both reality and fantasy packaged with a plot, compelling characters, and a theme or message.  As every parent knows, children beg, “Tell me a story.”   As we get older, we crave the satisfaction of cause and effect relationships being played out.  X did this and Y happened.

When it comes to business, the most successful presentations and promotions capture those same aspects  and pacing of a narrative.  For example, the community college provides a timeline of a 20-something in a dead-end job, her enrollment in a nursing program, and the great money and career mobility she has today.  That’s done all in a 60-minute commercial on television.

Is it okay to “make up” stories?  Yes.  In fact they can be the most appealing and memorable.  That’s behind the branding success of GEICO.  Its Cavemen stories embedded the company in the national consciousness.  You can also make up characters and imaginary plot lines which package your message in a compelling manner.

How about graphics?  We are a visual society. The more graphic elements you can introduce the more time will likely be spent with your promotions.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Cutting Marketing Costs – 3 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

With the recovery comes opportunity.  So, companies are focused on marketing.  Some will be rebranding to reach new kinds of customers and clients. Some will be launching new products and services.  And some will be trying to sell more and/or at a higher price than before.  The rub is that marketing costs can be expensive.  How can you cut yours?  Image Marketing Consultants has these 3 tips.

Partner.  To get its initiatives in the digital wallet off the ground American Express has found partners such as Wal-Mart.   They pool resources, ranging from know-how to distribution channels.  That not only saves money and spreads the risk but also increases the odds for success.

Place small bets. With so much turbulence in the economy it’s downright reckless to bet the ranch.  Try out a number of strategies and tactics in small ways.  JC Penney bet the ranch on its anti-discounting strategy and lost out big time.

Reward. Both research and experience show that customers and clients want to be thanked for doing business with you.  Companies such as Discover which structure their loyalty rewards programs right are growing faster than those with no or ham-handed programs.  Rewards don’t have to cost much and, since they reduce churn, they can save on marketing costs.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

Peggy Olson – Image Marketing Consultants Tells Business What It Can Learn from “Mad Men” Character

For years on “Mad Men” we have watched the character Peggy Olson suffer, grow, and finally succeed.  Unlike most of the rest of those on this series Olson not only has made it professionally.  She also has found inner centering and maybe even happiness.

Image Marketing Consultants sees plenty of lessons business can learn from Olson’s difficult journey from a blue-collar background, insecurity, and a tendency to idolize those who seem to have all the answers to establishing her own creative space, on her own terms, without bitterness.  Here are three.

Break away. From the get-go as infants, we human beings learn by imitation.  The challenge is to finally stop that and find our own identity.  There are those organizations and individuals who can’t let go of the model of the late Steve Jobs.  Yet they should be focused on developing their own type of genius.  Despite the emotional odds against her for carving out her own territory, Olson did break away.

Forgive.  Carrying resentments from the past provides distractions from the present.  That’s why the wise in every field, be it business or religion, hammer the importance of forgiveness.  That process of letting go of ancient grudges frees up energy to achieve right now.  Olson not only isn’t obsessed with the possible wrongs done her.  She also isn’t trapped in castigating herself for her own mistakes when learning the ropes of the ad business.

Stay open.  Olson is the one character on “Mad Men” whose future is open, both professionally and socially.  We can’t predict what she will put together for herself this sixth season. We only expect more suffering for Don, Megan, Roger, Joan, and Pete.  They close themselves to most opportunities.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation on your marketing, partnership, public relations, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

BigData Analytics for Small Business – 3 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

BigData is the powerful tool businesses are leveraging to gain insight about the customers and clients, develop new products and services, identify new segments to enter, and figure out fresh competitive advantages.  Small businesses often assume this is out of their reach.  How could they aggregate all that data, filter it through gigantic computers, analyze the patterns, and then apply that to their enterprises?  They don’t have the expertise or the budget.

However, Image Marketing Consultants has 3 tips for how small businesses can also gain access to the information they need.

Mine Search Engines and Social Media.  One way of collecting data is to plow through what comes in to you from what’s posted on search engines about your enterprise and on your social media.  Just like the experts, you will be able to discern patterns.  For example, the keyword “affordable” occurs more and more often in relation to your products.  That could provide the feedback you need to move ahead and position your branding as the affordable choice among the competition.

Read What Large Companies Are Doing. The media are filled with coverage of how a large company like American Express is applying what it is discovering from its data analysis to improve its revenues and profits.  For example, American Express saw that those without bank accounts could be a whole new market for a digital wallet.  Today, American Express has among its partners Wal-Mart for this growing line of business.  Small businesses can gain ideas about what they might be able to create through partnership, both in terms of product/service offerings and where to market them.

Gather Data.  Before the era of supercomputers businesses established informal ways to find out what they needed to know and, if they are smart, they are still doing that.   That could simply be asking customers or prospects what they wanted and then really listen.  It could be conducting a free survey through Survey Monkey.   Or it could be walking through competitors’ stores or restaurants and figuring out what they’re doing that they aren’t and could be.

There is that old adage that information is power.  That’s even more true in this fast-changing environment.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, welcomes you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, partnership, public relations, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

Push Selling: Straight Talk From Image Marketing Consultants

A few weeks ago a successful upscale restaurant leveraged a push selling tactic which probably was counterproductive to its branding and long-term business.  For a week it promoted a special of two meals for $25, including any choice of its award-winning made-on-the-premise designer desserts.  Although in the depth of the economic downturn this restaurant had struggled, for the past 18 months it had been thriving.

From marketing experience, Image Marketing Consultants knows that such steep discounting will bring in business but those who try the restaurant out are unlikely to return as regulars.  They can’t afford the standard premium prices.  In addition, the regulars get to thinking if they want to be associated with a bargain basement.  Some might not return if their dining experience had been marred by crowds who didn’t know how to comport themselves in an elegant setting.

Admittedly, many enterprises had to discount during hard times.  But as the economy shifts from recessionary to growth, they have to be mapping out strategies and tactics to transition from push selling to those based on a differentiated product or service. The risk is losing the bottom feeders, which might not be a bad thing.  To keep the doors open during The Great Recession, all business might have been welcome.  Now, it’s wise to remember the 80/20 rule.  That is, that 80 percent of profits usually come from 20 percent of the business and 80 percent of the headaches come from customers and clients who are probably contributing least to the bottom line.

Pricing sends a powerful signal. Make sure it’s sending the right one about your brand.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, welcomes you to a complimentary consultation about your marketing, partnership, public relations, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868,

 

Newsletters – 4 Tips from Image Marketing Consultants

Newsletters remain a low-cost way to highlight what’s going on in your business or a message that can resonate with almost an infinite number of constituencies, ranging from prospects to the media.  Thanks to current technology, you can format it for any way you want to deliver it, including mobile.  Here are 4 tips from Image Marketing Consultants.

Choose the right template.  The look is everything.  Invest the time in reviewing templates, compare what you assess as appropriate to what your competition is doing, then determine how you can differentiate yourself from your competition.

Focus on content.  What you present should not be easily available in other contexts.  For example, if a new bill is pending in Congress and all your competitors are presenting their analysis of it, you can add value by interviewing a variety of experts, ranging from those in law to those in recruiting.  If the value is high enough, the media could be interested.  Flag them on your approach and tell them why their own readers would find the content useful.

Create a community.  People, even no-nonsense professionals, crave belonging, especially as part of groups important to their work.  The group process is a means of exchanging information and insight and networking. Find out through direct contact, surveys, or focus groups what your audience needs to become a community, then provide it.  That might be a mechanism, such as on LinkedIn, to facilitate presenting an issue, then opening the conversaton for input.

Be consistent. When launching your newsletter, establish a schedule you can maintain.  Your objective is to have your readers look forward to receiving the newsletter.  Your credibility will be hurt if you disappoint them.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, is available for complimenatary consultations on marketing, public relations, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Your Customers Want Good News, Explains Image Marketing Consultants

Even though here along the Northeast Corridor the weather for Easter probably will be chilly, those we at Image Marketing Consultants talk with plan to do something special outdoors.  Yes, it has been a harsh fall and winter, Sandy followed by Nemo.

Your customers or, if you are a professional services firm, your clients want a fresh start.  This is an opportunity for you to resonate with them emotionally by highlighting messaging, providing promotions, and sponsoring special events that assure them that the world is a good place to be and full of joy and opportunity.

The most simple way to do that, of course, is through your decorations.  The impact of that could be profound if you invite the community to participate through volunteer work for fundraising or a contest.  For example, a bakery in Central Connecticut can donate its window for those in the neighborhood to showcase their renditions of renewal and those enjoying the display can make contributions to the United Way.

More complex is to design promotions which help clients not only save on their fee with you but also improve their business operations.  For example, the graphics firm will not only create a logo with a spring discount but also give a complimentary tutorial on the most effective designs for communicating your unique branding.

This season also aligns with your passing on your own good news.  Send out a press release on how much your boutique has grown since the recession ended or the 10 new products you have launched.  Create a video of a walk-through of your facility, explaining what the equipment does.  Then you can place that in your Media Center on your website, Facebook, and as a link on your blog and Twitter account.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, public relations, partnership, special events, and social media needs kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

 

Leaning In, Not Leaning In – Leverage Topical in Your PR, Hammers Image Marketing Consultants

Public relations, at least the successful kind, operates by brainstorming for the angle which is likely to get attention and then experimenting with tactics to communicate that message.  Now that search engine optimization (SEO) is so important, the angle which has the most potential is the one which leverages what’s topical.  That includes using the names and issues associated with it as keywords, for SEO purposes.

An example of that is how much public relations outreach piggybacks on Sheryl Sandberg’s message about leaning in.  Here is a video of a panel discussion by TechCrunch female employees associated with the guilt which often accompanies “having it all.”

After you frame your message with these Leaning In keywords, the next step is to create a compelling narrative with text and graphics.  For example, if your business is women’s fashion, then you show how your for-the-office attire gives professional women the look and confidence edge.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation about your public relations, marketing, partnerships, special events, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Special Events – Make Yours Interactive, Hammers Image Marketing Consultants

Thanks to social media, be it Facebook or Google+, people around the world are used to being interactive.  Therefore, when they come to your special event, it’s not wise to have them just sitting there.  Instead, provide opportunities to involve them in ways that communicate the messages embedded in this special event.

Logistics firm William B. Meyer needed to develop its value statement with employees so it requested Image Marketing Consultants set up a special event for brainstorming and sharing ideas.  Image Marketing Consultants had those attending on their feet, as SPECIAL MEETINGS reports, preparing desserts which symbolized values like creativity or integrity.  That experience, especially the team work, made concrete the messages William B. Meyer needed employees to embody.

Another example of an interactive special event took place at the New Haven Zen Center on March 16th in its “Introduction to Zen” all-day retreat.  The afternoon schedule had those attending divided into work crews.  One team polished the wood in that Victorian building.  Another cleaned the windows.  One did yard work.  And another cleaned up after the shared meal, served monastic-style.  The objective was reinforcing the zen principle of seamless living, not separating oneself from the direct experience of being in the now.

People learn by doing and they bond, both with each other and the organization, in the process.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation about your special events, partnerships, marketing mix, public relations, and social media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.