How to Make 2011 Your Best Year Ever

Throughout 2010, we consulted with over 30 brands – most small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) like ourselves. And, from this experience, we’ve determined that if brands follow the following seven marketing strategies in 2011, they’ll succeed big time.

Here are our Big 7 Steps to Marketing Success in 2011:

  1. Clarify your marketing message to something memorable and meaningful
  2. Look for ways (and do it) to cost effectively promote yourself (Web, Social, PR, Media)
  3. Do something remarkable (Innovate)
  4. Craft and execute a 3-part marketing plan (so many SMEs lack one). The first part of the plan is an acquisition plan; the second part is a retention plan – retain/build existing business; and the third part is a win-back plan to regain lost business
  5. Build a comprehensive customer database and treat different people differently
  6. Look for ways to make your business easier for customers to do business with you
  7. Provide a unique, value added quality experience that makes your competition irrelevant

When you roll the dice with these key marketing steps yell, “7 come 11” and trust me, you won’t “crap” out next year!

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AMA Pittsburgh Marketer of the Year

Stephen Wayhart, BrandMill, Albert K. Mastantuono, PhD - Chairman of the Board ACS - Greater Pgh. Unit, Leanne Schepner - Corporate Development Director - ACS, Dan Catena - Communications Director, Western PA Region - ACS, Nicole Burke - Corporate Development Specialist - ACS, Stephanie Spezialetti & Carly Neal BrandMill

Last week at a lovely holiday luncheon at LeMont, we were proud to join our friends and marketing partners from the American Cancer Society, Western PA Region who were recognized by the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association as the Marketer of the Year in the Non Profit category for 2010.

We’re proud of BrandMill’s ACS affiliation, leading its Marketing Committee, providing public relations guidance and launching its first Social Media Marketing efforts via Facebook. And, we look forward to continuing to help them in their fight to fund cures for cancer.

It was a great way to end the year and a great follow-up to our recent award.

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10 Ways to Build Brand Trust

If you’re looking for a way to truly build your business in a uniquely profitable way, put a plan in place to build customer trust in your brand.

I say unique, because when you consider this chart, you’ll see that many industries are not highly trusted. This online U.S. Harris Poll was conducted on November 8 and 15, 2010 among 2,151 adults 18+.

Trust in a brand (personal or business) is the keystone of all relationships. By doing the right thing/s, you an earn a person’s trust, but it’s easy to lose it – and you can lose it quickly – practically overnight regardless of your past reputation.

Here my 10 ways to build trust:

  1. Be authentic – be real
  2. Lead with integrity and humility
  3. Be honest, don’t lie and always tell the truth
  4. Be objective, fair and consistent in your actions
  5. Don’t gossip – respect people in their absence
  6. Keep your promises by doing what you say you’re going to do
  7. Don’t take people for granted – anticipate needs, don’t just react
  8. Be open and transparent on your dealings and provide clear information
  9. Always do your best and give your engagements everything you’ve got
  10. Be a Servant Leader by putting others best interest ahead of your own

If you follow these 10 ways to build trust in your brand, “they (your customers)” will come again and again.  Trust me.

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Take it Easy on Your Customers

Two things happened to me over the past two days that made me question how easy we all are in conducting our business and how ridiculously absurd retailer practices are at times.

Yesterday, I had dinner with some old friends at a quaint family owned and operated Italian restaurant. The restaurant menu, had seven specials listed with no descriptions – just the entree name – and no prices. However, the rest of the menu had full menu descriptions and prices.

The server simply passed out the menus and offered no detail or prices. I wondered why the owner (and others too) refused to put more detail on the ‘special menu.’ So, when we asked for the pricing and description of some of the entrees, it certainly slowed down our order and sped up our frustration.

There is no benefit to the guest by not including feature prices or menu descriptions.  In fact, there are several potential customer negatives such as:

  • ‘Sticker Shock’ when you get the bill
  • Shame/embarrassment for having to ask

Now, there should be no shame in asking about prices, but you could find it embarrassing to ask if/when you’re on that first date, with important clients, well-to-do friends etc.

Why restaurants follow this practice is way off base to me and has no upside except to trick customers into paying more. It’s a bush league practice and should stop.

My second experience involves my soon to be ex wireless carrier Sprint.  I’ve been a Sprint customer for nearly 10 years when the company first started in the PCS business. In fact, I helped launch the brand in Western PA and Western NY.

Yesterday, I had a contract with Sprint through May (5 more months), but this morning I accidentally dropped my phone into a toilet – yes, but a clean one! Needless to say, Blackberries don’t float and do not work after such a dunking!

So off to the Sprint store to get a replacement. After spending a few unplanned hundreds of dollars on a new phone, I was required to sign 2 year extended contract because it’s a new phone – my service plan did not change! What insanity! I question the legality of such a practice – and you can count on the fact that I’ll pursue a challenge starting tomorrow.

Is it any wonder why Sprint’s stock has been in the toilet like my Blackberry was this morning? Note: I loved my Blackberry – just don’t care for my Sprint service. And, I care less about it a lot more today than I did yesterday.

So the easy lesson to learn today is that you need to work harder on being easier to do business with your colleagues, vendors and clients.  When you consider the success of many of today’s superstar brands such as:

  • Apple
  • L.L. Bean
  • McDonald’s
  • Starbucks
  • Zappos

..being “Nice & EASY” is definitely a key reason for their success – so remember…easy does it!

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American Cancer Society Marketing Award

L-R - Stephen Wayhart, ACS RVP Glenn Callihan, Carly Neal

At a recent volunteer appreciation dinner given by the American Cancer Society’s Greater Pittsburgh Unit, BrandMill was recognized with a special Marketing Program Award.

As part of BrandMill’s commitment to the communities in which it conducts its business, the Pittsburgh based marketing consultancy, provided a pro-bono service to lead and create the American Cancer Society Western Region’s (now East Central Region) Facebook Fan Page.

This is the Region’s first foray into Social Media Marketing and it will help it to more cost effectively promote its programs, services and special events throughout Western Pennsylvania. BrandMill will continue to offer other Social Media Marketing consulting services for the Region.

For several years, BrandMill Managing Partner Stephen Wayhart was a Board member and most recently has been the chairperson for the Unit’s Marketing Committee.

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