A Revisionist History of Branding – Part 1

It started out in the old west. Pioneers were settling the land. Cattle ranches started popping all over the landscape.  In those days, beef was in high demand. Ranchers knew that raising cows was a great way to make a living. As a result, many ranchers grew big herds of cattle (did you know that twelve or more cows are called a flink?). Eventually, the ranchers’ flinks became so vast that the ranchers found it next to impossible to contain their own flink in one area. The cow’s grazing meadows could not be fenced in.  Cows wandered off and wound up intermingling with other rancher’s cows.

Two problems arose. First, ranchers didn’t have a way to identify their own cows from their neighbor’s cows. And, second, ranchers didn’t have a good way to protect their cows from poachers, unless the rancher could find and shoot the poachers. Ranchers needed a distinctive and easily recognized way to identify their own livestock. This would be a foolproof way to prove ownership of their livestock.

So, what did the ranchers do? You guessed it. They used a branding iron and branded their cows (today, in the state of Nebraska, there are more than 15,000 unique brands used by livestock owners).

By now, you’ve probably figured out what all of this has to do with branding yourself and your business. The ranchers represent your business (or a corporation).  The cows represent your product or service. The meadow represents the vast marketplace. Commingling has to do with the competitiveness of business environment. The actual brand represents your businesses unique identity.

Branding & Personal Branding

My intent here is to give you a quick look at branding and to stimulate your thinking so you are prepared to venture off and start branding your cows. Entrepreneur.com defines branding as, “the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products”.

Most branding strategies are designed for large corporations who are competing for huge chunks of market share.

From a strategic perspective, here are some thing to know about branding:

  • Most of what is written about branding focuses on branding for corporations
  • Most branding strategies focus on product branding, rather than services branding
  • A brand can be created by using a:
    • Name
    • Logo
    • Symbol
    • Motto

My definition of personal branding is “a combination of marketing activities you do to influence how others see you”. You influence your customers and referrers by presenting a positive image of yourself. You’ll see how personal branding and marketing as the management strategic relationships are one in the same.

Let’s get closer to home.’ Branding is not about using spin doctors (spokespersons who you hire to give a favorable impression of you to the public) or publicity agents to manage you as a brand. I’m referring to how you package yourself and projecting a positive image in the eyes of your customers.

Personal branding is a combination of marketing activities you do to influence how others see you.

Here are two things you learned reading this.

  1. A flink is a group of twelve or more cows.
  2. My definition of branding: A combination of marketing activities you do to influence how others see you”.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of A Revisionist History of Branding. You’ll meet Rose, who used a branding strategy to her advantage.

Unraveling the Mystery of Effective Email Marketing: Secrets Revealed – Part 3

In Part 1 of Unraveling the Mystery of Effective Email Marketing, I gave you some background information about how I created a profitable email marketing campaign.

In Part 2, I shared a research study that showed the effectiveness of email marketing. And, I listed seven content-driven email tactics I use to generate revenue.

In this, the last installment of Unraveling the Mystery of Effective Email Marketing, you’ll learn three email-marketing secrets

  1. Break it down. If possible, break down your email list into at least two segments…one list should be your current customers/clients and one list should be your prospective customers/clients. It doesn’t matter how many names/emails addresses you have on each list. Prospective customers/clients and existing customers/clients have different needs. Tailor your message to the unique needs of each group.
  2. More is better. The more you blast out your emails, the more likely you’ll increase the number of responses. I can’t give you a magic number of how frequent you should send emails in order to increase sales. Just keep on blasting.
  3. Less is better. What? I’m not contradicting myself at all. Go ahead and write a draft of your email in a Word document. When you’re satisfied that you’ve clearly communicated your message, step away from your computer for an hour or so minutes, have a cup of coffee and then return to your computer. Re-read your email and delete at least half of the copy. Yup, one half. Can you do it? Your reader will appreciate the brevity of your message.

Now it’s time for you to dive into the sea of email marketing. If you get stuck or frustrated, reread the excerpt from the McKinsey Report in Part 1 of Unraveling the Mystery of Email Marketing. Good luck.

Unraveling the Mystery of Effective Email Marketing – Part 2

In Part 1 of Unraveling the Mystery of Effective Email Marketing, I gave you some background information about how I created a profitable email marketing campaign. Before I tell you how I did it and how I got such an unexpected response and profitable conversion rates, I want to share the following with you.

Here’s a quote from McKinsey & Company regarding email.

Why marketers should keep sending you e-mails
McKinesy & Company Insights
January 2014
By Nora Aufreiter, Julien Boudet, and Vivian Weng

“There’s a reason your inbox always seems jam-packed: e-mail marketing works. But companies can get smarter about ensuring every message counts.

If you’re wondering why marketers seem intent on e-mailing you more and more, there’s a simple explanation: it works. E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined (exhibit). That’s because 91 percent of all US consumers still use e-mail daily, and the rate at which e-mails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least three times that of social media, but the average order value is also 17 percent higher.”

I’m generally skeptical of research that reports such dramatic statistics. My skepticism was diminished after I read the above.

How did I do it? Based on the feedback from the workshop, participants told me they wanted to learn more about certain marketing topics. This information was all I needed to move forward with my email campaign. My approach was straightforward.

  1. I included at least one practical marketing tip in each email
  2. I limited each email to approximately 325 words
  3. If I used information from an outside source, I’d include a link to that source
  4. I did not promote my book in the body of the email. However, on the right column of the email was a box that had a link to my book’s website.
  5. Since I was known to all of the recipients of the email, I did not have to establish my credibility each time I sent an email, I could just jump in and share content
  6. I used an informal style of writing and always wrote in the second person
  7. I did not include any unnecessary graphics or pictures

I broke my rule of just presenting tips in one email. I used a testimonial from a past workshop participant. This participant appreciated the help I gave her in our individual coaching sessions. I had a hunch this approach would add a personal touch to my email campaign.

Every time I sent an email, I would get at least one person requesting and signing up for one-on-one coaching.

Watch for the final episode of Unraveling the Mystery of Effective Email Marketing.