Five Ways To Maintain Brand Value

When it comes to your business, do you know the value of your brand? In other words, what is the monetary impact of your brand to your bottom line? According to Forbes magazine, the values of some of the world’s top brands look like this: Apple, $104.3 billion; Microsoft, $56.7 billion; and Coca-Cola, $54.9 billion.

Your brand value is most likely not in the billions like these global companies, but nonetheless, it’s important to maintain your brand value. Here, we share five ways to retain your reputation, make the most of economic upswings and positively impact your bottom line from Mark Di Somma, a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project.

1. Be part of a rising category. If you have a brand in a rising product category, then you want to invest in building that brand interest. If you don’t have a brand in an up-and-coming category, then consider how you can get your brand in that space either through acquisition, a partnership or co-branding opportunity.

2. Tackle social issues. What are the reputational or social issues that your market segment faces? What impact could your brand have on a social issue? For example, product safety is closely tied to child safety. In the fast-food industry, those brands are being challenged by healthier brands, so they are having to step up with more health and nutrition programs.

3. Increase “share of life.” This phrase from Millward Brown refers to expanding your touchpoints and extending your ecosystem to reach customers in multiple ways and through multiple products and channels. Di Somma uses the example of Apple, a brand that affects lives every day through mobile phones, apps, iPads, point-of-purchase, music and entertainment. Amazon is another brand example of this with its easy, one-click shopping and relevant purchase recommendations. Nike, with its Nike+ Fuelband, has transformed itself from a mere apparel brand to a companion and coach for runners.

4. Be more convenient. One way brands like Apple and Amazon are successful is by creating seamless experiences. This is convenient for the consumer while also helping the brand control the consumer journey. Di Somma points out that digital media plays a key role with this, so think of ways you can develop digital touchpoints through your brand to keep the customer engaged and connected.

5. Beautify. Continue to review and adjust the design and style of your products and your advertising so that your brand feels “now.” This is hard, but not impossible, for brands with long lead times. It is also relative, and chances are your competitors face the same logistical issues that you do. By continually checking the appeal of what you offer, you can introduce your brand to new segments. Remember the slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”? An updated car design led to a younger market for the car manufacturer.

Be a champion of your brand and try these tactics to continue to increase your brand value.

Source: Mark Di Somma is a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project. For more than 20 years he has helped decision makers, brand owners and brand agencies define, articulate and elevate the value of their brands.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Four Ways To Combat Lukewarm Leadership

In the backdrop of uncertainty, a mere spark of ambiguity or apathy by leadership can ignite the pervading fuel of resistance among the masses. Today, we will share four ways to combat lukewarm leadership from business coach and author Brian Braudis.

1. Set the tone: Begin with the energy and gusto you want to see in others. What you do as a leader has tremendous influence on those throughout your team and even your stakeholders. People respond to what you initiate. Demonstrate how much you are willing to give and show that you are duty-bound early and often. Make your messages steadfast. When people see and feel your energy, enthusiasm and promise they will not only buy in, they will help spread your all-in message.

2. Communicate: Communication is a standard by which leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire action. Clear, confident, resonant communication will engender trust and gain followers. Here’s how:

  • Get specific: Simple and concise is more effective than complicated and confusing. Hit the high points in your speeches and save the granular details for in-person communications.
  • Get face to face: Aim for dialog rather than monologue. Employees and team members know the demands on leaders and managers. They know the value of authentic live contact and informal dialog where they can see and feel that their message is being received.
  • Demonstrate beyond words: What you do supersedes what you say. The proven formula for personal communication is 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone and seven percent communication through words. Body language and tone will validate everything that you say. Sending protocol out in a memo is not nearly as effective as walking around and informally sharing your thoughts and expressing yourself on the need for procedures.

3. Be the Island of commitment in a sea of uncertainty: Increased global influence, more demanding customers and disruptive new players are challenges to be surmounted. But to your team members the new economy means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety that makes people susceptible to stress, and being less productive and more vulnerable to conflict. During times of upheaval we need leaders who

are anchored in commitment. They bring a calming presence and a higher perspective to the context of uncertainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty. But when leaders show resolute certainty in their commitment, team members take note and follow suit.

4. Show consistent enthusiasm: Leaders who show enthusiasm remove any hint of being lukewarm. People can visibly see and feel your passion, energy and commitment and they buy in. Your team wants to win and they want you to be successful. No one tries to be second best. Show consistent enthusiasm and your team reciprocate with buy in and enthusiasm of their own.

When savvy followers see and feel your energy, commitment and enthusiasm shining through the daily challenges and frustrations, there’s nothing lukewarm about that.

Source: Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Braudis believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. His passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader.  Image courtesy of google image search.

Five Smarter Ways To Manage Others

Today, many employers say they’re having trouble retaining their younger employees—specifically, Millennials. At 82 million strong, Millennials are the workforce of the future. Studies have shown they want to work where they can make a difference and contribute to something bigger than themselves.

It’s imperative to realize that the people in your organization—especially young people—are the fuel to your long-term success, and the one person who affects that outcome more than any other is the frontline manager.

Today,we’re sharing five defined pillars of success for managers from business coach Jan Makala.

1. Engage employees with a compelling vision of what is expected, and provide the mission to achieve that vision. People respond when they are doing or contributing to something bigger than themselves. When national crises such as earthquakes or hurricanes occur, people are driven to volunteer not because they have to, but because they want to. As a manager, you need to create and share the vision and the culture that gives employees a reason to care, to show up and to do their jobs with a sense of purpose and excellence. Let them know that without them doing what they do, you wouldn’t achieve the results that you desire.

2. Make decisions based on productivity. By keeping your eye on the goal and having your people similarly focused, everyone will understand why certain decisions are made and can buy in. If disagreements occur, these discussions and opinions are welcomed because they are relevant to achieving a better outcome toward the end objective.

3. Motivate every team member to take action. People are more likely to take action if they know what is expected of them. When expectations are clearly defined, employees are less likely to disappoint their manager or their peers. Employees will work together without your direction or approval when they all know their roles and have bought into achieving the desired results. If your people don’t know what is expected, don’t be surprised by what you get

4. Have the assertiveness to drive outcomes. Are you more concerned with the process or the outcome? Managers are in place to strive for positive results. Employees may find ways to produce an outcome that the manager never thought of. Give employees the freedom to experiment and try new ways of doing things. Keep your team apprised of progress to keep them motivated If you neglect to provide appropriate feedback on your employees’ progress, you’ll immediate notice a decline in the contributions of team members. Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions—be generous with your thoughts and expectations.

5. Create a culture that you want. Culture impacts every aspect of how you get things done, from hiring and developing the talents of the employees to customer service. Define your desired culture and then take it from words to actions. If you don’t like the culture you currently have or the results that you are currently obtaining, you are the only person who can change it. Your actions have to mirror what you desire. Do you allow negative behavior to go unchallenged? Realize negative behavior brings everyone down. Your employees are watching, and if they see you doing nothing, your lack of action will send a powerful message.

When employees believe that their manager truly cares about them as individuals, they will walk through fire for that manager. This connection gets to the heart of employee engagement.

Create an environment where people want to come to work, and your business will reap the rewards.

Source: Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly-sought after speaker, and best-selling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Makela has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners and professionals.

Tapping The Power Of Outside Experts

We are not all expert communicators, especially when it comes to business. At times, we have to bring in the outside experts—copywriters and marketing or branding consultants. In preparing to work with them, it’s important to provide context and preparation. This will help these professionals to provide the right message to the right audience, and save time and money in having to develop multiple drafts.

Try these tips from Elena Langdon to help you tap into some extra power.

Know thy contractors. Before selecting an outside communications consultant, ask about expertise in your specific setting or field, not just years of experience. For example, if you hire a copywriter for a newsletter or website, look at her portfolio to see if she’s worked in your line of business before. Working directly with the contractor makes this easier, but if you are getting proposals through an agency, many will also provide information on the individual’s credentials and past work.

Explain your audience. Clue the contractor in about whom they’ll be working with. For example, if you’re looking for a consultant to deliver a workshop on employee engagement, let them know what your corporate structure looks like. Names and roles are especially helpful, as are division, unit and project names. This will help make the workshop relevant and personalized, even though an outsider is presenting it.

State your purpose. Your team and your counterparts across the table might know why you are discussing a contract, but an external expert brought in for the day won’t. What are the team’s goals? Are the

stakes high and the situation tense? Think of communication experts as extensions of your team and brief them accordingly. If they know your objectives, they can better understand you and transmit your message accurately.

Get it in writing. Perhaps this is obvious, but make sure you draw up a contract when working with an external contractor. Some important sections to include are confidentiality, deliverables and duration of work. Consider licenses, certification and insurance, too, if there is any risk involved in the work being supplied.

Provide context. Clear communication depends on contextual knowledge, so provide as much background information as possible. Let’s say you need an interpreter to help you sort out an HR problem with an employee who is more comfortable in another language. Inform the interpreter about any previous meetings, the main issues to be discussed, the type of work the employee does and anything else you think is relevant.

Explain specific jargon and acronyms. Your internal jargon or acronyms might be second nature to you at this point, but they probably sound like alphabet soup to an outsider. A short list or glossary can be helpful so that time isn’t wasted trying to decipher “the BPO merger” or the “quarterly up-queue.”

Consider your space. If you will be working with someone who will need to speak to your employees or visitors, let them know w

hat the physical space looks like. Will you be sitting, standing or touring a facility? How many people need to hear the external contractor? Will you play a video or will participants join via Skype or speakerphone? Knowing this information will allow the external expert to better prepare for the situation or even suggest things you haven’t thought about.

Make the most of their time. Whether it’s an hourly rate or a monthly quota of deliverables, you are paying for the contractor’s time. Think of ways to shorten meetings, including agenda items and committee work that does not involve the contractor. The more focused you are while the external consultant is on the clock, the better.

Send files ahead of time. Always send any documentation that will be discussed a few days in advance. Agendas, contracts, previous meeting minutes, presentation slides—anything that provides context and terminology will greatly enhance communication and save time during the actual meeting or event.

Source: Elena Langdon is a certified Portuguese-to-English translator and interpreter, and an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents more than 10,000 translators and interpreters across 91 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike.

Images courtesy of Google Image Search.

What You Can Learn From The Latest Craze

Pokémon Go is so big, actually, that it’s already catching up with some of the largest social networks out there. There is little doubt by now that Pokémon Go is becoming the most successful mobile app of all time, at least as far as launch-week performance is concerned. It took only 13 hours to hit the top of the U.S. sales charts in its first week. And it hit a 10.81-percent daily user penetration level only four days after its U.S. debut. And did I mention that Nintendo’s valuation increased an estimated $7.5 billion thanks to this game?

It’s a marketer’s dream! In fact, Forbes contributor and blogger Jayson DeMers shares these marketing principles we can take from this global phenomenon.

1. Good branding can sell just about anything. Pokémon Go is actually loosely based on a system that already existed for another location-based mobile game, Ingress. Have you ever heard of Ingress? Possibly, but it didn’t achieve breakout success because its brand never became well-recognized. Pokémon, on the other hand, is a brand that’s been consistently developing itself for more than 20 years. Its character design, game quality and tone as a video game series (and anime) has become so powerful, that its presence alone helped sell the game to multiple generations of Pokémon fans. The game itself is good, but without the branding, it never would have taken off.

2. Timing is really important. Pokémon launched just after the start of summer, when kids are out of school, festivals are kicking up, and people are looking for any excuse to go outside and walk around. Can you imagine what it would be like if the game launched in the dead of winter? During a blizzard? The launch date is no coincidence. It’s also good timing in a broader perspective; Pokémon is 20 years old now, and fans who were children when the series first launched are now 20-something adults with significant buying power.

3. Social proof is everything these days. Thanks to our immediately connected, highly communicative, social media-integrated world, social proof is everything in the modern era. We won’t buy a product unless someone else has reviewed it first. We won’t notice a business unless we hear someone else talking about it. With Pokémon Go, social proof is visible—when you see people having fun with the same mobile game almost everywhere you turn, it’s almost impossible not to want to get involved.

4. A sense of identity leads to loyalty. There are a handful of identity factors that make Pokémon Go such an addictive hit, all of which give users a sense of belonging and loyalty. Thefirst is a layer of nostalgia; 20-somethings all over the country grew up with Pokémon, and this is a way for them to hearken back to the original feelings they had playing the game in the late 1990s. The second is a division of loyalty; in the game, you must choose between three rival teams, and being able to identify with one gets people more invested, similar to the way sports fans become so invested in their teams.

Whether you are looking to launch a new product or rebrand an existing one, take these lessons to heart.

Source: Jayson DeMers is an author who founded AudienceBloom in April 2010. He is also a columnist for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch and Huffington Post. His personal blog is located at AudienceBloom.com/blog.

Tips To Grab Attention On LinkedIn

If you’re a business professional, you most likely have a LinkedIn profile— along with 400 million others. But does your profile get the traction and visibility you need? Do people share your content? Do they request to be connected to you? Do they learn about your skills and services?

Today we share these tips on how to post super-engaging tips on LinkedIn that generate the traction needed to build relationships with your LinkedIn audience, as shared in an interview with LinkedIn expert Mark Williams.

1. Posting an image. The most important thing is on the right-hand side of the ‘What’s on your mind’ box. It’s a little symbol that is critical in that it allows you to add a photo or picture to your update. Updates with pictures get significantly more views than those without.

Images are absolutely critical to get someone’s attention. Most people these days have busy homepage feeds and it’s no different on Facebook, is it? Getting someone’s attention is about bright colors and strong imagery.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is. If they don’t see the image, they’re not going to read it. The image needs to be bright, colorful and relevant to get people’s attention. You can also put a link in your image.

2. Comments are key. There was a florist who was highly effective on LinkedIn simply by creating the opportunity for comments. For example, she shared two colorful, engaging pictures of floral arrangements—one in a vase and one in a box. These were simple pictures taken on her mobile phone and uploaded to the site. Then she asked for comments.

In this case, the opportunity for choice was key.

If you ask people a question, ‘What do you think of … ‘, then you might get a few comments. If you provide an alternate—say this or that—then you get lots of comments because you make it easy for people to answer. Comments are key because comments spread fast. Likes are okay, but they don’t spread like the power of comments.

3. The direct sell. I know what you’re thinking: people shouldn’t really direct sell on LinkedIn. Occasionally a direct sell can be very effective. Take the florist just mentioned. She typically comments or shares updates. She will sometimes simply post a special on her update, of course with a colorful image of the arrangement. But she adds this simple statement, “Please press like if you have any connections.”

One of the first comments generated by her post was, ‘Hi, any chance I can have that delivered today?’ A direct sell like that can only be effective if done in context of having done all the other activities and being seen as a real giver and contributor to the community as opposed to what a lot of people do which is just posting ads.

4. Use tools that make it easier to be active online. One tool suggested is WordSwag. This simple app for the iPhone allows you to add text to your photos in seconds with fun, engaging fonts. Another good tool is Canva, which can help you create decent-quality images that really get traction when used on your status updates.

5. Ask a question. In a recent LinkedIn update there was a picture with sales statistics. It was a bright purple with white text and it said 48 percent of salespeople never follow up with their prospect and 25 percent of salespeople make a second contact and stop. Its source is the National Sales Executive Association. Statistics are commonly used in social media posts and typically get very little traction. However, this LinkedIn user did something different. He shared the stat with a question at the top that read, “Interesting stats, anyone care to disagree?” This generated 14 comments and 30 likes.

Take a few minutes today to create an engaging post for your LinkedIn profile. Try these strategies and see your comments—and your sphere of influence—soar.

Source: Kenny Goodman is a business coach who is passionate about finding new ways to quickly break new ground. He founded Find The Edge, to help business owners grow their businesses in a non-hype and down-to-earth coaching environment.

Power Of The Crowd

My husband is one of those glass-half-full kind of guys who doesn’t let anything get in his way. This “go get ‘em” attitude—plus his interest in wine—led him to become a finalist recently for Crowdsourced Cabernet, a program that picks an amateur wine lover to represent the masses in making all wine-making decisions, from when to pick the grapes to what should be blended. It’s a program that looks to the collective wisdom of a large fan base of amateur wine aficionados to make critical decisions for that particular harvest.

It’s a process that puts that power into the crowd. Crowdsourcing is an effective tool that is becoming an important strategy for many businesses, as we explain in this issue ofPromotional Consultant Today.

Whether you own a small business or part of a large one, your business has basic needs—monetary support, a workforce and brand awareness. Crowdsourcing can play a key role in each of these areas.

Fundraising: Do you have a start-up business and need some investors? Instead of looking for one or two large investments, consider crowdfunding, where multiple individuals can pitch in and have a part in your business. Websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter allow people to invest in your product in return for a product sample or other perk.

Recruiting/Workforce: Do you need specific skill sets for your business? Are you having problems recruiting the right talent but can’t invest in high salaries yet? Crowdsourcing can play a key role. Skill-swapping websites such as Swapaskill make it easy for businesses to exchange their specialties. Other sites, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, connect businesses with freelancers to perform tasks such as transcribing videos, writing articles and conducting research.

Brand-building: You’re ready to launch your business website, but you aren’t sure how the market will react. After all, you aren’t a professional website developer. Well, look to a crowd for input. You can get help to identify problems on your site through tools like Conceptfeedback and BrandsOfTheWorld. These sites offer feedback and help with ideas, symbols, typography and color suggestions from professional designers.

Whether you are looking for the right words to boost the visibility of your business, need workers to perform basic tasks or are looking for the money to fund it all, turn to the power of the crowd with these crowdsourcing tools.

Source: Miranda Marquit is a freelance journalist specializing in topics related to personal finance, entrepreneurship and investing. She has also done reporting work on topics related to science and technology. Marquit’s work is featured on the web, as well as in print publications.

Ohio Museum Exhibits Early 20th Century Promotional Products

Some of the hundreds of vintage promotional products detailing the history of the industry at The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton, Ohio.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton, Ohio, is hosting an exhibit of early 20th century promotional products made in the area. The Advertising Art of Coshocton, Ohio, 1890-1950, runs through September 14.

Coshocton’s history in the promotional products industry goes back to 1886 with the launch of Tuscarora Advertising Company. Eventually, 12 industry companies called the city home, including Standard Advertising Company (1887-1901), The Meek and Beach Company (1901-1940), The H.D. Beach Company (1902-1940), The Meek Company (1905-1910), Marshall Manufacturing Company (1907-1954), American Art Works (1910-1963) and The W.F. Smith Company (1910-1918). Two of them, distributor The Novelty Advertising Company (UPIC: NAC) and supplier The Beach Company (UPIC: BEACHCAL), contributed to the exhibit.

A similar but smaller display of promotional products was held at the museum 10 years ago and proved extremely popular. It was decided that one last comprehensive display of these collections was vital to capture the history of the artwork and catalog the items on display. Joe Kreitzer and Bill Carlisle, the collectors and curators behind the exhibit, worked with Patty Malenke, director of the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, to put the exhibit together.

Museum-Visit

Kreitzer and Carlisle were given free rein to hang the items as they saw fit. Every piece in the exhibit is totally original, and when the exhibit closes they will be returned to their owners. As a visitor begins his or her trip around the room, the very earliest items are on display along with the history of some of the foundational companies that first formed the industry.

Greg Coffman, president of The Novelty Advertising Company, says, “We were asked to share part of our collection and archives for display and historical purposes.  We worked closely with the curators to make sure a wide array of early advertising products from different time periods and companies were included.  My brother Thad and I were also there for the opening ceremonies to share stories and some NAC history.”

Coffman describes the exhibit as a window into Coshocton’s role in the early days of the promotional products industry. He says, “The museum will not only educate many about our industry, but will help preserve the fragile beginnings and scarce records we have about the earliest days of the companies that pioneered the then unknown territory of a promotional product business. The many innovations, patents and products that were born in Coshocton still affect our industry today. Passing that information on is very important as we continue to grow and innovate today.”

“This exhibit begins to tell the story of early American Advertising and how it began and evolved,” Coffman adds. “I think there could be movie made about all the stories I have heard about the early days of the industry. There were many feuds, secret collaborations and innovations, spying and even a death from falling off the roof of a building during a test run of a newly imprinted kite.”

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum’s exhibit highlights the important role promotional products have had in the country’s cultural history. “How we advertise tells us a lot about the different time periods in our country’s history,” says Coffman. “Some of the items in the exhibit contain sayings and products that are not politically or socially accepted anymore, but can give us a crucial peek into the psyche and sign of the times. These historical promotional products showcase the empires of business to the corner mom-and-pop store, remind us of products from our past, and ultimately connect all of us through the genius innovations and colossal flops of American business.”

Printed in PPAI Publications