I’ve just read “A street cat named Bob” which is a lovely read – perfect holiday reading in fact – and the author, James Bowen , describes a few occasions when he has done just this, braced himself for impact… for example when he had to report back to the HO of the Big Issue Sales because he had been accused of ‘floating’ by some other Big Issue vendors. He got a verbal warning; but he thought he would have his permit removed so had put off making this appointment.
Don’t we all do this sometimes? By how much do we limit ourselves from really achieving our goals and successes by our fear of self limiting beliefs….Huge I imagine. As always Seth Godin gives his thought very clearly:
“I would imagine that there are certain situations, perhaps involving the martial arts, where bracing for impact is a good idea.
The rest of the time, not so much. If your car is about to hit a tree at thirty miles an hour, or the jet is about to slam into the wall of the Grand Canyon, it’s not altogether clear that tensing all your muscles and preparing to be squashed is going to do you much good at all.
Worse than this, far worse, is that we brace for impact way more often than impact actually occurs. The boss calls us into her office and we brace for impact. The speech is supposed to happen next Friday and we spend a week bracing for impact. All the clenching and imagining and playacting and anxiety—our culture has fooled us into thinking that this is a good thing, that it’s a form of preparation.
It’s not. It’s merely experiencing failure in advance, failure that rarely happens.
When you walk around braced for impact, you’re dramatically decreasing your chances. Your chances to avoid the outcome you fear, your chances to make a difference, and your chances to breathe and connect”.
There are any number of guides to what we should be doing at all/better with regard to SEO (search engine optimisation) . The below article written by Digital Marketing Assistant with Business West, Chris Danks, is a great summary of how it is and what you can do yourself. And a great reminder/check list to us all if we think we know it all already! Really important to ensure all these tips are in place.
7 basic SEO tips to help you get started
Getting to grips with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics is essential to increase traffic to your website and therefore improve the opportunity for sales and lead generation.
First off you need to understand what SEO is all about. SEO is the process of improving the position or ranking of web pages in the natural or unpaid results of search engines. It consists of many elements including website structure, social media, and links. But in the end it all comes down to the words and phrases people enter in to the search engine to find what they are looking for.
But how important is to appear at the top of Google? Research has shown there’s a strong correlation between how high a web page appears in the search results and how many visitors it receives. And with an average of 6 billion searches per day on Google it’s clear that search engines are the primary tool used to navigate the web.
In the rest of this blog I’ll outline 7 elements that should be considered a key part of your SEO efforts
Your Brand – what is it? Fluffy nonsense or something fundamental to your business?
There are so many articles and papers written on what a brand is or should be. I’ll add my thoughts to these and touch on a recent example where getting your branding wrong can make a huge difference to your share price!
So then, what is branding?
Firstly, what it isn’t: It’s not just about your logo!
It’s about meaning. It’s about what you and your business actually mean in people’s heads and hearts.” (Simon Middleton). You must connect with customers and audiences emotionally, authentically and inspiringly, making sure what you say and believe you are, really is how you are perceived. And it’s really important to understand this; if not you may be portraying a brand image to your prospects and customers that is not necessarily the key value that is associated with you by your customers. It could be something quite different….. So you need a survey, a questionnaire to your users to ask them, and then a process to consider the results, educating your team about the findings to develop a clear positioning statement, a list of brand values/traits, the brand promise and the brand story
Your brand personality can help your brand by
helping to suggest the kind of relationship that a customer has with your brand
brand loyalty – think John Lewis
giving a vehicle for differentiation which is difficult to copy
Successful Branding: Five key elements
Think of it as a set of human characteristics associated with your business. Brand Position: this describes what you do and for whom; what makes you unique, special and different from your competition and why should your customers buy from you. Back to target customer, of course, thinking also about gender, age, socioeconomic position and also emotional characteristics. Once you’ve defined this, make it available in 25/50/100 words – which can then be developed into your Elevator Pitch. Brand Promise: this is what you promise to deliver to your customers EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU CONNECT WITH THEM. To come up with your promise, consider what customers, employees and partners should expect from every interaction with you and ensure your brand promise reflects this. Brand Personality: How does your brand ‘behave’? Brand Traits illustrate what you want to be known for – think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees and partners to use to describe your organization. Work towards 4-6 traits – single adjectives. For example, this could include sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and strength Brand Story: Your brand story illustrates your history showing how your history has added value and credibility to your brand. It also usually includes a summary of your products or services. Brand Associations: This is the bit people often mistake for being ‘brand’ in itself. So the specific physical ‘stuff’ that make up your brand – name, logo, colours, taglines, fonts, imagery. All of this must reflect your brand promise, your brand traits and support your brand positioning statement. One Vital Mantra from this: Consistency. It’s no good spending time and energy in creating all the above if you then don’t ensure its CONSISTENT execution. There’s no excuse to falter ‘ even once’. Without consistency, brand awareness becomes impossible to achieve, no matter how much money you spend on marketing.
So you’d think in a large company all of this would be understood and these basic steps followed. How then can it all go so wrong?
“Fashion retailers, Mulberry, based not a million miles from here, faces a painful fight to recover past glory as profits dive”
(Times June 13th 2014)
What did they do wrong?
They tried to get into the ultra-expensive bags for millionaires at £15,000 a pop (how much?) instead of their more modest selling price of between £500 and £800 a bag. A completely different target market which clearly wasn’t ready to embrace Mulberry. Their pre-tax profits dived from £26M to £14M. They had appointed a new Chief Exec,(now no longer) – a former Hermes Executive who wanted to take Mulberry into the top echelon of European designer labels as he had been used to with Hermes…. Mulberry accepted that their CE’s approach had been fundamentally “flawed”. “You need to build up a reputation over decades in leather goods to charge those prices”. I imagine they didn’t do their basic Brand Positioning exercise, customer research, target customers etc. What a fiasco…
So even if Fearne Cotton and Katherine Jenkins choose to spend £15K on a handbag (or maybe they were freebies to promote them??) suddenly changing your Brand Position without doing your homework first may not be the right way to go. Update November 2014:
I’ve just spotted in the local Bath Business News that they have slumped into the red with a half-year loss of £1.1m after the disastrous attempt to go upmarket backfired. It has suffered a 9% fall in sales while wholesale revenues tumbled 31%. Update Summer 2015
And another update reports that profits have plunged again – a mere 86% drop in profits from £14M to £1.9M in the year to March – a legacy of the group’s disastrous attempt to move into the ultra-luxury end of the market. But they are confident that their ‘turnaround strategy is well on track after ‘upping the creativity button’ and designing more ‘desirable’ handbags. And they have appointed Cressida Bonas, Prince Harry’s former girlfriend, as its ambassador.
Hmmm… watch this space! Update June 2017 “Luxury brand Mulberry has fashioned a jump in sales and profits for the last year as shoppers were won over by new creative designer Johnny Coca’s handbags. Pre-tax profits have increased 21 percent to £75 million which is good news. A new range of more affordable bags, designed by Johnny Coca, has hit the right note with shoppers. One of the best sellers is the revamped lighter-weight zipped Bayswater, which is his take on Mulberry’s best-known product, with its signature postman’s lock”.
So the moral of the Mulberry story is? If you need help in creating a buying persona for your target market, please call on 07789 778 335. A really important exercise.
We’ve all seen social media disasters and perhaps watched with interest as the great and the good try to wriggle free from their faux pas…. But as with all things, there should be a process and as a company you need to think about how to handle such things if something goes wrong. With the example below, an American clothing company’s social media was being updated by a young employee who had no idea of the significance of the image he posted. See the backlash and check out Imagine’s excellent suggestions for DOs and DON’Ts for handling problems. “”This past weekend, our country celebrated its independence with cook-outs, memorials, fireworks and, in the case of those of us in DC, some pretty awesome weather. Over the weekend, American Apparel joined in the on-line celebration with what they believed to be a photo of fireworks to theirTumblr site. Unfortunately, they missed the mark, as photo was actually the iconic image of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. American Apparel quickly got the predictable social media backlash, and their PR team jumped into action. Their response: “the person managing their social media isn’t from this country and was born after the Challenger disaster”. Was it an appropriate reaction? I’ll let the public judge that.
To prepare for such tragic marketing missteps, organizations should have conversations ahead of time, beginning with questions like:
“What is our plan for handling a social media/marketing gaffe?”
“Do the people who need to know this plan know it adequately?”
“Have we learned something that should cause us to modify our plan?” “”