Tag Archive | "Advertising"

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Business Sense: You Can’t Have 10 Specialties

Posted on 10 August 2017 by cradmin

Projektovy-manazment-pre-Marketing_8_wMany countertop fabricators today like to offer their customers a full range of products and services, but saying you specialize in each one of them stretches the definition of the word a little too far. For example, one countertop fabricator’s website claims the company specializes in “granite, marble, limestone, tiles, quartz, travertine, onyx soapstone pavers and fireplaces.” For what it’s worth, this fabricator may as well throw in basketball, blackjack and fine cheeses.

This is in no way an isolated incident. A few quick jumps through Google reveal a whole host of other fabricators with similarly long lists of specialties. In just one city, the following examples can be found:

  • We specialize in countertops, vanities, windowsills, fireplaces and coffee tables.
  • We specialize in natural stone, granite, marble, limestone, soapstone, travertine and onyx.
  • We specialize laminate, solid surface and sinks.

How is a homeowner supposed to determine which of the above businesses he or she should select?

Create a Unique Proposition

Rather than trying to attract the entire kitchen and bath market, focus on what makes your company unique. Instead of spouting out all of your services and products in one long list, tell your website visitors why they should choose you. A great template for this sentence looks something like this:

I help _____ do _____ so they can _____!

Now, this message is not going to attract everyone, but it should ring true to your primary customer base. To help you create a powerfully unique marketing message, ensure it meets the following four criteria:

  1. It states a specific benefit.
  2. It includes an offer that does not or cannot be met by your competitors.
  3. It speaks strongly to a large group of potential customers.
  4. It is tried and tested to be true.

All it takes is one day of brainstorming to create a unique message that converts your website visitors into happy customers without having to say that you specialize in everything.

Read the full article by Harry Hollander of Moraware here: You Can’t Specialize in 10 Things

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Build a Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Business

Posted on 13 April 2016 by cradmin

By Grant W. Hicks

Marketing Objective

There is nothing better in marketing than surpassing your targets and growing your business as you planned. On the flip side, there is nothing worse than finishing a slow month and starting a new month with few prospects and little potential business other than a desk full of cold calls to make.

We all have financial goals and targets. Now we need a blueprint to start making those goals a reality. As an advisor, I know that the ups and downs happen. But I also know that with a consistent marketing guerrilla-attack program, you will smooth out your production and be more consistent in your approach.

Marketing Strategy

How do you sit down and write a marketing plan? Budget at least half a day to one full day, grab a pad of paper and a pen and start writing. Sound simple? Well it is, so make it simple. Unless you’re running the marketing for Proctor & Gamble, why do you need an exhaustive written plan?

Try these simple steps:

1. Write down all of the marketing that you are doing now, the frequency and the annual and monthly costs.

2. Write down all of the marketing ideas that you were thinking of pursuing in the next year. Write or collect a list of ideas. Don’t discard anything until you have examined it further. At this point, write it down. If you are looking for ideas, conduct a routine search of the Internet. Ask your manager or marketing wholesalers for ideas. Visit the library to find a book that serves as a guide to marketing ideas. Just write them down.

3. Write down what your competition is doing for marketing. At the same time, write down who your competition is.

4. Write down what your peer group and some of the business owners you admire or respect are doing in terms of marketing and their costs.

5. Create an annual and monthly budget. Exclude the cost of personnel. The final marketing budget should be between 10 to 20 percent of your gross income. Remember, marketing is an investment in your business and not an expense.

The second part of budgeting is time. Your time and the time staff spends on marketing both need to be allocated. How much time will you devote to developing your marketing? How much time during the day do you spend on marketing? Now, how much time should you spend on marketing during the day? I always schedule a half day per month to work on my marketing and client communication strategies. This scheduled time is very productive time in my practice. If you don’t have the time now, how will you have time in the future to grow your business?

6. Identify your ideal client profile, and write it down.

7. Decide what marketing mix will work for you. What will work and what won’t work depends on your commitment. This is where you make decisions based on projections of growth that you want to achieve. For example, if you want to increase revenue from $300,000 to $450,000 per year, your marketing budget is $6,000 and you have no major plans for marketing, then how are you going to achieve that growth?

Although some advisors say that their business grows by referrals only, what do they do to generate those referrals? Perhaps they provide exceptional service, which costs money and may be defined as an excellent communication program. Well, guess what, their dynamic communication program is part of their marketing strategy. What is your ideal marketing mix?

8. Once you have decided on what you are going to do in the next year, break it down into a monthly marketing calendar. Decide which months you are going to do what.

9. Decide on costs and put annual and monthly costs down on paper. At this point, make sure that you can afford your program. If you cannot, consider the consequences of borrowing to invest into your business. That is solely your decision. I remember once when I first started in the business, I borrowed money on a credit card to attend a conference. I didn’t think I could afford to go, but after I returned, I realized I couldn’t afford not to. I learned that I was investing in myself and not just spending money on my business.

10. Put the plan into a working document. Share it with other executives, managers and your staff. Then, commit to completing it, revisiting it on a monthly basis and measuring the results.

Bonus Tip

The simpler your marketing plan, the easier it will be to complete successfully. The marketing plan should be easy to execute once you have put enough thought and effort into it. The most challenging part of your marketing plan may be time and timing.

For example, I know several financial advisors who start a marketing plan only to stop after a few months because they are too busy. The plan depends on a constant time commitment to complete. If you plan in advance and schedule times and dates and pay in advance, then you are committed. However, don’t put your marketing eggs into one basket. Have multiple marketing ideas in different avenues working for you simultaneously.

Each quarter, I take one day to review the success of the marketing plan, look at future ideas that I may implement into my plan and set a course of action for the quarter. I also write a mini-marketing plan for the quarter. That way, I can review it with my team and plan the next quarter’s marketing events and ideas in advance.

Another key element of your marketing plan is to look back and look forward. First, look back to what marketing worked for you and what didn’t work. Then, project a vision of how you want to position yourself in your marketing messages. For instance, I manage retirement assets, so my title is not Financial Planner. Rather, it is Retirement-Planning Specialist. Positioning means determining exactly what niche you’re intending to fill. I live in a retirement community, so it is natural to work in that niche.

Finally, if you’re happy with and expect average service, then that is what you are probably giving. But if you expect world-class service, then bring that element to your business. The Ritz Carlton motto is this: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Look to first-class organizations with a high degree of service and attention to detail, and implement that type of philosophy into your business. This will help your marketing efforts when thinking about attracting new clients.

About the Author

Grant Hicks, president of Hicks Financial, is one of Canada’s leading authorities on marketing. He is a dynamic and entertaining speaker with an amazing ability to motivate audiences to achieve more. He co-authored Guerrilla Marketing for Financial Advisors with Jay Conrad Levinson for Trafford Publishing in 2003.

Copyright© 2016, Grant W. Hicks. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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How to Build Credibility Through Bylined Articles

Posted on 16 December 2015 by cradmin

By Sally Saville Hodge

Editor’s Note: We here at CountertopResource.com are always on the lookout for articles on countertop fabrication and the larger countertop industry. Contact us at [email protected] for more information about how writing bylined articles can work for you and your business.

When most people think of PR, they think it’s all about sending out press releases – to as many media outlets as possible – in hopes that an editor will bite.

That is one aspect of PR. And it’s the most commonly practiced. But it’s not necessarily the most strategic approach, particularly for those who don’t have a product to push but do want to get across a way of thinking or the thought leadership that differentiates them. A more effective approach is to position that expertise via bylined articles.

Think about it – an article that’s written under your name (or byline) and is 100 percent the message you want to communicate. It’s not an ad (it should be written in an informational, non-promotional manner) and appears in the editorial pages of a publication you’ve targeted because its readers constitute your buying audience (or perhaps your peers). Between the extent of the message, which you’re largely controlling, and the third-party endorsement value of the editorial coverage, you’ve got a PR tool of substantial value.

To tap into the power of the bylined article to help build your credibility and reputation, you need to understand the five Ws: what, who, why, where and when.

What They Are

The most fundamental lesson is learning what byline articles are. They are essentially articles written under your name – or in journalism parlance, your byline. Such articles are a vehicle for you to flex your industry-knowledge muscles. The material in the bylined articles should be presented in a way that demonstrates discreetly what makes you an expert in your particular field. Three of the most common types are op-ed contributions, trend articles and how-to pieces.

Op-Ed Pieces

An Op-Ed is so named because it appears opposite the editorial page. Editorials are publications’ official stance on issues affecting the industries they cover. Op-Ed pieces similarly position the author’s point of view on an issue or trend. Strong opinions matter.

We have helped craft various op-ed articles for one of our clients, a consultancy firm specializing in brand and business strategy. One of our targeted publications for this client is BrandWeek, which accepts contributed op-ed pieces by its readers. We worked with one of this client’s partners in creating a response to H.J. Heinz’s discontinuation of flavored and blue-colored French fries. Entitled Green Ketchup Works, But Not on Blue Fries, he argued that the intent to stretch its Ore Ida brand was strategically well-grounded, explaining why it behooves companies to understand how far their brands will stretch to help drive better business results.

The article added to the consultant’s reputation for his thinking on brand issues and also created a strong link between brand strategies and business results – a key underpinning to his firm’s mission.

Trend Articles

A trend article, logically, discusses a current or burgeoning trend that has the potential to affect either the public or a specified field. It’s generally more informational and less opinionated than an op-ed piece.

One of our clients, a book publisher, retained our firm to create a variety of trend-oriented bylined articles for three of its authors as a means of supporting book sales over the longer term. One author’s book revolved around the current state of the practice of marketing. Our aim was to develop several articles based on its contents that discussed current trends and issues – from the challenge of breaking out of the marketing silo to deficiencies in the planning process. These were created for a management journal and several leading marketing publications and further solidified the author’s position as a leading authority on marketing, branding and management issues and trends.

How-To Pieces

A third type of bylined article is the how-to piece. Two of our publishing client’s authors wrote books on how to achieve sales improvement that were ideally suited to this type of bylined article approach. We created several dozen articles, based on each book’s contents, for each author that appeared in publications catering to sales professionals, including many that were industry-specific. These placements not only spurred further sales but increased awareness of the authors in a wider sphere of influence.

Who They Are Appropriate For

Anyone who aims to be positioned as an expert in his or her field can utilize this approach. We’ve used this as a strategy quite successfully with consultants of various types, for example. Authors, who by inference are “experts,” are great candidates, particularly since they can borrow against their book content for subject matter. But we’ve also used this approach with clients who are more esoteric, such as the innovative owner of a plastics-molding firm whose message revolved around the benefits of finding uses for recycled plastics. Although most publications we’ve worked with eschew bylined articles submitted by vendors because of their tendency to “sell” rather than inform, we also have had success in this space by positioning clients on general industry issues and solutions, rather than their specific solutions.

Why They Are Important

As our examples illustrate, bylined articles are an excellent way to showcase the knowledge and expertise that make you stand out in your field. Editors who accept your article ideas see you as someone with expertise who has something important to say. Readers will see you in the same vein. The fact that the publication thinks enough about your message to run it on the editorial side (without having you pay for the privilege) enhances the value of your article. If you share that publication with your customers and/or potential customers, they also see you as an expert – if your peers want your opinion or information, then you probably know your stuff and will do a good job on their countertop project(s).

Developing a well-written article is challenging, but it is worth your while. While it helps you showcase your thinking, it also gives you greater exposure to a targeted audience. And, since you are the one creating the article, you have far more control over your message. And the content is also far more extensive than a single quote in an article written by a reporter. Another benefit is the implied third-party endorsement value of editorial-side coverage.

Another consideration is its longer-term power as a marketing tool. Once you secure the appropriate reprint or sharing permissions, the article can be incorporated into your marketing program and posted on your website for visitors to browse, emailed to prospects and friends or utilized as part of your presentation materials.

Where They Are Accepted

Most publications accept some form of bylined article. Many major dailies accept op-ed pieces, particularly by well-known authorities, such as academics or authors. Other media outlets, like the professional or trade press, often solicit informational or instructional bylined articles or opinion pieces and often depend on outside contributions because they don’t have a wealth of staff.

Professional and trade publications and web portals, such as CountertopResource.com, are also excellent options because they allow you to target the specific readers who constitute your buying audiences or you can show the piece to your buying audience. The primary buyer of our brand and business consulting client’s services, for example, is the chief marketing officer. Thus, we have developed good relationships with the majority of the marketing trades and journals where our client’s bylined articles appear with regularity.

When They Are Appropriate

Bylined articles are almost always appropriate – depending on your targeted venue.

Certain types of instructional pieces will always find a home, particularly if they are rounded out with current examples and a perspective that might advance what’s already been written on the topic. It helps, by the way, to research your targeted media market before writing your piece to make sure your topic hasn’t been covered recently.

For bylined articles that respond to a current issue or trend, however, timeliness is critical. Stay abreast of developing news, both generally and in your industry, to help you begin thinking about what’s topical and what insights you could provide to shed light on an issue or add to the analysis that is taking place.

The use of bylined articles as a public relations approach is rising in acceptance as a more strategic and focused tactic that helps build a brand over the long term. It takes time to put this sort of program in place – from targeting and positioning appropriate media markets to devising storylines that will sell to incorporating the outcomes into the overall integrated marketing program. Yet the return on investment will prove this out as a viable adjunct to the more commonly practiced forms of public relations.

About the Author

Sally Saville Hodge is president of Hodge Communications, Inc., specializing in strategic public relations and marketing communications for businesses, entrepreneurs and professional associations. Subscribe today to [email protected]!, a free, bimonthly e-newsletter and get a free special report: “Using Buzz to Create a Groundswell for Your Business.” Visit http://www.hodgecommunications.com for further information.

Copyright© 2015, Sally Saville Hodge. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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Countertop Commercial that Rocks

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Countertop Commercial that Rocks

Posted on 29 March 2013 by cradmin

Here’s another interesting video we ran across, posted by Premier Countertops of Omaha, Neb. This one, however, isn’t a tips sort of a video, but rather an outright sales pitch. While it doesn’t really educate the viewer on any particular aspect of countertops, other than maybe how not to treat your countertops, it is a great example of how advertising can work to draw in potential customers, if you are selling retail. More tips for fabricators who are looking into advertising can be found here.

The commercial uses humor to draw in the audience and also demonstrates not only the durability of high-quality countertops made from such materials as granite, quartz surfacing or solid surface, but also the beauty. This company sure went out of the box with this one, and makes a real effort to draw in the viewer.

It certainly brought a smile to our faces here at CountertopResource.com. We hope you enjoy it also…

 

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Five Valuable Advertising Tips

Posted on 24 December 2012 by CRadmin2

Advertising is one of the most important aspects of a successful business. And if you are selling countertops directly to the public, you should consider how you are going to reach them. Of course, the advertising must be backed up with a quality product and friendly, reliable service, but if no one knows who you are or what you have to offer, then the rest does not matter very much. Advertising is a good way to make potential customers aware of you, and it can be used to alert your current customers about new services, new products or special deals.

It is not enough to just advertise. You must make sure to implement effective advertising strategies to get the most bang for your buck. Following are five tips for a successful advertising campaign:

  1. Understand Your Customers – Effective advertising relies on your ability to understand who your customers are and the niche you serve. Generic ad campaigns directed to the general public are often expensive and may not generate enough sales to make them worth the expense. When you know your customers, you can design ads around their tastes and drop the ads directly into their laps. If your customers are kitchen & bath retailers, obviously it wouldn’t do much good to have television or newspaper ads. Or if you are trying to reach any homeowner in a two-state area, direct mail might be a very costly premise when you could take out an ad in a newspaper or on a radio station.
  2. Establish Your Image – It is important to develop an image and present a style that resonates with your customers. Many businesses are instantly recognizable by their logo and the image they have created. You want to be one of these businesses. Other than your logo, simple details such as a font, a slogan or even a mascot can all help shape your company’s image.
  3. Don’t Be Stingy – Advertising costs money, and you should not be afraid to spend it to get expertly crafted ads into the hands of your most likely future clients. Businesses that skimp on their advertising budgets often do not realize why they are not bringing in any new customers. Likewise, don’t just spend money for the sake of spending it. You should also make sure you are utilizing less expensive means of reaching new customers, such as encouraging referrals and word-of-mouth business. Although word of mouth is a great marketing tool, it cannot be relied upon as a sole source of new business, especially if you need to increase your revenue quickly. Mass media and email marketing may be able to get the job done with a price tag that is justifiable by the returns it produces.
  4. Be Aware of the Competition – Your competitors are stealing your customers. If you do not get the word out more than them, provide superior service than them and fabricate better products than them, they are going to prosper while your business crumbles. Once you understand the competition, you can analyze which markets and which angles are under-marketed. Your competition can also provide you with good ideas for advertising that you can improve upon. Of course, outright copying may not get you any points, but don’t discard a good idea just because someone else also uses it. Just make it your own.
  5. Make Full Use of Available Resources – The burden of creating advertising materials and sending them out to the right groups of people is not one you must bear alone. No matter whether you are using traditional media, email marketing or online banner ads, experts are ready to work with you to develop catchy and informational content. Be prudent, but don’t put together a poor marketing campaign just because you can save a few bucks. In the long run, you will get poor results and the money you did spend will be money wasted.

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