Are You Staying Competitive? Part 2

One of the most important things to remember when trying to keep a business competitive, as discussed in Part 1, is to know what sets your brand apart. The first step in any process of improvement is identifying what does and doesn’t work. If you don’t know how your brand differs from others in the industry, or don’t care, you’re never going to be able to convince a client to pick you over the competition.

This means knowing not only what makes your competitors unique, but also knowing what makes your brand unique. Do you offer any special services or expertise? Do you provide value beyond that expected of you? Is there something special about your company culture or the way you do business that you can point to? What are your key differentiators and value points and, more importantly, are you advertising them successfully?

These questions and your answers to them form the basis for brand endurance and revitalization. Without them, any marketing strategy is blind, and any company is doomed to eventual obsoletion, which is why Brand Iron prioritizes this investigative process. In order to stay current, businesses need to constantly reassess their position in the marketplace and adapt accordingly. Knowing, intimately, what your business has to offer from one moment to the next seems like an obvious thing, but it is essential for long term success.

Of course, knowing can only get you so far. Once these key differentiators and value points have been identified, the next step is making sure that these are communicated to the client in an efficient and convincing way. Nobody should have to ask what makes your company different; they should know without being told. It should be intrinsically linked to your aesthetic, your content, and your sales strategies, because if it isn’t clear to the client, it doesn’t matter how well you understand it.

The secret to staying competitive, then, is understanding, from every angle, what sets your brand, your process, and your product apart from the competition, and exploiting those differences to their maximum effect. Don’t march onward through poor results and falling revenue; reevaluate, reeducate, and revolutionize your marketing strategy so you can secure long term sustainable growth, as opposed to fleeting success.

Want some help identifying your business’s value points? Let Brand Iron revolutionize your marketing strategy so you can stay out in front of the competition and optimize your brand for the future. Contact us today to learn more by visiting www.brandiron.net

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Are You Staying Competitive? Part 1

No matter which industry your business resides in, it is likely that you don’t have a monopoly on the space. That means there is competition. Competition can be good for both businesses and consumers because it encourages competitive pricing and drives brands to distinguish themselves from the other businesses within the marketplace. However, competition can also create issues for your brand if you do not differentiate yourself enough to create business opportunities for your company.

Differentiating your business from the others in the marketplace is important for many reasons but most importantly, this practice explains to consumers why you are different, better and why you deserve their business.

In order to define your brand’s value points and key differentiators, you must first examine what strengths, weakness, threats and opportunities your competitors possess. Pick the top 5-10 competitors within your brand’s space and closely review what it is about them that makes them unique. Study what they do well and what they could improve, and learn from their mistakes. At Brand Iron, we do this in depth in our Achieve Anything Plan. During our initial BrandStorm session our team examines your brand’s strengths and weaknesses so that we can compare them to other brands in the marketplace and create a comprehensive document containing our findings.

Once you have identified the competition’s differentiators, you can then begin to hone in on what it is that makes your brand unique. Take the time to list out your value points and key differentiators and then make sure that those points are clearly conveyed throughout your brand; in your content, visually and in all of your marketing materials. These value points are what is known as your brand’s positioning. The more clearly you communicate these values to your customers and potential customers, the easier it will be for them to understand why they should choose you over the competition.

Need some help figuring out what makes your brand stand out? Let the Brand Iron team examine your competitors, review your current brand and create an unforgettable new brand position for you to boost brand loyalty and drive revenue. Contact us today to learn more by visiting www.brandiron.net

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BrandStorm: A Brand Strategy Session for Your Business’s Everything

At Brand Iron we’ve created our signature four phases process for building a successful marketing plan: Strategize, Create, Activate, and Achieve. Our team’s ability to deliver a wide range of services, from conceptualizing brands to marketing plans, to creating and implementing go-to-market plans with trackable results, allows us to develop and market brands in a way that very few marketing agencies can. This blog focuses on a specific service we offer in the Strategize phase, BrandStorms.

Build Your Brand and Marketing Plan with BrandStorms

We offer two types of BrandStorms, a mini and a full session. These sessions range from two to four hours, and can be tailored for all types of companies, in any industry. Brand Iron will identify a company’s overarching goals, objectives, and the best means to accomplish them. We examine your current technology utilization, sales and marketing processes, messaging and positioning, SEO and business objectives in order to better understand your brand and create success.

BrandStorms deliver Achieve Anything Plans, brand audits, value points and propositions, market trends, and target audience.We ask detailed questions about your brand in order to develop an in-depth understanding of your companies current market position and goals going forward.

 

Integrating Technology Through MarketingBrandStorm sessions determine the best marketing technology to integrate into your marketing plan; helping your company reach and surpass goals.

One of the most important aspects of our BrandStorm session is the portion where our team dives into your brand’s current marketing technology (MarTech) utilization. Many companies do not currently harness the power of MarTech, such as marketing automation, which could be restricting them from reaching their highest goals. In addition, our team of experts analyzes your brand’s unique needs and objectives to determine which technologies will serve your brand best, in order to accomplish the sales and marketing goals we determined earlier in the session. After integration, our team carefully tracks your brand’s results.

Achieve Anything Plan: A Marketing Plan for The Future

Marketing plan information you will receive from an Achieve Anything Plan are revenue goals, brand positioning goals, and sales goals and the leads needed to reach them.After the BrandStorm, our Brand Iron team supplies the client with a dynamic marketing plan called the Achieve Anything Plan. The Achieve Anything Plan is a tremendous source of information that identifies your company’s business goals and objectives, technology utilization, competitive analysis, messaging platforms, a go-to-market strategy, and the means of tracking the outcomes of each marketing tactic used.

What This Does for Your Business

A BrandStorm is the foundation upon which an unstoppable brand is built. Using the information gathered and created in the Achieve Anything Plan, brands can elevate their marketing abilities and increase their lead generation and bottom lines. Whether your company is big, small, established, or emerging, a marketing plan from our BrandStorm session will better equip your company to tackle current and future goals.

Improve Your Marketing Plan Today

No matter what your objective is, reach the experts at Brand Iron and we will take your brand to the next level and truly help you achieve your anything.

 

Know No Limits!

Brand Iron

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Brand Champion: Howard Schultz

May’s Brand Champion is Howard Schultz.

Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz is May’s Brand Champion for his commitment to the ideals of his business and brand.

As far as brand leaders go, it’s hard to find many more successful than Mr. Schultz. He built Starbucks from only eleven stores to the worldwide coffee chain that it now is, but it is his insistence on upholding company values that truly sets him, and his company, apart.

In 2008, after returning to the helm of a quickly sinking Starbucks,  Schultz did something unprecedented–he closed over 7,000 Starbucks locations for three hours, in order to retrain their baristas on “pouring the perfect shot of espresso.” Starbucks lost millions of dollars in sales and labor costs and risked a major fall in stock, but the company came through with higher customer satisfaction rates and a return to sustainable growth.

This last week, Starbucks made a similar statement. They closed their now 8,000 stores for an entire afternoon to retrain their partners on what they’re calling “anti-bias training,” in response to a racial incident at one of their Philadelphia locations.

Both decisions were met with skepticism from newsagents and customers alike. The decisions lost Starbucks tangible business and revenue, but both decisions reflect a sense of ethical ownership that sets Starbucks’s brand apart. By taking accountability for something that shouldn’t have been ignored, especially by a corporation so large, Starbucks has secured a kind of loyalty that goes beyond the product. They have taken negative attention and turned it into an example of their commitment to the customer and doing the right thing.

Mr. Schultz pushed that envelope even further by releasing an open letter to all Starbucks customers, transparently outlining their decision to close the stores and their reasoning for it. In a cordial and intimate tone, he connected to every single customer and communicated to them their own importance without being condescending or patronizing.

Howard Schultz is a Brand Champion for many reasons but Brand Iron recognizes him this May for his unwavering commitment to the consistency and dependability of his company’s message. It’s easy to talk the talk but real brand loyalty comes from walking the walk, and Howard Schultz is putting on a masterclass.

7 Secrets of a Brand Champion and Brand Champion 100 are part of the Brand Iron brand. Brand Iron is an outcome-focused brand marketing agency located in Denver, Colorado. Contact us today or visit brandiron.net to get started!

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#HowardSchultz #BrandChampion #Starbucks

Brand Champion: Marc Benioff

April’s Brand Champion is Marc Benioff.

We chose Marc Benioff to be April’s Brand Champion because of his crusade to run a great company known worldwide, but also because of his stance to fight for equal pay for women within his company Salesforce.

It may sound easy to pay women equally, but within a tech company that is male dominated it’s easier said than done.  For a company who employs over 30,000 people and has grown at 24% regularly, they are on track to reach revenue of 20 Billion a year by 2020, Salesforce continues to grow at an amazing rate and it would be easy to just let habit and nature take its course, which would mean employing more men than women and paying them more.

In a recent 60 Minutes story on Benioff’s mission, it stated that a woman in 1960 made only 60% of what a man made and that 40 years later that that pay gap had only narrowed by a dime, yes only 10 cents in 40 years. Women today still make on average 20% less than men do.

Because of these facts and a desire to lead by example Marc Benioff has driven Salesforce to lead the charge in pay equality. Benioff conducted an audit to see just how close they were to paying women and men the same, they found out that they weren’t close. Since then Benioff and Salesforce is committed to equal pay and equal opportunity for women and he leads the charge in the business and tech world for other companies to do the same.

When a CEO takes a stand like this is can be a challenge, but is this case Benioff is leading the charge for equal pay for women. Even though it has cost the company real money, it also has been a huge benefit for the company. It has boosted company, helped open up opportunities for women and is now part of the Salesforce brand. It’s because of these facts and his passion to take action that Marc Benioff is April Brand Champion.

 

7 Secrets of a Brand Champion and Brand Champion 100 are part of the Brand Iron brand. Brand Iron is an outcome-focused brand marketing agency located in Denver, Colorado. Contact us today or visit brandiron.net to get started!

 

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Author of Feature Image: Moritz Hager

#BrandChampion #MarcBenioff #Salesforce

Brand Champion: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt

Image Source: Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, screen capture courtesy NCAA

March’s Brand Champion is Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt

Most Brand Champions have a story to tell and this month’s Brand Champion is no exception. Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt has stolen the hearts (and souls) of fans all across America. The 98 year old nun and team champlin for the University of Loyola, Chicago, is not your typical sports icon – she has claimed the hearts of not only sports fans, but non-sports fans around the world.

The former player and coach provides scouting reports, pregame speeches and postgame analysis by email, along with more spiritual guidance. The Loyola Ramblers of Chicago were the lowest-ranked team in the final four and Sister Jean is the team’s most recognizable figure. Sister Jean has received a ton of publicity and attention including tweets from Barack Obama, another basketball fan with Chicago roots, and even there’s a petition to get her to appear on Ellen. When asked during an interview about being a national star, she replied, “really, if I can correct you, international.”

Considering the problems surrounding the NCAA had before March Madness started, it’s so refreshing to have an unconventional star rise out of nowhere. One of the best things about Sister Jean is that she’s sweet, funny, wholesome, not afraid to say what she believes in, i.e. God, and the guys on the team just love her.

Sister Jean is March’s Brand Champion because who else could even stand close to her, especially in a time when controversy, scandal and skepticism reign in politics, business and sports. It’s refreshing to have a Sister Jean, an unlikely champion, inspire people and that is why she is our Brand Champion for March.

Secrets of a Brand Champion and Brand Champion 100 are part of the Brand Iron brand. Brand Iron is an outcome-focused brand marketing agency located in Denver, Colorado.

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#NCAABasketBallTournament #UniversityofLoyola #SisterJean

Trade Show Do’s and Don’ts

Trade shows are a great way to attract new business and have meaningful face-to-face interactions with potential customers.  While they offer a wide variety of opportunities, they aren’t cheap and it takes time to successfully prepare for a trade show. Here are some do’s and don’t to keep in mind while preparing for the big day.

Do

1. Pre-show promotion

First and foremost, you must tell your target audience that you will be attending the event. In the days preceding the trade show, post to social media and tell people exactly where your booth will be set up and invite them to stop by. Tag the trade show to increase visibility and run a small targeted paid campaign on social media to boost your reach.

2. Have a consistent look

If you are going to spend the time and money on the trade show, make sure you are exhibiting a strong, consistent brand image to the audience. You don’t need to have the flashiest booth to attract your target audience, but you do need a cohesive, stylized booth clearly displaying your message, products or services. Inconsistent or poorly designed booths, including sales materials and table covers, make your company look unprofessional and could end up making a negative impression on attendees.

3. Prepare concise sales material

Keep your sales materials brief. Attendees don’t have a lot of time to spend at each booth so having short sales sheets or brochures is a good idea. Handing out a concise, straightforward brochure will make a better impression on guests, even after they leave your booth.

4. Prepare an elevator pitch with a clear value proposition

There will likely be hundreds of different booths at any given trade show and as an exhibitor, you only have a few moments to grab people’s attention and explain your company’s mission. An elevator pitch is a quick way to convey your brand’s value points. Take time before the trade show to sit down with your sales team to prepare a quality elevator pitch that will help you generate leads.

5. Bring business cards

This may seem silly, but don’t forget to bring your business cards. Collecting business cards is a great way for attendees to remember who they spoke to and continue the business relationship after the trade show is over.

6. Get as many contacts as possible

Don’t be shy about asking for business cards or giving out your own. Make a note of the people you spoke to and made strong connections with and follow up with them after the event. Make a note directly on their business card, highlight their information, make a silly alliteration, do whatever it takes to remember who you were talking to and don’t forget to add these contacts into your database after the event.

Don’t

1. Don’t start a conversation with someone without finding out who they are

People joke about names going in one ear and out the other, but this can happen at trade shows. Make sure that you ask specific questions in order to get to know the person you’re talking with. Find out their position in the company, what their company does, the industry they work in, and any other attributes to make a personalized connection. These personalizations go a long way.

2. Don’t overload your attendees with too much information

With all the hustle and bustle going on, it is easy to feed off this energy and tell people every detail about your product or service. Someone once said “don’t throw up on attendees”, meaning don’t give them too much information that they won’t be able to recall later. Remember, keep your conversation on track and just discuss the most important information.

3. Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready for the trade show

Give your team enough time to prepare for the trade show. Make sure your print material is up to date, your booth is ready and your team is trained. If you need to order a material like a banner or table cover, make sure you build in enough time for shipping.

 

Brand Iron can help you with every step of the process. We’re experts in all things trade show related. Contact us today to see how we can upgrade your trade show game!

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Brand Champion: USA Men’s Curling Team

February’s Brand Champion is the USA Men’s Curling Team. 

Brand Champions have a few distinct characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the pack. They inspire others and believe that anything is possible. That’s why February’s Brand Champions are the USA’s men’s curling team!

No one expected the men’s curling team (especially since they’ve never won a medal at the Olympics) to accomplish much of anything. So when they got off to a slow start, judges and spectators alike were not surprised – in fact – it was exactly what was expected. Yet, when the team went on to win 3 high-stakes matches, against teams who’ve had much more success in the past, people started to take notice. The team continued to shatter all expectations when they beat power-house teams, Canada and Sweden; resulting in not only their first curling medal, but a gold medal at that.

One of the best things about this team and their story is that these are normal guys, not just athletes. They work normal jobs – Monday through Friday – like the rest of us. They are true red, white, and blue Americans, living the American dream. People like to root for the underdog and these unlikely heroes are humble, approachable, and representatives of America in the best ways possible.

In a time where controversy seems to surround sports. They had all of America rooting for them, uniting a country with an obscure sport and surprising success that resulted in their first gold medal.

By any definition, the USA Men’s Curling Team members have truly become Brand Champions on an international level!

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#BrandChampion #USAMen’sCurling #OlympicsPyeongchang

Brand Champion: Sarah Huckabee Sanders

January’s Brand Champion is Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Let me preface this by saying this not a political article but Sarah is a Brand Champion because she has brought stability to the Trump White House and the Press Secretary position, where three men before her couldn’t do it.

Josh Earnst Obama Press Secretary White House  Sean Spicer Press Secretary White House Donald Trump  Anthony Scaramucci Donald Trump Press Secretary White House

Source: Jdarsie11 (no attribution implied)

Huckabee Sanders is a calming presence that was desperately needed, she is self controlled, has a wit and she has an emotional intelligence about her that was/is desperately needed.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a Brand Champion because she has help to establish a sense of stability, something that her three predecessors couldn’t do. She is calm and rational, something that many thought was missing before she arrived at the White House. Brand Champions need to have a  “presidential quality” about themselves to forge a brand and effectively communicate what it stands for.

Another part of being a Brand Champion is being calm under pressure and having the ability to stand firm in the face of pressure and adversity, which she clearly has had to master. In a year, that was rough to say the least in that position, Huckabee Sanders has carried herself in a professional manner and represents the White House and the President very well. Brand Champions also communicate the brand message and position in a clear and concise fashion. Huckabee Sanders does this exceptionally well behind the podium each and everyday, making her an effective communicator and Brand Champion.

Brand Iron is a s a strategic branding, marketing, and enterprise value creation agency. Our conversation starts with you and the goals you set for your company. Founded by Michael Doyle in 2002, Brand Iron delivers on the promise to forge brands and drive revenue through strategy-based business development, creative, public relations, social media, positioning, and marketing.

7 Secrets of a Brand Champion is a book, talk and blog by Michael Doyle and Brand Iron.

Brand Champion 100 is a blog and product of Brand Iron.

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#BrandChampion #SarahHuckabeeSanders #PressSecretary #Marketing

Creating an Email Drip Campaign

Consumers are bombarded by advertising content nearly around the clock. Your marketing messages will get lost in the crowd if you don’t take the time to personalize the content. Email drip campaigns are a great tool your company can utilize when trying to generate more leads, nurture qualified leads, and optimize your time.

What is a Drip Campaign?

A drip campaign is an automated workflow used to nurture leads through the sales funnel by dispersing specific marketing information to prospects over a long period of time. This helps establish credibility and brand recognition. If these drip campaigns are set up properly, you will only have to send out one initial email. The actions (or lack of) by the recipient will determine what content and how much content they receive. The best part? After the initial email, everything is handled automatically.

How to set up a Drip Campaign

You start by setting up a workflow that maps out the series of automated triggers and actions. For instance, if a lead opens an email, clicks within an email, visits a page, or fills out a form, these triggers will activate specific follow-up actions. Then, based on these triggers, different rules will be set in place for that lead.

For example, you are sending out an RSVP email for an upcoming event.  If a lead clicks on an “RSVP YES” button for the event, then they will be added to a list titled “RSVP YES” and 4 days before the event they will be sent a reminder email. But if they did not click on the “YES” button, then one week later they will be sent an email reminding them to RSVP for the event. This type of workflow can be tailored to all sorts of marketing campaigns.

Here are a few examples of different types of email drip campaigns:

1. Top-of-Mind Drips: these types of campaigns drive awareness and keep your message in front of your audience. Suggested content includes specific landing pages, infographics, case studies, newsletter recaps or any other information which will increase brand awareness.

2. Educational Drips: Provide relevant information on the unique products or services offered by your company and how they can help. These types of campaigns are great for prospects who don’t know what specific offerings would cure a pain point. Note: Campaigns that are too promotional — all about your company with no educational value — will turn away potential leads. Suggested posts: Case studies, how your product or service is applied in the real world, and infographics.

3. Re-engagement Drips: These are used to win back the interest of cold, unengaged or former leads. A great type of email to put in this type of drip is a case study showcasing current client work.

4. Competitive Drips: Target competitor’s clients with the various benefits of switching services. You see this all the time with phone companies. Suggested content include any statistical information, case studies and testimonials.

5. Promotional Drips: Entice leads with limited-run promotions and special pricing. The pressure of a limited-time offer is a known champion when it comes to converting leads into customers. A reduced price or free add-on may be just enough to make a sale.

6. Region or Industry Drips: Use a specific campaign to target various regions and industries. Tailor information and articles so that is resonates with a specific target audience. We recommend using this type of campaign if your company targets many different industries or personas. Slight personalizations go a long way in email marketing.

 

Now that you know about a few of the different types of drip campaigns, put them to use in your email marketing. Not sure how to begin? Brand Iron is ready to help automate your marketing. Get started by filling out the form below or visit brandiron.net and give us a call: 303-534-1901

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#marketing #emailmarketing #dripcampaign #email #workflow #automatedmarketing