Archive for the 'Marketing' Category

Brand Yourself in a Crowded Market

Branding in a crowded market isn’t just a necessity for companies. Thinking about it, branding is a burning issue (no pun intended) for each single individual.

Almost everybody is working today in a crowded market: no matter whether one works as a carpenter, as freelance writer or business consultant. Chances are, there are tons of other people offering the same service as you do.

Like for products, where a brand helps to differentiate a product from similar offerings (as Gordon Graham puts it in his presentation), a brand can help to distinguish yourself from the crowd as well. Sounds strange? Well, in this context, branding is just another word for reputation.

But while reputation is something which is the result of your past (either positive or negative), branding is forward-looking.
Branding is about the reputation you want to have five years from now.

You better start thinking about it.

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Posted at April 23rd, 2008

Do You Sell Love Or Money?

Interesting question, isn’t it? I found this nice categorization over at IttyBiz. Naomi Dunford argues that you are either in the business of selling emotions (e.g. sex, safety or even envy – that’s the love category) or selling money. Here, you are selling your customers a monetary gain (making money or saving money).

Naomi Dunford heavily argues not to mix these categories when trying to sell something, as this would weaken your position.

Although it might seem to limit youself to have just these two categories, I think posing this question forces you to rethink your marketing positioning. Food for thought on a rainy day.

Which business are you in?

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Posted at November 4th, 2007

First marketing rule for freelancers

At Freelance Switch, I just stumbled across an interesting article by Jonathan Fields on simple marketing secrets for freelancers. I especially like the first one, as it is almost too simple, but I think it is highly effective:

Call back first!

If you receive an inquiry on your mailbox or email, or you hear about an upcoming project: be the first to call back. As Jonathan points out (and this is definitely in line with my experience): most people do not call back in time, even if it’s about a potentially upcoming project.

A couple of months ago, we’ve been looking for some Typo3 support for our company website to resolve some technical issues. Through our personal network, we received a couple of recommendations, and asked them per email to give us a call (First test for responsiveness!). One never called, one took two weeks to return the call, one called the next day. Guess who got the contract?

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Posted at October 14th, 2007

Identifying customers with social networking

For gaining customers the traditional way of cold acquisition is overtaken more and more by the very popular concept of social networking. Networking is on everyones lips. We experience it at the big online social communities like Xing or LinkedIn, and even at private parties. It’s an interesting topic to talk about.
Social contacts are very important, especially in sales. Anyone who has anything to do with sales will agree with that.

The concept of networking seems easy: the more people you know, the more contacts with customer or potential customers you can generate and the more you sell in the long run, no matter if you sell a service or a product.

But this is a very simplistic way of looking at networking.

Not just the number of contacts is important – of course number counts –but the structure of the network itself makes the difference. Mark Granovetter or Ronald Burt ( two of the specialists in this field) have identified the main differences between successful and unsuccessful networks.

Here are the main characteristics of a successful network for identifying new customers:

  • many direct contacts
  • direct contacts don’t know each other (loose network)
  • direct contacts have many other contacts (they have a bridge function to other networks)
  • direct contacts come from different fields or markets

netz.jpg

With this network you can gain more information from different fields and different people. So you quickly get new and exclusive information in an informal way. This is the best position to be in for gaining information about potential customers.

Once you have contact with a potential customer it’s important to get to know two or three additional people who will support you during the acquisition process. With that you will not just build a relationship with one person but with the company.


Besides the structure, the overall precondition for gaining information at all, is that people in your network do have to like you and that they want to do business with you. A point most of the theories are missing.

One should always have in mind that it’s hard to create a good reputation but easy to lose it.

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Posted at July 12th, 2007

Sanity check for your ideas

Surfing the Internet I just stumbled upon an interesting podcast interview with Chip Heath, Co-Author of “Made to Stick”, who is talking with the guys from the iinovate blog.

Haven’t read the book yet (which is now on my “to read list”), Chip is explaining in the interview more about the ingredients which make an idea stick, both with customers, investors or employees.

Sticky ideas are the result of 6 key attributes: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories (SUCCES).

Whenever I am talking to founders looking for help with their business plans and with fund-raising, a lot of them usually focus on concreteness and credibility, but tend to neglegt the fact that investors (and other people they want to adress) usually do not just judge an idea rationally.

“I like that idea” is based more on emotions then anything else. So the six attributes listed above might be a good santity check for your next pitch with investors or customers.

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Posted at July 4th, 2007