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I’ve never been much of an athlete. In fact, in kindergarten, I had such a difficult time climbing the thick, giant rope that dangled from the ceiling in our gym that, when I finally achieved the goal, my PE teacher invited me to perform at Parents’ Night. The other invitee was a sickly girl named Lisa who didn’t have eyebrows, skin pigmentation, or stamina.
My lack of athletic prowess is probably the reason I’m such a die-hard fan of figure skating. The polar opposite of me, figure skaters demonstrate power, artistry and precision in everything they do. I’ve been watching every televised figure skating event since Dorothy Hamill won gold at the 1976 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. I was one of the few who didn’t tire of endless news reports about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding in 1994. And I’ll probably see every Olympic figure skating event held this year in Vancouver.
But, along with other Olympic fans, thanks to advances in technology, the way I watch the games this time will be different.
- TiVo—instead of enduring countless commercials, I’ll be using our DVR to tape events. If I watch any advertisements this time around, it will be because they catch my attention as I fast-forward.
- Website—rather than relying on NBC producers to spoon-feed me the information they believe most relevant, the Olympic website offers information, ad infinitum, about every athlete, venue, competition and affiliated sponsor.
- Interactivity—if I’m so inclined, I will be able to connect with the athletes by reading their Tweets, perusing their blogs or watching videos on YouTube. And I won’t be hampered by location or previous commitments since I can access it all, 24/7, on my Smartphone.
So what does any of this have to do with marketing small businesses and non-profit organizations? Just this. Contrary to our cultural training as consumers in a society that expects on-demand entertainment and instant access to anything and everything, when it comes to advertising in 2010, we have to be willing to wait.
Instead of blasting our message to a passive audience, we must recognize that we are on the supply side of the equation. To learn what our target market demands, we have to be willing to listen, engage in relevant conversations, and earn a share of the voice. Social media success is less a sprint than a marathon because social media is all about relationship. And, in the real world as well as Cyberspace, it takes time to build relationships.
Ironically, when it comes to social media, the most important step is the one most often overlooked. Unless you take time to listen to what people are saying about your organization, you won’t know what you can offer to the conversation. To do this, do a keyword search for terms relative to your field. Then, when you find the sites where folks gather, put away your keyboard and read. Once you understand the neighborhood, resist the urge to lecture. Instead, engage and contribute so that you become a trusted member of the community.
On a Limited Budget—
If funds are tight, hire an intern or junior staff member to monitor social media conversations and report back to you. But save the heavy-hitting for the folks who understand your brand. To succeed in social media, you have to become an expert in sharing whatever interests your target market. So teach your employees how to take advantage of blogs, wikis, Facebook, or YouTube. A great resource for this is a social media book I’ve touted, before, Groundswell. In it, Forrester researchers Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff provide plenty of social media case studies, along with proof they work.
The Sky’s the Limit—
Instead of joining a social network community, start one yourself. One of the first high-profile companies to do this was Dell. In the early days of social media, Dell turned a deaf ear to complaints lobbed by a customer named Jeff Jarvis, who started blogging about “Dell Hell.” But Jarvis’ discontent struck a chord. Within months, the highest ranking Google search term for Dell was Dell Hell.
Eventually, Dell had no choice but to address the nightmare. Their solution was to create a social networking site called Idea Storm, where customers post ideas and vote on products. The transformation didn’t happen overnight. But, in time, Dell went from cautionary tale to the benchmark for successful business communication, proving that flexibility and persistence pay off for anyone trying to climb the corporate ladder (or a giant rope).
Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business.
Tags: advertising, Bowling for Business, dell, dell hell, Dorothy Hamill, engage and contribute, for free, forrester researchers, groundswell, idea storm, interactivity, Kathy Bowling, keyword search, marketing, Nancy Kerrigan, Olympic Figure skating, Olympic Games, on a budget, rimoftheworld.net, SmartPhone, Social Media, social media case studies, social network, the sky's the limit, TiVo, Tonya Harding, Tweets, website, wikis, YouTube
Posted by Admin
This column first appeared on RimoftheWorld.net on Nov. 9, 2009.
Because there were two girls named Kathy in Mrs. Dale’s kindergarten class, my mother agreed to let everyone call me Kathy Ann. The horror of it haunts me to this day.
Don’t get me wrong. Ann is a lovely name. Not only is it my middle name, but it’s the name of two of my favorite aunts. But my weak bladder, coupled with my classmates’ irritating ability to rhyme, produced a moniker that took me a long time to shake…Kathy Ann in the Can. In fact, the nickname stuck until we moved to another school district when I was in sixth grade.
When it comes to people and business, for better or worse, branding happens. And it doesn’t take much to get people to react to an organization’s emblem. Take the controversial 2012 Olympic logo, created at a staggering cost of 400,000 pounds. The image drew fire from a group called Epilepsy Action, which said that a video promoting the logo triggers migraines, epileptic fits and vomiting. The International Olympic Committee is set to investigate the logo which politicians say is childish and “looks like Boris Johnson’s hair.
Although causing people to puke is rarely the objective in professional trademark development, some believe there is no such thing as negative publicity. So, in that regard, the London Olympic logo designer’s efforts were successful.
A more conventional approach would be to create a logo that is:
- Instantly recognizable
Some famous logos that fill the bill include Google, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Fed-Ex, and McDonalds, whose images you most likely pictured even as you read their names. The reason you recognize these brands, however, isn’t just because their logos are great. Superior products, excellent service and aggressive marketing help. Let’s face it, if your company sucks, coming up with an amazing image for it is lipstick on a pig.
But for a credible organization, finding the right symbol can mean the difference between obscurity and notoriety. This is especially true in the Internet age, where deep pockets to pay for full-color brochures and slick press packets are no longer necessary. Anyone with a computer and a low resolution, jpeg version of their logo can upload it everywhere from A1-Webmarks to Zaadz.com.
But commissioning a classic design can come at a hefty price. So how do you to produce an iconic logo if you’re on a budget? Whatever the price point, you have several options.
- For Free—if you have no money with which to build your brand, proceed with caution. Like it or not, the logo you choose today will be with your firm for years to come. Also, unless your business is graphic design or fine art, don’t buy do-it-yourself logo software in an ill-fated attempt to craft your own. Having access to a logo program won’t make you an artist any more than owning a calculator will turn you into a mathematician.
When money is tight, less is more. So try to find a nice, clean, clear font for your company name and then quit while you’re ahead. Avoid the temptation to add clipart to the mix. Also, when choosing typeface, skip Script and Old English, unless you’re shooting for an Addams-Family vibe.
- On a Budget—while I generally caution clients against ordering logos online, some companies do a respectable job for under $200. The problem is that, when left to their own devices, many entrepreneurs will ask their Internet designer to place their company name inside a blue and red oval, without realizing they like the look because they’ve seen it on cans of Bud Lite.
- The Sky’s the Limit—if you are in the enviable position of actually having money in your marketing budget, don’t skimp on the cornerstone of business communication. Find someone you trust and let them do what they do best so you can do what you do best. The right professional can help you define your unique sales proposition so your logo not only looks great and conveys your message to the intended target, but does so without inducing nausea.
Tags: 2012 Olympic logo, advertising, Boris Johnson's hair, Bowling for Business, bowling on a budget, Coca-Cola, do-it-yourself logo software, entrepreneur, Fed Ed, free logo, Google, graphic design, icon, logo, logo controversy, logo on a budget, marketing, McDonalds, on a budget, online logos, public relations, Starbucks, symbol, trademark, unique sales proposition, USP