Brand Makeover

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You can Google or ask Siri anything these days.  Siri, how can I make my green eyes stand out?  What is the latest way to improve my golf swing? How can I enhance my company brand?

Often, many of those thoughts go on in the minds of business people. We worry about our own image as we get older, or how can we stay competitive on the links but most importantly, how can we continue to grow our businesses?

Our goal at LJF Marketing is to help small to medium size businesses make over their image or brand in order to achieve their goals. Most business goals include:  increasing profits, carving out a niche in market share, or retaining customer loyalty.

But what happens with a downturn, or a competitor seizes a bigger portion of the market place, or your customers are leaving because of past bad publicity?  In these cases, it could be time for a Brand Makeover.

Blog Author Bethany Howell, of Insight 180, discusses the benefits of creating a brand makeover or renovation:

  • Preserves the brand’s existing integrity
  • Infuses new energy
  • Ensures the company image keeps current in a changing marketplace
  • Expands a company’s reach to new customers

LJF Marketing recently created a brand makeover for TIEC, an industry standards (#API Spec 1 and 2) project management and training firm that needed to update their brand.  LJF designed a new website, freshened their color pallet for their graphic elements and designed new sales collateral to jump start their goal to capture new market share in a downturn oil and gas economy.

An article by Emma Johnson, Brand Makeover: 3 Lessons in Reinvention from Entrepreneur Magazine delves into how even big brands sometimes need to either get back to their original identity or forge ahead into a new and improved one.  She recommends 3 focused make overs to broadening appeal, differentiate the brand or create damage control.

Marketing agencies can build brand components, a system of keeping brand identity and guidelines, staff training and presentation; a campaign introduction including advertising, literature or sales collateral reinvention, and new product branding and introduction, annual reports, event support and more.

Do you need a brand makeover?  Have your customers become confused as to what you do or offer?  Have you lost out on price points to competitors?  When you explain your company, do heads shake up and down in understanding?  If any of the answers to these questions leave a doubt, even a nugget of a doubt, it might be time for you to seek help from a marketing and branding professional.

Keep checking in for the next article in our LJF Marketing Eye2Eye series.

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LJF Marketing Eye2Eye Online

Online is essential in today’s business climate. According to Adweek, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/81-shoppers-conduct-online-research-making-purchase-infographic/208527

As we end 2015, we look back to remember our marketing projects. For LJF Marketing, we developed or redeveloped several new websites for our clients. Here’s our updated LJF Web Gallery for 2015.

http://ljfmarketing.com/web.htm#

For businesses beginning their journeys into selling their products or services, a website is a “must have”, almost like an extension of their business card and brochure. Potential customers look for a website so they can justify a purchase from that business.

Businesses who have been open for many years often find themselves in a retooling position needing to revise their look, add current content and offer tools online to ramp up customer service.

When designing or programming a website, consider these four topics:

Design

LJF Marketing is especially excited about website design. We always want our customer’s brands to stand out in the market place and be unique. Quertime.com tells us to make sure our brands are relevant. If your competitors have updated their website, you should look at yours and compare. Is your site still relevant to your potential and current customers?

http://www.quertime.com/article/8-website-design-trends-to-follow-in-2015-2016/

Function

A good design is important for customers to visually connect with your brand but the function of your site is vital if you are building a path that leads to a sale. Hubspot shares these statistics that emphasize why download time, navigation ease and other functions are important.

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/compelling-stats-website-design-optimization-list

Content

Content is King! As you go to marketing seminars, you are continuing to hear a lot about content. Not only the content that is included on your home page to get someone to delve into other pages but the content you can provide to get your prospective customer to view you as an expert.

@MichelleMannafy wrote an article in Inc that reminds us that “content marketing is the way businesses get noticed.”

http://www.inc.com/michelle-manafy/3-reasons-you-should-be-in-the-content-business.html

 

SEO

If your customers don’t know to visit your website, all the informative content, creative design, and amazing functionality won’t make a difference in your marketing efforts. Wordstream gives us “25 Ways to Increase Traffic” including:

  • Advertising
  • Become Social
  • Blogging
  • Post Content on LinkedIn
  • Don’t Neglect Email Marketing

Subscribe to our newsletter that will delve more into Marketing Eye2Eye Online in January including an enlightening article on Email Marketing.

For now, thanks for reading our blogs and “Happy Holidays” from all of us LJF Marketing

LJF Marketing “Meeting Eye2Eye”

Trends in marketing have been shifting to “Content” driven tactics encouraging our potential target market to contact us by clicking on landing pages, completing forms and downloading eBooks.

All of us have morphed from Direct Mail to becoming e-newsletter savvy, optimizing our websites for searchable traffic and then realizing “what ever happened to just meeting face to face or eye2eye?”

As people in charge of marketing for our companies, we realize we have to employ cross marketing channels with the same consistent brand messaging but we need to include how we tell our message eye2eye.

Networking, providing “Lunch n’ Learns” to community groups such as Chambers of Commerce, hosting events or participating in trade shows, ‘putting social back into social media’ and lastly, becoming involved in our communities where we live; these are the tactics that still need a huge presence in our marketing strategies to build our companies.

We have come across these links to get you thinking about Meeting Eye2Eye:

Lunch N’ Learns:

AmsterdamPrinting.com shared an article Small Business Marketing Magic, How to Engage Prospects through Lunch & Learn Series. We all have general expertise we can share by creating our own series to invite potential prospects or by getting on the chamber of commerce speaking lists; anywhere we can share our knowledge to get a conversation started.

http://www.amsterdamprinting.com/blog/2012/05/21/small-business-marketing-magic-engage-prospects-through-lunch-n-learn-series/

Networking:

Entrepeneur.com contributing writer Deborah Mitchell gives tips for networking that may be very beneficial in building your lead base – know your audience, prepare to meet and greet, skip the drinks and stay focused and follow up but be patient.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242199

Client Visits:

Dave Roos on HowStuffWorks.com gives these tips for meeting clients – plan and prepare, set an agenda, make a professional impression, take notes and send a meeting summary asking for the next step.

http://money.howstuffworks.com/5-tips-for-meeting-new-clients.htm#page=5

Event Marketing:

Olsy Sorokina of Hootsuite says, “social media is an intrinsic way of how people respond to events,” and delivers tips on how to utilize Facebook and Twitter to promote your event.

http://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-for-events/

Community Involvement:

Getting involved with your community is a key factor in staying relevant. Here’s why it’s important, according to guess columnist Lindsay Lavine on Entrepeuner.com

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226974

We invite you to sit down with us eye2eye to start a conversation about marketing your business. LJF Marketing values the relationships we have maintained over our 25 year history, a lot of them started over a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone.

LJF Marketing Intern Guest Blog

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Katie Gallagher’s “LJF Marketing Intern Experience”

Most people associate learning with the classroom, most likely, because you haven’t taken an internship at LJF Marketing. I am learning just as much, if not more, than those Marketing classes I’m required to take. When I got the opportunity to take an internship at LJF Marketing it was a no-brainer for me. Given the chance to experience what I would like to spend my career doing just for the summer was perfect.

I had no idea what to expect coming into my first day at the office. Within the first hour I was sitting in my first meeting talking about clients I had never heard of. They were throwing around names and codes I that had no meaning for me. After an overwhelming meeting I was completely fine with filing and organizing the files for a few hours. You could say my very first day I was “a deer in the headlights.” I heard the president explain to me that she had taken her first “selfie” and you could say I was nothing but proud.

Within my first week I was given more than I had expected. I was writing and releasing press reports, cutting articles from newspapers, compiling publicity reports, and writing excerpts to be posted on social media sites. I thought I had it all down until the Marketing Director came in with these codes and a time sheet and told me to record it. I let it sit there for a day to see if I could figure it out, but I sure didn’t, and even when it was time to turn the time sheets in I had a few things I had messed up. Another thing I kind of had to teach myself was how to use one of those big copiers. When I got handed a folder and told to make copies, I didn’t ask questions I just had to figure it out and boy did that take a while. She probably thought I was taking my lunch break by the time I got it all back to her.

I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given during this internship. I have been able to learn about a new software they are potentially using, sit in and help create power points for new clients, attend a video shoot and have one of my press reports show up in the local newspaper. Sure, I’ll learn some things in marketing classes but there are some things they just can’t teach me in a classroom. I have learned the art of watching for details after I messed up a Facebook post once or twice, writing a to-do list is very important when you have a few things going on. Organization is a huge one. When you have to keep up with newspaper clippings and copies of them for each press report for seven different clients it all becomes a little, clustered.

Overall, from my very confusing first week to one month in I can’t explain to people how much I have learned. The amount of work that goes into to each Press Report, each Facebook posting I would have never known. I finally know how to work my daily time sheet, I could explain the process of prepping publicity reports, how to monitor after they have been released and so many more things. Being an intern is the absolute best thing I could have ever done for myself because thanks to LJF Marketing and my awesome mentors I know this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.

#marketing #marketinginternship #socialmedia #publicity #ljfmarketing

Eye Online – The Internal Eye

No one tells me anything . . . I didn’t know that . . . If you have heard these phrases or even said them yourself, it’s time to keep an eye on how you are communicating internally. A fresh viewpoint will boost employee morale and tie in corporate goals to connect people across a company.

Brand Your HR Department. Human Resource Specialists often find themselves wary of how to brand their department so communications are not overlooked or undervalued. Internal public relations effects how employees relate to each other, as well as how they project themselves to the public, investors, management or potential customers. These communications need to be reinforced on a consistent basis.

Are your employees all relaying the same key messages? Do they know and understand the overall corporate message? The HR department functions of recruiting, retention and onboarding rely heavily on communication, but basic communication goals are often overlooked by a small HR staff, whose focus is mostly on employee benefits, etc.

HR departments may also work with a safety manager. LJF Marketing helped an oil related company brand their safety program. This was a perfect way for HR to communicate safety goals and tips to employees throughout the company. The brand enabled employees to be on the look out for this specific type of communication so they could remain compliant with the program guidelines but more importantly, safe in a potentially dangerous situation.

Why would a company want to outsource Internal Public Relations? The main reason is to concentrate on core competencies. Public Relations professionals can become an expert on the pulse of the organization, usually better than an in house department simply because insiders are too close to the situation. An outside perspective always helps for a fresh view.

A company could consider hiring a firm like LJF Marketing for policy manuals, safety programs, internal newsletters or other internal communications creating a professional look and a consistent message.

Also don’t forget promotional products to market effectively internally. Bringing the entire company together: sales, production, customer relations, management and human resources can eliminate issues of non-communication and turns “I didn’t know we had this new product” into “Our new product is bundled with a new program that will enable small businesses to increase sales and eliminate downtime.” Everyone should be a sales person for your company.

Outsourcing your internal public relations is all about consistency.

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922.

Eye Openers – Advertising

In marketing, you’re only as good as the message your audience remembers. We address Eye Openers in today’s blog, and as a business owner you want the eyes of your potential or current customers to focus on your brand.

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Creating advertising or marketing campaigns is one of the many services offered by the LJF Marketing team. This includes media identification and planning, campaign theme/graphics/content, production & follow up, plus monitoring.

Advertising for most companies seems like a daunting task. How many calls from ad reps do you receive? Some of our clients use their retainer with us to review calls in order to ascertain whether the medium is a good fit for their strategy. Other than what media kits promise, how do you know if advertising will work for your business? There are certainly tracking mechanisms that should be put in place to make sure the advertising is effective.

How does advertising fit in with your overall business strategy? An advertising strategy should reflect a company’s overall budget, brand recognition efforts, public image enhancement and market share growth strategy. Is your sales team prepared for inquiries, how will they move a candidate forward in developing a relationship before a sale can be made? Is your production or service team ready to respond once the sale is made?

Know your audience. Who is your customer, how often does he/she buy your product or service; are they part of a certain identifiable demographic segment? This is the step that most businesses spend the least amount of time on when it should be the first priority for segmenting your potential customer base.

Once you know your audience, choosing the type of advertising can be like walking in a fog! Do you choose print, broadcast, cable, radio, outdoor, online (Facebook, Linkedin, websites like woodlandsonline.com, hcnonline.com or chron.com for our Woodlands, TX area)? So many choices.

Once you identify the medium, what budget will be effective using that medium? If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.

Regarding messaging, what are you trying to convey? What content, image, graphics are going to get the most response?

Our clients rely on LJF to support them by recommending an advertising strategy that fits within their overall business and marketing plans. We help identify the best positioning statement to set the client apart from their competition and use that in the ad messaging along with creative images and graphics to grab attention. Lastly we monitor the campaign and develop a process to guide the client and their team to nurture a lead to the point of sale.

We love the following sources and we hope this helps you decide if advertising works for your business.

http://bit.ly/1DfdI54

http://bit.ly/1FPLelS

Eye On-line

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We’re calling it “eye2eye on-Line” but it is a form of communication that we are all familiar with.  How many of us spend several times per day checking our Facebook pages or scrolling through our LinkedIn updates?  LJF Marketing is in the business of communicating and interacting with our followers via social media and that gives us an opportunity for valuable, authentic communication.

A recent article posted on http://www.planitizen.com gave advice to city planners to encourage the usage of social media, “Social media is a flexible method of communication, it promotes your work to a larger audience and connects with decision makers while interacting with others who share the same thoughts.”

According to http://www.convinceandconvert.com:

  • 55% of Americans have a social media profile
  • 22% of Americans use social media networks several times per day
  • 47% say Facebook has the greatest impact on their purchasing behavior

Many articles on social media suggest setting goals for developing and maintaining social media sites.

At LJF Marketing, our goals are simple:

  1. Provide usable engaging content so your job is made easier to grow your business.
  2. Hope that you share our content and contact information so if someone you know needs marketing assistance you would recommend us.
  3. Help you develop your social media sites and help you grow them by developing content for you, provide regular posting and follow up with comments to maintain your reputation.

Our intent for LJF Marketing mirrors other small businesses, to strengthen our relationships with our customers, extend our reach to other business owners and one of the ways we do that is to grow our social media networks.  Inc.com featured an article by Jayson Demers of Audience Bloom “39 Ways to Get More Social Media Followers”.

In the article, he mentioned being consistent, knowing your audience and being a good social media citizen.  He, along with others we have read also pointed out locating influencers in your industry and mentioned the site Buzzsumo to help you identify those influencers.  Another tactic is to find and follow others with whom you would like to develop a relationship.

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Our #socialmediainabox link above gives you details on what we can do to assist you with your social media.  Contact us at 281.367.3922 or visit our website http://www.ljfmarketing.com.

Keep your eye on this blog for more eye2eye marketing.

eye2eye Marketing

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LJF Marketing is introducing a new Social Media series entitled “eye2eye Marketing”.  eye2eye Marketing is a concept that aligns the intricacies of marketing with practical solutions to achieve a corporate vision.  It’s an outside-the-box approach to utilize marketing resources to get your sales team, business owners or employees face time with people who will make your business successful.

For the next few months, we will introduce the following topics:

  1. An Eye for Marketing
  2. In the Eye of the Beholder
  3. More than Meets the Eye
  4. Eye Openers
  5. Eye On-Line – Social Media
  6. Eye On-Line – Web Design
  7. Meeting Eye to Eye
  8. Catching Your Eye
  9. In the Blink of an Eye

To start this new series, we direct your attention to topic 1:  An Eye for Marketing

  • How does your company stand out in a crowded market place?
  • Have you refined your marketing plans lately?
  • Are you truly focusing on your target markets?
  • What short term and long term corporate goals have you already reached? What’s the next one to reach?
  • Does your marketing plan align with your corporate vision?

To stand out in a crowded market place, Entrepeneur Magazine offers this tip to highlight one or two things about your business that makes you unique.

Hubspot’s Dan Zorrella said “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed”.  To refine your marketing plans, you must have data, know how to analyze data and then make adjustments to refine your plans to achieve your goals.

In a 2013 Forbe’s article by Contributing Columnist, Mark Evans, he highlighted Robert Bloom’s “The Inside Advantage” which included a story of how P&G was on the wrong target market for one of their products.  If P&G can be wrong, maybe we can learn something here.

In this Harvard Business Review Blog, we learn that in order to align company activities with a corporate vision, focused participation of people at every level of the firm is required.  If you don’t have a marketing department in your organization, LJF Marketing wishes to serve in that role to help align marketing with your vision.  Interested in opening an “Eye for Marketing”?

 

LJF Marketing was founded 25 years ago by Linda J. Freede. Linda believes that her longevity is a testament to “eye2eye Marketing” because of the strength of relationships you can build when relationships are the focus of your company.  For more information, visit ljfmarketing.com.

Putting “Public” Back in Public Relations

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When your public relations plan is considered, it’s important to recognize different facets of public relations – public speaking, press releases, social media and crisis management, to name a few. However, it is even more crucial to define your “public” before your company tries to relate to them. With your public in mind, your public relations strategy will yield greater results, because they will find the information you provide useful.

To have a complete profile of your public, you simply need to understand the following questions about your target market:

  • Who?:
    Who do you need to be targeting? Decide which demographics your ideal client falls within; if you already have your ideal clients, define their similarities, so you can gain more like them. Below is a list of several qualities to consider (don’t limit yourselves to only these, though):
    –  Age
    –  Gender
    –  Education level
    –  Field/business practice
    –  Cultural/ethnic background
  • What?:
    What are they interested in? What is their story? Given that you now have an idea of what type of business they own and what their background is, brainstorm what items of news likely appeal to them. If I target potential male clients with some form of post-graduate education that own B2B-focused businesses, the following news pieces would likely get their attention:
    –  A LinkedIn post for a business-related skill that can better them
    –  An article in their trade publication about what problem is solved by my company’s new product
    –  A presentation at a Chamber of Commerce on your personal insight into issues that affect the local market
  • When?:
    When do they read the media you are considering (if they read it at all)? Take our client from the previous example – do you think that client would be on Pinterest? Do you also think they will be likely to read something that is posted at midnight, or attend an event later in the evening? Probably not, so tailor when you send the info accordingly.
  • Where?:
    Where are they concentrated in? Suburbia? The big city? If you want to target the well-educated businessman, they could be concentrated in both geographic areas, which means you will need to tailor your message to specific issues affecting them.
  • Why?:
    Why do the do what they do/why are they motivated? Your messages need to tap into these factors. If you’re not apparently trying to help them fulfill their goals more effectively, the value in your PR efforts will be missed. Some  very common motivators are:
    –  Making more money
    –  Helping other people achieve success

Take the time to figure out who your public is and what makes them tick. Pick your media and your messages accordingly to leverage your public relations potential. Contact us if you would like some guidance through the process, or just need someone to implement the message.

 

You can get in touch through whichever means is best for you – like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn.

 

Special Holiday Sponsorship Ideas

A few months ago, we discussed what LJF Marketing calls the “eat more ice cream” concept. Today, we want to encourage you to eat more ice cream – with sprinkles – this holiday season! The sprinkles on top of your ice cream (or cherry, depending on preference) refers to giving back to the community as a company.

One of the best parts of the holiday season is that people and businesses with different outlooks and objectives are able to come together and give back. Consequently, there are many opportunities to do so. Make sure you pick one or two opportunities that are right for your business to have the greatest impact. Ideas to get you started are listed below.

Become a fun run sponsor

  • Get a team together and train for a run within your office
  • Donate funds to help cover costs of the run
  • Donate services to fill needs for the run

These options encourage your employees to be active. You can also tailor them easily to fit your budgetary constraints.

Sponsor a child

  • Buy a local child’s (or multiple children) holiday wish list
  • Pledge to sponsor or feed a child in another country

You will have a direct impact on youth by going this route and they will be thankful for your generosity.

Donate directly to a local charity or hold a donation drive

  • Contribute funds to a local charity in lieu of office gifts
  • Hold a monetary donation drive
  • Collect donations of canned goods and toys at your holiday party

Whether you are drawn to the mission of Montgomery County Youth Services or the Houston Food Bank, the opportunities are endless to support a philanthropy monetarily or by providing for their physical needs directly.

Serve as an office in a philanthropic activity

  • Serve as a team at a soup kitchen or shelter

As another, more direct option, serving together gives your company the opportunity to share on a personal level. Sometimes a random act of kindness or a warm smile can be just as meaningful as a monetary gift; this personal connection is what eating more ice cream is all about.

No matter what your budget is, there are plenty of chances for your business to help the community. Let us know how you’ll be celebrating the holiday spirit with your business below.

Don’t forget to get in contact with us for all your marketing needs through one of these avenues: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or our website.