Marketing 101: The Music Analogy

I am often asked to explain the difference between brand and marketing, and  strategy versus tactics to audiences and clients. But today guest columnist Boyan Blocka, a writer, marketer and business consultant based in Vancouver, Canada, gives us a musical jam version of these definitions that are way more fun. His company, Kyosei Consulting works with clients worldwide. 

When meeting with first-time small business owners, it’s not unusual that their marketing-speak is a little bit blurred. To help everyone get on the same page, I sometimes introduce a music analogy as a sort of quick ‘Marketing 101.’ 

So, without further adieu, ‘Marketing 101: The Music Analogy.’

Brand = Musical Style

I liken brand to your unique musical style. It determines ‘what and how’ you play (ie. market yourself) and is heavily influenced by your intended audience. Just like a unique musical style, your brand sets expectations in the customer’s mind, well before you even play your marketing piece.

If you think of Apple, you know their style well before they even touch their first keynote (pun intended). Hence, just like you know what Jazz sounds like without needing to know the name of the song, it’s easy to pinpoint Apple’s brand with only a few clues or even spot a brand copycat! 

Of course at this point, if my clients and I stay stuck in brand minutiae – I quickly plug my peer Maria Ross and her book ‘Branding Basics for Small Business’ (second edition now in print!) – but I digress… (Editor’s Note: Aw, thanks Boyan!)

Campaign = The Concert

A campaign is to a marketer what a concert is to a musician. Campaigns (just like good concerts) piggyback on and speak to current trends and audience preferences – all with designs to move an audience emotionally. So when companies measure and tweak their marketing based on user metrics – in rough musical terms, really what they’re doing is practicing their set and honing it to better get a rise out of you.

Marketing Piece = The Song

The actual marketing piece is the song that’s played. Carefully scored and crafted, drafted and re-drafted, a marketing piece must live and breathe the spirit of the brand and be consistent with the goals of the campaign it serves.

Strategy = The Hook of the Song

Next is strategy. Psychologically, strategies are like hooks (or catchy riffs in music parlance) used to capture the ear of the listener. The key differentiator of a strategy (versus, say, a tactic) is that strategies are as powerful today as they will be a hundred years from now. They’re timeless. A common example of a strategy is the use of ‘a free offer’ to tempt a prospect to try something new.

Strategies stem from an understanding of human behavior, memory, cognitive bias and effect. And, just like a good hook in music, they work reliably regardless of the instrument of delivery – be it ebook, web, television or lemonade stand. Have a listen to these unconventionally played pieces here and here and see if you’re still moved by their memorable hooks.

Tactics = The playable parts of an instrument

Finally, that lands us on the most contentious of all areas for me – tactics. Tactics are like the keys of the piano. They’re the trending ‘bright shiny objects’ of the moment. They’re social media sites. Neato metrics. Cool ways to link, friend, like, post, photograph, etc. … but they’re not everything – and they don’t work forever.

Use tactics in the right order with the right timing (informed by your strategy, campaign and brand) – and you have marketing music. Hit tactics too hard, randomly, repeatedly, or all at once – and all you get is noise. (Tweet this!

A good thing to remember next time your Social Media person is emphatic about playing ‘Twitter, Twitter, Little Star’ one more time!

Photo credit: Jason Eppink on Flickr

What other fun marketing analogies do you love that help you keep it all straight? “Marketing is like ________” Please share with us for fun!

3 ways to teach your old ebook some new tricks

Today’s guest post is from Dina Eisenberg, AKA the Info Product Doctor.  Dina is all about turning your expertise into a passive income stream that will help you scale and promote your brand far and wide – how much do we love that?! Follow her @DinaEisenberg.

There’s a problem that no solo business owner or coach ever mentions: Excess ebooks.  These are the ebooks that you began but didn’t finish.  The ebooks that represent your last digital product or your work before your business pivot.  Right now, they are sitting on your hard drive waiting to be used.

Kinda like that amazingly beautiful dress you bought because, well,  it was gorgeous and you’ll need it someday (natch). I still have an adorable fuschia silk waiting in the back of my closet for my next cruise.  Never mind that I’ll look like a pink round tennis ball. It’s there to inspire me to get in better shape and dream of new travel adventures.

This post will, hopefully, be your inspiration to repurpose your under-utilized ebook content.  After all, you already spent the time creating it.  Why not put that energy to good use and make some cash from the content?

Recycle your ebook into a new online offering & gain a new income stream (Tweet this!)

What can you do with an aging ebook?  Here are three ideas How about you share your ideas in the Comments, ok?

3 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Ebook

1.Turn your ebook into social media content

Finding more valuable content to share on social media can seem like a job, can’t it?  Even using all the great curation tools like or Google Alerts which bring news to you, it still takes a lot of time to sort, compose, create an image and share.  Gosh, I’m tired just writing that.

Upcycle your ebook by using excerpts as social media posts.  Boost engagement on Google Plus.  Dab a little on your Facebook status.  Pick out a provocative question to ask in your G+ community. Quote an excerpt on Twitter with a link back to your blog.  Share a graph or chart as an infographic.

Hello. I can almost hear your eyes rolling back in your head.  No, this isn’t more work.  Quite the opposite.  Recycling saves you time, provides content and gives you a second shot at brushing up your writing.  By the way, you can find help to get all of this done for you.

2. Give your ebook a makeover

I love to get a few new clothes for spring to refresh my wardrobe and get ready for summer (yeah summer!!!)  Your ebook might do well with a makeover, too.  How about changing your ebook cover?  Their styles go in and out of fashion, too.

Upcycle your ebooks’ looks, inside and out. Most ebooks are created simply without a lot of book design, which is fine. But sometimes the wrong title or cover can impact sales.  An older book with less than stellar sales could be a blockbuster with a new look. One place I see well-intentioned authors go wrong is with  book interiors that are poorly formatted and look amateurish.

Interiors are tough, for sure, if you’re not an inDesign expert.  I’m not. I found two solutions for this.  Joel Friendlander is the book designer who created Book Design Templates  and he’s a genius!  He took what I consider the hardest part of being an independent publisher- book design- and made it dead simple.

You simply select a template.  I’m partial to Focus for non-fiction business books. Nice and clean. Purchase it.  Templates are very reasonably priced for one print-on-demand or one ebook template.  Check the Tool Time here. Try a single license and if you like it you can get a multi-license to use more templates.  You’re not limited to business.  I have my eye on a children’s book template to capture the stories my kids and I made up at bedtime when they were kids.

As for the cover, no worries.  I’ve gotten very good ebook covers on, the online work marketplace. It’s all about understanding how Fiverr works, setting your expectations correctly and being precise.  I talk more about that in my course Outsource Easier (new release soon)

3. Transform your ebook into an online course

Online learning is very hot right now and it will be for a while.  Smashwords reports that indie publishers will represent 50% of the ebook market by 2020.  As an authority, you can be part of that.  You can teach your online course on a variety of online platforms like Udemy, and Ruzuku.  Don’t have a course?  No worries.

Upcycle your ebook into a new online course offering and gain a new income stream. Your ebook was written to solve a problem or help your tribe achieve a goal. Well, that book can be turned into a self-paced  learning experience. Each chapter could become a module that you further develop to include exercises and tools.  By the way, you don’t have to be a geek.  I made my first course last year with simple tools like Powerpoint, Screenflow and Vimeo.  And whatever technical piece I couldn’t do myself, I outsourced affordably.

To be sure your course is effective and students actually learn I recommend using the ebook, Bottle your Wisdom by Dr. Kelly Edmonds.  Her book solves the problem of crafting your course.  She helps you determine what to include, how to avoid content-crammin, and ways to really engage your students for learning.

What are some other ways you’ve reused ebook ideas? Would your ebook make a good course or webinar? Please share in the Comments!

4 tips to create magnetic brand messaging

How can you engage and delight your audience without sounding like everyone else?

Brand is communicated through more than just a pretty logo. It’s actually communicated in three important ways: visually, verbally, and experientially. I call this the Three Legged Stool of Brand. I’ve talked about this in a past video.

Visually is what you think of when you think of brand: logos, colors, design.

But your brand is also communicated verbally: your copywriting, your tone, your messaging personality.

And finally, where the rubber hits the road, your brand is communicated experientially. Now that you’ve promised me a brand visually and verbally, do you deliver? If your brand screams hip, cool and innovative, then your products and services – even your employees – better walk the talk!

In today’s Red Slice TV video from MySourceTV, I’m focusing on the verbal aspect and sharing 4 tips that will help you craft magnetic messaging that engages, informs and delights your audience. This is oh-so-important in everything from your About page to your sales copy.

The way your business “talks” is one of the most vital ways to convey your brand (Tweet!)  What is the “voice”? How should you write your copy? What is the story that you tell?

Photo credit: Brendan-C, Flickr

8 unexpected places to find your next client or customer

It’s simple.

If you solve a pressing problem or have a story to share that moves, ignites, provokes, heals or amuses people, you can find your tribe. The first step is that you have to really believe in what you’re selling. In fact, don’t think of it as selling. What is the mission behind what you do? I don’t care if you’re writing a book, offering massage services or developing enterprise software. Why do you do what you do? What will others gain from it?

That’s what is interesting. That’s what gets people hooked.

Now, take that mission, that story, and bring it to these 8 unexpected places to capture your next client or customer. Or better yet, think of it as “to capture your next client or customer’s imagination.”

  1. The elevator: Not just the networking luncheon or conference itself, but the elevator. Classic place to engage one on one. Often, people are feeling a bit of trepidation going into a big conference hall or luncheon alone. So start the conversation with one person while you’re both trapped in this big metal box.  This is how I met one of my favorite colleagues with whom I exchange business referrals. In the span of one minute, she and I connected based on our passions and missions – and even found out we both had written books.
  2. LinkedIn groups: I posted a comment in an Indiana University alumni group once and a week later got an email from someone, saying he liked what I’d written and asking to chat about his company’s current project. Really. It was that simple. Same thing with another group recently, where someone contacted me after I posted a helpful comment. Of course, make sure your comment is insightful, adds value without asking for anything in return and related to what you do. That helps.
  3. Guest blogs: Reach out and share your expertise with others in related fields. Who really resonates with your brand? Who rocks your world? For whom do you think you can be a missing puzzle piece and add value to their community? Make an effort to guest blog at least once a month and this will open you up to so many more potential clients or customers.
  4. Your butcher, baker, candlestick maker: So often, we tend to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. For the longest time, I didn’t reveal to anyone outside of “work situations” that I had written a book about how to create a brand strategy. I thought they might not “get it” or wouldn’t care out of context. Why? That’s just stupid. Why not tell your massage therapist, your Crossfit buddies or your local UPS Store owner what you do for a living? You’d be surprised at how often people whom you think would never be interested in your business actually know someone who needs what you’ve got. Margit Crane, ADHD Coach and co-founder of Good Enough Parenting threw a fit with a restaurant and the owner called to apologize. After talking a bit, he hired her to be an ADHD Coach for his family
  5. Personal business transactions: Selling your house. Buying a car. Renting event space for your teen’s graduation party. Why not talk up your business to someone with whom you are already engaging in contracts? @ywpresidente, CEO of social networking start-up hub site,  tweeted me that he turned the guy across the closing table for his house into one of his best clients.
  6. Vacation: While we often let our hair down on vacation and try to do as much as we can to unplug from our work, there are times when an unexpected opening may present itself. Be prepared – and make sure you are always keeping your personal brand in mind, even when “off the clock.” Kelsey Foster, a dating coach and author, found a new client while dancing with her cousin and a Michael Jackson impersonator in Vegas at 4 a.m.  Some people came over the chat with her and – boom – she gained a new client.
  7. Random bump-in: Publicity expert Nancy Juetten had a chance meeting with someone she had worked with before at a natural foods market.  After catching up, she said, “Call me next week to chat about a project” and offered her card. Nancy followed up, and they worked together for several years. ALWAYS remember to follow up!
  8. Volunteer committees: Writer Tina Christiansen worked on a convention committee for a car club. The committee chair was also president of a company and, after getting to know each other, they hired Tina and became her very first client.

If you believe in what you do and why you do it, client/customer opportunities are everywhere. Be prepared! (Tweet!)

Where have you unexpectedly met a future partner, client or customer? Got a crazy story to share about how this came about? Please share in the Comments!

When you shouldn’t give 100%

We’re taught that practice makes perfect. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Give 110%.

I was a straight A student in high-school. I remember being devastated when I got my first B ever (Geometry) and I was brought to tears in college when I got the first C of my life (Microeconomics). Even when I got an A minus, I was a bit miffed. I’m not sure what I thought: did I really think anything less than an A-plus was a complete and utter failure on my part? Did I think it meant I hadn’t mastered or learned the content?

Math was especially challenging for me. I was more of a vocabulary and English gal. But I was good at memorization so many of my math classes were about nailing down the formula and replicating it – even if I didn’t understand the theory or reasoning behind it. Not the best way to learn, is it?

Sometimes that goal of perfection – of the A-plus – can hurt us. If we are such perfectionists, we may never get our newsletters out each month, or write that novel, or take a chance on that new business pitch. We may never launch that website. Waiting for perfection is an impossible task, since perfection is never possible. And that means you’ll spend your life and career planning to do things rather than making them happen.

There is a reason software companies release new versions every year. Version 1.0 is never going to be as good as 5.0 or even 10.0. They roll out something that is mostly complete, learn from their mistakes, and gather feedback, tweak and refine. Rinse. Repeat. If companies had not failed when trying to introduce tablets in the past, the iPad may never have been so successful now. If that first brick of a cell phone had never seen the market until it was “perfect”, we’d never have had generations of phones leading up the sleek, small, powerful smart phones of today.

Seth Godin always talks about the importance of shipping. Strategy and planning is vital, don’t get me wrong. But at some point, you have to tell the inner perfectionist to shut the hell up and ship your product, launch your website, open your shop or start your consulting practice.

You’ll learn. You’ll get feedback. And you’ll evolve. Recently, I spoke at the New York Times Small Business Summit on a panel called Evolve Your Brand. We spoke about the fact that, while a brand should stay true to its core values and mission, it can and should evolve. The world changes too fast for you to ever keep up with some mythical perfection standard built on shifting sands. It changes by the second.

So are you going to wait and wait and wait for 100% perfection before you do anything – and be the best-intentioned business or person who never accomplished a thing? Or are you going to put in the strategy work, get to a solid 80% and push those efforts out the door so you can keep on going, keep on improving and keep on innovating?

Doers DO. It really is that simple.

If you want to stop spinning your wheels and make your brand irresistible, ensure your messaging is clear and attract more clients or customers, then stop the excuses of being too busy and get into shape at my next Branding Bootcamp!

Tracking your every move

I don’t get the whole appeal of location-based apps and ads. I mean, yes, I get that it would make things convenient if my phone could recommend restaurants I was passing by, or a notify me about a special Frappaccino discount at the next Starbucks I was about to hit. When I was single, traipsing around San Francisco in my 20’s, it would have been nice to know where friends were to meet out at a moments notice. But it seems people are just fine with telling the entire free world what they are doing and where they are at every single moment in time.

Am I a luddite? Maybe. I’ve never been an early adopter. But it’s only a few short steps from location-based apps to sinister government tracking devices and I’m not sure I can get on board with that (although they probably know our every move anyway already, given GPS in our phones).  OK, I know, too melodramatic, but on a lesser scale, sometimes you don’t want any powers-that-be – be it your boss, your clients or your mother – to know where you are. How many times have you played hooky from work to take a “mental health day” or told your husband you were one place when you were secretly buying his Christmas present across town?  I revel in my freedom – after all, I fought for it tooth and nail when I was a teen. Why would I give it up as an adult?

I remember living in San Francisco when wi-fi came out at AT&T Park.  People were psyched: you could skip work to go to the afternoon Giants game AND still be productive.  But now, they’d know you were not “working from home.”

Don’t get me wrong. I support targeted marketing. I believe that the better a company targets it’s ads, the less crap I have to wade through that doesn’t apply to me.  There are probably ways to notify advertisers of your location, but not broadcast it to the people in your life, and maybe that’s not so bad. It’s better than telling criminals the best time to go rob my house because I’m in another state.

I’m struck by two film images whenever this topic comes up: one, Minority Report, when Tom Cruise races past a billboard and it knows who he is.  And, two, Wall-E, where we are introduced to a future society of obese humans zooming around on electric Lazy Boys, with their heads stuck in an audio/visual device – thus, inhibiting any interaction they may have with their real fellow human beings. OK, the latter is more about our techno-dependence these days, and I already know the former scenario exists anyway.

Still. I refuse to turn on Facebook Places and the like. I’m holding on tight to the ability to take a day off when I need a break  – without anyone being the wiser.

Do you use location tracking apps or have you benefitted from location-based marketing? Please share your story in the Comments.

Learn from my marketing misstep, but why this tactic might be great for your biz

Forgive me, dear readers, for I have sinned.

Here I am, preaching about building a strong brand so you can choose the right marketing tactics in which to invest. I talk about measuring progress and success so you always know your ROI. But, as is often the case with doctors and consultants, we are our own worst patients/clients.

Let me share with you my faux pas so that you can learn what not to do – and give you a review of a unique marketing tactic that may actually be a good investment for you, depending on your product or service. is a unique and simple marketing concept. The founder, Giancarlo, will create a 24 Hour advertising campaign, Custom Sponsor Video. Multiple Insertions into their Twitter and Facebook Streams and Search Engine Optimized post on You can also purchase optional items such as an email sponsorship and Publishing Rights to your video. All you do is pay him to “sponsor” a specific day for $150 and offer something for the contest winner.

Visitors are encouraged to visit your website and then post a comment on to officially enter the contest. I’m always eager to learn how innovative marketing tactics work, so I gave it a shot and bought January 20 as my day to promote my book. I offered three free books as the giveaway.

The process was fairly easy.  Once they got in touch with me (which took a while, because I think they are understaffed), I sent them some information, photos, website links and a copy of the book. They then created the video and allowed me to review it before posting. I would say the hard part is their customer service is not that great, meaning they went a while after I paid without getting in touch with me, and it seemed like I was just being put into “the machine.” Granted, we had some email glitches where some of their emails to me seemed to have been lost or never got to me, but let’s just say that I tolerated it because the price was really not that high. Sometimes price can be an indication of the level of hand-holding you will get.

So the video looked good, the promotion ran, and I was delighted that many of the Commenters were actually small business owners.  I had no idea what his database or follower profile looked like so I went in blind just to try it. Giancarlo even invited me to comment back and created a Disqus account for me in case I didn’t have one.

Results? Here’s the lessons I learned and where I fell down:

1) Failure to set concrete goals: I really didn’t give this promotion any real time or attention because I’ve been so slammed and because it was so cheap. I should have set a few metrics of what I wanted to see increase: Twitter followers, FB fans, Newsletter signups, etc. and determined pre- and post benchmarks. But I never took the time.  Qualitatively, I think my follwers and fans did increase on that day, but since I failed to take a snapshot of Jan 19, I can’t be sure.

LESSON: Set clear goals and capture a “before” benchmark so you can compare your “after” numbers to it.

2) Failure to put a tracking mechanism in place: Because I don’t sell my book directly, I will need to rely on Amazon figures or my publisher telling me if there was a spike in sales. There was a noticeable ranking increase on that day, but how Amazon decides rankings are not from pure sales – it’s a wonky rating system based on sales in your categories. I also don’t have visibility into all my book sales data overall.  And on AnyLuckyDay’s end, they told me they could not provide any clickthrough metrics, and did not provide me with a post-promotion list of “Number of Tweets, Number of Comments, Number of FB Posts” etc., which would have been nice.

LESSON: Create trackable response mechanisms. I should have created a custom URL through so I could at least track clickthroughs and exposure, if not sales. But I also should not have invested in an advertiser that could not provide any tracking info to me from their side.

3) Failure to determine audience fit: OK, I knew upfront I was taking a risk on this one. To be fair, I  am not sure if I ever asked them to provide some sort of breakdown of who their audience and followers are (again, lack of time and attention on managing this campaign on my part). I was lucky that many of them were indeed business owners, but what if they were not?

LESSON: Always ask for a audience segment breakdown and try to get any info you can. If the vehicle will not provide it, you should invest somewhere that can.

4) Failure to take time: All of my problems stemmed from just paying for this tactic and not ensuring I thought through it all. If I was too busy to properly leverage this tactic, I should never have done it.

LESSON: Make sure that if you invest in marketing, you have the bandwidth or help to leverage it to its fullest and don’t just throw money away. is a great idea for a variety of products and services just to get a blitz effect. My verdict is still out on whether it’s better for higher-end or lower-end items, as I still don’t know who is in their “tribe” but I would assume something too high-end might not work for more than a one-time sales blip.  You need to remember you’ll get noise because you are giving some items away, but will it lead to any sales in the future? This is such a unique contest/advertising concept that I can’t say with certainty that people with higher incomes are not  in the tribe. Case in point: there were small business owners in the bunch. But if you have a fairly general consumer product, this would be an excellent – and inexpensive – way to get some some buzz going. I know I got the word out about my book to many who may not have heard of it, got some new followers, fans and signups – so to me, that is worth $150.

Have you tried any other unique advertising tactics like this? What was your experience? Please share in the comments.

The brand strategy “recipe” plus thoughts on the personal branding gold rush

Two juicy audio nuggets for you, loyal readers. One is a great interview with Amber Singleton Riviere of Upstart Smart Radio (a fab resource for entrepreneurs) on what exactly is included in a brand strategy. We also discuss the all-important difference between a brand strategy and brand and marketing tactics.

The second is our frank audio discussion on the new personal branding gold rush. Seems more and more people are building businesses out of their personal brands. We also talk about things like transparency, niche communities, self-expression, and the importance of authenticity and value.

What are your favorite TV shows subliminally telling you to do?

We all know about product placement as a way to cut through the ad clutter and still enable content providers to attract marketers. This is when they embed the product into the actual show, like Coke strategically placing branded cups at the judges’ table on American Idol or Cisco’s video conferencing equipment playing a crucial storyline role on CSI.  The other day, I even saw one of the most blatant (and frankly, tacky) ones on Bones: two female characters are driving along and the passenger says to the driver, “Do you have kids?” The driver says no, and the passenger asks her why she has a Minivan. The driver says, (paraphrasing) “Oh, I love my Sienna. First of all, I’m an artist so there’s room for all my stuff. And I don’t even have to struggle with parallel parking anymore, which I hate.” I’m sure the show’s writers cringed and felt like they needed a shower to wipe the cheesiness off of them after writing those lines.

But I’m okay with product placement if it allows us to enjoy good content without having to pay a lot for it. Subsidizing content development with advertising  is a better alternative to me – I always find it funny that people want something for nothing in this world. And seriously, product placement goes way back: remember, “soap operas” are so named because of the early days when soap and detergent companies would sponsor them.

But the newest thing is “behavior placement:’” sending softer messages through TV content so that advertisers can then have a more receptive audience to their message. This WSJ article talks about how NBC Universal plans a week of programming across their networks that emphasizes healthy eating and exercise or environmental responsibility and the shows’ storylines address this behavior in some way. For example, “The Office” had a storyline about Dwight being a “Recyclops” superhero as he humorously and overzealously encouraged the office to recycle.  A Telemundo show had a character whose job was to recruit people for the Census – an important message to the Latino community, which is usually undercounted. And “Top Chef” promoted buying locally grown foods by having competing chefs prepare a meal using only organic and local produce and ingredients. Some behavior placements are more subtle, as when a plotline on NBC’s new show, “Trauma” involved someone reporting an emergency from their hybrid vehicle or when Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker” featured a client who owned an eco-friendly clothing line.

As NBC Universal coordinates these themes across their shows during certain time periods (like Green Week), they are then able to attract advertisers who benefit from those behaviors. For example, Soy Joy, a health food manufacturer, or carmakers pushing Hybrids. They can even offer special ads with characters from the shows, as Kenneth the page from “30 Rock” did for Pepsi’s Sun Chips brand who had just launched a compostable bag: they produced a skit with him that will run during a commercial break.

The networks know they can’t be too pushy or preachy or they risk alienating their audience. And if the behavior makes sense in context and maintains the show’s flow and integrity, that is cool with me. “The Office” producers say they had been thinking about doing this with Dwight’s character even before the network came to them and ordered “an environmental storyline.”  But what are your thoughts? Would you rather pay more for programming development devoid of such tactics? Or are you fine with a few ad messages here and there if it results in quality programming at a decent price for you?

Brand building vs. random tactics

Somedays, I feel like a salmon fighting my way upstream. No matter how many books are written, no matter how many posts Seth Godin writes, no matter how many times our own lives are touched by organizations doing it right…people still want to think brand is the same thing as a logo or advertising. They still ask me as a consultant or others like me, “Just tell me what marketing programs I should do to help me get more sales.”

I’m working on my book, Brand Basics for Small Business, and I’m trying to define brand and give smaller organizations a tool to craft their brand strategy so that they can then figure out where their audience is and what is the best way to reach them with the right brand message. The book is not about, “Do this and you’ll increase sales” because I can’t possibly know that for each reader and every company is different. But a reviewer suggested I sprinkle pithy tactical tips that don’t apply to all businesses. Sponsoring a county fair might work for a small local cupcake business, let’s say, but not for a small start-up tech company selling software to other businesses. We need to get rid of the stereotype that all small businesses are local and charming. Tech start-ups, consultancies, financial planners, manufacturers of ball bearings  – these can all be small businesses as well.  Small does not necessarily equate to “Main Street.” It just means they have way less employees, take in way less revenue and have way  less budget and resources than “enterprise” companies like Apple, Walmart, or GE

Anyone that tells you a blanket statement like, “All small businesses need to do (insert tactic) to be successful” is just lying to you. Your business has to figure out it’s own brand, mission, purpose, desired image and ideal audience first before you can figure out which tactics to pursue. I’ve talked about this before, but it seems the fallacy still lives. Too many of you are performing “random acts of marketing” and just praying something sticks as you throw money away, or you’re taking the advice of someone who gave that same advice to 6 other businesses that are completely different from yours. Strategy before tactics. Always. Don’t just sponsor a booth or start a Twitter account because someone told you to, or some other company did it. First, craft your brand strategy and make sure it makes sense for your goals and your audience.

Brand can be your guide. But you have to draw the map before you can start following any directions.