The Must Have Marketing Components All Brands and Professionals Should Be Using

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

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Don’t Get Intimidated By Your Marketing Expectations

When Danny and I started our first business, Arzon-Harris, more than 25 years ago, our marketing plan consisted of about 5 bullet points.  Remember, that was before the digital age had become mainstream.  Now days, it doesn’t matter if you are working for Corporate America or you are an Entrepreneur that works for him/herself.  There is a host of exposure outlets that we are all expected to adhere to, in order to be taken seriously and help us reach maximum, organic exposure levels.

When I graduated college, almost 3 decades ago, I left with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration / Management and a Minor in Marketing.  This was before the internet explosion and marketing / advertising campaigns relied on tried and true mediums like billboards, TV commercials, newspaper ads, business cards and fliers.  These physical marketing mediums are still relevant today (for the most part), but we have to round things out with a strong online presence that proves YOU ARE THE EXPERT TO CALL in your field.

When it comes to marketing, advertising and building a brand, there are two ways to approach this.  The first is a simple, straight forward approach that focuses on you (or your company) as an Entrepreneur and Business Owner.  The second is a bit more convoluted, since you are branding yourself as a professional, yet you are also promoting the company that you work for.  In the second instance, you want to carefully craft your professional brand identity, in a manner that allows you to separate yourself from the company that you work for (in case you leave for another firm) and show your expertise for what it is.

You are so much more, than the company that you work for.  Your expertise in your field(s), your personality and your experience is what identifies you as a professional and expert.

Every business, brand or even professional, must have certain marketing and branding components in place that simply are expected and common place.  You always have the option to mix traditional mediums like billboards or radio ads.

Below is a simple list of the mediums that all brands are expected to utilize in their marketing plans.  Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed, as once they have been created, it is a lot less work to manage the majority of them.

  • Use a custom URL to help with the branding of your product, service, company or your personal brand.  You don’t have to create a full blown website, but at the very least, create a 1 page website talking about you, your brand, your products or services and why they should contact you or use your services.
  • Create and utilize a custom email associated with your custom URL.  This not only helps promote branding, but even the smallest of companies seem larger in scale than they may actually be.  Consumers tend to feel more confident when working with a company that appears to be of a certain size.  Perception is everything when launching a new product or brand.  Even if you are branding yourself, it helps if your customer assumes that you have a team behind you.
  • Create a blog that you post original content to a few times a week.  Be consistent in your posting and make sure that the imagery, color schemes and content are in line with your advertisements, social profiles and other marketing materials.
  • When designing your business cards, DO NOT do single sided cards.  Print on both sides of the card (it is only a few cents more).  First, this gives you an opportunity to expand your message.  Second, if the card is on the ground or tossed onto a table lets say, then your branding is still visible.  I learned this trick years ago when I first started doing trade shows and conventions.  About half of the people that take your card with throw it away.  Many times, they don’t even wait until they find a trash can, but will drop it right there on the ground.  When this happens, you still have the opportunity to catch someone else attention.  IF it is printed just on the one side then there is a 50% chance that the card will end up face down and NO ONE is going to bend down and pick up what seems to be a blank card.
  • Create a custom voice mail message that mentions you, the brand you are promoting and maybe the companies tagline with multiple contact methods for their future reference.
  • When setting up your custom email, in order to save you time down the line, forward any and all other email accounts you may have to the new email so that you only have to check a single email account.  Besides saving you time, it also helps to prevent you from sending a work email from the wrong account.  You also want to create an auto reply that has a slight sales push to it as a way to promote your brand or product in a non intrusive way.
  • Write a short profile description that you can use on all of your social media and other online profiles.  Try to keep it short and at 140 characters.  Be sure to include your website url.
  • Create a custom logo with a descriptive tagline.  A good rule of thumb when coming up with a logo, is to imagine your logo being printed on to an ink pen.  You don’t want it to be to big or complicated and it should fit on most marketing and promotional items.
  • There are certain social networks that brands are expected to have a presence on these days.  Besides the ones listed below, there may be other niche networks that are associated with your field of expertise that you should consider having a presence on as well.
    • Instagram
    • FaceBook (Pages)
    • Pinterest
    • LinkedIn
    • Google+
    • Twitter
    • NextDoor
    • YouTube
    • SnapGuide
    • PodBean (for those wishing to do a PodCast)
  • Use IFTTT (If This Then That), a content curator and auto posting service that is ideal for posting to your social media accounts.  Remember, promotion of your brand or product should not account for more than 10% of what you post.  You need to post material that not only helps show that you are an expert in your field, but contains information/news that is relevant to your target audience.
    • There are many services out there for scheduling posts and curating content.  What I like about IFTTT is the fact that they post anonymously so it looks like you, personally, shared the information.
    • IFTTT has hundreds of other uses for your business that can help you streamline your work process.
  • Finally, while this is not a marketing medium, it is something that every company, brand or professional should have. Create a set of brand guidelines.  This is to provide consistency across all of your marketing efforts.  They should include, but not be limited to, the following:
    • Color Scheme
    • Logo sets
    • Acceptable Fonts types and sizes to be used (any serif font will work and the reason we recommend a serif font is that they are the easiest to read.)
    • Template for email signatures
    • Script for Voice Mailgreetings
    • Social media posting schedule

 

 

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How Far Are You Willing To Go When Creating An Ad Concept?

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

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Business is all about taking risks.  For me, I am taking a huge risk in launching a new brand, within an industry that I have never worked in before.  Granted, they say that the average person has 3 different careers in their lifetime.  I just thought that when we adopted the kids and I had decided to semi-retire, being a father was my third career.

Now that the foundation of our new brand, Simply Ardynn, has been laid, it is time to start actively promoting the magazine, cookbooks, streaming video service and online store.  My initial thought, was to use traditional food and cooking images and our tagline.    But no matter how beautiful or tantalizing the images were, there isn’t really anything setting them apart from the million other food brands out there.

A few days ago, I was combing through our extensive database of images that we have purchased or taken over the years and I came across some very tasteful black and white nudes.  It got me to thinking about the very first ad I ever created for the Ardynn Media Group.  It was an image of a nude male that had our logo as a tattoo on his butt cheek for use during our promo at Gay Pride almost a decade ago.

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So, I started playing around with cupcakes and nudes.  Not taking it too serious, mainly thinking about using them on social media for their shock value.  Why not have a cupcake of a boy showcase an actual cupcake.  I posted 3 different images with funny tag lines about recipes from Simply Ardynn and to my surprise they have received overwhelming likes and even garnered me new followers.

Now that I have a had a few days to ponder things and consider the possible ramifications, I have decided that going with shock value is the way for us to formally launch our new brand.  Why not get people talking about the ads from Ardynn Media Group for their new food and lifestyle magazine that has nude people showcasing delicious foods.

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Over the next week or so we will come up with a total of 10 ads that have shock value and start dispersing them online via social media channels, ad buys and maybe even traditionally printed ads in magazines.

When Should A Family Business Actually Become A Family Affiar

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Every Entrepreneur and business owner reaches a point in their success to where they start hoping that someday the kids will take over the family business. Many heads of household firmly believe that the kids do not really deserve a say in the matter, it is what they expect to happen and because the kids don’t want to disappoint the parent, they simply fall in line.

When we started the Ardynn Media Group a little over a decade ago, the idea of it becoming a family business was not even considered. Once our family unit changed, and we brought kids into the mix, is when I had to start thinking about the balance of my personal and professional lives.

Initially, having the capability to work from home or where ever I needed to was the key to having a balanced lifestyle. But rather quickly, I saw that my being able to stop and spend a half hour here and there with the kids throughout the day wasn’t enough. I needed to expose them to the professional side of my life and get them interested. That is when I came up with the idea of writing my first children’s book, Bruno’s Buzzing Adventure.

With the kids still being young enough, I was able to draw them in with cartoon characters.  To keep them involved with the project, I asked them to help me develop the character type and background scenery for each page. As to the storyline of the project, I asked them to help me tell their friends what it was like to move to a new home and describe their new family unit. It was a tremendous experience as a family and it got me thinking about what it would be like to work with my kids on a daily basis when they got older. Thus the thoughts of having a family business began to take root.

For a few years, I simply looked for ways to have the kids help in one way or another, with what ever project we currently had going on. But about 2 years ago, the kids themselves started encouraging me to move in a completely different direction as to the sphere of work that I did.  At first it was telling, then begging me to write a cookbook so that when they had their own families they would have their favorite recipes on hand to make their kids.

So, last year we started planning on making the transition to strictly publishing and I started laying out a cookbook.  But as projects tend to do, a simple cookbook became so much more and an entirely new brand (Simply Ardynn) was born.  Market and competitor research started to happen, thus empty spaces began to appear in the product and brand lines we scrutinized.   A formal action plan came into being and when the time came for us to explain to the kids that the days ahead were going to change things for our family, it didn’t quite go as planned.  In a good way.  I was terrified that the kids would be upset or become resentful of the company.  They were used to my being able to spend more time with them than their friends had with their parents.

The excitement they had was palpable.  Some of it was the fact that Daddy had been listening to them and the cookbook (Simply Ardynn coming Spring 2019) they asked for was going to be published.  Kids love it when their parents agree with them.  And not only tell them, but show them how good an idea they had was.

Over the next few weeks, the kids did as kids tend to do and ease dropped whenever Danny and I talked about the new brand and the changes in the company.  One by one they approached me and asked if they could help.  Anthony came first and suggested he do a cooking with kids series.  Besides being able to spend time with me, he was honest and said he wanted to be a YouTube star and suggested how it would be a good start.  Love that sone of mine.  He tells it like it is and at 11 years old can manipulate with the best of them.

The girls came to me a while later, together and said they wanted to do something too.  Avril wanted to be on the cooking with kids show and while Onyx didn’t know what she wanted to do, she just wanted to help somehow..  As a father I couldn’t have been happier that my teenage daughter wanted to spend time with me.

So, Danny and I talked at great lengths as to what we should do.  Last month we sat down with the kids and had a family meeting.  We asked each of them if they were still interested in working with us on this new project and if so, exactly how they wanted to help.  We explained how serious a commitment it would be and that they couldn’t just quit in a couple of weeks.  We agreed that if we moved forward with the project as a family that we would decide together what the expectations would be… like how many shows we would tape for the cooking with kids series for example.

As a surprise we told them that like any other partner or employee they would be paid and that the bulk of the money would be set aside in trust accounts for them until they came of age.  None of them expected money from this and were honestly surprised to find out. Each would own 10% of the company when we filed updated paperwork.

That is how our family owned business became a family affair in every sense of the word.  No expectations. No one telling them they had to do this. No inference of disappointment if they didn’t want to help.  It was their idea and like good parents, we asked multiple times over a good 6 month period (let’s face it, kids are notorious for changing their minds about things on a weekly basis).

If you own a family business, we would love to hear about it (via the comment section below) and whether your kids are involved and how.