Our Story Tells The Tale Of How Simply Ardynn Became An International Brand

By Michael Harris_Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

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The journey has been long and challenging, and I never would have guessed that as we, the Ardynn Media Group, celebrated our 10th Anniversary, we would be occupying and entirely new consumer space.

For 20 years I used my expertise to help other companies build their brand presence.  Companies like Homes.com, Move.com, Inman News, Zillow and Trulia, just to name a few.  Then when the country faced its worst economic depression in written history, I threw in the towel and opened the Ardynn Media Group.

I still worked with Top Brands across the U.S. and Canada to help them make the transition from traditional brick and mortar brands, to having an extremely, strong online presence.

For more on how our company has grown and changed over the years and the challenges we faced.  Check out the details via Our Story

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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

 

 

Keeping Things Simple Isn’t Always The Case In Business…the bill always comes due

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Our love of technology has given professionals, such as myself, the option of working our own way…what ever that may be. For me, it is from where ever I happen to be, at any hour of the day. There is no need to see clients face to face when we have FaceTime and real time collaboration apps and tools.

Recently I learned a very hard lesson. That no matter how hard you work, nor what you may achieve…the bill always comes due. For the past year I have been working, quite diligently I might add, on building and launching a new brand in a consumer space that I was not an expert in when I began. The Food and Lifestyle space, while I have lived it well, I didn’t understand the inner workings, until now.

While I am extremely good at my job, and have launched and helped build some of Americas biggest brands over the years, I have to ask myself if I can still do it. Everyone says 40 is the new 30 and when I look in the mirror, I forget at times that I am almost 50 years. Like a woman told me yesterday, I wear my age well, but actions still wear a person down.

For the past few months I have literally been working 60-80 hours a week. And it finally caught up with me. I have heard of people being hospitalized for exhaustion and kinda of wondered how it was even possible for a person to get to that point. Now I know. It hits your like a house being dropped on you. I was down for an entire week and couldn’t even eat, let alone work or take care of my family. The bill came due.

As the person that has been preaching balance, I failed to live by my own words. Take time for yourself. Be good to yourself…whatever that means to you. Make sure you are getting rest. The human body cant keep going on 2-3 hours of sleep a day. It will always protect itself by shutting down and going into a hibernation type mode.

Lesson learned, I am back to work and keeping things balanced. Which for me, means shifting set deadlines, asking for help and being proud of the way our brand has evolved. It is not the company I envisioned 10 years ago, but what has emerged is a brand that I honestly, can’t believe I built. Once the revenue streams are in place, our family will be set for a long time to come. It is becoming a true family business and I had nothing to do with it. They asked to be involved. I couldn’t be more proud.

I am working on our companies first real commercial and mapping out the media outlets to place it on. One of the interesting things I have found is my target audience has chosen me. While. I was working towards millennials, it is actually Gen X that has showed initial support. And I’m talking across all platforms. Isn’t it amazing the information you can find with out paying an outside firm? The analytics provided by social media, Google and WordPress are indispensable.

My point with telling you all of this and being so transparent, is that many of you are friends and peers that I would not want to see this happen to. Learn from my mistake. Keep the balance in your life or you will pay the price. For me it was exhaustion but just as easily could have been a major heart attack. I have already had one, when I was 20 and it runs in the family.