I’m doing a marketing makeover on Keith’s website. He’s a management consultant who teaches and trains various Kaizen or “continuous improvement” type methods. There’s a lot of money to be made helping big businesses save a lot of money. But right now he’s not getting the results he expected from his website. (I’m listening to Glenn Gould play Bach while I work). So hold the production line, here are my top 7 tips for continuously improving your marketing…
1. The right name is an asset, working for you in the minds of your customers.
The company name, Launch CI doesn’t really roll off the tongue. The first time I saw it, especially in logo format, it took a good few seconds to sink in. Was that a capital “i” or an “L”? I wasn’t sure. I had to look around for clues as to what it meant. I found the reference to “Continuous Improvement” and put the two together.
The problem is, your name shouldn’t be a puzzle for new customers to solve. They have real problems to solve. Understanding who you are and remembering what you do isn’t one of them.
Naming a company isn’t easy. It’s particularly difficult because there are a lot of companies out there with poor names. What you should know is, those companies function in spite of a bad name, not because of it. Unfortunately, it will cost you a lot of money over many years to have customers remember you with a poorly chosen name.
A common mistake when naming new companies is to copy the style of companies that have been trading and building brand awareness for decades, sometimes centuries. IBM spent billions, over decades, telling us what they do and what they stand for. It almost doesn’t matter what I.B.M. stands for these days. It does matter what you stand for because nobody knows. So while your name doesn’t need to tell the whole story, it should be easy to remember.
The good news is, taking a little time to formulate new names, testing them and ultimately changing your trading name can be super effective and extremely low cost. All you have to do is let go, emotionally, of a name that isn’t going to work for you.
Ask yourself this – is my name an asset, is it working for me? Is it actively helping customers remember me? At the end of the day your name is a hook that your customers will use to remember, or hang all the other pieces of your brand upon.
Action: Think about what type of image you want to project for your company. Then do some research into your competitors. Work from the top of your industry down. See what trends and conventions you notice in how people have named their companies. Decide whether you want to conform to a convention that works, like naming the company after the founders or partners. (e.g. Mousch & Co.) Or whether you want to buck the conventional trend and position yourself as a new, up-and-comer from the more informal digital age. (e.g. Always Getting Better llc.) Or whether you want to go for a “Does what it says on the tin” approach. (e.g. Continuous Improvement Consultants Inc.) Make a list of potential new names in each category. Don’t use any acronyms. Test your new options for credibility and most importantly, for being memorable, then make the change.
2. Your tagline is another asset, the condensed essence of your sales pitch, use it to sell, not to be cute.
Your tagline is well placed at the top of the page and reads…
Continuous Improvement From START to SUSTAIN
That’s what I’d call a clever tagline. It’s cute, but it’s wasting a huge opportunity to clearly communicate who you serve and how you can benefit them.
You only have a few seconds to make a first impression. The benefit of Google, from your customers’ perspective, is that it provides a long list of options. Your competitors are just a click away. And your customer has their finger hovering over the back button the second they land on your site. You have to persuade them that they are in the right place, right away.
Don’t try to copy the cute taglines you see in magazines and billboards. Big companies who have already spent billions educating consumers are paying royally for the privilege of being clever. (And often throwing that money away).
Your tagline is the first piece of clear, beneficial information you want to communicate to your customer. It’s the first thing they are going to mentally hang on that new, memorable name you’ve chosen.
You really shouldn’t start out by thinking of a tagline. A tagline is rather the end result of a much deeper process. The process of understanding exactly who your customers are, what problems they are suffering and specifically how you are the perfect company to solve them. That overall process is your sales pitch. Every business needs a basic sales pitch. That pitch is communicated through everything you do. Through blog posts. Through white papers. Through video introductions. Through sales letters. Through industry talks. If you don’t have a sales pitch, you don’t have a business. You’re just a technician hanging up a “for hire” sign.
Action: Think of your tagline as the condensed essence of your sales pitch. So, take your sales pitch and boil it down gradually. Start with a condensed version that’s just 7 or 8 sentences long. You can call this your elevator pitch. Reduce even further to 2 or 3 sentences. Use this whenever you have the space and the attention. Now boil it down to a single sentence. The essence of who you serve and why you’re valuable. This is your tagline. Don’t bother boiling it down to 3 or 4 words. You’re not Amazon and there’s a good chance it will become meaningless.
3. The marketplace is a competition. You can’t win by trying to fit in. Hire a pro to create a unique visual identity.
Your name and tagline help to create an initial impression. But your visuals, like your images and color scheme, work even faster. Right now, in a fraction of a second, they communicate a sense of “generic dullness”.
Remember, you are just one company in a long list of options. The longer a customer has to search Google to find someone who connects with them, someone who inspires them, the more agitated and critical they will become.
“But this is what MY industry is like, it’s conservative” is what I hear over and over from people who are struggling because they aren’t standing out. And there’s the problem. Everyone is trying to “fit in”, totally missing the point that you’re in a giant COMPETITION called the market place.
Sure, you need to check out what your competition is doing. You’ll pick up some ideas on what might work. You’ll see trends and conventions that might be useful. But after all that, you need to remember that the marketplace is a competition. And you’re trying to beat your competitors, by standing out and being the perfect choice in your customer’s mind. The one who connects. The one they can relate to. The one they trust. The one they remember. Being able to prove your value actually comes second to being NOTICED. If you’re instantly rejected, all bets are off.
What we want more than anything, as human beings, is to connect with other human beings. We want them to be just like us, because we trust people who are just like us more. We want to know what they believe. We want to test them on their beliefs. We want to do everything we can to establish trust and reliability in advance.
When we portray a fake image, a generic image, when we pretend to be all things to all people, we eat away at that trust because everyone knows its fake. It has no personality. It takes no risks. It’s a lie. And we don’t trust lies. We don’t trust computer-generated stock photography. Or stock photo models. And if a website’s color scheme appears dull, we instantly presume the person behind it is dull as well.
Action: Lose the generic logo, the generic header image, the generic stock photos and the generic background image. Think about how you can create imagery that is both unique and visually appealing. Focus on real people. There should be more images of you. And more images of your happy customers. And a specific focus on the industries and geographic areas you want to target. If you’re in Lancaster PA, what types of industry might be ideal clients for you? How can you incorporate those industries into your photographs? Find a local photographer and create your own “stock photos” of real industry, with real people. Make it personal and unique and human and interesting.