Oct

19

2011

Competitive Marketing

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Allan Ross - Competitive Marketing

Hi this is Allan Ross on how to Market Your Business

Today I would like to talk about Competitive Marketing

Something crucial to remember when creating a marketing plan is anticipating your competitor’s strategy. You could be doing everything right: providing the best goods with the best services and prices, and yet your competitor could be outshining your business. It’s because they are doing one other major thing right, which is properly advertising.

Being the best at what you do is key in gaining and maintaining a reliable reputation, but it means nothing if no one knows about it. You may be thinking, “but I do advertise,” and yet it is important to realize that getting results requires much more than putting any ad in the paper. Having knowledge of what advertising techniques similar businesses are using will help you be a step ahead of them, and possibly allow you to use their marketing to benefit your own.
The first step to take would be objectively analyzing your own business and all it entails: the goods, service, prices and whatever else you are offering to consumers, and compare yourself to the competitors. Before you start advertising ‘the best’ of something, make sure you can back it up, and be prepared to explain why what you’re offering is the better choice.

Next, understand who your target audience is, and make sure you are gearing your advertising towards how consumers can benefit. Assume your customer is thinking, “what’s in it for me?”, and use that mentality to your advantage. Different cultures, genders and ages all respond to things in different ways, so it is also important to speak to your key demographics. You should also be noting what your competitors did during peak and low sale periods, and then use their triumphs and failures as guides. Another extremely important tactic is staying afloat during hard economic times. It not only gives you credibility, but also builds brand assurance, and you’ll gain more exposure while your competitors sink.

In addition, taking advantage of new and changing advertising methods will benefit your business. You don’t have to fear social media, applications, and owning an up to date website, because they are extremely useful marketing tools. They not only expose your business, but also allow you to gain trust with consumers regardless of the product, service, or generation. If your product is a cutting edge gadget, then an advanced Facebook page will speak to your technology savvy customer. If you are an established company with more of a traditional product or service, then a user friendly website can be creatively designed to help portray your business as distinguished while maintaining its values.

Every business will have a competitor at some point. Whether you are the number 1 in your field and you are looking to maintain your current status, or you are lost in the mix and want recognition in the industry, competitive marketing and advertising can make all the difference between just owning a business, and doing steady business.

Mar

25

2011

Keeping Your Website Fresh

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Allan Ross - Keeping Your Website Fresh

Today I’d like to talk about: Are you keeping your website fresh and up to date?

Probably the most important marketing tool your company has today, is your website. The web has become your online portfolio where your prospects and clients check out your company to get information of your services. Now that being said, just like any other marketing tool, there are professional websites and there are amateur sites. It is becoming more and more important to present your company web presence in the best possible light. It will keep your site visitors coming back.

Now how do you keep your website fresh. Here are some of my suggestions.

  • Make sure the content in your site is an accurate reflection of what your company does and is visitor friendly. Sometimes less information is better than more.
  • Nothing looks worse than a “What’s New” section that hasn’t been updated since 2004. Keeping your site fresh and functioning effectively as a business tool is critical. It also will help your company rankings in search engines.
  • Make sure you let the public in on what’s going on. And with new technology coming out, it’s hard to stay ahead of the crowd. If you write articles or newsletters make sure you post them on your site or on your blog, and change them every month or two.
  • Make sure (if you’re selling something) you always have the latest merchandise. It will keep your site visitors coming back.
  • Hire a web developer to do your regular updates. Someone who specializes in website maintenance, SEO (search engine optimization) is a key.

Remember your website is your online portfolio to the world. Be proud of your online presence. You work hard, so have your website also work hard for you.

Feb

21

2011

Professional Networking

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Allan Ross - Professional Networking

Today I’d like to talk about: Professional Networking – Help your company’s bottom line.

I hear the groans already… I hate networking. I’m uncomfortable talking with strangers. Well guess what, networking is probably one of the best ways to grow your business. The heart of any business is the connection it has with other businesses and individuals that it can call upon to help meet its needs. Networking enables businesses that do not compete with each other to refer, share leads and find creative ways to partner. Networking events help you advance professionally.

No matter what type of business you have, it is all about relationships and how people perceive your talents. Your fellow business people are a vast resource. Focus on the quality, not quantity, of your connections at networking events. You’ll get better results by making a few good connections then by handing out dozens of business cards indiscriminately.

Most networking veterans agree that it’s hard to beat a face-to-face meeting to make the best contacts. The best lead generator is a handshake — the human touch.

Networking may sometimes seem insincere pretentious or even manipulative. There are always going to be people that judge someone by their position or image but there are many people who really want to build a true and mutually beneficial relationship.

You might consider yourself shy or self-conscious to go out and meet people. Networking does require a degree of boldness. The more you do it the easier it becomes and you will enjoy the adventure. The key is to smile and take interest in other people’s interest. Listen to what they have to say. Listen and learn.

Some pointers about networking:

Go with a goal. Have a firm reason to be at the event and know what you want out of it. Are you looking to acquire new prospects, meet colleagues for possible collaborations, and create name recognition for you and your business.

When someone asks you what you do make sure you can communicate not only your business, but also its benefits, in a clear, concise manner in 15 seconds or less. Is your message crisp and to the point? Is it compelling? This is not the time to give a dull, dry description. This is the time knock people’s socks off and rally make your company shine.

Leave the resumes and sales pitches at home. Networking is networking. Sales is sales. These are social events. If you are there to sell yourself, most likely you will fail. Nobody wants to be sold when the environment doesn’t call for it. Be genuine and sincere.

Remember networking is a good thing. It’s about building relationships. As easy as networking sounds—and it really is pretty straightforward—it takes time build and it takes time to be good at it but it’s worth the time and energy. It will help build your client base and you might even find some new friends.

Jan

20

2011

Act Bigger

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Allan Ross - Act Bigger

Hi this is Allan Ross from AJ Ross Creative Media

Today I would like to talk about,

When size really does matter… How to look and act bigger to increase business and grow.

We all know the infamous account of David and Goliath, where a young little boy defends himself and wins over the renowned giant. It’s the classic ‘underdog wins story’ and emphasizes the importance of using one’s knowledge over one’s physical size.

While that may work most of the time–there still is that new business pitch or new venture when you realize–size really does matter.

Here are some tips on how to look and act bigger than you are to land that new business and help your business grow, all without giving up what you went into business for in the first place–your expertise.

First, you need to surround yourself with professionals who think and work like you. I call this the “type wow” personality, and I mean it in a good sense. Owning your own business is fast paced and there is no room for an unmotivated staff. The key is to nurture talent and keep them. Your image is portrayed not only by you, but also by all who work for, and with you.

Image is everything. So, how does a small to mid-sized company compete with the designer, high-end New York City executives? “Stay on top of your game,” is the best way to put it. Project an image of confidence and assurance, but be sure to back it with experience, examples and referrals. Know your field, know your client’s needs and cater to your client as if he or she is the only one that exists. Larger companies tend to lose sight of client needs, and quickly, once they get the account.

You may have to tweak who you are on occasion. If your office looks more like a storage bin than a workplace, rent space for that big meeting. Bring in the caterer if necessary. Even hire temporary staff. Show that you are interested in entertaining your new client.

Re-think your marketing materials–from your letterhead to your brochure to your web site. Do you present a mom-and-pop image or a new, trend-setting company ready to produce that award-winning widget or provide that phenomenal service? Yes, image. And yes, it’s important to have a polished, professional and integrated package to explain who you are and what you do. You need more than just a logo and some ads in the local newspaper. You need a professional marketing company. Make the investment. Hire a company who knows what they are doing, who has experience and a track record. Remember, you get what you pay for. A lot of companies try to save money and hire designers who have no marketing or branding experience. You should also use public relations, which is a tried-and-true approach that should be an integral part of any marketing program. Have the agency write and place announcements of your firms’ achievements, new business and new hires, feature articles, and even speaking and seminar engagements.

So, with tape measure in hand, or at least a fresh look at your company and what you do–it’s time to move forward. Use your talents, seek advice, outsource, revise your image by hiring the right brand professionals, tell everyone and… succeed.

Jan

12

2011

Pay Now or You Might Not Be Around to Pay Later

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Allan Ross - Pay now, or you might not be around to pay later

Hi, this is Allan Ross from AJ Ross Creative Media.

Today’s article is about: pay now, or you may not be around to pay later.

Remember those classic Fram Oil Filter ads where the mechanic would look you in the eye and say, “You can pay me now or pay me later.” The premise was you could pay for an oil filter today or pay for an expensive engine repair later.

Something similar is going on in the advertising/marketing business today. The wording of the line, however, is slightly different. Today it’s, “You can pay now or you might not be around to pay later.”

The economy is getting better. Believe it.

In good times and bad times, it’s not the time to stop telling customers what you can do for them. The assumption that you can cut back on the ads and wait until everything turns around before you remind people how good you are at what you do, may not be the most prudent strategy. People forget. People change. And if they’re not hearing from you, they’ll always be willing to listen to an offer from somebody else. Don’t for a second believe they’ll jump right back to you when you decide to start communicating again.

So what are we saying here, today’s the perfect time to spend like there’s no tomorrow? No, we’re just saying times like these may be better than you think to advertise and build business. You might well be the only voice in your category. Maybe.

Of course, you have to do the advertising right. And that means having professionals working with you. Unfortunately, there are some people out there nationally, and especially locally, who are trying to make the most of a volatile economic situation. You know who they are. They’re those “new” ad guys on the block who claim they’ll give you everything you need for a lot less. You have to be extremely careful when you hear this pitch. It’s very tempting. Just remember, experience matters and so does proof of success. Cheap is not a good trade off for effective or smart.

If you believe as we do, that these times are good for advertising, you should seriously evaluate any advertising proposal made to you. Just make sure it’s legitimate. Check references. Call the agency’s clients. Ask them if they’re happy. Look at the work the agency’s done. Do you wish you had run some of the ads they created for somebody else?

Finding the right partner and putting some muscle behind a solid plan with creative that grabs eyes and ears can make a huge difference in your business right now and perhaps even more impressive for years to come. People should know you’re still here working hard and you’re not going to forget about them, because if you don’t do this: Remember, you can pay now…or…well, you know the rest.

Dec

12

2010

Tis the Season

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Allan Ross - 'Tis the Season

Hi. This is Allan Ross from AJ Ross Creative Media.

Today’s subject is:

‘Tis the Season for Smart Business Giving – and Getting – Goodwill for your Business

The holiday season is a time when customers are frazzled, trying to get a million things done and be a million places at once. Savvy business owners, who forever keep in mind that their role is to solve customers’ problems – often before the customer even realizes they ARE problems – know that now is not the time to sell.

Now is the time to soothe.

Now is a terrific time of year to remain in the customers’ line of sight, and in the best possible light. It’s not too late to spread some holiday goodwill, and by doing so, get some goodwill for your business. This time of year, business slows down for almost everyone – make the best use of that time by connecting – and reconnecting – with clients and customers.

The time you spend making personal connections, without trying to sell anything, will, in the long run, help you sell your products and services throughout the year.

Here are some tips to stand out this season and be a last-minute goodwill ambassador.

While holiday cards are nice, yours are bound to one of many customers are receiving. Try something different. Make a phone call instead. Obviously, you can’t call every client on your list, but it’s worth it, while business slows down this time of year, to sit down and spend some quality time to make a friendly call to some of your best clients. Show them the personal touch – it will pay off big later on.

Consider an e-mail blast: one that doesn’t sell anything at all. Just a simple, positive, grateful message for their business throughout the year. An e-mail can be created in under an hour, and sent in a day. In today’s marketplace, with consumers constantly blitzed with “calls to action,” and messages to “buy, buy, buy,” a concise, thoughtful greeting will be remembered. Keep in mind, however, to avoid specific holiday references, as your customers may not all celebrate Christmas. Some light a menorah, and others celebrate Kwanzaah, and other winter holidays.

When building lists of whom to contact, think of clients and customers with whom you’ve been out of touch – this time of year is a good time to reconnect with those you haven’t heard from in a while; people are much more receptive to getting back together with you.

Don’t limit your thinking to consumers, either. The holidays are a good time to connect with business partners, and potential business partners, as well. Significant and profitable connections can be made, just by making a call or by sending a message.

We hope these suggestions work for you. In the meantime, the entire staff of AJ Ross Creative Media wishes you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season.

Nov

15

2010

Honesty

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Allan Ross - Honesty

Hi This is Allan Ross from AJ Ross Creative Media On How To Market Your Business.

I would like to talk about subject dear to me.

Honesty is the Best Policy In Your Advertising Campaign.

If prospective customers don’t believe your message or you, you might as well put out your “Going Out of Business Notice” right now.

Credibility is an important concern when advertising. As a business owner you can’t afford to be viewed by potential customers as anything less than honest, ethical and above board.

Yet few advertisers use more than half of the strategies that build trust in the prospective customer’s mind, according to advertising industry statistics. A recent study found that with major corporations, like major retail and department stores, the average advertisement was implementing only 55% of guidelines for trustworthy advertising design. Smaller companies tend to use even fewer of the recommendations.

Here are some suggestions you can use to Communicate Credibility In Your Advertising Campaigns

  1. Make sure that all your contact information about your company is complete and easy to find. Especially important is making your website information visible.
  2. Make good use of color and photos in your advertising. Usually smaller companies tend to cut corners because of budget concerns. By adding color photos it helps to raise your level of credibility. Photos help your prospective customers trust you because they come to feel they know you.
  3. If you are selling something make sure you don’t make prospects look all over for the price. Price it fair and put it there.
  4. Make sure your advertisement looks professional, is up to date, and is free of spelling and punctuation mistakes.
  5. If you require a specific disclaimer, display it and let your prospects know why it is important.
  6. Make sure your prospective customers can reach someone quickly if they have questions, need help, or wish to do business with you.
  7. Give your prospective customers what they are looking for. If they’re looking for information on a particular service, don’t make them read through a three page brochure about your company before they get to the instructions.

According to and old saying, “Honesty is the best policy.” If you want to be successful in advertising, it’s an essential policy as well.

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