Is it difficult to explain your product or service to potential clients? Is it too complicated or abstract to convey its value in words alone? Do you need to reach more people? Do you need someone to help you distill and visualize the benefits of the service or product that you provide? You have come to the right place. We specialize in making the value of your product or service into an easy-to-understand, wide-spread marketing message. Nickel City Graphics is – Marketing, simplified.

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Prove It – 5 Minutes to Better Marketing

I’ll once again draw on my own experience starting up Nickel City Graphics for a ‘teachable moment’ in this 5 Minutes to Better Marketing article. What comes to mind for me was a problem with the early marketing of my own business. Quite simply – it fell flat. Whether through networking groups, internet advertising, or one on one meetings, I was not generating the interest or sales that I needed or expected. People were just not buying what I was selling. I told myself that they just didn’t “get it.” Maybe I was talking to the wrong people. Maybe I needed to tweak my messaging. Admittedly, I did need to tweak my messaging, but that is a different article. My biggest problem was that my early target clients did not believe that I could do what I said I could do, and I had no proof to change their minds. It had to prove it.

I’ve been focused on producing video for the web for small businesses/organizations since I founded Nickel City Graphics in 2008. When I first started reaching out, I encountered a lot of resistance to small businesses marketing through video, and much of this resistance was due to certain assumptions. There was an assumption that video production came with an astronomical price tag. There was an assumption that only kids watched video on the web. There was an assumption that a video project would take too much of the business owner’s time. And worst of all, there was the assumption that I could not deliver what I was selling. These assumptions were wrong, but early on I didn’t have the proof to dispel them. You can say you can do something, and you can say you are great at it. You can say it over and over. Without proof, all you have is a promise, and selling on a promise is no easy task.

For Nickel City Graphics, it took a few brave early-adopter clients – at huge discounts – to start to break me out of this rut. These clients were willing to look past the assumptions, allowing us to produce our early projects. Thanks to these early clients, I was able to begin to collect what I was missing – proof. I started to publish completed jobs on our blog. We promoted them on YouTube and Facebook. We built case studies around the projects that have become an integral part of our marketing plan. We even created a video product to help our customers do the same – a ProveIt Video.

My two-cents on the this topic: Do whatever you can to prove that your business can solve a client’s problem. Get your work out there. Get your process out there. Show your product do what it does best. Don’t just claim that you are different/better than your competition, that you can deliver on a promise. You need to deliver results – show them. Prove it.

Takeaway – Use proof as part of your marketing strategy to show potential clients that you can deliver the results they expect.

5 Minutes to Better Marketing is a twice-monthly series of direct email articles aimed at improving your marketing efforts and overall success of the small business community, specifically in the Buffalo, NY region. These articles are universal. They can help many small businesses. If you know of anyone that may benefit from communications like this one, please share this article.

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Finish Strong – 5 Minutes to Better Marketing

When your marketing machine is running at full throttle and you have droves of new clients knocking on your door, don’t forget one important element of the marketing/sales process –  It is now up to you to deliver. Making the sale is not the endpoint of your marketing plan, but a chance to prove your claims and value points to that client and many others. Consider the implementation of your product or service and subsequent follow-up as part of your marketing plan. Deliver great service and you will generate more great proof points for your future sales. Solve a nagging problem for a client and they will be more than willing to tell their friends and contemporaries about the job that you did.

Through my first few years in business I overlooked the importance of the strong finish. Our customers were typically thrilled with the product that we produced, but I lagged on some of the finer points of the ‘finish strong’ concept. Referrals trickled in, and although they have always been a big driver of our business, we never asked for them. Customers were happy with results and product we delivered, but we never recorded it. We left a lot of projects out there because of our finish. We make efforts to finish stronger now. Here are few suggestions on increasing the effectiveness of your marketing plan ‘after the sale’:

1. Do a Great Job - There is no better way to build customer loyalty and prime your client for the next three suggestions than to do a great job. Customers who are ‘blown-away’ by your delivery are going to talk about it. Doing an unparalleled job will get them talking.

2. Listen - Much of what we cover in the 5 Minutes to Better Marketing series is on identifying what works and replicating that success. Listen to what your client found most beneficial about your product/service. Ask them what was best about their experience and incorporate into future marketing. You can even formalize and catalog the responses by setting up a follow-up survey via Google Docs or a similar service.

3. Referrals - Don’t be afraid to ask. A simple, ‘If you know anyone else who could benefit from our service…’ in a phone call or email can go along way. Happy customers want to help your business. You just solved a problem for them or delivered a great product. Ask and you shall receive.

4. Testimonials - Are an incredibly powerful way to build your expert status. You can tell clients how great you are over and over, but when a client can hear how great your business is from ‘someone like them’ it really hits home. Capture your client’s enthusiasm in a testimonial and bolster your credibility. We routinely record testimonial videos for our clients. There may be no better sales tool than a happy customer.

Takeaway – The sale is not the end of the end of your marketing campaign. Bolster your credibility, and get referrals ‘after the sale.’

5 Minutes to Better Marketing is a twice-monthly series of direct email articles aimed at improving your marketing efforts and overall success of the small business community, specifically in the Buffalo, NY region. These articles are universal. They can help many small businesses. If you know of anyone that may benefit from communications like this one, please share this article.

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Easy Introductions – 5 Minutes to Better Marketing

One of the first interactions with a potential client for for many small businesses is an introduction. “Hello my name is…“ This could be standing up at a networking meeting, online via your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile, or within printed material like a business card or mailer. As the saying goes “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” How do you come across, and what is your message in these crucial first moments of interaction?

It’s good to have a plan for your introduction. What will you say? Refer back to previous “5 Minutes to Better Marketing” articles Simplify or What’s The Problem to begin forming a message based on your value proposition. Consider the points from Choose Your Words Carefully to refine that message into an impactful statement that will appeal to your target market. Speaking of your target market, try using the exercise from Target Market Revisited to pinpoint exactly who you are speaking to. This message from your introduction should carry through all of your marketing and is especially important during an introduction. Start off you relationship with a new potential client on the right foot. Don’t muddy the waters with frivolous details or overused buzzwords. Tell your new client what problem you can solve for them, and speak directly to them. It is as simple as that… but are you doing it?

We have a product designed to explore and fill this very need. We call it a FaceTime Video. It not only gives you (or someone at your business) an introduction on camera to explain what makes your company unique, but the discovery process that we use to prepare you for the video will give you a better understanding of who you are talking to and what aspects of your business will set you apart. We will run through our ‘Determine and Reach Your Target Market’ workshop to fine-tune your message. Consider it a marketing workshop and media production in one.

Here are a few other benefits of the FaceTime video:

Publicity: A FaceTime Video lets you meet more people. Let customers see your face and hear your voice, even when you are not in your office. Web videos are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and come with a guaranteed number of views.

Gain Trust: The more your customers get to know you, the more they will trust you.

Stand Out: There is no better time to let new customers know how you do business and what makes your company or product unique.

Make an Offer: Tell your potential customer what problem you can fix and then lock them in with an enticing offer.

Education: Use your “face time” as a teachable moment for future clients by answering common questions about your product or service.

Here are a few examples of our recent FaceTimeVideos:

Takeaway – Use an introduction to illustrate how you can solve a potential client’s problem(s) while showcasing your personality and uniqueness.

5 Minutes to Better Marketing is a twice-monthly series of direct email articles aimed at improving your marketing efforts and overall success of the small business community, specifically in the Buffalo, NY region. These articles are universal. They can help many small businesses. If you know of anyone that may benefit from communications like this one, please share this article.

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Target Market Revisited – 5 Minutes to Better Marketing

I ran a workshop exercise twice last month on determining your target market. The first instance was done as part of my workshop Determine and Reach Your Target Market at Buffalo Small Business Breakthrough Day, and the second was a condensed version of the exercise that I lead at Friday Morning Networking on Elmwood Avenue. The reason I bring this up is that, even knowing that I was delivering value to my attendees, I did not expect the level of positive feedback and discussion that the exercise provided. So, I am using this edition of 5 Minutes to Better Marketing to push the exercise to a wider audience.

First, I’d like to share with you the Determine Your Target Market presentation:
http://prezi.com/yhdwpygezfkq/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

First write down your target market. Who are you selling to? Who buys your product or service?

If you used words like ‘anyone’ or ‘everybody’ you’re a prime candidate for this exercise. As a small business your target has to be more specific. You can’t be everything to everyone. Your chances for success are much higher if you are a perfect fit for a select few.

The concept of the exercise is simple. To find your target market, identify your most ideal past clients. List several of your recent clients. Rate them on a scale of 0-3 (3 being the highest) on Time (did they take too much, or allow you flexibility?)Money (did they haggle on price, pay on time, etc.), and Project/Product (did they allow you to do your best work?) and then multiply. The bigger the score, the more ideal the client. A zero in any category excludes them from being a top client. You can’t run a successful business without time, money and quality projects/products. Take a look at your top scoring clients and use their similarities in characteristics like business size, industry, project type, location and personality. Who is your business appealing to? Who are you solving problems for?

Using your new insight into your target market, again write down your target market again. Is it more specific? More manageable? Can you picture who you are speaking to through your marketing?

Interested in digging deeper into this exercise? Keep your eyes peeled for some future events we have in the works, or simply reply to this email. I would love to discuss the concept further.

Takeaway – Use your own experience to determine your target market. Examine your past clients to determine which ones are most ideal.

5 Minutes to Better Marketing is a twice-monthly series of direct email articles aimed at improving your marketing efforts and overall success of the small business community, specifically in the Buffalo, NY region. These articles are universal. They can help many small businesses. If you know of anyone that may benefit from communications like this one, please share this article.

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