Journey of the Do – Stage 7 – The Launch

It’s almost here! You’ve planned, prepared, bought, sold, researched, set up accounts for this that, and everything else. Now, it’s time to share you product / service with the world. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you launch.

Soft Launch

For this endeavour, my wife, and I have chosen to do a soft launch. We’ll spread the word through family, and friends (and this blog) before starting a larger marketing effort. We want to ensure we work out all the kinks before we really start generating some revenue. Some of you may want to wait until everything is perfect before you launch. DON’T. Get it out there, and work with your customers from there. There’s no shame in being up front with your customers that you’re new, and working on a few different things. Even make them a part of the discussion. Ask them questions on how else you can serve them. Do they have any suggestions for improvement, and so on.

For this e-tailer the plan is to leave a month or so to iron out the kinks before we start turning the crank. Your timeline may be different, and that’s fine.

Creating a Culture

The definition of brand has evolved. It used to be, and still is to a point, about what people are saying, and feeling about you. However, it’s a bit more than that in this new age of technology and globalization. Now you can survive as a small niche by creating a culture. Creating loving, devoted fans, and by having the most believers on your team. It used to be about getting the right / best people on the bus. Now, it’s more so about getting those that best fit your culture or the culture you want to create on the bus. People who live, and die for what you’ve created. They may not be the best in their field, but they believe in what you’re doing, where you want to go, and they’re willing to learn for the sake of the brand. This doesn’t necessarily apply to your accountant. I want the absolute best in the field. I cannot stress enough how important an amazing accountant is.

Your culture can be defined by your core values or what you want to get out of the company. And we’re not talking profit numbers. We’re talking higher-thinking. Steve Jobs believed in design, inside-and-out. Zappos believes in serving the customer to no end. They even hire their team by encouraging trainees to take a buy-out of a few grand at the end of their training. Those who take the money…GOOD. They want people who believe in the brand, and the journey opposed to the money. You get believers working with you, and the money will come.

By having this culture within your company, it will spread throughout the customer experience. Making your customers believers, and when you have believers, you’ll have more and more followers, more and more buyers, and more and more ambassadors for your brand.

One way we’re going to do this is by encouraging our customers to get involved in the process. Include them in buying decisions on what they like, and don’t like. While we’re out on buying missions, we’ll post pictures of what we plan on buying, and include our fans in the discussion. We also plan to be as open as possible to them on what we’re doing, and why. Even going as far to post our revenue numbers on our website. We also plan to do a different sort of promotion to kick things off (more on that in a few weeks).

Dress, Ever Rose, Shop Ever Rose

A look into the future. Do you like?

The BIG Launch

After you’ve worked the kinks out through your soft launch, and things are working for you, and you’re starting to see the cash flow…it’s time to spread, and scale. Having worked in the media industry (I still do), and my wife’s crazy PR connections through her blog (canadiangiftguide.com) we’ve compiled a few tips on how to get free publicity. You can check those out here. This has to involve you picking up the phone, sending out emails, and reaching out to as many people as you can within your community. People like supporting those in the community, and they LOVE stories. Plus, media outlets need to fill time, especially LOCAL time, so keep at it, and you’ll eventually see your biz in the news, on TV, etc…

In my wife, and I’s case – we’re going to spend a bit of money too in a few different markets across Canada to get the word out. More on that over the next few weeks.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

PS. After all the purchasing of goods, website, domain names, logo design, etc.. we’ve spent just over $6000. And we’re almost ready to launch.

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I’m already busy, so I don’t need to advertise

I’m hearing this statement quite a bit as the economy starts to heat up. Here’s the thing, YOU’RE WRONG!

Never stop marketing your product to as many people as possible for the least amount possible

Apple, McDonald’s, Samsung, Tim Hortons, Subway, Ford, GM, Toyota and the list goes on and on and on. They all advertise consitently, whether it’s a slow month or an extremely busy month. They understand the value of awareness. Although a consumer may not be in the position to purchase their product right now, when the consumer is ready to purchase the aforementioned companies want their brand to come to mind.

Also, if you are THAT busy, maybe you should consider expanding your business, whether it be opening another store in a different neighbourhood or expanding to another city. Maybe you can advertise the fact you need more sales people to sell your product / service. Or find better quality service people to handle the increased workload. Whatever it is, never stop. You always want to be top-of-mind.

There are thousands of messages clogging the consumer’s brain every day. What makes your message stand out? If you’re not in the consumer’s face or mind, you don’t exist. You’re merely burning money on rent, staff and other operational expenses.

The best

The best and most profitable businesses understand this very simple recipe for success. Advertising your message 52-weeks a year to the most amount of people for the least amount of money works. And it works really well. Even if your message is shit, it will work (for a short period of time, but it’s very difficult to sell a shitty product / service over a long period of time).

You may be saying, “I don’t have enough money to advertise 52-weeks a year!” QUIET! You do, you just haven’t allocated your resources properly. If your annual sales budget is $100,000 your marketing budget should be $2,000 – $10,000 (2 – 10% of your sales budget). However, I’m sure your sales budget is much higher than that. Then again, your marketing budget is probably significantly lower than 2 – 10% of your sales budget.

Psychology

When it comes down to it, it’s all about psychology. There’s no way you’re going to have the marketing budgets like McDonald’s, Apple, etc… That’s fine you don’t NEED to. All you need is some money and a different mental framework.

Like the example above, you can stretch $2,000 – $10,000 very far on almost any marketing medium whether it be digital or a more traditional medium like radio or print. You won’t be able to reach the amount of people McDonald’s will, but you’ll still be able to reach someone…anyone. 100 people is better than 0.

For example, a restaurant launched and they only advertised to a 40-unit apartment complex next to their restaurant. They printed off some letters they made in Word and put them in the apartment complexes mailboxes. And they did this repeatedly. Needless to say, they owned that apartment complex. I can dive deeper into this story if you’d like. Shoot me an email at effUmarketing@gmail.com and I’ll elaborate. Again, someone is better than no one. Figure out who you can afford to own and own the shit out of them.

No excuses, be relentless

You need to market you product. Whether you’re busy or not. Whether your marketing budget is in the millions of dollars or hundreds. There’s always a way to reach people. You’ll have to spend some money, but you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

As always, if you need some guidance, reach out to me on Twitter or effUmarketing@gmail.com.

Never stop advertising; be relentless or be dead

henry-ford-quote

I’d go out on a limb to say advertising worked for Henry Ford. He was relentless with his ad dollars and to this day the company he built continues to advertise non-stop.

Coke, McDonald’s, Apple and the Ford F-150 are all category leaders and they all advertise relentlessly. It’s one thing to get to the top, to stay there is even more difficult.

As a small business owner you may say, “Well all those guys have a bunch of money to spend on advertising. I’m just a little guy and I can’t afford that…” All are valid points, but YOU can learn from the big guys. YOU must have some money to market your product.

Find something that works and beat it to death.

You think all the companies above started out with millions of dollars in their advertising budget? HELL NO! They found ONE medium that worked for them, beat it to death, made a ton of money and then branched out into other mediums.

Your advertising budget should be 2-10% of your sales budget. If you have a high margin of sale (most car dealers) your advertising dollars should be around 10%. If you’re a mom-and-pop shop it should be around 2-3%. Notice how EVERYONE should have an advertising budget?

Story time

When I was growing up in Winnipeg, the coffee and donut market was owned by Robin’s Donuts. They had very little competition, so they didn’t advertise much. They did some marketing here and there, but nothing significant. “I’m at the top, so why should I advertise!” Then Tim Horton’s opened up a couple shops. Robin’s still didn’t do much. Then Tim’s opened up more shops and started to advertise…relentlessly. By that time, it was too late for Robin’s. They were too late to the party even though they used to have a strangle hold on the market.

The funny thing is – when people leave, they all leave at once. It’s not a gradual decline. It’s quick and painful. Tim’s took over the Winnipeg market (as it did most Canadian markets) in a few years. Now, Robin’s has a few locations in Winnipeg whereas Tim’s is on every corner. And guess what, Tim Horton’s continues to advertise RELENTLESSLY.

There will be some who say, “Well, the coffee at Tim’s tastes better. Duh!” GO FUCK YOURSELF. You know why it tastes better? Because Tim’s advertises that it tastes better. If you were blindfolded, you wouldn’t be able to figure out Tim’s coffee from Robin’s Donuts coffee. It’s the same thing with wine. I know people who will buy $50 wine glasses because some marketing genius (no sarcasm here, it’s a brilliant scam) advertised the fact that their glasses enhance the taste of your $100 wine. Does it actually work? NO! OF COURSE NOT! In a blind taste test, even the best wine connoisseurs in the world couldn’t taste the difference between wine in a $50 glass compared to wine in a fucking toilet bowl (okay, it wasn’t a toilet bowl it was a $5 glass, but you get my point).

Advertising helps you decide. It plays off your existing thoughts and tricks you into believing what’s right and wrong, what’s better and what’s awful, what wine tastes like in a $50 glass compared to a $5 glass.

This also reminds me of a sports bar that was located across the street from one of the busiest entertainment venues in North America. I was on a sales call with the sports bar manager and she mentioned they didn’t need to advertise because they were always full and they were across from one of the busiest entertainment venues the city has ever seen.

My response, “What would happen if that busy venue opened a sports bar across the street right next to your business? What would happen if they brought their sports and rock stars across the street to their venue for after-parties, autograph sessions, etc…?

The manger kind of shrugged like she didn’t care. She was on top of the world at the moment as people and money were flowing in every week. She was short-sighted. She thought it was a sprint and not a marathon. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. The large entertainment venue sent out a press release stating they were buying up the lot across the street from their venue. They would go head-to-head with the aforementioned sports bar. The money and people going to the old sports bar dried up in less than a year. It went from the top of the hill to six feet under in 11 months. Like I said, YOUR death will be quick and painful if you fail to market your business relentlessly.

Never stop

You may not be in a position to spend the big bucks like the big guys, but you can own a chunk of whatever market you’re in. YOU NEED TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS. Whether you have $500,000 to spend or $500. If you’re a small restaurant in a small neighbourhood, find something you can own. Whether it’s a street lined with houses or an apartment complex. Print off some coupons (like 50% off or a free appetizer, I will slap you if you give me a 10% off coupon) and deliver them personally or whatever you need to do to own something. If you don’t own something…you own nothing and you will die. Because someone out there with half a brain will figure out you’re not marketing your business. That person will open shop in your neighbourhood, advertise relentlessly and take all your customers.

Want to stay alive? Shoot me a note at effumarketing@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

2014: The year to be different

There’s been much hullabaloo over the “Misunderstood” holiday ad Apple is running. Many say it’s wonderful and potentially the best ad of the year. I like it, but it doesn’t feel like Apple to me. Take a look:

I’ve been a fan and customer of Apple for close to 15 years. I was an Apple user before it was cool to be an Apple user. And I always enjoyed their marketing. Under Jobs, Apple’s marketing was always about the product, its simplicity, and clean lines / look (white everywhere!). As soon as the ad came on or I flipped to the magazine ad, I instantly knew it was Apple. There was no mistaking it. It was different.

Before the above campaign it was the “Mac vs. PC” campaign. Again, unmistakable as to what it was and what Apple was selling. And the campaign keyed on points of differentiation. One of the tests you can use to see how effective your marketing campaign is / was is to use the ‘Swap Technique’. Cover up your logo on a print ad or watch / listen to your TV or radio ad without a mention of your brand’s name. If it’s unmistakable as to what brand the message is conveying, you win. If your ad could easily be used as an ad for a competitor, you lose.

For example, take a look at the Google India ad which caused quite a stir earlier this year:

This very well could have been an ad for an iPhone. Vice versa the “Misunderstood” Apple ad could very well have been an ad for an Android device. Don’t get me wrong, the Google India ad and Apple “Misunderstood” ad are great and will probably win a creative award or two, unfortunately they miss the mark on selling the product. When it comes to advertising, your marketing shouldn’t be about winning awards, it should be about making sales. One way to do this is to show how your product is different than everyone else’s. Don’t worry about being ‘creative’ focus on being different.

I wonder whether or not the Apple “Misunderstood” ad would have flown with Steve Jobs. For me, it misses the Apple feel, the simplicity, the sleek, clean look and for the most part the product.

Your mission for 2014…stop being creative and start being different.

Look at what your competitors are doing and do the opposite. Being different should scare the shit out of you and that’s a great thing.

Good things come to those who wait. Great things come to those who don’t. Don’t wait, be different and lead in 2014.

If you need some help being different in 2014, shoot me an email at effumarketing@gmail.com and put “I’ll be different in 2014” in the subject line. I respond to every email.

– Jordan