Category Archives: Marketing

Logos

Building a brand is more than just the a name, a logo, and t-shirtable colors. But those are the most visible elements and the ones likely to garner the most attention from a company’s executives.

As daily consumers of these high-visibility branding elements, we all lay claim to some level of expertise. That’s why selling the branding elements inside the company is sometimes the hardest part of brand development. (When we rebranded Maxim Integrated in 2012, we spent a year selling the brand inside the company before anyone outside saw it.)

Image result for Maxim Integrated logo. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logo_Maxim_Integrated_2013.svg

I’ve written here about the challenge of naming products and companies. Here’s an episode of the podcast, 99% Invisible, Making a Mark: Visual Identity with Tom Geismar,” that talks about the development of some of the world’s most iconic logos and what it took to make them happen.

Logo sketched. Source: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/making-mark-visual-identity-tom-geismar/

 

Five

Moe Rubenzahl Marketing is five years oldFive.

It was five years ago that I left the thorny, cozy cocoon that is corporate life and formed my own consulting business building marketing strategies for amazing companies.

It has been great. I love the flexibility, the variety, and most of all, working with the most amaaaazing people. Great clients, all over the world who truly get the value of marketing and smart marketing strategy (unlike the corporate world, sometimes); great allies and experts; networking buddies.

And I get to work with clients who are committed to their VALUES — who understand we have to make a profit but we can make a difference while we make a dollar. Like Network Development Group, Go2Group, Avontus Software, West Marine, Atlassian, Xpand IT, Praecipio Consulting, Cantaloupe Systems, Spartez, ThinkTilt, catworkx GmbH, K15t Software GmbH, Communardo, Coyote Creek, Swagelok Northern California, DailyAlts.

It rarely feels like work.

Finally, a shout out to some of my allies and partners, like Steve Cross, Sridhar Ramanathan, Aventi Group, LLC, Matthew Lewsadder, Liam McInerney, David Rand and I am so sorry for all the ones I am forgetting at the moment!

Ho Ho Holiday Branding

A little cleverness from FedEx deftly makes the brand festive:

FedEx brand meets Santa: Clever use of holiday branding

 

 

 

 

Business hint: Right now, make repeating calendar entries prior to holidays that can have meaning for your brand. And have your content marketing crew do the same. When the holidays first appear on your radar, it’s usually past deadline for the really good ideas.

Holiday Marketing Opportunities: Does Your Customer Want Sleigh Bells?

How do the holidays affect your content marketing? Maybe the obvious ho-ho-ho themes are not for your business-to-business (B2B) audience.

I was running web marketing for a large B2B company that sold mainly to engineers and technical people. One November, we were in a meeting with the CEO and a couple of business managers. One of the business managers wondered whether we should introduce a new technology campaign until after the holidays, figuring it would miss a lot of audience if we ran it over the holiday break.

Holiday marketing? Santa knows, engineers are never off lineThe CEO was Jack Gifford, an outspoken exec who an uncanny marketing sense. I had learned to never disregard Jack, even if what he was suggesting sounded crazy. He claimed that engineers would be a better target during the holidays.

Jack explained that engineers don’t stop working on holidays and in fact, at family gatherings, you could bet that they were stealing away to poke around the websites to find things to read and learn.

I ran some stats from prior years and while overall traffic was down on holidays, we had plenty of traffic to technical articles. So we ran the campaign, geared it as an opportunity to learn about a new technology, and promoted in our weekly emails and on the home page.

It worked. Jack’s intuition was spot on.

The lesson for B2B companies is that if you are thinking of a holiday-focused theme, forget Santa, sleigh bells, and snowflakes. Think instead of your customer — maybe bored, maybe holidayed out, with a churning, analytic brain thirsting for a good tech story, or eager to learn a new skill.

Your competitors are probably not thinking the way Jack did, so this is your chance to do some targeted customer education and relationship-building.

Ho ho ho!

Illustration by Matti Mattila, CC BY 2.0

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy

Great article by my friend, Erik Newton of Brightedge, on the importance of treating SEO — search engine optimization — as a strategy.

Planning an SEO Marketing Strategy

Anyone close to SEO work has heard the request: “We want to be on page one of Google for these 20 words.” It’s an innocent request but is guaranteed to propel the company into the wrong tactics. Erik explains how a strategic approach aligns with the rest of a company’s marketing strategy. Who are we, what are our goals as a business, and how do we make our content, budget, resources, and goals align? He goes on to talk about how search is part of a marketing program and in particular, how to include SEO as part of the content marketing program, so every piece of content works for you.

More search strategy: http://moerubenzahl.com/category/search-marketing/

A DevOps Mindset for Marketing

Because many of my clients are in software development services and tools, I spend much time doing marketing for DevOps. Here’s an interesting article on DevOps for marketing!

Although it originated in software technology circles, DevOps is a culture, a methodology for high-speed progress in complex, IT-heavy areas. And now that marketing is so tech-heavy (in enterprises, marketing typically spends more on IT than IT does), they need great ops practices.

“DevOps is a cultural and professional movement that is focused on building and operating high velocity organizations.” Sounds perfect for today’s marketing.

Best business practice: Prefer phone to email or text

Great article in Fast Company about using the phone vs email/text/etc.:

What Happened When I Replied “Call Me” to Every Email for a Week

Photo: Flickr user M. Accarino
The author noticed that successful people would often reply to an email with a phone call, or an invitation to call. He wonders if being “phone-prone” and success are related. He experimented with a phone-prone approach to see what would happen…
I am email-prone myself but I know I’d be wiser to phone (or visit in person) more often. It’s not just that it’s more high-touch, not just the communication of tone of voice; the phone-prone maintain that a phone call is often faster. It’s also much harder for someone to say no to a live phoned request than to an email.
“The phone may not be the newest collaboration tool out there, but I was surprised at how effective I found it after a week of forcing myself to become more phone-prone.”

SEO for entrepreneurs

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something every business needs. Because no matter what your business is, your prospects are probably not coming to you when they are ready: they are going to Google. You need to be there.

Trustworthy search marketing information is hard to find. But good news: I have a new resource to get you there safely.

The problem with SEO is not that it’s difficult (though it is) or complicated (it is). After all, a lot of what modern businesses do is complicated and difficult — so we learn or hire the expertise. The problem with SEO is that hiring expertise may get you in trouble. It is full of danger. Sadly, competent, expert help is hard to find. The SEO industry is full of charlatans. Advice: If someone promises you the top page of Google for your 50 keywords, run.

Some SEO experts are out and out crooked; others are innocently incompetent. They are full of advice and knowledge that is wrong, spouted with great confidence. That’s because they learned what they “know” not from testing and experience, but from all the SEO information on the web, and much of that is blazingly wrong. It is parroted from each other so often that it becomes “common wisdom.” Like politics, but let’s not go there.

For this reason, I tell clients that SEO is not a service you can blindly hire. I will recommend SEO services I know (and offer an SEO and content marketing strategy workshop myself) but even if a client plans to hire experts, I recommend SEO gothey learn the basics themselves. You don’t need to be an expert in detailed SEO tech but you do need a solid grasp of the strategy. (See my article on whether to use agencies or do your SEO in-house.) It’s not unlike demand generation, lead management, or any other complex business area: Marketing and C-level business execs need a strategic grounding so you can know that your staff’s direction makes sense and matches the company’s direction.

Happy news: There’s a new resource I can recommend. The founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin is one of SEO’s shining lights and a gifted teacher. He’s just released a Skillshare class that’s free with your signup (Skillshare is free to new signups for 30 days.)  It’s my new recommended way to learn what you need to know.

Other recommendations are:

Also, please see my previous article, SEO: agency or in-house?

Test your site for mobile. Now.

Google has updated their “Test My Site” tool, and it’s really well done. (For what it’s worth, this site passed but I can improve readability by boosting text size and click target size.)

Google test my site for mobile

This is important because if visitors abandon your site, the brilliance of your messaging and calls to action don’t matter. And Google has threatened to reduce your standing on search result pages if your site doesn’t work well on mobile.

So, let’s do this!

Book Review: Be Like Amazon, by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg

I am going to recommend this book, Be Like Amazon, by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg, to all my clients. Here’s the review I just posted on Amazon.

Book review-Be Like Amazon - Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg

When I read that the Eisenberg’s new book was a dialogue, I cringed a little. I usually find that style overly precious or pedantic, like a business-aimed Jonathan Livingston Seagull (not in a good way). But style is, well, just style, and I knew Be Like Amazon would be worth reading because I have read most of Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg’s previous works. So I grabbed the Sample and within a few pages, I had downloaded Be Like Amazon.

And glad I did. Be Like Amazon is short, easy to read, and chock full of gems. I’m a marketing strategy consultant and always on the lookout for ways I can help clients see the big picture. Values, mission, how to align all your people so that you don’t feel any need to micromanage — it all comes from core values. The Eisenbergs call them “unifying principles” and says they “are an operating system.” And they talk about how these feed the brand, which is built on actions and performance.

“We believe.” I got that from this book. I have seen and read the “Start With Why” work by Simon Sinek and make all my clients view his videos but damn, I missed the “we believe” messaging. If that were all I got from Be Like Amazon, it would be a huge win. “You’ll find your corporate ‘why’ when you write 10 true sentences that each start with ‘We believe….” I am so going to steal that.

But wait, there’s more!

Be Like Amazon is built around Amazon’s Four Pillars but you can see those in a two-second Google search. What they do here is bring them to life and relate them to other businesses, some of which use values well, some not; some used to and don’t succeed any more. Costco, Walmart, HP, and some tiny businesses you don’t know (but perhaps should).

Story. Culture. “Brandable chunks.” Unrelenting customer-centricity. It goes on. Mostly things we know but perhaps don’t always remember that we know.

The two measures of the value of a business and marketing book for me are:

1) How much highlighting do I do. Each highlight is something I plan to use with my clients. And my copy of BLA is pretty yellowed up! So a +1 on that.

2) Is it full of fluff? Because here’s the typical business or marketing book: One or two interesting ideas, three or four reasonable use cases, and then the author realizes no one will buy a 40 page book, so they fire up Word and write 260 redundant pages full of generalizations and contrived examples everyone knows. 80% fluff to support the one or two simple ideas the author has. Bleh.

The dialogue approach made me fear the fluff but no worries, this is a well-researched, concise book full of real examples of how Amazon’s four pillars apply to the real world.