Creative Combustion Blog
Marketing and branding tips for the badass small business owner.
Showing all posts from February 2011.
February 28, 2011
Why is it that some small businesses seem to nail their brand from day one while others really struggle to carve out their unique niche? Over the weekend I visited Burgh’ers, a local restaurant that opened in the fall of 2010 and even though they’re still relatively new, they already have their unique brand figured out.
So what makes them different? Let’s take a look at their 6 key ingredients.
- Clever Logo. Many businesses (large and small) struggle with finding a logo that embodies who they are and what they’re allabout. Burgh’ers logo clearly highlights 3 unique aspects to their brand 1) local (not a national franchise) 2) organic (they use seasonally local, all natural, chemical free, farm raised ingredients) 3) A silhouette of the Pittsburgh skyline. With just their logo, they have articulated what makes them unique in their marketplace.
- Clever Name. Clever names are risky—when they work, they work. When they don’t, well I’m sure you can think of plenty of examples of businesses that got the short end of the clever stick when it came to picking their name. Burgh’ers works. Customers immediately know they will likely be able to get a great burger and the name will also pull on their loyalty to the Pittsburgh region as will the name of many of their burgers which were inspired by neighborhoods such as Forrest Hills, Shadyside, Bloomfield, and Polish Hill.
- Outstanding Service. Local genuinely felt local--the entire staff seemed very customer service focused, greeted customers by name, and regularly asked patrons if they liked their meals (how many times can you remember a manager at Applebees or any other national chain do that?). The staff seemed to feed off of the energy of the owner/chef, bringing a genuine passion for their work.
- Unique Atmosphere. Great service goes a long way towards creating great atmosphere,but Burgh’ers took things a few steps further. Their walls were decorated with prints by a local artist which not only reinforces the local leg of their 3-legged branding stool, but also provides them with a low cost alternative to dress up their space. They also used stainless steel plates that have a unique design and character to them—something you don’t come across at most restaurants.
- Quality Product. All the fancy logos and cleverly named sandwiches are great, but if the quality isn’t there, neither will your business. Beyond organic ingredients, the burgers and fresh cut fries we had were delicious—possibly the best I can remember and that’s going to keep customers coming back.
- Targeted Marketing and Messaging. Part of what makes many small businesses unique is the story of how they got started. The Burgh’ers story is displayed right on their homepage along with a list of the local farmers at which they buy their ingredients (again reinforcing their organic brand). Their website is simple, clean, and easy to navigate. They carry their local and organic theme through to their Facebook and Twitter pages--a Tweet over the weekend suggests they’re even going to try to start a Farmer’s Market in their parking lot.
Building a great brand for your business usually takes a lot (and I mean A LOT) of pre-planning. In the case of Burgh’ers, it’s obvious they had a clear idea of how they wanted to position themselves in the marketplace and use that vision to guide everything they do—from their menu offerings to the content of their Facebook status updates. And based on the lack of any leftovers from my dinner plate (see below), I think it's safe to say I'll be coming back very soon.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Tmbako the Jaguar]
February 25, 2011
A few months ago, I ran into my local FedEx Kinko’s only to find myself in the middle of a major construction zone complete with guys on ladders, missing ceiling tile, and torn up carpet—a total mess and totally disruptive for business.
Smash cut to today. FedEx Kinko’s is now FedEx Office. Rebranding and remodeling are complete and, I have to say, I really like what they’ve done with the place and think the remodel makes the store much more small business friendly.
The first thing I noticed was new laminate flooring that helps to create a welcoming, clearly defined path straight from the front door to the service counter (think airport runway)—a great example of using flooring (and your floor plan) to influence customer flow.
Throughout the store, they also used paint schemes that not only add some punch to what had been overly drab “institutional beige” walls but also help small business customers quickly navigate the store based on their needs (shipping, signage, copying, etc.).
Along the perimeter near their large outside windows, they created individual work stations where you can either connect your laptop or rent time on one of theirs to print or scan documents—a nice touch and a useful work space for entrepreneurs on the go.
Beyond the major remodel, they’ve also added a few new features including a smartphone app that allows you to print to many FedEx Office locations—definitely something that could come in handy when you’re traveling.
If you’re a small business owner and you’re not at the point where you can justify buying a fancy “all in one” laser printer, or you’re an entrepreneur looking for a little space to set up camp in a pinch, you might want to check out your local FedEx Office.
Categories: Customer Engagement
February 22, 2011
I was meeting with someone and thought it would be helpful to share a quick overview of what I was working on—a new business plan that included an overhaul of my website and a completely new menu of services.
And that’s when it happened. We moved from what was intended to be a little background information to 15 minutes of “If I were you’s.” As he continued to share his thoughts, I couldn't help but wonder how we got there. But I couldn't recall one “So, what do you think?” or “Does this make sense?” or “Will this work?” I usually love feedback. But there are times when, whether writing a business plan or revamping your website, you’ve moved past the point of gathering any more input. And this was one of those times.
After a quick assessment, I figured I had three primary options:
- Try to refocus the conversation. Thank him for his suggestions and then do my best to eliminate openings for unsolicited feedback (in other words, no "So what do you think?").
- Ride it out. Play the odds that he can’t go on for more than 5 or 10 minutes before talking himself out.
- A combination of 1 and 2. And ultimately the strategy I decided to run with.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll get loads of unsolicited feedback—but it doesn't have to shake you or your business plan. No matter what others may think, ultimately it's you that has to be comfortable with what you’re doing and where you’re headed. After all, you're the one that has to live with its success or failure.
By: Shawn Graham
Categories: Marketing Strategy
February 14, 2011
What was once an insurmountable competitive chasm between big companies and small businesses is shrinking and, thanks to the help of continuous advances in technology, is doing so at an increasingly exponential rate. But technology is only part of the story.
In The New Small: How a New Breed of Small Businesses is Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technologies, Phil Simon explores the key drivers that made the “new Small” possible and profiles 11 interesting companies—a broad cross section of industries and service providers. Along the way, he shares his own insights and perspectives, calling upon his 10+ years of experience as a technology consultant.
My favorite part of the book is the section on selecting a CRM system in Chapter 8. There, Phil dissects one company’s attempt to identify and implement a cost-effective web-based solution. I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought back to a situation where I was part of a team tasked with evaluating a handful of CRM providers. After 5-6 hours of dog and pony shows by different vendors, we weren’t able to identify key functionality that would cross all business units—so we continued with our ineffective system of tracking touch points in Microsoft Excel.
The New Small is a great resource for, as the name might imply, small- to medium-sized companies who are committed to using technology to level the competitive playing field with their larger, more established brethren. And don’t worry, you don’t need a PhD in computer science to grasp the content of the book—Phil goes into just enough detail to help you understand a concept or principal without having to resort to too much “tech speak.”
Categories: Social Media Marketing
February 1, 2011
Your business is growing and you feel like it’s time to expand. You’ve wanted to upgrade your modest customer waiting area for some time and now you’re at the point where it makes sense to invest in a major renovation. You spend hours planning out every possible detail…
Laminate hardwood floors? Check.
Flat panel tv? Check.
Comfortable seating area? Check.
Fancy Keurig coffee maker? Check.
Dirty and well-worn preexisting mini blinds? Double check??
Wait. How did those dirty mini blinds get included in the renovation? Remember the hours of planning? The investment in new flooring? Fancy seats? The Keurig coffee maker? But somehow, the plan didn’t include removing, cleaning, or replacing the blinds? How could that happen? It’s anybody’s guess. How can you keep it from happening? Well, that’s fairly easy.
As you plan out and finalize your renovations, always look at everything with a fresh set of eyes—ideally those of your customers. And once all of the construction is complete, find the time to go over everything one last time. After all, you don’t want dirty well-worn preexisting mini blinds to take away from all of the great improvements you made to enhance the in-store experience of your customers, do you?
Categories: Customer Engagement
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- The Golden Rule Of Successful Social Engagement (14)
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- 5 Must Read Books For Small Business Owners (8)
- Using Social Media To Break Into Your Local Market (8)
- Pittsburgh Young Professionals, PodCamp Pittsburgh, And Paneling (8)
- Delivering Killer Customer Service (8)
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