Have You Defined Your Target Market?

Image by jronaldlee
Image by jronaldlee

Do you find yourself saying any of the following statements?

“I want to sell to everybody.”

“Everybody can benefit from my product/service.”

“I want to cast a wide net – everyone should know about us.”

If so, I want to give you a high five for your enthusiasm – but I also want you to read the rest of this article so you understand why your marketing consultant looks really uncomfortable when you say any of the above.

The world would be a wonderful place if everyone was the perfect candidate for your product or service. But the truth of the matter is, we’re all different. We all have different wants, needs, tolerances, and preferences. We’re all drawn to different things and we’re all trying to solve different problems. Which is why when you try to sell to everyone, you end up wasting a lot of time, energy, and money on people that are never going to spend money on you.

Read More

Who is Ochocinco? Branding Lessons from an NFL Star

Chad Ochocinco

Unless you’re a football fan, chances are you have no idea who Chad Johnson is. However, I can almost guarantee that you have seen Ochocinco grace your TV screen. But what does he have to do with your small business?

Chad Ochocinco (formerly Johnson) is an NFL star for the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2008, he made headlines by legally changing his name to the Spanish translation of his jersey number (Eight and Five, for #85). That’s not all:

–    he was recently a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars (placing in the top four competitors),

–    he appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ NFL Street 3

–    he was featured in R&B singer Monica’s video Everything to Me

–    he has his own iPhone app, and even a reality dating show on VH1

How did Ochocinco get so huge? Early in his career, the former Johnson seemed like just another obnoxious pro athlete with a penchant for entertaining touchdown celebrations and envelope-pushing antics.  However, it appears he had a strategy in place.

In interviews, he repeatedly referred to himself as Ocho Cinco until the moniker stuck. Eventually Johnson realized that the media would go into a frenzy over his unprecedented (if not ridiculous) name change to Ochocinco.

Since then he has leveraged his popularity into multiple TV appearances and is one of the most visible athlete/celebrities in the world. Ochocinco is even dominating the social media space, amassing over 1 million Twitter followers and 528,000+ members of his Facebook Page.

So how did he do it? Here are a few takeaways:

Be entertaining, but not at the cost of being great.

Ochocinco would have never received any attention if he didn’t score touchdowns. Had an average player tried similar antics, he would have been ignored – whereas Johnson/Ochocinco has been one of the best receivers in the NFL, which in turn allowed him to showcase his humorous and creative persona. This, of course, helped his mainstream popularity skyrocket.

Educate others to your brand – and be persistent.

Even before his name change, the former Chad Johnson repeatedly referred to himself in interviews as Ochocinco. Eventually this caught on as a nickname as the media and fans were conditioned to it. Ochocinco is constantly in pursuit of developing his image – announcing recently that he will legally change his name to “Hachi Go” (Eight and Five in Japanese) next season. One can only imagine next year’s spike in jersey sales for Chad Hachi Go.

Be prolific and personable.

Ochocinco seems determined to win over every potential fan by conquering all media platforms out there: he even has an online tv site, and checks in daily. His Facebook page is dominated by personal observations, pictures of his family, friends and team, and engaging questions and comments about the world around him. He responds to fan queries, meets with them to watch movies, and has even posted his personal cell phone number in public.

In a few short years, Chad Ochocinco has become a household name. How? By executing a successful branding strategy. You might not appear on Dancing with the Stars, and you don’t have to copy all of his tactics – but there’s no arguing with the results. By applying some of these principles, hopefully you can get a jump on branding your business too!

Are You Willing to Walk the Walk?

walkThis week, Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, is giving up his home to prove a point about his small business: the product works.

Airbnb is a website that helps homeowners rent out space in their homes to make extra cash. Until the end of the year, Chesky will use his company’s service to find accommodation in San Francisco, where his company is based.

While undoubtedly a great PR idea, Chesky’s move also makes a very strong statement about the effectiveness of his business. If the CEO of the company is willing to stake the roof over his head, it must work.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to become homeless or do anything quite so drastic, but consider whether there might be some way that you could make a bold statement about your product or service through your own actions.

Do you have a creative way to stand behind your product/service? Tell us how!

How to Build an Army of Brand Loyalists

Build an Army of Brand Loyalists - Jonathan KayGuest Post – Jonathan Kay is the Ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper, a provider of virtual phone systems. He is extremely passionate about helping / meeting new entrepreneurs and always excited to learn about their unique journey. Find Jonathan on Twitter @GrasshopperBuzz or via email at jkay(at)grasshopper.com.

Having now lived through over a year of my first recession, I have learned a lot. Mistakes and tough times always seem to lead to opportunities and takeaways. The last year or two really taught me the importance of the customer, and the emphasis that needs to be placed on them. With entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for any way possible to save money, “Customer Acquisition Cost” has become an increasingly important metric. It’s simple… the less money it costs you to acquire a customer, the larger the profit margin.

This leads me to a real passion of mine: Brand Loyalists.

A brand loyalist isn’t just a happy user of your product/service: they yell from the roof tops about you, helping to market and sell your product! With all the social media channels available now, there are more and more people telling you what they need, and asking for advice. Having an Army of Brand Champions out there provides a powerful and unbiased sale that is impossible to reproduce. More so, real brand loyalists will spend the time to give you constructive, uncensored feedback. This will only help make your product/service stronger, and increase customer satisfaction in the long run.

Ok. So now you know how important brand loyalists are; the harsh reality is they are difficult to achieve. And, a simple discount or promotion code just won’t cut it. I have been fortunate early in my career to work with a handful of really successful and genuine entrepreneurs. This firsthand experience has helped me develop a certain level of expertise in this area, and below are some helpful tips I have learned along the way:

1. Add Value First
When a customer engages your brand and purchases your product/service they don’t expect you to add value above and beyond what they paid for. This creates an opportunity to WOW your customer and really exceed their expectations. Small efforts make a difference: engage new customers on Twitter and thank them, start discussions about your product, and if you or a colleague is traveling why not reach out to a few local customers and take them out to dinner or drinks. By engaging your customer right away you will make a connection they will never forget.

2. Listen. Then Listen Some More
Have you ever tried flat out asking your customers what they want? What they need? Simple…yes, but trust me it works. Why not just pick up the phone and ask them? It is important to remember that your customers drive the direction of your business. At Grasshopper, all managers call 5 new customers ever week. We ask how the setup process went, what we could be doing better, what we are missing, and how we could help? Listening is a powerful tool. By making people feel actively involved (not through boring surveys) in shaping important features/practices, you will build incredible brand loyalty.

3. Make a Human Connection
It’s important to let your customers know that you are more than just a brand – you are actually real people too. Make an effort from to have less formal conversations. A great example of this is our co-founder David Hauser (@dh). You will find him doing anything from thanking customers to talking about his Iron Man training.

4. Promote Your Customers
People never forget when you make a connection, or open a door for them. Make an effort to be constantly reaching out to your customer base, learn about them and their businesses. The more you know about your customers, the more likely you will be able to set them up with other customers who might be able to help each other out. That is a memorable connection. Here at Grasshopper we have gone as far as to set up a formal program: Tell Us Your Story. This gives our entrepreneurs an opportunity to tell us what makes them unique, and how they are changing the world. Not only do we promote them to the media, but now we also have real stories and examples of entrepreneurs living their passion. Actively trying to help your customers businesses grow is a definite way to create a brand loyalist.

5. Build a Culture of Responsibility
You need to empower your employees to help your customers (and not just your support team). There is no reason everyone should not be concerned with how your customers feel about your product/service. Make an effort to always follow up after resolving a customer issue, this will make people feel heard, appreciated, and create a loyalist for life.

The Top 50 Worst and Most Embarrassing Domain Names Ever Purchased

2010-03-17-girlthinkingIn celebration of the 25th birthday of the first domain name ever purchased (symbolics.com), we decided to go back and look at all the funny (and horrible) web domains we’ve seen over the years.

Just a gentle reminder to make sure your domain name conveys what you want it to!

Here’s the 43 most notorious we found (we actually had 50 – but our mothers read this blog):

  • penisland.net – Pen Island
  • sydneytherapist.com – Sydney Therapist
  • mammotherection.com – Construction Company
  • kidsexchange.net – Kids Exchange
  • bigalsonline.com – Big Als Online
  • webone.com.au – Web One
  • choosespain.com – Choose Spain
  • bendover.com – Ben Dover
  • bitefartcafe.rs – Bitef Art Cafe
  • partnerstalking.com.au – Partners Talking
  • whorepresents.com – Who Represents
  • expertsexchange.com – Experts Exchange
  • nobraces.com.au – No Braces
  • wintersexpress.com – Winters Express
  • gotahoe.com – Go Tahoe
  • therapistfinder.com – Therapist Finder
  • powergenitalia.com – Power Gen Italia
  • molestationnursery.com – Mole Station Nursery
  • ipanywhere.com – Internet Protocol Anywhere
  • speedofart.com – Speed of Art
  • dicksonweb.com – Dickson Web
  • viagrafix.com – Via Grafix (renamed to Learn2)
  • nycanal.com – New York Canal Region
  • mofo.com – Morrison & Foerster, LLC
  • michaeljacksonsthisisitmoviemerchandise.com – really?
  • dicksonweb.com – Dickson’s Temperature Instruments
  • teacherstalk.com – Teachers Talk
  • auctionshit.com – Auctions Hit
  • butthatsnotall.co.nz – But That’s Not All
  • childrenswear.co.uk – Childrens Wear
  • ihavegas.com – IHA Vegas Holiday Rentals
  • machome.com – Mac Home
  • oddsextractor.com – Odds Extractor
  • alterscrap.com – Alter Scrap
  • ladrape.co.uk – La Drape
  • llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.com – an actual Welsh town
  • gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle.com – a spinoff of the famous search engine
  • 1hourscrap.com – Rapid scrapbook making
  • swissbit.ch – Germany-based Swissbit
  • 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592.com – Pi
  • pedo.org – An actual dentist organization

Have you seen a URL that should be on this list? Let us know on Twitter!