The Mashup of Training and Marketing
By Kristen Mollica
While training and educational content aren’t normally considered part of advertising and marketing, they are in fact intertwined. Providing valuable training and educational content are keys to successful marketing and advertising campaigns. To get customer to understand and buy in, the marketing message needs to be implied.
On the other hand, employees need to be educated on the company message and have thorough knowledge of products and services. By providing valuable information to both employees and customers, you can gain credibility and knowledge about your brand, your products and services. This is achieved through subtle approaches. If your message is overtly manifested with self-promotion, there is a possibility that your audience will perceive your message in an unfavorable way. The goal is to incorporate a mash-up of training and marketing to both audiences, which achieves buy-in and builds brand loyalty.
Excite your audience to learn. Whether it’s internal employees or external customers, you want both audiences to desire knowledge of your brand, product, or service – Don’t leave them disappointed.
Let’s start with employees. It always makes the most sense to educate from the inside out. Without employees understanding the message, there is no way that your customers will understand and gain buy-in to your brand and products.
Employee education needs to be creative, with engaging content and easy navigation. The expression, "A first impression is a lasting impression" holds true. If you can get learners excited at the beginning, you have a greater chance of getting their mindshare when they participate in a training initiative. Utilizing a more interactive approach will help them easily understand concepts and remember what they have learned; all the while integrating a subtle marketing message to help build brand loyalty from within.
When educating customers, and potential customers, we must take a different approach. If your consumer education appears to be an advertisement, you will lose your audience and your credibility. This audience needs to feel that they are being provided with valuable information, not directly about your product or service, but rather concrete, seemingly unbiased information about general products and services in your industry. All the while integrating an implied marketing message that leads them to become customers or repeat customers of your products and services is key. You want to gain buy-in that your products and services best suit their needs.
It's imperative that your customers / prospective customers see a consistent integrated message. By training and educating employees on "the" message, the customer gains more security and knows what to expect. It's always important to manage customer expectations, as this is an intrinsic component of buy-in.
Through a combination of intrigue, relevancy and a subtle marketing message in training and education, your internal audience will understand the message and your products, making them better equipped to communicate your message. Similarly, your external audience (customers and potential customers) stand a greater chance of retaining vital information and buying in to your brand, products and services when they are provided with relevant, accurate and unbiased information (with only an implied marketing message). Remember that content is key, but it needs to be engaging, fun, meaningful and relevant. Your company will build credibility, brand loyalty and more customers.
Are you using Youtube to promote your business?
By Holly Sugrue
YouTube can be used as a tool to better connect with customers, members and prospects. YouTube serves as a central hub for all kinds of video content, including those produced by small businesses and organizations like yours.
- DID YOU KNOW... That YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.
There are multiple reasons to use YouTube, and they go beyond just having a video hub. For example, the site lets you:
- Build a channel to highlight your videos and customize it with your logo and brand colors. Other YouTube users can subscribe to your channel so they’re notified of any new video you post, giving you another point of contact with customers and members.
- Enhance your organization’s search engine profile by offering yet another place — much like Facebook and Twitter — where mentions of your company, brand, products, services, or offerings can be found. Just make sure to give titles and descriptions to your videos that contain keywords associated with your business or organization. That way, when people search for a keyword related to you on a search engine like Google, they might find your website, Facebook Page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel in the first set of results.
- Gain a view into your customer and prospect base through Insight, YouTube’s free analytics tool. Insight not only shows which of your videos are most popular, but also where they’re watching, demographic information, and how they’re finding your video.
- Receive and respond to comments from viewers. YouTube notifies you of all new comments made on your videos, so you can quickly respond with a word of thanks or to answer any questions that may be asked.
- Easily share videos beyond YouTube by embedding them on your website or in a blog post or email, linking to them from Twitter, or posting them to your organization’s Facebook Page (giving you better visibility in your fans' news feeds). And, viewers can do the same, pushing your video out to an even wider audience.
- Best of all, it’s free to setup a YouTube account and start uploading videos.
Clip your website footer toenails!
By Jake Schwartz
President - SmallBizMakeover.com
What is a Trademark?
By Anthony Verna
A trademark is any set of words or a design that identifies goods or services with a particular origin.
This origin is usually the company that makes the goods or provides the services.
The goods or services are marked to show the quality of the origin. For example, certain types of colas taste differently. The name on the package brings to mind the taste right away.
Creating a Trademark
Any name associated with a mark can be treated as a trademark. The mark needs to be placed on the goods or with materials that advertize the goods or services. These marks do not have to be registered - these are described as common law trademarks. They lack the protection of a mark that is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Registered trademarks are divided by the industry the mark is used in and the strength of the trademark in relation to the goods.
Trademark relationships are defined as:
1) Arbitrary or Fanciful - the strongest trademark. The mark has no relation to the product. "Kodak" is the best example because the word was created for use as a trademark.
2) Suggestive - the mark suggests a quality of the product.
3) Descriptive - the mark describes the product. This is a weak trademark that requires "secondary meaning" in order to gain trademark protection. Usually, it must be proven that the public can identify the product comes from one producer.
4) Generic - these words can never be used as trademark protection. For example, a company will never be able to protect the word "Apple" in selling apples. "Apple" brand apples mean nothing because the word is generic, unlike "Apple" brand computers, for example.
Rights of a Registered Trademark Owner
Owning a registered trademark means that the trademark is registered throughout the United States.
If a restaurant in Dallas, Texas is called "Joe's Barbeque," but the name is not registered, the rights of the restaurant owner are limited. The restuarant owner might only be able stop other restaurants in Dallas to be named "Joe's Barbeque." If a restaurant opened in New York City called itself "Joe's Barbeque," the owner of the Dallas restaurant may not be able to stop the New York restaurant from using the name.
Common-law trademarks like "Joe's Barbeque" are limited in their scope by industry and by geographic area! In order to obtain all the rights of a registered trademark, the mark must be registered.
Registration allows the industry and the goods or services branded by the mark to be defined by the trademark owner. Registration of a mark used in interstate commerce allows its geographic area to be in the United States, not just a specific location.
What are Trademark Infringement and Dilution?
Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a registered trademark or of a trademark that is confusingly similar to the registered mark. The unauthorized use may or may not be on the goods and services discussed in the trademark application; it may be on dissimilar goods and services under some conditions. The key result is confusion for consumers in the unauthorized mark.
Trademark dilution is more difficult to describe, as it is reserved for strong trademarks. Those trademarks with the strongest in identity in a market cannot be used in other noncompeting markets. This is to avoid "diluting" the strong, recognizable mark by its use in noncompeting markets.
Dilution is best described in an example. A mark that is recognizable is "Barbie." The mark "Barbie" brings up an idea of a girl's doll of an adult woman and friends in a pink box. Most likely, "Barbie" would not be allowed to be used in another market, even if it did not compete with children's toys because of how strong the mark is and how identifiable the mark is to the goods.
Kravitz & Verna LLC
Anthony M. Verna III
Fast Growing Companies – Challenges and Solutions
By: Steve Y. Lehrer, CPA
As your business begins to grow, your risks may begin to grow and evolve. Investors and stakeholders will be comforted knowing that you understand the new risks and challenges facing your business, and that you have them under control. Risks may manifest and change in a variety of ways. Your future success will be driven by the way your business deals with these risks and challenges.
In order to identify and mitigate these risks, FGCs need to build the right foundation comprising of plans, objectives, policies, processes and performance indicators that can help the company fast track its growth in a stable manner. Rapid growth can be very challenging. A major reason why fast-growing companies struggle is their inability to keep up with the many tasks required to facilitate such rapid expansion.
Common performance challenges may include:
- Lack of proper business planning
- Unclear objectives and priorities leading to “Management by fire fighting”
- Ad-hoc policies and processes
- Cash Flow Management constraints
- Lack of clear insight into business performance and profitability
- Inadequate systems and controls
Here are some objectives that should be set by the owners and respective management, and monitored to ensure a healthy and productive growth:
- A clearly defined mission, which is documented and conveyed to all employees
- A written sales plan with an identified niche, pricing policy and targeted customers
- An annual budget that is realistic and flexible, and is compared to actual results
- Clear and concise job descriptions, employee training and ongoing evaluation
- A good relationship with suppliers and adequate contingency plans
- A supply chain process with adequate inventory controls
- Staying current with technological advances and safeguard assets / IT data
- Knowledge of the industry, business, competitors and their locations
- Documented policies and procedures and adequate internal controls
- Focus on customer needs and conduct satisfaction surveys
- Utilize effective advertising campaigns and participate in promotional events
- Accurate and timely accounting records and financial statements
- Reconciled bank statements and balance sheet accounts monthly
- Analyzed results of income and expenses
- Timely and accurate tax filings and other regulatory requirements
- Projected cash flow needs and proper financial planning