I recently had the rare opportunity to hear Michael Clinton speak about the future of the business climate at a luncheon in New York. Michael is the president, marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines, in charge of more than 20 titles, including Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics and Esquire. He oversees the billion-dollar advertising revenues of more than 17 titles for the Hearst family of magazines. Clinton has his proverbial finger on the pulse of the global economic landscape – and arguably helps to form society by bringing the largest brands in the world to consumers.
During a riveting speech in which he spoke of elegant dinners with fashion brands like Dior, he made a prediction that will affect everyone running a business: “Within 10 years’ time, businesses must live on all digital platforms.” He highlighted the importance of the digital component to the modern business. This addition of a digital marketing and advertising model is rather new and can leave legacy business owners scratching their heads about where to start.
My experience has shown many business owners struggle to understand and navigate the complexities of modern marketing. The digital environment has created a marketing mecca that is complex, vast and sometimes downright intimidating. As the lazy days of summer arrive, marketing your business may be the last thing you want on your to-do list.
This month, I’m sharing a toolkit that will provide you with the basic requirements to have fundamental branding and marketing for your business – regardless of whether the activity is done by employees in-house or outside firms. You can use this checklist as your baseline for the bare minimum you should have. The list is organized in the most time-efficient order of operations to minimize duplication of effort. Whether you’re starting a new kitchen and bath firm or taking a fresh look at your existing marketing landscape, it’s important to include promoting your business as part of your daily endeavors. This is your insurance for keeping your business foremost in the minds of your consumers.
My Marketing Toolkit is designed to get you on the fast track to developing a marketing program in 10 easy steps. And, as a bonus, much of the work can be done on your laptop poolside. So, pack up this Marketing Toolkit in your picnic basket with the confidence of knowing you are on the right path.
10 STEPS TO SUCCESS
Step 1: Craft your story. Think of this as the “About Us” section of a website. Explain why you began in your field or why you brought a product to life. The inspirational story behind your brand will help focus and refine your brand identity. From that story, add what you do. Your brand identity will flow forth from this. Refer to this story when crafting your press release boilerplate outlined in step six.
Step 2: Develop your logo. You need a logo, preferably with a tag line or descriptive that explains what you are at a glance. I do not recommend having a single graphic design, symbol or picture for your logo with no wording. Identifiable graphics like the Nike swoosh or the Energizer bunny require a seven-figure advertising budget to reach enough people consistently and often enough to become a mainstay in their minds. eBay integrates its name in a colorful logo with a simple, not-often-used tagline: “E-Commerce Company.”
Here are some examples:
Joe’s Kitchen Design – Fast & Cheap Kitchens
Master Men – Custom Kitchen Cabinets
Home Space – Luxury Hardware
For creative logos, you can contract with an agency to design it for a nominal fee. If you feel adventurous, there are many stock logo design websites on the internet. They have common stock graphics to develop logos on the fly. This software is easy to navigate and is developed for users with basic computer skills. Check out www.freelogodesign.org or https://www.canva.com/create/logos.
Step 3: Develop your marketing collaterals. Decide on a standard font to utilize on your marketing collaterals. Develop the layout template for company branded collaterals including business cards, invoices, envelopes and email templates.
Step 4: Create a website. Armed with a foundation of fonts, logo and brand standards, you can build a website from your previous inspiration. Websites involved in kitchen and bath products and services should be chock full of stunning photography. The pages of your website should be consistent in layout so overall navigation is intuitive to the visitor. Be sure your website is adjusted for search engine optimization (SEO). I do recommend contacting a professional to create your website to ensure proper SEO.
Step 5: Create your contact lists. This will include industry partners, clients, potential clients and media. The easiest method to create contact lists is via an Excel spreadsheet that can be uploaded to email software. Find media contacts by looking up the publications online and checking for an editorial directory that lists email addresses. If nothing exists on the website, pick up the phone and ask who the contact is for editorial submissions. Armed with this list, you can send newsworthy updates to industry partners, clients and potential clients.
Step 6: Write a press release. This can be used to announce your business or a newsworthy item. You’ll want to create a boilerplate for your press releases that mirrors your story. A boilerplate is the summary of the business in paragraph form found at the bottom of a press release. In simple terms, boilerplate copy is the summary story of who you are and what you do. It’s typically used on press releases, but can also be used in many other places, such as your about page, emails, social media profiles – basically anywhere you quickly want to tell people who you are.
Step 7: Network. Networking is paramount to the success of any business. Nothing can replace the impact of a face-to-face introduction. Network with a community of people who share your core values. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and NKBA groups to get started networking within your community. Showing your support to your peers and local charities will reap rewards in turn. Being social assures a large turnout at your events as well.
Step 8: Get social with social media. It is paramount that you remain active and engaged on whatever social site you are live on. Start with Facebook and/or Instagram to reach a large percentage of the online community that includes people ages 35 to 65. Pay attention to what works and what does not and adjust your efforts accordingly. If you are not successful despite all your attempts, hire a professional to do it for you.
Step 9: Advertise. A minimum of 2% to 5% of sales should be devoted to marketing and advertising your new business. More established companies generally up their spending to 10% to 20% of gross sales. The percentage tends to lean higher for consumer marketing versus business to business. Marketing and branding exposure can be regarded as “more is more” – the more you spend the more exposure you get. A trustworthy agency can ensure you get the most “value” for the spend by targeting your clients and fine tuning your spend to the most effective campaign. Whether you wish to increase sales or increase brand exposure, a balanced mix of online digital ads and print magazine ads is the perfect place to start.
• Step 10: Use email and direct mail. These are mainstays of marketing. Loyal fans of your craft love to receive updates, and email is a wonderful vehicle for staying in touch with customers, inviting them to events and promoting your latest news to reinforce your brand. Emailing customers monthly updates is sufficient; I recommend no more than once per week to avoid people opting out of your emails due to information overload. Direct mail targeting zip codes, cities or counties is relatively inexpensive. Mail special offers or new item releases on postcards to win new clients over.
By utilizing the toolkit outline above, you can begin with a basic marketing package. If you get stuck or overwhelmed, reach out to a trusted professional to carry some of the workload. After all, it is summer, isn’t it? ▪
Denise Grothouse has an extensive background in international business, branding and marketing. She specializes in digital and social platforms and integrating them with traditional marketing and branding strategies. No stranger to the kitchen and bath industry, she is best known for her work as chief brand officer of Grothouse, Inc., and president of the marketing company Perfect Six.