Make Google Alerts Work for Your Business

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

While you need to know where your business stands in the world according to google, because that is how most prospective customers will try to get to know you, the process doesn’t need to be work intensive (even for 10-minute branding standards). With google alerts, you designate how often you would like google to send you an email with a summary of new search results for your selected keywords. That leaves you with the not-so-lofty challenge of quickly skimming the email upon receipt. However, you do have to go through the process of setting up the alerts. Since our philosophy is think small in order to achieve big, we would recommend breaking up the tasks into a couple of days since the process overall is probably more than 10 minutes. . . .

Day 1: Finish reading this post. 😉

Day 2: Decide on the keywords for your alerts. At a most basic level, you would want your name (because to some degree, you are your business); your business name; and possibly your business name followed by the word ‘review’. Beyond that, would some other topics be useful to track for the sake of your business? Maybe you want to keep an eye on the competition. Maybe a particular current event is relevant to your business. Make a list for yourself.

Day 3: Set up the alerts. (You’ll need to have a google account for the task, so if you don’t have one, know that you’ll be prompted to create one before your alerts go live.)

Go to google.com/alerts and enter your first set of keywords along with your email address. Consider entering quotes around your keywords to limit your results and click “show options” to set the parameters for your search (like frequency, language, etc.). Click “create alert” once done and repeat the process as many times as needed.

Easy Peasy!

Then, you’ll see what the world sees, and you can proactively address issues as they arise.

Note that google does not track social media references unfortunately. Those need to be addressed separately.

Let me know of any questions or comments below. Till next time!

Go Shopping!!

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding.

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

Disclaimer:  While we only recommend products we know and love, we want to note we use affiliate links and may earn a commission for purchases made through those links.

Do you have 10 free minutes until your next task and want to create a way to keep your business’s name in front of existing and potential customers? Then, Go Shopping . . . for possible promotional gifts that you can distribute in a variety of ways.  For example, imprinted pens often have a good shelf life – sticking around in the pocket of your patron or on his/her desk for a considerable amount of time and then staying in the face (and the thoughts!!) of that person throughout the day.

Before you reflexively say you don’t have the budget or extra cash, know that cost and quantity can vary greatly, which makes this opportunity available to everyone.  You can check out major, well-known suppliers like 4imprint and see a wide spectrum of options (including some for well under a dollar per unit) . . . OR you can go to a site such as Zazzle to obtain just a handful that can often feature artwork relevant to your business as well as your particular company’s branding.  While the per-unit cost might be greater, the ability to buy a few at a time might be helpful.

Such small quantities can be used very effectively when distributed in a personalized way.  For example, invite a prized customer to lunch and pass along a customized pen as a takeaway.  (The whole cost of such a gesture can – together with a good product and service —  help secure brand loyalty in the present and future.)  If, on the other hand, you have been able to invest in a larger quantity, we suggest getting a good enough quality to enhance the chances of being retained but at a sufficiently inexpensive cost to distribute them freely – including having a handful at your point of purchase for customers to grab-and-go at will.

While we have offered pens as a very typical example of a common company promotional gift offered by a high percentage of businesses, the same logic can be applied to countless other items like key chains, stress balls, lens wipes, sanitizer bottles, lip gloss, etc.

Although you can seldom go wrong with a pen, look for a gift that is both unique and reflects your products and/or services  For instance, a contractor might offer a tape measure, an optician an eye glass repair kit, or a doctor a pill box.

If you are lucky, you might find the perfect item in just 10 minutes. If you are one of those people who just can’t get enough shopping and are constantly distracted by a need to check out each item you see, more than one 10-minute session might be required.

Once the perfect promotional gift has been identified, use a second 10-minute session to place your order – typically an action that can be accomplished via the Internet and/or a phone call.  When completing your transaction, remember to stay consistent with your brand style guide in selecting fonts, colors, bylines, etc., which will enhance the recognition of your brand.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions.  Till then, Happy Shopping!!

Want to see an example of a customizable pen that can be obtained in small quantities per purchase from Zazzle?  Check out Example 1 and Example 2.

When was the last time you googled yourself?

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

When was the last time you googled yourself (or rather, your business)?

(If the answer is today, that’s either an extraordinary coincidence, or you might actually do this exercise too often. This article isn’t for you.) More likely, you’re in the majority and don’t perform this quick task often enough.

You need to know where you stand in the world, according to google, because that is how your prospective customers will try to get to know you.

I recommend three regular searches: your name (because to some degree, you are your business); your business name, and your business name followed by the word ‘reviews’.

This way, you see what the world sees, and you can proactively address issues as they arise (keyword being when not if).

A more streamlined approach to this process involves setting up a few alerts. You will also want to register your business on a few review web sites if you’re not already on them. I’ll discuss these topics one by one in the near future. Till then!

2023 – Start a Fresh, New “To Do” List!!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Give Yourself a New Beginning Free from Old Failures

The New Year is a time of fresh beginnings . . . a time of optimism not yet marred by those inevitable defeats we all experience on a daily basis.  To properly capitalize on this moment when you get to start over with a clean slate, our 10-minute branding tip for you is to develop a new “TO DO” list that reflects this positive state of mind.  If you happen to have an old one, resist the temptation to just perform a quick update.  Rip that old page up so you enter the New Year without unnecessary baggage and dead weight from those tasks you never got around to trying or that failed because you did not follow through sufficiently to succeed.

While you will of course need to carry some items over onto your new list because those tasks have indeed been deemed worthwhile, you will have gone through the exercise of re-evaluating each item before automatically (and blindly) carrying the activity forward.

When building your new list, look back over your 10-minute branding successes and determine which ones deserve to be repeated and which ones have advanced to a new stage.   Consider your short- and long-term branding goals and identify those new tasks that need to be added . . . but make sure your running list – while ambitious – stands a chance of getting completed. 

Start Moving “TO DO” to “DONE”

Attitude and outlook – these intangibles are critical to maintaining the positive energy needed to accomplish your initiatives.  Optimism for the future is ultimately the fuel that drives you to move your “TO DO” list over to “DONE” . . . and keep adding new ones that define and advance your brand throughout the year.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions.  Happy New Year!!

* * * * *

Special Note

Are you willing to start the New Year with an additional slightly more ambitious assignment — one sure to take more than 10 minutes? (If so, see our article from 2021.):

Perform an Annual 5-Step Brand Wellness Checkup 

Send Your Valued Customers a Happy New Year Message

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Nothing beats a nice card sent through the mail with a short and personal hand-written note. If you have the time for that, wonderful. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re short on time, and the idea of getting important things accomplished in a 10-minute window is very appealing to you.

On the other hand, we are all inundated with companies sending us holiday greetings along with pleas for sales of some sort. I would tread carefully so as not to join this unwelcome category. However, a text or e-mail with a nice graphic and a short, personal message can go a long way. . . . For example:

Thank you for another year of reading our blog. We are grateful for you and wish you the happiest of new years. From Carole and Bob at Brand Building for Small Business

(Feel free to use our graphic if you would like!)

A Match Made in Minutes

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Consider Bringing a Partner On Board

Owning and operating a small business can be a lonely and overwhelming proposition.  Sometimes, you just wish you had some additional resource you could rely upon.  If you have ever found yourself in this position, perhaps you should consider enlisting the assistance of a strategic partner – the topic of this newest 10-minute brand building tip.

Such a relationship can but does not have to involve any kind of formal legal arrangement.  Rather, you are looking to pair with another business that – like you – is hoping to gain a certain marketplace advantage.

Identifying a Potential Prospect

Some combinations seem to have a natural synergy – like the way peanut butter pairs with jelly or marshmallows with chocolate bars and graham crackers.  When considering prospects, ask yourself what other product or service might be acquired to better take full advantage of the characteristics of yours. 

For instance . . .

If your business is to share advice about branding, you might consider forming a strategic partnership with a designer who produces branded stationary, business cards, etc.  If you are a farmer with apple orchards specializing in the production of cider, perhaps your ideal strategic partner would be a grocery store or farmer’s market that uses seasonal campaigns (such as fall, Thanksgiving, Halloween) to promote sales.

Basically, think of a business that could benefit from your product while, in turn, enhancing yours.  That said, you will want to consider issues such as goals for growth, culture, values, attitude toward service, and history of success to ensure the optimum likelihood of a good match.

Potential Benefits of a Strategic Partnership

Many exist . . . but I will concentrate on three for the purposes of this piece.

Cut Costs

One role of well-matched strategic partners is the ability to run joint sales and advertising campaigns, which has the potential to substantially reduce the expense of both parties by splitting costs while also allowing everyone to take advantage of economies of scale.  Better deals can sometimes be available to companies willing and/or able to spend more, which can be accomplished through a partner while your own original investment remains the same.  Any activity targeting large numbers of prospects falls into this category (direct mail/e-mail campaigns, sales events, etc.)

Increase Your Audience

You have your own list of customers as well as a data base of prospects.  More than likely, your strategic partner does as well.  Combining these lists for activities such as direct mailings or even telemarketing campaigns substantially increases your pool of highly qualified prospects.  If you’ve chosen your strategic partner well, their customers should be very interested in your products/services and more likely than your average cold contact to ultimately become your customer as well.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you already share some of the same customers and that letting them know about your strategic partnership can only strengthen their loyalties to both of you, which suggests a joint loyalty program might be very successful.

Remember, strategic partners are not your direct competitors.  Rather, these companies are ones that complement your main focus . . . so sharing of customer data is reasonable.

Enhance Your Product

Even the best products can always become a bit better . . . but you just lack the resources to pursue such development.  By choosing your partner wisely, you can make your product better by being able to offer additional qualities brought to the table by your partner.   (Once peanut butter found jelly, that partnership created a new enhanced offering called PB&Js . . . and the rest is history!!)

In the case of a branding blog, we try to explain some of the characteristics that create an effective brand, we can even provide instruction for building certain basic tools like logos.  However, a partnership might allow us to highlight certain vendors who are able to supply finished products for items like brochures (helping those readers who prefer not to take the DIY approach).

Your 10-Minute Branding Assignment

Identify a company offering a product/service that complements yours.  Visit their web site to get a sense of their audience and approach to sales.  Determine whether the prospect has been involved in a coordinated effort with another business (perhaps even one of your direct competitors).  Track down the names and contact information of people within the operation who might be the best ones to approach about possible partnerships.  (The “About” page of the candidate’s web site can sometimes yield this information.)

While your 10-minute task for the day is done once you’ve completed this assignment, another day your mission will be to make a preliminary contact.  This process can be repeated as many times as necessary to move forward.  The potential benefits will easily justify the effort.

Favicons (and a Favicon Generator)

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

So what is a favicon, you may ask? A favicon is the small image (typically a simplified logo) that the web browser displays along with the name of your web page . . . IF you have one designated.

Beneficial not only for your branding efforts but also for search engine optimization, you want to be sure your web site has a favicon file if you haven’t already.

I came across a web site that creates the favicon for you free of charge in a very user-friendly interface. You just need a square image (PNG, JPG, or SVG at least 260×260 pixels in size), and they will also walk you through the process of incorporating the files on your web site. Whenever you’re ready, head over to realfavicongenerator.net.

(Reading this article and choosing/preparing your file can probably be done within ten minutes today and then you may be able to have the task completed in another ten-minute window tomorrow!)

Good luck! Let us know of any questions in the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Sponsor a Community Team

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Grassroots BRANDING

Would you invest 10 minutes of your time and a very modest amount of money to get your name (and BRAND!) publicized within your community in a very positive way for weeks (often months) at a time?

The answer seems obvious, but a surprisingly small number of businesses take advantage of the opportunity to sponsor a local athletic team – ranging from those of young kids to adult recreational groups.  Typically, a quick call or e-mail to a league official would be all that’s required to agree to sponsor a particular sport.

What You Get (in Addition to Gratitude)

In return for your sponsorship, you can expect to receive some combination of the following forms of recognition:

  • Your name on hats and/or jerseys (both of which tend to be worn for years after a particular season has ended).
  • Your name on printed programs and/or schedules.
  • Your name displayed in some manner within the athletic venue.
  • Your name repeated every time the player mentions the team in conversation with others.
  • Your name listed in any newspaper covering the sport (ex:  Donny’s Hoagies plays West End Pizza tonight for the league championship!).
  • Your name mentioned at any end-of-season banquets or perhaps reproduced on a trophy.

This word-of-mouth exposure can be especially effective within a local community and seems ideally suited to retail operations (though larger regional and national companies can still benefit).  When you consider the high cost of advertising, an investment of this kind provides a good shelf life and return for each dollar spent . . . while associating your brand with community involvement in a very positive way.

Opportunities Abound

When considering possible sponsorships, all forms of athletic teams are available – from little league baseball and mini-football to intramural/recreational softball, soccer, hockey, and basketball.  You can even consider branching out further by supporting school plays, choral groups, etc.

While the exact amount of your investment will vary with your location, type of exposure provided, potential audience size, etc., you are very likely to find that the 10-minute branding activity needed to set up the sponsorship and the modest amount of money involved will produce results that compare quite favorably with other branding opportunities.

Conduct an Ongoing Three-a-Day Sales Campaign

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

This newest 10-minute brand building tip makes the assumption that you have already followed our advice to start to create a 10-minute contact database (see Build a Contact Prospect List) or alternatively have a list acquired separately from a third party that you’re now ready to start approaching.

While contact and production sales campaigns are most often created via a major coordinated effort aimed at reaching dozens of prospects simultaneously, your initiative need not be such an all-consuming, resource-draining exercise to produce meaningful results that enhance both your brand building activities and sales.

Instead, we suggest developing an ongoing sales initiative that will approach the task three prospects at a time.  Since your contact list was developed from your personal knowledge and efforts, we believe this data will be more qualified than lists acquired from a third party and will very often allow you to know the best media or strategy for making your approach.

Nevertheless, success will still be measured in very small percentages.  However, each success will represent the opportunity to create a loyal customer that delivers repeat business over time, and you also benefit in another less obvious way.  Since your direct marketing materials will be incorporating the key elements of your brand in your chosen way, this exercise also reinforces your brand with an important potential audience.  

Direct Mail Letter – E-mail – Text Message – Phone Call

As a separate exercise apart from this 10-minute tip, we suggest you build reusable templates for generating a letter and/or e-mail to individual prospects.  Then, you simply have to plug in the necessary name and contact information, generate the document, and send your solicitation to the targeted recipient.

Generally speaking, you should be able to complete three prospects at a time and still have a chance (and the energy!) to properly update the activity in a contact and production control log (that is either part of your original database or a separate spreadsheet).  While methods can vary, you need to maintain a record of every date and method of contact as well as any responses received.  In general, we suggest using a multimedia approach, so we recommend scheduling your first follow-up contact about a week after your letter or e-mail was sent.  Since you are building your contact list three items at a time and executing your sales and follow-up activites at a similar pace across as many days or weeks as needed, this process will essentially become an ongoing effort spread throughout the year that hopefully also produces some ongoing results!

If you initially felt a call was the best method to use, your follow-up will depend upon the response you receive.

  • If you actually spoke with a person, a letter or e-mail can be sent to thank the person for his or her time and consideration . . . with a promise to contact them again in the future.
  • If your initial call did not get through, a second call is probably in order – separated by about a week.
  • If one of these contacts connects and you are ready to move on to the next stage of the sales cycle, plan to schedule a follow-up session (very often a personal or virtual visit/meeting) to try to convert the sales lead into a customer.

When your initial contact and follow-up activities fail to produce results, plan to repeat the same activities with the same contacts at a future date – recognizing that repeated efforts might be required to get your message in front of the person at the right time – buying time (that moment when a potential need becomes an actual one). 

Note:  Although this article deals exclusively with implementing the mechanics and timing of running of a 3-a-day sales campaign, you can find more information about creating the necessary templates in other articles at www.brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.  Specifically, you might want to check out:   Role of Branding in Direct Mail/E-mail and Creating a Mail Merge Document for Direct Response Mailing.

BTW – Using direct contact opportunities to wish your customer a safe and happy holiday for occasions such  as Thanksgiving makes a positive statement about your brand!!

Measuring the Success of This 10-Minute Branding Task

While accomplishing three contacts in a day might seem like too little to make a meaningful difference when the percent returns are so small on direct marketing and telemarketing activities, these numbers DO multiply with consistent, sustained effort.   Furthermore, conversion of a single lead to a customer who becomes a loyal repeat client year after year represents a significant victory – the kind upon which successful businesses are built.

Build a Contact Prospect List

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Add Three New Names Per Session

When you think about telemarketing, direct mail, or some other sales campaign, you probably imagine using a huge database of prospects obtained from a third-party source.  Perhaps the list was purchased from a vendor or downloaded from a non-profit professional organization of which you are a member.  Then, you probably see this list becoming the engine that drives a huge concerted effort involving many people . . . and then producing results measured in depressingly low percentages.

Well, that description is very often extremely accurate and can indeed be extremely worthwhile . . . but can also sometimes involve extensive resources.  However, another 10-minute approach to the same basic activity does exist.

Specifically, build your very own sales contact list three entries at a time.  Create a spreadsheet or other electronic list that includes the following columns for:

  • Name (consider separating into separate columns for first, last, and salutation)
  • Address (consider separating into separate columns for street, city, state, zip)
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Social media presence (identify which ones)
  • Dates contacted (Leave space for three entries)
  • Contact method (Leave space for three entries)
  • Contact response (Leave space for three entries)

When identifying the entries to include in your database, consider prospects from the following:

  • Your street, town, neighborhood
  • Personal acquaintances that could also have a business interest in your products/services.
  • Business associations and memberships such as the Chamber of Commerce, trade groups, etc.
  • Leads mentioned by your friends and family members.
  • Internet searches using a variety of terms related to your business.
  • Possible leads encountered through social media or other advertising activities.
  • Sign-in sheets located either online or within your place of operations.
  • Etc.

You Get the Idea

Prospects can come from almost anywhere; you probably encounter a half dozen a day . . . but never bother to formally collect the information into a useable file with accompanying contact information.

When entering such data into your spreadsheet, finding the names will probably come fairly easily, but you will spend the majority off your time gathering the other information that makes the file useful, using phone books, online searches, social media searches, directories published by groups and organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, etc.  I can almost guarantee that 10 minutes will be required to do your three daily entries, and you will probably not be able to fill in every column of contact information but WILL succeed in collecting enough to be useful.

Next Steps for This 10-Minute Branding Task

Collecting three prospects per day may not seem like enough to be useful . . . but perform that task for 10 days during a month, and you have 30 at the end of that period.  Do that for six months and you have 180.  Furthermore, your list is reusable.  Following the basic principles of sales contact campaigns, you should plan to reach out to each name you have collected at least three times at different intervals to try to assure that you get your information in front of that person at buying time – the circumstance in which you are most likely to be successful in making a sale, adding a new customer, etc.  Similarly, you can try to approach your prospects in a variety of ways – by phone, by mail (direct mail letter or postcard), by social media messaging, etc.  That way, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of reaching out to each prospect by his or her primary media preference.

Will You Be Successful?

Conventional wisdom suggests yes – with sustained, consistent, and professional effort, you will generate new business.  While the percentage of victories will probably be low, new customers tend to be recurring and can more than payoff your 10-minute investments fairly quickly over time.   Furthermore, I think you will find that a list assembled in the ways described above will be somewhat prequalified and therefore more useful than prospect lists obtained in other ways that tend to include countless entries with little likelihood of success. 

For more information, see Role of Branding in Direct Mail/E-mail and Creating a Mail Merge Document for Direct Response Mailing.  Also, look for further 10-minute branding suggestions upon executing a prospect sales campaign three leads at a time!