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.

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 

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.

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.

Always Have a Back-up on Hand

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.

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.

I recently wrote a piece about making your brand a consistent statement throughout your business by reviewing all the physical documents your customers see, your advertising, your web presence, and signage to make sure each piece fits your brand — logo, company colors, tag line, etc. Doing this audit from time to time and addressing issues by revising, reprinting, and/or repackaging is the ideal way to go. And yet, sometimes, a last-minute stamp right before a piece goes out the door is the best we can possibly do. In those instances, it’s good to be prepared.

This week’s 10-minute branding recommendation is to buy your business a logo stamp for those eventualities in which you have no other way to make your brand known. Maybe you run out of a certain size box and need a short-term fix until you get a new batch. Maybe you need to use an envelope size that you’ve never needed to use before and therefore don’t have anything pre-printed. Maybe you have a print job go wrong. Thankfully, a good stamp goes a long way and will still look professional in such instances.

If you don’t already have one, here are a couple options for you from Zazzle:

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

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!

Protect Your Brand: Check for Copyright Infringement

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.

If you create something of value, someone, at some point, is going to try to steal it from you.

Image by Freepik

You’ll most likely encounter such a culprit even if you don’t go looking. However, if you stay vigilant and catch copyright infringement quickly, you don’t risk losing too much ground. I recommend performing this check once per month. (If you never see any copycats, you can extend the task to once every three or six months.)

SEARCH FOR TEXT

Use a search engine to search for your company name, company slogan, product name, product slogan, etc. I usually go about five pages deep. If you don’t see any infringement by that point, chances are you’re good.

SEARCH FOR YOUR GRAPHICS

Using google’s reverse image search, I would search for the portion of your logos (company and products) without the text, so you’re searching for any graphical components individually. To do so . . .

1. Go to google.com and click the camera icon at the far right of the search box.

2. Click the ‘upload a file’ link and follow the prompts to select your image.

3. Google may automatically crop the searchable area of your image as was done for mine below. If so, you can simply drag the corners of the outline outward to extend the highlighted area of the picture.

4. Scan the “visual matches” for any copycats.

ISSUES

If you find any copycats, bookmark the web site(s) containing the infringement as you go. If you have a lawyer, forward your results. If not, stay tuned. We’ll elaborate on ‘next steps’ in a future post.

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Order Pizza for Your Employees

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.

Today’s 10-Minute Tip

Your employees are your best brand ambassadors.  They have the most direct and frequent contact with the general public/your audience/your customers and can be the key to reinforcing the brand image and message you want to communicate while embodying your service philosophy.

In taking 10 minutes every once in a while to order pizza or some other treat (such as picking up the tab to have an ice cream or food truck come to your place of business), you tell your team that you recognize their importance and value their daily contribution . . . while giving you a chance to reiterate your branding message and service philosophy to a receptive group!

Want to take the gesture one step further? 

Treat each pizza party as an opportunity to highlight an employee of the week/month/year and celebrate his/her efforts by posting that person’s picture within the workplace.

Fast.  Easy.  Affordable.  Fun.

Pizza parties provide a perfect way to complete your 10-minute branding assignment for a day . . . and even save some time for yourself by taking care of your lunch!! 

Remember, we are very interested in hearing your thoughts and comments.  Just use the space below.

Learn more about the importance of customer service to the process of branding:

Branding Through Customer Service

Make Your Brand a Consistent Statement Throughout 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.

So how do you make your brand a consistent statement throughout your business . . . in 10 minutes a day no less?!

The endeavor sounds so much harder and more intimidating than the actuality.

ENSURING BRAND CONSISTENCY: THE PROCESS

Day 1: Collect all the physical documents that your customers see.

(Remember that any task taking more than 10 minutes gets paused to continue the next day.)

Day 2: Make sure each collected piece fits your brand — logo, company colors, tag line, etc. Put any off-brand item aside.

Day 3: Repeat the process for all current advertising.

Day 4: Go through your website and any other online materials. You can bookmark any item needing to be addressed.

Day 5: Repeat the process for any signage, noting items in need of change.

Day 6: Fix identified issues. One piece per day is probably a reasonable goal, though more complicated items may need to be spread across multiple days.

And then you’re done! The process may takes weeks to complete, but if you approach it in a organized manner and commit to 10 minutes per day (no more or no less), your brand will be consistent in no time . . . without having to take away from the business of actually running your business!

GOING FORWARD

Having this process fresh in your mind will help you be attentive to branding your materials in the future. Still, you may want to put a reminder in your calendar for one or two years ahead (whichever seems more reasonable based on the quantity of materials you have) to repeat this process.

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Ask a Customer (Just One) To Do a Review

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.

Today’s 10-Minute Tip:

If you have a very friendly repeat customer who has been complimentary about your business, you have a possible candidate to write a review for you.  Very often, you just need to ask.  Since this 10-minute branding activity can be done at any time, any day that you don’t have a specific idea for contributing to your company’s brand, you can ask a customer for a review.

When approaching an unfamiliar vendor to acquire a needed product or service, most of us at least take a cursory glance at past customer ratings and reviews.  While some of your patrons may not be comfortable offering a review, many would be more than willing to help out.

While an in-person request is probably ideal, an e-mail, text message, or note at the bottom of a customer satisfaction survey can also work just fine.

When making your request, emphasize how quickly and easily the task can be done.  Suggest the various ways the review can be performed – from filling out an online form to writing a short note on a piece of paper, giving you a message that can be repackaged to display on a sales counter or reproduced in a brochure.  Remember, the goal is to find a method within his/her comfort zone.  (If appropriate, offer to pass along a link to an on-line review site.)

Helpful Hints You Can Provide

  • The review can be used to discuss your product(s) and/or services.
  • Suggest the person be as detailed and specific as possible.
  • Honesty always comes across best and creates a more meaningful and sincere message.
  • Reviews and ratings can be revised/updated in the future.
  • Tell the person to consider what he or she would personally like to know and include that kind of information.
  • Thank the person.

Making a customer request for a review can be accomplished in under 10 minutes . . . but the benefit can linger for years to come.

Learn more at:

Getting Reviews for Your Business

Review Request Sign