Weeeeeeeeeeee’re Back . . .!

Prefatory Note:

When Carole first suggested the idea of moving forward with a somewhat altered approach to our blog  (i.e., 10-Minute Branding) I was intrigued and sensed some real value that would speak to the current needs of people trying to build a successful small business and have some semblance of a work/life balance.  While I am currently at a different stage than her (having – for instance – two adult children out on their own rather than two teenagers at home), the freshness of her plan was appealing and seemed in keeping with our DIY mentality.  BUT . . . me being me, I had to build a justification for myself.  Below is where I landed.

Perform an Internet search for the statement “attention span of millennials and Generation Z’ers,” and you will find a variety of references to an 8-to-12 second time frame.

Is this finding a sad commentary on the younger crowd who are soon destined to rule the world, or is this fact a symptom of necessary adaptation to survive and ultimately thrive within an increasingly complicated and complex society?

Personally, I’ve come to believe the latter.  As the demands on our time and attention have grown, the ability to process information quickly and make meaningful use of small blocks of time becomes essential.   Furthermore, this realization has led us to consider the ways in which we can best be of service to small business owners who have among the greatest demands on their time and resources and who must achieve the highest level of efficiency to be successful in today’s fast-paced business environment.

10-Minute Branding

We think this concept of 10-minute branding can indeed be an important key to Get Sh – Done (and perhaps still create some extra time for family).  So . . .

After a two-month pause in new additions to our blog, we have decided to resume but with a shift in focus for the immediate future.

Over the past three years, we have covered many of the basic principles and tools of branding for small businesses.  Equipped with this library of resources, we decided we could be of greatest use to you – our audience – (while still preserving our chosen DIY  focus) by offering weekly tips on branding activities that can be accomplished in just 10 minutes.  (While some activities might require spilling over into multiple 10-minute sessions, our goal is to avoid intruding upon your already-busy schedule while still helping you realize your overarching goal of building a better, stronger brand identity.

Can You Really Accomplish Anything Meaningful in Just 10 Minutes?

Guess we’ll see, but . . .

Some branding activities can indeed seemingly be done in 10 minutes.  For instance, you can write a thank you note to a customer that instills in them a strong sense of service while giving you a chance to tout your business in a desired way.  Furthermore, 10 minutes a day for each day of a six-day work week yields an hour of potential productivity.  If you used those 10 minutes to collect three prospects’ contact info, you’d have a dozen and a half by the end of the week to approach the following week one by one with a branded message.  I fully suspect that converting some of those prospects into loyal customers would justify the effort and validate the process.

Furthermore, devoting one hour per week in 10-minute blocks yields more than 50 hours of annual productivity devoted specifically to building and refining your brand.  Needless to say, a lot can be accomplished in a work week+ period.

That said, you will have to be disciplined in doing your 10 minutes per day.  If you do, we believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Our Part

For our part, we will provide tips that we believe can be accomplished in one or more ten-minute blocks.   We figure one way to make this happen is to try to devote as close to 10 minutes as possible to our creation of the tip, which should help ensure that the activity does not get overly complicated.

This approach is very much an experiment on our part.   As a result, we really would appreciate your feedback by leaving a comment in the form below or by sending a private email to brandbuildingforsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

We’re Hitting the PAUSE Button!

We are writing to let you know that we will be putting Brand Building for Small Business on Hiatus while we spend time developing a new project.

A short pause while we explore a new project!

We published our first article (“Build vs. Buy”) on August 28, 2019 . . . and have added 131 pieces over the past three years.   We have appreciated the opportunity to interact with a growing audience, and we sincerely hope that both new and existing subscribers will continue to explore and use the content we have already made available. 

When we defined our brand, we determined that our focus would be providing a useful tool to smaller businesses – the kind of largely under-appreciated entrepreneurs who form such a large portion of the American business landscape.    Having worked many years for a company that targeted this same audience (a company that was – in fact – a small, underdog start-up at the time I was hired), Carole and I felt we brought some meaningful knowledge and expertise to the table.  Hopefully (three years later), you agree.  In establishing our brand, we also decided that we wanted to have a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) focus – believing that many small business owners would of necessity be taking on the challenges of building their own brands.  Consequently, we have tried to offer a blend of the conceptual framework needed to build a successful brand as well as practical tips and instruction. 

We promise to keep checking the site on an ongoing basis and will respond to any comments or special requests for new specific topics.  You can use the Comment boxes below each article to get a message to us, or you are welcome to send us a private e-mail at brandbuildingforsmallbusiness@gmail.com.  We promise to consider your input carefully.

While we are developing our new brainchild, you can expect us to occasionally post a new Quick Tip or two and will keep you posted about our activity.  Meanwhile, good luck with your branding efforts . . . and keep checking out our content at www.brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.

See you later . . . !!

Your Brand: Build vs. Buy

Identifying, refining, AND communicating your business’s brand can be the most important step you take in marketing (and selling!) your product and/or services.  Whether you are picking a name or color to represent you or creating a web site, sales literature, ads, letterhead, packaging, etc. (this list goes on and on), each decision you make and action you take will help build your brand (i.e., fix an impression in people’s minds about who you are and what you do — hopefully in a memorable and desirable way).

All too often, small businesses neglect this opportunity to send a strong message to the public and view each of these communications as separate and distinct (rather than as opportunities to reinforce an overarching brand).

The first lesson that must be learned and practiced by a small business is to treat branding as a set of golden rules applied to all activities.  Once you accept this basic premise (which extends to operational decisions as well as those of sales), you must decide whether to build your brand yourself . . . or buy that expertise from a professional such as an advertising agency.

Build vs. Buy

Before venturing further, you need to understand the bias of the author of this blog. 

When my son was in elementary school, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ruled the day via a television show, movies, comic books, extensive lines of merchandise, etc.  Consequently, turtle costumes were huge style setters for Halloween . . . and sure to create a strong impression among the child’s peers.  While dozens of variations could be purchased inexpensively, I chose to personally transform my son to become the 5th turtle (aka Caravaggio) – with a shell made out of cardboard and all!  Similarly, I’ve spackled walls and gotten rid of computer viruses myself rather than automatically turning to an expert practitioner.  This instinct has sometimes proven cost effective and (as in the case of the turtle) sometimes not.  However, I’ve always ended up acquiring a useful skill that later paid dividends and inevitably end up with a more original product, which is generally useful in branding.  By building, you get to control your own fate and the timing of each activity . . .  and often DO end up saving a lot of money!

10 Good Reasons to Consider Building, Not Buying

  1. Better control – You know your product and customers better than anyone as well as the image you want to communicate.  You can spend many expensive hours trying to transfer that knowledge to a vendor . . . and never quite get to where you need to be. 
  2. Faster response to opportunity – Sometimes, opportunities disappear quickly.  You can miss the boat while waiting for a third party to be ready, to fully understand the moment, and to craft the right message tailored to the right audience.
  3. No language barrier – Every industry has an accompanying unique language and jargon.  Teaching this language to the uninitiated can be a slow, imperfect process. If a task is executed without full command of the industry’s verbiage, your customer will immediately sense a fraud . . . and not trust the information being communicated.
  4. More flexible strategic planning – You control the schedule and the range of activities that seem most likely to be effective . . . rather than having someone create a campaign around THEIR areas of expertise and resources.
  5. Trial and error – Since you are in control, you can quickly abandon unsuccessful strategies and try new ones rather than seeing a losing campaign through to the bitter end.  Very often, you can tell early whether or not an activity is resonating with your audience.
  6. Cost savings – Third-party expertise does not come cheaply . . . and you pay for their learning curve as well as their finished product.  When you take a DIY approach, your time is your major investment.
  7. Better use of data – The effectiveness of every brand-based activity should be measured.  You are in the best position to implement the systematic collection of data and ensure that your operations are adjusted as needed to reflect the insights you gain.
  8. You develop expertise – While you may not be an expert at every activity you try, you will eventually become one (much like the process of building equity in your house). Whenever you develop a new core competency, spin-off business opportunities might present themselves.
  9. You stay abreast of technology – Brand building always involves some degree of mastery over technology (at least as an end user).  While this benefit might also seem scary to some people, we all know that we must have a reasonable grasp of current technology to survive . . . and this venue offers a fairly low-risk chance to learn more.
  10. You can have fun – Making that ninja turtle costume was a whole lot more enjoyable (and yielded a whole lot more laughs) than running to the local store . . . and ended up creating a more memorable experience.

5 Reasons to Consider Buying  (Rem: I already disclosed my bias)

  1. Third Parties (ad agencies; web site developers; etc.) DO Provide Expertise Even if you elect to become a DIY builder, you might require third-party expertise for specific tasks until you can learn how to do those tasks yourself.
  2. Objectivity Sometimes, you can be too close to your product and audience to see them clearly; third parties offer a fresh point of view.
  3. Completeness Vendors provide a level of assurance that you will not overlook a very basic and necessary consideration.
  4. Uniformity of Quality Use of a practitioner that regularly delivers certain activities to the world assures a basic level of quality is maintained.
  5. You Learn When you hire a third party, you always learn some valuable lessons from them.

While “Build” and “Buy” have been presented as mostly separate either/or options, DO know that a mix-and-match approach is possible (and sometimes even advisable) as you acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to DIY.

That said, this blog is generally devoted to practical tips addressing a wide variety of common activities that help end users who want to be hands-on in Brand Building for their Small Business

Next up – Where to Begin?