One of the best ways to show a company’s expertise in their industry is by authoring and publishing white papers. White papers are informative reports examining relevant industry issues, and often offering guidance on a solution. As a marketing tool they are extremely effective for both content marketing as well as to demonstrate expertise to prospective clients/customers.
It used to be that people went to the internet for anonymity… but increasingly, it’s becoming where brands and companies are being exposed to reputation-damaging hacks, accusations, and more. And, if you or your firm participate on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, your exposure is even wider. Every piece of content (or micro-content) can be picked up and indexed by search engines – presenting unfavorable information to potential consumers that may decide against using your products or services. What used to be a simple public relations and marketing challenge has now become a complex digital task – online reputation management.
Your brand’s reputation is almost like a living thing… it grows, it expands, it travels, it interacts with people… and most importantly, it needs your care to be healthy and prosperous. At Kompani Group, we take online presence (both perceived and actual) very seriously, which is why we’re always evaluating and implementing the latest tools and technologies available for this task. See some of our top recommendations for social media management in our latest white paper.
Even if you’re effectively using your resources to stay connected to your audience, your reputation can all fall apart if your messaging isn’t aligned with your brand. Sometimes it takes a neutral third party (like us) to give you a bit of real-world perspective and help you evaluate the results of your online efforts. Want a few helpful hints to get started? See our white paper for three guidelines to strong-yet-smart messaging.
Ready to take things further? Get in touch with us today to start looking deeper into your online reputation and turn it into your strongest brand asset.
In military maneuvers, being able to anticipate the competition’s next move before it happens and then positioning your own forces, is what wins battles. Commanders who win are usually the ones that have seen the most varied assortment of battles. They know what enemy tactics look like earlier than most, and they’ve also likely been a foot soldier in the counter attack.
It’s not all that different in business. Those that are the best at overcoming challenges and taking leadership positions are those who have had the most opportunities to practice it. Unfortunately, not all companies are in a field that presents that on a day-to-day basis. Yet, it’s still necessary for those wishing to get ahead.
Identifying the Optimization Gap
Think of what you do most in your business… the one task that occupies the majority of your time. Maybe it’s answering emails. Or it might be fielding customer service calls. You may even be in the fortunate position where your whole team is working as hard as they can to crank out as many widgets as possible in order to meet demand. All of these are situations that can be improved by business optimization but none of those tasks actually requires a huge shift in the way you operate to simply handle the immediate responsibility.
This creates a gap between what needs to be done right now and what could be done in the future. Even more importantly, it also leaves a gap between recognizing what’s working for you today and what might cease working for you in weeks, months, or years to come. Don’t get us wrong, a clean inbox is great, just like happy customers, and delivery trucks full of widgets… but what happens when the inbox never gets full, customers simply stop calling, and delivery trucks go empty. Optimization is the bridge over that very scary cliff.
So Why Isn’t It Simpler?
That’s the thing about Optimization… there’s no “finish line” that signals you’ve reached the end of how great your business can be. The good news is that tactics and methodologies aimed at optimization always leaves a trail. When a business is working from an improve-and-enhance standpoint, every move is logical and orderly. From the outside it may look like everything’s “easy” for that company – like they knew something no one else did. And in many ways, it’s true. They made the decision not to knee-jerk react to challenges as they came up, but instead, anticipate them… much like a Commander going to war. The absence of that approach leaves telltale signs too – meandering sales and revenue numbers, difficulty forecasting, and a track record of business-building initiatives that stop almost as soon as they start.
That’s Where Kompani Group Steps In
As experienced Business Optimizers, we’re sort of a “Commander On Demand.” Present your situation to us, and we’ll tell you the battles you can expect, the weapons already at your disposal to put up a strong fight, and what tactics or ‘big guns’ you might need to ensure victory. In some cases, we may even take the Sun Tzu path and let you know when it’s time to avoid a fight (such as letting two competitors battle over price while you make a stand for quality).
To take a closer look at our Business Optimization Philosophy and expertise, check out our white paper on the subject. Or review our Case Studies to see our holistic approach in action. You can even review our brochure, to see the tools we’re using to bring optimization to the foundation of our services.
At Kompani Group we believe in empowerment. Whether it is our clients or our own team, we view it the same way. We always strive to arm all of our stakeholders with the best tools and the best information. As B2B marketing evolves at break-neck speed it becomes increasingly evident that CMO’s are buying into this philosophy. The game is not about jazzy ads, but about delivering meaningful information to the marketplace. Our good friends at Desantis Breindel have written a spot-on white paper on this topic. In keeping with their philosophy that “content is the gift that keeps on giving,” we are sharing it with you.
Usability and the utility, not the visual design, determine the success or failure of a web site.
Since the visitor to the page is the only person who clicks the mouse and therefore decides everything, user-centric design has become a standard approach for successful and profit-oriented web design. After all, if users can’t use a feature, it might as well not exist.
Most users search for something interesting (or useful) and clickable; as soon as some promising candidates are found, users click. If the new page doesn’t meet users’ expectations, the Back button is clicked and the search process is continued.
- Users appreciate quality and credibility. If a page provides users with high-quality content, they are willing to compromise the content with advertisements and the design of the site. This is the reason why not-that-well-designed web-sites with high-quality content gain a lot of traffic over years. Content is more important than the design which supports it.
- Users don’t read, they scan. Analyzing a web-page, users search for some fixed points or anchors which would guide them through the content of the page.
- Web users are impatient and insist on instant gratification. Very simple principle: If a web-site isn’t able to meet users’ expectations, then designer failed to get his job done properly and the company loses money. The higher the cognitive load and the less intuitive the navigation, the more willing users are to leave the web-site and search for alternatives.
- Users don’t make optimal choices. Users don’t search for the quickest way to find the information they’re looking for. Neither do they scan web-pages in a linear fashion, going sequentially from one site section to another one. Instead users scan; they choose the first reasonable option. As soon as they find a link that seems like it might lead to the goal, there is a very good chance that it will be immediately clicked. Optimizing is hard, and it takes a long time. Scanning is more efficient.
- Users follow their intuition. In most cases users muddle through instead of reading the information a designer has provided. Users act like “If we find something that works, we stick to it. It doesn’t matter to us if we understand how things work, as long as we can use them. If your audience is going to act like you’re designing billboards, then design great billboards.”
- Users want to have control. Users want to be able to control their browser and rely on the consistent data presentation throughout the site. E.g. they don’t want new windows popping up unexpectedly and they want to be able to get back with a “Back”-button to the site they’ve visited before: therefore it’s a good practice to never open links in new browser windows.
Social Online Marketing is one of the up-and-coming Online Marketing tactics. Social Online Marketing is done by using Social Networking websites, which is part of the Web 2.0. Social Online Marketing is not only a popular and effective strategy of marketing, but it is easy and fun. By promoting yourself and your company into the online community (outside of your own website) you are participating in Social Online Marketing.
So what exactly is Social Online Marketing? Social Online Marketing requires the use of Social Networking sites such as LinkedIn, FaceBook, Digg, Blogger, Twitter and YouTube to add/edit content for others to be able to access. Information placed on such sites allows consumers to not only view it, also link to it and/or post their own comments about it. The end result of Social Online Marketing is to increase visibility on Social Networking Sites, create inbound links, and increase traffic to your website which can be tracked through analytics software.
Not only are Social Networking sites useful for Social Online Marketing, their content can also be informational to their viewers. Social Networking sites can allow people to catch up on trends in the Internet world. There are many blogs for example that offer information solely on Internet news. Social Networking sites don’t just give information on the Internet; they can also give readers access to almost any information imaginable.
Although consumers are in control of Social Networking websites, they don’t have full control; Social Online Marketers can also participate in these sites. Customers don’t necessarily want to be marketed to all the time, but they want to be communicated with, which can be done through online discussions. Consumers are out there expressing their thoughts, opinions, recommendations and complaints about your products regardless and not accessing/engaging in these conversations is ignoring an excellent opportunity. By engaging in conversations with your customers and hearing their thoughts, you can get feedback on what changes/improvements your product can use as well as give you an opportunity to address their views through your comments. All the hype of Social Online Marketing is causing an exponential growth in users and its possible uses as a powerful online marketing tool.
Before starting your Social Online Marketing campaign it is important to think about what exactly it is that you are marketing. Brainstorming about your Online Marketing goals should include research of your target demographic and your key competitors.
Once able to locate your target audience it will enable you to answer key points that define what Social Online Marketing tactics will be successful. The following are questions to keep in mind about your users when determining how to proceed in your campaign: where do they spend a majority of their time when online? (or sometimes even when offline) and what are their hobbies, interests and needs?
By researching your leading competitors you can gain knowledge of how they have tackled Social Online Marketing. Whether competitors have published in wikis, posted on blogs or created a Facebook Fan page they should all be easily traceable through their website. Many Online Marketing attempts can be found just by performing a link search of their website.
You can create a custom Social Online Marketing plan for your website since you now know who your consumers are, information about them and what your competitors have done.
Although Social Online Marketing is relatively easy to perform, it is nearly impossible to engage in every single website out there, nor is not necessary (in most situations) to use every form of Social Online Marketing. The more relevant avenues your campaign exhausts the more likely you are to have a successful results, which more often than not means the more time you have to spend on your Online Marketing campaign the better your results will be.
There are massive amounts of Social Online Marketing websites currently available, with literally hundreds of new ones emerging each month making it even more impossible to access them all.
Examples of Social Online Marketing websites include, but are not limited to:
- LinkedIn is a Social Networking website that revolves around networks of professionals. Your professional network of trusted contacts gives you an advantage in your career, and is one of your most valuable assets. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return. Their mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. They believe that in a global connected economy, your success as a professional and your competitiveness as a company depend upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.
- FaceBook is another Social Networking website that gives users the ability to keep in contact with friends. People can publish notes, upload photos, view news from friends, join networks and so much more. By posting a photo of your brand on your companies FaceBook page it allows friends to view your product and hopefully generate traffic to your website.
- YouTube is a video sharing/distributing Social Networking website. It allows visitors that don’t register the ability to watch videos or those who do register the ability to access the websites full potential, offering many of the applications that sites like Linkedin do. YouTube is one of the fastest growing and largest Social Networking communities currently available, so it is a great avenue to perform Social Online Marketing.
- Blogger is one of the more popular blogging networks. By commenting in open-ended conversational marketing it allows the community to have a lot of control over conversations. Social Online marketers can create their own blog to share specific information to the community and plug their own product/brand.
In most Social Online Marketing communities it is recommended to not start out by promoting your brand or website. If you start out by “spamming” you are likely to get kicked out of that social community. Not only could the site administrators ban you from their site, but it could also scare consumers away from your direct online marketing tactics.
What is the next step? Initiating contact with your customers is important, but it is just as useful to continue to keep contact with them. You can’t just start something and not finish. Starting posts on a blog is great, but you need to show users that you are not just visiting, but are there often to listen to them. Customers are likely to add comments or thoughts to your posting which would in turn require a response from you.
Social Online Marketing sites are useful, but their content needs to be easily accessible by searchers. By making access to your Social Online Marketing attempts possible through a link on your website it makes less work for your users to view them.
So you were able to define your audience, locate your customers on the Internet, build a social relationship with them and promote your brand and website through Social Online Marketing. How can you tell if your Social Online Marketing techniques are working? Most analytic software allows goals to be set up and allows for the monitoring of conversion rates. (Note that you need to know what you are measuring first)
When just beginning your Social Online Marketing campaign it is recommended to perform one technique at a time. If using more than one Social Online Marketing technique it could be hard to tell which one elicits what results. To be certain which tactics work best, you should start your campaign by performing one Social Online Marketing form at a time. If you start a multitude of tactics at one time it will more than likely give you an excellent result, but will leave you wondering which one is better for me.
On the other hand, if you are familiar with Social Online Marketing and know which forms are necessary for your campaign it is best to perform more than one tactic at a time. By promoting multiple forms of Social Online Marketing at once it will give you quicker results than marketing just one at a time.
At Kompani Group we offer monthly online social marketing maintenance services. Ask us about what we can do for your company.
One of the first challenges entrepreneurs face in building their brand, regardless of the industry, is selecting an appropriate name to identify and distinguish their products or services in the marketplace.
That is the principal function of trademarks – a unique identifier that signals to potential consumers the source of particular goods or services. Entrepreneurs and prospective business owners must be savvy from the start in choosing a name that not only accurately reflects their brand aesthetic but that also serves as a trademark, because all names are not created equal. There are some names that make excellent brand identifiers and work very well as trademarks, and others that do not work as well and may not qualify for trademark protection before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
So how do you select the right name for your brand? Here are a few Dos and Don’ts for choosing a truly distinctive trademark that will stand out among consumers and sail smoothly through the USPTO registration process.
1. Do Select a Fanciful or Arbitrary Mark: These types of trademarks are accorded the highest level of trademark protection by the USPTO because they are the most distinctive. Fanciful marks are picked right from one’s imagination, perhaps derived from another word or language or an amalgam of letters that have never been used before so they are novel in identifying any kind of goods or services. Arbitrary marks make use of known words or phrases to identify completely unrelated goods or services. These marks are highly distinctive and also work well as trademarks. Examples of fanciful and arbitrary marks include CLOROX® and APPLE®, respectively.
2. Don’t Choose a Merely Descriptive Mark: Words or phrases that simply describe your goods or services are not very effective as trademarks and are highly scrutinized before the USPTO. These marks are “merely descriptive” and often do not function as trademarks because they lack sufficient distinctiveness for consumers to associate the mark with one particular source of the goods or services. Consumers generally do not associate descriptive marks as a unique source identifier but rather as a description of what they are purchasing. Avoid marks that directly tell consumers what you’re offering. Don’t brand your highly innovative 360° rotating vacuum cleaner as “Rotating Ball Vacuum”, consider instead something like “DYSON®.”
3. Do Select a Suggestive Mark: One way to avoid a “merely descriptive” issue is to select a mark that is suggestive of what you are offering. These marks do not immediately call to mind what your goods or services are, but require some additional thought or leap of imagination. Suggestive marks are fairly strong trademarks and are generally allowed protection by the USPTO. Examples of suggestive marks include “RAYBAN®“ or “ALEVE®“.
4. Don’t Use Your Name or Names of Places: Proper names and surnames are generally not accepted as trademarks unless they have acquired distinctiveness for particular goods or services in the marketplace. This usually requires years of use and extensive marketing to establish the name as a brand and not merely a surname among consumers. Geographic names are also heavily scrutinized because the USPTO is reluctant to grant applicants exclusive rights in such names. Avoid marks that are geographically descriptive of your products, or, depending on the goods or services offered, marks that are geographically descriptive and likely to cause confusion among consumers as to the place of origin of the goods or services. Geographic marks are permissible when used in an arbitrary manner or otherwise unlikely to impact customer purchasing decisions regarding place of origin. Examples include “VINTAGE HAVANA®“ or “100% CAPRI”. The foregoing should not be confused with regional origin marks, such as “CHAMPAGNE” from France or “PARMA” ham.
Choose your brand name wisely. It is the means by which consumers will recognize and ultimately purchase what you are selling, whether it’s cars or canned fruit. Select a name that is unique, memorable and that stands out in the minds of your target customers. For more trademark insights and examples of fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive and generic marks, visit the Frequently Asked Questions section at www.FlatFeeTrademark.com.