Marketing Challenges for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, we can get pulled in so many different directions. There are challenges that will distract you on this entrepreneurial journey.  In this article, I will highlight just a few marketing challenges for entrepreneurs and new business owners.

  1. Not knowing your audience: So many people start businesses based on their watts marketing challengespassions and strengths.  This is excellent!  However, we often are so focused on starting the business that we forget to pay attention to who we are selling to, including their needs, desires and burdens.  We sometimes stop at just describing the demographics of our target audience.  However, there is more to knowing your audience than their age or demographics.  How do they purchase?  What keeps them up at night?  Where do they consume information? What do they follow and like on social media? It is critically important to know your audience.
  2. The wrong marketing platforms:  Many new businesses have the wrong marketing platforms.  They hear about so many social media platforms or new apps or programs and they want to start all of them.  There is not careful consideration of which platforms work for your business, target audience or which of them “speak” or sync with each other.  It is important to do an audit of your programs and make sure they work for your business and marketing strategy.
  3. Inconsistency & Lack of Clarity:  One of the keys to branding is creating a consistent story and selling that narrative to your audience.  This requires managing a lot of moving pieces and being able to stand back from your company and brand and decide on a consistent message.  This can be challenging. Often, this is the importance of having a marketing or branding consultant, to have an objective eye to look at your messaging and challenge you on your strategy.  Inconsistent messaging can cause distrust and ultimately hurt your brand and selling opportunities.
  4. Not Knowing Your USP:  Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition is key to marketing and branding.  You must know what value you bring to the table.  What is your differentiator?  Why should your clients and customers purchase from you? When businesses are unclear on this, they stumble through their messaging and how to sell and package their products and services for their clients.  Know your value.
  5. Underestimating Content Marketing:  Most small businesses don’t have the time or staff to work on content for their social media, blogs or website.  However, content marketing is key to establishing your brand and identity.  It is what will set you apart as a thought leader in your industry. No matter what you are selling, work on establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.

All these issues can be overwhelming, however, every business owner faces marketing challenges.  For assistance with any of these marketing challenges, feel free to contact me. 

 

 

The Power and Purpose of #hashtags

Hashtags are a popular and effective marketing tool in social media.  However, so many people focus on being clever and cute with hashtags that they often ignore the power and strategy in using them.

The purpose of a hashtag is for your content and brand to be discovered.  It helps to create a commPower of the hashtagunity and pull other like-minded individuals and interests together. For example if you are a personal trainer and you use the hashtag #fitness on a picture – you will attract others that are interested in fitness. Hashtags used strategically can expand your brand, audience and your content… and remember… content is KING.  If you are going to market effectively, you must have content..and you must have content others can find.

Below are some reminders on using hashtags.

1.) Keep it simple:  We have all seen the long hashtags that either gets misspelled or we have to read and review a few times before we retype it.  Just like taglines, for a hashtag to be effective, it must be memorable and easy to use.  It is okay to create unique hashtags for your business or organization, but it also should be memorable and easily repeated. If it takes time for people to “get it” or “understand” the hashtag – then you are diluting your brand.

2.) Use trending hashtags: If there is a trending hashtag that relates to your business or organization, don’t be afraid to use that hashtag and join in with energy and trend.  You can find trending hashtags each day, several times a day on Twitter.  By using this strategy, someone may discover your organization or movement.

3.) Use it everywhere:  If you have a hashtag specific to your business or organization, be sure to use it everywhere and encourage your team and audience to use it, as well. You want people to understand your brand and spread the word. Use it in your posts, website, signature, etc.

4.) Don’t use too many: Using too many hashtags, as many often do on Instagram and Twitter, will dilute your interests, your focus and your message.  It is often seen as spam, as well.  Try to think strategically about your hashtags and keep it within 3-5 hashtags.

Hashtags, if used strategically, can expand your brand and amplify your content.  Take some time to think about your audience and who needs to see your content and use your hashtags #strategically.

Recharge Your Marketing at the End of the Year

I absolutely love celebrating the new year!  It is a great time to refocus andPlanning2 recharge, both professionally and personally. However, depending on your business or industry, marketing at the end of the year can be challenging. Below are a few suggestions for year-end marketing and how to get a jump on your new year.
Plan, plan, plan –  This is a great time to plan (and dream) for 2016.  Find time to get away by yourself or with your team and brainstorm on what you want to accomplish next year and begin planning it. There are a variety of marketing strategies and items you can be planning, ranging from content to advertising to social media.  For example, if you have a blog or podcast, now is a great time to plan out your content for at least the first half of 2016.
Trends – What are the top trends for 2016 in your industry?  As you are planning, think of how you can maximize that knowledge.  Perhaps as an article that you pitch to the media or as a blog on your website.  Establishing yourself as a thought leader by discussing trends is a great marketing and client development tactic.
Lessons – The end of the year is also a great time to review the year and highlight the lessons learned in various industries.  Not only can you discuss the future and what is to come, it is also a great time to review what happened and the lessons learned.
Recycle content that works – Highlight your top ten posts, blogs, videos or quotes.  Often people are busy and tired at the end of the year, so this is a great way to still promote and market. Take a step back during the last few months of the year and re-evaluate your top-performing pieces of content. Recycling content or repackaging it in a new way can be a great way to get more out of what you’ve already produced. 
Surveys – Do you know what your audience is thinking about?  Were they pleased with your company or organization?  What are THEIR goals for the new year?  What disappointed them in 2015?  Take this time to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – a critical piece to any marketing or client development plan.
New Year Gifts – If you missed getting cards or client gifts out for Christmas, you can also reach out for the New Year.  This is a great time to reconnect with clients and find out what they are working on for the new year.
Remember… the end of year and the new year are excellent times to refocus and market your brand, your organization or company. If you need assistance with your marketing strategy for 2016, please contact me at lee@ashbyandwatts.com

Five Essentials for Building a Brand

When speaking to someone interested in starting a business, writing a book or leading an organization, inevitably the aspect of branding is discussed. Branding is one of my favorite marketing topics because branding is truly about emotion and connection. The strategies we use to create a brand should focus on creating a strong connection and relationship between the product/person/company and the customer or guest. More importantly, this strong connection creates customer loyalty.


To grow a business, brand or create loyal customers – a robust brand strategy is needed. This takes time and patience, however, it is absolutely necessary.

Below are essential keys needed for building any brand:

1.) Know the Strengths. Are you aware of your individual strengths or the strengths of your organization? If it is your individual brand, spend valuable time examining your strengths. Ask those closest to you about your strengths. The same holds true for your company. What are the strengths of the company? This may become clearer through surveys and focus groups, asking key customers, clients or guests key questions about the company or brand. If you are starting a company, find your target audience and discover what they value.

2.) Be Authentic. Authenticity is key in branding. This is knowing your strengths, as well as your weaknesses – but being perfectly okay with both. For example, Chick-fil-A does not try to make burgers or tacos. It has identified its strength, and probably its weaknesses, and they continually build on their strengths. They make really great chicken sandwiches with exceptional customer service. They don’t focus on making new sandwiches or twists on chicken sandwiches. As a result, they avoid their weaknesses and focus on the brand.

3.) Add Value. Whether it is an individual brand or company, be clear on the value you bring. Does your brand solve a problem or meet a need? Not only should the brand add value, but it should also differentiate you or your company from others. So many brands, organizations, services and products are competing for our attention. What will differentiate your brand from the others? It could the smallest thing that makes the difference. Discover “the thing” that will set your brand apart from others.

4.) Create an Emotion. What is the feeling you would like to invoke in your audience or clients? What emotion do you want your brand to feel? Dale Carnegie states: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” Brand strategy should focus on building an emotion.

5.) Consistency is key. It is critical to reinforce the value, skills and expertise your brand brings. This should be communicated through your various marketing platforms. Consistency will help your prospective clients and customers, as well as your current clients, quickly know how to describe your business or your service. Consistency is also important for your visuals. Eventually you want customers to see your logo, your colors, as well as your fonts and formatting and know instinctively that it is your company.

If you are interested in creating a brand strategy for your company, organization or building your individual brand, please contact ashby & watts. We can help you connect the dots.

Why Content Is King!

Gone are the days when marketing was merely about a great logo and a catchy tagline.  Marketing has gotten smarter and more demanding.  It asks more questions and looks deeper into the strategy and process. Clients and customers want content. They want to know what can the company do and how can the company add value to their business.

Marketers are now challenged with a savvier way to offer and present content to its clients and prospective clients. There are definitely challenges with this, including the simple challenge of time. It takes time to create content, the right content, and present it your audience.  The following blog posts will focus on few key ways to create content:

Re-purpose a presentation.  Professionals are often asked to present or speak at conferences and seminars. Often when the conference is over, the presentation remains on the computer or folders. However, there are undoubtedly some key points that can be expanded to create a blog or article.

After every speaking engagement, the presenter should make it a point to spend 30 minutes writing a short article about some key points in the presentation.  This could be used on a blog, article, discussion post on LinkedIn and various other platforms.

The Connection: Never let a presentation rest. Make it your goal to use it at least 3 additional platforms.