Not long ago there was a big announcement that a Barbie Doll was created in the likeness of film director
Ava DuVernay. There was a great number of congratulatory social media posts as Ms. DuVernay is not just a female film director, but a woman of color.
But mixed in with the congratulatory posts on social media, were posts from people who complained that the doll was not made to scale. In particular, to the scale of the average black woman: wider hips, rounded backside, etc. I could not take it anymore. I finally contributed to the posts. I informed anyone who would listen, that Mattel, the manufacturer of Barbie, like any brand worth their salt; would not be adjusting their brand for just anyone or anything.
Imagine Coca Cola or Pepsi adjusting their brand colors whenever they felt like it, or for every special event. They may add stars and stripes for Independence Day, but if they changed their brand swirly logo, who would they be? How would we recognize them? I am happy Mattel highlighted and shone the spotlight on Ms. DuVernay. I am sure she does not take it lightly that she has paved the path for many young girls to grow up and become movie producers and directors. But I am sure she knows the importance of branding.
Now after having said all of that, Mattel has made some changes! They have created Curvy Barbie! This is a great example of a company (Mattel) maintaining their brand (Barbie) while remaining relevant. Mattel gets it. And because they do, they will survive well into the 21st Century thank you very much! You had better believe they thought about this step. Thankfully they made the right decision. Thankfully they employ people whose ears are set to hear what the consumer wants. Amazing right?
10) Who is your
target market? Who is your message or product geared to?
9) Research the
habits of your target market. When are they online, when are they not
online? How old are they? Where do they live? What is their marital status, how many children do
they have, does this matter to your business, the product you are selling?
8) Know your niche in
the market. It’s good to know your
market, know their demographics; but you are not the only individual or business
in that space. What do you bring to the
table that would be different than other businesses in your niche market?
7) Font. Yes, it
sounds nit picky, but even something as simple as the wrong font can turn off possible clients. If you are not sure, stick with simple and business-like, unless
you know your market well enough to know they would not mind Goudy stout on every page of your
website! And of course what type of font you use depends on the medium
in which you use it. For example, you may not get away with Goudy stout on every page of your
website, but you may get away with it on your business cards.
6) Patience. Building your brand, learning
your market, and realizing success in your business, takes patience, and
passion. Most people have enough passion
inside them for their product. But they
may not exercise enough patience. Patience is key!
5) Know your
strengths…and your weaknesses. I am going to spend some extra words on this
point because I believe this is very important! You cannot do it all, you
will become a ‘jack of all trades, and a master of none.’ Some people agree
with this quote, some do not. And I
believe in this age of technology and DIY—do it yourself programs, for building
just about anything; many people can become proficient at several different
things. But in my humble opinion, there
is a difference between proficiency and mastery. You can become proficient at writing code as
you DIY your business website, but the site will look proficient. Believe me, when you are just starting
out, money will be tight. In fact, money
will be tight for quite some time. But
before you assume that every web builder charges thousands of dollars to build
a beautiful site, do some research. Ask
people whose sites you like, who built their site. Ask the builder if they are willing to work
on the cost with you, if you think they are charging too much. This goes for every aspect of your
business. Remember, this is your
passion. No one else’s. No one else is
going to ask the tough questions, go to bat for your business, feel slightly
embarrassed about your lack of knowledge, and willing to always be on a
learning curve. Do what you can with
what you have. If you have a not so nice
site, that’s fine. But do not have a not
so nice site because you did not ask around.
4) Track your
progress, aka metrics.
I never thought
I would care about metrics because they were the bane of my existence when I worked in Corporate America. It was hard for me to treat human beings
like numbers. Now that I am working for
myself, I use metrics to help direct me to what is working or not working for my
business. Should I continue to purchase advertisement
space in a certain media space if I am not getting any leads or responses from
that space? How many chances should I give that media space? I am talking about media spaces such as print
advertising, social media advertising, and word of mouth (which in my opinion
is the strongest form of advertising), just to name a few. You have to decide when one of these types of
advertising mediums is not working for your business, but remember to give each
3) Know your
brand…inside and out! You have
probably heard this before, but what is your elevator speech? Do you have it memorized and ready to go at
the drop of a hat? Many times, most times, you only get one chance to make a good
first impression! I will not question your passion for your business. And I know it is not good to assume, but I
have to assume you are passionate about your brand, your business. If you were not passionate about your
business, you would not be out on a limb working well past midnight to build your company! If someone asks
you what your business, your book, your message is about, you should be able to
rattle it off in 20 seconds! You should know that 20 second speech so well you
can say it in your sleep. You should also know how it can pertain to ANYONE you
are speaking to. I will let you think about that.
2) Be prepared. Everyone has their personal pet peeves. I have a few, well several. OK, wait, this is
not about me. Long before I obtained my masters in management with a
concentration in marketing, this one issue bothered me. When I ask someone for their business card
and their response is, ‘I just ran out of business cards’. Sorry, I know it’s not good to judge, but I
just lost a percentage of confidence in your message, your brand, and your
business. No business person should ever
run out of business cards. They are just
too inexpensive, no matter how tight your budget might be. If you are worried about them not being as
cool, classy, or cute as the next person’s, you are worrying about the wrong
things. However, things do happen, and if you did run out of business cards,
you should have pen and paper on you at all times. Another pet peeve. You are running a
business, but you do not have one pen on your person. I will tell you what is going through my mind
at this point: ‘amateur’. A little harsh?
Maybe, but I am trying to help you. Most
people just will not tell you these things.
Get the best business cards you can afford. If they are not thick and
expensive looking, make up for that with some nice graphics. Graphics by the way that you can create on
your own. As your business grows, and
your budget allows, get some nicer cards. Let your cards grow and evolve with
you and your business. Which leads to my
1) Change. Do not be afraid to change. As I mentioned in the point above, let your
business cards grow and evolve. Well, it
is the same concept for the rest of your business, for every aspect of your
business. Your message and your brand are
the back bone of your business. Everything else that revolves around your
brand should evolve. Your business
cards, marketing packages etc., should become nicer and more streamlined as
you grow. Do not allow yourself to
remain stagnant. You want to continue to
be relevant. You should remain
relevant without changing your backbone, your foundation.
Well, there are certainly more than 10 marketing tips to get
your brand and your message out to the masses.
These are the 10 I believe are important especially as you start your
business. You know, I really enjoyed my
marketing classes. I learned so much
about the psychology of people and the importance of branding. I also realized the importance of remaining
relevant. I could not believe the
elementary mistakes some of the largest companies in our country have made over
the years, I believe out of sheer stubbornness.
Where is K Mart today? How is
Sears doing? Why is JC Penney struggling
off and on? I find it difficult to
believe such large corporations did not have a team of people who were employed solely to keep their ears to the ground, to make sure the company remained relevant at all times. These
companies are just a few examples of what happens when you do not remain
relevant and do not market properly.
If you are a starter company, I hope these 10 pointers were informative and helpful. If you have
been around for some time, I hope it was a great reminder. Either way, I hope this information will
encourage you to continue learning all you can about marketing your business, and growing your
I love to sing. My family loves music. My mother sang soprano and tenor in the church choir for many years. My maternal grandfather played banjo so well he was in several competitions. Although he has gone to Heaven, I can still hear his music in my head. Most of my uncles, my brother, my oldest nephew, and one or two of my aunts, play guitar. Music, singing, runs in our veins.
I love art. I could spend a whole week in any museum. To me, art represents the history, another thing I love, of the people whose drawings, prints, pottery, and clothing I am viewing. I love history because I love to hear where people came from, what their family name means, how they arrived at today. I love to hear the elderly talk about their lives, there is so much wisdom and so much to learn from their experiences.
My element however, is writing. I have been writing since age 11. When I write I get lost in time and in the subject on which I am writing. As I sit here writing this blog, I have two articles and a school paper, all with deadlines on which I am working; not to mention the two books I have been asking God to provide the time for me to work on. Most people would find the thought of all of this writing overwhelming. But the fact is when you are in your element, what others may find difficult you will find easy.
What is your element? Are you doing it or are you making excuses? Your element may not make you money, at least not in the beginning. I would venture to say it is something you can do outside of work. So no, you do not have to give up your job to ‘do’ your element.
Another way to view element is to see it as the reason you are on this earth. Many of us work day jobs but there is this one thing we love to do, not a hobby, but our element; that not only helps us but helps others. Your element could be that of being a good parent, a tutor, assisting special needs people, etc. If you do not know what your element is, ask God to tell you. I promise when you realize your element and start working on it, you will realize a new sense of fulfillment. You will realize your reason for being here.