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IDiscover Journal

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For Small Business Owners and Leaders

MIND THE GAP

A while back I was working with a university client. I was conducting some brand-focused market research for them. The results told us that for many average citizens (a/k/a taxpayers) and alumni their brand represented some really good things – a welcoming environment, a great place for a family’s first college student, a pleasant, small-town atmosphere, etc. It also told us that their academic reputation was mediocre. There are a few programs in which they are top-notch, but all-in-all not a very strong academic school. I delivered this message to the university’s leadership and marketing department with the assumption that this really shouldn’t be big news. They should know what their reputation is. I mean, geez whiz, the rest of the world seems to. They didn’t seem shocked, but it certainly didn’t align with their marketing and recruitment process. The problem was that they were spending tons of time and money chasing lots of very gifted students. Very few ever even gave them serious consideration. One of my recommendations was for them to face up to reality. There are TONS of good students out there who would be a perfect fit at their school. Why not shift those resources to getting a solid group of those students? And they should also conduct a very targeted search for the best students for those programs in which the school excelled. Unless there was a vision and a strategy for greatly strengthening the overall academic side of the university (which there wasn’t), in my opinion that realignment would give them a better return on their investment.

Thinking of that client reminded me how important it is to truly understand your business’s strengths and emphasize those areas. Make sure your marketing and branding efforts reflect the reality of your organization. Guide your entire company from that perspective. Let me walk you through how you can go about doing this.

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THIS WEEK’S MUST READS

Well, I’m back from vacation. We had a great week in San Diego! I tried to keep up with some of my reading (and sharing some ideas and tips). Well, ok, I mixed that in with other fun stuff like the beach and the San Diego Zoo and La Jolla and…..

Anyway, here are some of the coolest things I read (and some ideas I shared) over the last week or so. Happy reading!

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BUILDING YOUR BRAND WITH A.L.T

Watch commercials. Do you ever wonder what so many of them get wrong or why don’t we like so many of the brands we come across on television? I do. I believe that most brands are focused way too much on trying to make you know that they exist and sort of like something about them; without thinking enough about how to make you like and trust them. Mass media is often considered a numbers game – get enough people to see my ad and enough will perhaps like it and a few of those might actually consider my product or service.

In my opinion there are several levels your brand goes though on its way to market trust and customer loyalty and advocacy: A-L-T or Awareness, Likability, and Trust. You need to build through each of these levels to create a brand that speaks to your specific target market and later becomes a trusted partner with your customer. Let’s dive a little deeper into each one.

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THIS WEEK’S MUST READS

Hey everyone! The family is on vacation in San Diego this week. We’ve been hanging out at the condo at Mission Beach since Saturday. Nice! But, as always, I like to share some of the great things I’ve read (and shared) for business leaders over the last week or so. So, here’s your weekly summary. Enjoy!

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CAN JUST RESPONDING REALLY BE A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE?

In the last few weeks I’ve emailed and/or left voice mails for five local businesses with questions, appointment requests, etc. Guess how many have responded? One. My impression of the others dropped dramatically. What message does that send? Customers and prospects are unimportant. Or simply that our company just can’t seem to do some basic “blocking and tackling”; something the average person seems to be able to do in their personal and professional lives. And I’ll just that bet you’ve had similar experiences. It got me to thinking: Can simply responding to a communication actually be a competitive advantage? Believe it or not, it just might be.

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THIS WEEK’S MUST READS

Hey all! I hope everyone had a great weekend. It was a long three-day Memorial Day weekend for those of us here in the US. Here’s this week’s roundup of must-read articles and tips for small businesses.

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6 WAYS YOUR SMALL BUSINESS CAN STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD

Small business can be a tough business. It’s hard to win against bigger competitors. It’shard to win against competitors with deeper pockets and maybe economies of scale.It’s hard to separate yourself from other scrappy local competitors. It’s tough to stand out. But there are ways. You can make it happen. The goal is a closer, deeper, more caring relationship. Let me share a few ways you can begin to set your business apart:

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THIS WEEK’S MUST READS

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. As always I like to kick off the week with a summary of some of my favorite small business and entrepreneurship article that I’ve come across the last few days. So, here’s this week’s summary:

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MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS ALSO MEANS MANAGING YOUR MONEY

As you well know when it comes to money, small businesses have a pretty small margin for error. It’s important to keep a close eye on your finances. But so many small business owners grew their businesses by being good at what they do…and that thing is not necessarily at accounting or finance. So what are the important things to keep an eye on? In this post I wanted to focus on just a few. So, here are some areas that a small business owner ALWAYS has to keep a sharp eye on.

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THIS WEEK’S MUST READS

Happy Monday everyone. I posted this on Sunday night – as my daughter and I are on yet another college visit Monday. It was Southern Methodist University (where I got my MBA) on Friday and Baylor University on Monday. But as always, I like to begin the week by summarizing the articles and ideas I’ve shared in recent days. I hope you enjoy them. Read on!

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