It’s happened to just about everyone. One day you look at your company’s website, promotional materials or business cards and think, “I’m so tired of the way our logo looks. We need something new.” But stop for a moment: Are you the only one who’s tired of it? Does it still represent your company well? Does it still resonate with your clients?
PPB asked Cliff Quicksell, Jr., MAS, of Cliff Quicksell & Associates for his best advice on when and how to re-brand as well as tips on reaching existing customers and finding new business. Quicksell has been actively involved as a supplier, distributor, speaker and coach in the promotional products industry for the past 25 years, and he has won the prestigious PPAI Pyramid Award, recognizing creativity in promotions, for 14 consecutive years.
What are some tips for re-branding my business?
First, ask yourself, “Why?” Is there a reason you’re considering re-branding? For instance, your logo, colors, message and methodologies could be considered old school and, therefore, a change might be needed. Maybe you’ve had your identity a long time and just want a change. Before you go to the time and expense, I advise you to ask your clients. Years ago, I went through the re-branding process because I believed my logo might be turning off some potential customers—and I was right. The name of my firm was Promotivations Advertising, and the colors were burgundy and black. The font I used for Promotivations was Ariel Bold, and the name was printed in black—a very masculine look. I queried all of my clients and, amazingly, found that 97 percent of my female clients found it unappealing. In fact, some said it was a turnoff. Wow! Time to re-brand. Oftentimes we go with what we like and forget about the audience we’re serving (our prospects and clients). It’s important to take their thoughts and ideas into consideration.
My company has been around for several decades. Should I advertise our longevity? Do people care how long we’ve been in business?
There is something to be said about longevity; it speaks to your dedication, commitment and fortitude. Marketing and advertising your longevity is an important factor. As long as your company’s look, methodologies, procedures and deliverables are with the times, then it’s good. In contrast, if your company’s way of doing things is old school, you may want to rethink promoting your longevity. Keep in mind that today’s buyers are tech-savvy, smart, quick to change and not willing to revert to old-fashioned ways of doing things. If you’re with the times, go for it. If not, perhaps now is the time to reinvent your company before boasting about its longevity.
Reach Out To Clients
As a small-business owner, I have a limited budget. What are some ways I can show client appreciation?
One thing I did was create an anniversary program. Instead of sending out traditional Christmas cards, I sent out a Happy Anniversary card and gift. We determined clients’ anniversaries based on when they became customers. We then based the gift level on the amount of sales we did with each client the previous year. Inevitably, when clients received the card and gift, they asked what it was all about (a great talking point), and we explained that on this date we began our relationship and wanted to recognize them and thank them for their business and loyalty. In several cases, clients adopted the same program for their businesses. We kept up with the program by plotting a calendar a year in advance, and we were methodical about adding to it. This process never failed us, and the program created a great touch point and built lasting relationships.
I’m considering developing an e-newsletter on branding and sending it to my clients. Is this something clients would appreciate, and how do I make it most useful to them?
Like any marketing effort, it must be relevant to your audience. Before embarking on this project, I advise you to send a questionnaire to your client base and ask if they would like a newsletter. These days, clients are busy and don’t have a lot of time for reading. Alternatively, I have embraced a new technology whereby I send video e-mail newsletters to clients, and the response (click-through rate) has been remarkable. It’s quick, personable and relevant, and I have received numerous accolades for this new technique.
Find New Business
I sell programs to schools, but I want to branch out and start working with business clients. I’ve developed a list of potential businesses to pitch. Should I cold call them? Send a mailer?
Use creative direct marketing! I was recently at a conference for my largest client, and nearly 200 salespeople were in attendance. We had a small panel of end buyers (a cross section of businesspeople) who were fielding questions from the audience. The moderator collectively asked the question: “When it comes to getting a foot in the door and grabbing your attention, what works best: sending a catalog, calling or e-mailing?” Interestingly enough, every panelist said, “We throw the catalogs in the trash. We rarely, if ever, return phone calls and never answer unsolicited e-mails.” Baffled, the moderator asked, “So what works?” They all responded: “Do something innovative and creative that will get my attention, and you’ll have a much better chance of gaining my business.”
Last year, I developed a simple direct-marketing piece for this same company. To date, we have sent nearly 3,500 pieces with an average door-opening rate of 71.5 percent. When I owned my promotional marketing firm, we did many of these types of campaigns, and they got noticed, opened doors of opportunity and created the needed point of differentiation that we all need to move forward in business today. So remember: Be creative with your marketing.
How important are referrals from current clients, and how do I get them and use them most effectively?
Referrals are incredible because they are endorsements. If the source is credible, it’s even better. These referrals can be posted on your blog (hopefully you’re blogging) and website. In every case, make sure you have the individual’s permission to use the endorsement.
How do you get a referral? Ask! If clients want to give me a referral early on, I always make it a point to ask them to hold off until I have finished their project. I want clients to feel good about giving me their endorsement. This has served me well during my tenure as a direct marketer.
Obviously, once you have the referral go for it, especially if clients have gone out of their way and called on your behalf. It’s a slap in the face if you don’t follow up. I have one source that used to refer out at least 10 times a week, but the follow-up from this company was terrible. I stopped referring because it fairs badly on my company name.
Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.
Got A Question?
Cliff Quicksell, MAS, is eager to answer your questions about sales or marketing. Send them to email@example.com and watch future issues for his answers.
A Cliff Quicksell Pyramid-Winning Idea Puts The Squeeze On New Business
To introduce a new seminar series to a select group of 75 meeting planners and show-planning organizers with two specific goals: Get a 25-percent appointment rate (19 new appointments) and, of those 19 new appointments, get a 20-percent close rate (four new speaking engagements).
A custom orange-juice container (completely mocked from a real orange-juice container) was designed to highlight a new seminar series named: “Stimulating Your Creative Juices Seminars.” The multiple panels of the container served as a message board to drive various messages. The graphics were designed to have a fresh, bright color so that when it landed on the client’s desk it would have maximum impact.
Orange-scented air fresheners were hot-glued on the inside of the piece so that when the recipient opened it, the scent of oranges filled the air. A themed pen, bounce-back reply card, greeting letter and a custom CD were placed inside of the package, shrink-wrapped in clear film and mailed via USPS in blocks of five groupings every two days.
Results Of the 75 clients targeted, 69 appointments (92 percent) were achieved. Of those, 12 speaking contracts were secured. A bonus was that the campaign also netted 18 new consulting contracts for the client, too.