Author Archives: Chuck Sink

Refresh Your Brand Commitment Now

You have a beacon that helps provide sound direction for everything good that you do. Your company’s guiding principles stem from this guiding light.

You have the choice to trust your God-given light and remain true to it or let cultural and societal winds blow your business practices around in their chaotic and whimsical directions.

Jeffrey Immelt or Elon Musk?

Think about the completely different leadership styles of Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO who stepped down from the floundering behemoth General Electric, and Elon Musk, the ever-optimistic dreamer who never runs out of blue sky opportunities. Mr. Immelt ran GE according to conventional power models, i.e., cozy up to establishment power. Mr. Musk has his vision and sticks to it no matter what, and hasn’t looked back. His firms are literally skyrocketing regardless of his many critics and conventional wisdom!

What does your brand stand for? Is your brand strategy foundational and integral or is it temporary and easily manipulated? Will your brand promise and core message be firm and familiar or soft and unrecognizable after the next wave of political, cultural and economic disruption?

Run your own business!

I’m seeing recently thriving businesses die unnecessarily of fear and dependency. I’ve witnessed great local brands let politically charged narratives kill them because the owners focused their attention on daily media reports instead of their customers. I’ve seen other businesses in the same industry and market thriving and growing at the same time as they say, “we’re not going anywhere. Watch this!”

Is your brand on solid ground? Do you need to pour some concrete and drive in some pilings so it has a foundation you can stand on no matter what comes along next?

What do you stand for anyway?

Optimize Your Information…

… So Your Audience Will Take Action!

Marketing is all about message optimization because your content is always unfinished. So is everyone else’s. Some content is better than others, and some executions are really great. Your goal isn’t to make your communications perfect but to keep improving them regularly. This gets easier when you have some guidance.

Building Suspense

One of the most common challenges for novice content writers is ordering sentences and paragraphs properly so the information keeps building rather than backtracking and covering the bare spots. When the writer thinks ahead, anxious to get the main point out there, he or she attempts to enhance the message with subsequent details and examples after revealing the main attraction. This makes sense at first but has an anticlimactic effect. The reader may end up bored or confused rather than informed and engaged.

First Things First

Good writers are engineers. They must understand foundations and successive building blocks needed to support a finished edifice for the edification of their audience. They begin by acknowledging their audience as students and their role as the teacher (and builder of ideas). They get to work laying the groundwork that entices the reader to witness the whole edifice take shape and have meaning. They put themselves in the novice’s shoes and know the right path to understanding.

Your Two Choices

The “make or buy decision” comes up all the time. You can “save money” by the do-it-yourself method (while forgoing money-earning time). You can handle the tedious, arduous and sometimes frustrating work of a trained professional, or you can just hire a pro and let him or her have at it while you get important (and profitable) tasks accomplished. When you tell a real pro to “have at it” they take your challenge seriously. Pros aim to please.

Don’t you just love taking possession of a purchase that meets or exceeds your expectations? In my industry, for example, a great new article, website design or advertisement is truly thrilling when first seen by the client and will tend to have a similar impact on it’s intended target audience, especially if they happen to be earnestly shopping different brands.

How optimal are your communications?

You and I both know they’re not perfect. How much better must they be right now in order to reach your marketing goals? Is there one communications area you can focus on that will raise your company’s image in the market? Which building blocks of relevant meaning need to be logically arranged for your market’s benefit?

Remember that life is all about continuously getting better as nobody can attain perfection. But think about another word – optimal. Optimal essentially means the best you can get from what’s available. So get to work on your message optimization. Your audience wants to understand exactly where you’re going. Lead them logically and they will at least be curious. Some will follow your lead, and to those new customers, your information is successfully optimized.

Your Best Marketing Strategy Calls Your Own Flock

“I know I’ll find you somewhere… somewhere you can hear my voice…” While this may sound like a 1988 Moody Blues song, it’s really a promise and a commitment you can make to your market. As the market responds, your services provide more value to customers as your business becomes more profitable.

Meet Tim, Dan, Cheryl, Jack, Dianne, Josh, and Cam

The Most Vital Branding Exercise

You might be asking, who are those people and why should I know them? They’re the folks who personify your best clients – those whose working styles and needs align with your company culture and value proposition. These names happen to be the clients who have influenced how we operate, deliver value and communicate in the market. Just as importantly, they know us, prefer our approach and collaborate in their own marketing success.

Can you automatically rattle off the first names of your best customers? If so, there’s where you’ll find your brand differentiation and value proposition.

Client Differentiation Drives Branding Value

We talk about brand differentiation in marketing. What differentiates your offerings positively over your competition? Try some reverse engineering. There’s a reverse kind of differentiation that’s so crucially important to discovering your own and growing your business. It’s client differentiation.

You need to know the common persona of customers you can best serve and who appreciate your business style. They will choose your company for the very reasons that you think they should.

As you differentiate your clients from “the masses,” you’ll better understand whom you are really serving and you should tailor your messages only to them. Resist the temptation to appeal to the broadest possible market for your generic product/service because you’ll only add more noise in the cluttered, me-too world of commercial media. Few will notice. But if you call out to specific people (if not by name, then by interest and passion), they’ll hear the message as it resonates and engages them out of the crowd. They call you, email you or message you, hoping to reach a deal with you.

The Consistency Payoff

Be consistent with messages that focus only on your differentiated and distinguished target audience. You are of most value to your narrowly defined target market and you’ll find them more enjoyable to work with. Your relationships are mutually profitable. Working with them is more gratifying and often fun.

Simplicity is the Key to eCommerce Success

Expand Your Market and Grow with eCommerce

My colleague Jon Parker and I recently presented a 1-hour Webinar to members and guests of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce on how to jump into eCommerce. Moderator Emily Marsh did a superb job hosting the virtual event. You can watch the entire Webinar in the recording below.

We’re happy to summarize a few basics if you don’t have 45 minutes + to watch the whole video. Let’s start with the general theme of the event: Keep it simple!

eCommerce by the Bullet Points

If you and your business are brand new to eCommerce, here are some guidelines to start out successfully.

  • Definition: Commercial transactions conducted electronically on the internet.
  • Why eCommerce? Because you need to conduct business with customers where they are now – online.
  • Your eCommerce Goals: More revenue, new customer segments, accelerate growth, business transformation? Let your goals guide your strategy.
  • Are set up and maintenance costs expensive? Expect some additional fees above what a static informational site costs. Keeping your offers simple and using readily available and compatible platforms keep costs way down.
  • Platforms and Payment Processing: With myriad options for eCommerce platforms and payment processing integrations, it’s generally best to stick with the popular, proven, most recommended platforms. Look at the reviews or talk with experienced consultants like us.
  • How can you assure success? Simplicity has served salespeople and merchants since money was invented. The attempt to offer everyone in the world everything your company does has killed more marketing campaigns than can be counted. Keep it simple!
  • Limit the scope of your offering when you launch. Start with your best sellers. Maybe just one product/service. Limiting choices, especially in the beginning, makes it mentally easier for customers to buy.
  • Build out product categories and options gradually. Gain experience, data and revenue traction with your best sellers to help fuel your online store’s expansion and growth.
  • Use premium photography and video. Be honest! Do your pictures pass your own quality test as a consumer yourself? Would you buy your own product based on your own pictures and video representations? INVEST IN YOUR BRAND – these are valuable and reusable assets!
  • It’s all about the User Experience! Simple design, attractive merchandising, limited options and easy transaction processes are the experiences online consumers want. And that makes your job simpler!
  • Think through the logistics. Plan for success! When the orders come in, are you ready to fulfill each one to every customer’s satisfaction? Inventory, size, weight, packaging, shipper, postage/freight calculations, shipping labels, accounting or ERP integration…? If a service, how will you schedule sessions or book appointments?
  • How will customers find your online store? eCommerce requires a sufficient volume of targeted traffic or leads that will buy, to be profitable. Be sure to implement a prelaunch and ongoing lead generation/marketing campaign.
  • Lead Generation – eCommerce Synergy:  A “grand opening” with no customers can be a major disappointment. Make sure to have a lead generation strategy in place or already running by the time you launch. Use strategic paid advertising and email marketing to boost your SEO efforts to gain traffic. Test different offers and dial in your campaigns as you go.

Now, If you have finally decided to go eCommerce, I offer you the pièce de résistance! Contact us here for your free eCommerce Planning Workbook, compliments of Chuck Sink Link and Recharged Solutions. Just type “eCommerce Workbook” in the Message section.

When is it okay to get personal in business?

Now is the Time!

Learn a valuable sales lesson during the pandemic outbreak. Get to know every client or customer on a personal level. It’s amazing what opportunities you may find for new business. And there’s the rub. “New business” is not synonymous with “new customer.” I was taught this by business owners pretty early in my selling career but I’ll admit not learning it very well until I became a business owner.

“Some Web Guy”

A couple of our clients paused services or cut marketing costs at the early stage of the business shutdown. Thankfully, some new projects have rolled in and business has remained steady thanks primarily to current clients expanding their needs. In particular, I got to know one of them for the first time on a personal level, Chief to Chief.

As if by accident, this longtime client, after years of delegating his firm’s marketing to a manager, found out what we really do. In his mind “Chuck Sink Link” was a cost of doing business – just “some web guy” or “someone who hosts our website.” This client (the CEO, not the manager point-of-contact) got on the phone with me after a potential dispute and suddenly the relationship has taken off, and so has new business for both of us!

We finally know each other, and much better!

The client mentioned is a leading netting manufacturer in Connecticut who almost had to furlough many of his employees indefinitely because of a tremendous impact on two of their top markets – Amusements and Construction. He and his engineers turned on a dime to start producing protective masks while netting work is slow. Their employees are already skilled in various stitching techniques and are now making excellent quality, washable & reusable masks for the public.

Through our very first live conversation, the client discovered that we do scalable eCommerce websites, digital advertising and social media marketing. He then treated us like a business partner instead of “the web guy” and we’ve since built an eCommerce website together that generated about $50,000 in mask sales the first two days, resulting in hundreds of donated masks to organizations in need like homeless shelters, hospitals, first responders and nursing homes. The national advertising campaign is in the works and the site can handle any volume of traffic. The valued employees are at work, earning paychecks.

The Deeper Conversations

I’ve had deep discussions with several other clients during this apparent “reset” in the economy and our mutual support has been fortified. Together we are keeping busier than ever while being deeply concerned about the companies we know of that need to make difficult decisions. The wisdom and compassion we have shared with each other are among the intangible values I can’t put a price on and wouldn’t do without.

Hopefully, we’ll remember the really important aspects of work relationships as so many of us are forced physically apart for a while longer. It’s a great time for discovering who your suppliers and customers really are and how you can help make each other better at what you both do.

That Marketing Thing – It’s now or never!

Speak Louder With Your Actions

Client – Pucuda Leading Edge

Whatever your business sector, the current pandemic slowdown is affecting you profoundly. It might be good for your company or it might be devastating but one thing is certain; you are feeling massive change underfoot and you know you must adapt.

I’m seeing some small businesses focus their energy on “cutting loss” and applying for government assistance or SBA disaster loans while some are converting their factories to make much-needed PPE for the public. Others are nurturing their key relationships and rebuilding their internal business infrastructures.

Rebuild Your Marketing Infrastructure

My clients are amazing. Most of them are stepping up their communication efforts right now, some of them big time! They have the foresight to position their businesses to be of indispensable service in their own communities immediately, and also to lead their industries during the inevitable recovery.

Image – catholicmedicalcenter.org

For example, a safety netting manufacturer in CT converted part of their factory floor to a mask production facility to make masks available for the public. Another client, a construction firm, was the first to answer the call from NH hospitals to his industry for N95 masks, donating his company’s entire stock of 200 masks to the medical team at Catholic Medical Center. This same client is working tirelessly right now on branding, marketing, PR, helping to write trade policy, and nurturing relationships with vendors, contractors, clients and business partners.

I have several other inspiring client stories but this post could get too lengthy. It’s likely that I’ll write about them in the near future.

What’s Happening Here at Home

Personally, I’ve never been busier in my life! But even though the current work is urgent and a bit stressful, I’m still using this passing crisis to reposition my business as the premium design and digital communication firm in our market with the resources and capability to scale! We’re currently in the process of building out my website’s service offerings and improving both the user experience (UX) and SEO. I even upgraded my website maintenance plan so my developer will make changes and improvements for me on-demand. This carpenter is building his house!

Most agree. Few actually do.

Client – SkiClinics.com

Remember that the best time to blow your horn is when the hall is quiet or your competition is distracted. Hmm… Here’s a thought:  People ordered to stay home or work from home are on their computers a lot. Guess where digital marketing reaches them?

Well, a past client got this message from one of my recent LinkedIn posts and decided it was time to promote his new online offerings in a big way, leading to an exciting new online marketing campaign. Check out the introductory newsletter. We’re helping to sell books and training sessions online. This new project has my juices flowing for a return to the good life we know is on the comeback!

Open for Business with Cleaner Vision

Bright Silver Linings in a Charcoal Sky

Overnight, it seems, all of us must adapt to sudden changes in social and business policies brought on by our friend the coronavirus. How will your company adapt to keep interacting personally with customers? For some, it seems like a bust and for others, it may only require a few adjustments. In the end, we’ll be fine and look back at this experience having gained new wisdom.

Businesses need to reach out to customers and recommend ways of working through the recently imposed social distance rules. For us, it’s to offer remote assistance and write clear messages that included proper tone, style and approach for each individual company, their market and industry. For those clients still accepting onsite meetings, we’re happy to do so according to their social distance and sanitation rules as well as our own.

Seize the Science!

For every action, there is an equal and corresponding reaction. Okay, there’s your science.

Have I lost some business? Yes. What I find amazing is how busy I’ve been in the last few days, working double shifts getting websites updated, e-blast messages out, articles written and social posts managed. A couple of new business projects came in last week and this week. My family and I are in good health and spirits. Praise God!

One of my very wise, and if I may, sage clients hit me between the eyes this week as we were discussing his calm and reassuring response. My first approach to this crisis, he said, “was terrible.” He’s right. I led with trepidation instead of a rational perspective and vision for the future.

We’re Solving This Now

Ignore political and news media-driven negativity completely.

It’s false!

Our country is uniting and mobilizing very well to save people’s lives medically while holding together the foundations of the economy that must support it all! Each day good news emerges out of this crisis. If staying home can refocus some of us toward our spiritual center and to more fervently seek God’s will, how awesome is that?

I’m seeing many examples of individuals offering unconditional support to neighbors and local small businesses. My own client dropped everything to rush a few hundred precious N95 masks to a regional hospital in desperate need of them, and his competition followed suit.

Need Help?

This is a big, generous country and every one of us is a resource for each other. We’ll be fine!

If you need help composing appropriate and relevant messages for your business during these times, free free to email back or contact me personally at 603-345-7223. Our telephones still work fine and we’re always glad to jump on a video chat.

The Story Behind Brand Storytelling

How Storytelling Works (Very Well!)

Storytelling is a lot more than a marketing buzzword. Stories have mind-attracting power and are like personal guides leading readers and listeners to the prize of knowledge, the satisfaction of curiosity and the fulfillment of desires. Marketers who effectively apply storytelling have real-life success stories of their own to tell.

Every Brand Tells a Story

According to the book, “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller, almost every customer success story consists of about 5 common elements:

  1. The main character (customer)
  2. A problem
  3. A hero, leader or guide (the brand)
  4. A plan to solve the problem (product/service offer)
  5. The call to action that if taken solves the problem and avoids failure (purchase and acquisition)

Let’s take a familiar brand example and narrate its success story.

It’s the year 2005. Lola, a book lover, is one who can spend hours in a bookstore. She has an uncommon reading list that’s difficult to fill and has shopped the same two bookstores in her city for years. When her book choices aren’t in stock, the stores do their best to special order them but some titles have been out of print for years and can be “impossible” to find. Lola becomes frustrated that she’s missing out on the wonderful reading adventures she knows are out there for her somewhere!

Lola has been hearing and seeing ads pop up all over the place about some company called “Amazon.” She’s aware they have something to do with books and CDs and then learns its a website that sells books & music and other stuff online. Out of curiosity, she logs on to a computer at the library and looks up Amazon on the internet. Lola quickly sees the website’s main call to action; you can search for your own titles and authors from around the world!

She types in the title of a cherished volume she’s been unable to find and up come 5 various copies of the book for sale in either new or used condition. Lola has never ordered online but that cherished book is right in front of her on the screen inviting her to buy it. She takes a small leap of faith and pulls out her credit card, trusting that the book will be delivered at a surprisingly fair price as promised. Within 3 days, Lola is curled up on her couch, 8 chapters into her new reading odyssey.

Here’s how this “Story Brand” breaks down.

  • Lola the book lover is the main character.
  • Her problem is not finding the books she wants.
  • A hero-leader in the form of Amazon advertising and its website offer a plan to solve the problem. “Maybe I can find the books I want without the bookstore’s limits.”
  • Then Lola answers the call to action – search for and find books on the Amazon website!

Conclusion: Mutual brand and customer success!

Would it be fair to say this specific brand story worked very well?

Every brand tells a story. If you can simplify yours and demonstrate happy endings as Amazon did decades ago, your marketing communications will be easier to implement and much more effective!

What’s your story? Who is the main character? Why and how are you the hero?

If you find writing your brand story to be a challenge, contact us for a no-cost branding and writing consultation. Phone calls are welcomed at (603) 345-7223.

Media channels don’t convert. Messages do!

Does your message convert suspects into prospects?

A “conversion” in marketing terms is any action a consumer does as a result of receiving your message. So if your message fails to generate conversions, your target audience may as well be you and your dog. And if your dog, like most, hasn’t the ability to make purchases, you’re out of business!

You could reach a thousand or a million members of your primary target audience and still fail to generate a single sale if your message isn’t clear and relevant. Your message must have value in it; a reward associated with taking a converting action like clicking a link, sending a text or picking up the phone. The value can be as little as satisfying a curiosity or as big as finding hidden treasure.

In sales, put the cart before the horse!

Who says a horse can’t be harnessed to push a cart full of goods instead of pull it? Before you spend too much money and time on developing the best media execution plan (the horse), make sure that the message delivered to your audience is deliciously enticing (the cart – full of perceived value). Push the cart yourself if you need to. It’s your message that converts people into believing they should “buy now, download or learn more.” Focus on what’s in the cart while you continually push, steer and course correct your trusted media workhorses.

What’s My Message?

Find out from every good customer what brought them to you. What first made them tune in and think, “I think this is the right fit?” What tipped the scale in your favor? What is it about your performance and delivery that keeps them with you? Do you enjoy doing your best work? Why?

The Media of Neighborhood

I was struck by the story of one business owner’s largest sale which catapulted him to “set-for-life” success. He received a call from the uncle of a teenage boy who used to wash his car. The kid happened to ask him what he did for work and the man took the time to engage the youth in a careful explanation of the exact nature of his business, even though he was running a bit late for an appointment. Thinking nothing of it, a few days later he got a call from the boy’s uncle who explained how his nephew described this man’s business as exactly the kind of service he had been searching for and couldn’t find until now. There was no media involved here, just a brief conversation with the car wash kid for the biggest sale ever!

Internalize Your Message to Externalize It

What about your company is truly world-class, i.e. best-in-class? Understand this deeply! Ours happens to be brand-directed content writing and creative production. Every sale I’ve made resulted from my message being understood by one person at a time. A few of my best clients are referrals from non-clients; people who read or heard my message and recommended me without knowing much about me or my background. They just liked what they heard and how it was presented, so they told someone.

Take the time to get your message straight and great! A great business message has the power to convert complete strangers into your best customers.

When ready, ramp up the horsepower!

When you have great messages that are proven to convert, by all means, develop a solid media plan to make a few good prospects aware of your value. And if some kid happens to be curious about your work, fully satisfy that curiosity and thank him for being interested.

Get a premium brand identity without “branding!”

A Faster, Better Approach to Branding

Startups build brand strategies into their business plans. Established companies review their brand strategy every few years and if needed, retool and rebrand to suit changing markets. It should be obvious that branding is an essential element in any successful business plan.

Some may think of branding as a time-consuming exercise and added cost on top of already expensive marketing programs. When talking about traditional branding strategies, they’re right!

Did you know…?

You can save time and money on branding while making your brand stronger at the same time.

Project-Integrated Branding

Branding is an effort that can be blended with a concrete initiative such as a new business card, brochure, ad campaign or website design. This makes sense because you can see the brand come alive in its first execution, even in the development phase.

Branding is included!

If your website designer happens to be a trained and highly experienced brand strategist, then maybe you could expect branding or rebranding to be included in your web design project. Your branding strategy can be naturally integrated into the process rather than extra work added on to the job. This happens to be one of our firm’s key new brand and logo designdifferentiators.

We designed a new brand concept concurrently with a website project for a Massachusetts retailer & distributor. By integrating this creative work, the client saved a ton of time and money while launching an entirely new, fresh and lively brand that’s growing and has become quite popular in the local market.

 

If your brand identity is drab or outdated, we will help you improve its look and feel as well as its relevancy in any project we touch.

Is It Time for Rebranding?

Do you own or manage a small business? Does it make sense to hire a branding agency when you can work with a senior brand strategist in the design and launch of a new marketing piece?

More Branding Success Examples

  • How about a refreshed brand identity without paying for an expensive branding strategy? This client just got one and loves it! Click to experience their brand powered on!
  • Another client never asked for a brand strategy but did indeed rebrand their company just by hiring us to design business cards, truck signage and a new website.
  • And for another client, a new website design project morphed their brand into a completely refreshed image and identity in all of their other marketing communications.
  • We transformed a CPA’s brand from “bookkeeper & tax preparer” to “trusted CPA and business advisor” with a new website. The client described her experience this way: “Thanks for coordinating the website. It is by far the best one I’ve ever had, and it sends the right message about what my business is all about.”

Does your business look, sound and feel the way you want it to? Want to feel great about your brand? Project-integrated branding might be ideal.

Redesign your website, brochure or ad for the price you would expect to pay and you will receive a professional brand strategy review and upgrade free.

Click to get started! Or, just call 603-345-7223 to talk with a senior brand strategist and design expert.