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Asking for magic without leaving the comfort zone would be like handing Picasso a single bucket of grey paint and expecting a masterpiece. 

It’s an overused statement, but magic does NOT happen inside your comfort zone.

Nearly every day, clients and prospects bring up examples of groundbreaking ideas. Things they’ve seen in case studies or heard about, brilliant work that made a difference. Then they proceed to explain that they want something just as groundbreaking, something that will disrupt the market, something that will break through the clutter…BUT, they want to do this without making any changes, without breaking new ground, without learning new tricks, without taking some chances, without being the bad-ass decision-maker they’re trying to emulate.

Asking for magic without leaving the comfort zone would be like handing Picasso a single bucket of grey paint and expecting a masterpiece.

If you’re wanting to disrupt your market, be a market-leader. Today is the day to roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel, and break new ground.

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Millennial with a mobile phone doesn’t necessarily equate to social media marketer

You’ve worked for years on your brand. You’ve carefully crafted a look and feel for your company. You have that elevator speech down to an actual fucking art, you can make someone want to hand you money if you have 3 minutes alone with them.

Things have changed in the past few years. Now it appears that every business has to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if they want reach consumers. You don’t want to spend time every day trying to monitor online activities and posting narcissistic images, but you have several staff members or family members or family members of staff members that seem to love to use social media. These odd acquaintances have 1000s of followers and can talk all day long about social media and absolutely love to post pictures of their hair and the food they just ate. It seems natural to hand social media activities over to these little online zombies and let them use these ‘skills’ to build your brand and keep you in front of the public eye.

I see this happen almost daily. Brands handed over to people without backgrounds and education and experience in branding. Suddenly the online brands look very different than the brand that has been carefully crafted. The look and feel of your company that exists online would have made you cringe a few years ago. Logos are suddenly pink because it was more visible on the image that was stolen via a Google image search. Likes are counted as important when they have nothing to do with influence – quite often, the type of people that like the new online presence are not the least bit like your actual demographic, they just find the headline funny and notice that one of their ‘friends’ liked the post.

If your online branding is in the hands of someone that doesn’t handle branding for a living, take a look at it. Scour through every post with a new eye. Is this really how you want to be seen? Do the posts fit the carefully crafted messages you are putting forth elsewhere? You’ve been warned, your brand is crumbling in front of your eyes.

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Is it time to rebrand your business? Or yourself?

Whether it’s your business or your personal brand, there comes a time that rebranding is necessary. An outdated or incorrect brand perpetuates confusion about your actual services and expertise, it also prevents people from knowing just who you really are.
Sometimes we don’t recognize how outdated our brands are, so take a few moments to ask yourself these questions.
  1. Are you still strutting around in a Members Only jacket or brightly colored leg warmers and jelly shoes?
  2. Does your logo use the Atari font?
  3. Was your brand developed as a specific offering, but you now offer much more?
  4. Are you embarrassed to show your logo?
  5. Has your target audience shifted since you originally created your brand?
  6. Does your logo or personal style simply ‘look’ old?
  7. Do your customers have a different perception about who you are and what you do than you want them to have?
If you answered yes to anything above, it’s time to consider rebranding. Of course you don’t want to throw out the equity you’ve developed in your current brand, but you can transition to a new and shiny you, one that’s ready for 2016 and beyond, not just 1988.
Step back and take a look at everything that involves your company and/or personal brand. Look at the print pieces, the logo, the web site, the signage, your wardrobe (do you really need those parachute pants?), the decor in your business. If all the pieces don’t put forth the image you want to convey, don’t be afraid to fix it.
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Play the Game, Change the Rules

Each day you get up, you have to play the game. Work has to be done, there are certain tasks that must be completed. However, you don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done. If you want to succeed, be disruptive. Play the game, but change the rules.

Take a look at your routine today. Why are you doing things the way you do? Have you thought about doing them differently? Look at your marketing and public relations budgets and highlight anything that’s just there because it always has been, I guarantee you there is a better way to allocate those funds. In most cases, I find there is a way to save money while shaking up the system and getting better results.

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We Never Go Out of Style

James Dean, picnics, whiskey, red lipstick…some things never go out of style. They may not be the current trend, but they’ll always be there in the background.

There are also those things that simply don’t have the staying power. Cupcake stores, Duck Dynasty, Gangham Style, Crocs, Honey Boo Boo…they may have moments of extreme popularity, but they die out over time.

You have to stay on top of trends, and you have to adjust communications to fit the fickle nature of the world we live in. You don’t, however, have to be a brand that will pass like just another fad. Always be cognizant of your positioning, and unless you’re simply trying to make a quick buck, be a brand that never goes out of style.

 

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Don’t You Forget About Me

Be memorable.

Whatever you do, whatever service you provide or product you create, you have to be memorable.

Maybe you’re memorable for being the absolute best, maybe it’s because you’re a square peg that fits into a round hole, or maybe you’re like me and you make up for your shortcomings with loud clothes and tattoos…however you do it, you have to stand out.

Each day I work with  people that offer perfectly suitable products/services, and there’s often absolutely nothing memorable about them or the service. Providing quality simply isn’t enough in today’s world of constant input and competition. You have to be memorable.

Kick back with Simple Minds and enjoy ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ a few times. Think about your brand. Do what has to be done to make sure that you stand out.

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Create Coincidences

I always apply my favorite quotes to work, that’s what makes them resonate so well for me. My favorite television quote of all time is from Fox Mulder on The X-Files. “If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?”

Very often, budget is better spent bypassing traditional media and by putting your product or service directly in the path of those you wish to reach. Get in front of people, be in front of them at the time they decide they need you, make that coincidence happen.

How do you do that? Get creative, be clever, have a plan, and do things differently. Make the best use of grassroots marketing and event tie-ins, pitch the media with a unique twist to be included in stories not directly related to promoting your product or service, don’t push your services on anyone but be in front of them when they need you.

Making coincidences happen may not always be the easiest route to follow, but it can be very effective. It’s also more cost-effective to cleverly find your audience than to try to beat them into submission with TV and radio and Google Ads.

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I Make Stuff Up, but NOT all Marketers are Liars

Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing. The lines blur at times, it’s hard to distinguish between them some days. Luckily, no matter what the task of the day is, I Make Stuff Up.

However, contrary to Seth Godin’s book title, not all Marketers are liars.

At no time do I fabricate lies on behalf of anyone. I do, however, look for creative ways to reach audiences with a story. I look for new ways to share stories. I make up creative ways of reaching people. I make up events that didn’t exist so that clients have a fun way to reach intended publics and everyone has a great time doing it.

Hell yes, I make stuff up. However, I don’t lie on behalf of clients to sell products or services. Not only would I not do this, no client I have would want me to.

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Happy F’ing Black Friday

This one is a few years old, but will still provide a chuckle to those that haven’t seen it. Those awesome Japanese folks opted to have one incredible sale. A sale so good, what else would you possibly call it?

This brings up a fairly important thought, be careful with the message that you’re sending this time of year. Make sure that all of those holiday ads and last-minute promotions stay true to your overall branding strategy. If you’re a high-end retailer, don’t hurriedly cobble together holiday promotions that look like they’re tied to an entirely different company. BE TRUE TO YOUR BRAND.

Along the same lines, which would apply to the image associated with this post, if you’re known for having really fuckin’ good deals. Don’t be shy in telling people.

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It Ain’t Rocket Surgery: 7 Basic Steps to Marketing Success

Odds are, you’re great at something.

Marketing, however, may not be your comfort zone. Nearly every day I speak with some of the best hair dressers and salon owners in the world, but they don’t always know how to let the rest of the world know just how good they truly are.

Don’t let marketing scare you, it ain’t rocket surgery!

If you have no marketing plan, follow these 7 simples steps to get yourself moving in the right direction. This isn’t the answer to all your problems, but it can start clearing the path.

1. Make a plan. It doesn’t have to be a fancy plan, but you can’t move forward unless you know where you’re going. Write down some basic goals and some of the basic steps to help you reach those goals.

2. Make a budget. It’s easy to spend too much, and it’s easy to spend too little. Make a budget so that you don’t lose sight of how much (or how little) you’re investing into growing your brand.

3. Make sure your social media activities sites are active, and representing your salon the way you want them to.

4. Be engaged in the community by supporting local causes that can also draw attention to your salon, look for a win-win situation.

5. Befriend the media. Local media is your friend, and they need content. Communicate with them regularly about trends in the industry and your community involvement. Offer to show the new seasonal hair-styles for the morning news.

6. Service your current clients before worrying about getting new clients. Make sure you are doing all you can for those that already love you. Reach out to them, treat them like you did the first time they walked through the door, and get them back in the door more often. These are the clients that pay the light bills and keep the salon open.

7. Plan the holidays in advance. Look at the calendar, there’s always a holiday around the corner. Plan your specials and your promotions in advance so that you can pre-promote them instead of scurrying last-minute to promote gift ideas. Also, pre-plan to extend hours for the holidays, don’t leave anyone looking for someone to make them beautiful.

Of course there are many more simple ideas, and many more complex ideas to grow your business. But if you don’t have each of these covered, be sure to focus before working on other projects. Cover the basics before reaching for more.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SALON TODAY.