Category Archives: Powered By Creativity

Why 'Good Enough' is Never Good Enough

Good Enough Syndrome

Ahh yes, the ever-present ‘good enough syndrome’ as we like to call it. What exactly is it, and why should your business steer clear? We’re going to take on the subject head-first in this installment of ‘Powered By Creativity’.

Good Enough Syndrome

When people say “it’s good enough,” to us marketers it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Why? Because we see the potential in businesses and where they could be if they would ditch this attitude and begin settling for nothing less than excellence. When we all explore possibilities outside of what we’ve always done and strive for excellence – that’s when great things happen.

BRAND IDENTITY

Made up of every component your business has, from your name and logo to your tagline, “brand identity is how that business wants to be perceived by consumers,” (Investopedia). Just like how you decide to present yourself to the world in your day-to-day life, businesses must also step into their metaphorical closet and decide what they want to be perceived as by those who encounter them on a daily basis.

Here is where it can be extremely dangerous to come down with a case of the ‘good enoughs’. Compromising how your brand is represented to the world – whether it’s a poorly designed website that doesn’t work or a print ad that lacks a call to action – is a missed opportunity to connect and engage with potential customers.

While solidifying brand identity is no easy feat, it is essential to define who you are as a business and what you want people to identify with regarding your brand. Is your business more of the sleek suit and tie variety? Or perhaps a more fun, happy-go-lucky vibe? Pick a lane and stick to it, all the while ensuring your entire marketing strategy presents your unique identity to the world in a professional, well-thought-out manner.

CONSISTENCY

How do you ensure your brand is represented as it should be at all times? Consistency, consistency, consistency. Quality control is huge here – every single item, from your business card to your storefront sign, needs to exude the look and feel of your brand. Regardless of what material or medium it is, it needs to be made clear to any person who sees it that it’s your business – without making them think twice.

Consistency and quality control are essentials to a solid marketing strategy

We often see people develop the ‘good enough syndrome’ when it comes to consistency. Perhaps you are on a tight deadline and choose to go with the “free” graphic design services that tabloid offered you, even though they don’t know anything about your brand (learn why this service is never actually “free”). Or maybe you’re trying to save some budget dollars and have your niece build you a website for free (seriously, never actually “free”).

Whatever the case may be, it all comes down to this – is it serving the brand you’ve worked so hard to build in the right way? Is it up to the brand standards you’ve worked so hard to set up from the beginning? If it’s anything short of excellent, it’s NOT good enough.

USER EXPERIENCE

Why is all of this such an important part of your brand? It all comes down to the relationships and engagements you make with your audience. After all, that’s what marketing is all about – connecting with people and communicating what you have to offer that will improve, simplify or enhance their lives.

Marketing is all about connecting with people at the right time and place.

If nothing on your website works, your billboard has a fuzzy picture with no call to action, or your logo hasn’t been updated in 10 years – this all affects the way a user experiences your brand. Consumers are smarter than ever these days. When you say, “ahhh, I guess that’s going to have to be good enough,” people notice that and their perception of your brand gets knocked down a couple of pegs.

Opt to have marketing pieces so undeniably excellent – on par with brand identity, consistent messages, beautiful design – that they can’t help but see your dedication to the brand and consider you a trustworthy source that deserves their business.

Find yourself in these predicaments from time to time, but not sure where to begin? No sweat; that’s what we’re here for. We love this stuff and have an eye for where your business can be. All it takes is some T.L.C. for your brand and a dedication to striving for nothing short of excellent. Give us a call to discuss your marketing strategy and how we can help.

Comapny Culture

The What, How, & Why of Cultivating Positive Company Culture

Culture seems to be the latest business buzzword and “must-have” in companies today. But what exactly is culture? How can you have a great one that recruits and retains an excellent workforce? How can a healthy, thriving culture impact your bottom line? We’ll cover the basics of cultivating an excellent company culture this month on ‘Powered by Creativity.’

What is company culture

Every company has a distinct culture, no matter if they have one employee or hundreds of thousands. Company culture involves what employees see, feel, and think about your business – it is a set of visions, values, norms, beliefs, habits, and assumptions that make up your company’s identity; in essence, it is your company’s personality. Cultures are not something employees bring with them; they are ingrained in the genetic code of your company and will exist before and after employees come and go, although they can change over time.

 

Company Culture

 

To evaluate your company’s current culture, you may want to ask yourself these questions: “What are common behaviors of employees while they are on the job – good or bad? How meaningful is the job to my employees – would they go elsewhere if given the opportunity?” While not your actual culture, the answers to these questions signify either a healthy or unhealthy culture. Company culture is important to employees and employers alike – employees want to enjoy their time in the workplace and feel that their work has meaning for both themselves and the company, while employers benefit when they have employees who fit in with the company culture, which usually makes them happier and more productive, as well as wanting to work for the company longer.

How to cultivate company culture

The good news is that, if you have discovered aspects of your culture that you would like to improve upon, they are fluid and changeable. Putting a focus on culture within your company gives your team guiding principles. It is up to the leaders of the company to set the precedent for the culture you want to achieve. According to companyculture.com, 80% of company members are potentially very flexible – if the culture asks for employees to be engaged, responsible, pleasant, and highly productive, they will be; however, in unhealthy culture environments, employees may be closed, unengaged, irresponsible, unpleasant, and unproductive.

 

Company Culture

 

If you cultivate a great culture, people will know you for it, your team will live by it and work together towards the same company mission, and it will get you through the bumps in the road. Here are a few key areas you can get started with right away to get the ball rolling on creating a dynamic company culture.

Purpose: In order for your purpose to be effective and resonate with your team, they not only have to be told what it is, they have to buy into it as well. Employees as a whole typically want to feel like what they do matters – showing them their measurable impact on the success of the company makes them invested in what they do and want to do better.

Engagement: Purpose’s cousin, engagement, is all about preparation – specifically how prepared your employees feel to fulfill their purpose. If there are distractions or inefficiencies, or people don’t feel like they can fulfill their role to the best of their ability, there is an engagement problem.

Trust: A critical aspect in life that transfers into the workplace, trust needs to be an important company value, period. If there is mistrust about your employees, whether it comes to personal effects or getting the job done, the issue needs to be addressed and rectified as soon as possible.

Evolve: Continuous learning = continuous improvement of your company. Processes and the way things are done change and evolve over time, and so should your workforce. It is the responsibility of the business owner to make sure employees feel empowered to seek their own continuing education, and if they don’t, you need to dig a little deeper into finding out why.

Why company culture matters

Culture matters – a healthy culture creates enthusiasm and happiness, which means more productivity. Job satisfaction starts with job creators caring about their employees. When an employer hires that perfect candidate, they definitely want the best return on their dollar, but if you ask the reverse question ‘besides a paycheck, what are your employees getting out of their job?’ it may help you understand how to engage and motivate employees to their full potential. Improving company culture may seem like it takes a lot of effort, but once you have a healthy one, the benefits are countless; from getting more work done faster to higher retention rates of valuable members of the team, as well as eventually being able to recruit the most competitive employees to keep your company moving forward. The best and brightest employees in any given field want it all; competitive salary and benefits, work/life balance, and a great company culture that makes them look forward to going to work every day. In turn, they’ll give you their best and be invested in your company’s success as much as you are.

 

If you’re reading this and feel like you don’t know where to begin with changing your company culture for the better, you’re not alone. Company culture is unique to each business and can sometimes be a complicated aspect of your company to change. If you’re ready to make that leap, our culture experts are here to help with solid advice and business development plans. We have the unique perspective of being on the outside looking in, and may be able to pinpoint certain pain points in your culture that are easy to overlook when you are busy running your day-to-day operations. Give us a shout out today – we’d love to talk to you!

 

3 Keys to Understanding Marketing Budgets.

3 Keys to Understanding Marketing Budgets

Ahh…the age-old questions, “Why do I need a marketing budget, and how do I determine what it should be?” We hear this a lot from companies of all industries and sizes, ages and market share. Figuring out the sweet spot can be challenging, but we can help. Take a look at these three keys to understanding marketing budgets to get you started in the right direction.
Calculate what you currently spend on marketing now.

Many companies have a fixed percentage of revenue devoted to marketing, while others have no clue what they currently spend on marketing in a given year. Whether or not you realize how much you currently spend on marketing, your business is in some way, shape, or form currently putting dollars toward customer acquisition.

Do you have employees? How about an office building? Company cars? Uniforms? All of these are what we refer to as ‘touch points,’ and they are all moving pieces of your business’s marketing budget. Touch points are essentially any encounter a customer or potential customer has with your company or brand.

For instance, let’s say you own a pizza pub and one of your employees goes above and beyond to make sure a new customer has the best experience possible. That customer’s positive encounter with your brand will likely bring them back for repeat business, and motivate them to tell their friends and even become an advocate for your brand by giving a great review on Yelp or sharing a food photo and checking in on Facebook.

Now let’s imagine you own a plumbing business with company vehicles that are rusting all over and always filthy, and the drivers tend to cut people off when driving. When people that could have been potential customers encounter a poor experience with your brand, the chance that they will ever think of you the next time they need plumbing service is slim to none, and they may even go so far as to tell friends or coworkers about their bad impression of your company.

All of these pieces work together to market your brand just as much as a television commercial, website, print ad, or any other marketing medium. Every company should have a marketing line on its P & L that calculates each touch point for your company. Factoring those in when analyzing your budget will help you understand more clearly what you are actually spending each year on marketing.
What the industry says across the board about setting your marketing budget.

From business type and revenue to overall growth goals, every company is unique and the process for developing a marketing budget is no different. While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to setting a marketing budget, there are industry guidelines and suggestions that should be targeted.

The general rule of thumb is that 10-12% of your annual revenue should be put toward marketing. The Small Business Administration advises allocating 7-8% of revenues for companies less than $5 million. Will this be effective – or even possible – for every business? The answer is no. “Around 10% is the industry standard, but we usually tell people anywhere from 2-15% depending on what their marketing goals are and what type of business it is,” says Dave Gilbert, President of Stray Media Group. “Typically in the immediate area we serve – the upper Red River Valley – we see companies that are much more conservative with their marketing budgets, and they range between 1-5%.”

If you have a smaller company, especially one that’s still heavily in the growth phase, your magic number will need to (greatly) increase in order to create the customer following your business needs to grow in the right direction. When would it be appropriate to decrease the percentage? If your company is a strongly differentiated, well-established leader –Apple, for instance – this number may decrease because you already have a solid, loyal customer base. Even in the case of monster companies like Apple, a non-existent marketing budget or one under 1% won’t work hard enough for your business, so it’s important to think long and hard about the best plan for achieving your goals.
How to find your magic number when it comes to setting your company’s marketing budget.

Ultimately, setting your company’s marketing budget is going to first take some analysis of your current efforts to calculate what percent of your annual revenue you are currently spending. Then you need to do some serious thinking about what your business’s goals are for growth and what you want to get out of your marketing, to help give you perspective on where your budget should be.

When working to find that magic number for your company, realize going into it that marketing is an essential part of gaining new customers and should be a line item on your P & L (if it isn’t already). A <1% marketing budget won’t get you much, and goals like new customers, growth or expansion, and being top of mind in today’s competitive marketplace should be worth a lot more to any business.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Ben Franklin

Are you a progressive company with a strong focus on growth? Hoping to increase customer engagement? Maybe you’re looking to stay top of mind with your existing audience? Regardless of your current company status, start by evaluating your overall business goals and plan your budget to match.
Feeling overwhelmed? Let us help. At Stray Media Group, we recognize that every company is unique. We can customize and prioritize a marketing plan that fits your budget and helps reach your goals. Contact us to help you start growing in the right direction today.