Today I witnessed something really annoying. I mean, it got under my skin particularly. My friend Scott Stratten, @unmarketing, posted on Facebook that it was pathetic that there were 10 Verified (by Twitter) accounts, all spamming people who were talking about the Superbowl:
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This is more of a “food for thought” post than one containing a solution…
My hospitality expert and friend Jeffrey Summers tossed out a phrase the other day regarding the “urgency of differentiation” – he was going to be discussing that topic on his restaurant podcast. I noticed it because we have been discussing this for a while here in the office… Lisa is always pushing us on “what makes us different?” and after having it roll around in my head without a full articulation, I randomly spit out some things that make us different on a phone call with her one day:
- We are not an “ad agency” because many of them are not strong in regard to social media culture (though they may be using social media push tactics) and they do traditional ad buys (we do not)
- We are not a “PR firm” because many of them don’t understand the social space and they do traditional PR whereas we do online-focused releases in relation to a specific campaign or event – we like to work with PR specialists, ideally, for larger reach
- We are not an “interactive agency” because they tend to do more motion-based design (we outsource what we can’t do in-house) and often don’t do marketing (which we do)
- We are not a “usability firm” as we are not singularly focused on product/web design or information architecture, though it is what we do when working on various types of projects and we have usability testing and lab-building experience
- We are not a product development company although we develop products – we would prefer to help design them, develop them ourselves or work with your in-house devs, create help systems, do user testing, PLUS work on the overall brand identity and marketing collateral in addition to helping lay a social foundation and do staff training on using social channels for customer service, and then do graphic design for presentations, tradeshows, etc. in a holistic, comprehensive effort to sell a new or redesigned product
- We are not a “marketing firm” exactly as we do design and development in-house and lean toward product design or enhancing sites with features/functionality
- We are definitely not a “social media agency” as we do design and development and have a long history of product and traditional marketing (and many social media agencies are brand, spanking new in this industry – in fact, frighteningly new)
We also have done business development, product line planning, visual merchandising, online events, ecommerce design and dev, research & analysis, copywriting, tech writing, user experience planning and testing, project management, tradeshow event design, speaking, and more as professional services since 1994. So today, we call ourselves as a “creative services” company for lack of a better short description.
But clearly that doesn’t really explain what sets us apart. Now that we see what we are not, determining how to explain what we are in a way that includes the differentiator will be something we will actively work on over the next month or two, because we do feel it’s important to define, and it is a needed facet of our overall brand experience and positioning.
How do you explain what makes your business different? And do you agree that there is an urgency of differentiation in today’s competitive, yet economically challenging climate?
We’ve been taking the time to create press releases meant for online publications about the recent live events we’ve done using our Twitterface tool, with some good results.
Lisa began this practice while at LightThread using a variety of paid and free online PR channels and trackingresults. She experienced the best results from prlog.org, obtaining front page search results within 24 hours of release and months later continuing to get front page search results. Prlog also makes it easy to link on your Facebook profile in addition to bookmarking through Delicious.
The benefits of doing this are:
- Backlinks to your site helps SEO with search engines. You will get linked to from the press release sites and anyone who picks up the story and posts about it from their site.
- People find you and your offer that might not have, otherwise… we’ve seen pretty significant results with this about the Chip Foose-John Deere event we did (they are a big brand after all so that helped) but with every release we’ve sent out, we’ve been surprised at the number of blogs and sites that have found it and posted the information or linked to the release or our site from theirs.
- It formalizes your operations. Last week Lisa zipped off a list to our team of all we have accomplished in the last 8 weeks. It is surprising how far we have come in only the past 2 months since she came on board. These press releases help us see our progress over time and give us a list of “News” items we can refer back to each year to see some of the highlights of what we’ve done.
- It’s free, save a little bit of time writing the release and posting it to the press release sites. Though we will do more formal and traditional paid announcements at various times, using this approach we’re only spending the time it takes to write and polish the release, and it’s well worth it.
- It adds credibility to your small business. Let’s face it… times are tough. Capturing quotes from happy customers and tooting your own horn in a non-pushy way can only help your efforts to sell products or services in a buyer’s market. Every little bit of promotion helps add to the overall number of people who hear about what you’re doing!
Keep in mind the free sites take a bit of time to set up your profile but once you use them the first time they are much easier to use again in the future. Please feel free to leave your favorite press release site in the comments section!