Benchmark Business Group

Business Owner Newsletter - Page 33

What Harvest Do You Expect

It is "that" time of the year here in the Heartland of the United States, that time where tractors are being fired up and planters are being filled as they are readied to enter the fields to plant seeds. This doesn't just "happen," this is a task that is born out of a plan that begins with deciding what harvest the farmers want to have at the end of the season. The same should be true of all business owners; they should begin by asking the question, "What harvest do I expect this season?"


By beginning with the end in mind, it helps the farmer decide what preparations need to be made, what seeds need to be acquired, and what needs to happen throughout the growing season to cultivate the planned harvest. It is not as simple as only choosing what seed to plant, tossing it into the field and waiting - that is a great strategy to feed birds but not to harvest a bumper crop. The same is true for your business - what do you expect your harvest to be at the end of your season? What do you need to do to plan for the expected harvest? What seed needs to be planted? What needs to be done throughout the season to cultivate your crop? These are all questions that need to be addressed to help ensure that you harvest what you expected.

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Branding Done Right: Intention Matters

Every business has a brand or going back to our quote and question for this month a personality.  For many small businesses that brand is not intentionally crafted.  It's left to happenstance, and as a result many small businesses are not ready for their Oscar moment or even for the next lead that somehow comes into contact with their business. 


This month we've covered a few branding basics:  Uniform, Delivery Process, and Online Presence, but the last remaining piece is intention.  We know that as a small business owner you are busy.  You're filling multiple roles on your organizational chart.  You're balancing long hours and frustrations while trying to carve out your personal life.   It's easy to ignore the importance of building a brand, because it's not the squeaky wheel.

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Branding Done Right: #3 Online Presence

A quick look through Big Mama's Pizza's website and social sites such as Facebook and Instagram shows that they understand the importance of their online presence matching their brand.  They have a great mix of their products, which we admit, look delicious, but they also make sure that their brand is shown.  It's not enough to have an online presence; you must have an online presence that makes it very clear who you are and what you do.



It would be very easy to have a pizza place that had an online presence and not be able to easily establish it from the competition.   That's not the case with Big Mama's and they achieve this in very basic ways.

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Branding Done Right: #2 The Delivery Process

Another reason it didn't take long for the social media sites to figure out who was delivering the pizza on Oscar night was the distinct look of their pizza boxes. Every time the camera went in for a close up of someone grabbing a slice there was the company's branding strategy. The boxes were recognizable to the people in the area and it didn't take long for the online buzz to start.


Depending on the type of your business, you may not have a tangible product to deliver. That doesn't mean you get to skip this step in branding. In fact, it makes it more important to have a branding strategy for when your product or service is delivered. At the very least, you want your clients to remember who they are working with and if it's acceptable you want to make sure that others know.

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Is Your Business Ready for an Oscar Moment?

During the 2014 Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres joked about ordering pizza for the famous crowd. Shortly after a man delivering pizza was brought onto the stage and started handing out slices to the stars. After the show it was discovered that this wasn't an act, but a moment for a small business to shine. The pizza delivery came from a local franchise, Big Mama's Pizza, and according to interviews given to the Los Angeles Times, the business had no advanced knowledge that it would be delivering to the Oscars let alone on live TV.  Click here to watch a clip of this moment. 


While most businesses won't be handed a free five minute commercial during the Oscar's, it got us thinking. You never know when an opportunity to shine will come for your business.   This month we'll be taking a look at what Big Mama's got right and how you can do the same in your business!


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Epic Fails: Failing to React

In the past month, we've looked at three recent epic fails in the world of business.  We looked at the outrage McDonalds faced when their employee tips didn't add up.  We looked at how JCPenny's customers deserted the company when they tried to shake up the retail world.  And finally we looked at how the media had a field day with the hashtag #SochiProblems during the winter Olympics.

With each Epic Fail, you might have noticed that what created an EPIC fail rather than just a failure was the failure to react.  McDonald's had three ill-advised tips go out and a lot of negative press before pulling the plug on McResources.  JCPenny's watched sales plummet for months before changing it's strategy.   And Sochi Problems went viral for days before a response was attempted.

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Epic Fail #3: When Social Media Goes Wrong

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have been billed as the legacy for President Putin as he promised these games were a showcase of what the Russian people can do.  In case you missed it, the first week of tweets, comments, and reports were focused largely on the hotel issues that many members of the media encountered.  These issues ranged from uncompleted rooms, to missing doorhandles, to missing reservations.  The media took to social media using the hash tag #sochiproblems, which went viral.  It was certainly not the message the Games organizers were wanting to spread.  Even the Huffington Post got in on the action with this headline, Sochi Olympics 2014: 15 Epic Hotel Fail In The 'Russian Riviera.'

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Epic Fail #2: Re-branding Gone Wrong

J.C. Penney, the once proud department store, had been wallowing in a tough economic and retail time so they made a bold move in 2011 and brought in Ron Johnson from Apple, as CEO, where he has been credited with creating the Apple Store. Given free reign to bring respectability and profitability back to the retail chain, Mr. Johnson embarked on a bold plan to re-brand and refashion both the name and the locations.  


Very confident in what he had proclaimed, "the department store system is broken" Mr. Johnson did what many would consider a 180 degree change from what the company had been doing. This was done without testing on a smaller scale; when asked about testing, Mr. Johnson said, "we didn't test at Apple." Doing away with most sales, coupons, and highly popular customer incentives --- sales dropped further. On April 8th, 2013 Ron Johnson was fired from J.C. Penney's; the re-branding and refashioning was an Epic Fail!

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Epic Business Fails

Many a business has attempted to do something "new," "different," or "improved" and found that what they believed was a good idea, maybe even a great idea, was truly a failure. Again, and we stress this, it is not because they believed what they were doing was a bad idea, as a matter of fact, they so believed in their ideas that they willingly risked their companies. This month, we are going to look at a few of these failures and explore what could be done to avoid such Epic Fails.


One definition that has for epic is: of unusually great size or extent. They also have the following for one definition for fail: to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved. Combining these two words defines epic fails as modern slang that means: a spectacularly embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc., that is subject to ridicule and given a greatly exaggerated importance.


During the month of March we will be exploring three Epic Fails, The McDonald's McResource program, JC Penney's re-branding efforts by Ron Johnson, and the Sochi Olympics preparation issues. This week we will dig deeper into the McResource program.

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