Our Latest Forbes Article

Our Latest Forbes Article

SEPTEMBER 5, 2018
|IN CULTURE

As leaders, we are always searching for new ways to build our teams to be more efficient, productive and engaged in the work environment. We strive to create a culture that cultivates harmony and productivity across every member of the team. Most leaders will tell you that managing employees and contractors can be one of the most difficult aspects of our roles. But there are some tested reminders for leaders to consider that can make all the difference...

Read more on Forbes.com


It's Just Domino's

It's Just Domino's

AUGUST 17, 2018

Sometimes I watch television (ok, “sometimes” in this instance is more like “all the time”) and I catch several commercials- intentionally. On occasion, I notice commercials and ads by companies and wonder if there is something else going on behind the scenes that they are trying to fix- and trying to fix it through advertising. In one such case, recently, I can't shake the idea that something is wrong with Domino's Pizza’s advertising campaigns. Let me explain.

I have nothing against the pizza franchise's choice of ad agency, CP+B is one of the best, and they have created several ads I've loved or wished I had created. But, something stands out in the work they are doing for Domino's- it's almost as though they are trying too hard. This isn't a knock against the agency, as I expect they are doing everything they can within their power to create engaging, PR pushing ads, which is technically working- since here I am writing about it. It's more of a sense that something inside Domino's is amiss and they are trying to fix it through advertising. There are several "red flags" as far as I can see- but remember, I'm only looking at this from the outside, only seeing the ads placed in front of me. I do not claim to know anything about the inner workings of the business.

Red flag #1: They changed their name- from Domino's Pizza to just Domino's and they updated their signs.

Image result

Red flag #2: The new (IMHO awful) tagline: Oh,yes we did. Oh yes we did what? It's not clear, and when it's presented at the end of the commercials, it's confusing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xszWmdDxDXQ

Red flag #3: Ad campaign for Hot spots aka running with scissors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njzzCm8rJTs

Red flag #4: Paving for Pizza- now they are fixing potholes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDd-HP3FA4s

None of these red flags are particularly concerning individually, but when you add them all up, it makes one wonder what is going on with the Domino's business. Generally companies change their names for a few reasons, one such reason could be simply refreshing the brand, which is how Domino's expressed the change reason, but it seems that perhaps they are trying to appeal to the audience who is being lured in by other pizza franchise competitors. The new tagline is meant to express that not only have the refreshed their brand but that they are now serving more items than just pizza. And, now they have added new "locations", and an attempt to engage their audience through paving potholes. When a company is in trouble, these are the tell tale signs- they refresh their brand, they add new products/services, they try to show their reach (ie: new "locations") and they try to get their audience to engage them more.

Domino's commercials have done all 4 of these things in short order begging the question- has the pizza giant lost market share or are they simply trying VERY hard to hold on to the number 1 spot? Maybe they are just playing with several ad options, trying to recapture the advertising success they had once upon a time with the "30 minutes or free" campaign. Who knows? All I can say is that these commercials may not be terrible, but they aren't necessarily a good sign either- and maybe the executives of Domino's should take that into consideration.


Our Latest Forbes Article

Our Latest Forbes Article

JULY 19, 2018

Business owners and brand ambassadors are always on the lookout for interesting, better or innovative ways to become better marketers. Colleagues and mentors tell us to stay current with industry trends by reading the latest studies and articles. We also read all the “mandatory” business nonfiction, filling our bookshelves with impressive titles focused on sales, leadership and strategy. While all these materials offer valuable insight into specific areas and even help us craft our own personal strategies and better our understanding of the market, they may be missing some of the point....

Read more on Forbes.com

 


Think marketing is expensive? Four critical things to consider

Think Marketing is Expensive? Four Critical Things to Consider

You’ve had this thought before. It’s ok. We know. Marketing is perceived as being a costly endeavor, and therefor is often one of the last things a business owner wishes to spend valuable dollars on. But here are some key things to consider before you jump to the conclusion that marketing is a big spend.

1 | How much should you really be spending on Marketing?

For established businesses, The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your gross revenue for businesses under $5 million, and closer to 10% for those over $5 million.  For new businesses you should be spending somewhere between 12-20% of your revenue or expected revenue.

You are probably thinking, wow, that is more than I thought. Which is why most marketers will recommend somewhere closer to 5% of your gross revenue.

2 | What is the 5% for?

Generally speaking, the 5% is for the ongoing marketing implementation of a solid foundational strategy. These are the day-to-day tactics that engage your audience, the advertisements you place with specific media and the tactics like email newsletters, video, content and so forth.  You should expect also to use more than 5% on big projects, such as website updates.

However, spending money on these day to day items will certainly be a waste of funds if you do not have a solid foundation.

3 | What is the Foundation?

In order for your day to day activities to perform well, you will need to invest in a solid marketing foundation, which, since it generally includes the necessary larger projects, will usually cost closer to the 10%.

The foundation includes items like Branding, Strategy, Website and Social Media. Working on these items to create a solid strategy that highlights your best target audience, the messaging and branding for those audiences and putting together a roadmap of strategy pieces paired with the big projects like a website will give you a healthy starting point. Once these things are completed, your day to day activities will have a much higher conversion rate.

4 | Consider the cost of client acquisition.

Still sounds expensive? Consider what a single new client means to your bottom line. For example: currently you have not built your foundation and you are relying on a sales person to convert customers. You probably see the direct correlation between what you pay that sales person to what the conversion of each customer is. Let’s say you currently spend $2,000 per new customer with your sales rep. and he or she can convert 1 new customer per month. Provided that each new customer is worth more than the $2,000 you spent, you are happy.

But consider this, you built your foundation and were able to add a highly converting website and social media channels in addition to your sales rep. Using the 5% rule, let’s say you spend $1,000 per month on digital media tactics, and can convert 2 additional customers per month. You’ve increased your customers by three times, while only spending a fraction of the cost, and in a shorter time period.

That’s where marketing becomes a savings vs. a spend.

The key is finding a marketing partner who can work with you on the foundational items, but also on a long-term implementation and execution process. This is where you will save the most.


Our Relationship with Failure

When I started my first business, I set out to give other large dog owners the things I realized I had a tough time finding- large enough toys and beds, plus places I could stay with my pups- hotels and even finding urban rental properties. Great idea- right?! Slowly it sunk in that people only need to rent a new apartment once a year at the most, and most people aren’t traveling with their big dogs as much as I had expected. So, I did what any good entrepreneur would do, and I pivoted. I started focusing on what my customers were telling me they wanted more of- durable toys, and other items large enough for their dogs- and therefore difficult to find. I realized that subscription boxes were a new thing- and so I launched my own- it worked- until it didn’t and I ran out of my personal funding to support it. Turns out that around the same time I started my business Bark Box had entered the scene- and with all their financial support – they easily grabbed up all the market share and I just couldn’t compete.

My business failed. But I didn’t. I learned many valuable lessons about how to manage cash flow, how to listen better to my customers and how to adjust my offerings. All these things have led to making me a successful entrepreneur in another business.  But that’s not to say I still don’t fail all the time. That’s what being a successful business owner means: failure.

The trick is managing your relationship with Failure.

What happens when you Fail?

  1. | It makes your goals seem less attainable

  2. | It distorts your perception of your own ability

  3. | Your Self-doubt increases dramatically

  4. | You begin to fear the feeling of failure

I’d love to tell you that there is some magical way to trick your brain into not feeling those things when you fail- but there isn’t. You will feel those things every time. But you can focus on realizing you have these feelings, and start to work towards shifting your relationship with failure by understanding that failure is where the growth, adaptation and learning happens- and those are the things you need to be successful.

Will Smith recently spoke on this topic and how having a positive association with failure is what can lead you to your ultimate success. I can’t help but agree. Listening to this helps inspire me to shift my focus when I am feeling like I’m helpless in my attempts at moving forward. I recommend that all entrepreneurs listen to this every time they fail!

And, remember, everyone fails. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs have failed before getting to where they are now. Don’t believe me?

10 Entrepreneurs Who Failed Big before being successful


10,000-Hours & Success

10,000-Hours & Success

Some time ago I, like much of the business world, read the well-known book, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. All of Gladwell’s works have something that sticks with me for a very long time- regarding Outliners, that is the second chapter: The 10,000-Hour Rule.
When this first came out, this concept of 10,000 hours to achieve success floated through the entrepreneur and business community slowly, but meaningfully. We all read it, we all acknowledged it as a reasonable theory- but what’s more- we started to examine ourselves to see if we actually have what it takes to succeed, and we started to question if our talent and opportunity was enough or if we needed something more.
The 10,000-hour rule, put simply is that to be successful there is a direct correlation to how hard you work to how successful you will be. The book uses several real life, documented examples of how people spent at least 10,000 hours practicing their craft to end up at the top of their field, while those who fall short of 10,000 hours never catch up.
We all already know this, hard work = success. The hard part to accept is that now there is an actual hour count to apply to it. If I spend 10,000 hours writing business plans, I will be an expert. If I spend 10,000 hours playing my violin I will be I brilliant musician. If I spend 10,000 hours writing this blog will I be any closer to success? Is that all it takes? Does that mean I can be successful from watching 10,000 hours of Netflix?
No. Watching Netflix isn’t a career choice, nor a plan to success. It does take more than that. (Unfortunately)
Talent, opportunity and hard work are the three legs of the stool. You need all three. Sometimes we encounter entrepreneurs who forget hard work is the number one thing they should be focused on. They get caught up in the fact that they have some talent in a particular area, and that they have been given an opportunity to make a successful business out of it- but they don’t want to do the work.
The reality is, you can’t rely on your employees, influencer connections, or even your marketing team to make it happen. You have to get down and dirty and do the work, put the hours in to make your dream a success. You need to start with a solid business plan, and a good understanding of what your role is in your business. No one is an island and can do everything all the time, so you must figure out where your strengths lie and delegate to others in the areas you don’t excel. Even so, no one should ever work harder on your business than you.
I’m still working on my 10,000 hours- how about you?

Happy Holidays?

Happy Holidays?

It’s the festive holiday season, which means most Americans are busy decorating, spending time with family and our typical bustling office is dramatically quieter than usual.

But that’s just not the case for retail businesses. Working in retail during the holidays gives a whole new meaning to “hustle & bustle.” It’s enough to make you feel like you are going insane. The constant restocking, the running around to find things for people, and just generally dealing with shoppers who have unrealistic expectations.

Seriously- holidays for retail can be down right horrific. Check out this article with some great examples of horror stories.

So we thought we’d take a moment and recognize the hard working Americans who put up with the rest of us as we wander the stores searching for the perfect gifts. Thank you! Without you we’d be lost. 

But in all seriousness, sometimes with all the stress and hassle of the holidays it’s easy to forget the important stuff. So, from our Black Rhino Family to yours, we wish you all the merriest of holidays and a very Happy New Year!

See you in 2018!


The Fast and the Furious: How To Avoid Running On Fumes When You Are A High-octane Individual

The Fast and the Furious: How To Avoid Running On Fumes When You Are A High-octane Individual

Entrepreneurs are made of many types, the artists, the visionaries and the doers. And while we may have distinct personality differences, we also tend towards similarities in the way we approach our business lives. Often, we are fueling our passion with above average motivation and we feel the adrenaline rush of risk taking. This high-octane lifestyle may be the key to our success, and we feel powerful in the moment, but it can lead to dangerous results as we approach burn out.

There are some things to consider as you navigate your entrepreneurial journey:

The Need for Speed

Entrepreneurs always want everything they envision for their business as quickly as possible. We are working ourselves to the limits trying to speed up the steps to our success. If we are looking for funding, we want funding to happen RIGHT NOW. If we have launched and we are trying to sell a new product, we want to sell our goal IMMEDIATELY. We work with others to help us reach our goals, and we are constantly pushing for things to speed up. This is because we can see the road ahead and we know where we are going- we just want to reach it faster!

The problem is that this need for speed causes a few problems. It creates unrealistic expectations for ourselves, our goals and the people we work with- which creates a toxic environment for everyone. It also means you are moving so quickly that you could be missing real opportunities for a better or different road to success, or you are missing warning signs about your business that could be catastrophic later.

Slow down. Find partners to work with who can help you regulate your speed towards your goals and find real, tangible, small steps to get there. This is often difficult to accept, but we all know the story about the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race.

Running on Empty

Another classic scenario entrepreneurs face is overlooking their own personal needs above the needs of the business. We are so focused on reaching our goals, growing quickly and that “next big thing” that we forget to take care of ourselves. This becomes a problem when you reach the point of sleepless nights, and hidden self-doubt and anxiety.

Take care of yourself and take a mental inventory of your health. It is very common that those running businesses suffer from nearly debilitating self-doubt, and various anxiety disorders. You are not alone. There is a very real phycological connection to your ability to drive your business forward in hyper speed, while running on empty personally.  Inc. Magazine published a poignant article on this topic, and every entrepreneur I know has found that they are able to identify with some of this.

Don’t get caught in the trap. Make sure you take care of yourself first.

 Build your Pit Crew

The best way to avoid completely overdoing it is to build a highly skilled, trusted team you can lean on. Yes, employees are included in this, and yes, they are hard to find, but they aren’t the only options. Find trusted advisors you can confide in and find professionals who are highly skilled in the areas that are your deficits. Build your crew specific to your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Despite your high-octane personality and drive, you cannot do it all alone. And that’s ok.

Take a moment and breathe, slow down and take stock of your personal health. I know you won’t slow down forever, but even just a moment here and there can have a significant impact on helping you avoid burn out.


The Importance of Startup Branding

The Importance of Startup Branding

Startups have a lot going on, there is quite a lot to figure out with regard to developing and launching a new business. From figuring out the finances, operations, hiring and more, often times new startups overlook the importance of branding and marketing. 

This is a critical mistake. Starting early during the development process is the best time to engage a marketing agency to help you establish a brand for internal and external continuity and overall success. We’ve talked a lot about how branding is more than just a pretty logo- it is actually very important to your internal operations. See what we mean here. But branding also plays a vital role in the outward success of your company.

First Things First- Establish yourself

You need to establish your brand identity. This allows you to express your core values and your mission. Establishing this not only forces you to set your business goals but it also provides owners with a sense of “making it real.” We have worked with several start up owners who have commented that they had a hard time visualizing their future company, product and success until they established their brand.

Next- Stand Out

Dedicating time at the beginning to branding and marketing will help you understand your competitors and help you find your voice in the market place. This is your chance to share your “special sauce” with the world- and how you are better than your competition, or what particular need you are filling. Without taking the time to research your competitors and creating new, different, and professional branding materials your startup will struggle to stand out.

Stick Around 

One of the things many startups do not realize is that having a strong brand identity will give your customers the perception of longevity. Having a brand that coincides with your internal operations, goals, customer service and mission will help to give your customers assurance that your company will be around for a long time. Customers seek out brands that make them feel more comfortable and giving your audience a sense of longevity equals more customers and longer term customers.

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking the importance of branding and marketing early on. If you aren’t sure where to start, give us a call- we are more than happy to help!


Recent Rhino Projects: New Lifestyle Brand

Recent Rhino Projects: New Lifestyle Brand

All of us over here at Black Rhino Marketing Group are excited that we launched a new lifestyle brand this week and we wanted to introduce you to Velocity:

We're moving through life fast. Working, playing, traveling, surviving. And our phones help make it happen. They're our lifelines, our unsung superheroes, our assistants.

Maybe they've been dropped a few times. Dented, cracked, bruised. Or maybe they're still pristine. Either way, they deserve protection, and you deserve style. Unfortunately most cases either break on impact or turn your phone into an ugly brick.

Velocity changes the game. Good design, dependable protection and performance, plus choices that let you do you—all without breaking the bank.

I created Velocity because I've always loved beautiful cars that also perform beautifully, and wanted that same combination in my phone case. So take a look. I hope you’ll appreciate our attention to the whole package: price, design, performance, materials, and choice.

You want it all. Now you can have it.

Tom Myer - Founder

Check it out and learn more: https://velocitycases.com/