Diversity Inclusion: Be The Change Diversity Inclusion: Be The Change

You’ve heard it before: Being diversity-inclusive is important. "Diversity inclusion" has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but what does this term mean when it comes to a small business?

Many small businesses hear "diversity inclusion" and assume it's related to HR -- and it is. But it's much more than that. Aside from hiring a diverse population as part of your workforce, there are internal and external messages that represent your company -- and being inclusive in those messages is also highly important.

Diversity inclusion can be broken down into three buckets:

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Two Problems: One Calls for a Fix, One Called for a Plan

Two Problems: One Calls for a Fix, One Called for a Plan

Unfortunately for airplane manufacturer Boeing, it has a problem right now. Correction:  Unfortunately for airplane manufacturer Boeing, it actually has two problems right now. One of those problems is one that nearly everyone around the world in developed countries, as well as in somewhat undeveloped countries is probably well aware of – the issue with Boeing's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software on its new 737 Max airplanes. This problem has been identified as the cause for two tragic crashes involving the 737 Max jet within five months, and resulted in the March 13, 2019 grounding of the aircraft by the FAA. This of course followed the grounding of that same particular aircraft by several other countries including China, India, Turkey and South Korea, to name a few. This is a problem Boeing must fix. They know it, and they are currently working on that fix.

The other problem that Boeing now faces is one that not as many people will readily identify. Although for those of us in the field of Marketing and PR, we know it is a glaring problem. It is the damage these tragic incidents have done, and will do, to Boeing's brand. This is a problem for which Boeing should have had an executable plan, (but appears may not to have had.) They know, and they are currently working to execute one. Because as tragic as the two crashes are, any damage that has been done, or will be done to Boeing's brand, is not solely the result of these two unfortunate incidents alone. A major factor in furthering or limiting any damage to the brand will not only come from what Boeing does as company to address and quickly fix the MCAS issue, but will also come from how well and how soon they communicate those fixes to the flying public and its airline customers. Important also will be the scope of the message as well as the manner and tone in which that message is delivered. In short, they will have to work extremely hard to earn back the trust and belief that its airplanes are safe to fly, and fly on.

This is entirely possible however. One of the most famous cases of company overcoming what might have been long-term or even a permanently damaged brand as a result of a PR crisis, is the case of the tragic Tylenol murders that took place in the Chicagoland area in 1982. In that tragedy, 7 people who took Tylenol Extra Strength died shortly after ingesting the medication, due to the product having been tampered with and laced with Cyanide. The nationwide scare was on an unprecedented level, and as can be imagined, the consumer's trust in the safety of the product was nil. However, Johnson & Johnson the company that produced Tylenol received positive coverage for its handling of the crisis, and as was reported by the Washington post at that time, "Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster". The Washington Post article went on to say that "this is no Three Mile Island accident in which the company's response did more damage than the original incident", and ultimately applauded the company for being transparent with the public. Although Johnson & Johnson's market share collapsed from 35% to 8% during the scare, in less than a year's time it rebounded, an increase that was credited to the company's prompt and aggressive reaction. In November of 1982, the company reintroduced capsules, but did so in a new, triple-sealed package, coupled with heavy price promotions. And within just a few short years, Tylenol had the highest market share of any over-the-counter analgesic in the US, and still enjoys solid market-share to this day.

In contrast however, in the days immediately following the 2nd crash involving its 737 Max jet, and in light of the growing concern around the similarities between the two crashes and increasing evidence pointing towards a glitch in the MCAS software, Boeing unfortunately was slow to respond. And when it did, it took the tact of defending itself, going so far as Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg reportedly calling President Donald Trump personally in an attempt to delay the FAA's grounding of the jet. These missteps by Boeing, as well as many others that have been reported in the weeks following the 2nd crash have not served Boeing or its brand well. It has also underscored what appears to have been Boeing's lack of a plan that could be, and should have been, executed immediately in the event of such tragic occurrences. To be sure, this is not an indictment on Boeing or an attempt to “pile on” during a difficult and trying time, but rather an illustration of the impact a crisis, and how that crisis is handled, can have on a company's hard-earned brand reputation.

The final score of what ultimate impact all of this will have on Boeing and its brand going forward, remains yet to be seen. However, what companies can learn from this right now, is the importance of having and executing flawlessly, a crisis management strategy and plan, to protect the integrity of their company's brand.

Marketing Budgets for Businesses

Marketing Budgets for Businesses

MARCH 29, 2019


The big question when it comes to marketing is always, “how much is this going to cost?” Generally speaking, marketing services are perceived as an expensive project and many business owners are hesitant to spend valuable dollars on something that may or may not have the return they hope for.

There are some key things to consider when putting together your marketing budget and finding a marketing partner that will work for you.

Marketing & Advertising line items

Marketing & Advertising are not the same thing. Most business projections have a single category that accounts for both marketing and advertising. And, while they may be related, they are not the same. Simply put Advertising is the amount of money you need to pay to the media you place your campaign in while marketing is the planning, messaging and design behind that campaign. You need both to make a splash, but they really should be viewed as two separate expenses.


Average Budgets

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. This percentage of revenue should be split between Marketing and Advertising.


Marketing Only portion of budget


The marketing only piece of the budget is around 5% of your expected gross revenue. This 5% should be allocated towards things such as 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.


Solid 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.


Consider the cost of client acquisition

When making your marketing budget the most important thing to remember is what your potential ROI will be. 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 Latest Forbes Article

Our Latest Forbes Article

FEBRUARY 6, 2019

Stress is part of all of our lives. But for entrepreneurs and managers, it can be even more overwhelming and carry higher consequences. A new study suggests that the way a leader handles stress could have serious consequences for employees and, ultimately, company culture and productivity.


The Rule of 2/3

The Rule of 2/3


You’ve heard of this rule before. You’ve seen it before applied to various industries of service providers, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  For marketing professionals, we know this rule all too well. Getting our clients to understand, however, is a different matter.

The Rule: CHEAP. FAST. GOOD. You can only choose 2.

CHEAP: You are always looking for a deal. It is our human condition to try to find ways to save money, and retain the best value for the work we are paying for

FAST: You also want your projects done as quickly as possible.

GOOD: Not only do you want it done quickly and for less money, but you want it to be good. Good design, good strategy, good in every way.

Why can you only choose 2?

VALUE: the value of quality marketing work is not synonymous with the amount you pay necessarily. Value is provided when something is done well, with intention and provides both instant results and long-term outcomes.

CHEAP + FAST: When you’re choosing two, cheap and fast end up being a likely option, afterall, those are your two primary motivational factors, get it done now and get it done for the least amount possible. The problem with this strategy is that it forces your marketing team into a situation in which they have to cut corners, spend less time finding the best possibly solutions and instead finish a “quick and dirty” version of your project. That means the thing you have sacrificed is GOOD. Your project will still have a lot of positive attributes, but will it be everything you hoped, and be perfect without any missteps? No.

CHEAP + GOOD: Ok, so above it seems like the issue is one of time, by combining cheap and fast you lost quality which is what you need in the long run. Choosing cheap and good could be a better combination because you save money while getting a higher quality completed project which could ultimately mean higher value. The sacrifice here is time. In order to perform high quality services at a lower rate, your team will need to manage this project differently. And you may be one of many projects in process and in order to spend the time wisely on your project and make it beneficial to the team, they will need to take extra time.

FAST + GOOD: Yes, this is an option. Yes, we can do what you want in the quality that you want in the timeline you want, but that will mean our team will have to work double-time, triple time and that means it’s going to cost you more, because you will have to pay for that time and extra time spent.

Keep this in mind next time you are trying to hire a marketing company, or any other services company – you will have to sacrifice one of the three. Otherwise, you will not get the value you are actually looking for.

Which 2 would you choose?

Copywriting Vs. Content Writing

Copywriting Vs. Content Writing


I started in advertising when the internet didn’t exist. Everything was print, outdoor, radio, television, or video. So in the world of marketing, writers were all copywriters. If the firm handled highly technical or medically-related products they may have also had technical writers.

The technical writers wrote the heavy duty informational/educational stuff and instructional manuals. Facts. Lots of words.

The copywriters wrote in a way that exuded the spirit of a brand. Moved people to take action. Think Don Draper and Peggy Olson in Mad Men. Feelings. Few words.

There’s a new kind of writer now, and that’s the content writer. So there’s quite a bit of discussion and confusion about the distinction between the content writer and the copywriter.

From my point of view, the content writer is more akin to the technical writer, albeit they’re writing in a much broader array of media, to much broader audiences. But still, the goal of content writing is to educate and inform…and oftentimes entertain. The intent is to, over time, build trust, create interaction—possibly a relationship—with the reader, so as to move them to eventually connect with a company or acquire/recommend a product, or share the content in social media.

Content writing also has a goal of positively impacting search engine optimization (SEO). The writing needs to pay attention to key words. It is content that needs to market well on the internet.

Copywriting is meant for branding, grabbing attention, engaging, heightening an experience, creating curiosity. Making sure the reader gets why your brand matters, in such a way that they’re motivated to act. Now.

Basically, it comes down to telling vs selling. Optimally, the end result of both is to move people toward a product, company or service; but that’s the immediate goal of copywriting (selling) vs the long-term goal of content writing (telling).

As writer Bob Bly says “If you have a bullet in your text that says, ‘Eating apples reduces your risk of cancer,” that is content: you are giving the reader the information. If you write ‘Delicious fruit can reduce your risk of cancer.’ that is copy, designed to arouse curiosity and get the reader to order your book. Content tells, copy sells.”

A really talented writer can do both, but usually a writer is more skilled or talented at one vs the other. Most commonly (but of course not always) a copywriter can do content-writing, but content-writers have a tough time doing copywriting. It’s usually easier to write more words than get an idea down to a pithy handful of words.

In fact, content writing is often not even being done by a writer—it can be anyone who’s putting out a blog, white paper, instructional or educational article, news release, etc. Whereas copywriting is generally the person’s profession, one for which they’ve been schooled and trained. Obviously, the best content writer has good writing skills.

You really can’t have just one or the other. They both play a critical role in your marketing.

Is Amazon the new North Pole?

Is Amazon the new North Pole?


Let me just start off by saying this: I freaking LOVE Amazon. So I may come off a tad biased in this article. 

I have completed the entirety of my Christmas shopping at home, from my PHONE. So, what do I need Santa for anymore? He takes all year to get me what I want. That's a bad deal. All jokes aside, when it comes to the battle of in-person vs online shopping, online shopping seems to win the holiday season.

I'm not alone of course. My family and friends are also PRIME examples of pro-online shoppers. Some of them simply use Alexa to shop without ever even lifting a finger. There is no feeling quite like coming home to a brown package waiting just for you. I don't think it will ever get old for me.

Objectively speaking, being able to obtain exactly what you need/want without have to leave your toilet is better than going to multiple stores before settling for the best thing you can find. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the Amazon drones of Christmas future were to drop our packages right down our chimneys! But this is all to say that no matter how you acquire them, the holidays are not about giving gifts. The holidays are about getting gifts.

Have a Happy Holidays from Black Rhino!

Our Latest Forbes Article

Our Latest Forbes Article

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

We’ve all had client presentations of new branding or creative work go this direction, and it makes everyone at the table feel proud and happy. I'm sure there have been many times when you've either nailed a client project or come close -- with a few minor adjustments, you can turn it into a "wow" moment...


Our Latest Forbes Article

Our Latest Forbes Article

OCTOBER 10, 2018

So, you’ve had a breakthrough and have come up with the “next big thing” for retail. Maybe it’s a new boutique or e-commerce platform, or maybe it’s a new consumer product. Whatever the case may be, we’ve entered a new age of retail, and any business team needs to ask themselves one big question: Can we compete with Amazon?




JULY 6, 2018

Back in the year 2000 an action movie about a car thief forced to steal 50 luxury cars in one night to save the life of his brother was titled “Gone In 60 Seconds”. If for whatever reason someone in 2018 were to make a movie about how long mobile device users are willing to wait for a website to load, they could title it “Gone in 3 Seconds”. Because according to a September 2016 report by the Google-owned company DoubleClick, it was found that 53 percent of mobile device users will give up on a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Yep that's right, three seconds.

But unfortunately for literally thousands of small businesses, longer load times could potentially become the norm if the FCCs decision which effectively ended Net Neutrality in April of 2018, is not overturned. The reason being is that many small businesses simply don’t have the financial bandwidth that will be needed to enable their websites to have the fastest load times.

So what exactly is, or more accurately, what exactly was Net Neutrality anyway and how did it impact small business?  According to Wikipedia, Net Neutrality, aka Open Internet, is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs)  treat all data on the internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. Under these principles, Internet Service Providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down, favorably or inequitably speed up or charge money for specific websites and online content. Prior to the repeal of Net Neutrality, there have been instances of companies getting their hands slapped for violating some of these rules. Here are a few examples:

  • In 2012 AT&T was said have have violated Net Neutrality rules by limiting access to FaceTime so only those users who paid for AT&T's new shared data plans could access the application.
  • And in 2004, the Madison River Communications company was fined US$15,000 by the FCC, in 2004, for restricting their customers' access to Vonage, which was rivaling their own services.
  • In July 2017, Verizon Wireless was accused of throttling (intentionally slowing down or speeding up the internet service an ISP provides) after users noticed that videos played on Netflix and YouTube were slower than usual.

** Verizon contended that it was conducting "network testing" and that Net Neutrality rules permit "reasonable network management practices"

The benefit of Net Neutrality for small business meant that ISPs could not intentionally slow the website speed of a particular business that opted not go with that ISP's higher priced, premium or business-level service offering. And for consumers, it meant essentially the same thing - that, if for instance, you're a fan of Netflix, Net Neutrality dictates that one should be able to watch the shows one wants to on Netflix without running into impediments their ISP puts up that are designed to push them towards a competing service, like Hulu.

There is another element of Net Neutrality's rollback that could have impacts for all internet users, but specifically negative ones for small businesses in particular, Paid Prioritization or internet fast lanes. Simply put, an internet fast lane or paid prioritization is where one person’s data travelling on an ISP's network gets priority delivery over another person’s data delivery – and this priority or faster delivery happens for a fee. This prioritization can also include higher and better quality of the data that is delivered...critically important when considering video & audio streaming and gaming. A helpful way to think about fast lanes is by visualizing cars on a multi-lane highway where one of the lanes can only be used if you pay a toll. The toll lane only becomes attractive because the other lanes are too slow, or the surfaces are too pot-holed compared to the smooth paid toll road (quality). However the huge difference with the internet is that the ISP can actually slow down the traffic to make someone else’s go faster and have a better experience. For consumers, this could be an irritant, but for small business owners this actually could threaten the continuance of their business.

As mentioned earlier, one of the more widespread concerns of the rollback is the ability for ISP’s (more likely the larger corporations) to throttle web traffic to ISP startups or ISP-competitors. This would allow more dominant companies, such as larger scale web firms or more established companies that are partners or subsidiaries, to get priority speed.

As many companies already know site-speed play a pretty big role in Google's search rankings. As a result, small businesses fear that if their site unknowingly begins getting throttled or slowed down by certain providers, it will kill their ranking and there's nothing they can do to change it.

Throttling or the slowing down of site-speed comes at an especially high risk for video marketing companies who rely on speed to show videos with limited interruptions and buffering. While larger companies may be able to pay the prioritization costs, it will likely be the small business, Mom & Pops, and startups who do not have the financial bandwidth to do so,  who will be at risk of having yet another disadvantage as compared to much larger competitors.

So what can a small business do? While it's still early and not all of the implications, good or bad, of Net Neutrality's rollback are known, what small business can do is what they have hopefully been doing all along anyway. And that is talking directly to their customers, clients, and prospects in relevant, respectful and meaningful ways, and ensuring that the experience their customers have whenever they engage with their business always exceeds their customer's expectations regardless of whenever and wherever they engage...regardless of however long it takes them to get there.  At Black Rhino Marketing Group, we ensure that that happens for our clients!