Crossing Borders with your Brand

By claire |

sbuxshanghaiTucked away in the oldest corner of Shanghai—known for its traditional architecture, Chinese pearl shops and exquisite gardens —is none other than Starbucks Coffee. Interestingly enough, this Starbucks is merely one location of 111 in Shanghai alone. So the question becomes, how exactly does Starbucks do it? How is it possible that a single brand can appeal to each unique audience and succeed on such a large international scale? Although international branding is complicated enough to fill the pages of a five book series, here are a few helpful tips to create an international brand.

1. Create a clear vision

While this may seem slightly obvious, for many companies, it proves to be difficult. First and foremost, it is necessary to create a clear vision for your brand and your company as a whole. At this point, your company should identify its core competence, and understand how the company differentiates itself from its competitors. Based on your core competence, identify a succinct positioning statement. Keep in mind that the positioning statement should be concise, catchy and appealing to your target audience. Later on, the positioning statement functions as a direct interface between your company and the consumer by appearing via print and online advertising.

2. Increase Brand Tangibility and Visibility

sbuxFirst, spend time developing your company logo, which plays an important role in your corporate identity. Lets return to the Starbucks example to give us some additional insight. Starbucks’ circular green and black logo not only assures the consumer that the coffee they receive is of the highest quality, but carrying a Starbucks coffee cup also makes a statement about you as a consumer. Starbucks Coffee brands itself as a luxurious and sophisticated company, as evidenced by its chic interior and expensive menu items, and this company logo is undoubtedly intertwined with this particular lifestyle.

Another means to increase brand visibility is to maintain a strong online presence through two primary outlets: your company’s website and social media tools including blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. By following Tip #1 and creating a defined positioning statement, the company will have no problem maintaining a consistent online presence. Finally, building a strong network of business contacts will further increase your brands visibility.

3. Understand the Balance between Standardization and Customization

friesAs you expand into new markets, it’s especially important that your brand delivers a clear and consistent message to your consumer. In the case of McDonald’s, consumers expect the same yellow “M” logo, greasy french fries, and speedy service whether they are in Madrid, Spain or Ann Arbor, Michigan. McDonald’s takes standardization to the extreme by creating their very own “Hamburger University,” where they train McDonald’s employees. Keep in mind that this type of standardization is not right for every company. In the case of Starbucks, they tailor their product mix slightly to each unique audience. In China, they offer different frappaccino flavors than in the United States. For a high-end retailer like Starbucks, this works. The overall message of this final tip comes down to the following: standardization and customization are not necessarily dichotomous. In fact, the tricky part comes in finding what’s right for your particular brand!

BNI’s: What are they and do they work?

By Perks |

As we’ve previously discussed in this blog, networking is a great was to build your client list and generate those all-important leads. BNI’s (Business Networking International) are a great extension of this principle. bni-2008-theme-changing-the-way_final_hi-res-smallest

So what exactly are they? Quite simply, they are the largest referral organization in the world. Founded by Dr. Ivan Misner in 1985, there are approximately 105,000 members throughout the globe spread across 5,000+ chapters.

So there are the rather impressive statistics, but what do BNI’s actually do and how can it benefit small and emerging businesses? Well, with the motto “Givers Gain”, one can get an instant picture of the attitude of a BNI chapter: it’s a no-nonsense meeting, in which members of a chapter have each others backs in this crazy world we call business. Rather than simply hunting down leads, referrals have more of a farming feeling – a personal introduction from someone who knows you, to someone who needs you. And vice versa. Cultivating these opportunities is up to the individual, but the legwork is done for you… just as you are doing it for someone else.

There are some rules though!

- Only one person per professional industry may be a member of any one chapter: this may sound tough… especially for those of us in rather mainstream arenas…. But think about it – if you are a personal trainer, every single person in your chapter would recommend YOUR class if they ever hear of anyone in need. Not bad!

- You have to be asked to join by the rest of the group: Again – this isn’t as scary as it sounds. There is no hazing or pledging. But if these chaps are going to be referring your business, they need to be sure you aren’t going to damage their reputation.

- Participation is key: So when you visit a chapter, it’s not all just delicious eggs and hand shakes. You must partake in the meeting – sphpjh81uv2tanding and giving a 60 second commercial on you and your business, distribute your business card, swap referral cards if you can and re-stand to provide feedback at the end of your visit.

My best advice to anyone thinking about joining a BNI is: just get out there! Test out a few, have a commercial ready, and be prepared for a friendly, yet direct response to business mingling.

So are you part of a BNI? Have you found success? Let us know your thoughts!

Global Economies: The Big Four (BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India China)

By claire |

Posted By: Sumontro Roy,

Around 2001, Goldman Sachs coined the term “the BRIC Economies” to represent the combined economies of the countries bricBrazil, Russia, India and China i.e. the four largest emerging economies by population.

Their combined share of the global GDP grew from 7% in 1995 to 14% in 2007. They also account for 25% of the world’s land area and for about 40% of the global population.

These countries have a huge and rapidly growing middle-class and, importantly, a middle-class that has increasing spending power through better jobs and more disposable income. These combined four countries represent a huge demand for products and services ranging from basic as well as advanced infrastructure through to quintessential consumer packaged goods.
As a result, the growth areas for many US and European companies are centered around these regions. Per Goldman Sachs, “by 2050 the combined economies of the BRIC economy could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world.”

However, the BRIC economy is also feeling the brunt of the current global recession and it makes for interesting reading to see how much this climate is likely to impede and affect their charge.

Here are some thought provoking and informative articles!

BRIC built future – the global economy shake-up

The Magnificent Four – Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC)


The Red, White and Blue of Marketing for Local Businesses

By claire |

650There’s no denying in, small business and entrepreneurship are as American as apple pie.  Capitalistic Darwinsim is what makes America all that it is–the good, the bad and the ugly. So, especially during these volatile economic times, how do you keep your growing business growing?

Of course, Perks Consulting has long been a strong advocate of  online marketing and social media and how they both (if done right) yield a high return on a significantly smaller investment. But, in the spirit of good old-fashioned Americana, here are some more traditional marketing tips that may take a little more work, but are sure to be well worth it.

1. Advertise in Your Local Newspaper

This tactic may seem a bit outdated but, believe it or not, people still read local newspapers. If you want to stay with the times, most local newspapers have online versions so try advertising there in addition to the printed edition. By advertising through local channels, you can ensure that you are reaching a targeted, and relevant, audience.  Make your ad is compelling and display it in places of prominence around the community.

2. Host or Sponsor a Community EventHappy 4th of July Fireworks

Nothing beats a good old fashioned block party! By partnering with other local businesses to host a memorable event, you’re getting the word out there and creating a positive association within the community about your products or services.  This also gives you a chance to interact face-to-face with your potential customers.

3.  Network in Your Own Backyard

People often overlook the power of the personal network.  Look at the people that you already know who are key players in your community.  Whether they are involved in community politics or coach the local baseball team, reach out to others in your community and form strategic partnerships. You’d be surprised at the potential that lies in your own backyard.

Finding the Right Market for your Brand

By claire |

http-_smallbusinessyahoocomau_files_articles_images_313_target_market1With so many different channels and messages floating around in today’s cluttered market, it’s easy for your brand to get lost in the mix.  That’s where niche marketing comes in. Your niche market, or target market, is represented by your ideal client or client prototype.  These customer prototypes could be characterized by a variety of factors including age, gender, location, etc.  So how do you find your target market? Start with this quick exercise. (And don’t forget to write all of your ideas down!)

1. Grab a couple of highlighters in a few different colors and make a list of your current clients using a black pen.

2. Highlight in one color the clients that you love. These are the clients that are with your company for the long term; the clients with whom you’ve built a solid relationships.  They read your monthly newsletter, anxiously await new products or services and use your current products or services to their fullest.

3. In a different color, highlight the clients that give you more problems. These clients are harder to deal with and are the clients you constantly have to win over.  Nothing seems to be good enough for these customers and you dread their every phone call.

4. Once you’re finished, look at the “Clients you Love” group. Find common traits between these clients. Look at:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Employment Status
  • Which products they use
  • Who their customers may be (if they are business owners or entrepreneurs)
  • What makes you enjoy working with them

Do the same for the “Clients you Loathe” column.  Now you’ve identified your target demographic and the customers to avoid.

5. Now that you’ve gotten to know your ideal customer, create a customer profile. Give you ideal customer a name and humanize him or her by giving him/her a personality.  Once you’ve identified your client prototype, get creative and find ways to reach these loyal clients and their peers (i.e. your potential customers). Identify what their concerns may be, what media they use, what other products or services they may be interested in. Use this information to find ways to capture their attention and increase your sales.

6. Find ways that your business can help. Look at your ideal customer’s needs and how your business can fill them.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my ideal client’s needs?
  • What products/services do I have that fulfill those needs?
  • What sets my business apart from my competition?
  • What “extras” can I offer my clients?http-_blogsvoicescom_voxdaily_target-market-500

This quick exercise can give you an enormous amount of insight. (Don’t have a lot of time? For a 60-second excersise click here.) Once you’ve found your target market, there are many ways that you can widen your scope and bring your product to potential customers around the country, and even the world.  Stay tuned for the Perks Consulting team’s tips on how to take your brand on the road.

Marketing Plan Makeover

By claire |


Every business needs a marketing plan. Plain and simple. But, what makes a good marketing plan? What do you need to know to get your product or services in the right hands?

Here are a few quick tips to get you started on creating a marketing plan or to help you give your marketing plan a makeover.

1. Be simple.

No need to confuse everyone with an overly complex marketing plan.  Regardless of how large or small your business may be, your marketing plan should stick to the basics. Use a format that is easy to maintain and doesn’t cause any headaches.  If your Marketing Plan is simple and to the point it will make everyone’s lives easier.

2. Be specific.

To keep your marketing on point, your marketing plan needs to be as specific as possible.  Include information such as:

  • Launch Dates
  • Preparation
  • Responsible Staff
  • Type  and Frequency of Marketing

Since your Marketing Plan is essentially your “Marketing To Do List,” make sure that everything on there is prioritized and organized like you would for your personal “To Do List”

3.  Understand your audience.

Having a solid grasp on your target demographic and competition is essential when creating an effective marketing plan. Ask yourself:

  • Who will be using my product?
  • What other products are they using?
  • Where does my target consumer go to receive information?
  • When does my target consumer use my product?
  • How can I reach my target consumer?

Asking yourself these questions will help you understand how to effectively market your product and what channels of media are best for your needs.

images-114. Understand your value proposition.

Don’t take a single marketing step without ensuring that all involved completely understand your value proposition. Your value proposition is the WHY. Why does your target consumer want your product or service? Why can’t they live without it? Why should they choose your product or service over that of your competitors?

Need help figuring out what your value proposition is? Stay tuned!

How not to get Linked Out…

By Perks |

So in our last blog, we discussed the wonderful professional networking tool that is LinkedIn. linkedin-logoblog-2

With so many great benefits, it is easy to get a little carried away – so here are a few handy do’s and don’ts for good LinkedIn use:

1. DON’T get to invitation-happy: It’s very easy to just ask every guy, gal and their mother to “connect to me” – but unless you know the person already, or have genuinely looked at their profile and spotted something particularly relevant, it’s not a great idea to randomly spam someone. A much better approach is to send someone a “contact request”, as this is a lot more personal and proves you know who you are talking to.

 2. DO invite people you know who are not on LinkedIn to join: This builds up your network as well as helping them find connections. But remember – this is a professional networking site. Leave your personal chums to your Facebook profile and keep this to do with work.

 3. DO keep your page up to date: No matter how busy you are, if you are currently at a fabulous job but are looking to move up in the industry, then why would you not say so? If you have just graduated and have a marvelous GPA, then show it off! These details are so important with regards to recommendations and connections. However…

 4. DON’T overload your profile: It is easy to confuse quality with quantity, and pile loads of information onto your account. I’m sure the aerobics class you attended once at college was fabulous, but it’s not going to help you here, so keep it relevant.


So there you have it! My quick hints for LinkedIn. Do you have any of your own? Did I miss any? Let us know!


Are you linked in?

By Perks |

My grandmother’s friend’s guinea pig’s breeder suggested I call you…

Okay, so maybe that is a bit far fetched, but the age old concept of “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” is one that stands strong throughout time.

Particularly in times such as these, networking is key. Be it that you are looking for a job, trying to drum up new business or just needing to build your list of contacts, the sure fire way to do this is through business networking. And if you know what’s good for you – you’ll be active in the most professional networking site: LinkedIn.


Some facts about LinkedIn: 

-       LinkedIn has over 41 million members in over 200 countries and territories all around the globe

-       A new member joins linkedIn approximately every second

-       Executives from ALL fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members

-       Approximately 170 industries are represented on the site

-       It’s free!


With the ability to show off your resume, background work experience, education and contact details and testimonials from previous employers, LinkedIn services as a quick look into one’s professional career thus far. With the added ability to discuss topics of interest, share news article and search directly for jobs – joining LinkedIn sounds like a no-brainer right?

And it is! But with this much at your fingertips – it is easy to get carried away. Check out my next blog for a few easy do’s and don’t for using LinkedIn. Gettin’ Taggy with it! (Part 2)

By claire |

Posted By: Sumontro Roy,

Usage/Technical Details

An account at Delicious is completely free and through the sign-up process you will be instructed on some pretty handy tools that are available.

Browser Add-On: The most convenient one is where you can add a little button through your web browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari) on your PC toolbar. Once done, hit that “Bookmark on Delicious” button every time you want to save a link and a new box shows up with the URL and some initial details already sorted out. And it’ll be there every time you re-visit.

Tagging Rules: no spaces between words. Thus, “asianfusion” and not “asian fusion”.

Multiple Tag searches: separated by “+”. Therefore, “asianfusion+excellentcocktails”

Navigation: the site is organized into three sections: Bookmarking, People and Tags and once you’re logged in, you get access to all your information through these sections. Also check out the What’s New section for updates and new features.


Put your favorites on the web, share them with friends and peers, and have access to your favorite pages anytime and anywhere, and don’t forget to go and check whether others have ‘delicioused’ you!

And since competition is never far behind, here’s a 2nd player in this field that you might want to check out: They offer ‘highlighting’ and ‘sticky notes’ as an improvement over the incumbent ☺

On a parting note…
The litmus test for social media and networking sites is obviously how to generate revenue…any suggestions on how Delicious can monetize their model?

Posted by Sumontro. Gettin’ Taggy with it!

By claire |

Posted By: Sumontro Roy,

Let’s face it: there’s so much out there on the web but we hardly ever always have the time to read in as much detail as we’d like, right ? Often, we’d also like to go back and read those special articles just that one more time…like the one where the favorite team beats its arch-rival in Game 7 of the series in a real epic! is a social bookmarking website that allows you to bookmark web pages and access them from any computer at any time- think about it as the “favorites” tab on your PC toolbar except that it’s through a website and accessible through the internet on any computer. was created in 2003 by Joshua Schachter as a casual way of sharing web pages with his friends. It has grown in leaps and bounds since, and, in December 2005, Yahoo! acquired it for an apparently huge, but undisclosed, sum of money ☺

It is defined as a “social bookmarking” website as against just a “bookmarking” one because it allows you to share your links with other people i.e. your friends, colleagues, peers and co-interest groups. You can use it for personal and/or professional purposes, to organize your research, ideas, articles and websites that are of interest to you.

Have stuff that is for your private use only? Duly mark as “not to share”!

But why should you actually use Delicious?

Firstly, it allows you to conveniently save and refer to a link for future reference through any computer.

Secondly, its extensive functionality allows for convenient cross-referencing, indexing, sharing and usage. If you were to “bookmark” or “favorite” a link in your browser in the “favorites” tab on your PC toolbar, you would likely do so only once using just one “category”.

However, as an example, let’s say you were a food enthusiast, lived in New York City and loved to explore, make personal notes, revisit and maintain a database of restaurants in the area. With all that NYC has to offer, that database could get pretty complex, especially over time!

With Delicious though, you could save a link for an Asian-Fusion restaurant called “Jade” that you visited under various descriptors (called “tags”) such as “asian fusion”, “value-for-money”, “manhattan”, “excellent desserts” and so on. You could also record a comment about the “Chicken Chilli” entrée that you liked!

Thus, in future, when in the mood for an “Asian-Fusion restaurant with excellent desserts” (but having conveniently forgotten its name!) you could easily pull this one up (as well as others with similar tags) by searching for “asian fusion + excellent desserts”. This cross-referencing and indexing tool is particularly handy.

You can sort all your bookmarks with (multiple) tags and also pull up all articles that have similar tags by others with delicious accounts: more than 3 million users and 100 million bookmarked URLs per recent data.

It will show the pages that have most recently been tagged, but you can sort the information by popularity i.e. the number of people that have bookmarked that particular page.

Although other social sites like Twitter, Digg and Blogs allow for dialogue among members, Delicious does not. You don’t vote, review or comment on others bookmarks either. All you do is save a site as a favorite.

However, Delicious does have a “most popular list.” This is on the Delicious home page itself and consists of the most recently and the most often bookmarked web pages. Stay tuned for Delicious 101 in tomorrow’s blog.

Posted by Sumontro