February 23, 2024

You’re the Boss: Checking In on Four Marketing Makeovers

Trevor Byrne decided to keep his store's name.Courtesy of AUM Framing and Gallery Trevor Byrne decided to keep his store’s name.

Last September, Branded featured four small-business owners across the United States who had won a berth in Project REV, a yearlong marketing makeover sponsored by the Deluxe Corporation. Six months later, I was curious about the progress Felicia, Trevor, Tasha and Scot had made with the support of Project REV, Score and their $5,000 in services from Deluxe.

Felicia Frazier owns Staging by Dwell, a company that gives home interiors a face-lift to increase their appeal to prospective buyers. Since September, Ms. Frazier has developed a logo and business card, has introduced a Web site, and is working on a postcard mailer and e-newsletter. She has joined a networking group and enjoys getting in front of real estate agents and prospective clients.

Ms. Frazier says she is very happy that she now has a clearer business identity and a Web site that she is proud to send people to. Deluxe’s subsidiary, Aplus.net, developed and is hosting her site for $1,000, with no up-front costs and the payments spread out over 12 months.

Have the improvements translated into sales yet? “Business in general for me has been kind of slow, due to the winter weather in Ohio,” Ms. Frazier said, “but I’ve gotten lots of attention and compliments for my Web site.”

She finds it challenging to take care of marketing and manage the business. “I have a very creative background but find myself spending a lot of time on design and layout,” she said. “Wanting to put out the best professional product, I sometimes become paralyzed by perfection.”

Ms. Frazier credits Project REV for encouraging her to distance herself from day-to-day duties and to get out of the office more. She has joined a networking group, Business Networking International, and enjoys meeting with real estate agents and prospective clients.

Trevor Byrne, owner of AUM Framing and Gallery in Denver, has also unveiled a new Web site, one created by Aplus.net, as well. When he told me the whole process took a week and a half, I was a little skeptical. Web sites typically have a gestation period that’s somewhere between a wombat and a whale. But the gallery site is professionally organized and designed and meets his needs.

Mr. Byrne, who bought the 28-year-old gallery last year, is facing some challenges with a few new marketing initiatives. He has introduced an e-newsletter with informational tips on framing and is using a customer relationship management program to send it out. He has found that the gallery’s e-mails are getting snagged in junk-mail boxes.

He also has some trepidation about his investment in print advertising. He has placed ads in Denver magazines, performing arts publications and a neighborhood newspaper, but so far, when he asks his customers what brought them to the store, they don’t credit the ads. “How long do we keep spending money on the ads if they are not generating customers? We’ve been told that we need to advertise multiple times — up to seven times — before people remember the ads and our name. That’s a large expense if we get no leads.” (My thoughts: every situation is different, but print readership studies have confirmed that it takes up to seven times for people to see an ad and take action. And even if the ads aren’t driving immediate traffic, they are probably generating brand awareness that can support long-term sales.)

Tasha Oldham parlayed her film-making experience into a company, My Story, that helps businesses market themselves by telling their stories in video. Ms. Oldham reports that, since we last spoke, her world has been transformed. She credits a marketing trifecta: the advice of Score (she even picked up Score as a client, producing six national videos for them), her Project REV counselor and her networking and blogging. “As an entrepreneur,” she said, “it’s good to have guidance and accountability and there are so many valuable, rich resources out there. You don’t have to go it alone.”

Under the guidance of Score and Project REV, Ms. Oldham threw a party to introduce My Story, which is based in Los Angeles. She held the party in Venice Beach, sending out $100 floral arrangements as invitations to 100 people — keeping costs down by trading video services with the florist and the caterer. The event, she says, was “like a wedding without the groom” and brought together some of the best in marketing, advertising and public relations in Los Angeles.

Her challenges? “I am a big believer in taking risks,” she said, “either going big or going home. However, as a small business, it is hard to take big financial marketing risks and have them not pan out into dollars. Social media still remains a complete mystery to me.”

Scot Waggoner, chief executive of a home remodeling company, W.B. Builders, which is based in Edina, Minn., used his $5,000 award buying logoed polo shirts and jackets, developing a print ad, fine-tuning his Web site and improving customer loyalty and referral tactics. The company also participated in a remodeling show this past fall. “We hosted two catered thank-you parties after the show at each of the homes,” he said. “Those were very well received and we got two jobs off of them.”

Mr. Waggoner said that one of his challenges is that he hasn’t had the time to figure out social media. “I am unfamiliar with a lot of the functionality on social media sites,” he said. “For instance, I just uploaded some pictures of a bathroom remodel to Facebook, and the picture quality was horrific.” Overall, though, he said his makeover had been a positive experience: “I now understand where we are, who our constituents are, and the importance of getting the brand out there.”

Deluxe has decided that there will be a second season of Project REV. New applicants will be sought this summer, and the new season will kick off at the end of the year. For more information, visit the Project REV site.

MP Mueller is the founder of Door Number 3, a boutique advertising agency in Austin, Tex. Follow Door Number 3 on Facebook.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e0a55775caea9717240ad3af1cc998ae

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