Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget

A Short Bio about the Business Book Author:

Maria Ross is the founder and chief strategist of Red Slice, a branding and marketing consultancy based in Seattle. Her passion is storytelling and she has advised start-ups, solopreneurs, non-profits and large enterprises on how to craft their brand story to engage, inform and delight customers. Her almost 20 years of marketing and communications experience includes the likes of Microsoft, Monster.com, Accenture, Discovery Networks, Business Objects, CRAVE, Mudbay and many start-ups and small businesses. Maria is the author of Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press), which has been endorsed by marketing gurus and best-selling authors. Her unique mix of business savvy and creativity enable her to come up with fresh marketing angles for clients.

A Book Synopsis:

Marketing expert Maria Ross uses real-life examples to show how organizations of any size can create a winning brand. Small businesses and non-profits enviously watch the “big guys” create tribes of loyal followers. What can resource-strapped organizations learn from them? The secret is a strong Brand Strategy. Brand is more than just a pretty logo: it is your core promise and reputation. Branding effectively isn’t about how much money you spend, but about how clearly and consistently you communicate that promise through everything you do. This book entertainingly reveals a ten-step process to craft a strong Brand Strategy so you can connect with the right customers, make smarter marketing investments and break away from the pack.

In 50 words or less, write a paragraph stating why readers should buy your book:

If business owners want to stop beating their heads against the wall and throwing money away on “random acts of marketing” they need to take a step back and build a strong brand strategy that will guide their investments, enable them to focus and create a clear and consistent promise that will delight customers.

Do you have a blog, what is the link, what do you talk about in your blog?

www.red-slice.com/blog – brand and marketing news, musings, advice, tips, interviews and other fun stuff

Do you do speaking events? what are some common ones that you do on a regular basis? What do you talk about?

Yes. I do branding basics workshops, and speak about defining your target audience, crafting your brand strategy, and effective messaging.  I also speak about entrepreneurial success as it relates to effective marketing, branding and messaging.

Do you do your own marketing or PR? What is a good marketing / PR stratgey for a budding author?

Yes I do, and any other author who tells you otherwise is lying to you or they are Stephen King! You absolutely need to have a strong following and platform to make your book a success. Who is your tribe? What are you known for? Do you as an author have a “brand”? I used a combined strategy of press outreach, social media outreach (sending my book out for review to influential bloggers and gurus) and promoting the book within my “tribe” on Twitter and Facebook. I also posted an excerpt on Scribd and conduct many radio and podcast interviews that I find through HARO (www.helpareporterout.com) which is a free resource . You need to find speaking opps that pertain to your book topic, not just about book authors, so you can portray yourself as an expert in that field who happens to have a book. No one case about your “book”, per se: they care about your expertise and the content of that book so you have to get out there and talk about that. Post on blogs and articles on a related topic. No venue is too small to reach an audience.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?

Absolutely. My blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Scribd and Naymz. I also listed my blog in some blog directories to get more exposure. I had a whole social media plan for how to promote the book prepared for me by a social marketing expert. But remember it’s a soft sell: be seen as offering valuable content and expertise on your topic, not just hawking your book. If people trust you as an expert, they will buy your book.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

Facebook, Twitter, Scribd, my blog, LinkedIn, HARO & Reporter Connection (for finding press opportunities), various networking groups like Ladies Who Launch and CRAVE, free speaking engagements at local business organizations, my network and their communities.

What is the best advice you never got?

I knew that self-published books and Print on Demand books often have a stigma attached in certain distribution channels. I thought I was avoiding this by going with a small publisher. But because of my publisher’s size, we are lumped into a distribution database with such books and it makes convincing retail booksellers to carry it quite a lot of work – we often can’t convince them and my publisher is not incented to push this too hard, since the retail model is less profitable for them than online sales. I just learned today that there are small publishers with their OWN distribution arms who circumvent this and have trusted relationships with booksellers to avoid this challenge – and are still not seen as self-publishers by the industry.

What is the one thing that you did right?

Fight for having my designer design my book cover versus the publisher. While you may never get this from a large publishing house and it is extra cost, I absolutely needed to represent my brand well (my book is about branding, after all!). It turned out better than even my publisher expected and I am complimented on this all the time. I am proud of the way the book looks!

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

Realizing that promoting the book is like another “client” and requires constant followup. You can’t get discouraged if the media doesn’t pay attention – you have to keep trying new angles or following up because they are inundated and have really short attention spans! And promoting the book is a full-time job.

What book(s) have you read that you would recommend to others:

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. This book is excellent if you want to learn how to sell ideas or create messages that stick. This applies to anyone who needs to influence others, from non-profits, to teachers to salespeople.

Drive by Daniel Pink. An excellent book about what really motivates human performance and how the current business incentive models need to change.

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