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Oct 25 2012

You’ve Got To Spend Money To Make Money

We often hear from clients that they don’t have money to do direct mail marketing, or any kind of marketing for that matter. Yet the old adage “you have to spend money to make money” is especially true with marketing. If you make financial sacrifices in the beginning, you’ll reap big rewards.

One of our most successful clients, Brett Smith, has proven this to be true throughout his career. When Brett started in real estate he didn’t have a brand, he didn’t have much activity to report and he didn’t have a big income. Yet he consistently sent generic mailing pieces to his social list and farm. As he continued to mail, people became familiar with him and began calling him when they were ready to buy or sell a home. Through direct mail marketing, he was able to connect with people he would have never met otherwise.

As Brett’s business began to grow, so did his marketing efforts. He started to mail postcards advertising each listed and sold property. He continued sending out important real estate information and began to mail holiday cards throughout the year. He also used direct mail to stay in contact with past clients and generate referrals. Thank you cards, personal letters and newsletters kept him in the forefront of past clients minds and encouraged them to refer to clients to Brett.

direct mail marketing

This is the postcard Brett often sends out with information about his business activity

Eventually, Brett realized that he needed a cohesive business brand that could be used on all his marketing pieces. He works predominately in Orange County coastal cities and he wanted a brand that subtly hinted at that. The graphic designers at One Step Services came up with an awesome brand that is cool, crisp, and professional with a subtle beach theme. This branding appears on every piece of Brett’s marketing, from postcards to open house signs, websites to letterhead.

Today, Brett is reaping the rewards of his early financial sacrifice. He has a fully integrated marketing strategy that includes online, email and print marketing. Of course, he is still consistently sending direct mail pieces 2-3 times a week to his farm and social list. He continues to send just listed and just sold postcards, property flyers, holiday cards, generic articles, thank you cards and personal correspondence to past clients. His advice to new real estate agents is to create a business brand as soon as possible.

“When it comes to real estate marketing, you’re wasting your time if you don’t go to One Step Services first. Once they created my custom brand, everything else just flowed from that. That brand brings a higher level of professionalism to my business and makes me easily recognizable in my target areas.”

If you’re ready to get started on your own brand and/or direct mail marketing campaign, call us at 949-587-5301. And if you want to talk real estate with Brett, give him a call at 949-240-2397.

Oct 24 2012

Creating a Business Brand: Determine Your Core Branding Message

brand identity creationWell, I spent all last week trying to find a marketing genie that could magically create brands for us. But, since I couldn’t find one, we are going to forge ahead with creating one on our own! Last week, we talked about the importance of identifying your target audience. Today, we’re talking about the importance of creating a branding message.

A business brand is a message consistently and repeatedly delivered to a target audience through visual and textual elements. Every business has a general business message that is conveyed through everything they do. Think about your favorite brands. Whether you’re a marketing expert or not, I can almost guarantee that you’re able to pin point the core company message that gets repeated over and over. *Bonus points if you know the actual tagline of each company without looking it up.

Target: We have everything you need to get through every day life at a great price.

In N Out: We have the freshest, highest quality food in the fast food industry.

AT&T: We provide consistent, reliable cell phone service that lets you stay connected to people, places and events all over the world.

These messages are portrayed in every interaction the company has with the public, whether its through taglines and ads, store displays, or customer and employee interactions. Every aspect of their branding and marketing is based off this core message.

So, how do you come up with a message like that? A message that is simple enough to be explained in just a few sentences and can be expressed in every one of your public outlets. Think about these three things:

  • The identity of your company. What does your company do? Are you very large, very professional financial institution; or a small, personable, fun-loving design company? Where does your company operate? What products or services do you provide? What are your core values?
  • The ways your company benefits your consumers. Which of their problems do you solve? How do help them? Why should they choose to do business with you? What’s in it for them?
  • The things that set you apart. How are you different from your competitors? What makes you company special? What makes your product and services special?

In answering these questions, a message will begin to emerge. You’ll find there are certain ideas that repeat and overlap across all these questions, and those are the ideas that will make up your core message. If you’re having trouble coming up with a core message, schedule a meeting with Allison, Director of Client Relations at One Step Services. She has years of small business marketing and branding experience and would love to help you create a branding message.

BTW, I wasn’t kidding about the bonus points. If you know the marketing taglines for Target, In N Out or AT&T, write them in the comments below!

photo taken from

Oct 09 2012

How do I Market During the Holidays?

small business marketingIt’s simpler than you might think. Just keep mailing, keep blogging, keep posting, keep emailing, keep advertising, KEEP MARKETING! Whatever small business marketing strategies were effective for you throughout the year, continue doing them through the holiday season.

Continuous marketing will do two things. One, it will put you in contact with the people who need your products and services. No matter how slow a business may get during this season, there are always people who need what you are offering. Second, marketing today lays the foundation for business tomorrow. Most people aren’t going to go to the dentist during this time, but in January when they have a killer toothache from eating all of Grandma’s maple candy, they’re going to need a dentist. If you were the dentist they claimed a Groupon from or the one who is showing up on their Facebook newsfeed, you’re going to be the dentist they use.

Need some small business marketing ideas to keep you going through the holidays?  

Run a contest. If you are in an industry that slows down during the holidays, getting people interested in your business during this time is going to be hard. However, you can almost always interest people in a contest. Your first step is to come up with an enticing prize (maybe a gift certificate to the local toy store.) Then you have to promote it EVERYWHERE! Run Facebook ads, send out entry forms through direct mail and email, and put an entry form on your website. You’ll be able to capture contact information for potential leads and start to build a relationship that will become profitable after the holidays.

Shameless plug: We can create coloring contests, or any other contest form, for your small business. We’ll send them out for you, and then clients send them back to you along with their contact information. These typically see a high response rate because, honestly, who doesn’t love coloring?

Host an event. The holiday season is a great time to connect with old clients face to face and show your appreciation for their business. Host a Halloween Carnival, a leftover Thanksgiving potluck, a cookie decorating party, or a white elephant gift exchange. Give back to the community by hosting a toy drive, feeding the homeless, crocheting caps for cancer patients, or running a race to raise awareness. While none of these events directly promote your business, they help you stay connected with past clients and give you the opportunity to meet new potential clients. Plus, you’ll have a ton of fun doing them and make a positive impact on the community, which is what the holidays are all about.

Make your business “giftable”. At this time of the year, most people are spending most of their money on gifts. Cash in on this trend by making your products and services easy to give as gifts. If you run a service based business, create gift certificates so clients can gift your services to others.

Make a deal. If you want to draw attention to your business during this time, make clients a deal they can’t refuse. Offer discounted services, buy one get one free deals, or free gifts. Tell people about these deals through direct mail, email campaigns, Facebook Offers, Groupon, and Living Social.

Make your Facebook more festive. Even something as simple as changing your Facebook cover photo will draw attention to your page and your business. Make sure your posts relate your business to the holidays. If you’re a real estate agent, post pictures of holiday decoration ideas. If you’re in heating and air conditioning, give clients tips on how to maintain their furnace during the winter. These things may not create business for you now, but it will keep you on the forefront of people’s minds and they’ll turn to you as soon as they are ready to do business.

Send out holiday cards. Like the Facebook posts, sending holiday cards may not immediately drum up business. However, the kind gesture will give recipients the warm fuzzies and they’ll associate your business with kindness and holiday cheer. By making yourself visible, you are laying the foundation for future business.

Shameless Plug: If you don’t have time to send out hundreds of holiday cards, order holiday postcards from us. They’re beautifully designed and you can choose from a pre-written message or customize your own. We’ll even address and mail them out for you. How easy is that?

Do you have any other ideas for marketing during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.