Are You Cool Enough to be My Friend? (Business Symbiosis)

25 08 2011

Are you cool enough to be my friend?Well, are you?

Several weeks back, I wrote about being tainted by association – that the location of your marketing materials can raise or decimate your company’s “cool factor”.

This week, we’re taking a slightly different track. Because, in addition to location, our company’s reputations are also integrally linked to the crowd we hang with. Or, in other words, the shops and companies we align ourselves reflect directly on our own. Here’s what I mean…

Are we all acquainted with the difference between symbiotic and parasitic?

Symbiotic relationships are those in which both parties benefit from each other – where 1 + 1 equals greater than 2. In business, this might be a situation where, say, a running store and a bicycle shop team up to better serve the triathlon community. Both stores promote the adventure, fun and satisfaction of participating in tri events, and pull in new customers that they are able to “share” and mutually support. Win-win.

Parasitic relationships aren’t warm and they’re anything but fuzzy. One party benefits at the expense of the other. This might be a goliath book store chain swooping in on a mom-and-pop book nook’s fundraiser. Mom and Pop might initially celebrate: “Wow, this could mean great exposure!” But what it really means is that Big Guy is tapping into Little Guy’s customer base, and siphoning off their customers.  Win-lose.

So, who’s cool enough – and symbiotic enough – to “hang” with you?

The answer relies entirely upon who you are as a company, along with your business goals, ethics and mission. The very best thing you can do for your business is to associate yourself with the type of business you’d like to become. If family-like customer relations, involvement in pertinent community events and being a one-stop resource for your customers is the way you run your business, look for companies that already do it with great success.

It doesn’t necessarily matter if the industries are entirely different. A first-rate tool and die manufacturer might help produce a bicycle shop’s conceptualization of a new crank design. In turn, the bicycle shop might provide a package bike deal to the manufacturer’s employees to help keep them fit, healthy and happy. Think creatively. There’s symbiosis to be found in nearly any positive relationship.

DMT Challenge of the Week
Starting locally, take a look around you. Which companies uphold or exemplify the standards you’ve set or aspire to set for your business? List 5 that you see most closely aligning with your corporate ideals. Now crank those thinking caps up to “Dangerously High”. Next to each company, jot down ways in which your businesses could benefit each other. If the symbiosis is strong enough, you may just have found someone “cool enough to be your friend.”

Your friendly, symbiotic, neighborhood graphic design and marketing firm:

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

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Fo’ Shizzle My Nizzle: The marketing language gap

28 07 2011

Ah. The Great Cultural Divide. And I’m not necessarily talking about geographical culture either.

Did you know that every business on the planet – whether it’s 1 person or 1,000 – has it’s own culture? It’s true!

A business culture forms from a way of speaking, a set of ideals, a way of doing things…

And where culture forms, language is hot on its heels. Your business’ language consists of shared lingo, attitudes, processes, interests, missions, experiences and more. It’s a way of communicating that is unique to your company and to your industry.

And when your customers speak that same language, the results are… magical.

Unfortunately, many business owners lose sight of a maxim that’s as true to marketing a business as to personal self growth: “This above all: To thine own self be true.” They warp their cultural language to conform to some ideal market they want to target.

Guess what. Capital N – O… NO!!

It’s not the market that defines the culture, but your culture that should define your target market.

Think of it this way – a Porsche dealer would hardly use mommy talk to promote it’s 911 GT2 sports car. And you sure as shootin’ wouldn’t hear street slang used to market a Ford Aerostar minivan. Each of these cars has its own micro-culture, and to market them any differently would be a disservice to all involved.

When you try to be something you’re not, be prepared to be called out.

Please don’t misunderstand me. There is an element of genius in being able to adapt your communications to make different customers feel welcome, special and comfortable. But the point is this: Hold true to the core culture that makes your business the unique success that it is.

This Week’s DMT Challenge

PART I: Take a look at the website home pages of some of the corporate giants – Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, NASCAR, McDonald’s, choose-your-own. Look at the colors, the images, the content and the layout. These are companies that have spent bookoo bucks and quality time defining the culture of their company. Do you think their websites succeed in getting the right message across?

PART II: See if you can define some cultural features of your own company or the company you work for. What’s your company mission? How does your staff interact with customers? How do they interact with each other? What’s the dress code? What are the most popular topics of conversation?

PART III: Now take a look at your own website – or any other marketing materials. Again, look at the colors, the images, the content and the layout. Do they communicate what you’ve defined above?

Incidentally, for those who are curious, “fo’ shizzle my nizzle” means something along the lines of “Most definitely, my African American brother.”

Is DMT Artistry the “bees knees”? Fo’ shizzle my nizzle. Let us prove it to you.

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com