What’s in your Company Name?

What's in a business name?How important is your Company’s Name?

> Do you know the story behind Xerox?

  • It comes from Xerography = greek word xeros which means ‘dry’ and graphos which means ‘writing’. Shortened, you get Xerox.

> How about McDonalds?

  • A milk shake mixer salesman by the name of Ray Kroc purchased the rights from Dick and Mac McDonald who started franchising their restaurant in the 1950’s.

> And VOLVO?

  • ‘Volvere’ is a latin verb for the word ‘roll’ – like in the word revolver. Created by a swedish firm that made bearings, VOLVO means ‘to roll’

But if you didn’t know any of this history, would it make a difference? A McDonalds hamburger still tastes great and making a Xerox still means to make a copy. Sure it helps if the company name you choose tells your customer what you do, but sometimes trying to be too tricky can lead to problems:

> Jim’s Plumbing: that’s obvious

  • Sometimes plain and simple is the best

> Ducks Cleaning: with a graphic of Aflack’s twin brother

  • This doesn’t convey that you clean air ducts
  • This is too cutesy and very confusing

> Best Quality Cleaning

  • ‘Best’, ‘Quality’, ‘Professional’ — did you ever see anyone market the fact that they’re ‘Almost Best’? ‘Amateur’?
  • It’s usually best to stay away from these types of terms — your ego is getting in the way

I once was given a business card with three big letters across the page: D I G  I thought, Dig? What’s that mean I asked. The gentleman announced his girlfriend would keep telling him how good he was, so he decided to name his company D I G: Damn I’m Good.  Really? Needless to say, his services were never used.

I had someone else ask me to design a card with just his name on it. No number, no address, no company, no email, no nothing. The only thing I did see he had, was an ego.

Another question you should ask yourself when you’re trying to choose a company name, is it readily available for a ‘.com’ domain name? Will you have to hyphen it? Underscore it? Shorten it? Compromise it?

  • It took us over 5 years to finally get our name as a domain.com. And it was well worth the wait. Up until then, we had to hyphen it.

Are .net and .org the only alternatives? In that case, don’t grab them. It’s always best — unless you’re a non-profit organization — to have a ‘.com’ web name. Why? When people search, they tend to type in .com, and many browsers automatically add that if you don’t put anything in. And having your competition show up instead of you? And if you are a .org, grab the .com as well and just have it point to the org site.

So will the right company name make or break you? For some, if they find the business name offensive, stupid or just plain unprofessional, you’ll never hear from them. So take your time, ask around and choose wisely.

Sometimes simple is best.


What is Marketing?

What is Marketing?What exactly is marketing? That’s a great question. Here’s where you’ll usually see, ‘According to Webster’…except in today’s electronic world, how many folks actually know who (or what) Webster is? I could of course go the Wiki route, but let’s not bother with that either. Remember, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it real. Remember the ‘How many spiders someone actually eats in a year’ story? Yea, go look it up, the real story.

Instead, I’ll define marketing in two ways:

1) Marketing is a money draw. Accounting looks at marketing as a black hole — a place where you pour in money but don’t ever see a direct return on your dollar

  • Why? it’s not the department that actually makes the sales

2) As a money maker, because without marketing:

  • The ad department wouldn’t know where or how or what to advertise
  • The sales department wouldn’t know where to concentrate their sales efforts
  • Administration would never see a dollar raised

In short, Marketing answers the proverbial: Who, What, Where, When and How. The Why should be obvious…To make money!

Who: You need to know who your market is. And is that as obvious as you think? Don’t forget, although a product may be geared towards a specific consumer (i.e. males, 20-35, $50k+ income, single), your market may actually be a distributor, not the end user. So marketing is not just who’s using it, but who’s buying it.

What: What are you selling. Okay, this usually goes before the who of course, but the saying always starts with ‘who, what, where, when and why’. Is the what you’re offering enough? Is the color right? The size? Are the costs of production low enough to make a profit — or do you need to find a better source? Is there already competition and why should someone buy your product or service over them — and if that’s the case, what is it about your item that makes it better? Asking friends and family if they’d buy your product is not market research. It’s only a way to see who your friends and family are. Everyone’s willing to buy something until they have to reach deep into their pocket or purse.

Where: Where is your product going to sell the best? In the U.S? Elsewhere? What part of the country? Remember, snow removal products don’t sell very well in Sunny Florida and Bikinis don’t fare as well during the winter months in Alaska. Think location aware Search Engine Optimization, regional delivery of magazines, etc. Are you going to sell in brick and mortar stores or via the internet? Is this a direct consumer sale or are you better selling to a distributor — and are you willing to do both which means you’re in competition with your own client! And don’t forget TV ads — vacation trips don’t only sell on the Travel Channel, people watching the Food Network like to visit exotic places to try all those delicacies they see on cable.

When: Is your product time sensitive? Is there a better time of the year to offer your services? How about cable advertising, is your product better shown late night, or first thing in the morning while your client is watching the news and drinking their first cup of coffee? And does your budget allow you to have a few ads at a higher rate or many more for less, because you’re not prime time. And what about eNews Blasts, do you know the best day and time to schedule them for delivery?

How: Everything comes to this. How will you advertise? Print Ads, Direct Mail (EDDM included), eNewsletters, Internet (Website, Amazon, eBay, Craig’s List, etc), Search Engines, Local Newspapers, Church/Synagogue Bulletins, Flyers, Catalogs, Radio, Television/Cable, Word of Mouth, Door Hangers, Bill Boards, Promotional Products, Calendars, etc. Wow, yea WOW!

All of this goes into your marketing plan. This is where you put down on paper (or in pixels) the answers to Who, What, Where, When and How. Along with all the other thoughts that come to your head. Then work with a professional who can give you real costs to do each item, work out your strategy carefully. Maybe what you perceive as the most expensive is really not — in the long run. But maybe putting all your eggs in that one basket can become a catastrophe when you end up dropping it because you can’t do it all at the same time, but you’re going to try anyway. Don’t put that horse behind the cart — know where you want to head, where you want to go. That’s half the marketing battle.

Marketing is what you do to get your clients to want to purchase your product or service.

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