Transcript of Frankel's Free Clinic May 17, 1999

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 8:57 AM): Entered the room.

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 8:57 AM): Greetings

Maggie (5/17/99 8:58 AM): hello

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Early was brewed early...

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Maggie, is that you from Minnestoa?

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Entered the room.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Good morning!

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Ummm...that should be Minnesota...MN...

Tim W (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Entered the room.

Maggie (5/17/99 8:58 AM): Yes, I'm from Minnesota.

Steve ( (5/17/99 8:59 AM): Entered the room.

Maggie (5/17/99 8:59 AM): I'm just learning about this branding stuff.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 8:59 AM): Welcome! Well, since we all seem to be bright and bushy-tailed (hate that expression) what can I do for anyone this morning?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:00 AM): Came to the right place, Maggie.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:00 AM): I hope so.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:01 AM): Any experience in newspaper branding? Beyond product attributes.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:02 AM): Of course! As a matter of fact, I'm just in the middle of two projects. One for the Los Angeles Times and one just beginning with the Palo Alto weekly...

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:03 AM): The more competitive the market -- like newspapers -- the more important branding is.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:03 AM): One of the most important realizations is that your branding has to carry through every aspect of your business, online and offline.

Terri ( (5/17/99 9:03 AM): Entered the room.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:04 AM): We've found our competition to be not other newspapers, but consumer lifestyles..."I have no time."

Steve ( (5/17/99 9:05 AM): It seems like it takes a significant ad budget to gain effective branding.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:05 AM): So what, exactly, is your issue, Maggie?

Maggie (5/17/99 9:06 AM): Rob, where do I start?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:06 AM): No Steve, just the opposite. Frankel's Inverse Law of Branding" The smaller your budget, the more important branding is" because you can't afford to waste your money. Your communication has to work right the first time.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:06 AM): Entered the room.

Steve ( (5/17/99 9:07 AM): I like the sound of that. Please go on...

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:07 AM): Steve and Maggie: You start by creating a brand. Then you raise the brand's awareness. And yes, that can take media money.

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:07 AM): Yes, but you have to get the message out there.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:07 AM): However, as FrankelBiz and indeed my own consulting practice has shown, it need not take a lot of money. I've made it a point NOT to spend a lot on media just to prove this.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:08 AM): try public relations--editorial coverage. It is an excellent cost effective marketing tool

Wanda Loskot (5/17/99 9:08 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:08 AM): Of course you have to get the message out there, but if the branding is wrong, it will be the wrong message. If the branding is right, it will self-perpetuate. Money always helps, but if you don't have enough, have you any other choice?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:09 AM): Meg is correct -- but if you give your PR firm the wrong message, it, too, will be a waste. So first things first: develop the brand. Then raise the brand's awareness. Too many people confuse branding with advertising/PR

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:10 AM): Of course, PR is what We do...We just did an analysis for one of our clients

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:10 AM): Maggie, in your case, you're lucky: your branding issue is a newspaper! So you already have a vehicle to help raise awareness. You just need the right message.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:10 AM): In just 6 months we obtained over $1million in free editorial coverage

Maggie (5/17/99 9:11 AM): Yes, the problem is we don't have a brand, or maybe we do and we don't know what it is and we need to find it.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:12 AM): Rob - explain branding in 30 sec. or less

Maggie (5/17/99 9:12 AM): Meg, don't let editorial get a whiff of your strategy, they hate being PR vehicles.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:12 AM): Meg, what do you think of do-it-yourself services like PR Newswire and U-Wire?

Steve ( (5/17/99 9:12 AM): How do you quantify the value of the editorial coverage, Meg?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:12 AM): Well, Maggie, if you're serious about it, contact me off chat and I'll see what I can do for you.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:12 AM): Maggie - I understand. I spent 9 years as an editor.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:13 AM): Meg: Branding is not about getting your prospects to choose you over the competition; branding is getting them to see you as the only solution to their problem.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:13 AM): Steve - this analysis was strictly a comparison of advertising costs. In other words if the editorial was 1/2 page we added in the cost of a 1/2 page ad.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:13 AM): That's the 15 second version.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:14 AM): We're serious about it. Our publisher is committed and we've formed..tada...a committee.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:14 AM): Maggie, does that help? If not, keep asking. We have an hour. Meg, what was that client's budget?

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:14 AM): Amanda - you mean companies that pre-write articles, typeset them and then distribute to smaller newspapers?

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:15 AM): Rob- the client's budget for that 6 month period was $42,000

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:16 AM): Yes, but I've noticed that PR Newswire will release a company's press release for $500. U-Wire is less. What is your opinion? Is it ever effective?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:16 AM): Maggie, you'll find that the committee won't do much for you. In fact, I've included that I a chapter of my book (plug) which is called "Ten Sure Fire Ways to Kill a Brand"!

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:16 AM): Amanda - we have tried using these services for our clients and in those cases we found that it was NOT effective.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:17 AM): Rob, I agree. When will your book be out?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:17 AM): Yes, although I have little direct experience, I find that most of those cheap wire services are sucker ploys for the budget-challenged....

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:18 AM): We find that the key to editorial is to develop a solid relationship with the editor and give them REAL news info - not just prewritten, drop in stories.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:18 AM): Meg, thanks-that's what I thought.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:18 AM): Let's face it, folks, if you want pro results you have to use pro people. You think anyone less than professional could do your job with software?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:18 AM): Maggie: Revenge of Brand X is due out in September...

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:19 AM): Rob, you're right.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:19 AM): Meg what's the LEAST amount your company would take on a client for -- and minimum term of contract?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:19 AM): Personally, I tell all my clients that six months is minimum.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:22 AM): So what you're seeing is that if you don't have roughly $100K per year , you better have a plan backed by a strong brand or you're REALLY sunk!

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:22 AM): Rob - We like to sign 12 month contracts. But we offer a 30 day cancellation clause. If we do our job right, our clients stay for years. If not - then can leave with 30 day notice. It is our way of guaranteeing our services.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:23 AM): Meg, what is your service? Did I miss it from an earlier post?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:23 AM): Now how many people you think actually put $100K into their start up plan? Not many. All the more reason to make sure your brand is strong enough to motivate end users to tell others about your brand and build it from a grassroots level. Everything else

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:24 AM): The only clients who cancelled with 30 days notice did it for financial reasons - and some came back when their situations improve.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:24 AM): We handle public relations primarily for fashion, beauty and lifestyle clients -- which has included some on-line distributors and services.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:25 AM): Once you have a strong brand -- and you add bucks to the mix -- you build on it with more awareness -- professionally placed by people like Meg.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:25 AM): But if the branding isn't right, nothing else will be, either.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:25 AM): Meg, can you give us an average monthly figure per client? To hire you...

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:25 AM): Rob - what is the number one requirement for a strong brand?

Maggie (5/17/99 9:26 AM): The hard part is getting the branding right.

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:26 AM): Amanda - Our retainer runs from $4,000 to $8,000 per month plus expenses.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:26 AM): The number one requirement for a strong brand is remembering that branding is not about YOU, it's about THEM.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:26 AM): Yes, Maggie. That's what I do for a living. I do it better than anyone I know....did I mention I'm also incredibly humble?

Maggie (5/17/99 9:27 AM): Explain that further, Rob. I saw that in your archives and I am curious about what you mean.

Benjamin Fitts (SoccerFans.Com) (5/17/99 9:27 AM): Them being the customer?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:28 AM): YOU already know what your brand is about. But your committee will quickly degenerate into a self-stroke session. The people who need to know about your brand are people who don't know you already. Build your brand for them, not your boss...or his/her

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:28 AM): BTW, anyone here going to be in Las Vegas at the end of the month? I'll be speaking there on this topic "Branding in the Fourth Dimension"

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:29 AM): Yes, Benjamin

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:29 AM): THEM is your end-user, or potential end user.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:29 AM): Sometimes, your end user is a strategic ally or partner, too

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:30 AM): Might be a supplier or vendor

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:30 AM): People have to know who you are and why you're the best solution for their specific needs. That's the killer button to press.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:31 AM): Then you have to figure out a way to tell them that in a compelling, memorable and inviting fashion.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:33 AM): This, I believe, is the reason I was put on this planet...How's that for drama?

Maggie (5/17/99 9:33 AM): So, for us, we are the solution the their problem of being part of the community, being in touch, in the know, etc.

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:33 AM): Easier said than done!

Maggie (5/17/99 9:33 AM): Very dramatic, Rob.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:34 AM): Clayton, hopefully it is easier said than done or I have to find a new job!

Maggie (5/17/99 9:34 AM): Clayton, that's why Rob was put on this planet. You say it he does it.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:35 AM): Maggie, are there tears welling up in your eyes yet? Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. The idea is to also let people enjoy themselves, too. Too many brands take themselves way too seriously, especially in the news biz.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:35 AM): So rob, how does "Big Time Branding" assist businesses?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:36 AM): Clayton, your business is very specific. You should be able to brand it great. In fact, the easiest companies to brand are those which are viewed as commodities.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:36 AM): Amanda: I usually have two types of clients: start-ups and existing brands. The startups need to define who they are to investors and the public.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:37 AM): The existing brands are tired, old brands that need revitalizing. Typically they're brands that invented a market and then sat on their butts until competition came in and started taking market share

Maggie (5/17/99 9:37 AM): Clayton, what's your business?

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:37 AM): Yes, I'm still defining the brand

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:38 AM): Two of my current clients are small start ups. One is a community based ISP, the other a golf site. Both are smart enough to establish a brand first, so that the industry can immediately see why they're important to do business with.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:39 AM): At this point, I would like to seriously apologize for my awful typing this morning. Looks like a chicken danced on my keyboard....yeesh!

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:39 AM): Desktop Projection rentals for presentations

Steve ( (5/17/99 9:39 AM): Rob, can you be more specific about your golf site or is that confidential?

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:40 AM): We've recently had a problem with business acquaintances being real estate agents AND site designers or ad specialties people AND site designers. I'm assuming that branding can help differentiate the "me too" problem that we've experienced.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:41 AM): Steve, the golf site is currently under NDA, but you can bet you're on my list of contacts, because I think he could use your products

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:41 AM): .Yup, Amanda, you're confusing them. Especially on the web, the more you niche, the better you do.

Steve ( (5/17/99 9:42 AM): Sounds good to me.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:42 AM): Last week I mentioned how changing from an ad agency to a branding consultancy was tough for me. had to pass up business. But in the long run, the traffic that comes to me now is all branding based.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:43 AM): I still keep the ad agency, but it is a different site entirely.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:43 AM): Uh, we ARE only doing one thing (graphic design) but we've had numerous people suddenly become web site designers overnight. We know better than to do that.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:44 AM): Stick to your guns. That kind of stuff is tempting, but rarely pans out. People who become web designers overnight usually go out of business overnight, as well.

John Charlesworth ( (5/17/99 9:46 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:46 AM): The online industry is really going through the same growing pains as desktop publishing did about eight years ago. Back then, businesses thought they could fire their ad agencies because they could buy a Mac and Quark.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:47 AM): It's the same thing today with PageMill and Front Page. Everyone can pick up a violin, but that doesn't mean they can play a concerto!

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:48 AM): To be honest, even today, I love to involve myself and m tempted to do site design. But if the budget allows it, I turn it over to professionals who do it full time.

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 9:48 AM): Exactly, we are looking to promote unpopular aspects of graphic design since it isn't so crowded.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:48 AM): TimW, do you want to jump in at all?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:49 AM): Or Wanda?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:49 AM): (TEN MINUTE WARNING)

David McClurg (5/17/99 9:50 AM): Entered the room.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:50 AM): Rob, one more question. Our publisher is committee happy, give me a couple reasons why a committee won't work for branding.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:50 AM): Yes, I'll buy your book when it's out.

Tim W (5/17/99 9:50 AM): nah .... just sitting back and watching ... thanks anyways..... :)

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:51 AM): Maggie - committees tend to go with the "lowest common denominator" decision.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:51 AM): I'll give you the best one: Branding is a leadership statement. You can't lead by committee. In fact, most people feel awkward taking the lead, because it's new and not yet popular. So they'll retreat into what they know as safe.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:52 AM): Safe, as Meg comments, usually means "what people are least likely to object to". Which means you get "say nothing" statements.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:53 AM): You put people those say nothing statements out there, advertise them, and then wonder why nobody responds...

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:53 AM): Maggie - you could use the committee for brainstorming and fact finding - but as Rob said, good decisions aren't made in committees'

Maggie (5/17/99 9:53 AM): Excellent, thank you.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:53 AM): This is why I say that if the branding isn't right, nothing else is, either. It's also why brands rarely -- if ever -- are created in-house. People are too close to their own agenda to do the job properly.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:54 AM): I agree, now to pry some money out of her...

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:54 AM): Rob- did you brand yourself?

David McClurg (5/17/99 9:55 AM): Rob - are you in favor of one person (leader) making the decisions after committee input?

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:55 AM): Yes, Meg, I have. And it's very evident on my home page. You can't get past the first line of copy and the Obnoxious Bobbing Head and not see it...

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:56 AM): Yes, David, as a rule of thumb, I believe that working with the one decision maker -- who has the backing of the rest of the business -- works best. By far the best work I've produced came that way.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:58 AM): I should also mention that when you bring in a third party, the whole process is less of a ramble and actually happens fairly quickly. Almost every client I have had has accepted the first recommendation I offered.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 9:58 AM): (TWO MINUTES)

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:58 AM): Gotta run see y'all next week

David McClurg (5/17/99 9:58 AM): Rob - what checks and balances have you implemented or do you recommend to ensure "outside the box" thinking

Clayton Turnbow( (5/17/99 9:59 AM): Desktop Projection rentals for presentations

MegRottman ( (5/17/99 9:59 AM): Thanks Rob for another interesting discussion. See you next week.

Maggie (5/17/99 9:59 AM): Thanks, Rob and all. Fun and informative chat. See you next time.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 10:00 AM): I don't go outside the box, pal. I go outside the CUBE! I provide a rationale based on your business strategy. That's what makes the difference. Then if you wish, I take it to test. But most clients don't even bother.

RobFrankel ( (5/17/99 10:00 AM): Okay, you guys, I've gotta run. But you are most welcome to continue as long as you want. You can also use this site to meet any time you like during the week. See you online!

Amanda Smith ( (5/17/99 10:00 AM): Thanks, Rob!

Steve ( (5/17/99 10:01 AM): Thanks everybody.

David McClurg (5/17/99 10:01 AM): Take care Rob, and I'll see you next week.

Terri ( (5/17/99 10:01 AM): Thanks for the great chat Rob and everyone!

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