Tag Archives: Communications Lab

Hub Communications Lab: Differentiating from Competitors

This is the fifth post in what we intend to make a weekly series, brought to you by the Hub Communications Lab.  The idea is that you have questions about marketing and communications, and other Hub members have access to answers.  Submit your questions to meredith.walters@the-hub.net and then watch this space.   And if you need more info, let us know and maybe we’ll put together a workshop if there’s enough interest!

How do I tell my prospect customers that I’m really doing what my competitors only say they’re doing?


First and foremost you want to keep the conversation positive and focused on what you do, not what they don’t do.  You should never bring the competitor into the conversation, it will not only open the door for comparison but you will lose valuable time engaging your customer on the attributes of your service or product.  Know what your customer needs and then identify the specific benefits of your service or product.  Tell your customer this. Tell them the value that your process or production or delivery model brings to your customer’s problem.

And remember, every conversation is an opportunity to inject your company values and convey your brand essence.  Remember what you stand for, remember why you started this business and ensure that you take an extra minute to reinforce or inject that belief in every conversation you have.  All of those extra minutes build in value over time – as checkpoints for you, as reinforcement points for your staff and ultimately in the marketplace.

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Hub Communications Lab: Marketing on a Budget

This is the second post in what we intend to make a weekly series, brought to you by the Hub Communications Lab.  The idea is that you have questions about marketing and communications, and other Hub members have access to answers.  Submit your questions to meredith.walters@the-hub.net and then watch this space.   And if you need more info, let us know and maybe we’ll put together a workshop if there’s enough interest!


We don’t have a budget for marketing; what are some inexpensive ways to create awareness?


Beyond simply having a placeholder web page (at the least), be visible in your eco-system!  Marketing is the art of being heard and developing relationships.

Concentrate on who needs to know about you for your business to be successful.  Make a list.  Who are the many audiences that you work with (customers, government partners, non-profit partners, vendors, funders, the press, etc.).  Why is your story interesting to them?  Write this down, one by one.   What do they need to know about you for them to “get it”.

Now prioritize this list.  Who is the most important to your growth?   And what is the best way to reach them?  Again, write these down and develop a plan (yes, with deadlines, goals and specific activities) for reaching out to your most important.

Networking events are great for getting face time.  Attend these where you can, especially when you know who will be there in advance.  Ask the organizers if there will be an opportunity to speak.   In which case, be sure that you have a succinct point of view that is interesting and relevant to the occasion at hand.  Believe in your cause!

New media offers a great place for writing articles and blog posts that can be re-distributed.  Many industry pubs accept articles from guest writers and the posts can ultimately provide great future marketing tools for your outreach efforts (links in emails, links to your web site, etc.).

Join organizations who can help you get the word out.  Their web site, their events and their newsletters may give you free opportunities to promote your business.  Remember you don’t need to join all industry organizations though so choose wisely.  And be sure to be where the competition is.

Be a subject matter expert.  What qualifies you to run your business?  Why did you start this business?  What do you have to share?  Use the outlets above to share your personal story and create awareness for your business.

Starting a business is a lot of work but you gain traction the more you are seen and the more you are heard.

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Hub Communications Lab: Get Your Questions Answered Here

A few Hub members are leading the creation of the Hub Communications Lab, a place Hub members can come to work through  marketing and communications needs.  It’s a virtual and a real place to ask questions, gain insights and work through solutions with Hub members who have professional experience in the communications field.

Here’s our first post in what we intend to make an ongoing series.  The idea is that you have questions about marketing and communications, and we have access to answers.  Submit your questions to meredith.walters@the-hub.net and then watch this space.   And if you need more info, let us know and maybe we’ll put together a workshop if there’s enough interest!

We are just getting started; how do we establish a brand platform?

Brand building is something that happens over time and is much more than your communications materials.  A brand is what gets people excited about what you’re doing.  Brand elements (name, logo, tagline, etc) are tools for communication.   The important work starts before these and can be started – with some discipline – immediately and without expenditure.

As an entrepreneur, the most important thing you can do to ground your brand is to have a clear vision of what you stand for – your values, your vision, and the parameters in which your company will operate– both written down and in a place that staff (or future) staff can connect with.

Vision: Ask yourself, why did you start this business?  What do you envision it to look like in 5 years?  Get very very specific.  Will you have your own building?  Will you join forces with another business or organization?  How many products or services will you have?  How many employees will you have?  What kind of people are they?  What will your office culture be like?  Personality traits, vibe, etc. are important here. What kinds of clients or customers will you have?  What is their situation or need? How will your business be conducted (on the web, via other company web sites, via distribution at national retailers?). Write this down.

Values:  What do you want to be known for?  What would you like your legacy to be? What defines your company’s reason for being?  What values do you and your staff possess that will get you there?  Write these down in whatever way you can.  Gather pictures.  Get video.  Compile it all and then sit with your key partners (internally) to figure out what feels right, what is unique and what you all have passion for.  Keep writing all of this down.

Parameters:  What do you know for sure you do NOT want to be.  This acts as an important tool for re-visiting your practices and even in helping you understand your purpose.  Make a list of things that your business will NOT be (often developed relative to what the competition or others in your industry are doing).

Now take a look at what you have and whittle this down to a few of the key big ideas.  This will be hard.  But you can’t be all things to all people and positioning your company is the art of sacrifice.  One thing that may also help you here is looking outside of your industry at other brands for inspiration.  Who do you admire and why?  Nike?  Richard Branson? The Gates Foundation?  These are all brands with traits that you can take cues from.  (It’s no accident that strong personalities lead strong, well-known brands).

The bottom line is to stay focused.  It will help you look for the best opportunities that “fit” with what you are trying to achieve.

And finally, remember that a brand is a rallying cry.  It should excite you and all who are working towards your business goals.  Make sure that you develop a brand that feels as exciting as the work you are doing.

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