Episode 2: Where to Start with Marketing your Business
What You Will Learn:
- Understanding target audience
- Need for a website
- Vision, mission, value statement
- Marketing urban myths
In the latest episode of the Secret Sauce Podcast 365, we speak with Eric Lanel, President of GWP Inc. Advertising about some important topics in marketing your business.
About Eric Lanel
Eric Lanel began his professional career in research at a television rep firm. He quickly moved to strategy and negotiation at CBS Television, where he created a new division focusing on the late news in all major markets across the country. He was then recruited to oversee a team at Go.com, Walt Disney’s foray into the internet. Eric joined DoubleClick in 1999, when he was recruited by the founder to develop and oversee a new division. After successfully launching this division, in 2001, he was brought into a special division created by CBS and Paramount. Eric, with a team of 11, was charged with laying the foundation and developing the strategy for the two networks working together in overlapping major markets. In 2002, Eric left corporate America to become the President of GWP Inc., a top 100 promotion agency, where his understanding and knowledge of television and online shaped GWP into what it is today.
Being proactive, not reactive gives every business owner the opportunity to think through and make the best decisions for their business. With our world as busy and confusing as it currently is, even the strongest, most seasoned business owners might find themselves reacting to issues that they didn't see coming. With his 30 plus years of experience, helping business owners make the right decisions, your host, Stan Hladik.
Welcome everyone to Secret Sauce 365, the podcast where we ask questions of experts in various industries that business owners need to know and ask themselves every day and we'll provide answers for you. And to do that today, we're so lucky to have what I would call a pioneer in the marketing industry president of GWP Inc in Montclair, New Jersey, Eric Lanel. Eric, welcome to Secret Sauce 365.
Stan, thanks so much for having me.
Great to have you. Side note, Eric and I have known each other for gosh, 20 plus years now. And you know, whenever I think of different scenarios and how to market my business Eric is a go-to person for me to bounce ideas off of. And, you know, I thought we would just talk a little bit about some of the questions that business owners want to know about marketing and maybe just the basics of where to start. We're opening up a new business, what do I do?
So what kind of business?
Let's just say we're in a retail business you know, we're looking to market a product, our widgets to the world and where do we start? Do we start with a website, do we start with social media, print ads, radio, you name it? Where do I start?
It's really funny. You know, it's so funny because whether you're starting a business, a little retail store, or you're running a big corporation, I feel like the shiny object usually gets in the way of the real conversation you need to start with, right? So, whether they're a seasoned marketing professional, or like I said, someone just starting it's like, do I do a TV commercial? Do I do a website? Should I have a photo shoot done? What do I need to do? And I find it most interesting that the first question needs to be, who's my target audience. What do I want them to feel or think about me? So the shiny object, the way I kind of look at it is it sucks us in like a website or TV and we do all that stuff. But I think it really a well-built plan, whether it's a new business a storefront, whatever it is, it starts off with fundamentally who do you need to speak with? Who's your target audience? And what do you want them to feel about you think about you and how do they, you want them to interact with you. So what is your brand like? What really is the essence of you and what you're trying to accomplish, and you want them to feel, then we start thinking, yeah, mandatories, a website a mandatory. In this day and age yellow pages, not so much website, yes. There are certain things you need, but before going to what you need, it's how you want to feel, how you want your audience or your target to feel about you, I think is the first step.
That reminds me of a comment. You mentioned to me over the years of your target audience and like a vision, mission, value statement or something like that. Can you elaborate a little bit?
Yeah. I'm a huge believer that before you get going on any type of business, you need to do a vision, mission, value statement. So vision statement, vision, where do you see it going? What, where do you see the company into the future, your vision. Your mission, how are you going to accomplish it? Like what things do you need to do to accomplish and to succeed in that vision that you have. And then your values. What are things that you will not forsake, no matter what? So in my place here can't lie, cheat or steal. Like, that's just, if you lie, you cheat, you steal you're out. I don't care who you are. What you're about. Those are things that are currency that I hold to be non-negotiable. But it could go into places like quality. One of our values is quality. So if quality is one of your values, think about this, and you're going to do a direct mail piece, or you're going to make business cards. Well, if quality is something that you find to be one of the values that you hold the dearest and part of who you are, then it's not a conversation of, should I go with the cheaper, or should I go with the better? It's always quality. So when you're thinking about your vision, mission, and value statement, you're really starting. You really need to treat it and own it with the respect it deserves because it's going to help dictate a lot of decisions you make down the line that you're gonna live with if you do it right, and it'll be your North star, it'll keep guiding you in the right direction.
Sure. That's real important. You know, that people have a solid base of understanding who they are, and as you mentioned, target audience, and then how do we get there? So you've mentioned quality, which I think everybody, who's a business owner who's listening today really is concerned with their business. But then when you hear quality, you think quantity, right? You want to reach the masses. You want to hear and get your message out to them. So maybe you could touch base a little bit about ways to get that quantity going, you know, social media or other type of marketing ideas.
If you're a business owner and you know who you are, right? So let's assume you know, your vision, your mission, your value, you feel comfortable with who you are, and quality is one of the things that is really important. Look, if your target audience, good example, Tesla, Tesla's not trying to get in front of everybody. Tesla's trying to get in front of the exact people who are going to buy Teslas. Right? So do you really need everybody is my first question? Or do you need to identify who is your exact right fit? And then how are you getting in front of that exact right fit? Social media has been a very cost-effective way for many different businesses. But then again, it depends who your target is, right? If you're targeting young kids, let's just say Facebook would probably not be the right place to go because young kids left there. If you're targeting, it's kind of like direct mail, I was talking to a client who said, direct mail is dead. I said, how could you make that statement? Direct mail is dead. I mean, I get stuff in the mail all the time. I mean, check your mailbox today. Yeah. There's mail in it and direct mail is in there and by the way some direct mail pieces are incredibly effective. And I pointed out to this person, I said, so you don't believe in direct mail at all. They said, not at all. I said, ask your wife if she has, or do you have a Bed Bath & Beyond little thing with like $5 off? And the person said, yeah, I actually do. I have one in my drawer in the office. And I know my wife has a stack of them. That's direct mail. So I think the quantity and how to go about it. I guess my point is, is that depending on who your target is, what your objective is, there's a lot of different tools in the shed. And I think, kind of like there's baseline mandatory stuff, website, for the most part, most businesses need to have a robust website that very least is going to give a phone number, hours of operation, how to get in touch with the person, you know, or the company, things like that are always, you know, there's pros and cons to everything, but website critical, like a business card, you know, it's good to have a business card.
Great, great insights, Eric. So I'm gonna switch gears a little bit because some of my podcast listeners are larger corporate directors, and you know, we could have some board members listening, so let's think a little bit more grandiose and kind of touch base on the topic of branding you know, looking at a larger corporation and all the things they have to navigate and with political correctness and other things. And what are some of your thoughts on how strategies can be for branding of those businesses?
That size that you're talking about is kind of right in our wheelhouse. Well, I like that. Yeah. I like that size a lot, because to your point, there's a lot of unique and inherent danger, but there's a lot of opportunity and it really there's professionals on all sides of the table trying to work through all that stuff. So yeah, those, you know, if you're a midsize company you got your vision, mission, value statement down, you understand that. But you are navigating through very interesting times right now. I just actually was on a call with a client and she showed me this J and J spot. And it was great. And she was talking about how she really appreciated that they integrated in two guys who got married and they were like firemen looking like tough guys. And they held hands. And there was certain integration of social mores that they weaved in that this client was saying she really appreciated and she felt like tugged at different heartstrings, but felt very relevant at the time or for the time. Which gets us to how, you know, right now we're in this weird minute with this pandemic where you see a lot of people speaking to how they introduce their brand and protecting and safety yesterday, there was a commercial for Delta and literally three quarters of the commercial was wiping down seats and was about safety measures. I happened to be with seven other guys. We were talking about going on a golf trip to Oregon that we have scheduled for next week. And the conversation was, should we go or shouldn't we go, that commercial went on. And I said, that makes me not want to fly. So there's a commercial and their intention is great.
Want to bring people to fly, but you showed him something that's such a great point you're making is that you may have this mission of what you're trying to accomplish, but if you're doing it and not thinking about the times and the person viewing it and how they feel, you can get the exact opposite result of what you're trying to accomplish.
So, in my business, we quickly try to determine if our corporate client is looking to buy a sword or become a Ninja. If they're looking to buy a sword, well, there are swords for sale and there are plenty of them, but if they want to learn to be a Ninja, then you need to make sure that you're providing them with the exact sword and the right training to actually get it done. And that's kind of where you're going with it. So, and I'm glad you picked up on that because I think that's the critical minute we're in. And we're always in it and one way or another, there's always something happening in our world that that causes us to, how are we going to react? How are we going to be proactive with our brand and how are we going to be? And so if we understand who we are, if we understand who our product, our services and how our customer engages and interacts and why they do getting back to the beginning, quite frankly, you're a small little company, you're a big company, it's the same game. It's people and them engaging with what you do or how you do something. So I've got this great opportunity with our agency, where we work with some local clients on the local side, some regional clients and national and some international. So we really have a smattering of a lot of different size clients. The reality is it's the level of attention and the amount of people that they have dedicated to the marketing effort. That's the difference between the international and the local. The local has a little bit more trust in us and gives us but the reality is it always goes down to who's our target, what's our objective. What strategies do we have in place to showcase who we are, target who they are, provide them with the right information at the right time to help them make the right decision that we are the solution for them.
It's amazing how you could take something that at times could be so complicated and make it sound so simple. You mentioned the pandemic and Main Street America is struggling right now. You know, I have friends and folding up their businesses just because they don't know when they could reopen and they just can't handle the economic strain. And there's many others that, you know, we're fighting the good fight and we're looking to generate new business, new leads, and we're networking hard. Maybe you could just provide a little advice to, you know budgets for marketing, and then maybe during economic downturns, should you pull back, should you put in more, I mean, what are the risks and rewards?
Let me start off by saying now more than ever, it is critical that you do think about your marketing effort, how you're putting your best foot forward. As you said, you know, interesting times people are confused in terms of how and what their business is looking like. Whether it's super small or larger, they're still different strains and different pressures that they've never been. I think that you never want to retreat when it comes to marketing, you always want to be thinking. Your budget, you might want to allocate differently. You might want to think about differently, starts out with the basic one-on-one, if you're in business and helping people, you've got to let them know that you're in business and helping them, right. We're open for business is a really important thing to let people know about. If you don't ask them to work with you, it's hard for people to know that they can work with you. Two what do you look like and what are you portraying to those people? How are you coming across to them? It always, you need to put yourself in your customer's shoes. If you sell shoes, if you sell shoes, what is it that your customer's looking for in the experience? Well, is it an online experience right now where you could return it very easily because you're not trying it on in the store, maybe that's important. So really clearly saying you could buy shoes and return them hassle free. However you do, we do need to change and pivot a little bit. That is very clear. Times are always changing and we always need to change and pivot just a little bit, the smaller you are, quite frankly, the better advantage you have in these times of being able to pivot yes, financial pressures, et cetera, but you have the opportunity to make those pivots and those changes, whether it's shoes, you're selling, or if you're manufacturing a product that requires a lot of people and a lot of time and energy, how are your end-end consumers receiving the goods? Is there a bottleneck in your process that you could slim down is your point of distribution, are they working the way that they need to, to drive your product through the channels of distribution, or do you need to create a different way to get to your end-end user, right now. Those are all the things that, you know, that's national, international and local shoe store. It's all about, I have a product or a service, and I have someone who wants to consume it. A, how do they know that I'm open B, what am I telling them? What's my unique selling proposition, my USP, what is important that they know about what I have here and how am I making it easy and being respectful of how they might need to purchase it. And it might be different than it was yesterday. Those are are my advice to just start the platform.
That is good, solid advice. Once again, we're talking to Eric Lanel, president of GWP Inc in Montclair, New Jersey. And I take two things that resonate with me when I listened to that, Eric you know, and one of them is a, it's a cliche, but ask and you will receive. So, so many of us work so hard at bettering ourselves, making sure we have a great product, safe business, a great workplace environment, but if we don't let the masses in the public, know our target audience, not everyone, but our target audience know what we have to offer. How are we ever going to make our goal, which is to bring in new clients and to grow our business. And then that comes back to the marketing, which is why we're here today. You know, providing answers to those questions, that another cliche, you got to invest a dime to make a dollar. And you know, so many people when times get tough, you get a little conservative and you pull back, but I agree with you. And for my own business, you know, I've stepped up my marketing campaign because I know as, as you know, you have a little economic downturn and you lose a little bit on your face. The only way to outrun that is new clients, helping people and getting that message out. So that's great advice that you provided there.
And it's always, if you look at the past to help understand the present and maybe make a few predictions on the future, that's kind of how life works. And a lot of people like to really study kind of what has happened, what is happening now, and maybe project where it could go. Companies that during a downturn spend more and really focus their marketing efforts. And it doesn't have to be spend more, but focus their marketing efforts in a strong way, always come out of that funnel on top better, because it is a competition, right? To some extent. So how are you competing? You know, what are you doing if you curl up in a ball? Well, we know what happens then.
You wither and die. And that's not what we want. We want to succeed and flourish during all you know, economic downturns and upswings. So that's a good segue into, you know, one of the the last questions I had was, you know, what urban myths are out there. What misconceptions do you find you run into when you're speaking to current clients or prospective new clients that maybe are fallacies, that a lot of us business owners think?
Well, I mean, first it's that any one tactic is like the magic bullet. I don't, we have a client, we put up a big billboard on a highway and the client called me up the next day and said, Oh my God, it's working. It's incredible. And I said, timeout, that's great that the billboard went up yesterday. That's great. Your business is up, but I don't think that's the magic. Like, that's one thing and that's great, but you've been working really hard for a lot of years. And there's a lot of things. Yeah. So, I think one thing is there is no, I don't think there's a magic bullet. Although online has proven itself to be to some extent, a magic bullet online marketing done the right way is an incredible tool right now. But the right way, I think one big urban myth is that online marketing is the same. And, you know, like, it's like kind of like saying white house to me, you know, online marketing. There's a white house in Washington that's really big. And there's a white house around the corner from here that's tiny. When we look at online, there's paid, there's social, there's earned media, there's SEO, there's SEM. There's so many different facets to the online world. If you have a product, well, we could force sales of that product instantly through different tactics like Instagram and driving. If your price points out, there's so many variables, but, and the urban myth here is that everyone can't just do it. There's real skill and real online intelligence that you need to have, and you need to be focused on it because it changes so often, right. At our place, we've got five people focused on different facets of online because it's changing so often. And I mean, so that's one kind of urban myth. The other urban myth, I'd say in the tri-state area, it's that, well, I mean, we're in a really weird area, I guess, anybody who, if you're only marketing in the tri-state New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, you need to know the country's not like us. It really isn't. And maybe that you don't like us, but it's not like us. We are the number one market, New York. New York is the number one market in the country, possibly the world. Number one, most expensive too. So if you want to, this is kind of going back to, if you want to be on television on channel four, channel two, or channel seven, ABC NBC, CBS, that spot is on New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. So you have to afford the number one market versus buying cable, where you could be on CNN, CNBC in the town of Montclair, Livingston, and Roseland for 25 bucks. So my point is, I guess, understanding that because of the market, we're in, there's a lot of ways to get super targeted with your advertising dollars and be efficient. But I say the biggest just to kind of cap it, the biggest urban myth for marketing is that the shiny object is where you should focus your attention. I think understanding and more is better. More customers are better. I don't subscribe to that more isn't better.
Profitable customers. So, you know, knowing what you're trying to bring in and, look, you mentioned our area, which is while it's such an expensive area for marketing it's, New York is home to some of the wealthiest corporations in the world because they effectively advertised. And that's why once you have your strategy I would be remiss without giving a testimonial out to GWP. They created Secret Sauce 365 and my particular business, The Secret would be where it is today without your guidance. And we tried different strategies because you don't know, unless you try. And then when you find ones that work and you find where you're bringing your target audience to you wow, it's like a rainbow it's just terrific. And I wanted to take the time during this podcast to thank you for that.
Thank you. And actually, there's a great example of, I don't think we created, I think we listened to you. I think you knew what your customers were looking for and you developed a process and a system that really was there. It was opportune for them. It put them in front, it was about solving challenges and problems that they, your customer and potential customer would have. So that's you focused on not the shiny object, but your customer and their needs and creating something that's a unique selling proposition for yourself that no one else has. So then it really is easy when it comes to me because it's, how are we going to get that in front of people in the right way and easily soundbites. Right, that they understand.
Right. It's so important to note, it's a collaborative effort, right? Between the business owner and his team and their message. And then you being able to have the empathy which you do, and your team has the empathy to understand that. And then let's take that and like, let's take that sauce and put a nice bottle and label around it.
It's funny, one of my jobs now, as I've gotten a little bit older and a little gray is trying to understand if a new potential client is a partner, or like, if they're looking for a partner like we're talking about, or are they looking for a vendor who does stuff for them? So do they want me to build a website and they're going to give us a stuff, and they're just going to tell us the way they want it, or are they looking to become a Ninja, you know? And I find that when we're really expensive for people who are looking to buy swords, and we're really cost-effective for people who want to be ninjas, so I'm looking, so that's part of, you know, we all need to, I think it's, honing in on who your right client is, and then really trying to speak the language to that person. That'll resonate all the way around, including with us as a marketing agency. So just to your example of thanking me as me thanking you back saying that's a good collaborative effort, but it takes two, you didn't want to have, I'm guessing you didn't want to hire someone who you were going to tell what to do and was going to listen to everything you said and not deviate.
Right. Well, I've always found that, you know business owners are leaders and we have great ideas. And we're great at lots of things, but we can't always be great at everything. So to have, you know, a partner, like you said, you know, rather than an order taker, that someone can bounce things off of and get feedback and then come to the right solutions and be able to pivot. And you've got to have an open mind. So I think most business owners, and I'm sure most of my listeners are smart enough to have that open minded to listen to new messages, because that's how they became successful in the first place.
So, you know, I think I'd like to recap some of the, the great ideas and answers that you kind of brought forth you know, as we started talking you know, you mentioned right away that any business needs to understand its target audience, right. And that once they know that, then they can look at strategies to market to them. You mentioned a website is probably a must. And, you know, I might have some listeners listening that don't have a website or their website might be stale. It hasn't been looked at revamped. So I really think that that's something I want to highlight in this podcast, true value of a website, whether it be for branding or actual, the functional processing of sale of the product is, is critical. Right. you know, we talked a little bit about social media and ways to target audiences, right? So in certain demographics, whether it be age range or area, zip code, those things are all available in different forms of social media. So that is a good thing you noted vision, mission, value statement. I mean, that should be trademarked to you, Eric. It's, it's something that I think a lot of business owners when we're in the fast lane and we're doing what we do. You know, sometimes we can veer off that highway of what our true vision is for the future and what our mission and value statements should be. And you know, GWP and a great marketing firm can help bring that out to the forefront for people. You mentioned and I wanted to cover some of the urban myths like, there's no magic bullet. I think that was a great line you had, and you need the flexibility. And, you know, in closing, you could pay millions for the sword, but you'd rather pay the right amount and be at Ninja and, over time in a collaborative effort. I think that's the true answer for the question of marketing to business owners is to be flexible and to be that Ninja. And you could be that Ninja with the team of GWP in Montclair, New Jersey national, renowned, innovative, pioneer in marketing. And so lucky today to have you Eric, you know, I always enjoy the time we spend together. I know you're a very busy man, but I appreciate you sitting down and, and kicking off podcast for Secret Sauce 365.
Stan, thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.
You too. My friend stay well.
Take care buddy.
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