Don’t Make This Common Marketing Mistake

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

When I was working for a software company, way back when, we hired a new CEO. The new CEO decided he wanted to make his mark on the company so he came to me, the Marketing Director, and said his first order of business was that he wanted to change the company logo. The company had a zillion other problems, but somehow he felt that changing the logo would make a huge difference. I convinced him it wouldn’t, because it was just change for the sake of change.

marketing mistakes

Change Only What is Not Working

This is how you know the difference between a true marketing professional and someone who really doesn’t know what they are doing. Changing a logo is bad for so many reasons not to mention the expense involved in discarding every document that has it on it and replacing it all with the new logo, but I won’t go into all that. My point is, you want to change ONLY what is NOT working. Just because you are not having the success you would like, does not mean everything you are doing is wrong.

If It is Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

I had a client the other day and normally I advise on SEO, but she was actually turning up on the first page of Google. She was getting a lot of traffic, just not converting the traffic into sales. So I did not advise on anything that would affect her SEO, but instead advised her on other changes I felt she needed to make that were likely causing the lack of sales. My point again, only fix what is broken. Change for the sake of change is not marketing and you risk actually making things worse.

JC Penney’s Marketing Change Mistake

A good recent example is retailer, JCPenney. When new executives took over they changed the store’s pricing structure, moving away from their weekly coupons and time-limited discounts to instead just offering lower prices all the time. It turns out the coupons and special offers was the one thing customers liked and sales took a nose-dive even further. The executives just assumed that because the company wasn’t successful anymore that everything needed to be changed, but that was wrong. Just change the things customers don’t like, it’s that simple.

Hope you liked today’s post! Feel free to let me know in comments.

Thanks for reading, 


GB OliverWant to Know What Is and Is Not Working with Your Small Business? 

I would love to help your small business. Please see my Marketing Services page for a list of options, email me at or fill in the form below to discuss how I can advise your small business.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

8 Key Ingredients for a Successful Business

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Here are the hard facts about having a successful business. THERE IS NO MAGIC SECRET. Anyone who tells you there is, is lying. If you expect success to come quickly and easily, you might as well stop now.

8 Key Ingredients for a Successful Business

  1. You have to truly believe that  your business will be successful. It doesn’t matter if anyone else does, it only matters that you do. Negativity and doubt breed negative results.
  2. You have to work hard. I don’t know anyone who is successful and didn’t have a long, hard road getting there. Expect to invest endless hours in your business, especially in the beginning. But once you have a steady customer base and a good reputation, things will come easier.motivational small business quote
  3. You have to be patient. Nothing happens overnight, and you really don’t want too much success too quickly if you are not prepared to handle it. That can hurt your business. So set goals you wish to achieve daily, monthly and yearly and see those as a measure of success to stay motivated.
  4. You have to be willing to change your strategy. I am constantly reminded of the famous quote, “Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“. If your current marketing efforts are not working, why keep doing them, try something else.

    motivational business quotes
    This art print is from LuciusArt on Etsy
  5. You have to stop comparing your business to other people’s. I get this a lot. Why is this company that does the same thing I do, so much more successful? It could be a variety of reasons. First to market always helps. Maybe they have a large friends and family referral business. Maybe they had a personal contact at a major publication that brought substantial publicity. Maybe it’s just pure luck. Who knows for sure. Forget about them and focus on you. I have competitors, we all have competitors, but it is a large marketplace and you can carve out your own niche.
  6. You have to take the professional advice you are given. I have a lot of clients who come back to me asking why they are not getting results, only to find out they did not implement all the tactics I suggested, probably because they are hesitant to change (read #4 again). The truth is, you are not objective about your own business as you are just too close to it. So if you pay for professional advice trust what they are saying to do and do it.

    Inspiration quotes for business
    This art print is from
  7. You have to invest in your business. Whether it is consulting services, advertising, graphic design, SEO, and so forth, you have to spend money to make money. If you are not willing to invest in your business, you are not serious about it.
  8. You have to not give up. Failure is part of being successful. Everyone fails, the difference is successful people keep trying, they don’t give up.

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© 2012-2015 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Publicity

 By G.B. Oliver

I recently secured a feature article for one of my clients, a children’s book author, in a popular Canadian magazine called, Our Canada (a Reader’s Digest publication). Hopefully the feature transpires into sales, but there are so many other opportunities for the author to take this press and leverage it to further help the sales of her book; tactics you can use when you get publicity for your business.


1. Use Your Publicity to Get Your Products into Stores

The author had been trying to get her book into more book stores. This article poses a huge opportunity to do that. If you take your press into any store and say, “I just had a national magazine write about my product, I think you may want to carry it” (say it much nicer than that, but you get the idea) what store would say no? Press creates demand.

Our Canada Feature

2. Use Your Publicity to Get Credibility

You can leverage any media exposure to gain credibility and trust with new customers who may not know of you. For example, “As featured in this month’s issue of …”. It essentially tells customers you are a player.

3. Use Your Publicity to Get More Publicity

Once you get that first press, use it to turn it into more press. For example, go to your local newspaper with a story pitch where your business success is the story, “My business was just featured in a national magazine, so I thought maybe your readers would be interested in hearing about how my small company has really taken off in the last few months…”. As I’ve always said, local press loves writing about local success stories.

Be Patient! Publicity Can Take Time

Now, I should note, I pitched this story to Our Canada magazine last March and it is just appearing now. That is how long it can take, so be patient. The reason it took so long is because they had to fit it into their editorial calendar, which is planned in advance. Blogs and newspapers move a little faster, but magazines can take a long time.

My Publicity Pitch Service

My publicity pitch service is just $99 USD where I will write 10 different story pitches for 10 top media (magazines, blogs, etc.) for you to pitch to. Just email me at to discuss.

© 2014 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved

How Much Money Are You Really Making In a Year, Selling Online (You May Be Surprised!)

by G.B. Oliver

My last three blog posts have been case studies, based on real businesses, because I see the same problems cropping up over and over and I want to clarify for you, whether you should even be in the business you are in.  This post sums up the bottom line, based on the things I discussed in the last three posts, so you can really understand if your business is going to work.

$8.80 Necklace at Forever 21

This Jewelry Seller Cannot Compete on Price with Big Retailers

The other day I saw someone who was selling a handmade necklace for $11.50. It was quite a detailed design, like the one in the photo above. Obviously, she is trying to compete with big retailers like Forever 21 and H&M, who charge the same low price for necklaces such as these.

However, Forever 21 and H&M buy from wholesalers whose jewelry is made in factories with low wage workers, and due to the volume they create, these wholesalers can also get materials at ridiculously low prices.

Therefore, an indie designer will always have trouble competing in the low-priced market, if a lengthy amount of labor is involved in creating the product.

What Is The Absolute MAXIMUM She Will Make In a Year?

If this necklace takes her an hour to make, and I am sure it does, again, her hourly wage is now $11.50 less materials, less marketplace fees, less PayPal fees, less other business expenses and less other business tasks that take up her time (i.e. going to the post office to ship product, marketing her shop).

Therefore, if she ends up profiting $8 per hour, and works an 8 hour day and a 5 day work week, then she is making approximately $16,000 a year, and that is the maximum annual income she will ever make.

Why is this the maximum? Because she cannot physically make more than 8 necklaces a day.

If she want to make more than $16,000 a year, she must do one or all of the following:

  • Raise her price
  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to make a necklace
  • Source cheaper materials
  • Reduce other business expenditures

Now I ask you – what is the maximum annual income you will earn from your business, based on this formula? If it is not what you want to make, you have to rethink your business model.

Same Pricing Model, If You Sell Services

It is the same thing if you offer services. If you want to make $500 a day offering graphic design services, for example, then you have to charge an hourly rate based on $500/8 = $62.50 an hour.

So if a graphic design will take you 2 hours to make, you will charge at least $125 for the job (because we are not including other expenses at this point) in order to make your goal of $500 a day. And that is not including communication with the customer and the time that takes up, as well as other non-revenue generating business tasks.

Plus, you also have to try and get enough jobs for one day to make up all 8 hours. There will be days when you don’t fill up all 8 hours with design requests, so you may want to factor that into your price as well.

FINAL WORD: You have to make money! That is the whole point of being in business. You don’t want to find out at the end of the year, when you are doing your taxes, that your annual income did not justify the amount of time and effort you put into your business. Make sure your business model works!

IF YOU LIKE THIS POST: Don’t forget to “like” below as well as post to Facebook,TwitterStumbleUponLinkedInEmail, etc. Thanks!

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© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

Product Copy I Love – C. Wonder

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

I have written about many online retailers who write effective product copy such as ModCloth and Williams-Sonoma. Well-written descriptions help create a need for your product and answers any questions your visitor may have that could have prevented a purchase.

C. Wonder is an online retailer selling women’s fashion, jewelry and home decor accessories and they write very effective product descriptions. Here are some examples:

Eyelet Cotton Tunic

“Easy, breezy and as feminine a tunic top as they come, our eyelet cotton topper is sure to take you from many a backyard barbecue to graduation dinner. We love its classic, straight sleeves paired with hints of color along the neckline that give it a modern edge. Make it beachside friendly with flat sandals or a bit more uptown with sky-high sandals or wedge espadrilles.”

Why It Works

They not only describe the garment in detail so you know exactly what you are getting, but they tell you where to wear it, and how to wear it.

Double Wrap Leather Chain Bracelet

“The mix of leather woven through a shiny gold link chain symbolizes an ode to luxury that is forever in style. Our spin on the iconic look includes a thick, signature toggle closure and deeply pigmented leather. The bold statement of a double wrap bracelet expresses an effortlessly chic style, whether its nestled in a monochromatic lineup of bracelets or single-handedly adding pizzazz to your favorite watch and ring. You’ll quickly fall in love with the feel and look of a must-have classic.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 10.40.35 AM

Why It Works

By using words like “forever in style” and “must-have classic” they are telling the buyer this is a piece you will have the rest of your life as it will never go out of style. So you are definitely getting long lasting value for your money, which most women want when investing in jewelry.

Monkey Rectangular Ceramic Plate

“Exhilarated by the experience of traveling the world, our design team translated iconic animal imagery and rich history from around the globe into a beautiful home accent. Our decorative porcelain plate portrays a playful monkey in traditional bejeweled dress, framed in a charming scroll ikat border with golden trim. Perfect for holding light snacks or hanging on your walls!”

Why It Works

When I saw this plate, I thought it was interesting but didn’t think I had a need. But after reading words like “exotic” and “around the globe” I felt like I would be getting a unique treasure for my home. Plus, I never thought about hanging it on a wall.

Be sure to share! Until next time… Gail 

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© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

Popular Magazines Now Have Their Own Online Marketplaces

by G.B. Oliver

Are you really thinking outside the box when it comes to where to sell your products? Right now, you probably have your own online store. But a wider distribution channel is always the best way to do volume and spread the word about your brand.

One trend I have been noticing is a lot of online magazines have their own online marketplaces. What this tells me is that content providers, such as magazines, blogs and newspapers, are trying to find more ways to maximize revenues, beyond advertising, and that may be an opportunity for you.

Some Online Magazines with Marketplaces

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 11.23.12 AMCoastal Living Magazine Online has their own line of products that they sell, but they also act as a storefront for Wayfair, a large online home store.


Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 11.24.07 AMThis Old House‘s online magazine also seems to have a deal with Wayfair, and features their products for purchase directly from  the Old House marketplace.

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 11.24.33 AMBetter Home and Gardens Online has a really interesting storefront that reminds me of ShopStyle, showing products for sale from a variety of vendors such as Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel. When you select the item, it takes you over to the retailer’s website, so you are not buying from Better Homes and Gardens, but they obviously have a referral/affiliate program, whereby they get paid for the click and the sale.

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 11.20.31 AMThe wedding magazine, The Knot, has had an online store for years. They feature a variety of products that they say are mostly their own proprietary designs, but considering the large number of items they stock, I have to imagine they use some third party vendors.

Everyone is looking to make more money from their online businesses, and online magazines, newspaper and blogs are no different. Amazon spread its reach further by offering its Amazon Associates program (getting online businesses to incorporate the Amazon store front into their website in exchange for a fee) so why should it be any different for you?

YOUR NEXT STEP: Approach a blog that reaches your target market, that is growing in popularity and see if they would be willing to include your products in their marketplace (if they don’t have one, suggest the idea) in exchange for a fee on each sale. It could be a win win for both of you.

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© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

3 Easy Ways to Find Inspiration for New Products

by G.B. Oliver

Everyone wants to come up with that next great product idea. So how do you find the innovator in you and either start or identify that next big trend? Try these tips to get inspired.

Find Inspiration in Commercial Establishments

I’m sure you have noticed the huge “chalkboard trend” the last few years, whether it is in home decor products or wedding products or graphic design, do you wonder how it got started? Think of the proliferation of Starbucks and other coffee shops and how they turned their everyday chalkboard menus into works of art. The same trend is now with subway or transit signs. You’ve looked at these signs for years, but suddenly they have become decor chic.
Was it Starbucks Menu Boards that Launched the Current Chalkboard Trend?
Was it Starbucks Menu Boards that Launched the Current Chalkboard Trend?
So go to the downtown core of your city and check out:
  • restaurants
  • retail shops
  • coffee shops
  • churches
  • museums
  • libraries
  • historical buildings
and really look at everything. From the art on the walls to signage to  light fixtures to packaging – try to note interesting design details and how you can apply to the types of products you create.


Find Inspiration in other Eras

Another big product of the last few years has been the slogan, Keep Calm and Carry On, a propaganda poster made by the British government in 1939 during the start of the Second World War.  People love inspirational sayings and slogans, so when a British bookstore rediscovered this poster back in 2000, it launched a whole slew of products and reworkings of the slogan itself.
  • So go to a library or bookstore and pull out every pictorial book you can on every decade and really study the photos.
  • Ask to look in your parents or grand parents’ attics (or just look around their homes) to see memorabilia from their era.
  • Take a look at their old photo albums, even their wedding album.
  • Watch movies and television shows from other decades, but with an eye for detail. Don’t focus on the story, but instead look at the set design, the wardrobe, and see what can inspire you.

Find Inspiration in Currently Popular Products

A lot of inspiration can come from creating products as add-ons to currently top selling products. iPhone cases came about because of the popularity of the iPhone and now there are over 160,000 iPhone cases listed on Etsy alone.
All the different accessory products for the iPhone
All the different accessory products for the iPhone
Take a journey over to and see what the most popular products are in any category – from food to baby to beauty to jewelry to gadgets – and see if you can find inspiration for a complimentary product for one of these top sellers. You now have a huge market to sell to.
Of course, pop culture is always an influencer as well. Please see my post, How to Predict Trends Before They Happen.
FINAL WORD: Sometimes all you have to do is stop and look around you to get inspiration. There are obviously many more ways to get inspired, these are just a few to get you started.
PINTEREST BOARD: Product Design I Love
GB Oliver
ABOUT ME: I’m G.B. Oliver, a small business marketing consultant and author of the new ebook series, Small Business Marketing Ideas That Work! – 145 Detailed Tactics. I also do private consultations. Feel free to contact me at

© 2013 G.B. OLIVER