Archiv der Kategorie: Meaning design

In this area it is all about meaning design ===>

You are what you is

In Germany, around 2.23 million solo self-employed people work without dependent employees. They take care of all biz components and develop, among other things

  • the business idea,
  • the capabilities, offerings, and activities,
  • an overview of the required funds,
  • a description of the customer groups and sales channels,
  • the pricing for the assortment offered,
  • the business plan for the next five years, and
  • open a chargeable bank account,
  • invent a name and a logo,
  • obtain the official permits and insurances,
  • register a trade or other legal form,
  • conclude contracts with payment service providers and
  • prepare a legally compliant bid and invoice forms as well as the accounting.

Solo self-employed people have to work it all out by themselves before the first invoice can be written, unless they either have supporters who volunteer to help or use existing savings to pay for external support.

Starting your company is like taking off an airplane. It needs a long runway with a good take-off run until there is enough lift to take off and get to flight altitude. A company needs revenues, which only occur when possible customers are aware of the offer. This requires offers that are ready for use, good relationships, and meaningful KPI’s.

Ready to use products and/or services

The offers must be in a condition that they can be performed the next day. What does this mean? A baker wants to sell healthy mini-baked goods. To do this, she needs recipes for mini pretzels and croissants, organic suppliers, and a bakery line tailored to small products that she can handle on her own.

An idea is not enough to be marketable. This applies not only to manufacturing industries (e.g., procurement, production, distribution and disposal logistics, production, energy, process engineering) but also to people-related (e.g., consultants, therapists, coaches, trainers, social workers, nursing attendances) and fact-related (e.g., dry cleaners, banks, insurance companies, ICT, advertising) attendances.

Without the prepared offers, one or maybe two projects can be improvised during the start-up phase. But in the long run, this approach is dangerous because it is difficult for solo self-employed to get out of this treadmill. Moreover, although the first sales can be realized, the continuous improvisations damage the quality of the offer, lead to permanent overload and prevent reliable long-term utilization.

Good relationships
In the past, providers could meet in a marketplace and offer their deliverables for sale. This increased the likelihood of being noticed by possible clients. Even today, the clientele meet at the weekly market for fruit, vegetables, and eggs.

It is a good idea to start with existing contacts and relationships. For this purpose, the target groups should be classified according to interests, potential turnover, and other vital factors. The existing network can be graded here. By marking deciders and opinion leaders, a prioritization of possible customers is created, with whom the idea can be discussed or even offered at an early stage. It should be clarified who can best be addressed with which approach. By involving this clientele at an early stage, a favorable climate for offers and negotiations is created and may even make it possible to immunize them against offers from competitors.

There is no revenue without customers.

Customers are those,
who need the offer,
have sufficient budget AND
are willing to pay for it.

In the medium term, the first contacts generate new prospects through word-of-mouth and other publicity measures. Then, with mutual exchange and the offer’s visibility, more and more possible buyers (leads) exist to achieve the entrepreneurial goals.

Focused marketing
Once a publicly accessible PoS is established, flags can be raised with one’s logo and offerings, informational materials can be displayed, giveaways can be spread, and so on. However, if particular deliverables of any kind are offered that do not fit into a traditional marketplace (something solo self-employed people should consider), effective advertising measures are inevitable.

This is the approach taken by legions of providers who, in the absence of capacities of the solo self-employed people, want to assist in drafting, designing, and publishing. The keywords at the end of this article (see below: Supplement) give an impression of the number of topics. With all the pressure to generate sales as quickly as possible, do not get carried away with overelaborated promotional activities and the development of unrealistic external presentations. Focused marketing needs the following minimum kit, which must be created decisively by the entrepreneur:

  • a name that fits the personality and the business,
  • an overview with the offers (products and/or services),
  • a one-minute elevator pitch (statements to arouse curiosity with exciting slogans, outlining the proposal, showing customer benefits, examples, suggesting the next step through a call-to-action),
  • a presentation of the company (including company profile, core competencies, philosophy, history, personal introduction, goals, strengths, certificates, a service portfolio (preferably with prices), project examples, customer statements, data protection, contact and further info)
  • a flyer that further details the elevator pitch and provides incentives for customers to come forward; and
  • a first landing page on the Internet derived from the above points, which can be developed by oneself with the help of appropriate templates.

There should be no hesitation about getting inspired by established companies, but without trying to do the same. The big players have exceptional employees and an extensive budget that is not available to a start-up. When formulating a proposal, avoid platitudes such as best quality, less time, or lowest price. It is more critical to elaborate on what makes the bidder stands out: e.g., exceptional expertise, unique experience, merciless customer orientation, an agile approach, and precise outcomes.
The following applies to the messages: Less is more. Hubris should be self-critically avoided, and what one can safely master should be made one’s own as well as only be promised, what can be kept.

Bottom line: For all those who start the adventure of becoming solo self-employed, there is no doubt that their own business is the most important enterprise of all times. This self-confidence is essential to overcome the shallows of the first years. To have a chance of survival, the offers should be neatly worked out, existing relationships be used, and marketing be focused on the essential aspects. The litmus test when reading your external presentations is to look in the mirror. If you have not blushed and avoided hubris, you should have managed appropriate messages. In the end, you are what you is – no more, but also NO LESS.


Keywords for unfocused marketing

Working out the following aspects in their entirety goes far beyond what is required.

  • Marketing Strategies:
    Direct marketing, Networking, Influencer marketing, Referral marketing, Event marketing, Guerrilla marketing, Content marketing, Event marketing, Telemarketing, Email marketing, Social media marketing
  • Marketing plan:
    Market analysis; marketing mix (product, place, promotion, price); marketing objectives; key performance indicators (lead conversion rate, traffic conversion rate, cost per lead, cost per customer); marketing concept; Corporate Identity; marketing controlling
  • Promotional materials:
    Postcards, flyers, folders, presentation folders, long format postcards, door hangers, business cards, labels and stickers, stamps & ink pads, notebooks, magnets, paper bags, product tags, gift certificates, websites
  • Publications:
    Annual report, image brochure, customer magazine, newspaper, blogs, television, daily newspaper, display papers, online/mobile, outdoor advertising, trade magazines, radio, weekly/Sunday newspaper, movie theater, newspaper supplement
  • Events:
    Open houses, plant tours/tours, panel discussions, meetings, trade shows, trade show booths, webinars
  • Press:
    Releases, conferences, interviews, tweets, background interviews, editorial visits, videos, podcasts
  • Sponsoring
  • Online:
    Website; online advertising (banner, affiliate, email, keyword advertising, …); search engine optimization (SEO); landing page; lead management.

Volatile meaning

A few people will find a book in their bookcase that they cannot decipher. As long as one does not know Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or Greek, one has no choice but to look for someone who can read, understand and transfer the scripture into an understandable language. The meaning of the hieroglyphs could only be deciphered in the Rosetta stone, in which a text was engraved as hieroglyphs, demotic and ancient Greek symbols among each other. There are books like the Voynich manuscript that could not be understood in the past six hundred years. Eventually, we realize that meaning can evaporate without translators, explainers, or experts – what a text means; how to make or use a tool; what purpose a monument like Stonehenge pursued; or how other people see the world.

With the current search for truth and the attempt to regulate language within the framework of political correctness, questions arise regarding meaning.

  • What is the meaning?
    Meaning is the very essence of people, things, locations, eras, and ideas. It is about the characteristics, the material, and immaterial characters of everything – what we perceive, think, exchange with each other, and do. These can be memories from the past, expectations about the future, and all sorts of abstract concepts. Means of expression are primarily words, images, haptics, smells, and tastes, or a mixture of these, like systems that are consciously or unconsciously shaped or emerge on their own. Meaning can be an idea, a theme, a concept/model, a plan, or a realization and describes
    – building blocks that make up the whole,
    – relationships between the building blocks,
    – processes that consist of individual steps and have beginnings and ends,
    – qualities that describe the merit of the named components,
    – as well as all other aspects that go beyond everyday worldly wisdom.
    To paraphrase Ludwig Wittgenstein: Meaning … is what an explanation of meaning explains” (PI560).
  • Where do we find meaning?
    Meaning is found everywhere and always in people and things. The essence of people comes from their outer appearance, social situation, visible and psychological behavior, relationships, and social impact. Things contain meaning through form, function, and their prestige. However, only people can make meaning visible since there is no tangible entity containing meaning with the essence of everything. It takes observers to interpret and communicate meaning – without ancient Egyptians and especially the Rosetta Stone, it would not be possible to access the meaning of hieroglyphics until today. The context provides further clues – the time reference (yesterday, today, tomorrow), the place, or the culture.
  • How do we acquire meaning?
    We perceive our environment with our senses: visually, auditory, kinesthetically, olfactory and gustatory. The pathway into our consciousness is still unclear. In the end, external stimuli expand the mental models that everybody has. In the so-called first-person perspective, each person thinks for itself. The resulting thoughts are only accessible to the respective self. Exchange of views is only possible by providing personal interpretations and transferring associations of the deep structure into the surface structure (e.g., language, images, or sounds). In the process, the message is distorted, generalized, and parts are deleted. The recipients perceive everything with their senses and open it up again for themselves. The meaning is created in the mind of each person. Due to the first-person perspective, however, it can never be verified since it can only be conveyed to others via the distorted statements of the surface structure (see meta-model of language).
  • What is explained by meaning?
    In general, we associate meaning with information and knowledge. Only sensually perceptible stimuli and data are tangible – written documents, pictures, films, sound recordings, things and the like, as well as digital data (e.g., 01001101011001011011010110010100001010). Information results from data that have meaning (e.g., memes – human behavior analogous to genes). When many pieces of information come together, knowledge is formed (e.g., memetics is the study of information and culture based on an analogy to Darwinian evolution). Once knowledge creates beliefs that enable decisions and evaluations, then we speak of wisdom (e.g., Viral marketing exploits the insights of memetics). Meanings resonate at all levels, providing circumstances with beings.
  • Lost in meaning?
    As soon as we leave the first-person perspective and speak of shared meaning, we always deal with the lowest common denominator. And since the rest, i.e., the understanding of the individual, is inaccessible, we have to live with the fact that there are countless interpretations (i.e., meanings) for everything. All for themselves are right. Therefore, for us to understand each other better, it is not enough to distribute our surface structure unedited, but we must shape our messages in such a way that counterparts can understand them – by using their language and jargon, familiar symbols, and so on. Analogies that make the fuzziness manageable supports this. Now, if we can manage to accept other opinions for what they are, filtered statements of first-person perspectives, we will not be Lost in Meanings.

Bottom line: Understanding what meaning is, where we find it, how we can reveal it, and by what it is represented, then it quickly becomes apparent that meaning without people hopelessly vanishes. The Voynich manuscript is a good example. It is physically available, but no human can interpret the signs and images. Whether it means anything, and if so, what is unattainable for the moment. However, this bound parchment has been shown to survive for centuries. To what extent our current flood of data lying on IT storage devices will survive the next one hundred years is pure speculation. Or, in other words, the meanings contained in all these people and things are ephemeral because they do not survive time. The Voynich manuscript, however, has shown us that the meanings of tangible data are also volatile.