Just how important is it to you?

OK, we're almost at the half-way point of the year. How are you coming on your goals?

Are you taking positive, measurable steps to increase your business? Advertising in new ways: for example, creating brochures that really jump out at your prospects, or finding new ways to get your brand name in front of your customers is a great way to do that.

You can also choose some low-cost ways to increase your brand awareness. Would a newsletter, either online or offline, be an appropriate tool for your business? If you can present a timely article for your prospects and customers, you can position yourself as an expert in your field.

Another way to keep your brand name recognizable is to make sure that your entire PR package works together. Your business cards, website, letterhead, envelopes and brochures all should have a similar look. Nothing is worse than having your business cards displaying one design and color scheme, while your website has another, and your letterhead yet another. Your entire package should be instantly recognizable as YOUR package. Your printed advertising should also have a related look, even though it might need to be a little different, according to your target audience. If you're not sure about your package, ask someone you trust to look at everything and see if an update is in order, or if you need to do a major makeover. This sounds expensive, but just imagine if Coke (or Pepsi) were to change their logo and colors regularly. I don't know about you, but I always spot the Coke machine simply by the distinctive red and the white "swoosh". It pays in the long run to get a professional logo done for you. (If you need proof, next time you're in a convenience store, do a quick scan around the building - how many brands do you recognize by either a distinctive color or shape?)

Some other ideas to get your name in front of folks:

  • leave a business card every time you eat at a restaurant or when you visit a nice store
  • "pull" two cards from someone you're speaking to - one for you to keep and one to pass along to someone who might need their services - make sure you note your name and number on the back so they'll remember who referred them.
  • when you network, don't worry about telling them what you do - find out what the other person needs, then a few days later you can write them a little follow-up note to let them know how much you enjoyed talking with them. At that time, you can always send them a little information that you think might help them. (See, your mom did know what she was talking about when she told you to learn to write bread and butter notes!)

One last thing: remember that no matter where you are, you're representing your business. Even if you're at the grocery store at 8 AM on Saturday morning, in your jeans and a t-shirt, and you've got no make-up on (or unshaved if you're a guy) you can still smile and be friendly. A nice happy face is the best makeup you can wear! Folks remember that smile long after they remember whether you're made up or not!

Oh yes, and don't forget - if you're fortunate enough to still have your Mama, tell her you love her!