Archive for the ‘ marketing ’ Category

Your Brand?

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!

More Productive Meetings, Pt 1

1. Do you know when you are most productive? It’s worth taking a look to see if you’re wasting your “prime time” in meetings or doing “grunt work”. Take a quick survey of your work habits and see what part of the day you shine. Most office settings insist on setting meetings for mid-morning or right after lunch, which might sound good, but if that’s during most of the participants’ best working time, the meeting’s a waste. If you don’t believe me, think back to the last meeting you attended. How much of the meeting did you spend thinking about what you needed to be doing at your desk? That’s because your brain knows that you could have been far more productive there. If you have influence on when meetings are set, try having them on Friday afternoons. Most folks are not going to be thinking about work that late in the week, so it’s a natural time to have meetings. And make it work for you – when you finish, let everyone leave early if they’ve contributed!

2. And speaking of meetings, do you have problems getting folks there on time? Set some fun “fines” to those who are late. Anyone who runs late has to sing a song to everyone else. Or the last person there has to take minutes. Or to really get their attention, the last person through the door has to be in charge of the next meeting!

Do You Really Need a Website?

Below are some questions you should consider if you think you need a web site. Only you know the answers to these questions, and obviously, the final decision will be yours.

Of course, I’d love to help you get your web site up and running, and I pledge to make sure that you’re happy with it, and that it will meet your needs. Just in case you have any questions about basic web terms, I’ve created this page to explain them in everyday English.

Okay, now on with the test! Remember, be as honest and thorough with your answers as you can.

1. First of all, will your site be a personal or business site?

Let’s look at family sites first. They’re great for several reasons. Family members who are living far from each other can keep up with what’s going on using a web site. Different family members can be correspondents for their part of the family and can be responsible for sending information and pictures in to be added. It’s also a great way to learn more about family genealogy. My dad’s family has a web site, and we’ve heard from folks all over the world who may be related to us, however distantly. To help learn even more, we also subscribe to several genealogy sites that help us get in touch with other families who may also be connected to us.

Besides family sites, there are also simple personal sites. If you’ve got a hobby that you’re very involved in, you might want a site that can let you share it with others who may also be interested. For instance, there are many music sites, where someone has gone to the trouble of transcribing songs they like, adding guitar tabs or sheet music, and then they post it for other musicians to enjoy. Some other good examples include cross-stitching or related needlework, or poultry raising. Just go to a search engine like Altavista or Mamma and type in cross stitch, and see how sites are listed – it’s amazing!

Then we come to business sites – there are just as many business sites as there are personal sites, if not more. Think of any type of business you can imagine and run a search – when I searched for “antique book stores” on Altavista, I got 53,161 results, and each search engine will give back slightly different results, according to how they are structured. And next week, if I search again, the list will be different. The internet is constantly changing – more sites are added, sites drop off or change their address, or some simply quit updating and then drop off the search engines. (No site should ever, ever remain completely static.)

If you’re interested in having a personal or family web site., then your next step is to find someone who can make sure you get the site exactly as you want it.

2. For your business site, there are several things to consider. First, is your product something that will have a fairly wide appeal?

If your product is not something that would have a market more than a few hours’ drive from your business, then you might reconsider having a web site. After all, if your customers can drive to your business and pick it up, why should they shop on-line? However, if you want your product available over a large area, or 24 hours a day, then you might need a storefront web site. After all, it would be great to know you can be making sales even while your “real” store is closed. You also will be able to make sales without having to pay someone to man the store. Just make sure that you have ways for your current and potential clients to contact you and ask any questions they may have. Customer service should be the most important thing you give your customers – if you treat them well, believe me, they will continue to use your services, and more importantly, they will advertise for you.

Next, is your web site going to be an extension of your store, where customers can buy online, or do you want a more simple site that piques your audience’s curiosity, so that they’ll want to contact you? Either way, your web site always needs to project the personality and mission statement of your business, as well as you. When your target audience visits your site, they should get an immediate feel for what you represent. An antique store that specializes in French Provencal furniture shouldn’t “feel” the same way a bookstore that keeps thousands of X-Men comic books in stock. Each place has it’s own target audience, and each audience has different expectations. Just imagine going into Books-A-Million, where there are lots of folks sitting in comfortable chairs, looking at their favorite books. The folks there know that they’re being invited to browse the books, have a cup of coffee and stay for a while. That atmosphere has been purposefully created to make them stay as long as they want, and more importantly, buy as much as they can!

3. Now that you’ve decided whether you really need a site, and what kind it’s going to be, what is the next step?

I’m very glad you asked that question! Your next step is to get some basic ideas about what you want your site to do. There are several questions you’ll need to ask yourself as well. Will your site sell items or services, or will it be for advertising only? Do you have a color scheme in mind? What is your target audience? (And no, the answer to that question is NOT “everyone on the internet”!)

Everyone has some ideas about what their web site should look like, and one of a web designer’s main jobs is to help you find out what your ideas are. When you hire a web designer, your main job is to make sure you find someone who will honor your wishes, and make sure the site looks it’s best. Web design can be complicated, fun, and exciting, but most of all, it’s got to be a team effort. Make sure you find someone who wants to play on your team!

Is Your Website Working for You?

Let’s talk turkey. No, I don’t mean the turkey that you’ll be carving later this week. I mean one of the most important parts of your business PR campaign – your web site.

Does your website really do you justice? Let’s look at a few things and see…

-Your site’s navigation – is it easy to move from one page of your site to another? No matter what type navigation you have, moving around your site should be easy for your visitors.

-Contact information – do you have at least one way for your visitors to contact you? At the very least, you should have an email link and street address listed. Even better, have a contact form on your site – this is especially nice for those visitors who might not have email capability on their computers, or who might be using someone else’s computer.

-Call to action – does your site invite visitors to interact with you? Using a form, you can take a poll, invite reviews or suggestions, take orders or even ask them to sign up for your newsletter.

-Mission statement – don’t make your visitors guess what you do – tell them! Now this may seem silly, but how many times have you landed on a site, and had no idea what it was about? The design of a site is very important, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the underlying message.

-Your personality – your website can have a professional look and feel, and still show your visitors who you are. After all, that’s what makes your site unique – the fact that you own it. If your business is just like everyone else’s, why should anyone buy from you? That’s where your personality and individuality comes in. There is something that you do better than anyone else – and the key is to have your website show that off. If you’ve got the best prices in your area, or if you offer excellent customer service before and after the sale, then your site should show that. Give your guests (read potential customers) a reason to do business with you.

So, take a cold hard look at your site, and see if it says “you” – if not, talk to your webmaster and let them make some suggestions that will spice up your site!

By the way, if you’d like to have your site reviewed by professional web designers, you can submit it to The Design & Publishing Center ( – look for Web Design Review and Critiques in the menu on the left. They’ll do a great job and tell you exactly what might need to be changed.