Category: Brand

Double Up: Online and Offline Marketing Techniques

We all know how important marketing strategies are to our small business design. Many of us are still learning the best ways to market our businesses without draining our bank accounts. Online marketing has been one of the best ways to get businesses out into the public eye. This is your website, your blog and all your social network accounts that drive that traffic towards your website. It’s fast, cheap and easy to change when necessary. But what about offline marketing techniques? Offline marketing often gets pushed to the back burner because of time constraints, lack of funding or just not knowing what to do. Let’s talk about some offline marketing strategies that are easy on time and finances.

Business Cards are the simplest offline marketing tools you can have for your business. You can get a lot of cards for very little cash. Make them unique and hand them out often. If you frequent a business, ask them if you can leave a couple on their counter and offer to take a few of their cards as well. Consider making your card double as a coupon. The backs of business cards are usually blank, but you can have a coupon for your services printed so the space goes un-wasted. You can also affix a magnet to the back and behold—people will see your logo every time they go to the refrigerator.

Local Fairs can be a great way to meet new clients. If your business is a good fit, consider renting a booth and spend a few hours marketing your small business to people in your community. You’ll get the chance to meet people that may have never known about your business and in return, you might find people providing services you could use as well. You can even talk to others who own small businesses and trade services, while helping promote each other.

Be a walking advertisement. Put your logo on everything. Make company shirts and wear them in public. Get large magnetic bumper stickers with your company information and website address and stick it to your car. Get pens with your company information and website and leave them when you sign in at the gym, sign credit card receipts or fill out paperwork at the doctor’s office. People will always use pens and love to get freebees, so carry a few on you at all times.

Online marketing and offline marketing are equally important for gaining new clients. So, make sure you log onto your social network sites, update your blog and get out there and physically promote your company within your community. Including a healthy mix of marketing strategies into your small business design will bring about the results you’ve been looking for.

Is Printed Marketing Material Still Important?

Wordle Cloud of the Internet Marketing Blog - ...
Image by DavidErickson via Flickr

What we couldn’t have possibly imagined just a decade ago has become a reality: everything has moved online. We shop online, we do our banking online, we play online, and we even socialize online. In addition, research shows that when making buying decisions, the first place people go to for researching their options is the Internet.

Which brings up the question, if everything takes place online these days, and especially if you’re an online business, should you still use printed marketing materials such as brochures as part of your marketing strategy?

Why printed marketing materials are still valuable

The short answer is yes. Marketing is never about just one medium. It’s always a mistake to focus on just one aspect of marketing and to neglect the others. A good marketing campaign utilizes many different mediums to generate many different leads, then nurtures them until they are ready to become customers.

So, while “online” is really hot these days, the physical world still exists, and there are enough potential customers who, after the initial online research, expect to see printed material. These people typically find it difficult to trust a business if it’s completely virtual. They need to know that you have a physical address, a phone number, and that they can see a brochure or other types of printed material before they commit to you.

If you ignore these consumers, you have just lost a segment of the population that could have been interested in your solution.

No doubt, when you plan your marketing budget, you need to pay special attention to online components, including your Web site, your blog and your social media accounts. Ideally, you want to have a great logo, and you want your logo to appear on all online venues (main site, blog header, Twitter background etc.)

To keep your brand highly unique and identifiable, you should also have the same logo appear on your business cards and on any printed marketing materials such as brochures and flyers.

How to create an effective brochure

Now that we’ve established the importance of brochures and of other printed marketing materials, here are a few handy tips for writing and designing an effective brochure:

1. Make it visually appealing. Design is extremely important when it comes to brochures. If the design is boring or cluttered, people won’t bother to read your text. Look for a small business graphic designer who has a lot of experience and can show you samples of their previous work. Better yet, make sure they have positive testimonials on their site, or on a third party site.

2. Focus on benefits rather than on features. Prospects don’t care about your product’s features. They want you to answer the question, “what’s in it for me?” and your brochure needs to be able to answer that question, or it will be tossed!

3. Keep it short. Do you really need a 10-page brochure? Generally, short, catchy brochures with a large font and a clean design are better than long, tiresome, technical brochures.

4. Make it personal. Write your brochure in a direct, conversational tone – as if you are talking with a person face to face. The more personal and direct your tone is, the easier it will be for prospects to connect with your message.

5. Include a call for action. Every marketing material should include a call for action, and this is true for brochures as well. A call for action can be as simple as ending your brochure with the sentence “Need ____? Call today” and your phone number. The idea is to present the pain, your business as the solution, and to encourage the prospect to take immediate action by calling you.

Whether you have a physical location or fully operate online, your small business marketing strategy should include online marketing materials AND printed marketing materials. This combination will make sure you don’t neglect an important segment of your potential market.

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Brand Recognition: Creating a Custom Twitter Background

custom-twitter-backgroundWhen you have a business, you want your brand to be recognized in everything that you do. Having your business on Twitter is no different. By creating a custom Twitter background you will instantly stand out, bring credibility to your brand and leave a lasting impression to your visitors.

There are no set rules on how your background needs to look or what size it needs to be, but here are some pointers on what to do to keep that professional image.

• Keep all-important information on the left-hand side of the page.
• Always include your logo.
• Include your actual photo, this way you bring more trust and can result in more followers.
• Use colors that are similar to your brand to keep consistent.
• Use relevant images/graphics.
• Do NOT hard sell!
• Do list links of your websites, blogs, and other networking site where you can be found.

How to determine what size to make your Twitter background

screen-resolutionThe best way is to look at your website’s analytics program and see what are your visitor’s browser screen resolutions. Take a look at the top two and based on that, you can choose what would be the best size for your background. Keep in mind that the smaller the resolution, the less space you have for design.

The best approach to designing a custom Twitter background

Create everything in layers (it’s easier to make changes when you’re working with layers). This does not mean that you need to have Photoshop to do this. There are many free alternatives to Photoshop that perform just as great. I am recommending the “Phoenix” by as it’s very similar to Photoshop.

• Your first layer should be the main image, color or gradient that will serve as the pallet for your design.
• Next few layers don’t have to be in this order. You can start with the top banner that’s where you can add another color or gradient. This is where the Twitter logo and menu will sit so keep in mind the visibility when choosing colors.
• The last and most important step is to add your information to the left-hand side of the page and it’s best if you place this on it’s own layer.

Use one of these templates as a guide on proper placement of your information

1024 x 768 Twitter Background Template

1024 x 768 Template

1280 x 800 Template
1280 x 800 Template

Download Twitter Background

Download Twitter Background

Quick tip: Do NOT place important information below 600 pixels in height no matter the screen resolution size. This is because some users might have extra tool bars on their browser window, which pushes all the information down.

After you download the background template, open it in the design program of your choice and use it as bottom layer to server as a guide for you to place your information. When you’re done with your design, delete the layer with template. Save your design as GIF, JPG, or PNG format. Then go to your twitter page and follow these steps:

• Select Settings
• Choose the Design tab
• Click on Change background image
• Upload your image
• Make sure that tile background is NOT checked
Save changes

That’s it you’re done!

Let a Professional Design your Business Logo

don't attempt to design your own logoIt’s a fact that as a small business owner you wear many hats, especially when you’re first starting out. So on top of everything else that you do for your small business, you’ve decided to create your own logo. It’s clear that you understand that your small business needs an identity so people everywhere begin to recognize your name and want to do business with you. But do you really want to jeopardize your business reputation and begin the logo design process on your own? Unless you’re a professional graphic designer you have no expertise in the logo design, nor have any clue where to start, so why would you bother.

Trying to do logo design on your own
I understand you might be thinking that to hire a graphic designer is expensive and your small business budge can’t afford that. It really isn’t expensive if you think the value that a professional can bring to your business image in the long run. Let’s say for example you’re an excellent hair stylist, you have your own salon but you don’t have a logo that separates your salon from all the other salons in your area. You decide to sit down one night and take a stab in creating your own logo. You have an idea in mind so you open up your Microsoft Word and you start trying all the available fonts and clip art that come with that program. The result, a generic look with outdated clip art. The problem here is that you’re good at what you do but you clearly can’t specialize in everything. You don’t even have professional programs that a graphic designer would use to create your logo design. Imagine if I tried to cut my own hair, I would look like a mess.

Working together with your graphic designer
As a small business owner you’re always full of ideas and know your business better than anyone else. Here are a few pointers in how to work together with your graphic designer to help create your ideal image:

  • explain what you’re envisioning
  • provide a list of colors you like and also the colors that you absolutely would not want to see used
  • let her know if you would like to have an icon, just a logo type or both
  • where will your logo be used? Only on paper and web or may be also on clothes tags or anywhere else
  • provide examples of other company logos that you were attracted to
  • provide a list of few of your competitors
  • always give us much information about your business as possible, including your target audience and geographic location that you’re targeting or anything else that might help to understand your business better

Remember, you want your business to be successful so don’t ruin your image by doing your own logo design.

Don’t Just Brand Your Business, Brand Yourself

This title means what it says…don’t just brand your business, but brand yourself! ‘You are your business’ -especially in the Micro and HBB sector. It is very important for potential clients to trust you as well as your business. So put some energy into branding yourself, as well as your business.

Have a personal plan for branding yourself and keep it updated. Log your goals and put them to a time frame. Be specific. This type of action plan is very important if you really want to see results.

Promote yourself strongly. When someone asks ‘what do you do’ – have a verbal logo ready! This is an important part of branding yourself and your product; particularly if you are in the service industry.

Start with a negative e.g. define the problem; and conclude with a positive e.g. offer a solution; and point out your unique point of difference. An example of a good verbal logo is:- “Most Micro and HBB operators struggle with marketing tactics to help their business grow. Together, with the operators, I develop practical, simple marketing strategies that are both affordable and effective.”

How do you present yourself? You do not have to be a ‘glamorous chick’ or a ‘handsome hunk of ham’ – but you do need to have a visual signature as part of your personal brand.

The way you look can be repeated and recognised. Wear a hat and have become known for that (as has Molly Meldrum); wear some outrageous jewellery or a bow tie -dare to be different!

Your brand should play on your personality characteristics. One of these characteristics should be the ability to show your passion. If you really do believe in a certain behaviour or belief – that will show in everything you do.

Have a philosophy of ‘what can I do for you?’ rather than ‘what’s in it for me’ and constantly think of how to put that into action. Others notice this and comment on it. It helps set you apart from competitors.

And just how important is it to be always thinking of others? So, so, very important! Those hand-written notes, prompt email or phone follow ups, can set you aside from most, as it seems to be a forgotten art of etiquette by many. If networking is important to you (and I hope it is) these thoughtful acts will build and strengthen the relationships that you are trying to build.

Your brand needs to come to the fore when networking. Targeted networking can be much more successful than accidental networking. Make contact with those who are of interest to you and stay in touch with them.

Choose those that you can help and those that can help you. Remember the philosophy ‘what can I do for you?’ …well, by helping others become successful, you will be building a network of positive, supportive people who will help you when you need and ask for it.

Strengthen your brand by recognising what you are good at, and then build on it. Don’t waste time trying to improve on skills that you do not have well established…that will only hold you back from developing and growing the skills you do have. To be known as an expert in your field will strengthen your brand’s position in the community.

Once you have positioned yourself as an expert the media can do much to further promote you, as you become the person they will contact for comments.

Write articles, e-books and online newsletters. You will soon become well known within your niche. Undertake speaking engagements for community groups, council networking groups and any other business groups you can find.

Keep developing and distributing interesting media releases to enhance the ‘word of mouth’ promotion, by making it sizzle! You need to be HOT!

To help build your brand, choose a charity or association that you feel passionate about….the more you enjoy what you are doing, the stronger your brand will become. To enable you to put more time into developing your brand, make sure you have others to do some of the more menial tasks to keep your operation going, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best.

by Barbara Gabogrecan

Barbara Gabogrecan is a renowned artist and author and spends her time supporting the Micro and Home Based Business operators.
A free e-book ‘The Power of Targeted Networking’

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