Create a Memorable Business Card That Nails Your Brand and Gets You Noticed

If you still have a perfunctory business card, you know just something thought of at the last minute and maybe even worse; printed out on your computer you’re not taking your business seriously. You know the kind that you punch out of a sheet?

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You’re missing the point of having a business card. The point is to let someone know your brand and make them curious enough to call you when they need what you have to offer.

Business cards are another way to brand your business. You don’t want to be branded like everyone else, boring or worse… standard. Right?

You want business cards that people look at and remember you, your business, and what you can do for them. Consider getting special cards for events and regular cards for other uses.

With today’s printing technology you can have your information printed on almost any surface and your business card doesn’t have to be the normal shape or even size. Think outside the card, if you want to get noticed, but you still want the people you meet to be able to carry your card so don’t go too nuts as you don’t want them left behind.

Know Your Customer – Before creating any business card design it’s important to understand your customer and what they need to know. Of course your business card needs all the normal stuff on it, how to contact you, your website and so forth. But how can you get through to the person looking at the card that you have what they need? You know who they are and design the card with them in mind.

Consider Your Industry – For example if you are serving people in the construction industry how can you make a card that appeals to them?  This is an excellent way to think outside the card and create a card that is either 3D or can be constructed into a 3D card by the receiver later. The card again, needs to appeal to your ideal client more than to you.

Start With Your Logo – You probably already have a logo, which can be how you start your business card design idea. You want to keep this the same throughout your business card design too, but also make it stand out. If you don’t have a logo yet, this is your chance to really think outside the box and come up with something new.

different business cardsMatch The Brand You Currently Have – If you already have a lot of marketing collateral you likely already have colors, fonts, tag lines and what not. You still want people to know it’s you, but you want them to be impressed by your card which will make them impressed by your business too. Plus, it’ll ensure that they really look at it and take notice.

A good business card will tell your audience who you are, what you can do for them, and how to find you. It will do all this with the right fonts, the right colors and the right designs that will stand out so that they won’t soon forget you. You can use a standard card, or you can think outside the card and use other materials.

It’s up to you. Don’t be afraid to get creative so that you can be remembered and get noticed. I have a friend who owns a chocolate shop, her business cards are chocolate, and they’re okay to eat because they’re wrapped with the right information which is also printed on the chocolate.

However, the final thing that’s most important about a business card is to actually give it out at events. So many opportunities can arise whether you’re at an event or not. You might even meet someone while waiting on line at the grocery store or in the doctor’s office. Have your cards ready to give out and give them out liberally to get the most from them.

If you feel like reading some more here are some awesome examples of non-traditional business cards that might spark your creativity.

29 Cool Business Cards

One of the most clever usable business cards shown here is also a cheese grater.  As you can imagine something like this would be quite expensive, but at the right event you won’t soon be forgotten.  People would actually get use from it and think of you each time.

On the more practical side I love the tearable divorce business card. You can tear it and offer it to a friend, while keeping the information for yourself. Tearable business cards can be used for all sorts of business and won’t really be that much more expensive. Your customers, and those to whom you offer such a card can easily share with others.

Many of these examples aren’t totally efficient for every day, but they work great at events to help make you stand out. What’s more is that you can carry over some elements of the design to your regular business card for normal use. Entrepreneur.com says that you should copy other people’s business cards and stay standard to your industry. I don’t necessary agree. I think you should do what you can to stand out and get noticed within your budget.

What does your business card look like? I’d love to see them if you have created something different.

Image © Depositphotos.com/realcg

5 Signs it’s Time to Sell Your Business

There comes a time in almost any business where you want to retire or move on to another product and the thought of selling comes to mind.

But, how do you know when the right time to sell your business is? How do you know when to do it so that you can maximize your profit?

5 Signs its Time to Sell Your Business-091914Here are five ways to determine when it’s the right time to sell your business. Plus, if you’re just at the start-up phase, it can give you some insight on how to set things up so your business is salable.

  1. The Market Is Right – People might have expressed interest in your business already, which means the market might be telling you that it’s time to sell your business. Just because someone offers you money today, doesn’t mean it’ll be on the table later. When an unexpected offer comes in give it some serious thought.
  1. You Have Competitors Who May Want Your Business – When you have some close competition there is a chance to that one of your competitors might want to buy your business in order to eliminate the competition. If you have a few or more that you go to battle with over customers make a list of them for later.
  1. Your Business Is As Successful As You Can Make It– You’re not in debt and your business is profitable every month. You make plenty of sales and have a large email list, fan base, and social media following that can translate into even more success and up the price of your business as you sell these assets. But, you feel like you’ve done as much as you can with the business and someone else can likely take it farther.
  1. Your Business Isn’t Dependent On You – This is one of the biggest keys and one that can be repaired if you’ve branded your business to be all about you and your name but, if you’re the only one who can make the things that you sell, then you may have a problem. If you’ve designed your business with the future in mind, you’ve created a business that can continue long after you’re gone.
  1. You’re Ready To Move On – You’re at the point where you’re not excited about your business anymore, you feel like you’ve done all that you can with your business. Alternatively, you are ready to retire. It’s been your plan all along to have an exit strategy so that you can eventually retire or start up another successful business.

Selling a business isn’t a sign of defeat, rather it’s a sign that you’re truly free to do what you want with your own business and that you’ve thought about your exit strategy from the beginning. It’s an excellent way to run a business, and having given it thought you’ll know when the right time to sell is.

How To Stop Selling and Start Educating.

I’ve just completed a workshop teaching branding to graphic design firms from Canada and the United States. As part of that training, confidence in selling is a crucial element in delivering branding 10587534_sto their customers. On the surface it would appear that selling is a crucial first step. “Selling” is a difficult skill for many of us – myself included. It’s something I work at tirelessly. Defining my brand and working at it is one part of my overall branding strategy. To me selling is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t so much sell, as participate in a conversation. This conversation involves engaging the potential customer is a discussion about their brand challenges and understanding just what it is that hinders it.

Sometimes the barriers are self-generated. These are things such as culture or negative past histories. We all know people who get in the way of themselves simply because they don’t believe they have what it takes to deliver on a desire. That lack of confidence holds them back. Other barriers are market driven like bad economies, dying industries etc.

I recommend to businesses they should immediately change the conversation and watch opportunities present themselves. Customers cringe at the thought of someone selling something to them. Whereas they embrace conversations that help them. They also enjoy talking about themselves. I often enter into conversations where i am providing entry level branding advice on the spot. This is a great opportunity for me to show how fast I am on my feet, and how confident I am in what I do by my willingness to share. It’s no different than when in a networking situation – the wisdom is that you give before you get.

Challenge your comfort zones. Drive yourself to succeed. Don’t let the words “it’ll never work” or the “time just isn’t right” ever pass your lips. I believe confidence comes from challenging yourself and believing that customers really do find you a source of value. An expert lies within all of us. Don’t trap yourself by assuming you know how others think of you. Sometimes that blank stare isn’t that they can’t believe how stupid you are but it is more, they are pondering the brilliant thing you just exposed them to, and they’re wondering how they can use that nugget to their advantage. I experienced that last thought more times than I can image when speaking to groups of people at a speaking event or in a sales meeting. Lack of confidence makes you think the worst. But when you believe in what you’re saying, those blanks stares are gold mines to opportunities.

It makes me smile to realize that the quietest person in the room is actually your biggest advocate. The word ASSUME feeds on a lack of confidence and is the biggest killer of opportunity. When you assume the worst – worst is what you get. It’s not a hard concept to understand. Because I am aware that I have a difficult timing reading people, I have learned not to assume what lies before me. I often watch that person closer and give them time to react to what I’m saying and I’m often rewarded. All of this within the confines of a conversation on branding. I don’t think you can sell branding as much as you can build a hunger for more knowledge. Satisfying that hunger is something even the most shy can deliver. Imparting knowledge is enjoyable and the thanks awarded following such an exchange doesn’t feel disingenuous or contrived.

Trust in your experience. There lies the root of your confidence, and with that powerful conversations await you!

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

To grow, every business needs new leads and new customers. Without a steady incoming flow of new customers, you would hit a plateau and eventually decline. There are different ways of achieving that but the quickest is to advertise. Doing it online means you get results faster. So how do you do it? Read on for a quick online advertising how to crash course. Let’s begin.

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

Who Are You Advertising To?

Do you know? Everybody is not an acceptable answer. While each online advertising marketplace you use will have their own target market options, you still need to clarify this up front. It’ll save you some time digging around later on and definitely make it easier for you as you navigate the different advertising marketplaces. So paint yourself a picture of your ideal customer.

  • Are they 30 – 40 year old men?
  • Women?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they like to read?
  • What do they like to watch?
  • What is their idea of entertainment?
  • What other interests might they likely have?
  • What stage of life would they likely be in?
  • What could be their next lifetime milestone – e.g. Getting married, having a baby, children going to college, retirement.

Some people tell you, to only have one clearly defined target group. Personally, I think that depends on your product. Some of us have products that appeal to different types of people. They may consume your product differently, and even buy for different reasons. They are still a target group. So define these groups if they apply.

Who Are Your Competitors?

You may think it strange to think about competitors for advertising. Truth is, this just goes to show how far online advertising has come. You want to list out your competitors because in most ad marketplaces, you can target your ad to people who follow or are interesting in your competition. This is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. So know who your competitors are. Brainstorm and list as many as you can. Consider also indirect competitors.

Prepare Your Advertising Materials

Again, each online advertising marketplace will have their own requirements but there are a few things you can prepare ahead of time. Among the key things, is your core advertising message. What exactly are you advertising?

Are you promoting a sale? Do you want people to opt-in to your mailing list? Sign up for a webinar? Install an app? Pick up the phone to call you? Complete a survey? Download a cheat sheet?

Once you know this, then you can create some ads. For banners, this is somewhat easier because popular sizes are uniform across the Internet. For text ads, prepare a few variations since each channel will have different word count limit so you need to have some flexibility.

It would seem obvious, but in case it isn’t, prepare your landing pages. Make your landing page deliver or match up to your ad’s promise. Consider – what would you expect to see if you were clicking through your ad? Do everything you can to make it easy for people to take the next step so you’re maximizing your ad spend.

Locate Ad Marketplaces

Now comes the fun part. Placing your ads, but first, you need to know where. Here are some great places to get started.

Many of these places make it really easy and it’s all self-serve. Some may also assign a rep to help you. The actual steps differ from one network to another. In general, what you need to do is create an account, select your target and enter/upload your ad.

More Online Advertising How To Resources

Is it really that simple? The short answer is yes. However, this isn’t called a crash course without reason. There are a multitude of things that have been simplified and in some marketplaces, you have to make sure you’re playing by the rules or get kicked out. To cover those, this post could end up as book.

Thankfully, we don’t have to because some fantastic online advertising how to resources already exist. If you’re committed to advertising and want to make sure you don’t waste time nor money, check out the Bring Your Own Traffic course.

You Will Be Shocked When You See These Landing Page Test Results

Many of us (even strong willed entrepreneurs, sometimes) wish for someone to simply tell us what works, what to do, where to go.

It’s not because we are lazy – although it could be the reason sometimes. No, I personally believe it’s not our character flaw but our human nature. When we get overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. When we get confused. When we are afraid or unsure of our next steps. When we are tired or burnt out. That’s when a “here do this” solution is so attractive.

No wonder information products abound and probably won’t ever die. Small wonder too blog posts everywhere are full of tips and best practices. Not saying these don’t work. Following a trusted and proven source’s advice is better than running around blindly, or worse – doing nothing. However, it’s always a good thing to try it out for yourself and try out different ways – based on what you know of your market.

Test it yourself.

Wow, did I despise that piece of advise for a long time. But it’s true. What works for others may not work for you..

This is exactly what Joanna Wiebe talked about in her post about “best practices” at Unbounce. She shows us some copy written on best practices and advice and follows with test results that will surprise you.

How to Design an Effective Opt-in Page

Sometimes called a squeeze page, designing an effective opt-in page is an important part of converting all your traffic from leads to customers. If you don’t have a high converting squeeze page, you’ll miss out on a lot of new customers no matter how much traffic is sent your way.

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Target the Right Audience

If you’ve done your research then you’ve chosen a specific persona or target audience in which to direct your opt-in page. You cannot build an effective opt-in page if you’re trying to target more than one type of person with your content. Reducing the number of people you appeal to, rather than trying to attract a broader audience, may sound counterintuitive. But the truth is, the more laser targeted your opt-in page, the better. Don’t worry; you can create more than one.

Example: You guest blog for XYZ blog. In your bio box you include a link to a special squeeze page, instead of sending that unique audience to the same generic squeeze page as everyone else.

Craft Excellent Design

Designing a squeeze page requires an understanding of color palettes as well as how people read online. Online, people scan from top to bottom rather than reading from left to right when they first see the page. Keep that in mind and ensure that you have excellent navigation, with fewer choices than a typical website, and that the colors are easy on the eyes. A light background with darker lettering and a color palette of three to four colors is your best choice. It’s nice if your opt-in page matches the product that you’re selling.

Create a Strong Headline

When it comes to squeeze pages, headlines matter. If you use an overly clever headline, some people will be put off by it. If you choose a headline that is direct, to the point, and tells in a nutshell what this page is about, you’ll develop trust quickly from your readers. The headline must address the interests (or problem) of the target audience, be good news to them (you’re going to solve their problem), pique their curiosity (hook them in), and make it all simple, easy, and fast that also saves them something like time and money.

Add in an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Whether it’s a free offer, or a paid offering, make the deal so good that they can’t refuse. If you’ve targeted your audience in an appropriate way, the offer will resonate with them. Moving them from lead to subscriber will help you build your list so that you can provide value to them later, and over time. Make it clear about the value you will provide them, the problems you’ll solve, and the advantages of being a member of your list or buying your products.

Create Obvious CTA Buttons

Your sign up buttons, or buy buttons, need to be very obvious. You can create awesome sign up forms with Aweber, and Buy Now Buttons using Amember.com, Clickbank.com, and other services. Using the available software, the fewer fields you have in your form, the more likely you are to get someone to sign up. Your call to action (CTA) is very important and needs to be clear to your audience. Your buttons can say something aside from “submit,” “buy now,” or “subscribe”. You can make them say more such as “Give me my free video now”, or “Hell yea, I want my free eBook.” Whatever text or message your audience will respond to is what should be on your buttons.

Create Responsive Opt-in Pages

Today, people access the Internet via mobile devices more than they do personal computers. What a shame if your opt-in pages won’t work on mobile devices. By using responsive design and tools that allow for responsive design, you can avoid those issues. After all, you only have one chance, and only a few seconds, to get your audience’s attention and trust. Don’t lose them due to this issue.

Don’t Forget the Download / Thank You Page

The design you create for your download or thank you page should be as thought out as your opt-in page. Every aspect of the process should be very well thought out with your audience in mind.

Create a Pretty URL

Many times a squeeze page will have its own domain name, or you can create it as a new page on your website then use domain masking to save on hosting fees.

This works like this: Create a new page on one of your websites to house the opt-in page, so the URL might look like this:

Yourdomainname.com/offeryoucantrefuse. This isn’t that pretty.

Instead you can spend 10 bucks on a new domain name – one that represents the list or product you’re selling – then using the procedures right where you create your domain name, such as GoDaddy to mask the look of the domain without paying for additional hosting. Just go in and paste the link to your opt-in page by clicking manage domains > nameservers > manage >add forwarding. Then paste in the URL that leads to your opt-in page, then choose “forward with masking.”

Now when someone clicks the link to your opt-in page they will see what looks like a dedicated website, which often is perceived as more professional. You can also use a shortening service like bitly.com or Google URL Shortener.

Finally, practice makes perfect. Test out different opt-in pages, different forms, different buttons, and different headlines to find out what works best for your audience. Keep track of the metrics so that you can analyze what works.

Appearing To Do The Right Thing is The Wrong Thing in Branding

confusedHow many companies can you think of that tout customer service, great pricing, guarantees and transparency? They supposedly embrace social media and pretend to get the benefit of the web. They absolutely want their customers to know they love them. They expend a great deal of time and money trying to convince the great unwashed that they are the genuine article. They appear to be doing all the right things. The tricky word here is “appear.”

They appear to be doing all the right things.

Like any brand, it’s not enough to “appear” to be doing anything. To do so would be a HUGE injustice to your stakeholders. I can’t tell you the number of companies who tell me they’re on Linkedin but haven’t the faintest idea what to do there. They’re there because, “everybody told them they’ve got to be there.” They tout customer service because that’s what everyone wants right? Sure – but ask them what they do to facilitate great customer service and the real truth is, it’s written on the website and brochure but there are no systems in place to deliver.
Saying it seems to be enough. Ask anyone what differentiates them and most will say, “our customer service.” I’ve experienced this first hand. Being a branding guy, you can appreciate this is one of the first things I want to know about when first exposed to a new company in a networking situation or some other venue.

My favourite was one guy who had a guarantee on his marketing. His tout was, “Great service – guaranteed!” Wow! Two promises in one line. I asked him what was the guarantee if he failed to deliver great service. He said in all seriousness, “They can go somewhere else.” Now that’s shallow. That’s what you get if he fails!? Maybe he should reword his position and tell the truth – Satisfaction guaranteed or you can go somewhere else.” Are you sold? This guy wasn’t trying to be a smart ass. He genuinely believed that his guarantee was justified.

It “appeared” to do the right thing. No risk, no expectation to sacrifice should he fail at his promise to deliver. Thank heavens for the brand. Since it’s your reputation, the brand indirectly protects the public from less than ethical businesses. It’s no wonder most purchases are made on the recommendation of friends and colleagues. It’s one of the reasons why social media is so effective at defending and advocating great brands. Screw up and suffer the wrath of social media. “Appearing” be embracing social media shows a major weakness with this scenario.

If you want your brand to flourish and stand for more than what you do, it’s time to stop appearing to do something and start participating in it. Have a brand strategy that uses all channels to push your brand. This is taking control of your brand. Seems like an obvious statement doesn’t it? It’s a simple statement that’s for sure, but it comes with a large commitment. To control your brand you must put out a ton of effort. Sometimes it’s going to feel thankless. It will absolutely define your brand. There is an alternative however – and that’s to “appear” to be doing something. Nobody but your competition will thank you for that move.

Your competition LOVES to define what your brand stands for. They’ll thank you and all they ask in return is a little market share.

It appears to be you move.