Archives for July 2010

Brandless At The Beach – NEVER!

Just because you’re on vacation and lounging at the beach doesn’t mean your brand has to relax too.
Here are ten ways you can promote your brand when you’re supposed to be relaxing:

1: Build a sand model of your store or office.

2: This one’s for the ladies. Get a one piece suit and using an exact-o knife cut out a stencil of your brand logo. Next time you wear a two-piece suit your logo will be in a nice golden brown against your lighter skin.

3. Buy the beach volleyball team playing near-by some drinks and get them to wear your swag.

4. Stock a super-size cooler with free refreshments to share with your beach neighbors. Wear your t-shirt with the logo and website on it.

5. Put a sandwich board on your dog for that walk down the beach.

6. Whistle your companies jingle while you read your beach book.

7. Put that same jingle many times through out your music mix. Be sure that others around you can hear it easily.

8. Park your logoed vehicle next to the washrooms or refreshment stands.

9. Hire a plane to drag your sky advertising back and forth.

10. Be sure the whole family is wearing the corporate colors.

As interesting as these suggestions are, don’t blame the writer (me) if your family and loved ones abandon you for another locale down the beach.

Sometimes all we need is a hand.

Hi everyone I just wanted to take a few minutes and share something with you. I am sure you all have that someone in your life that you listen to. Make room for one more.Tony Robbins I have never listened to him that I didn`t get something useful out of it.

Tomorrow night Tony starts a new show on TV. It will only be 6 shows but past experience tells me it will be the best six shows I have ever watched.  

Experience your Breakthrough starting Tuesday, July 27 at 8/7 CST on NBC.

For over thirty years Tony Robbins has helped over 50 million people in more than 100 countries .I think that is pretty impressive for one man`s resume, but more importantly he is a decent man I personally have a lot of respect for .

So click the link and watch the trailer, take your life to the next level. What do you have to lose? I think you can see where this post is going .To be successful in business you need to be successful in your own lives.

Each week after the show Tony will be posting a personal 20-30 minute video lesson as part of his free 6-week course that will teach you how to use the show to take your life to the next level.

Experience your Breakthrough starting Tuesday, July 27 at 8/7 CST on NBC.

Thanks for your time
Ken

Jump And Grow Your Wings On The Way Down.

The headline to this article is a quote from a client of mine – Belinda Bond. Belinda is the visionary behind the Celebrity Mama Tour. I thought it was the perfect bit of advice for entrepreneurs. How many times have you sat down for a chat with someone and they are pondering the age old question, “When is the best time to launch my idea?” or “Is it the right time to go into business for myself?” As someone who has been on their own for some time now, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong time to jump. The point is the jumping part. That action is what separates the true entrepreneur. It reminds me of a past article I wrote about planners and doers.

The wings referred to in the headline are really the passion and belief in yourself. The only way you are going to succeed is to DO IT. Nike had it right, “Just Do It.” If you jump and crash, then your wings were not fully unfurled. But like any new life, you have to grow. You have to brush yourself off and get back up there and jump again. Each time gaining the confidence to learn from past errors and gaining ground.

Risk is simply part of the process. If you try and wait for the “right time.” You will never jump, because there is always something that will give you reason to pause. We spend our whole lives trying to win. Most times we lose. We understand and recognize losing. Sometimes we are too comfortable with it. Comfort in the status quo keeps most of us from jumping.

If that sounds like your situation then my only advice is to STEP ASIDE, and let other visionaries start their journey. Not everyone is cut out to take the risk. Their role is to be the lightening rod for others. The key is to understand your role in business, and step into that role. Recognize your strengths and join the right team.

Belinda Bond is a ball of fire. Her comfort zone is in the risk taking. But don’t kid yourself – she and thousands like her couldn’t take that risk without key support behind her. But in the end it still boils down to jumping or not. If you want it bad enough you’ll jump. Growing the wings is the fun part!

Business Research Reports Free Now, $399 Later

We received news of these reports a few days ago and wanted to put the word out so you can take advantage of these business research reports by Aberdeen Group. The reports covers a wide variety of topics.

We’ve been told these are time sensitive offers, many of them expire July 30th. After that, they are sold for $399. So this is your chance to really save big and get your hands on some solid research data. Some of the topics you can expect to find are:

For a full listing of all the available research reports, visit TradePub. Remember to do so before July 30th so you don’t miss out.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, view our policy.

How To Record Skype Calls

In our office, all long distance including calls out of the country are done via Skype. And why not. It is cheap and for the most part, gives you pretty clear calls.

I also particularly like Skype for audio interviews because it means I don’t have to hook up extra hardware and deal with a tangle of wires – blech. Thankfully, there are many options to record Skype calls.

headset-keyboard

Total Recorder. This is the software I use and have been using for a while now. I purchased a license for this not only for Skype but because it can also record anything you hear. Which means even webinars and streaming audio can be captured. Quite versatile and I always like software that can help me do more than one thing.

Pamela. This is a Skype plugin or Extra as they call it, that works exclusively with Skype. Most of my podcasting friends who conduct more interviews than I do love and absolutely recommend it.

There are more of course. I have not had the opportunity needed to test these since we already have a good working solution but I’ll list them here for your convenience.

HotRecorder (Win)

Skylook (Win, a plugin for Outlook)

CallBurner (Win)

MP3 Skype Recorder (Win)

Call Recorder for Skype (Mac)

Photo by Richard Styles

10 Critical Questions To Ask A Web Designer

Building web sites is not rocket science, but it is job that requires many skills you can’t learn overnight. Not if you want a good looking, yet functional and efficient web site. It is certainly a full time job on its own. So having this important task outsourced is smart.

On the other hand, when you’ve never done the job before, it can be a little difficult to know what to ask of your web designer. This list of questions should help you out.

Meeting

What skills do you or your team posses? HTML, CSS, Drupal, WordPress, MySQL, PHP, CGI, Ruby on Rails?

You may not fully understand what all that alphabet soup means and can do, it is important to have a rough understanding what this designer and their team is capable of. Web design today is no longer about HTML and static web pages of the 90’s. There’s interactivity and connectivity. You can make a site be as simple as a brochure or as complicated as your own social network with paid memberships on the side. The more complicated a site is, generally, the more your needs gravitate toward a Web Developer than a designer. Someone who can actually program or hook up the more technical things in the back end.

Developers usually have more technical skills like PHP, MySQL, CGI and Ruby on Rails. Designers generally are more on the artistic side, with graphic skills, strong HTML, CSS and even some Javascript. By asking them this, you’ll get a better feel whether they have the skills to build the site you have in mind. Sometimes you end up with someone who is good overall though that is rare, unless you are working with a team of people.

How quickly can you provide a first draft of the site and how long does a job like this normally take?

A pretty standard question but important nonetheless if you are in a hurry or on a budget. The faster you need it, the more  you pay. Also, it helps you prepare your own promotional schedule. Don’t take this literally if you’re fuzzy with what you want. That will stretch the project out longer when you change things as you go. Tighten up the vision for your site, discuss this with the designer. The more focused you are, the faster you’ll complete the site – and generally pay less too.

What is your working procedure and how will you communicate your progress?

Way too often I hear of designers and clients falling out because of the failure to communicate. And this can happen both ways. The client leaving everything up to the designer until it is finished and finds out that’s not what they want or the designer not communicating how much more work that ‘one little tweak’ the client asked for is going to take.

Personally, I don’t like to work with clients who are too hands on and questions my every move, however it is important the client checks in once a while. Both parties should have a pre-determined check-in time throughout the project just to see if everyone is still on the same page as you progress.

How much support comes with this package deal?

Designers usually build packages around an estimated number of hours, including some support. Do not expect to pay $500 and have people work indefinitely for you, answering questions or tweaking things here and there forever (like asking for a tweak one year down the road and expect it to be a freebie). The awesome designers I know often won’t mind an extra few minutes here and there but they aren’t working for peanuts either.

You have to know that sometimes, what looks like a small tweak to you takes hours of work in the background, to build up before that tweak you asked for can even be applied. A good designer will tell you up front if this will be a problem. This goes back to the scope of the project. Don’t be fuzzy. Be clear what you want. This way you will find working with your designer a whole lot more pleasant and you keep everything under budget.

What kind of after support do you offer?

Sometimes, you just can’t help it. You need more help. It could be immediately following the completion of the project or some time after. Ask what kind of rates you’ll be getting. This again should be motivation for you to keep the scope of your project clear.

What is your normal procedure if the job does not turn out satisfactorily?

When a job is fairly large, paying an up front lump sum is not a good idea. Sometimes people just bail out on you despite your best efforts and research. Other times you may find you don’t really work well together. Because we are spoiled by generous refund policies of other products we consume, we often want to demand a full refund. While there are cases where this is acceptable and OK, but when it comes to web design or any service that you are using up someone else’s time, that’s something they cannot take back.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be paying full price for a design you don’t want. Hash these out before you start. One of the best ways to work this out is to agree on a payment plan. Percentage down to start work and additional payments upon reaching pre-agreed milestones.

What software or technology will you be using to build my site and will I be able to use and update it myself?

I once had someone build an app for me and then ditched me altogether. Now, I have an app built upon technology that very few people are familiar with. It is difficult and very expensive to find a replacement to pick up where he left off. Ideally, you’d want them to use something more in the main stream versus a software that only 10 people in the world know how to work.

Does it cost extra for this software or does anything you recommend to build this site going to require additional license purchased?

This is so crucial to your budget. When you ask this, you will know if the package includes everything or you’ll have to fork out licenses to third parties to get the job done.

We would like the domain name administrator to be in our representative’s name and email. Can you arrange that?

This is so important. Some unscrupulous designers or companies actually hold client sites hostage because they are listed as the Administrators of a domain. When a client wants to leave for another designer, they make the clients pay a transfer fee to release their domain. When a domain is not in your name and contact, no matter what you say, registrars are not going to hand it over to you. Insist this be in yours or a representative’s name and email address.

Can I see a portfolio of previous sites built. Or is there a demo of a site similar to what you will be building us?

This will help you see if a designer tends to gravitate toward a certain flavor in their designs or if they are quite versatile. One is not necessarily better than the other. Sometimes, if you have a clear vision what you like your design to be, it could be better to go with someone who excels at the look and feel you are aiming for. Also demo sites allow you to get a feel of what you’ll bring home at the end of the day.

I’ve worked many sites for clients on various projects. If out of this there is one take away you should get is, be clear about the scope of your project. Don’t generalize. If you don’t know how to express yourself, find examples for the designer to see and tell them what you want and don’t want from those examples. More information is better than inadequate or no information. This always makes a job smoother and least stressful.

Photo by Carl Dwyer

How Your Brand Values Strengthen Your Business.

How fast do you return a telephone call or an email from a potential lead?

I ask myself this every time a lead remarks to me, how quickly I responded. I wonder if perhaps most businesses do NOT return contacts as fast as they could. I try to respond the moment I get a contact. Even if I am busy, I at least try to respond and inform them that I will return their call when I have time enough to respond properly.

Yesterday I left a message with a store, asking them to give me their store hours. The message said that they would get back to me. It’s been more than 24 hours and nothing. How many businesses do this – make a promise and then fail to act on it. What is the message their brand is saying to me? I believe it’s telling me that I am not important to them. Maybe the next time they complain about how slow business is they could also talk about how they failed to get back to leads who called to inquire about something and they chose to ignore them. Nobody is going to beg your brand to do business with them.

Most small businesses that I speak with, have service as one of their brand values. When a business leaves their customers on hold for extended periods of time, or they fail to return their calls and inquiries, then service is not something that their company takes very seriously. Service when it suits them would be more appropriate. Your simply can’t compromise your brand values if you hope to grow your business based on consistent delivery of quality. The marketplace thrives on authenticity in their brands. Paying lip service looks good on the surface, but when your offer is tested in the marketplace, you will be quickly found out, and your market share will diminish.

A great example of this in today’s marketplace is Toyota. After spending years bragging about their quality, they got greedy and failed to live up to their brand value regarding quality. Now their brand is suffering in the marketplace with lower sales and a renewed confidence in American models. Their arrogance cost them huge, and it will take years to regain their polish. Now I’ll bet those short cuts on quality, don’t look like such a great idea in their boardrooms anymore. They grew so comfortable with their quality reputation that they obviously felt that the brand would carry the day no matter if it were authentic or not.

Don’t make this mistake. Brand Values are essential to your growth and prosperity.

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