Archives for July 2012

How To Start Your Business With A Great Brand

brand buildingThe world is mired in a recession, but opportunity is everywhere. All around me, I’m meeting people who are starting a business. They refuse to let the economy deter them – as a matter of fact, frequently it is the result of the poor economy that has presented opportunity to them. Where doom and gloomers see defeat, entrepreneurs rise to the challenge. It is these very bold attitudes that are the basis for powerful brand values. It is these values that will be the foundation of your new brand and upon them; a new successful business will flourish.

Basing everything on these values, an entrepreneur must dream up a great name for their new venture. The name should inspire your intended audience. It should be memorable. Your name is important as it identifies the brand.

Having decided on a catchy name, next comes the logo. Since the logo is the visual component of your brand name, it must accurately reflect the brand name. It too, must inspire. If you use an icon in your logo (ie: Apple’s apple and the Nike swoosh) try to keep it simple. In deciding a palette it is best to keep the image to two or three colors. This makes it easier on the eye. A full range of color, just over complicates. The logo should work as effectively in black and white and gray tones. It must be legible at any size. Color is a very powerful icon that can also represent a brand (ie: UPS’s brown). Color should convey the personality of the brand.

Once the logo is complete, how it looks and feels sets the tone for everything else you do. From your website to your marketing materials, everything follows the corporate color palette. Consistency is paramount here. Deterring from your palette dilutes your brand and confuses your intended audience. Imagery used is determined from the brand personality. Even the way you tell your story should be consistent with your brand efforts to date. If you have a very traditional, old world image, how you speak in your marketing should reflect this attitude. The tone is as important as the intent. At this stage of your brand development, you are the absolute master of your destiny. Be sure that it jives with your brand values. To do otherwise wouldn’t make sense in the marketplace.

To get the message out, the modern entrepreneur must embrace on and off-line strategies to develop their personal and professional brands. Off-line they must develop personal, and business networks to extend their reach. Joining professional organizations will go a long way in establishing that all important local presence you will need. Give back to your community through actively participating in influential not-for-profits. Many of these organizations have people of influence on their boards. If your audience is predominantly female, then you would want to market to professional women’s groups, and the places they congregate. If you are a woman yourself, membership is key.

Don’t forget print marketing, speaking engagements, radio, television shows and special events are also effective ways to market your brand.

Online is a fantastic place to grow your personal brand by feeding your expert profile. There is no better way than blogging. Also, social media such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook gives an entrepreneur a perfect platform to display their expertise. Your website MUST be more than a brochure site. It should provide your audience with tools that help them grow. It has to prove that your brand is more than the competing brand. Show your expertise. A blog allows you that platform to put your opinion out there. Writing white papers and ebooks is another great tool in drawing in an audience. What is exciting is most of your competition do NOT have these tools on their radar.
Google them and see that many websites are simply brochure sites.

Using ebooks, white papers, audio and video as lures for email harvesters, you can build your own niche audience of targeted individuals and companies. The opt-in email list is dynamite because it is exactly whom you want to talk to. Breaking your list down even further only makes your marketing efforts more powerful. Email marketing should definitely be one of your premium avenues for promoting your brand. Affiliate sales, on-line networking (ie: Linkedin.com) are incredible ways to get your brand known around the world.

Actively pursue alliances to jointly promote events to an online audience doubles your effectiveness. Personally I have several partnering efforts in motion with companies in different parts of the world. Our efforts not only increase our potential markets to earn new business, but it also expands our range of influence.

For more information on Branding sign up for my weekly branding tip: Ed Roach’s Two Cents Worth. Valuable tips that you can use in your business today. Some of which we touched on here. Your brand is a terrible thing to waste. Be sure that everything is consistent including your tone and message. This will make it cheaper and more powerful to promote. Look for assistance online for every aspect of your business plan. The resources at your fingertips are reasonable in cost and immensely beneficial. If you are looking to build a team for your new business, look not further than an associate of mine, who just launched her new blog: Break Through Businessbrand building Providing this link to a friend’s blog, is another form of cross-promotion. EVERY effort has long term benefit.

I hope that you enjoy your business as much as I. Building your brand properly can be very rewarding.

8 Clever Outdoor Ads That Gets The Message Across

Having studied advertising in the past and worked closely with an ad agency to create everything from TV ads to billboards and print, I have always noticed ads. This is even more true outdoors. When traveling, I’d watch out for those billboards. It truly is marvelous how creative some agencies are. What’s more interesting to me, it seems the simplest ads does it best whether it is to get the message across or to strengthen a brand. Check out some of them.

Penline

Hardly needs much text, in fact none on the board itself. Instantly understood – this is some strong tape.

Photo courtesy of Explore Marketing

Sprite

A refreshing way to reinforce the brand.

Original photographer unknown, shared by @CostofSale

Martor Solingen, Germany

Watch out! They have really sharp razor blades.

Razor sharp

Photo from Mastercom

Lego

What is Lego if it doesn’t stand for building? Brilliant branding. There are actually many examples of Lego in outdoor advertising. One was containers stacked on top of each other dressed up as Legos. Smart!

Photo from Indeziner

IKEA

I love, Ikea to death. They’ve also always been rather innovative in their advertising. I know they had put up rooms at airports for weary travelers to rest and couches at train stations. This one is just as cool.

Photo source unknown

Duracell

Power beyond the ordinary – clearly.

Photo source unknown

Eskom

Believe it or not, this is something Ken and I talk about a lot. Companies wasting power needlessly. Great advertising, better branding.

Photo source unknown

Rest area restaurant

No way they’ll miss this ad

Shared by @WRGCreative

 

Don’t Copy Your Competitor.

copy cat brandThis afternoon I passed no fewer than 4 trucking company vehicles all sporting corporate logos that had a swish icon. They were either horizonal or vertical, red or blue. I’m sure if we check back with each of these companies, none of the images existed before Nike and their swoosh became synonymous. I imagine none of these companies realize that being a follower does nothing to strengthen their brands but rather strengthens the leader because of the similarities of image.

A lot of business people think wrongly that if they use a swoosh in their logos they will be on their way to fame and fortune. Let’s face it, Nike has worked very hard since it’s beginning to develop a brand that builds a strong active relationship with it’s customers. Their icon could have been a box – it is the association in the customers mind that is important. As Nike grew, it’s icon came to represent it. Much as Target and Apple are doing. Because of the reputation Nike has built, the association with the swoosh icon is strong and has cache because of it. Not the other way around.

Develop your brands to “Lead not follow.™” Differentiation is the goal, with it come the rewards.

The Toughest Thing About Branding

branding expertsEvery day – day in and day out you are your brand. It’s a forever effort. If you know anything about branding you’ll appreciate the fact that a nurtured brand works for you. Understanding what you stand for and delivering on those values, makes for a pretty compelling message to your customers. That goes for every type of brand. It can be you – your personal brand, your company’s corporate brand, your community’s place brand, your staff’s internal brand – any type of brand. The goal of any brand is to differentiate so that establishing that ever coveted relationship with it’s targeted audience is made easier.

Easier of course meaning – resonating. Getting their attention, being top of mind in that category. Definitely not easier in execution. That takes genuine effort. We all recognize that no matter how much positive effort we devote to our brands, sh*t stills happens and mostly through no fault of our own. Those negatives have to be put in their place, and allow us to move forward yet again. Sometimes things don’t happen soon enough. As the month trudges on, sales figures for the month are creeping up, but sometimes not as fast as you like. The sad truth in any business is that adversity is an unwelcome cousin. They challenge us at every turn in the road to greatness. Your brand is everything in business. Adhering to your brand values when challenged, is sometimes the hardest thing. Putting food on the table is quite a motivator. It can also be a temptation to surrender your brand for the quick buck. You see it all around you.

Staying true to your brand will win out in the long haul. Whether you have the stomach for it is the question? Branding is not easy. It expects you to take the high road. Branding expects you to present a brand image that makes you look larger and more successful. It doesn’t want you to get the cheapest business cards, or print your flyers on the office printer. Branding doesn’t want you to put the screws to your sales team and expect them to get the sale at any cost. Branding doesn’t expect you to go to market advertising multiple services and master of none. Branding especially doesn’t want your to regard re-branding as a changing of the logo. That would just be wrong.

The toughest thing about your brand is simply that – your brand. Your reputation – what you stand for. We all face adversity – how we deal with it is the true measure of a brand. We can bend with the wind, take a short cut. The true leaders embrace adversity and see it as a catalyst for moving forward. Much of that is attitude. Believe in yourself- your brand and you will welcome success at your doorstep once again. As tough as things get from time to time, never (or try not to) let down your guard. We all lose from time-to-time, just don’t let it get the best of you. Do as my motto challenges – Lead Don’t Follow. Simple as that is, it WILL keep you moving forward.

What to Consider When Printing Your Logo

Is your logo ready for the printers? Transferring your business logo from the screen to a printed version is a great way to enhance your brand recognition, but it’s more complicated than you think.  Since your logo is a direct reflection of the company,  it’s very important that your logo be designed and perfected for the print medium. Here are a few important considerations when preparing your logo for print.

The Logo

Make sure this is the final version of the logo you want to print. Consider the purpose of your logo, where it will be printed, the size, the colors – everything.  Having to re-print a batch of business cards or posters because the logo was slightly off not only creates a bunch of paper waste, but also hurts the company wallet.

Printer Format

If you are working with a professional printer, you should talk to them about what formats they prefer to receive. Generally, PDF files (both vector and raster) are accepted and are of good-enough quality. Vector graphics are comprised of points, lines and curves that are all mathematically generated. They can be scaled from the size of a business card to the size of a billboard without losing any of the image quality or detail.

Raster graphics, on the other hand, should only be printer at 300 dpi. A 3” x 3” logo is equivalent to a 900px x 900px image, but if you stretch it to 6” x 6”x, the pixels double to 1800px x 1800px. Now your computer has to guess what to do with the 3,150,000 blank space created from the 6” x 6” image. This is done using a specific algorithm, but the image will still become blurry and lose detail as it’s stretched larger.

It’s also good to know what fonts your printer has on their machines. Whenever possible, you should embed fonts or create outlines of the text. Not doing so may lead to delays or ending up with the wrong prints.

Resolution

Images for web are usually 72 dpi (dots per inch), which is standard for screen resolution.  However, your logo resolution should be a minimum of 300 dpi for the actual print. Most commercial printers print at 300 dpi, though if yours can go higher it is a good rule of thumb to use the highest resolution possible.

Printing in low resolution will result in blurry images which will impress no one. However, if it is a vector file, you shouldn’t have much of a problem as long as it was saved properly.

Use CMYK

You need to use CMYK color format to create a logo. CMYK is designed specifically for accurate professional printing, unlike the RGB color format which is better suited for the web and on-screen publishing. Most printers use CMYK ink or toner cartridges to print your images and logos – converting from RGB to CMYK can cause the colors to become muted and washed out.

It is better to use true black (100K black) for small text to help keep it clean and crisp, and dark charcoal or grey shades for larger areas of black.

After checking everything, you should run some test prints. It may cost a little extra, but test prints allow you to see it as a tangible thing and then change any last minute details before sending a large order to the printers.

Ways for Easy Recovery from Google’s Penguin Update

Earlier, it was Panda and now it is Penguin that has kept many Internet marketers on their toes. With the recent update, the search engine giant Google has showcased its weeding spree. This update has restrained several websites to appear on the search engine result pages and have become the reason for the turmoil in the realm of SEO.

The Penguin update by Google is targeted on the keyword spammer, on the link farms and also on the sites that were present just to enhance the back linking numbers. Not all the sites are influenced by the update but the ones who choose bad linking practices. Although, Google has stated that these updates didn’t affect the change in the website rankings, several high ranking websites have lost their top positions since the update was launched.

If you are also one of many webmasters who have been affected by Google then here are few ways that will help you to safeguard in the times of algorithm updates.

Perform a real investigation: The SEO experts must thoroughly examine their ongoing web strategy, analyze the traffic sources and monitor areas of opportunity that are not used to their complete potential, for instance social or affiliate marketing.

Envision the trend: Although, no internet marketing professionals can predict what changes will affect their strategies. However, the SEO companies must pay great attention to the trends and hot topics, as this is desired to get an idea of the direction.

Wise work: SEO services must incorporate a good mix of every important element. The web marketing strategies should pay heed on building authority and focussing on the user experience. Besides, other continuous and important task is maintaining the technical aspects of the site.

Understand user behavior: It is desired that you should make use of available data to get exposed to the facts that how and why people make use of the site and how you must captivate their interests and to perform the desired actions. It is desirable to incorporate obvious sources and tasks that are ignored earlier, such as analytics, Sitemaps, your robots.txt file and many other things.

Always inculcate variety: Practicing variety will save you from algorithm changes. SEO professionals should not relax when traffic is up from one source rather must build other channels.

Besides, social media strategy should be designed in a way that it acts as a good source of visitors. Generating traffic through social media takes time and many trials and errors are also involved. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are the best to earn a substantial number of visitors to the site. In fact, several search engine algorithms have started to take into account impressive social media presence.

Every webmaster must instill the facts in their minds that search engine optimization rules are dynamic in nature. Hence, a webmaster who would just focus on a single traffic source for with the aim to rule the search engine ranking would definitely fall flat on face. The professional must keep in mind that the changes will take place and must have a plan in place to lessen the fallout when it happens.

BIA/Kelsey Report: Phone Calls to Local Businesses To Double by End of 2013

Late last week BIA/Kelsey, who provides provides market research, announced the findings of an extensive study about mobile marketing and local businesses. (They included LogMyCalls in their research, by the way, which is awesome).

The report proclaims that phone calls to local businesses are going to ‘explode’ over the next several years. Phone calls to small businesses will double by the end of 2013. Most of the increase will be from mobile devices after a mobile search.

The Twitterverse reacted to the BIA/Kelsey report with some skepticism, claiming that increased mobile phone usage will not result in more phone calls to small businesses. Those skeptics are wrong. BIA/Kelsey is right.

Given the skepticism in some circles, why is BIA/Kelsey making these claims? Upon what are they basing these claims? BIA/Kelsey says there are two reasons for claiming that phone calls to small businesses (especially local businesses) are going to increase so dramatically: 1) increased mobile penetration and mobile marketing, and 2) advances in call analytics.

Mobile Marketing and Mobile Penetration

For the first time, more than half of all cell phones sold are smart phones.  This has been a recent development, changing in only the last few months. And every shred of research is showing that mobile users—especially mobile searchers—want to call businesses after conducting a search on a mobile device. We’ve quoted this statistic a lot, but it bears repeating: 61% of local mobile searches result in an immediate phone call (Google). 52% of all mobile ads result in a phone call (xAd).

That means that as mobile penetration becomes more intense (happening now), and as mobile search surpasses desktop search (by the end of 2013), phone calls are going to become more common. BIA/Kelsey is, at least, saying that these factors will converge to create more phone calls for small businesses. That means that businesses need to prepare for phone calls, track phone calls and close phone calls.

Call Analytics

Businesses receiving phone is good, but BIA/Kelsey notes that it isn’t enough. Getting information and data out of those calls, used for marketing and sales optimization is critical. Basic call tracking isn’t enough either. Businesses are demanding more data.

That’s why we’re mentioned in this report. We are doing things with phone calls that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

  • Instead of merely tracking which marketing channels are generating calls we can track close rates from each marketing channel.
  • Instead of merely providing geographic data about the caller we can hear the caller and decipher voice intonation and lead quality.
  • Instead of generating calls and hoping those calls turn into closed sales, we can track the performance of phone agents to close more deals and make more money.

When BIA/Kelsey says call analytics, they’re talking about extracting data from phone calls and using that data to improve conversion rates, save money and make more money. This information is going to be even more critical.

Get Ready

The critical thing to remember about this report is simple: calls to every small business will double by the end of next year. That means you better be staffed to take calls, you better track calls and learn how to close calls. So, if you aren’t currently ready to take calls, track calls, or begin mobile marketing, you better get ready. If you don’t, you will be left behind.

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