Archive for Branding for Success
Awkward. The moment I sat in front of a brick and mortar service provider and told him that his logo missed the mark when it came to expressing his brand.
As I came in the building that morning to give him a presentation on my branding programs, a mix match of signs greeted me. One on the building and a different one inside. Okay, that’s confusing!
He wanted to know how he could attract more business, especially wanting to know how his clients could better understand what he provided.
And yet, when I mentioned that his logo needed to communicate the essence of his business and that perhaps it wasn’t doing the job, he rankled.
He had “designed” it himself. Or maybe a relative did it. The logo was cool, he said. I can’t remember, this meeting was so long ago. But I remember how I felt about his response: Oh dear, he is taking his logo personally! He was attached and couldn’t see it objectively.
This scene is all too common among business owners as well as authors or artists. Putting something up on the Internet because it’s pretty or you like it or it’s cool is not a good enough reason to choose a logo mark, book cover, brochure, or any other marketing material you are producing.
Why? Because your logo or any other product/marketing piece needs to communicate your intended message. In particular, a logo needs to communicate what you do and convey trust and credibility to your target market. Read More→
So, Christian work at home mom or dad, have you played with your kids lately?
Why is that important, and what does that have to do with branding your business?
Well, let me illustrate my answer with a story, if I may!
Before, during, and after Thanksgiving I worked myself ragged on a book promotion. After that, I was burned out. It took me a long time to recover. Then came Christmas, with all its family demands. I completely lost focus for awhile in my business. It didn’t help that I threw my back out because I had worked so hard!
As it says in Psalm 32 The Message version, “all the juices of my life dried up.”
Then my nephew, Nathan, and his wife came for an extended visit. A talented young man with many visions and dreams and with the support of his talented and enthusiastic wife, we started to dream and plan together that first full day they were guests in my home.
So it was at our favorite coffee shop that we brainstormed many ideas, including what activity to do in my homeschooling club. This led to us preparing for an amazing creative play experience for my son and a dozen other students.
What was it? We made medieval boffer swords and the children engaged in play sword skirmishes! The kids had a blast and we had a blast facilitating this!
But even more importantly, we had a vision. To continue this creative play not only in the homeschool club, but at home as well as part of our PE time. Read More→
Recently, a friend of mine messaged me horrible news. Her house had been robbed and along with that her electronic valuables. She had no backups! Thankfully, she had some files on Google Drive, but her story reminded me of the importance of always having a backup of computer files.
I’ve been caught several times, too. Not by theft but by the inevitable crashing of hard drives in laptop computers. It only had to happen to me a couple of times to realize–using a backup service is essential to running my business!
Also, years ago one of my external drives had failed. One company quoted me $3,000 dollars to recover the data! Thankfully, a computer whiz I knew managed to restore the data for $75. That was a bargain!
And computer backup cloud services are a bargain, also!
Sure, you can do it yourself. For Macs, there is Time Machine. Um, can’t remember the last time I did it. Besides, if there was a disaster or a theft, most likely your external drives would be history, too!
So if you don’t want to go to the expense of a cloud service, at least backup your computer to a drive you will keep off site!
But suppose you are sold on the idea of paying for a service? Where do you turn?
Here are three companies that can help:
This is the service I have used for years. It’s a no brainer in that it automatically backs up my computer as I work on it. For one or two computers, it’s reasonable. The payments start at $59.99 annually so it’s easy on my budget.
The negatives are that when I did have a computer crash, recovering the files was not as smooth as I would have liked. Some files didn’t appear to work. But I managed to download everything that was important so I don’t think I lost much.
The other drawback is that the charge is per computer. However, if you purchase the office plan you can get unlimited backup for computers, devices, and external drives for $269.99 per year.
One more negative–if you are working on a file and then realize later you need to restore it to its original, it will be too late. The backup is actually so fast that whatever’s on your hard drive currently is what will be on the Carbonite cloud soon after. For those projects that you are continually working on, it would be beneficial to periodically backup these files independently to another cloud service (like iCloud. See below).
iDrive promises to be much more competitive. I like that I can backup all computers (Windows, Macs, external drives, and devices) in one account. It starts at $69.50 for the first year (but there is a sale as I write this so it is even less). It will even do older operating systems. And it has a 5 GB offer that is free. So you can try it and see if you like it.
I did try the free account awhile ago and I found it a bit more complicated to use than Carbonite. But I’m not sure I didn’t give it a fair shake. Considering the amazing deal I will probably try again! Read More→
Blogging. It’s all the rage. It seems that everyone and their mother is blogging. As a work at home business owner, what are the step by step actions you need to take to get your blog noticed?
First of all, realize the power of blogging. Your goal is to get eyeballs on your brand. It’s all about leading with value. Giving helpful information that will help your audience. Once you have prospects reading your blog over and over again, you can ascend them up your sales funnel, meaning:
• Offering your target market an irresistible freebie in exchange for their email addresses
• Promoting a low-cost offer to acquire them as customers
• Present your main product or service
• Recommend additional products or services that will further help them
This is how you can MONETIZE your blog, other then ads on your page or affiliate links.
So what are some of the steps you need to take? Here are the exact steps that I’m going to use to develop my husband’s blog about architectural design. I came up with this plan after going through an extensive certification course in digital marketing.
1. Keyword research
What is your target market searching for? What are some of the problems that they desperately need solutions for? What would they write in Google when searching for your product or service? Brainstorm some relevant keywords and identify the top 10 that your market would use to find your product or service. Use a keyword planning tool to analyze competition and volume of searches. You want to choose long tail keywords (a phrase rather than one word) that has highest volume possible at the lowest competition.
2. Brainstorm titles
Think about search marketing when you create a title for your blog. There’s great debate whether the title should be your “personal brand,” but if you are just starting out, how will they know who you are? A descriptive title that includes your main keywords will help you attract more readers. Make sure the title is easy to remember.
3. Reserve a domain
Make sure your title is available for your domain. The easiest site I’ve found to use is GoDaddy. There are many choices these days for an extension, but the most common one is .com.
4. Plan a silo
What is a silo? It is planning blogs around a hub of keywords. For instance, if your blog is about dogs, you might plan the keyword hub “dog training,” and then link a series of blogs to that hub with the keywords “dog training aggression,” “dog training collar,” “dog training at home,” etc. Read More→
In this Internet age, the color of your brand will make or break you.
How can I say that?
Because color communicates a message. You need it to accurately reflect the message of your brand, the essence of who you are as a business.
It’s more important than ever since the competition online is so fierce. You only have seconds to make that connection with your intended audience. If you have the wrong colors then you will be virtually invisible!
So what are the rules when choosing color? Here are some helpful hints so that your brand can stand out:
1) Generally it’s safest to have only two major color themes for your brand.
2) Choose complementary colors, contrasting colors, or a combination of both.
3) Colors from the opposite color families have a contrasting effect.
4) A dark color chosen with a light opposite color will give your logo superb contrast. It will stand out! Read More→
The New Year. It’s an exciting time because it brings with it new possibilities. It’s a chance to start over. A chance for improvement. It’s also a time when everyone rushes to make New Year’s resolutions. But how long do these ambitions last?
Well, I’m sure you’ve made the same observations I have. In the beginning of the year, there are tons of sales on gyms, exercise equipment, weight loss products, etc.
But what might you see if you happen to wander into a thrift store about the time of March? Discarded exercise equipment, of course!
So how can you make your goals stick? What can you do in 2017 that is different than previous years? How can you avoid the trap of useless New Year’s resolutions that are wishful thinking at best?
Here’s a few ideas to help you not only stick to your goals for the New Year, but to help you flourish in the process!
1) Set a few hours and/or days aside for this in late December.
Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to schedule some planning. You might want to do this for a whole day, several days, or set aside a couple of hours for a series of days. If you are able to get away for some kind of planning retreat, so much the better! Whatever you decide to do, schedule it in your calendar and make this a priority.
2) Include God in your planning times.
In fact, make Him the central focus. This may seem obvious, but instead of making your plan and hoping He’ll bless it after you have already written it , do this: Seek Him first and ask Him what He would have you do. THEN write your plan!
Because He is the ultimate CEO. Think about it. He owns a thousand cattle on the hills. He gave Solomon incredible wealth and wisdom. He had Peter catch a fish that had swallowed a coin so that Jesus and Peter could pay their temple tax. In fact, Jesus was a carpenter. He was a business man!
3) Choose a Bible verse and use it to write a mission statement for the year.
Writing mission statements based on Scripture has been hands-down the way I achieve the most accomplishment and laser-like focus. Not only does it motivate me to complete tasks necessary to reach goals, but it inspires me. Read More→
Value proposition. Brand positioning. It sounds like such fancy words, but what do they mean and why are they important?
Let’s face it: today’s world is full of cheap people. Everyone wants something for free.
Everyone feels entitled to getting something for practically nothing.
But is that really true? After all, why would there be iPhones, Lexus cars, or Macy’s? The truth is, there are buyers out there who are willing to pay more. How do you get them? It’s all in how you present yourself. That’s called your value proposition or brand positioning.
For instance, if you always compete based on price, you will always have to be the lowest bidder in order to win. But if you lead with your value proposition, you will attract more business.
Here’s a story I recently heard from a speaker at one of the local networking meetings I attend. The speaker described how he was looking for a bicycle to give to his son for Christmas. He went to a bicycle shop near his house and selected a bike in the mid-price range. The store owner went to the back to get his order and came back lugging a big box. It was a do-it-yourself assembly job.
The man, a busy business man who lived in Chicago, did not have a mechanical bone in his body! So he asked how much it would be if the store owner put the bike together and he was quoted $20. The man said he would think about it and left. Read More→
Launches. They seem to be all the rage in Internet circles. Launches of a product or service can potentially create excitement for your brand and help you build trust, credibility, and visibility with your target market.
Recently, I took a dive and went completely whole hog with a launch. I read at least three books on the subject, surfed the Net for some Infographics, and watched Jeff Walker’s intro video course regarding launches.
Having published a devotional book last Christmas, I had never officially “launched” it or made much of a big deal about it at all. I decided, very last-minute I might add, that now was the time.
First I put together a launch plan. The launch would be a total of 10 days with a follow-up challenge group for 30 days.
I wrote out exactly what each email would contain, which also was the content for social media posts. The first few days contained video where I led with value.
In the first video, I explained why I wrote my devotional, 31-Day Blessings Journey. I told the story of what led me to publish the book. I challenged my viewers to use the holidays as a time to embrace a blessings lifestyle rather than letting stress and the hurry scurry of Christmas drown their joy. I gave them a vision of what their Thanksgiving, Christmas, and beyond could be like if they applied the truth of Scripture into their lives. Then I whetted their appetite by briefly describing the sales and new products I would be rolling out in time for Black Friday and beyond. I asked in the video, in the email, and on social media posts for feedback. “What is stressing you out?” I asked. I used this feedback in later emails, posts, and videos.
In the second video, I did an actual devotional. I talked about the journey of living according to the Scriptures and how it can transform stress into blessings. I painted for them the transformation that could take place by studying and applying the Bible studies found in the devotional. I gave further details of the sales and events, including a contest that would be at the very end. I had a call to action–to sign up for a free devotional that I had created as a lead magnet. I asked for feedback in the video, as well as in my email and social media posts. I asked, “What do you want out of life?” And I used the answers I received in other communications.
In the third video, I read aloud an excerpt of my book as well as testimonials from readers. I described what my life was like after I had done my Bible study that the devotional is based on. I emphasized what it’s like to have this change. My call to action was a 30 Day Challenge through email, which would be another way for me to highlight the features of my book and most importantly, to give value. I reminded my viewers of my upcoming sales culminating in a contest. I talked about bonuses that I would be giving for those who purchased my book. I asked again for feedback: “What could make life easier when it comes to stress?” I used this feedback in subsequent communications.
So the rest of the days I announced my various sales and product releases, including a free offer of the Kindle version that I had just published. Each email and many of the posts included helpful information on how to transform stress into blessings, especially during the holidays. My last email and social media posts regarding the launch was announcing the winner of the contest– a product I had created that further carried the theme of my 31-Day Blessings Journey devotional and was something of useful, appealing value.
So what I have described was quite the lengthy process. I was exhausted after it was all said and done! Looking back, let me tell you some of the good, bad, and ugly about this launch:
1) I think on the whole the outline of what I said in the videos was on target. I gleaned that information from all the reading I had done on launches. Tim Grahl, who wrote “Book Launch Blueprint: The Step-by-Step Guide to a Bestselling Launch,” encourages authors to be “relentlessly helpful.” I think coming to the table first with value for your reader is extremely important. After all, it’s not about your product or service. It’s about how your product or service can BENEFIT your potential customer!
2) Of course I didn’t have enough time to plan. A launch to this extent needs at least 30 days before it begins. In the future, it would be good to have a launch team who could review my book and agree to help me get the word out. Also, I created many new products as I was executing the launch, which meant I put in a lot of long hours and had to adjust my plan accordingly when some of the products didn’t get finished on my original timetable. Read More→
Your best customer is your current customer. After all, how much time and money did it take you to acquire each customer? That’s why customer retention is so important. You want your customers to turn into raving fans who will come to you again and again for your product or service and who will shout it from the rooftops how you have helped them.
So showing appreciation to current customers is how you retain these customers and make these fans! And Christmas is the perfect time to do this!
How? Let me describe a few ideas to get you started. While this Christmas may be too late to implement these methods, you can have it in your plan for next year!
1) Create your own custom Christmas or holiday card.
A simple card is a great way to show your customer appreciation. It’s even better if your card is custom imprinted with your logo. And even better yet, if you are an artist, your artwork can be featured on the cover!
I’ve done this for an artist for over 10 years. She creates a Christmas painting and I produce a special Christmas card for her mailing list. Every season this is highly anticipated from her!
I’ve been wanting my husband, who is an architect, to do something similar. My vision features a drawing he will create of a Victorian Christmas house. Then I will make it into a Christmas card with his logo on the back to send to his current and past clients. It may not happen this year, but next year for sure!
2) Give a gift basket.
I remember these were very popular when I worked in an office of a large Christian organization. Our vendors treated us well and every Christmas we would have some yummy foods to snack on. Sending a gift basket of food or other memorable items is a great way to help your customers keep you first and foremost in their minds! Read More→
The best customer you have is your current customer. Think about it this way: How much did it cost you to acquire that customer? You need to make sure you get a return on your investment and get your customers coming back to you. So here are some ideas on how to do that and increase your brand visibility at the same time.
1) Send them a gift basket. This is a wonderful gesture of gratitude.
This time of year is especially abundant with these kinds of companies.
If you really want to stand out to your customers, assemble your own gift
basket. Be sure to send them a customer appreciation card with your brand printed on the back!
You might also, if applicable, send them sample packets for your business. For example, if you promote essential oils include a sample of one of your products. Don’t forget to include your business cards!
2) Give them a promotional branded product. The range of ideas is limitless. You can give out pens, mugs, USB drives, T-shirts, key chains… there are too many products to list!
I’ll never forget when years ago a mobile dog groomer gave me a key chain after the first time I hired her. For some reason, I stored it in my kitchen drawer. Before I knew it, a year had gone by and I desperately needed her services for my big furry dog. I remembered where the key chain was and gave her a call. Problem solved!
A print on demand company like CafePress is also another way to give your customers branded products. This Christmas season, I am thinking of offering a special calendar to promote one of my books. A calendar is a very popular item and will aid in your customer keeping your business “top of mind,” especially if you have custom messages or images as part of the layout. Read More→