Silk + Foil Business Cards

Silk Laminated Foil Business Cards: Go Above The Standard

Sometimes the standard just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you require something more. At Day2Day Printing we are well aware of this and have kept the idea in mind while preparing our new site. With the launch this past week, we have decided to offer our clients that “something more”—Foil Stamped Silk Business Cards.

Silk Laminated Foil Stamped Business Cards

Silk Lam + Silver Foil

 

 

Silk lamination provides a smooth elegant feel to the cards, while foiling gives off a shine that’s hard to ignore. Notice how on the image to the left, the designer put foil stamping to good use by emphasizing a vital piece of information–his phone number.

 

 

 

 

Silk Laminated Foil Stamped Business Cards

Silk Lam + Gold Foil

 

 

Why invest so much into a business card you may ask? The answer is simple. Handing out cards like these shows that you care about presentation and makes a great first impression with new contacts. Attention to detail is big in any business, and implies a sense of professionalism. The image to the right showcases gold foil and how such a  finishing can add a vividness and sense of elegance to the simplest design elements.

 

 

 

Business Cards in Holder

 

 

Not only does handing out a quality business card look good, but it also provides you with benefits that you may not even think about consciously. When things are organized, clean, high in quality, a sense of trustworthiness is subconsciously associated. There’s no doubt that handing out a high quality business card is effective in getting someone to trust and remember you. Trust us when we say: “A little customization goes a long way”.

 

Source: Sean Winters http://bit.ly/1yJu8Ra

Magazines and Marketing: A Vital Connection

With the online world seeming to increase in importance in the lives of many, marketing gurus tend to overlook tried-and-true forms of publicity–like placing ads in magazines. As we all know, print is a medium that is still alive and well. Although online publications do have their place, magazine presses are still rolling and marketing teams should take note of this fact.

Benefits of Advertising in Magazines

Print magazines have several benefits for advertisers that other forms of media cannot offer. A few of the more notable benefits include:

  • Targeted audience. Magazines are specialty publications that cater to specific audiences. Whether targeted at teenage girls, golf enthusiasts, foodies, or any other group, chances are there is a publication reaching a target audience that perfectly suits your business. Advertising in such a magazine is an efficient way to ensure you reach the people who are already inclined to show an interest in your products and services.
  • Wide distribution. Magazine subscriptions reach people across the country, are oftentimes shared between multiple people, and reach more than just subscribers in places like the doctor’s office waiting room.
  • Long-lasting reach. Most people save and reread or repurpose old magazines, which means your advertisement will be seen again and again.
  • Print ads are more highly respected. Readers are wary of clicking on ads online due to the chance of a virus infecting their computer or other such mishaps. However, print ads pose no such threat. Plus, the mere fact that your ad is printed on glossy paper makes your product seem far more legitimate. Magazine ads, especially full page spreads, are far less irritating and more visually appealing than advertisements that clutter online media.

How to Maximize Your Magazine Marketing

Whether or not you already advertise in magazines, the following tips are important to keep in mind when designing and placing your ad. Like in other areas of marketing, there is no perfect formula for your campaign, though there certainly are right and wrong ways to go about advertising your product.

These tips will help your strategy be more effective, no matter what your product is.

  • Advertise in appropriate publications. The moral of the story is not that advertising in any magazine is good; you need to place your ads in the right magazines to see results. Each magazine has a target audience and a mission statement, so dig around to find publications that cater to your own target audience.
  • Use headlines and sub-headlines appropriately. Headlines are meant to grab the reader’s attention while sub-headlines should give them more information. With only a quick scan, readers should be able to know your business’s name and what you are selling.
  • Resolve to use only high resolution. Nothing looks tackier than a pixelated image, and any publication worth its salt will not run an ad that is not sufficiently high in resolution. Your ad should have at least 300 DPI (dots per inch)–regardless of the size the final print of the ad will be.
  • Use images to enhance the ad, not hide it. If your ad is heavily image-based, you will have to be cautious about your work blending in with the rest of the magazine. Striking images or other effects are great for catching a reader’s attention, but make sure your choices are tasteful, align with the style of the magazine, and make it clear what you are selling.
  • Test your ad in print before publication. Most designers know that you should make a professional-level print of an ad for final review before submitting it. Seeing the ad in print will give you an idea of how it looks in the three dimensional world and it will be easier to get feedback from others regarding the effectiveness of the ad on paper.
  • Right is better than left. Psychological studies have shown that people tend to prefer options that are on their right as opposed to their left. Take advantage of this human peculiarity and make sure that the important information – like the business’s name and call to action – are aligned to the right. If you have the option to be printed on a right-hand page, this is an added bonus.
  • Proofread your ad. This should go without saying that proofreading is essential; nothing destroys your credibility like a grammatical error. If you can’t pay attention to formalities in your advertisements, readers will doubt that you pay attention to quality in other aspects of business as well.

Advertising in magazines is a great marketing strategy that should not be overlooked in the digital age. Print is not dead, and neither are print advertisements.

Author: Incase
Source: http://bit.ly/1BrBn2l

7 Smart Tradeshow Tips for Startups

As a startup company the path to trade show success may be clouded with the anxiety and pressure to succeed. However, the foreignness of a trade show shouldn’t thwart your desire to attend. Vast opportunities for financial gain and network connections are present. The following are 7 smart trade show tips will put you on the right path for victory.

  1. Plan Ahead

Trade shows are events that require meticulous planning, thought, and organization. To plan the first thing you need to do is set a reasonable budget that accounts for all related costs. The next thing you need to do is create measureable goals to prevent lackadaisical attitudes at the trade show. An example of a simple numerical goal is to increase sales on your featured product. However, one non-numerical goal that all startups should have is to develop and grow brand awareness. Lastly, sketch an outline of what your table should look like and ensure you have all of those materials beforehand and packed to take to the show.

  1. Get noticed
Author: Sergey Galyonkin  Source: http://bit.ly/13TRh88

Author: Sergey Galyonkin
Source: http://bit.ly/13TRh88

The trade show environment is an extremely competitive one, and to succeed getting noticed is key. If the trade show allows you to pick your own table, get there early, and choose the location you think will have the most foot traffic. High traffic areas will be near the entrance, main walkways, and even the trails to the bathroom. Next you need to astatically excite, try using colorful balloons, monitors, or even play some catchy music to draw people to your table. Once people are at your table they will need a reason to stay engaged. If it is within your budget, hand out swag that is relevant to your brand. If swag isn’t an option create an interactive attraction that will electrify people and create buzz about your table throughout the trade show.

  1. Approachability and attitude
Author: Philippines Outsourcing Corporation Source: http://bit.ly/17dSJ7N

Author: Philippines Outsourcing Corporation
Source: http://bit.ly/17dSJ7N

Your table looks superb, the materials you brought are exciting and informative, but the people manning your table appear unapproachable. Think of these people as tools, which if used effectively can propel your startup to success. We get that you are nervous, but this is the time to put on your “friendly” face. To help relieve the nerves, develop a list of opening lines to attract and help you interact with anyone who comes up to your table. Questions could be thought provoking, direct, or something even more conversational to break the barrier and help you connect.

  1. Establish professional connections

This is an ideal time to network and make professional connections. During the event you will be overwhelmed at the number of people you talk to. A helpful trick is after you finish talking to a person take a moment to write down a summary of what you talked about and who they are on the back on their business card. After the event dedicate time to connect with each person on LinkedIn. In addition to connecting with the people who came to your table dedicate time to network with your competition at their exhibits.

  1. Professional materials

Having a professional trade show exhibit sends a distinct message that you intend to be a serious competitor. Companies like The Trade Group specialize in delivering a wide variety of exhibit options for any budget. The sheer size of banner stands makes them essential tools, because they are so large the eye is drawn right to them and people instantly know the name of the company and any other information displayed there. Another exhibit element that can increase the professional look of your table is tabletop displays, which vary in size and design and can really energize your exhibit.

  1. Using social media
Author: Sean MacEntee Source: http://bit.ly/1wdTKSV

Author: Sean MacEntee
Source: http://bit.ly/1wdTKSV

Incorporating social media into your trade show affairs is a savvy way to raise brand awareness and generate sales. Before the trade show begins do some research and see if the show has an official hashtag. Let your followers know you will be at this trade show and with the hashtag let others know who you are. During the trade show post a picture of your table and entice people to check it out. Another strategy is to create your own brand relevant hashtag for the event and encourage people to take pictures at your table and share it digitally. You can motivate people by creating a promotion only those who share will get or by saying one random participant will win swag. To continue engaging customers after the trade show write down all the questions you were asked during the show and write a blog post afterwards answering those questions for all to see.

  1. Follow up

At the trade show you did a great job connecting with people, now you have to maintain and grow that relationship. During the event invite people to connect by leaving their email address, and after the trade show add all of the email addresses to your newsletter distribution list. In addition inspire people to connect with your business on social media. Now you have connections with all these people don’t be lazy! Email and thank them for coming to your booth, continue generating exciting social media posts, and distribute a timely newsletter.

As a startup your first few trade shows can come with a major financial learning curve. However, if you follow these 7 smart trade show tips you can efficiently display your products and optimize financial gain.

Marketing Options

Market Your Business: Unplugged

Everyone’s pushing online marketing today — and with good reason, since being seen online is a crucial part of any effective marketing strategy today. There’s just one problem with this online focus: unless it’s paired with other offline strategies, it’s not as effective as it could be. See, here’s the thing: sometimes in the name of search marketing, email marketing, social media and the like, companies lose sight of offline marketing opportunities that can be just as effective, particularly locally. Does this sound familiar to you? Is your company all about online marketing but neglecting offline methods? Are you effectively tapping into the market right in your area, or are you missing out?

Whether or not you’re already utilizing offline marketing strategies, here are some key ways to consider promoting your business off the Web. To get the word out about your company and draw new clients, here are some ideas to try:

Hand Out Business Cards

Sure, they seem old school, but business cards are still useful for this: they give you a fast and easy way to hand out your contact info. Ways you can use business cards are only limited by your imagination: leave one with a tip at a restaurant, stick them on community bulletin boards or give one to someone any time your profession comes up in conversation. Pick an eye-catching design that stands out in order to make the most of this marketing tool.

Attend and Speak at Events

Whether it’s at a trade show or a local business networking event, meeting more people in your community can be a powerful way to build business relationships. Likewise, speaking publicly is a great way to address a new audience and gain authority in your field.

Partner with Other Companies

Find sister companies in your area that agree with your company philosophy and/or supplement what you do. If you’re a fitness center targeting health-conscious professionals, you could partner with a juice bar down the street. If you’re an accounting firm working with small-business owners, partner with a marketing business in your town. Finding other companies you can direct clients to and that will direct their clients to you expands both of your businesses.

Hold Events

Make your events informative, fun or otherwise beneficial for attendees and encourage them to bring their friends. Local events can be great for building community with your client base, not to mention great for bringing in referrals.

Use Promotional Products

Give your prospects branded promotional products, and you leave them with a positive impression of your business — not to mention an easy way to remember you every time they use that item. To be most effective, promotional products should be legitimately useful (think shirts, bags, USB cords and drinkware), attractive and branded with your logo/name front and center.

Use Direct Mail

Target a certain demographic through good old snail mail, whether that means coupons for your home décor shop to new homeowners or newsletters about your daycare to families with small children.

Sponsor a Local Team

Become a recognized name in the community by sponsoring a local sports team like a little league baseball team or an adolescent football team. When you sponsor the team, you often get to put your logo on the team’s jerseys and/or in signage at games.

Contribute to a Fundraiser

The next time there’s a fundraiser for a local school or nonprofit, donate a gift certificate for some of your products or services as a reward. Not only does this build goodwill in the community, but it also can expose your business to new prospects as they look up your business to learn what they could win.

Offer a Local Discount

Whether you give 10 percent off to all college students or a buy-one-get-one-free option for members of the armed forces, when you offer a discount to some local group, you can bet word will spread.

Practice Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing, also known as unconventional marketing, is all about using outside-the-box ways to promote your company. So beyond the specific ideas already outlined in this post, think bigger and bolder to identify other, nontraditional ways. Think flash mobs and publicity stunts. Imagine scavenger hunts and undercover marketing. The name of the game with guerrilla marketing is creativity, so get together with your team and brainstorm like the sky’s the limit.

Do the ideas listed above get your mental wheels turning? There’s never been a better time to start boosting business than right now — so begin implementing some of these ideas as soon as you can! With a little creativity and strategy, you can build an offline marketing strategy to complement your online efforts powerfully and effectively.

Nurturing Sales Funnel

Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media

 

Imagine you live in a world where you can show everyone exactly who you are; dropping the cheesy sales-speak and turning relative strangers into loyal advocates.

Businesses are dropping the weird tricks and letting their hair down. And it’s happening through the evolving frontier of social media. Play your chess pieces right, and you can win not just a customer’s loyalty, but gain an unlikely army of promoters for your business in the process.

As for the traditional set-it-and-forget-it advertisements, you can kiss that goodbye. Statistics show that 14% of people trust ads. In fact, the vast majority is checking reviews and ratings before they even think to click the “Buy It Now” button. Feeling a little pressure? You’re not alone. Forbes Michael Fertik spoke about this challenge when saying:

“For many small businesses, social media feels like a never-ending party where attendance alone is insufficient – one must make a Big, Continuous Splash.”

But with the right strategy, even the most socially challenged businesses can make their foray into the social ocean of potential consumers.

The first step starts with awareness and interest. Seeing the trends that exist online, you can carve out a tidy niche for yourself simply by creating engaging content and responding to what people are saying online. Be careful with your content, however. Fertik speaks about establishing a level of consistency as “social users start out strong and then peter out when the demands become overwhelming.”

Nurturing a social media sales funnel is a tricky process that needs tender loving care, consistency and passion. It can be an arduous challenge, but those who can jump in the water swim to golden waves of profit and promotion. As Seth Godin noted:

“You can use social media to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into salespeople.”

You can’t pay for respect on these tough social media streets, but you can get started in the right direction by checking out this priceless infographic on nurturing the social media sales funnel.

Beginners Guide to Infographics

The Beginner’s Guide to Designing Infographics

Maybe you’ve noticed, the type of content that gets shared by businesses has changed. It’s all about the visuals. Pictures, graphics, videos, whatever it is it better be interesting and it better be shareable. Few things are as shareable and have as much potential to drive traffic to your site as an infographic. But before you hop aboard the infographic train, you need to know that there are a vast amount of infographics out there. Your infographic needs to be majestic.

Erm, what exactly is an infographic? Simply put, infographics are images that visually represent information. They break down complex data into easily digestible pieces that are appealing to a wide audiences.Hopefully, your infographic is so interesting/shocking/funny/relatable that people will feel compelled to share it, spreading your brand far and wide (great for both brand awareness and SEO!). No matter what niche you’re in, there is always a way to make a generally appealing infographic.

Exhibit A: Here’s an infographic created by a tax services company on the history of food trucks. Is anyone interested in taxes? No. How about food trucks? Who isn’t! See what they did there? They took a tangentially related topic, food truck taxes, and made a widely appealing infographic that people are actually interested in.

History of Food Trucks
History of Food Trucks Infographic by Liberty Tax

That’s interesting and all, but why should I spend my time and energy on shareable digital images? Sure, infographics are fun for audiences to look at, but, from a business standpoint, are they effective? The basic answer is: Yes. In fact, businesses who utilize infographics in their marketing strategies see a 12% growth in web traffic over those that don’t. Why? As described in this handy infographic about infographics, infographics are successful because they:

• Educate and inform their target market about their brand.

• Appeal to the 90% of the brain that is designed to process visual information.

• Increase search visibility.

What is an Infographic?
Created by Customer Magnetism.

You sold me. So, what makes a majestic infographic? Data and design are both absolutely critical for success. For an infographic to be successful, it should include:

• Accurate data from reliable sources. If you can procure your own data from a survey or other study, great. If not, using a dependable source is critical (think government surveys, think tank reports, data released by large corporations, etc.).

• A clean design that combines easy-to-read text and a combination of bold and muted colors.

• Data that appeals to your target market and is relevant to your niche.

• An easy to follow flow – start with the basic, wider information and funnel it down to the details as you go.

• White space. Your infographic shouldn’t be so crowded with information that viewers are overwhelmed and immediately click away.

The example below, by a company specializing in caring wildlife control products shares in-depth information relating to the exotic pet trade. It presents data and statistics that matter to individuals interested in a manner that’s easy to read and comprehend. The use of white space adds to its effectiveness. Watch and learn. But what about my business? Is anyone really interested in sharing content about flux capacitors? (Answer: yes. Always)

Perhaps you’re unsure of whether infographics would be right for your business. The simple, basic truth is that any business can find an idea for a highly sharable infographic in their niche. Take a look at how a car parts dealer used their infographic. The infographic doesn’t focus on car parts, but cars in general. By focusing on the most and least ticketed cars, it becomes relevant to every person that drives a car, not just those that care enough about their car to seek out specialty replacement parts.

Please include attribution to https://blog.cjponyparts.com/ with this graphic.

The Most and Least Ticketed Types, Makes, and Colors of Cars

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So how do I come up with these intriguing, widely-appealing topics? The key to a successful infographic is relevancy. For an infographic to be interesting enough to motivate your target audience to share it across the web, it must be relevant. This means that in order to develop an infographic topic, you should:

• Consider the interests of your audience. What matters to them?

• Think about your business. What products and services do you provide? How can these be influential in creating a useful graphic?

• What information could you easily collect data on? For an infographic to be successful, accurate data is critical. What news sources and industry leaders do you pay attention to or monitor? How can you impart this information to your target market?

• Chances are, you’ve positioned yourself as an expert in one area or another. What questions do your customers regularly ask you? The more complex answers could make excellent infographics.

• What’s happening in your industry? If there’s a news topic that could use some explaining or something you’ve heard discussions about lately, use it!

I’m done with my infographic! What was that you said about sharing it? Infographics exist to be shared. The more majestic your infographic, the more it is begging to be spread far and wide across the interwebs. Try these some of these tactics:

• Share the infographic on your website and blog. You want to drive traffic and to create a permanent home for your new creation.

• Post links and previews to your infographic on your social media pages. This allows you to get in front of your fans and followers in real time.

• Ask your followers to share your infographic and make it easy to do so. Be sure that social share buttons are available on your brand’s website.

• Don’t forget your email lists. Your email lists and social media followers may be different groups.

• Make sure your infographic is branded with your company logo; you want your infographic to be shared elsewhere, but you don’t want to lose credit for its creation.

Creating an infographic doesn’t have to be a long, confusing process with unknown results. If you pay attention to this comprehensive guide, you’ll have your very own majestic infographic in no time.

Customer Service

Customer Service: How has it changed in the Digital Age?

Customer service remains to be a top priority among companies regardless of how technologically savvy the firm is. Customers are the lifeblood of any business. As such, delighting them is one way of ensuring that they will come back and continue doing business with you. Let’s take a look at how customer service had changed at this Digital Age.

 

Why digital matters

Before we can map out the changes, it would be advisable to discuss the importance of digital channels. Primarily, the advent of these channels dramatically changed the way consumers are searching for products and services and communicating with the companies.

According to John Joseph, co-founder of DataGravity, a data solutions provider, we are living in an age wherein everyone is constantly connected to one another. Technology provides modern firms the capability of corresponding with customers in a more efficient manner.

Thereby, digital channels help in further bridging the gap between the customers and companies. These channels now represent a paradigm shift in making customers 100% satisfied.

 

What are the changes

1) Customer support

Assistance given to the prospects and customers is limited with manuals, marketing materials and phone and email conversations. In lieu with phone conversations, customers are passed on from one person to another before it reaches the manager. That was before.

Customer Support

Today, there are how-to’s, video demos, buying guides, etc. Some companies offer an interactive experience before the prospect makes an informed decision. In some instances, a customer can post a question on the brand’s Facebook page and receive a response in real-time. No more waiting on long queues in front of customer service booths.

2) Customer feedback

Firms usually disseminate customer survey form and hope for a high response rate. Some firms simply put the form atop the reception table for customers to pick one and answer while there are early adopters that cold call and email blast previous customers. Given the long process, in time the survey results are generated and analyzed, these results would not be as relevant as they would be earlier in the process.

Customer Survey

Presently, soliciting feedback at the point of experience is possible. Publishing reviews – good or bad – is also real-time due to the availability and accessibility of mobile devices. In fact, customers can share their experiences with the brand almost instantly. Further, customers now find an ideal venue to complain about a product or service. On the part of the companies, they are given the opportunity to respond and solve the issue at the fastest time possible. Polls and surveys can be easily administered online, leading to forming real and qualitative insights from the customers.

3) Customer relationship

Relationships are built, and it almost always took several months and transactions to earn a loyal customer. Unfortunately, the relationships built tend to be ‘segmented’ wherein companies contact them again for purely promotional purposes.

 

Nowadays, brand advocacy is easier now that connecting with the customers on a consistent basis is possible. Engagement at the individual level is much more appropriate in gaining insights regarding what the customers really need and want. With this, modern firms can now offer personalized value at all touch points even without a face-to-face interaction.

Customer Relationship

Customer service is non-negotiable more so today where firms are engaged in a form of digital channel. Most of the aspects of customer service improved especially in terms of cadence and style of interacting with the customers. However, going digital is not an excuse to abandon the traditional customer service channels. There should be a right service mix between traditional and digital customer service provision.

 

Digital Marketing Article

How to Engage in the Digital Age – Digital Marketing

 

If engaging clients and prospects through social media isn’t part of your overall marketing strategy, it should be. Social media represents a proven method for communicating with a target audience, building a loyal base of followers and generating leads. When businesses actively engage clients on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media platforms, they’re not only increasing the opportunity to make sales, they’re strengthening brand awareness — the gold standard in marketing today.

Here are suggestions for successful digital age engagement:

Listen and learn

Do you know what your target audience thinks about you? About your industry and competitors? Such valuable information can be found on a variety of social media channels, where people comment all the time, both about your business and your industry. If you’re not doing so already, be sure to regularly check your business Facebook page and see what people are talking about. You can also set up a keyword/hashtag-monitoring stream to stay current on consumer sentiments on Twitter.

Get a conversation going

Of course, listening is only part of the interactive nature of social media. You can always kick-start a conversation by asking questions online — open-ended questions related to your business (and, when possible, tied in to current cultural events).

You’re also in a position to answer questions people pose online, thus demonstrating your willingness to engage with prospective clients on the social media channels where they “live.”  People respond favorably to a business that promptly answers specific or industry-related questions.
The same principle applies to negative feedback. Occasionally, someone will post a comment critical of your product or service. Rather than going overboard with a defensive reply, think of this as a chance to build some goodwill.

“Customers will criticize and complain,” notes Andrew Pressault of Hootsuite. “Every comment and complaint represents a great opportunity, though — an opportunity to fix the problem, and do it publicly. Or, at the very least, show empathy.”

Make it easy to follow your business

Your various social media profiles should be prominently displayed on all of your communications and websites, from email newsletters to your “About Us” page. This makes it easy for clients and prospects to “like” or follow you. It’s also a great way for them to share your content with their own social networks.

Another tip: When responding to a blog post or client comments, be sure to include a link to your site at the end of your reply. Someone who likes what you have to say — or has a new interest in your product or service — can easily click on the link and go where you want them to go.

Offer content of value

It should be clear by now that social media is not the venue for blatant advertising or self-promotion. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule, making 80 percent of your content relevant and useful to your target audience, and 20 percent reflecting your key marketing message.

Content of value includes “how-to” posts, commentary on industry trends, “5 Ways to …” articles — whatever helps improve the lives of users. Not only does this generate goodwill in the social media realm, it helps build your reputation as an industry thought-leader.

“Posts that are rich in content reflect well on your company and have a higher probability of being shared on the social networks of your users,” notes Colton Matheson, SEO & SEM Coordinator at the University of Utah. “This can help increase your referrals and strengthen your online business profile.”

Share content from others and engage with influencers

Social media etiquette doesn’t preclude mentioning other businesses (and competitors) on occasion. When you come across valuable content from other sources, don’t hesitate to share it with your network. People appreciate getting useful information and will remember whom it came from.

Also, look for industry influencers and work on developing a relationship with them online. Such a relationship can open up a completely new audience for your business. Aligning your brand with respected voices in your field can help establish social proof and build brand awareness.

How do you engage with influencers? “For instance,” says marketing specialist Matthew Collis, “you can share some of their posts you like, answer any questions they post to the community, and closely monitor their social channels so you can see which subjects and issues matter to them, and then engage with them about those things.”

Don’t neglect email marketing

Email marketing is still a productive method for engaging with prospects and clients. It’s cost-effective and generally has a stronger response rate than direct mail. And it’s a great method for pinpointing your ideal demographic. When inviting people to subscribe to your email newsletter, you can (depending on the questions you ask) learn a lot about their age, what part of the country they live in, their unique interests, etc. — which helps refine your message to best meet their needs.

Traditional marketing remains a useful tool for businesses, but the results pale against the vast potential for client and prospect engagement in the digital age.

http://opensource.com/

Networking: Things to Avoid when Making a First Impression

How to Make a Horrible First Impression When Networking

Networking can be a source of invaluable connections and leads, or a road to nowhere. It all depends on how well you do it. If you’d like to improve your networking skills, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning. What kind of first impression are you making when you enter the room?  Are you inspiring potential customers and referrers to get to know you … or get away from you? Here are several things to look out for, things guaranteed to make a terrible first impression on your fellow networkers.

The Horrible Handshake
Networking issue: Bad handshake

Photo Credit: https://www.flazingo.com/

Non-verbal communication speaks volumes, and it all starts with your handshake. Get that wrong, and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle all the way. The way for a business professional to shake hands is to offer a firm grip and look the other person straight in the eye. Don’t grip too firmly, or you’ll make people feel like they are trapped in a vise. Even worse is the limp, “dead fish” shake – you don’t want people thinking of you as a decomposing carp. Old-school etiquette says women should wait for men to extend a hand, but according to this recent Forbes article, women should have no compunction about taking the lead.

Name Games

When you shake hands, give the other person your FULL name.  Not “Joe,” but “Joe Smith.”  A first-name-only introduction is weak. It signals that you’re not serious about your work and that you have no clout. Some people give only their first name because they figure the other person will pick up their last name from their nametag or business card. Sorry, it’s still a bad technique. First, the other person may or may not have the presence of mind (or interest) to read your nametag or business card. Second, it doesn’t matter. A first-name-only introduction still sounds amateurish and leaves a forgettable impression.

It’s All about Me
Photo Credit: https://www.flazingo.com/

Photo Credit: https://www.flazingo.com/

After the introductions, the worst thing a networker can do is launch into a monologue. Monologues are usually boring, and always off-putting. Why is that? Because people go to networking events to build relationships and exchange information about business issues, not to listen to the exploits of a stranger. The more you try to impress people, the less impressed they will be. A far better technique is to ask questions. What kind of business are you in? What did you study in school? What do you like to do when you’re not working? Questions like these signal a genuine interest in establishing a relationship and lay the groundwork for effective networking conversations.

The Hard Sell

Peppering people you’ve just met for leads, or pushing them to buy your products or services is so obviously counterproductive it’s amazing how often it happens. Nobody goes to a networking event (or pretty much anywhere else) to be subjected to a sales pitch. Overly aggressive selling is probably the most horrible networking mistake you can make, because it not only derails the relationship, it also inspires the person on the receiving end to warn others to steer clear of you.  Very few will say, “Stay away from Joe – he shakes hands like a flounder.” But just about everybody will say, “Stay away from Joe – all he does is sell and won’t take no for an answer.” We have to remember that networking takes time, because it’s based on relationships. Perhaps down the road a contact from a networking event may (or may not) be the right person to lean on for a lead or an order. But at the first impression stage – never.

It’s Like Twitter
Flickr user Kooroshication

Flickr user Kooroshication

Five or six years ago, I wrote an article that tried to explain Twitter, a new social media platform, by comparing it to a networking event. Nowadays, the tables have turned, and we can learn about networking by comparing it to Twitter.

Like Twitter, networking events are quick, bursts-of-information exchanges. The exchanges may be one-to-one or among small groups. The better you know people, the more engaging the exchanges become. Too much selling or an off-putting style tends to shut the offender out of the conversation. Showing an interest in your followers is the best way to attract new followers and develop business opportunities with them.

In short, when networking, communicate as you would when using social media for business. Which brings me to a final point about horrible networking first impressions. Don’t get caught tweeting from your smartphone in the middle of a networking conversation!

Featured Image: Flickr user Opensourceway

Greg Stanhope
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How Effective Brand Positioning Can Transform Small Businesses

Ella, a precocious 3 year old, loves to dress up, have ‘tea-parties’ with her friends and will not go to kindergarten alone. She insists on taking her Barbie along.

Sean is a curious teenager, smart, not-so-sporty, loves World of Warcraft and would not be caught without a more than generous splash of Axe when he heads out to ‘hang with his buddies’.

Samantha is a hyper-achieving 20-something who went to Yale, works with Intel and swears by her L’Oreal lipstick on Friday evenings out with her special someone.

Ella, Sean and Samantha have their loyalties very clear in their minds. They have a hands-down favorite when it comes to things that really matter to them and no reasonable means can make them change their preferences. Is this because Barbie, Axe or L’Oreal are the best products in their respective categories? Is it because they are cheaper than everything else out there? No and no. It’s because, they have managed to occupy a place in Ella, Sean and Samantha’s minds and made them identify with the subtle positioning that each offers.

A Barbie makes Ella feel pretty like a princess. It feeds into her active imagination and tells her “With Barbie, Anything is Possible”

Axe makes Sean feel manly; he hopes it will make him irresistible to girls. After all, the “Axe Effect” is every teenage boy’s dream.

L’Oreal justifies its premium pricing and makes Samantha feel glamorous – a must have when she’s on that all-important date. It tells her “She’s worth it”.

Each of these brands, in their own way make them believe “This brand is so ME!” What these brands are essentially doing is, creating crystal clear brand positioning by offering a very clear emotional benefit to the customer and thereby breaking down the barrier between a sales pitch and an actual sale.

Positioning is not a statement of facts like “the world’s largest computer brand” or “America’s favorite coffee”. It’s not a tagline either, though taglines give you an idea of what positioning the brand aims at. Positioning is creating your own space in the mind of your customer – something that no other brand can fill. Look at Nike. Its iconic ‘Just Do It’ tagline suggests movement, activity, getting off your backside. It paints a picture of a Nike wearer as a risk taker, someone who’s not afraid, and someone who is open to experimentation. That is the space that Nike owns in the customer’s mind. Who wouldn’t want to consider themselves as brave and adventurous?

All this is good, but why extol the brand positioning virtues of mega brands that used millions of dollars to create these images in our heads. The answer is simple. Nobody was born big. Each of these brands started small and painstakingly built the brand positions that they enjoy today. Small businesses that compete with big brands owe it to themselves to create a clear brand position for themselves … for their future.

1. YOUR BRAND POSITIONING SETS YOU APART FROM COMPETITION

What is so special about your product that your customer should buy from you instead of a million other comparable sellers? Everybody needs a USP. What’s yours?

Is it quality? Is it service? Is it delivery? Maintenance? Patented technology? Safety? How you make your customers feel when they consume your product?

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Phyrephox

Spell it out loud and clear and that will make your brand stand out. Mind you, your brand positioning needs to be based in reality. A premium winery can’t promise to offer customers rock bottom prices.

2. GIVES THEM A REASON TO BUY, SETS EXPECTATIONS FROM YOUR BRAND

Go back to Sean in our earlier example. He could have opted for Old Spice or Davidoff or any other body spray. He chooses Axe, because he believes in the brand promise – that he’ll be irresistible to women. There’s your reason to buy.

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The New Brand Formula

However, brand positioning is in the consumer’s mind. It’s not about tall claims made by brands. If there is no sufficient proof that backs up your claims, your positioning falls flat on its face. Set your expectations, but make sure your brand can deliver on those expectations.

For example, if you run a tax consulting practice and your positioning is “Zero effort taxation”, you could probably offer to pick up and drop the documentation from your clients’ home or workplace.

3. YOUR BRAND POSITIONING ACTS AS A FOUNDATION FOR CRAFTING YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Many business owners go horribly wrong in marrying their brand positioning and the actual customer experience. This is a surefire recipe to losing whatever credibility you may have built up.

Once you decide what you want to stand for, from a customer’s perspective, you need to build all other aspects of your brand and it’s communication around it. The various areas that will need to sync with your brand positioning are:

  • Product design
  • Communication design
  • User experience
  • Service levels

For example, imagine yourself as the brand manager of Dominos when they still adhered to their “delivery in 30 minutes or free” formula.  You would have to ensure that the product (pizzas) were made, packed and delivered within those 30 minutes. That’s some massive co-ordination between production, inventory, customer service and shipping. When done right, you end up with a brand like Dominos!

Your brand personality, brand recall and eventually brand loyalty will all fit in like pieces of a jigsaw, once you get the factors mentioned above in sync with your brand positioning.

4. CUSTOMERS BECOME LESS PRICE DRIVEN

Do you try and grab business by undercutting your competition? Do you do it all the time? Does it make your business bleed? You can be sure it does.

No business can compete in today’s world on price alone. There will always be someone else – online, in some other country, your customer’s relative – who can offer a lower price. Don’t devalue your product into a commodity. It deserves the price that you ask for it.

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Christopher Sessums

By setting up a clear brand position for yourself, customers actively choose your brand over competition. What are a few dollars here and there, when they actually believe in your product and love it for what it does?

Now that you know how vital brand positioning is, get to it right away. How can you position your brand effectively, you ask?

Well, though that question merits a separate post on its own, here is a quick 4-step formula (no complicated graphs and charts) to arrive at a brand positioning that will work for you.

1.     Define who you want to sell to – create a typical customer profile – age, sex, education, location, industry

2.     Dig deep and try to understand what drives your typical customer. What will make them happy, how do they like to imagine themselves (Remember Sean and the Axe example?)

3.     Identify how your product fulfills these needs and desires. Check if you can realistically deliver on what you find to be your customer’s prime motivators.

4.     Double check whether your competition has not already taken that position or is not able to fulfill that need.

Voila, you have figured out what your brand position will be!