Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Next Step - Free Seminar

4 local Lincoln businesses have got together to offer a unique insight into the areas of sales and marketing by offering a free seminar delivered by professionals who do it every day.

This free seminar entitled ‘The Next Step’ is aimed at businesses who are looking to grow and take the business upwards in 2010, whether that is a new business starting up or an established business who wants to expand, there promises to be something for everyone to take away with them.

Those involved are Keith Loven of Loven Patent & Trademarks Attorneys , Andy Clayton of, Paul Clayton of Creative Contacts and Julie Taylor of GTI 4U. They all spend their day to day working lives on the subject they are talking about so you will be given inside tips from the very best.

Presentations include Choosing and Protecting Your Brand, Image and Perception, Use of the Telephone and Sales Processes.

The Next Step is to be held at the offices of Loven Patent & Trademarks Attorneys in Lincoln on 26th January 2010 between 3.30pm – 5.45pm, for more information or bookings please email or call 01522 780871

Monday, 7 December 2009

One for all, all for one?

One of the key questions I ask any business that comes to see me is - Who is your target market? (or something along those lines) - Unfortunately too many businesses actually haven't thought this through, sorry I take that back - they have thought it through but just not specifically enough. The common answer is something like 'well everybody really' or 'all businesses'. Now as someone involved in marketing this makes my job rather difficult, you see it is very hard to produce any type of marketing that simply targets everyone, if you see any campaign be it a TV ad or magazine piece, they all appeal specifically in some way (by age, sex, class etc).

The associated hurdle to overcome with clients is the fear that they may exclude someone; this is a common fear for many small businesses as they feel their marketing should encompass everyone. The danger with this is that it becomes unfocussed and untargeted, the result is an unclear, mixed message that attracts very few. By simply addressing a section of your target audience with a specific piece of marketing you will instantly increase your return on investment as, if done correctly, it will focus on their concerns and engage with them.

Each section of any market place differs from the next, small businesses have different buying needs to a corporate, young females buy differently to older males, I could go on, the essence is you need to look at each piece of marketing differently, everything from the colour schemes to fonts to images make a difference.

Some examples of work done to market more specifically (it is not as hard as you may think) are below –

- 2 sets of business cards for an estate agent – 1 for residential and 1 for commercial

- A flyer for a plumber targeting only boiler installs

- A leaflet for a language translator aimed only at schools

- Stationery for a photographer – 1 for weddings and 1 for portraits

Perception is key in all marketing, by having wedding specific stationery the Photographer appears to specialise in that field and so the customer perception will be different to that of someone who does a bit of everything and may indeed make the difference on the sale.

So next time you decide to do some marketing just bear in mind that by trying to be all to everyone you may become very little to very few.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Design - a cost or an investment?

Here we are again, it's been a couple of weeks since my first attempt at blogging and I wanted to return with a connected subject matter. The subject of leaflets also happily sits alongside the half price offer we have this month (that was the only shameless plug!!).

If you have a tax problem you go to your accountant, if you have a legal issue you see a solicitor, so why if you want to produce some marketing do you do it yourselves?

Selling design is not easy, people often don't see the value in others time and for some reason (thanks to the easy accessibility of free 'design' programmes - if i had a pound for every 'designed' publisher doc I get asked to print...) everyone thinks they are a designer. But what is design? I don't have the exact answer but I know it is not the art of making things look pretty.

Like business cards I come across a high number of leaflets both in business and at home, unfortunately many of them make too many common mistakes that can be easily ironed out with a bit of professional advice. It is often the case that too many people see design as a cost and not as an investment, a couple of examples of recent stories below to highlight the fact -

- At home we received a locally based pizza menu, it had obviously had some level of design as it was not overly offensive to the eye but (and this is a big but) the content was just awful, actually scrap the word awful and replace with hilarious, it had no less than 11 spelling mistakes (some repeated a number of times) my favourite was 'See Food Pizza' (honestly you couldn't write this stuff!) they had also managed to spell the name of the village they were based in incorrectly! A simple bit of proof reading would have eliminated these errors and then maybe I would have considered eating there.

- Again at home (why is it always business to consumer people who don't believe in image?) I received a flyer (not actually sure it should be classified as a flyer), this time it was for home maintenance. It had obviously been done in word (not a good start), had a number of the generic clip art images and clearly it had started life as an A4 sheet but in a stroke of genius they had trimmed it down to a wonky A6 with what must have been a blunt pair of scissors! Again a grasp of basic English was lacking, of the 20 words that were on it there was 7 spelling mistakes including diging and cleanning (as you can see there wasn't even a consistency in spelling!).

Am I, or others, going to buy on the basis of what was received? I very much doubt it, the chances are they have either paid someone to distribute these or indeed done it themselves, so in essence they have wasted time / money. As I said in my previous post if you can’t be bothered with your own marketing then people will assume you won’t be bothered in providing a good product / service.

From these and other examples my thought is that some people don't see the real value in design, arguably a poorly designed piece of marketing can in fact do more harm than a well designed piece can do good! By just investing a bit of time and money you can take a simple leaflet to the next level without breaking the bank. My ethos is that we don't design to make things look pretty; we design things to make them actually work!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Business Card Tips

Welcome to my 1st blog, as you can probably imagine I see a number of business cards in my day to day business, some are fantastic, some are ok and some are just not. The business card is one of the most important sales tools that businesses have, it is often the first piece of literature that you will receive as a possible buyer and as they say first impressions count.

I have compiled a list of ideas that businesses should be doing, none of it is rocket science but its surprising how many cards don't work -

1. Back to basics

Remember what the card is for.

- It’s there to say ‘contact me’
- Make sure it’s consistent with your brand
- Make it grab the attention of your target market
- Have the correct details on - name, title, business name, logo and phone numbers, plus address, email and website.

2. Touchy touchy

The feel of your card is the first thing someone notices when they receive it. A flimsy and uninteresting card says that you haven’t put any effort in and if you can't be bothered producing a quality business card then you may not bother providing a decent product or service. Some options -

- Silk
- Uncoated (natural feeling)
- Matt (luxury – gives of a feeling of high class)
- Gloss (great to make photos stand out)
- Starmarque – (known as Spot UV or gloss highlight)

3. Colours

The colour of your card should relate to your personality, your type of business and your most importantly your target market.

- Medical related businesses often use a lot of white space for cleanliness
- Greens give off a feeling of environmental influences
- Bold / bright colours for younger audience

4. Fonts

Remove all barriers to contact

- avoid using fonts smaller than 10 point.
- avoid using fancy or decorative fonts that may be difficult to read or capable of being misread.

5. Images

Images Can help lift the card and make what you do / who you are obvious but make sure it does not clutter or detract from the actual purpose of the card.

- Logo should always be on
- Image related to industry – flowers if a florist / phones if a phone retailer
- Photo of products or premises
- Your own photo (personal touch)

6. Make use of the space

It is important to make your business card as effective as possible, so it is important to use all of the available space, including the back.

­- product or service information (bullet points)
- appointment information (great for hair and beauty / health professionals)
- calendars (tax dates if an accountant)
- special offers (10% off with this card)
- customer testimonials
- Map (great if you’re a retailer or invite businesses to come and see you)
- Tag line

7. Cut out the opposition

Although size is important there is no reason that you can’t be a bit different, why not add rounded corners for a ‘credit card’ effect or even round just 1 corner for an impact.

Another option if you really have a lot to say is to have a folded card, this gives you double the space but be careful not to over do it.

8. 1 for all, all for 1 – not always the case

If you market to different groups or offer several types or ranges of products and services consider having different cards for each. You can be much more specific and focus much more on the benefits to the individual market

- An electrician could have 1 card for commercial and 1 for domestic
- An IT consultant could have 1 for hardware / software and 1 for repairs
- A cake designer could have 1 specifically for weddings and 1 for birthdays

So there we have it, hopefully my first blog was of interest and has given everyone some thoughts.