Archive for the ‘Collateral’ Category

The Care And Feeding Of An Outstanding Logo

Monday, May 5th, 2014

For many business owners, creating a logo is a bit like walking a buffet line:  a little of this, a bit of that, a few more of those and your immediate needs are satisfied. Later, however, you might end up wishing you had taken a little more time and care in making your choices.

While a poorly designed logo won’t have you running to the bathroom, it might well affect the overall health of your business. Here are some tips for ensuring that your logo conveys a professional, unique and memorable message of your brand.

Follow Some Basic Standards

Everyone will have a different opinion of what makes a great logo based on their specific tastes. However, there are some basic rules to keep in mind as you go through the process.

  • Be Timeless And Evergreen – Create a design that can stand the test of time and convey your business identity clearly and consistently. Avoid using the current trends, as what’s popular today might be far out of favor tomorrow–and you don’t want to look like everyone else.
  • Keep It Simple – Think of the logos for McDonalds, Nike, Microsoft, and Apple. Pretty simple designs, yet almost no-one on the planet can see them and not know the company they represent.
  • Design With Clients In Mind – You’ll want a very different logo for selling to Millennials than if your primary market is Baby Boomers.
  • Make It Adaptable – Be sure your design will look as good on paper (think business cards) as it does on a computer screen. Some experts suggest designing first in black and white and then adding your color as the final step.

Know The Power Of Color

Different colors generate a wide range of emotions and reactions and, when used correctly, can give your logo real selling power.

For example, red creates feelings of passion, trust, and aggressiveness while yellow makes you feel alive, energetic and joyful. Besides being the world’s favorite color, blue generates comfort, understanding, confidence, and calm. Green generates relaxation and peace while purple brings out power, romance and glamour.

If possible, create a design that will be equally effective in both color and black and white.

Remember The Goal

You want your logo to instantly identify the value and uniqueness of your brand and your organization. The overall design, colors, fonts, and artwork should always be chosen with that end in mind; otherwise you’re just wasting time, effort and money on something that will create very few, if any, returns.

Taking the time to create an outstanding logo can help your business become a trusted and well-known resource in your particular market space.

Marketing success for the summer or making hay while the sun shines

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Most small businesses ebb and flow with the seasons and summer more often than not is one of those slower times. The kids are out of school, vacations loom and clients are slower to respond even when they are very anxious to get something completed. During these times it is important not to lose focus. Don’t get me wrong, you deserve a break and should take some time to smell the roses but think of how much easier your life will be the rest of the year of you take a little of this time surplus and apply it to some of the housekeeping things you have been forced to ignore? So what can you do now that will make your life easier the rest of the year?

  1. Editorial Calendar
    As you know, regular site/social media updates are the cornerstone of any SEO success. I know you have your blog setup and have been dazzling everyone with the shininess of the pearls you have been putting on display but how much easier would it be for you if you had a calendar to rely on for your blogging, newsletter, social media and website update topics? Take some of the extra time you find yourself with this summer and rather than spending it trying to beat your old paddle-ball record, use it to sit down and come up with an outline of topics to get you though the rest of the year.
  2. Design updates
    If you are thinking about making updates to your identity in the form of design changes for your logo, website, collateral materials or social media themes, now is the time to put those thoughts into action. If you have plans for a new media blitz in the fall, you don’t want to lose valuable time going through a design process when you could already be reaping the rewards. Get the things you need done in process during your slow times so you can take as much time as you need to make sure any graphical updates are exactly what you want rather than rushing the process and accepting an inferior product because your are in a hurry to get things out the door.
  3. Blogging
    Now that you have your editorial calendar, why not take a little of this time to go ahead and bang out some of those posts? If you are using something like WordPress for your blog, you can go in and write as many posts as you like and schedule them to go live over time. How great would that be to be going into fall with posts queued up to run at regular intervals without a thought. Just fill up that marketing crock pot and let it run. And who knows, you might find some other marketing uses for your brilliant prose along the way.

Summer is finally here but fall is right around the corner so make sure to make the most of your summer and smooth out some of the business wrinkles for the rest of the year.

Whats the deal with QR Codes?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

By now you have probably been exposed to the latest in marketing technology although you might not have been aware of what you were seeing. What am I talking about, you ask? Well, have you seen this strange black and white squares that have been popping up at the grocery store, on cutting edge marketing materials and sometimes even on TV recently? I thought so.

What are they you ask? They are known as QR Codes or Quick Response Codes. And those seemingly innocuous squares carry hidden meaning to those in-the-know and anyone with a smart phone can become part of the “in” crowd with the click of a camera shutter.

********* Warning useless digression approaching **********

To the uninitiated they are simply the next generation of bar code but to really understand how they developed and how they can help you, we need to get Mr. Peabody to fire up the Way-back Machine (and leave Sherman behind this time).

The concept behind the QR Code actually originated back in the 90’s and at that time special information was being encoded using a somewhat standard product bar codes but it required a special device called a CueCat to access the special information. This was problematic because the CueCat had to be attached to your computer to work and at that time your average home computer was somewhat less than mobile. So what did you have to do? You had to buy products (sometimes they were even used in magazine ads), bring them to your computer and make a concerted effort to find the Easter egg (if it eggisted at all). The devices were even given away in some places in order to promote the use of this new marketing technology. Needless to say, I am probably the only one left that remembers them because they were such a dismal failure. Another product of technology not being able to keep up with itself.

Fast forward to present day where everyone you meet has a smart phone that is 10x more powerful than the Gargoyle you were attaching your CueCat to back in the day (which was a Wednesday as I recall). Not only that but you would be hard pressed to find a regular cell phone that did not have a built-in camera now. Finally technology has caught up to the brilliant idea.

Digression complete, you may now return to your regularly scheduled posting

So how can you make the most of this technology that has finally come into its own? Well, as is usual with most really broad questions, it all depends. Everyone can make use of these lovely little squares of wonder, you just have to decide what you want to do. Unlike the CueCat enabled codes of the past, QR codes can reveal much more than just a URL. With a QR Code you can encode:

  1. A URL. This is the most common use. Whether for a website proper, a product micro site or a social media page you can get users looking at what you have to offer right from their phone anywhere and anytime they encounter your square of destiny.
  2. A secret message. Yep, the next generation of invisible ink is here and there are no special pens required. Send a special message for people “In the Know”, provide a special offer for those with the ability to find it or maybe pass on a special code to accessing special content about your products or services.
  3. An SMS. Yes, you heard me right. you can encode a phone number and message into your magic block so that you no longer have to say “Text 2323 to 900-555-1212” to get your special prize. People can just point and click their way to entering your contest.
  4. A Phone Number. Most smart phones are designed to turn any number that even remotely resembles a phone number into a link that can be dialed with the single click. This type of QR Code take it one step further and does not require that you even have the number. Just scan to get the number and click to connect. Now THAT is Quick Response.
  5. Your Contact Info. The easiest way to get your contact info to a prospect. They scan the code and a new contact is automatically setup with your Name, Address, Phone and Email. What could be easier. These are great for business cards. Who needs a special card scanner when a quick click with your phone does it all and allows you to call NOW, not in 3 days when you get around to scanning the card back at the office.
  6. An Email. Depending on how their phone functions, you can even queue up an email with a click that will populate the email address it is going to, the subject line and the body. The best email based contest entry vehicle even. People walking by your both at a trade show and click to enter rather than stopping to fill out a form that you might not be able to read anyway.
  7. Your Geographical Information. Map it, Baby! Can you imagine having your office location encoded so that with a click it opens up a smart phone mapping program and plants a flag at your location so that it is quick and easy for people to get to you?

So, I guess now the question becomes not “How can I use it?”, but “How Can I get my own code?”. Well, that is easy too. There are a number of places online that will allow you generate your own codes for FREE. You just put in the info you want encoded, click a button and presto your code appears ready for download in a format that can be used in print or on the web. In fact you can even find one right here. Just look at the resources menu above and click the “QR Code Generator” link – or anywhere it is linked (like here) in the body if you are super lazy.

So what are you waiting for an engraved invitation? The only limitation for using QR Codes is your own imagination. So get out there and get your own magic square now!


Making Your Identity Work for You

Friday, April 30th, 2010

An important part of any company is a cohesive brand identity. This is an area that is sorely lacking in many small businesses. Sure, their print collateral is tied to their print ads but does that design identity follow to their website? Maybe, but in most cases that is where it stops. Once people start venturing into social media they just take what they are given identity be damned and that is a huge mistake. It is important to make sure that while you are venturing into new and different areas with your marketing efforts that your brand is working for you.

Even if you have had your print identity in place for years, as you venture out into new areas it is always a good idea to take a look at everything and make sure that everything is still relevant. The one main constant with any identity is going to be your logo but you need to look at the whole package to make sure that the image you are portraying will still make sense if it is transmogrified into a different medium. Your primary concern should be with anything that might have a direct counterpart in another medium (brochure, sellsheets, ads, etc).

Marketers often fail from an identity perspective when moving to a new medium because of “shiny and new” syndrome. Often marketers abandon a well thought out identity in favor of bells and whistles associated with the shiny new toy. With as important as it is to ensure that your print identity is relevant to new mediums, it is equally important that your web identity conform to your existing standards. You can still make use of the new toys (insofar as they are relevant) but you have to temper that with the grounding of an established brand.

Social Media
The most ball dropping on the identity front these days is done with social media. As I said before, some businesses have their print and web together act together but rarely do you see equally clean integration of social media. Some companies have forayed into blogging but are still using the default design settings or tired templates that have absolutely no relationship with their existing brand (assuming they have bothered ti even brand with a logo). At the same time they are using the default theme in their Twitter profile and have not taken the time to “Pimp” their Facebook fan page (and yes, it will always be a Fan page to me, but that is another post…) with as much as a logo.

These seem like very small things but when it comes to your company identity, all of the different areas really matter. If you have one look in print, a totally different look on your website and then the defaults for your social media presence, what kind of message doe that send to your client/prospect? I will tell you, it says you have no real direction and that kind of negative “vibe” can have very real effect on your bottom line.

“New” is great, and it is good to make use of everything available for marketing your company but you need to make sure that the message you are putting out there is cohesive. There is a reason why fortune 500 companies use identity guides for their marketing efforts. They are designed to ensure consistency in communication no matter who is doing it. It is all about thinking it through from the beginning and executing from a well-considered plan.

Now it is time for you to take a little stock. Line up your marketing channels and see how you fare. Are your print materials in-line with your website, have you taken the time to make sure your blog and Twitter theme are consistent with those other more established areas? If not, there is no time like the present, after all the customer you save could be your own.

It is your identity so in the immortal words or Tim Gunn, “Make it work, people!”

The 5 D’s of Effective Marketing Content

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The biggest mistake that marketers make when developing their collateral materials is focusing too much on their brand and not enough on their products or services. Rather than focusing on the Who, what marketers should really be focusing on is the Why. Whether you are creating a new brochure or adding to a website, the best way to set yourself apart from the crown is with effective content.

Effective marketing materials should be constructed to persuade and inform. And as much as it pains me to say, design isn’t everything. You really need to have solid content to support your flashy graphics because once they snap out of their sense of awe and wonder about your stellar design (which they WILL experience 🙂 ), they will be ready to feast on the information your materials have to offer. If there is no substance to be had, they will leave and move on to a company that can satisfy their hunger.

The 5 D’s
In order to give yourself a fighting chance against all of the five-star competition out there you just need to ask yourself a few questions as you go through the process of developing your content:

  1. Definition – Is your product or service clearly defined and are all of the important features enumerated?
  2. Differentiation – Have you clearly stated how your product or service differs from your competitors and what specific pain it remedies?
  3. Demographics – Does your content clearly speak to your intended audience?
  4. Design – Is your content easy to read and understand and will it get your points across without confusing a layperson about your product or service?
  5. Distribution – Will the material you plan to produce be easy to distribute to your target market and be understood without interaction from a member of your sales team?

Answering these questions as you develop your materials will help your content to be more effective which will translate into more sales.

Creating Effective Marketing Collateral

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The trick to creating truly effective marketing materials is finding the right balance between form and function. As I have stated before, content is king but great content is useless if you don’t have anyone reading it. Enter Content’s flamboyant cousin, Design. Good design can have as much of an impact on the bottom line as content because the flash of a great design, like a carnival barker, is really what brings in the crowd.

So what can you do to make sure what you are creating is both visually and substantively powerful?

The 5 C’s of powerful marketing materials

  1. Clear Headline – Think about it, you are standing in line at the grocery store, you glance over at the magazine rack and see one headline that says “Cow has Human Baby” and one next to it that says “Beige is the new Off White” which do you gravitate toward? Unless you are planning on auditioning for the next edition of Project runway, you will likely be more intrigued by the former. Although this may not be a good example of a brochure headline, it illustrates the point that the right headline can make the sale.  A clear and catchy headline can be the difference between someone stopping to read your material and moving on to the next more “off white” marketing piece in the rack. Make sure your headline is clear and catchy. Make people want to read more.
  2. Clean Layout – A good layout bolsters that great headline and helps direct your prospects eye. It leads them through the content and helps them digest the material the way you want them to. Using short paragraphs that are broken up by larger (and sometimes colorful), informative headings allows your reader to get the point even if they only have time to scan the material. Good layout maximizes the efficacy of your content.
  3. Clever Graphics – There really is something to the old adage “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”. Maximize your exposure with graphics that help to define the information you are trying to get across or at very least helps draw the reader further into the content you have worked so hard to develop. A nice graphic presentation can draw as much attention as the aforementioned “Cow has human baby” headline. Make the most of the little time you have and give those visual learners out there something to absorb. Whether you use drawings, maps, or photos as long as they help illustrate your products benefits, visuals can help tell the story when they don’t have time for the words.
  4. Call to Action – One place many marketers fall short on their materials is in the lack of an effective call to action. No matter how savvy your prospect base is, when you are marketing to them, they are sheep and you are the little pig asking them to kindly move along. Don’t be afraid to be forceful. They are looking to you for guidance so don’t disappoint. Make sure to tell them what they should do next. Click Now, Call Today or whatever is appropriate for your product or service. If you don’t tell them, how can you expect them to do what you want them to do?
  5. Contact – Don’t forget to tell them who you are. You got their attention, you have directed through the information, you have stunned them with your graphics and you told them what to do. Make sure they know who you are. Always include your branding and multiple ways to get in contact with you. You need to ensure that you don’t blow the excitement generated with your awesome graphics and brilliant prose.

Make a Memory
The bottom line for any type of marketing material is usefulness. The goal should be to create something that clients will want to hold onto. They might not be ready to purchase immediately but if you find the right balance between content and design, they will hold onto your materials (or bookmark your site) until they are ready and when that time comes you will be their first contact.

5 things to consider when creating marketing materials

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Whether you are creating a website, a brochure or a full on ad campaign there are a number of things that need to be considered before starting the process. Considerations vary depending on the type of marketing you are doing but some things stay the same.

  1. Know Your Audience. You have to know your ideal customer in order to effectively communicate with them. Putting yourself in their place will go a long way toward developing the type of relationship you want.
  2. Know Your Materials. The approach you take when putting together a particular type of marketing material or campaign will vary depending on what you are doing. The content that goes into an ad campaign is much different form that of a brochure. Make sure you have a complete understanding of the medium before you start so you can properly organize your selling points to maximize the effect on your indented audience.
  3. Know Your Audience. I can’t stress this enough. Stay away from jargon or any kind of industry specific language that may distance you from your customers. The more you know about your intended audience, the more effective your communications will be no matter what types of material you decide create.
  4. Know Yourself. Know your products and services inside and out. Be thorough in the information you give to prospects and above all make it meaningful. If the content of your brochure, ad, mailer, etc is not valuable to your target audience, your materials will quickly find their way to the recycle bin or worse, the shredder.
  5. Know Your Audience. I may have mentioned this one before but I thought I would mention it again because too many companies produce materials that are really good if you already know all there is to know about their product or service but they are not quite as meaningful if you are not in with the in-crowd. Knowing your audience well allows them to be let in on the joke and gets you one step closer to your goal…a sale.

Keeping these things in mind as you begin to develop your marketing plan will keep you on the right track and hopefully help you begin to build the types of relationships you are looking to build with your customers.

I need to create some marketing materials, but what is the best option for me?

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

When it comes to marketing materials there are a great many things you can choose from to get your message out to the masses, the most popular of which is a website, but we are talking about offline materials here. So what to create?

In order to determine the best type of collateral for you, you first need to decide the primary function of the piece. Is it something for use strictly on sales calls, is it something that you want your clients to come to on their own or are you trying to reach out to cold sales prospects? The answers to questions like these will help determine the format of your material and that format will help determine the content.

There are several types collateral materials, here are five of the most popular:

A standard brochure or leave behind as they are sometimes called are something that you would take with you on a sales call. These materials usually contain an overview of your products or services and generally summarize your sales pitch for why someone should use your company.

Point of Sale
Point of Sale materials are similar to a display advertisement (magazine type ad) and are generally used to get potential customers attention while they are standing in line or waiting for something. These materials are usually characterized by a catchy headline that draws immediate interest followed by a brief description of the product or service involved. They usually have a strong call to action driving potential customers to request more information or contact a sales representative.

Sales Support
Sales support materials in the form of individual sell sheets are very similar to your standard brochure but while your company brochure has a cross section of your entire business, your support materials will give specific details about a single product or service. these types of materials can also be used as a follow up to direct inquiries and responses from ads, or point of sale materials.

Direct Mail
Direct Mail is used when trying to connect with current or potential customers about a specific product or service. The space is usually more limited for content on these and comes in the form of a post card or other such simple communication. Direct mail can be a very powerful tool if done correctly but it generally allows for much less content so it has to count. Like the Point of Sale pieces, it needs a headline that will capture attention quickly, but in this case it has to be done before it finds its way to the trash. They must have a specific call to action and it is important that responses to this type of material be measurable. Direct mail can often expose you to a much wider audience but response rates for direct mail in general hover between two and five percent so you have to consider your potential return on Investment (ROI) before you even begin.

The last type of materials have become the most popular in recent years, Downloads. While these are technically printed materials, they also have an online component. Most often these resemble a sell sheet but since you are not specifically limited by material cost and deliverability, they are much more flexible. If you have created printed versions of any of the above materials, you should also have a downloadable version to give you additional delivery options such as through email or from your website. These materials are generally in a PDF format for the widest possible distribution. Although they are more flexible and you can create online versions of all existing printed materials, one thing to keep in mind when creating materials that are to be download only is standard computer printer limitations. Download only materials should limit bleeds (unless of course you don’t care how they will look when printed – which they will be) and the best case is to leave 1/2″ border of white around the entire document to ensure that the materials will be displayed the same on every device (by default the printable area for most printers leaves 1/4″ of white space on the top and sides of a sheet while having at least 3/8″ at the bottom for gripping the paper – some go as low as 1/8″ top and sides but the tail is usually the same).

No matter which direction your marketing takes you (and it may just be all of the above), just make sure that as you develop your materials, you gear them toward your intended audience in both style and content to ensure that they are as effective as possible for your specific marketing purpose.