Sometimes when choosing the right name for your new business, you might want to consider if it’s available as a domain name first. There are dozens and dozens of new domains available but for now, most of your clients will still guess that it ends with ‘.com’. So if your competition has .com, don’t grab ‘.org, .us, .biz, etc.’, most likely, they’ll just end up where you don’t want them to be!
It’s easy to see what’s available, just go to WhoIs.com and type in your choices. When you find what you want, we recommend using someone like GoDaddy.com to actually purchase them. Their tech support is very good and easy to understand. You shouldn’t pay any more than $15-$20/year for a domain (including all the fees and taxes).
BE CAREFUL: Even today, we still run into problems when someone wants us to take over their website design. Our first step is to determine who actually owns ‘their’ domain. In the majority of cases, it’s the web person who registered AND subsequently owns it, not the client. And in many instances, will demand an exorbitant fee to transfer it.
- The shorter the better
- Keep it simple
- When publishing it, make sure you use upper and lower case letters
- You’d be surprised with what you end up with if you use all lower case letters!
- If there’s a common misspelling of your company name, you might want to grab that domain as well
- If at times some folks will use an ’s’ after your company, you might want to grab that too
- Other versions might be a good idea as well — since domains are so inexpensive
Registrars like GoDaddy used to give you one free email address for every domain purchased. But like many others, you’ll need to purchase your emails now. With that in mind, you should now get better service with spam and phishing filters, have it play well with your email software and overall, provide you with a cleaner experience.
- POP: This system ‘pulls’ your emails off the server onto your device (phone, iPad, computer, etc.). You should be able to set a time frame as to when it’s actually deleted off the server.
- IMAP: This makes your device a ‘window’ to the email server allowing you to still look, delete and respond to emails, but they still remain on the server. Which means, if you don’t have internet access, you don’t have access to your emails.
Sound complicated, it can be. Best to talk to your IT folks about which to use and in what combination.
If you have a domain, check WhoIs.com and see who actually is under the “Registrar” title. It’s the email in that section that controls your domain.
There’s a lot to say about your 30 Second Elevator Commercial. It’s based on the notion that if you were to meet someone in an elevator and they asked what you did for a living, you would have just enough time to pique their interest before they reached their destination. From my experience, folks just usually stare at the blank doors or watch the numbers as they go up or down!
- Beginning: Introduce yourself with a big smile and state what you do
- Middle: How you do what you do and what makes you stand out from the rest
- End: Your call to action
- Smile when you talk
- Make sure it’s short, sweet and to the point – too long and you’ll lose their interest fast
- Don’t make it a sales pitch
- Stay away from buzzwords and cute acronyms
- Keep the conversation broad – don’t get too specific
- Use plain language so anyone will understand what you do
- You might have to customize the speech depending on a specific audience
- Seriously, “Bob the Builder” – check our previous blog “What’s In Your Company Name”
- Don’t tell me you’re a “professional” or provide “quality service”, everyone’s going to say that
- DO NOT mention your competition by name – you have no idea if the person you’re talking to is related to them or was thrilled with their work and putting down your competition only makes you look petty and unprofessional
- Don’t try and make a sale, especially being so up front as to ask for their address – that will only scare away a potential customer
- End with a question/call to action which will solicit them into asking you for more information
- Key: Bob’s a ‘local and family run business’ – people like that
- His advantage: he grew up and lives in the area – so he knows and understands their neighborhood
- What’s unique: Bob likes any project, he’s on all jobs and then pulls at the heart strings with that dream deck you always wanted statement
- What he offers: Free estimates
- Call to action: This is the type of client I’m looking for and would love to hear from
- Practice, practice, practice – first out loud, in front of a mirror
- Then record it – how does it sound to you – do you have a lot of “ahhh’s or ummm’s”
- Once you think you’ve got it down, try it on family and friends
- Finally practice it in front of a trusted client or two
Your speech should flow without hesitation. Like it’s a conversation you’re having. And when you’re good enough, if you’re interrupted with a question, you should be able to get back on track without having to back track.
Good Luck…and with your new marketing strategy, make opportunities to try out your new advertisement at meetings, get-togethers, speed marketing events and more. You never know, it could land you your next big project!
In case you’re wondering, here’s our 30 Second Elevator Commercial for Peregrine Associates. And by the way, it’s always a work in progress:
We help organizations promote their people, products and services. For 30 years, as a marketing and advertising agency, we’ve helped our clients succeed in business.
When Peregrine Associates started way back in 1987, we didn’t have an instant list of clients – wouldn’t that have been nice! We had to find a way to build a customer base, but how? Through friends, family and even past employers – another reason why it’s important not to burn your bridges as you go through life.
I grabbed a stack of 3×5 cards (remember them?) and wrote down everyone I could think of…EVERYONE!
- Friends and Family: I would call each one and tell them about the new company and what services we offered. Then asked them if they knew of anyone that would be interested in what Peregrine Associates provided? I would write down each referral’s name on the original card and also created a new one. This way, I could see where the referrals were coming from. Then I would make the phone call jotting down any specific notes that were important.
- Previous Employers: Under each name, I would write the specific services we could offer that would be unique to them. Trying to stand out from anyone else they may already be using and coming up with new ideas that they haven’t yet tried. Then the phone calls were made. And if you left on good terms, many of the old bosses always had time to listen and even set up an in-person visit.
The big thing to remember, back then, there was no such thing as email. You had to make a phone call. Yea, you actually had to pick up the phone, dial and talk to someone. No electronic communications, emails, texting, Facebooking, private messaging. Actual one-on-one conversations. And in today’s world, that could definitely make a difference!
Don’t be afraid to ask everyone you know for a referral. Just don’t be pushy. And if you already have a nice customer base, reach out to them. Many would be happy to send you to their friends, family and business associates. Folks are much more comfortable working with someone they know or who was referred to them. Some studies even show that your closing rate could be as high as 1 for every 2 referrals while using other means could be as low as 1 in every 25 or even more!
One last note. When I started, I had at least 25-30 3×5 cards…so my first phone calls were to family and the closest of friends. That helped me get past tripping over my own tongue. And, as brutal as they were, the feedback I got from them was invaluable.
Whether you use good old fashion paper and pencil or a fancy Contact Management application, don’t be afraid to Ask for Referrals!
The person or group of people you choose to help you with your marketing has to become your partner. They really have to believe in not only the product or service you offer, but they must believe in you. It’s just as important for them to feel comfortable working with you as you are working with them.
- Do they rub you the wrong way or do you feel like you’ve known them since childhood?
- Are they too direct or not direct enough?
- Does the way they dress bother you? — I’m not kidding
- Do they present themselves in a manner you appreciate?
- Are they the type to have a basketball net in their office?
- Do they have a fancy espresso machine — does that even make you wonder if they’re too expensive for your marketing budget?
- Is it like home every time you visit? I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not…
- Do they listen to you or are they too busy telling you about your business?
Another point to make is that your mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, girl/boy friend, significant other does not make for a marketing professional. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client tell me they make their marketing decisions via the ‘family committee’. You politely ask how long they’ve been in the ad business and well, you know where that goes. And if you decide to make their adjustments and the ad is a failure, who gets blamed in the end? But truthfully, you need to trust the skills of your marketing partner.
For example, if you were to put 10 marketing professionals in a room and provide them with all the same information about your business, you will get 10 different marketing plans — including logo designs, color schemes, thoughts on the best media and their layouts, budgetary needs and more. Some will be way out there while others may be closer together. Does that mean 9 out of 10 are wrong? Especially the ones out in left and right field? NO! They’re just different. And which one should you choose? The one you feel identifies most with your personality, the one you feel will do your business justice. Remember, you have to feel comfortable picking up the phone and asking questions of your agent. And they need to feel as though they can be straight and honest with you. It’s an important relationship we build with all our clients.
And how honest should they be? There are times I will tell a client, that in my heart, they are making a mistake. It’s my job. I’m being paid to tell them my opinion. Remember, 10 marketing agents, 10 different thought processes. But you need to stick to one. So what do I do if the client insists? Depending on how strong my objection is — I’ll either make the change with fair warning or refuse the job. It’s my reputation on the line. It’s a rare instance where a client will admit that they should have gone in another direction.
It’s a marriage. You have to go through the dating stages. You have to like the person or group you’re working with. You have to feel you can leave them the keys to your dream. And if by some misalignment with the stars it doesn’t work out, make a clean break. But make sure you’re doing it for all the right reasons. A quick, flirtatious wink from another agent does not mean the start of a wonderful, lasting relationship. And remember this, the agency has just as much right to terminate the relationship with you if they find you’re difficult to work with. They have to feel just as committed to the partnership as you are.
Remember, there’s no online dating service for marketing partners. Sometimes the best blind dates are the ones set up by your business associates.
Slogans and Tag Lines help your customer remember what you do.
- “Our donuts are baked fresh”
- “Our coffee is brewed fresh”
Really? I mean, Really? How do you bake a day-old donut? How do you brew stale coffee? As soon as it’s done baking or brewing, it’s fresh and new! That doesn’t mean you can’t bake a lousy donut or brew the worst pot of coffee known to man. But I don’t think you’ll ever see:
- “Our donuts taste lousy, BUT THEY’RE FRESH!”
- “Our coffee — Brewed Fresh…tastes stale…did we mention, it’s BREWED FRESH!”
- And don’t try: “Our coffee and donuts are so fresh, you’ll want to slap them!”
Don’t tell me the obvious, tell me something that makes me think. Don’t tell me you care or that you provide quality, professional service. Doesn’t everyone tout that? You don’t see someone saying they do amateurish work or that they do almost quality work…but more than likely, only good work. So don’t tell me how professional or caring your staff is. Do tell me:
- We clean homes on your schedule
- We’ll pick up, repair and deliver your car back to where you work
- Licensed • Insured • Bonded
- Family owned since 1985
- FREE Estimates
- We can fix most computer problems remotely
So the next time I get my coffee, you can be sure I’ll patronize the shop whose slogan reads:
“We brew our coffee every 30 minutes — so it’s always fresh for you”
For less than 10¢ a piece, Business Cards can be the least expensive (and possibly the First Impression) form of advertising and marketing you have! So why do people starting out in business try and skimp on this?
I remember the days that thermographed/raised printing business cards were the only way to show your professionalism. Of course, the layout of the card also made a difference. To challenge them, stationery stores were selling business card templates that allowed you to design your own cards, then print them on die cut sheets using inkjet printers. You then tore out the individual cards along the perforations. Really?
So now you’re handing out your business card. On plain white stock. A thin stock. With jagged edges all around due to the perforations used to easily tear apart the cards. And with the advent of color inkjets, wow, now you had people throwing in every color of the rainbow – just because they could! The business card design and printing business went down. But so did business for those trying to express the quality of their company with the amateurish quality of their advertising.
Today, we have the ability to go full color, very inexpensively. But now, there are online printers offering great deals on cheap quality stock and printing. And you can choose from hundreds of templates! Wow, what a bargain? No, not really. We had a client once tell us that the organization he represented wanted to know why he came to us for the non-profit’s business cards instead of the online printer who offered cards for less. When he asked if they liked the personal, creative, professional design of the layout and they said yes, he then asked how do you get that when you can only deal with your order through your keyboard online? Enough said.
You want your clients to treat you as a professional. So wouldn’t you want your cards to represent that?
In our office, we have a Business Card wall. There, we have dozens and dozens of cards we’ve designed over the years. When our clients visit our showroom, they stand in front of this wall, not only admiring the creatives, but also walking away with a few of the business cards because they want to use the services that are offered. That in itself speaks volumes to the importance of a quality designed and printed cards.
Some quick tips:
- Make sure the cards are printed on a nice stock – we’ve heard clients react to the feel of our cards, even before they look at the printing
- Gloss makes photos and graphics appear sharper
- Matte is great if you plan on writing on your cards
- Hint: You can print gloss on the front to show off your logo and matte on the back so you can write on it
- Silk finishes feel fantastic and accentuate the sense of touch when handing out a card
- Is the printer you’re using a professional?
- Most print houses want your artwork created as a Press Quality, CMYK based PDF
- If your designer or printer doesn’t know what that is…you might want to look elsewhere
- Go ahead and bleed your artwork and background colors, this really adds a professional look and feel to the design
- Anything but white – if you can, don’t go with an all white background
- Look at your desk, it’s probably filled with mostly white paper – and your card will get lost among all that
- Brand your logo and colors
- If you don’t have a professional logo, you should start there first
- Make sure you have all your information on it
- Having an address – even a Post Office Box – adds legitimacy to your business
- Is the phone number correct
- Don’t put the word “Phone” or “email” in front of the respective listing, it just takes up valuable real estate on the card and makes it crowded – your client should know what a phone or email address looks like
- Refrain from using a gmail, Verizon, Comcast, Yahoo and especially an AOL or similar email account
- You’re a professional, you should have a professional email using the domain name of your website: John@YourDomain.com
Look at other business cards from fellow business people or even your competition. See what you like and what your potential clients think.
For less than 10¢ a piece, although inexpensive in cost, don’t show you’re cheap!
Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed
Who invented a ‘gadget’ that would keep his family fed
He came to Peregrine; “Market this he’d say”
He failed ‘cause I couldn’t get him out of his own way
This is a true story, the names have been changed…to protect us all!
About a million years ago (or it seems) when the internet was at blazing speeds of 28.8k, 33.6k or even as fast as 56k, we had a client invent the ‘gadget’. This was a brand new product and was in the process of being patented. The unique feature about this product was that it wasn’t a stand-alone item, you first needed to have a ‘widget’.
Now, the widget was a very expensive piece of equipment that needed constant maintenance, preventive upkeep and when it broke down, you were out of business until you either fixed it or replaced it. And with the cost of repair, maintenance and the high price of the original widget, if you could offer a protective device at a fraction of the cost, it was a no-brainer not to purchase a gadget to protect your investment and make it last longer and cut down on your maintenance costs!
So on to marketing:
- The client had already developed a name for the company
- We created a logo based on the name and product
- We determined a marketing strategy that would include:
- Trade Publication advertising
- This also included a professional photo shoot with model
- And with the advent of this thing called the internet, a website
We also introduced our client with a couple of manufacturers to help him establish a relationship with someone that could produce the gadget.
After requesting media kits from 3 different publications, our client decided to focus the first print ad in one trade magazine. We also determined what region of the country to advertise in to get the most bang for the budget. And, since the widget was a seasonal product, choosing the right editorial month fell right into place with production, just as the website would go live, along with the publisher’s editorials just as the season was about to begin! And, we got our client a Free Editorial/New Product article and great ad placement!
Everything was coming together perfectly. The logo turned out great. The photo shoot went perfect. The calendar was in the works. We had preferential placement of our print ad along with a Free editorial. The website was going to be live, on time! And, the delivery of the first production run was on time as well…so you know, there has to be a BUT somewhere!
You’ve been there at home or work or just taking a nice walk outside. When all of a sudden, you hear the screeching of tire rubber on pavement, knowing someone just locked their breaks in attempt to not hit something and the sound seems to last forever…then it suddenly stops. And for a brief moment, you can hear a bird chirping. You anticipate, you wait, you know it’s coming, but you hope not…it seems like forever…then…BANG!
Now you know exactly how we felt when the client came to us and requested the Magazine’s print ad be cancelled. CANCELLED! Really? His thoughts; (1) It was a great product and folks were going to love it; (2) We were building a website that could be searched by those looking to buy gadgets to protect their widgets; (3) Both the end-consumer and distributors would talk it up big time. So, with all that hoopla, there was NO NEED TO ADVERTISE!
So let’s look at why this wasn’t such a great idea:
- First of all, the gadget never existed until he invented it, so no one, I mean NO ONE knew it existed
- This was way before Google –why or how would any one do a search for a product they didn’t know was available
- Just because you build a website doesn’t mean folks are going to flock to it
- I call this the Field of Dreams Syndrome – you know “Build it and they will come”…nope!
- In essence, it became the best kept secret because without advertising, know one knew it was ‘alive’
Needless to say, the product was in on time, the website went live and the client was thrilled to see 3 visitors to the site — the first day. Yup, (1) the programmer to make sure it was good, (2) the client because they wanted to see it and (3) us to verify it looked right.
When you hire a marketing person, a graphic designer, a web developer or an agency, you need to feel trust. Trust that they know what they are doing. Stop reading all the ‘answers’ you find on the internet or all the expert advice from your friends and family. The reality is if you put 10 marketing professionals in a room and tell them what you want to accomplish, you will get 10 very different answers. Some way out there, but for the most part, 10 different approaches. That doesn’t mean some are wrong while others are right. It means you need to find the one you’re most comfortable with that fits your personality and needs…and trust them.
The ‘gadget’? Well it did fail. Never really made it to market. Sure, there were other walls built up by the client that eventually became unsurmountable. It’s a shame. Unlike the Beverly Hillbillies TV show that had a successful nine-year run, he was cancelled before his first season was complete.
Sometimes our worst enemy is not the competition, but ourselves.
I’m glad you asked…Think of AT&T, McDonalds, Apple or even The YMCA. Do you know where the names and logos came from? Do you know what the letters in YMCA or AT&T stand for? Or where McDonalds got it’s name? Doesn’t really matter does it? When we see a graphic of a bite out of the side of a fruit, we know we’re looking at some cool, technological stuff that sometimes plays great music through ‘white’ earbuds.
I once had a client tell me his business consultant told him he doesn’t need a logo. Really? I asked him to close his eyes and mentioned several companies like Nike and Pepsi among others. And each time, he was able to tell me what the logo looked like. Why? Because Logos work. They brand a sense of quality, deliciousness, consistency, speed, hype, technology, caring, personal service and everything you want to convey about your company.
It doesn’t take a lot of colors and specialty fonts. And the logo doesn’t necessarily have to explain what you do. In so many cases, the name of the business is the logo. And sometimes the name of the company doesn’t convey what they do either. It’s the consistent marketing of the brand that eventually makes your logo synonymous with who you are.
Finally, we think about how it will be used. Are you going to screen print t-shirts? Are you willing to go full color or do you want it to look good as a one color print. Will you embroider it? Too much detail will get lost. What about Business Cards, Websites, Brochures? All of this goes into the creative juices that design a great logo! Sometimes, simplicity is the winner.
The steps to take in creating a logo:
- Does the client have anything in mind?
- Colors, fonts, graphics
- Do they want a graphic involved or just use the name of the business and make that the logo
- The initial stages of logo development are black and white (B&W)
- The logo should always look good as a B&W image
- This means it’s the shapes that grabs your attention, not just colors
- At some point, you many be advertising in a local bulletin or paper, and can only print B&W — sometimes, full color just won’t print well B&W
- The graphic should be designed as a vector image using software like Adobe Illustrator
- This allows for the logo to be enlarged or reduced WITHOUT LOSS OF QUALITY — think Banners!
- So many times, we’ll receive artwork created in a raster based program which means it’s made up of lots and lots of pixels (dots) — these CAN NOT be enlarged without loss of quality
- The initial design can be saved as an AI (Adobe Illustrator) or EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file
- Your [real] graphic designer will love you for it
- Font choices are so important
- You wouldn’t expect to use a nice calligraphic font for a karate studio or use big/bold ‘fat’ text for a women’s fine clothes store
- Don’t use a myriad of fonts in your logo — 2 (maybe 3) should be max
- But using different styles of the same font is fine — such as italic, bold, italic/bold, condensed, etc.
- Several layouts are created and shown to the client — remember, all B&W
- From this point, they usually find bits and pieces of different layouts they like
- For instance, they might like the graphic from one but the font from another
- Then we put the different choices together to finalize the original, B&W logo!
- From this point, they usually find bits and pieces of different layouts they like
- Next, we add colors
- Be careful, just because you can use colors doesn’t mean you should use all of them!
- Red is a very strong color — think blood, Green can convey money, Blue is cool and so on
- Red: lighten that and you get pink: For some reason, folks think when you lighten red, you get light red…no, you get pink!
- You shouldn’t overlay red on blue or blue on red — for many, this color combination creates a halo around the image due to varying degrees of color blindness
- Certain blues, if not produced with the right CMYK color mix, will print purple
- Your designer should know this
- Choose your colors carefully– try using a Pantone book of colors and look at the different paper stock samples
- The same color printed on different materials like matte, semi-gloss, gloss, canvas, etc. CAN AND WILL PRINT DIFFERENTLY — so be prepared
- Once the right color mix is completed, the logo is jazzed
- This can mean adding special effects like shadows, highlights, bevels, metallic imagery, lighting and so much more
- The art is created in a raster file using a program like Photoshop
- This is SIZE and RESOLUTION dependent
- Meaning, once created, you CAN NOT enlarge it — if you need it bigger, you have to recreate it — but you can reduce it in physical size and resolution
- You can not add resolution/increase the DPI — although so many folks try
- Please note: software like Illustrator gets better and better and can also provide many special effects that were once only available in a raster based program like Photoshop
- Now that your logo is complete, use it everywhere!
- Business Cards, Letterhead, Envelopes
- Email signatures (but keep it small for download speeds)
- Post Cards, Direct Mail, Brochures, Slim Jims, Counter Cards
- Decals and Labels
- Websites, eNewsletters
- T-shirts, Jackets, Caps and Bags
- Promotional/Specialty items
- Did we mention everywhere?
- This also means using the colors in your logo in all your media — staying with a color theme helps with ‘consistency’
- If you’re not sure what the colors are and you don’t have software that uses Pantone colors, you can ask your designer for either the closest RGB (Red, Green, Blue) or Hex value — especially the lighter and darker versions of your specific colors
- These are great if you want to color the background of brochures and business cards — so it’s not all just white
Can you update your logo later on? Yes. But you don’t want to change it too much — because if it looks entirely different, you’ll have to start a new marketing campaign. For example:
- Apple updated their logo, but all they did was take the rainbow colors out and made it solid…no big deal
- Pepsi did a complete redesign, so unless you have their marketing budget, I’d think twice about a complete redo
Your logo will say a lot about you and your business. In the end, what goes into a logo can be as important as what it goes on.