Category Archives: Marketing: Starting a Business

There are key steps in starting (or re-inventing) any company. Follow here for step-by-step plans on how best to market your new business.

Website Analytics

Website AnalyticsWhat can Website Analytics do for you?

  • Would you like to know how many visitors you get every Day? Week? Month?
  • How about comparing that to the same previous time period?
  • Of all those visits, how many are repeats and how many are unique/new?
  • What pages are the most popular and least popular?
  • You just sent out an eNewsletter which had links back to specific web pages, wouldn’t it be great to see the increase in page visits you had because of that?
  • How are folks finding your site? Google, Yahoo, direct links from other websites?

There are hundreds of data points you can look at and easily get overwhelmed. So create a custom report that provides the basic marketing tools to help keep your website up-to-date and letting you know what needs to be modified.

But your time is already at a premium. And how difficult is it to log into your analytics, fill in all the specific search fields and then save the report to look over at a later time? You can set it up so you’ll automatically receive the previous week’s analytics in a simple to read PDF, every week. And if you have someone doing that for you, there should be no charge. You’re looking at only a few minutes to create the report since they should have already coded your individual web pages.

From the easy to understand graph to the column report ranging from the most visited on down, you can quickly see how your website is doing.

Here are a few other marketing tricks to take advantage of this great tool:

  • EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail): The next time you develop a direct mail campaign, setup a new webpage that is only known through the mailer (post the domain URL as well as create a QR code). Of course this page should offer the visitor more information, a coupon, entry into a contest, etc. A few days after the mailer goes out, access your analytics to see how many visits you had just to that page. And remember, they only knew about that from your mail campaign!
  • Trade Shows: How about creating a unique page on your website where visitors to the show can access so they may enter a contest and receive a show only discount. Afterwards, check the analytics to see how many visitors you had. And on top of that, surely they’ll want to visit your other web pages!
  • Local Advertising: Do you place ads in different newspapers, local township newsletters, bulletins, etc? You should easily be able to create clones of your website’s home page – one for each ad placement – and place that specific QR code into the graphic. This way, when you check your analytics you’ll be able to tell which ad from which publication got you the most visits! Now you have a better idea where to spend your marketing dollars!

As you can see, there are countless ways to analyze your weekly reports. Look at the trends, what products and services are getting more popular (and less popular), what new services are worth trying out with ease of follow up and what works to get more visits to your site and what doesn’t?

Oh, one more thing. If you plan on incorporating Search Engine Optimization, these reports are a must!

Now go ahead and use this marketing tool to get more business and go beyond your competition!

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Domain Names / Email Address

Choose your domain carefully and use a professional email.Domains
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.

Some suggestions when choosing a domain:
  • 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
Emails
Your email address should be your domain name. That means, no AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, Verizon, Comcast…you get the idea. Be professional, if you have a web address, use that for your business correspondence.

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.

If you’re confused between IMAP and POP, visit the dozens of websites that explain all that. But in short:
  • 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.

Summary
So even if you think you might want to have a website down the line, grab it today! We actually had a client lose their choice by only seven days! And for only a few bucks a year, it’s down-right cheap. And be careful how you print it, use upper and lower case lettering — make it easy to understand.

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.

Finally, use your domain as your email address. Is it really worth saving what a couple cups of coffee a year would cost not to look more professional?

Ask for Referrals

Ask for ReferralsQuestion: When you first start your business (or jumpstart an existing one), how are you going to find your customers?

Answer: REFERRALS!

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!

Slogans and Taglines

Slogans and TaglinesSlogans and Tag Lines help your customer remember what you do.

My favorites:

  • “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”

Business Cards – The First Impression

Your Business Card may be your first impressionBusiness Cards

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!

What’s in a Logo?

What’s in your logo?What's in a Logo

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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?
  9. 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.

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