Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Branding on a Budget: Four Steps for Brand Consistency

All companies can benefit from developing a consistent brand image. The brand definition and features may encompass everything from logos to color palettes to fonts, but it must be maintained consistently across marketing collateral, presentations, correspondence, and proposals. Your brand image may even influence your office décor, if you have logos or product photos as part of your furnishings. Keeping everything in sync is difficult, especially as time passes and the company grows or expands its product line. Here are a few tips to help you keep your brand elements consistent.

1. Develop a logo.
In the long run, it pays to have a professionally created company or brand logo as the centerpiece of your company's identity. A custom logo doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be simple, eye-catching, and unique.

Unless you're a graphic artist or you already have a great one on staff, work with a designer for logo creation. While there are libraries of standard logos you can choose from, it's worth it to have a logo custom designed by an experienced graphic artist who can capture the essence of your business. Try to resist the temptation to design your own logo using PowerPoint or a similar program because it will probably always look amateurish. You also won't be able to generate all the different file types you need for various media.

2. Pick a color scheme.
Once you've found a graphic designer to work with, ask him or her to create a corporate color scheme for you while they're working on the logo. The color scheme should include two or three colors that coordinate well together, and it should include light and dark shade variations of the chosen colors.

The experienced eye of a graphic artist will come up with fresh designs and color schemes that you'll love, even though you might not have considered them on your own. When you settle on your colors, you can ask the designer to provide the Pantone color code values and the CMYK equivalents to prevent inconsistencies that occasionally occur if people try to "eyeball" the correct shade on future documents.

3. Create a style set and templates.
If you use page layout or word processing applications, you'll want to create a custom style set that includes fonts, heading styles, margins, and spacing defaults so your documents always have a consistent look and feel. A graphic artist's expertise will come in handy here, too, by giving your documents an appealing look.

Consider installing the style set for new employees when they join your company, or have IT set them up for you, so employees automatically create consistently formatted documents and presentations. It's a huge time saver when you don't have to reformat every document before publishing it.

4. Post a branding "book" or style guide.
A style guide doesn't have to be complex, but it does need to make the guidelines for logo usage and other branding elements clear. To help ensure consistency, include the standards for color values, official product and company names, and links to corporate templates. It only makes sense to have a style guide if employees will use it, so try to keep it simple if you can.

Creating a recognizable brand requires consistency to avoid muddying brand identity. By following a few guidelines, you can help ensure that prospective customers will instantly recognize your brand.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Preparing a Sales and Marketing Plan for 2014

As the year draws to a close, many companies are preparing to review and develop their marketing plans for 2014. A solid marketing plan will articulate a vision for the company in the new year, including how the group is going to expand and what the revenue goals should be. Developing a solid plan requires quite a bit of forethought and planning. Here are the three steps that businesses should use to get themselves prepared for the upcoming year.

1. Determine where the company is going



It's not enough to simply say that the company is going to make a certain amount of money in the upcoming year. A good marketing plan will determine what markets, geographical areas, and populations the business can expand into and how that will affect revenue. There should also be estimations about how much the company is depending upon past customers returning and what percentage can realistically be expected to spend again.

2. See how the company is going to get there



This will encompass the company's plan to generate revenue and meet the goals described in step one. In 2014, there are a variety of marketing techniques that should be considered. A company can produce excellent copy or presentations, but without a solid, well-rounded marketing campaign, it will go nowhere. Everyone knows about the importance of working online, but many neglect the print world. Yet a stunning 73 percent of customers prefer to receive printed announcements rather than email announcements from their preferred brands. Consider some of the following marketing techniques.

Direct mail


According to Target Marketing magazine, direct mail had the highest rating for customer acquisition, contact, and retention ROI. One of the biggest problems companies face with direct mail is that few people are experienced with the medium and how to run a campaign. If this sounds familiar, work with someone who is used to this type of print marketing.

Print advertising


Customers have indicated that they prefer paper ads, especially when shopping. An estimated 69 percent of shoppers depend on newspapers for information about brands and deals.

Integrated marketing


Many people use their smart devices for nearly everything. While print advertising is effective, it often works best when integrated with online campaigns. For example, include QR codes on pamphlets to take people to the company website or ordering page. This will drive traffic and help you reach across demographics to include everyone on and offline.

3. Measure progress and revise when necessary



Schedule benchmarks throughout the year to see how well the company is reaching its goals. These benchmarks should be reasonable and take into account how much time marketing techniques require to be effective. For example, a new direct mail campaign may not be as effective when it is first launched. After a few mailings, however, customers may begin to recognize the brand and give it more recognition.

At the same time, the team must be willing to revise when necessary. If the company is falling short, examine the ROI of different lead generation and conversion techniques. See if revisions are possible or if the budget money would be better allocated elsewhere. If the company is surpassing expectations, revise expectations so as not to shortchange what the company is capable of producing.

Developing a successful marketing campaign is an important step in preparing a company for the upcoming year. Taking the time to research and create a practical plan will give everyone a clear picture of the expectations and will guide the business to the next level.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why You Need to Call Your Leads Right Away... or Don't Even Bother

In today's ultra-competitive business landscape, your company is likely spending a good deal of money to generate leads and prospects for your products and services. Hopefully, these efforts are generating quality leads for your business. But what happens once those leads do contact you?

You already know how important it is to follow up with your leads. But did you realize how important the "need for speed" really is?

Here are some eye-opening statistics to drive home the point:
  • Studies show that waiting more than five minutes to contact a lead after they have contacted you the first time results in a 46% lower qualification rate.

  • Waiting another five minutes results in a 23% lower conversion rate.

  • If you wait more than an hour to contact a lead, you're seven times less likely to convert them to a sale.
In this instance, speed really does make a difference.

This study suggests that by simply calling a new prospect within a minute of lead generation, the likelihood of conversion increases by 391 percent. After two minutes, it drops to 160 percent. After three minutes, it goes down to 98 percent. After 30 minutes, it reduces to 62 percent. And after only one hour, the conversion rate drops to 36 percent. It goes down from there.

The key takeaways are:

  1. The "speed-to-call" is the single biggest factor in converting leads.

  2. Calling prospects six times leads to optimal conversion rates.

  3. Combining the recommended call strategy with an optimal email strategy can yield exceptional results.


Combining this strategy with an integrated print campaign leaves little doubt that the hottest leads will be reached in ways that very few of your competitors are implementing.

Consumers may start with price-shopping, but a sense of loyalty drives a large portion of them back to the vendor who reached them first. The company that educates and shows responsive customer service is able to build a bond that can overcome price sensitivities.

Being the first company to respond to a lead conveys the impression that you're more interested in doing business with them than your competitors are. It can also lead to a longer and more memorable conversation.

The speed in reaching a hot prospect is one major part of the success equation. The next part is to focus on the conversation itself rather than trying for a quick close or sale. Listen first, ask questions, and then provide the answers the prospect is looking for. It sounds simple enough, but such subtleties are often overlooked.

Being systematic, consistent, and persistent will be the winning formula in this race. You're competing hard to generate quality leads, new inquiries, and new prospects. But that's only the beginning. By putting systems in place to contact incoming leads as quickly as possible and to follow up with them fast, you'll save precious resources and make customer acquisition a much simpler process.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why You Need to Call Your Leads Right Away... or Don't Even Bother

In today's ultra-competitive business landscape, your company is likely spending a good deal of money to generate leads and prospects for your products and services. Hopefully, these efforts are generating quality leads for your business. But what happens once those leads do contact you?

You already know how important it is to follow up with your leads. But did you realize how important the "need for speed" really is?

Here are some eye-opening statistics to drive home the point:
  • Studies show that waiting more than five minutes to contact a lead after they have contacted you the first time results in a 46% lower qualification rate.

  • Waiting another five minutes results in a 23% lower conversion rate.

  • If you wait more than an hour to contact a lead, you're seven times less likely to convert them to a sale.
In this instance, speed really does make a difference.

This study suggests that by simply calling a new prospect within a minute of lead generation, the likelihood of conversion increases by 391 percent. After two minutes, it drops to 160 percent. After three minutes, it goes down to 98 percent. After 30 minutes, it reduces to 62 percent. And after only one hour, the conversion rate drops to 36 percent. It goes down from there.

The key takeaways are:

  1. The "speed-to-call" is the single biggest factor in converting leads.

  2. Calling prospects six times leads to optimal conversion rates.

  3. Combining the recommended call strategy with an optimal email strategy can yield exceptional results.


Combining this strategy with an integrated print campaign leaves little doubt that the hottest leads will be reached in ways that very few of your competitors are implementing.

Consumers may start with price-shopping, but a sense of loyalty drives a large portion of them back to the vendor who reached them first. The company that educates and shows responsive customer service is able to build a bond that can overcome price sensitivities.

Being the first company to respond to a lead conveys the impression that you're more interested in doing business with them than your competitors are. It can also lead to a longer and more memorable conversation.

The speed in reaching a hot prospect is one major part of the success equation. The next part is to focus on the conversation itself rather than trying for a quick close or sale. Listen first, ask questions, and then provide the answers the prospect is looking for. It sounds simple enough, but such subtleties are often overlooked.

Being systematic, consistent, and persistent will be the winning formula in this race. You're competing hard to generate quality leads, new inquiries, and new prospects. But that's only the beginning. By putting systems in place to contact incoming leads as quickly as possible and to follow up with them fast, you'll save precious resources and make customer acquisition a much simpler process.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Does Your Advertising Have a Goal?

You know all about the importance of setting personal and business goals, but what about setting goals for your advertising? Such goals are also important to the success of your sales and marketing efforts.

The three traditional goals of advertising are to inform, persuade, and remind. However, you should add one more goal to that list, especially if you run a small or medium-sized business. That goal is to break even on the cost of running your ad. If the ad makes money immediately, that's a bonus.

Why just break even?

Your strategy should be to create an ongoing relationship, not just a one-time transaction. You want to build a base -- a growing list of customers who come back to buy over and over again. Long-term growth and stability are the keys, not just one-time, short-term gains.

"The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time." - Henry Ford


Advertising your business is important. Advertising your business on a consistent basis is even more important. Your business has to get noticed. It needs traffic, and that traffic needs to buy.

Instead of thinking about advertising your business as an expense, think about it as an investment. It's an investment with the goal of breaking even quickly while generating ROI for years to come.

Here are eight reasons you need to advertise consistently with a purpose and goal in mind.

  1. Get Noticed -- At any given time and in any market, only 2 to 4% of consumers are ready to buy what you sell. It's nearly impossible to predict when this group is going to actually make the purchase. They'll buy from the company that comes to the top of their mind when they're ready. The company that's most consistent in being seen and getting noticed will win the business most of the time.


  2. Remind Them -- People tend to forget quickly. Busy lives and long to-do lists can make anyone forget about your business. Just because you sent one postcard doesn't mean a prospect will remember your business when it's time to buy. In the advertising race, the tortoise beats the hare.


  3. Your Competition -- Your competitors won't quit advertising anytime soon. You shouldn't either.


  4. Shifting Quicksand -- Your market is constantly changing. You have to be nimble and adjust with it. Change up your ad copy and design. Test it, measure it, and tweak your ads until you achieve your desired return on investment.


  5. Momentum -- Advertising consistently not only informs your audience that you mean business but also serves notice to your competitors that you're in it for the long haul. Advertising boosts the morale of your own staff as well, signaling the vitality of your brand.


  6. Current Customers -- You know your competitors are nipping at your heels, trying to steal away your customers. Don't take your current customers for granted in your ad campaigns. Remind them on a regular basis the unique value you bring to the table and deliver for them. Don't assume they know already.


  7. Past Customers -- One of the fastest ways to boost sales is to reactivate past clients. Most customers leave a business because they feel unwanted and neglected. Tell them you're sorry and that you want them back. Give them an incentive to come back again. Many will come back. This time, don't neglect them. Communicate regularly and tell them that you appreciate their business. Advertising is not just for boosting sales; it also works for retaining customers. It's much cheaper to retain a customer than to find a new one. Advertising to current and past customers is an investment that makes lots of cents!


  8. Competitive Advantage -- Nothing helps you maintain a lead over your competitors like consistent advertising. Whether you're there now or you'll get there soon, once you have the lead, keep the foot on the pedal, so the competition has little chance of catching up.


You must have both strategic and monetary goals in mind when advertising your business. When done with a purpose and vision, your ad campaigns will produce real ROI and real customers who will pay you back for years to come. To start and build momentum, advertise consistently. You'll end up creating your own economy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Important Business Lesson from an 8-Year-Old Girl

There's something undeniably different about this time of year -- an almost palatable sense of wonder, excitement, joy, and possibility not always seen in our everyday routine.

Amid the hustle and bustle of shopping, planning, and reconnecting with family and friends, we often find ourselves thinking back to seasons past -- and forward to the future with renewed energy and hope.

For a few weeks each December, we're willing to suspend disbelief and imagine the possibility of what we cannot see.

New York Sun writer Francis Church shared his thoughts on this very subject more than a century ago. "The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see," Church wrote. "Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world."

Church addressed his commentary to Virginia O'Hanlon, an eight-year-old girl who had posed a very simple question: Is there a Santa Claus?

While intended to quell the fears of a questioning child, Church's words could just as easily apply to each of us in business today.

Like young Virginia, we, too, find ourselves in doubt sometimes -- unsure whether we should trust the instincts that have taken us this far. In Virginia's case, those doubts were fueled by "little friends" who told her Santa Claus was not real. For us, those "friends" often manifest themselves internally as a quiet, yet nagging voice that assures us we'll find safety in convention and by taking the road more traveled.

And so, like Virginia, we need an occasional reminder that seeking the unseeable and trusting the unknowable can lead to places many would consider unattainable.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Community Care Marketing

If your business is looking for a creative way to increase name recognition and drive business, while at the same time giving back to your community and contributing to the common good, here are a few rewarding ideas to try:
  • Distribute exclusive coupons for customers who bring a canned food donation to support the local food shelf.

  • Post flyers at local organizations and sponsor a unique donation drive, such as "coats for kids" or "toys for tots."

  • Team with a local shelter, hospital, or church to organize a giving tree, and encourage customers to take a tag and donate items to those in need.

  • Find ways to encourage customers to participate in your goodwill efforts. For example, you could run a campaign such as "10 percent of all sales in December will be donated to XYZ charity."

  • Create name recognition by volunteering as a team at local non-profit organizations and by sponsoring local charitable events.

The holidays may be right around the corner, but it's never too late to make an impact in your community. You can easily use a mix of print media (posters, flyers, postcards, statement stuffers, etc.), social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), email marketing, and word of mouth to spread the word quickly. Think the Christmas season is sneaking up too fast? Create a New Year's campaign or a "giving hearts" campaign for Valentine's Day. The options are endless.

And remember, while our hearts go out to others during the holiday season more than any other time, there are always those who are less fortunate than we are and will appreciate our help throughout the year. If you make community caring campaigns a regular part of your marketing, your contributions and goodwill will surely come full circle, benefiting your business and the people who work for you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Using the Law of Reciprocity to Advance Your Business

In social psychology, reciprocity refers to the natural human tendency to want to return a favor -- to give back after someone has shown generosity to you. You've no doubt experienced such times in your own life, when you've felt such a sense of appreciation for a kindness done that you felt inclined to respond in kind. That's what reciprocity is all about.

Giving to Give -- and Build Relationships

Of course, there is another type of reciprocity -- one born more from a sense of obligation than appreciation. But that first type (the one inspired by an act of generosity) offers a far more valuable return on the good deed done. Why? By inspiring feelings of goodwill, this type of reciprocity makes the recipient much more likely to return the favor willingly, rather than through a sense of duty. Why is this important to your overall business success? Because the person who reciprocates willingly will be much more likely to stick around to continue the relationship long-term.

Giving to Get -- and Build the "Bottom Line"

The reciprocity that's based on duty and obligation is less effective because it creates feelings of unease in the recipient -- the same sort of feelings you get from owing a debt. This type of reciprocity makes people feel as if they are being pressured, or even coerced, into reciprocating.

When you give to get, it's like tying a string to the gift and continually pulling it back toward you, rather than releasing your hold on it and giving it away free and clear. This type of reciprocity isn't true reciprocity at all, since it doesn't inspire the other person to want to return the favor. As a result, it will only create resistance in your prospect, a situation that's usually counterproductive to your marketing efforts and your long-term business goals.

5 Ways to Use Reciprocity to Advance Your Business

Here are five suggestions for creating genuine, positive reciprocity in your prospects, customers, or clients:

1. Offer something for free -- with no strings attached. Giving a small gift every now and then can be a great way to say thanks to your customers for their business and their loyalty. If you do this without asking for anything in return, you may be surprised at the goodwill you build over time. Gestures like these are never wasted, even though they may not seem to be making a difference. Sincere generosity increases your customers' esteem for your business, which makes them eager to return.

2. Go the extra mile for your customer. Spend a little extra time helping a customer solve a problem. Take a moment to pass along some helpful information you come across that relates to your client's business (B2B) or your customer's interest, need, or profession (B2C). Doing something unexpectedly nice shows your customers you value them as individuals and not just as your key to profits.

3. Make things right whenever a customer is dissatisfied. This is another way to demonstrate how much you value your customers, making them enthusiastic about buying from you again despite their initial dissatisfaction. Their respect for you will grow in direct proportion to the amount of empathy, patience, professionalism, and generosity you show when such sensitive issues occur -- particularly when they are upset and reacting with impatience themselves.

4. Treat both customers and prospects as if they matter. Courtesy, friendliness, and respect will go a long way toward creating loyal long-term customers who will become the best advertisement for your brand. By making your service as personalized as you can, you tell your customer, "You are important."

5. Offer your website visitors helpful information at no charge. By attracting people to your website with the promise of value-added content, you'll soon become the go-to source for the answers they need, and they'll value you, as well.

Try the above five tips to start laying the groundwork for the reciprocity that's sure to follow.

How to Produce Stellar Ad Copy in the Post-PC Era

These days, the Internet has asserted its ubiquity on everything from social media and e-commerce to the way consumers communicate and get information. That said, printing and paper-based marketing are still strong -- and that's not about to change anytime soon. In this context, it's either you adapt your ad copy to a mix of printing and digital or see your business fall by the wayside.

We don't want that last part, do we?

Here are a few key items to consider as you gradually reshuffle your mixture of print and electronic copy.

Understand the cross-device reality
The first thing to understand is the notion of "cross-device" reality. That means your ad content must be accessible and sharable across devices as diverse as personal computers, tablets, smartphones, and notebooks, as well as on the printed page. For example, if you produce a sales letter you plan to mail and make accessible online, make sure you also make it readable on mobile devices. Specialists call this "responsive design," meaning you optimize your content to be viewable on all types of devices.

Don't forget shrink-proof paragraphs
Create shorter paragraphs to prevent the shrinkage that typically happens when you move from one browser to another or from a desktop to a smartphone or tablet. Believe it or not, a six or seven line paragraph on a desktop computer might appear fuzzy on a handheld device, turning it into an unreadable chunk that could only confuse and exacerbate your prospects and customers. So make your paragraphs concise and straight to the point. Ideally, you'll want to limit yourself to around 250-400 characters. If possible, you can even adopt the "Twitter rule" and make the paragraph less than or equal to 140 characters.

Speak to the device
Marketers always say it's all about content, content, content. It may be time to start thinking device, device, device. But remember that good old paper-based copy doesn't come with device-compatibility constraints. That's one reason experts continue to recommend non-electronic promotion as an added tactic. For electronic messaging, though, it's imperative to consider your audience and the various devices they use to access it.

For example, someone checking your ad copy on a smartphone could be at a party or on their way home. Conversely, promotional content you send via desktop email will be read by consumers at work, home, school, and so forth. You get the point. The reader can't be on the go with their PC. The issue of device compatibility is so important that even Google has spoken about it. The bottom line: adapt your ad copy to your target audience, their preferences, and the devices on which they're more likely to read your ad copy.

Love modularity
Make your ad copy modular. You won't regret it. Modular text is content that is not clearly stated in the initial ad copy, but that unfolds when the user shows interest in it or explores it. For example, say you run a fashion e-commerce portal and are running a campaign offering discounts on shoes. You can place modular content next to the footwear, so shoppers interested in, say, matching pants and shirts can buy these items as well.

Heed the power of structure
Structure is very important when it comes to producing stellar ad copy. The buzzword in the industry is content choreography, meaning the way you embed things like text, audio, video, and infographics into your content. You can structure your ad content the way you want, but make sure you keep three key things in mind: a clear description of your product or service; benefits or added value; and a call to action.

Why Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business

When it comes to content marketing, you can try all the advertising, promotional, and PR ploys, but authenticity remains key. What is authenticity, you might ask? Simply stated, it means staying true to your business values: who you are, who you serve, and what you do. It may sound like a no-brainer, but very few companies are able to withstand internal pressures or external turbulence without losing their authenticity, according to a recent study.

How to apply authenticity
It all starts from the top, so set a vision that your company's personnel understand, embrace, and can implement. Then ensure that your "authenticity" motto aligns with your business goals, so you can clearly demonstrate to stakeholders such as investors and lenders that you have a growth strategy in place. Here's how to do that:

Be real
Sounds easy, right? But you'd be surprised how many companies lose their operational soul, delve into every sector deemed profitable, or adopt strategies that are counter to their mission. Define what your business does -- its mission and vision -- and stick to those core values.

Be charitable
Ever heard of something called "corporate social responsibility"? Well, CSR is one way an organization can give back to society-at-large and the communities in which it does business. Consumers love that, and it's a win-win for both the company and the aid recipients.

Be consistent
Don't give mixed messages that might lead to mistrust and confusion, both of which could make you lose customers down the road. Stay close to your values, mission, and vision as much as possible. For example, Apple's tagline is "Think different." All of the company's products and services somewhat match that slogan.

Back up what you say
To build trust and customer loyalty, your word must be credible. If you want to establish a solid reputation, make sure your company delivers on its operational commitments. For example, if "Maintain customer satisfaction 24/7" is your tagline, prove it to patrons in the way your handle things like complaints, merchandise delivery, and service quality.

Be responsive
The last thing you want is bad press, so don't let word-of-mouth tarnish the reputation you've spent years, if not decades, building and growing. Be quick in handling customer inquiries as well as questions from any other relevant party. Think regulators, business partners, activists, and consumer groups.

Respect privacy
Build solid privacy practices in the way your company operates, especially when it comes to archiving online data. In this age, everything business-related is kept on the "cloud," so make sure your cloud provider has implemented effective policies to safeguard your company's data, as well as your customers' private information.

Cultivate your client base
To grow your business, you must cultivate your clientele. These include your existing and past customers, along with a mishmash of interested parties ranging from prospects to social media followers. It's important to cultivate fans because, while some may be unable to buy your product or service today, they definitely will in the future. Plus, they'll encourage their friends to do the same.

Polish your reputation
Don't spare any opportunity to polish your reputation, establish authority in your industry, or seize on a good PR occasion. Being authentic also means burnishing that authenticity every now and then, so everyone will take notice, including your competitors.

Times They are a Changin'

If your business is planning to rebrand itself (whether through a name change, a new logo, a business merger, or some other means), remember the name and/or logo is not the only thing that changes. Rebranding can be a large-scale operation that involves effort from multiple departments. While your to-do list may seem endless, here are a few of the top items to consider to ensure your rebranding process runs smoothly:
  • Create a list of all printed collateral that needs to be updated (such as letterhead, envelopes, business cards, flyers, brochures, labels, forms, notepads, and packaging). Give us a call anytime if you have questions about turnaround times, company colors, logo changes, quantity purchase discounts, or anything else related to your printing needs.


  • Update your trade show booth, banners, posters, giveaways, company pens, name-tags, and other trade show related materials.


  • Keep customers in the loop by mailing "we're changing our name" postcards, including a blurb in your newsletter, and providing social media mentions (among other things).


  • Update employee bios. Add your new name to each employee's company bio to show the transition. For example, "Mark Davis has worked at XYZ Company since it was founded in 1989, when it was called ABC Company."


  • Change your name and logo on invoices, accounting templates, quote preparation software, and other types of reporting software.


  • If you're considering a web domain name change, make sure the new domain name is available before switching, and then set up your old web address to forward automatically to your new website to ensure a smooth transition.


  • Update email addresses and consider using an auto-responder to remind people to update their email address books. Also update email signatures and inform readers your address will be changing so they can update their spam blockers -- especially if you send email newsletters.


  • Ensure your phone service provider has the correct company name, so it shows up correctly on caller ID.


  • Inform all professional organizations, business groups, subscription services, and other interested parties of your name change.


  • Update on-hold marketing messages and voice mail messages. Consider using both names with a greeting such as: "Thanks for calling XYZ Company, formerly known as ABC Company."
We know that rebranding can be a daunting task, but you don't need to go it alone. Our team of printing professionals can help you every step of the way. When it comes to updating your print collateral, we're here to help, from developing creative new ideas to carrying the finished products to your document storage area. Give us a call today.

Promises to Keep

In his classic poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Robert Frost speaks of taking a moment to watch the snow collect on the trees along a dark lane, presumably on his way to somewhere important. He closes with these lines:


The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


As business professionals, we all struggle at times with similar feelings, conflicts, and doubts. We may want to stop for a moment in the middle of a busy day to enjoy a mental break, but in the back of our minds (or even the front sometimes), we can't shake the nagging sense that we should be focusing instead on the work that lies ahead.

Like the narrator in Frost's poem, we, too, have promises we must keep -- commitments we've made to customers, vendors, employees, colleagues, family members, and friends. That can often mean long days, sleepless nights, and not a lot of extra time to watch snow falling on trees.

In our drive to stay ahead, we often miss the forest entirely -- distracted by the hundreds of tiny details that make up our days.

That's not to say our promises aren't important. Quite the contrary. In business, our word is what ultimately matters most to our customers, shareholders, vendors, and employees. Failing to keep our commitments can have dire consequences for our companies and our reputations.

But there's also something to be said for taking the time to stop and look around. A small mental break might help to spark a bold new thought or rekindle a flame burnt out by trying to get too much done in far too little time.

Such moments are important to our own well-being and to the health of our companies. They can't come at the expense of getting things done, but they should come more frequently than many of us allow.

So as you go about managing your business, take some time to notice the little things around you. Like the fall of snow on the trees that line the path that wanders through your day.

5 Ways to Make More Money Simply by Using Your Time Well

We entrepreneurs want to do everything personally. This often includes menial tasks that can cost us money. Sure, we get the satisfaction of doing it ourselves, but that satisfaction comes at the cost of profit. Broken faucet? We're on the job! But the time spent fixing that plumbing is time we didn't spend on the business, and that lost time could have earned us far more than what we saved by doing the job ourselves.

Making money is rarely about saving it. It's largely about getting more out of every second of every day. When people talk about the richest people in the world, they don't just talk about their net worth. Instead, they talk about how much money they make per second or per hour. That's because deep down, we all know that life is a marathon, not a sprint. It's about making proper use of our time so we make more money per hour.

So how can we accomplish more in less time? Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Focus on the Jobs That Make the Most Money

There are plenty of things an entrepreneur has to get done, and not all of them are business-related. Marketing, house cleaning, link building, and customer service are just some examples. Which of these isn't like the others? Which one won't make you money? If you answered house cleaning, you're right. Time is money, and if you spend your time on the little things, you'll end up sacrificing the big things -- the jobs that can pay for your food, rent, and car.

Time management isn't just about finding time to do everything. It's about prioritizing and finding the time to do the right things.

2. Relax

Many of us wrongly associate relaxation with lethargy or laziness. Nothing could be further from the truth. While most people would find it unthinkable to relax when they have a business to run, that's not true for those who make hundreds of dollars per hour.

Relaxation allows a person to create space between their work and themselves. It gives them the time to rest, and with that time the ability to see the forest for the trees. Bury your nose in your work, and you'll start to lose perspective. Time off helps to maintain that edge.

Taking some time to relax also lets you recharge. Most entrepreneurs handle multiple aspects of the business every day -- juggling numbers, thoughts, ideas, and who knows what else. Even in short bursts, such activity can be extremely tiring and can rob a person of their energy in record time. An entrepreneur low on energy is more likely to miss out on an important detail or two, and that can spell disaster down the road.

3. Get a Personal Assistant

A personal assistant is there to make life easier for you and to sort out the little things, which is great since it lets you focus on the big issues instead. For as little as eight dollars per hour, you can hire someone who will perform basic tasks, such as making sure your bills get paid on time or doing your grocery shopping for you. If you develop a good relationship with your assistant and they prove trustworthy, you could even end up using them to sort through your email, so only important messages get your attention.

Depending on your situation, you might not even need your assistant to be in the same country. Virtual assistants can work well as researchers and email handlers from anywhere in the world.

4. Find Out When You Do Your Best Work, and Work Then

Each person has a different rhythm. Stephen King works in the morning and until noon. So did Henry Miller, who would work from morning till afternoon, spending evenings with friends. They understood they had a rhythm. Instead of fighting it, they embraced it fully.

You should do the same. Figure out when you do your best work. Make a chart if it helps. Once you figure out when the best ideas come and when you feel in the zone, work out your schedule so it coincides with your ideal work time.

5. Get a Maid

A clean workspace is a usable workspace. It's relatively easy to find people who can clean your house, wash your dishes, and cook. Those chores take time you could be spending on marketing a new product. Focus on making enough to afford to pay someone to clean your floors, while you ensure your financial independence and future.

When it's all said and done, it really boils down to this: You need to figure out which aspects of your life make the most money and which ones can be delegated. If it isn't worth your time, don't do it. It's as simple as that.

About Your Copy

Before we start, let's get one thing clear. This post is not about the copies we make for you on our copy machines. It's about the copy (text) that appears on your website and in your promotional materials. No matter what type of business you run, copy affects every part of your business. It's the cornerstone of your marketing, and it affects the executive team, the HR department, and every aspect of the organization.

How?

To answer that question, let's first take a look at what copy is and what it is not. Copywriting is the act of producing written text (copy). It's not the same as "copyright," which refers to one's legal right to produce and publish content. Wikipedia explains copywriting as "writing copy (text) for the purpose of advertising or marketing. The copy is meant to persuade someone to buy a product or influence their beliefs."

That second part is especially important because it's the key differentiator between success and failure in copywriting. Weak copy will be thrown in the trash, while good copy will move the recipient to the desired action you want them to take. This applies not only to advertising and marketing but to any type of business and even personal communication.

Effective copywriting is sometimes referred to as "a salesman in print." It can be seen in brochures, billboards, websites, emails, TV and radio ads, catalogs, and many other places where the goal is to move someone to a desired action. That action might be purchasing your product, engaging with your company, or picking up the phone to request more information. In short, copywriting is all about making the recipient move and act.

Copywriting dates all the way back to the nineteenth century, when the newspaper industry was beginning to boom. At that time, copywriting referred to the words written by journalist being copied from their desk into the newspaper. Times may have changed, but copywriting is as crucial now in helping to sell your products as it was then in helping to sell newspapers.

Good copywriting answers the problem of how to get more sales.

Two big buzzwords today are content marketing and inbound marketing. Both essentially refer to copywriting. While effective copywriting is part science and part art, the fact is that anyone can create copy that moves people to act. Well-crafted copywriting doesn't need to be full of hype or written with bold typefaces and capitalization that beats people over the head.

There are three basic steps you can take to create compelling copy.

1. Know your audience. It should be a given that you know exactly who you're creating the copy for. The more you know about your target audience, the easier it will be to create powerful copy. A demographic profile can help you not only create your copy but also know who you will be sending that content to. The following are some examples of data you'll find in a demographic profile:
  • Gender

  • Age

  • Family Status

  • Income

  • Occupation

  • Interests
2. Focus on them, not you. Everyone wants to be the center of attention. This applies in copywriting as well. The focus should be on the recipient, not how great you are. Your copy should answer the question: How will the products and services you offer benefit your customers and make their lives easier? Your copy must be able to answer the #1 question in every recipient's head: "What's in it for me?" In terms of copywriting, your product or service is far less important than its ability to fulfill your customers' needs.

3. Always include a call to action. Always. No matter what marketing medium you use to send and communicate the copy, there should always be a call to action. Never assume that the recipient will know what you want them to do next. Tell them exactly what the next step should be. Should they call, fill out a form, or visit your showroom? Make it crystal clear.

It takes time, skill, practice, and patience to become a master copywriter. For businesses that want to produce effective copy that moves people to act, following these three simple steps can go a long way toward achieving that goal. Communication tools may be expanding and evolving, but one thing will never change: the need for good, effective copywriting. Bad content produced across multiple marketing channels will work just as poorly as it did across one.

Change the words used to communicate your uniqueness and to tell your story, and you will change your business.

5 Ways to Make More Money Simply by Using Your Time Well

We entrepreneurs want to do everything personally. This often includes menial tasks that can cost us money. Sure, we get the satisfaction of doing it ourselves, but that satisfaction comes at the cost of profit. Broken faucet? We're on the job! But the time spent fixing that plumbing is time we didn't spend on the business, and that lost time could have earned us far more than what we saved by doing the job ourselves.

Making money is rarely about saving it. It's largely about getting more out of every second of every day. When people talk about the richest people in the world, they don't just talk about their net worth. Instead, they talk about how much money they make per second or per hour. That's because deep down, we all know that life is a marathon, not a sprint. It's about making proper use of our time so we make more money per hour.

So how can we accomplish more in less time? Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Focus on the Jobs That Make the Most Money

There are plenty of things an entrepreneur has to get done, and not all of them are business-related. Marketing, house cleaning, link building, and customer service are just some examples. Which of these isn't like the others? Which one won't make you money? If you answered house cleaning, you're right. Time is money, and if you spend your time on the little things, you'll end up sacrificing the big things -- the jobs that can pay for your food, rent, and car.

Time management isn't just about finding time to do everything. It's about prioritizing and finding the time to do the right things.

2. Relax

Many of us wrongly associate relaxation with lethargy or laziness. Nothing could be further from the truth. While most people would find it unthinkable to relax when they have a business to run, that's not true for those who make hundreds of dollars per hour.

Relaxation allows a person to create space between their work and themselves. It gives them the time to rest, and with that time the ability to see the forest for the trees. Bury your nose in your work, and you'll start to lose perspective. Time off helps to maintain that edge.

Taking some time to relax also lets you recharge. Most entrepreneurs handle multiple aspects of the business every day -- juggling numbers, thoughts, ideas, and who knows what else. Even in short bursts, such activity can be extremely tiring and can rob a person of their energy in record time. An entrepreneur low on energy is more likely to miss out on an important detail or two, and that can spell disaster down the road.

3. Get a Personal Assistant

A personal assistant is there to make life easier for you and to sort out the little things, which is great since it lets you focus on the big issues instead. For as little as eight dollars per hour, you can hire someone who will perform basic tasks, such as making sure your bills get paid on time or doing your grocery shopping for you. If you develop a good relationship with your assistant and they prove trustworthy, you could even end up using them to sort through your email, so only important messages get your attention.

Depending on your situation, you might not even need your assistant to be in the same country. Virtual assistants can work well as researchers and email handlers from anywhere in the world.

4. Find Out When You Do Your Best Work, and Work Then

Each person has a different rhythm. Stephen King works in the morning and until noon. So did Henry Miller, who would work from morning till afternoon, spending evenings with friends. They understood they had a rhythm. Instead of fighting it, they embraced it fully.

You should do the same. Figure out when you do your best work. Make a chart if it helps. Once you figure out when the best ideas come and when you feel in the zone, work out your schedule so it coincides with your ideal work time.

5. Get a Maid

A clean workspace is a usable workspace. It's relatively easy to find people who can clean your house, wash your dishes, and cook. Those chores take time you could be spending on marketing a new product. Focus on making enough to afford to pay someone to clean your floors, while you ensure your financial independence and future.

When it's all said and done, it really boils down to this: You need to figure out which aspects of your life make the most money and which ones can be delegated. If it isn't worth your time, don't do it. It's as simple as that.