It’s February – a month that tends to conjure up images of hearts, cupids, candy and roses. And, it’s definitely matters of the heart that inspired our design for this month’s desktop wallpaper. But, we’re not talking purely romance here. We’re talking about life, in general. We’re talking about following your heart and putting all of your heart into whatever (or whomever) your passion may be. Embrace life, love it up, and – as Confucius says, “Wherever you go, go with all of your heart.”
I love ringing in the new year. It’s time to celebrate the past year’s triumphs and the new year’s potential. For me, it’s also time for serious reflection and reassessment. What worked for me last year? What didn’t? What should I get rid of? What should I keep? (Literally and figuratively.) We’re stepping into a shiny new year, laden with opportunity and possibilities. What will it bring? What will I make of it? I truly get giddy just thinking about it.
At Visage, as we wrap up 2010 and anticipate 2011, we’re celebrating, with gratitude, another great year full of incredible relationships with the best friends and clients, old and new. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you and wish you a very wonderful and prosperous new year. Cheers!
~ Lori and Chris
(Looking for our cool, breezy March 2011 desktop wallpaper?… Click right here!)
Unless yours is one of the (very) few businesses that doesn’t need to look for more customers or more work, you no doubt have some sort of plan or strategy in place to bring in new business. Whether it’s as formal a plan as a documented multi-media marketing campaign, or as informal as giving out a business card to someone that sounds like they’d be a potential client, we employ various tactics and strategies to try to create growth.
One common tactic that many businesses use, or think about using, is offering discounts. Whether it takes the form of a coupon, or a “sale”, or a “special” – conventional wisdom suggests that a reduced price on an offering can attract a customer that otherwise wouldn’t be involved, and thereby lead to greater future sales.
As well, it’s also a usually-accepted business fundamental that long-term, satisfied, quality customers are essential to business sustenance and growth.
However, as co-related as these two concepts may seem, there’s also an often-overlooked risk involved with discounting that, in fact, may imperil customer acquisition, retention and growth. The risks revolve around the possibility that discounts may attract customers only seeking discounts, and that both those potentially new customers – as well as your current ones – may see a discount as de-valuing your products, services or other offerings.
This article at Redfin, a real-estate-based company, relates a true “disaster” of a discount offered through Groupon. Perhaps the story here is not so much about the viability of Groupon (or possible lack thereof) but rather it raises some interesting questions regarding the value, timing and strategy of discounts in and of themselves. Some of the reader comments and counter-comments provide some valuable insights as well.
Discounting can be a valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal, but it’s definitely a double-edged sword and can do as much damage as good. Remember: your business is valuable, and value of your business is as important (if not more important) than the volume of your business.
Congratulations! You’ve taken the plunge and started your own business. You’re all set to hang your open sign. Be sure to take a moment to shout your accomplishment to the world and celebrate this exciting time in your life. We highly encourage you to share that excitement through a launch party. Chances are you didn’t come to where you are all by yourself. Hopefully, you had friends, family, mentors who encouraged you along the way. These people share your excitement – so gather them together and toast their support, your hard work, and the future of your new endeavor. Your celebration can be small and intimate or as elaborate as you like. It can be held at your office, your home, a friend’s office or home, a winery, a coffee shop, a club house. Invite by formal invitation, phone, or email:
I am excited to announce the launch of my new business XYZ, Incorporated. I couldn’t have done it without your support and the support of so many others. Please join me (date, time, location) to celebrate friendship, community and new adventures.
A launch party is a great opportunity to appreciate your supporters and celebrate your journey. It’s a wonderful way to generate even more energy for your new business and reinforce to your supporters what your business is all about. It’s a terrifically reaffirming way to open your doors for business and feel oh-so-official.
When planning your launch party, here are a few things to consider:
- Make sure all your communications regarding the event are branded and professional. You want it to be apparent that you’re well-organized, prepared and confident right out of the starting gate.
- Prepare a short toast or speech for the event.
- Have information about your new business on hand at your party. Although the main goal here is not to market, your supporters WILL want to have your business card and brochure so they can continue their support.
- Provide a guest book for guest comments (and make room for email addresses). You’ll love reading and re-reading their words of support, admiration and encouragement, and you can make sure that you continue to communicate with everyone as you grow forward.
- Provide some kind of take-away for your guests. Again, you can make it as simple or elaborate as you wish. On the elaborate end: branded journal and pen sets, with a handwritten note of thanks inside the journal. On the more simple side, a small box of fortune cookies with an “I’m lucky to know you” tag attached. Whatever you do, personalize it with some sort of thank you note – and brand it your logo, if possible.
Again, congrats! You’ve got a good thing going and lots of people pulling for you. Now, get out there and celebrate!
These days, it would almost seem that good grammar and spelling has gone out of style. Almost. It’s amazing how many times a day we run across “professional” marketing pieces with blatant grammar and spelling errors. At first blush, perhaps it seems that these faux pas are of no real consequence. But, the truth is, lack of attention to the basic rules of good grammar and spelling can imply an overall lack of attention to detail, conscientiousness, quality, knowledge and experience. And who wants to do business with a company that lacks these fundamental qualities? Not to mention the obvious fact that poor writing can result in poor communication – not getting your message across. Entire books have been written about the subject – and then there’s the panda joke:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
“Why?” asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
“Well, I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
Here are some basic tips to help you avoid these embarrassing mistakes:
- Don’t forget to use Spell Check
- Don’t rely JUST on Spell Check. It won’t catch mistakes like using the word “there” for “their” or “to” for “too.”
- Read your verbiage out loud. This may help you catch those errors as well as get a better feel for whether or not what you’ve written is clear and has the tone you intended.
- Have someone else proof your writing – someone you trust to have good grammar and spelling skills.
- Use the same care writing your Twitter and Facebook posts as you would with your emails, blog posts, and other business writings.
- Don’t overuse exclamation points. Three is my ultimate limit, and only on that very rare occasion!!!
- Monitor your apostrophe and quotation-mark usage. People tend to go crazy with these things by putting them in the oddest places.
- If grammar and/or spelling are not your strong suit, or if you need to double-check yourself on a particular issue, these resources can sure come in handy:
No one’s perfect – mistakes will happen. But, persistent, habitual grammatical and spelling errors appear amateurish and can do damage by implying an overall lackadaisical attitude. So, take care and take the time to minimize them. It’s really pretty easy and it’s just good business.
Catherine Jewell, the Career Passion Coach® and author of New Resume New Career, contacted us recently to discuss the possibility of outsourcing some of her upcoming marketing projects to us. One great conversation later, we were all set to start of with the revamping of her business card. The end result was an extremely pleased new client. And while creating effective and attractive visual marketing designs for our clients is a top priority, so is providing awesome service. So we were pleased when she sent us this note: “It’s been a delight working with you! I am so pleased with the work so far – and looking forward to the next things… I’ll be in touch soon.” ~ Catherine
It was a delight working with you as well, Catherine. Thank you so much for choosing Visage Creative. Looking forward to our next project!
You’ve probably read stories about the psychological studies that have shown that, although at first it seems we smile as a result of being happy, it appears to be more the case that smiling makes us happy. People that are in the business of being on the phone know this – they’re taught to smile when they answer the phone, because their customers can hear them smile. It turns out that the physical act of smiling itself can cause positive and happy feelings inside. Well, this interesting article in the Harvard Business Review relates this same phenomena to the workplace, and in particular, job titles. It turns out that there’s a method to the job-title madness!
So, while it may not be practical to give yourself a new title in your established business, figure out what your “empowering title” should be – and use that title mentally when you’re thinking about your work and your job. You just may find that your “King of New Sales” or “Customer Satisfaction Champion” will sit a little taller, feel a little stronger – and ultimately, be a little better – just from the power of a job title.
Sean Ory, owner/founder of Bridge Fitness, was referred to us by one of our wonderful clients from the Chicago area. Sean just recently relocated from there to Arizona and was looking for some visual marketing help for his in-home personal training business. We went to work to help create a look that reflected Sean’s business image and message – strong, effective and sporty, but also warm and friendly. The result was a logo, business cards and web site that, we’re proud to say, blew him away.
We think Sean is one of the nicest people we’ve met. And, he really knows his stuff. If you’ve ever considered hiring a personal trainer – or even if you haven’t, you’ll definitely want to check him out.