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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I love St. Patrick's Day. It's a fun holiday. What other holiday encourages you to celebrate with festivities, wear lots of green (I look pretty good in green), and drink beer? And who doesn't love an Irish brougue? It's such a wonderful accent and all day I get to pretend I know how to use it and say things like "Top o' the morning to ya", and call my kids "wee little lassy" or "wee little lad."

Regardless of one's heritage, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. People of all nationalities and cultures are welcome to celebrate the day and appreciate Irish culture. That openess and connection with people is something I've also experienced with social media. Even though everyone is different we can all find something of common interest that binds us together and makes us feel like a community. In today's rapidly paced culture where we don't even get to know our neighbor's anymore, having some sense of community is comforting.

For today's small businesses it is important, almost critical, to have that kind of connection with their prospects to attract new customers and with their existing customers or clients to build loyalty. So what is your business doing to encourage a St. Patrick's Day spirit of celebration, connection and community?

Getting Clients - Defining Your Niche is a Critical Step. By Jennifer Davey

As a small business owner, self employed professional or service provider clearly defining your niche makes getting clients take a lot less effort.

Defining your niche helps you attract clients by making it easier to target them. Once you know your niche, finding places to market to that niche becomes easy. Defining your niche also helps you clearly and simply explain to your network the types of clients that would be appropriate to refer to you.

Since it’s not possible to be all things, to all of the people, a clearly defined niche will allow you to tell your ideal clients how you benefit them. You can share with potential clients how you solve their problems, and help with their struggles. It becomes easy for you to position yourself as EXACTLY what your clients are looking for.

A clear niche allows you to make the most of your marketing budget because you are not marketing to less than ideal clients. Since you’re narrowing where you market, and who you market to, you will get a much better return on your marketing investment.

Best of all, defining your niche allows you to become the expert. Clients always prefer to work with the expert and experts make more income.

Small Business Coach and Marketing Strategist, Jennifer Davey, is the author of the “Getting Clients Home Study Program”, the step-by-step guide to getting clients, building your business and making more income. For a FREE copy of her 14-Step Formula for Getting Clients and Report “What you Need to Know to Be Successful at Getting Clients” visit

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Importance of a Unique Business Identity

By Jane M Cooke

Every business faces competition in its specialty and market. To compete effectively, not only does it need a unique, identifiable service or product but also needs to stand out in other ways. This unique presentation is the Brand.

Business Identity is the way you present your brand. This is how your business is presented through various media in an easily identifiable manner. The business message and identity should come through and be memorable. Business identity looks at presenting a business in a uniform, attractive way creating a positive and memorable impression.

What does a business identity consist of?
Business identity is the presentation of business through various elements which easily refer to the business. Some of the elements that identify your business are
  1. The Logo - This has to be a graphical identifier for your business whether used in print or online presentations.
  2. The Tag line - This identifies your position with respect to your offer, your customers and your competition.
  3. Business Card - An essential tool for communicating your brand as part of your networking efforts. It should have all your identity information including address, email, phone numbers and these days some social media info if it is relevant to your type of business.
  4. Brochure - An important element in presenting an overview of your offer.
  5. Stationary - Used commonly for a variety of communication or work related activities, this must easily identify with your brand.
  6. Email Signature - This must be standardized for all communications to make it easy to contact your business.
  7. Website - There are elements of your website which uniquely present your brand. This includes your logo, tag line, information, icons and so on.
This can be extended with complimentary offers. Some examples which can further extend your business identity are
  1. T-shirts
  2. Coffee Mugs
  3. Pens
  4. Ebooks
Business Identity Design
This is an important process before finalization of the unique identity selected. A number of important factors need to be considered
  1. The logo - It is the most important image of your business.
  2. The tagline - It has to be short and memorable, and it is in perfect synch with the logo.
  3. The typography/font to be used - It has to be readable and has to be decided for each element.
  4. The color scheme - This is important as it decides the look and feel and how the elements stand with each other.
  5. The texture - This has to do with the print elements.
  6. The iconography - This will be used in your stationary, business cards, brochures and the websites.
All the elements should be in alignment with each other. The online and print elements must match.
The perfect business identity design is one which does not surprise but meets expectations and links perfectly to your brand.
Jane M Cooke has helped businesses with Identity solutions since 2004. If you are looking for a professional Business Identity Design visit us at Dharne & Company.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is Your Marketing Melting on Contact?

It snowed yesterday here in my town for the better part of 12 hours. It was a pretty steady snow with the occasional light spells and heavy spells intermittent. There were even times when it was very heavy with large, fluffy flakes falling to the ground in dense bursts. It was quite beautiful.

And what was the grand total accumulation of all of this? A trace to maybe a half inch of snow that barely covered the grass in my lawn. That’s it! All that snow and it only accumulated maybe a half inch total.

This begs the question, why didn’t we get more like a half foot of snow instead of a paltry half inch? As I learned from a meteorologist on a local TV channel, it was because the snow was falling into a warm column of air that extended from the ground to about 1,000 feet in the air. Above that there was plenty of cold air- and moisture- and hence plenty of snow. But it was melting on contact because it was falling into a hostile environment for snow to survive. The ground and the air right above were so warm that most of the snow simply melted as it hit the ground.

Usually when a storm such as this moves in, the cold air and snow will overwhelm the warmer air and lower the temperature until there is a single column of air from ground to clouds that is at or below freezing. But the stronger March sun and relatively warm air mass already in place prevented this from happening. The snow did not start accumulating until after the sun set and the ground cooled. But even then the temperatures remained just above freezing until late. So there never was much of an accumulation.

Our marketing can be a lot like this weather phenomenon. We pour marketing and advertising messages at an audience over and over and yet we receive only a very small response. Why? Because we are sending our messages into a hostile environment and most simply melt on contact. What makes an environment hostile to our marketing efforts? Many things- maybe it is a poor economic climate, maybe it is bad messaging or promotion through the wrong channel or channels, maybe it is the wrong product or service, or maybe the price is wrong.

But in this analogy, it is the recipient (the ground) that is rejecting the marketing (the snow). So I want to focus on the target. If you know you have a good product or service that meets a need, is priced right, and is promoted right and consistently but it is still not selling well, the reason probably is you are targeting the wrong audience.

The very first thing you must decide is who your product is for. If you are selling athletic shoes, are you selling to serious runners, basketball players, sports enthusiasts, or someone who wears them as casual shoes? If you are selling restaurant meals, are you selling to someone looking for an elegant full service dining experience or someone looking to pick-up a quick bite and go? If you are selling a service, is it for the end consumer, a client, another business (and who does that business sell to), or to a non-profit or government agency?

These things matter immensely. If you target the wrong audience, nothing else you have done right matters. Consumers can simply not be overwhelmed by your marketing anymore if they have no need or desire for your product. The light of the internet, social media, and open access to information at one's fingertips prevents this from happening. If you ignore this and keep pouring you marketing efforts into hostile environments, all of it will result in the same end as the snow that fell in my yard yesterday – melted on contact.