Monday, November 25, 2013

What if the age old saying - If you build it, they will come - doesn't work?

What happens if the old saying is wrong?  What if you pour your heart and money into your new business and no customers line up?  Hang in there and borrow money from everyone you know till it turns around?  Close up shop, give up and get a job?  Hire a few sign holders to dance on the corner?

It turns out owning a business is more than just a great idea.  It's more that just a stellar product.  It's more that just a winning look.  Owning a small business is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a bit of grit, a lot of creativity, but mostly sweat.  Yes, not what most people want to hear.  It will take many hours of doing things you don't like for a little bit of satisfaction when what you love works. 

Here are 3 ideas to get you on track:

  1. Network in Person:  Social media, websites, blogs and business profile pages are essential but don't let those replace the real social networks, meeting people face to face.  Go out to meet the business owners in your community.  You can introduce yourself to businesses in your town.  Take advantage of the local chamber of commerce after hours mixers and business lunches.  Visit your clients if you are a service or meet the locals for a community retail business.  The more the clients like you the more they will support you in your business.
  2. Give your family and friends a shout:  Don't expect your family and friends to be your only client base but be sure to keep them in touch with what you are doing.  Keep your friends and family apprised of your achievements, works, new products and clients and let them know you appreciate and follow up with their referrals.  Be sure to take the utmost follow through and good work ethic with personal referrals.  It's the most important type of advertising.
  3. Showcase: Be sure to put your best foot forward and put photos or stories about your work on media, in your store and in your sales presentation.  Your best work will sell itself.  If people see enough of your portfolio, product list or great ideas that have helped your clients they will be back for more.  Be patient, do good work and represent you and your clients well.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reaching clients by design

Reaching people is easy…reaching the right clients takes a bit more thought.  
What style of design will fulfill expectations and appeal to the clients you are reaching but also stand out?  When I work with a client on a logo design we talk about any ideas and styles they love, who their clients are, and what goals they are trying to accomplish in their business.  While it's about art and a nice cohesive look, it's also about the audience. 

Here are 3 ways to ensure your design will have the right look to the reach people who will become your clients.
  1. Research the competition:  It's important to have a vision and stand out but it is equally important to see what the other guys are doing.  Some company logos are designed with the expected elements.  While this helps reinforce the company's industry it may just make your company blend into the competition.  If everyone in your sprocket industry has sprockets in their logo of course people will know you sell sprockets but how will you stand out.  Take something that says what you do, who you are and make the design speak to that in a unique way.  Meet expectations by being unexpected.
  2. Think unique:  Now that you've researched the best and worst in your industry, think about the look you want and what you want it to say to your clients.  Your look will need  to translate from print, to web, to mobile, and beyond so it's important that it's versatile.  The best designs are simple and compelling they say something about your business and you while keeping something unique to be memorable.
  3. Don't over-think it:  There's planning, research and a well thought out plan but spending too much time thinking or picking apart ideas will drive you bonkers and never end.  Don't be afraid to make a decision and morph down the line.  Sometimes it takes a while for new businesses to find their niche.  Remember it's the clients needs that you are fulfilling with your products or services.  Make a decision you love, see how people respond.  Even large companies re-brand and update their logos periodically.  You don't have to live with it forever.