1. Do you have brand standards?
Simple things, including font and colour consistency across all
communications can go a long way toward establishing your brand. Here's
an exaggerated example: If you were an investment advisor responsible
for taking care of your client's financial future, would you want this
to be your brand font?
If you, as a potential customer, saw this, would it inspire you to trust the company with your retirement fund? Of course not.
On the flip side, if you're trying to brand yourself as the low-cost
alternative to your competition, using fancy letterhead or a
prestigious-looking font can actually work against you:
2. How do you address customers or clients?
A very formal brand always refers to clients by their last name with an
appropriate salutation, such as "Dear Mr. Smith" or "Dear John Smith." A
moderately informal brand will often refer to clients by their last
name, unless directed otherwise by the customer: "Hello, Mr. Smith" or
"Hello, John." An informal brand will usually refer to clients by their
first name: "Hi, John."
Beyond that, there are subtle but important differences in how you greet and refer to your customers in correspondence.
As a greeting, do you use "Hi"? "Hello"? "Hey"? "Dear"? "Attention"?
Each of these conveys something slightly different. If you want your
business to be perceived as fun, friendly and carefree, you might use
"Hi" or "Hey." However, most businesses would fall safely into the
"Hello" camp. More formal relationships would use "Dear" or "Attention"
as it conveys a less-than-personal connection.
And what do you call the people who buy from you? Do you refer to them
as customers? Clients? Patrons? A simple word change can impact the
formality of the relationship. Consider how "one of our premier clients"
has a completely different feel to it than "one of our favourite
customers." Which is more appropriate for you and your company?
3. Can you pick a pen?
If presented with a collection of different promotional pens, could you
choose the one (based on size, colour, weight, quality, etc.) that best
represents your company? You may be surprised to know that most business
people find that very difficult to do. And when they do choose, more
often than not, they pick the wrong pen. But if you truly know your
brand, it's an easy, instinctive choice.
If your company relies on trust, you wouldn't pick a fun, funky or cheap pen.
If your company appeals to people's playful side, you wouldn't pick the most basic, corporate pen available.
If your company is known for getting things done right, you'd keep it simple but temper it with high quality.
To practice this approach, you can also look at everyday items,
including furniture, artwork, even coffee cups, and ask yourself, "If I
had a waiting room, would I want this to be what potential customers
see?" As you get better at answering that question, you'll get better at
instinctively knowing your brand.
5 Easy Ways to Market Your Business
Many small business owners believe that marketing is something only big businesses can afford. That it takes a department full of strategists and experts to launch a successful marketing campaign.
What they may not realize is that every time they drop off a business card, send a free promotional pen to a prospective customer, or attend a trade show, they are marketing their business. Yes, it´s best to develop a strategy — a plan of action of what you want to accomplish and how you intend to accomplish it. It´s a lot easier to do than you think. Here are a few ideas that can help you develop your marketing plan.
Have the tools you need. Whether it´s a one-page flyer or a full-color brochure, you should be prepared to hand out, mail or deliver materials that describe your business and the products and services you offer. Good tools include business cards, catalogs, flyers, brochures, spec sheets, a list of frequently asked questions, customer testimonials and presentations.
Give something away to get potential customers. Everybody loves to receive something for free. Motivate people to give you their email address and other contact information with a freebie. The freebie could be your monthly newsletter, a white paper or a promotional item that would be of interest to them. In return for the freebie, ask them to supply their name, email address and phone number so you can add them to your list and market to them in the future — with their permission, of course!
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are additional platforms for small business marketing. These sites are a great way to introduce your business to potential and existing customers and start building an ongoing relationship with them.
Use the media. Think local. Find out who your local media contacts are and keep in touch. Become their expert or authoritative source. Write and submit articles related to your industry or the services you provide. Send news releases to the media about new products or services, a new employee or a small event you are participating in or hosting. Local media is always looking for regional stories and events, and what happens in your day-to-day business could be newsworthy.
Don´t neglect old but good methods. Make use of your industry association membership and attend events to gain knowledge and to network. Volunteer to speak at these events or at local business meetings. Also join networking groups in your area. All you need is your business card and a willingness to talk about your business.
Word of mouth is an often overlooked marketing method, but one of the most valuable. If someone is happy with your product or service, ask them to tell others.
Keep in regular contact with existing customers through an email newsletter, letter or visit. This is a great way to let them know what´s going on in your business and will help to keep you at the top of their minds.
Small things, such as responding promptly to emails, answering the phone professionally and following through with your commitments will set you apart from the crowd. Excellent customer service can generate great (and free) word-of-mouth marketing.
The Bottom Line Is This:
You want to get the word out to customers and prospects about your business and your capabilities. Every business uses some form of marketing. By taking the time to develop effective marketing strategies that fit with the interests of your target customers, you will save time, effort and money attracting and keeping customers in the long run.
For more information on how to develop effective marketing strategies, contact your personal consultant today. To locate a Safeguard Consultant in your area, call 800-616-9492 or visit www.gosafeguard.com.
A recent survey by the Association for Certified Fraud
Examiners (ACFE) provides some startling perspectives on the costs of
fraud to today's businesses:
But the ACFE offers good news, too. Proactive, preventive security
measures can dramatically reduce the cost of a fraud incident because
they help a company detect the crime sooner. Fraud detected through
surveillance and monitoring costs around $49,000, while instances
discovered by law enforcement can cost a business in excess of $1
While no prevention system can ever be fail-safe, the following steps can effectively help reduce your risk of fraud: