How to Design Your Business Cards at Home

9 12 2008

Printed business cards are an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes – including home-based businesses. No matter how big or small, business cards are simply a must for every businessperson. Even if you have only the most basic word processing software, you can design business cards at home. So roll up your sleeves –  even if they’re just your pajama sleeves – and lets look at how to get a business card design put together.

Get your information
First of all, get your information together. This may seem obvious, but there are some considerations to be made. You may decide to use a P.O. Box instead of your home mailing address. Maybe you have a cell phone and a land line and a fax line. If you have a few employees, you may need to pull all of their phone lines, email addresses and other contact information together. Are you really sure you know how to spell their last names? Take a few minutes to be sure.

What do your customers expect?
Next, make sure you put a card together that meets your customer’s expectations. It’s just a business card, right? Yes, but your card could be your first and last impression. It’s worth taking the time to think through what your customers need and expect.

Are you a professional in an industry that expects a classic design on premium paper? Don’t hand out glossy business cards with a big picture of yourself across the front as this could give your customers the wrong impression. On the other hand, if your industry normally includes pictures, coupons, and other information on business cards, then include those on yours as well. The key here is to know what your customers are looking for and to deliver it.

Layout considerations
Your business card does not have to be the stereotypical horizontal 2” x 3” design. Consider pushing the envelope a bit by using a vertical design. Just put your logo on the top and your contact information on the bottom. Most word processing software will give you the ability to rotate text.

If you are using Microsoft’s Word, use a Table to separate your content. Alternatively, you can use a Text Box so you can freely move your text and pictures around.

Templates
Once you have some ideas together, you may want to consider using a template. Your favorite print place should be able to supply you with templates on their website or via email. Templates will help you align the information on your document properly. This is important as you hope to receive a business card the way you designed it. You can either use a template at the end of your home business card design project or start off with a template with a design you already like. Either way you go, you will likely want to use a template at some point just to make sure you get all your information in the right spot.

Final thoughts
Home business card design can be tough, but if you have the right information, an appropriate layout, and use templates to set the business card up correctly, you can’t go wrong. As you can see, it does not take fancy software to get professional results. But it is worth taking the time to think through what your customers expect.





Enhance Your Brand One Employee at a Time

10 11 2008

Your employees are the essence of your brand identity. No matter how great your product is, if your employees don’t believe in, communicate and represent your brand, your brand is toast. It just can’t be successful.

You need to set guidelines for your employees, such as be helpful, adhere to policy, use such-and-such phrasing, etc. But you also need to let your employees think for themselves. Let them be creative problem-solvers.

The way you lead employees is the way those employees will communicate your brand to customers. Here are some pointers to leading your employees for your brand:

Give off a sense of urgency to your employees: Don’t throw them in a panic, but be sure that they are always “on” when dealing with a customer. When procedures and techniques are always pushed, employees turn into compliant, predictable people who can’t think on their feet. Make sure everyone knows the policies and procedures, but let them know that each situation is different and that you trust them to make their best judgment. Trusted employees are happy employees, and happy employees will help you create the brand you want.

Let employees shape customer experiences: If your employees know that they represent you, your company and your brand, and that they have power to control how customers experience your brand, they’ll take note and will be more likely to try their best. Let the employees find their own way of presenting your brand (in a way that is positive to your brand, of course) and encourage them in shaping the experience for your brand differently for each customer.

Foster creative problem-solving in your employees: It’s your job to give your employees the tools they need to do their job – the wages, policies, mission and brand among other things. What you don’t need to give them is an answer for every type of situation they’ll encounter with a customer. Yes, you can give examples, but if you don’t let them try to figure it out on their own, you’ll have employees running to you every time they have a question.

When an employee figures something out on his own, share that success with the rest of the employees to encourage that kind of independent thinking. Reinforce how that one employee kept the brand in mind while coming up with a solution. For instance, if a customer asked an employee when the next shipment of a certain item is coming in, instead of just saying “I don’t know” or asking you, the employee consulted the shipping calendar. Then the employee took the name and number of the customer so that an item could be reserved for her.

You could have lost a customer, but because your employee showed initiative and showed the customer how important her business was (important to any brand), you’ve kept that customer and probably got some more through her word-of-mouth marketing to her friends and family.

Be sure to give the employee accolades as appropriate, so that he and other employees will know it’s okay to go their own way when appropriate and that they will be rewarded if so.





The Art and Science of Advertising

2 09 2008

Advertising is an art…and a science. It really depends on your needs at the time that you may turn to the artistic or scientific aspects of Advertising Experts. Either way, you need experts on your team if you want to develop effective advertising strategies.

Here are a few reasons to turn to the experts:

• You can get too close to your products – Ad pros know how to step back and be objective.
• You can’t afford to experiment – Get it right the first time and build on successes, while eliminating those ideas that do not produce results.
• You know the specs, pros know the benefits – It is not enough to tell people what and how your product performs. Professionals can help your customers connect with how your products can improve their lives. 
• You need a balanced campaign – Too often an amateur ad campaign over promotes a product’s usefulness. Don’t fall into this trap! A professional can help make sure that your campaign is balanced. 
• Keep it real – Professionals can help you identify what is relevant to the customer. Facts and figures that you find important may mean nothing to a customer.
• Line up with a law – The legal environment is increasingly more complicated. Rely on professionals who are familiar with laws relating to customer communications.
• Save money – Advertising agencies often know the trusted vendors for producing your advertising campaign and can often strike a deal because they’re bringing these vendors so much business.

This is just a highlight reel. There are a lot of other reasons to consider using a professional advertising agency when developing and launching your campaign. In the end, you have to remember that advertising is also part in science. Few people can run a business and specialize in advertising as well.





Know How To Deal With Your Customer Types

25 07 2008

No matter what kind of business you are you’re going to have, more or less, the same type of customers.

What are these types? 

You have the repeat customers whom you’ve done a successful transaction with before and have established a relationship with. Then you have the customers who look for quality and, on the other hand, the customers looking at only the price. Then there are the “accidental” customers who just happened to check out your store. And lastly, there are the determined customers who came to your store to look for particular item.

What do you need to know about these customers?

The loyal customer is going to be your chief source of sales. They’ll keep coming back and they’ll be buying a wide variety of things from you.

The price-focused customers are only going to be paying attention to prices, and that means they’ll be quick to jump ship should they see another store with a better deal.

The quality-focused customers are those that pay attention to the quality of your products. These are the ones usually more worthwhile to keep since trust and loyalty is easy once you’ve won them over.

The accidental customers just checking out your store are the ones who don’t have any particular agenda. They’ll buy something if it looks interesting, but they aren’t likely to even pay much attention to what the name of your store is.

And lastly, the determined customers with one defined purchase on their mind are the types who will only occasionally come in because they know you have what they need.

How Do You Deal With Each Type

Every customer wants one thing and its the bottom line of all business-client relationship. Trust. This is the same regardless of your client type. All customers just want someone they can trust and rely on. And to be able to gain the trust of your clients, you need to be sincere and look into the real needs and concerns of your customers. And never lie (as much as possible, that is). Believe it or not, customers are smarter these days and they know if a salesperson is talking garbage or not.

Your loyal customers need lesser work than the new ones that come along, but nonetheless you still need to give them enough attention to their satisfaction.

But what you really need to focus on is turning as many customers as you can into loyal ones. A person may begin as a wandering customer, but if you have the right deals and treat your loyal customers right, they might decide that your store is the kind they’d like to keep coming back to.





Grab College Students’ Attention with Poster Advertising

30 06 2008

The best way to grab college students’ interest is by plastering posters all over their campus. Colleges generally have bulletin boards for hanging flyers and posters in every building. College students get a lot of information from these boards between classes, especially when they are early for a class and need something to entertain them.

Why not entertain them with your product poster? Although colleges are a great place for posters, you have to do it right to get a response. Follow these tips to get college students to respond to your posters:

Assess your demographics

This is somewhat easy to do on a college campus, which means you have no excuse not to have a tailored poster printing campaign. The college should have demographics in their marketing materials or on their Web site. You can find out the total number of students, the majors of students (helpful so you know what buildings to hang your posters in), the number of international students and the number of undergraduate and graduate students.

Hang posters in the right place

By knowing the student body, you can hang posters with different messages in different areas of campus. For instance, if you sell art supplies, you’ll know how many art students are on campus, and you can find out which building(s) hold the most art classes. Your posters will have more effect in the “art building” than the “nursing building.”

Place multiple posters in one space

These can be the same version of posters or a few posters of different designs. A block of posters in the same style can do wonders to get students’ attention. A block of posters might also stay uncovered longer because they’ll look nice and neat, and no one will want to cover them up.

Place posters on the edges of bulletin boards

If you hang your poster off the bottom of the board, they’ll be less likely to be covered by others because there won’t be anywhere to hang the other posters. The same goes for the edges. Of course, if the middle of the board isn’t covered yet, by all means – take advantage. But, in most cases, the middle will be crowded so hang your posters away from the crowd.

Pick the right season

If your product is tied to a season, be sure to get your poster up a month or two before that season. If you sell something linked to Christmas or winter, put posters up in November or a month before it gets cold. Also, keep in mind that most students don’t take summer classes so you won’t want to waste your resources by hanging new posters in the summer.