Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Do You Find the Right Graphic Designer?

Many businesses try to make their own marketing decisions. Small businesses are those we find most often feel they can't afford to hire outside experts. OK, you may be able to stumble through some ads, commercials and special events. You may find that the results aren't that great and you just can't figure out why.

There are many reasons why your marketing may not be working, but don't make one of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make, designing their own ads and brochures. Prospects can tell when someone in-house put an ad together. They aren't fooled when they see a one-sheet flyer that was printed on a color printer and designed by the administrative assistant that is an expert with spreadsheets, but not with design software.

So how do you find the best graphic designer? There are several places on the internet where you can find a graphic designer. You can try guru.com, elance.com, or 99designs.com. You will get very inexpensive graphic design help for logos, brochures, and other collateral.

Going online to find a designer is certainly better than having someone in-house put out work that is clearly not professional. There are problems with it though. You get a low price, but be careful. The old adage that you get what you pay for is not a bad rule of thumb. Many of the designers at these sites are overseas. While they are willing to work for less money, they are also not well versed in what sells in the United States. If you are hoping for someone that will be able to proof his or her work for you as well, it might not happen. Remember, you never meet this person face-to-face and you don't know who you are really working with.

Another way to find a good graphic designer is to look locally. You can find them through locally based Web sites, such as the Pittsburghcreative.com Web site for the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. Or a national site like topdesignfirms.com., which has listings of designers in cities all across the U.S.

Don't forget social media sites such as LinkedIn. If you use the search on the LinkedIn site for a graphic designer in your city, you will find many local professionals. The advantage of using LinkedIn is that you will be able to see what their background is and if anyone has recommended them. In addition, you can ask other professionals through groups on the site and that you are connected to. It is a wealth of information for this type of search.

Using someone locally is going to be more expensive than the designers online. However, you will have someone you can actually meet with if you want to. Plus, the quality should be better, there won't be any language barrier and they know your market. These reasons alone can be worth the extra money you will pay.

Don't forget to ask business people you know, who they use. If you like graphic design work you see, ask who they use. This is a great way to get someone that designs work you like.

There are several ways to find good graphic designers. Online design sites, online referral sites and direct referrals allow you to pick the best person to work with.  Don't use that secretary that has never designed anything before. It shows.

Are there any other sources I've missed?  What do you think of the online sites?  Please comment below.

Cindy Neky
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Friday, September 3, 2010

See Your Clients In Person For That Personal Touch

Too often we get so caught up in thinking of ways to reach our customers-online, mail, Web site, twitter, blog, and Facebook- that sometimes we forget the old fashioned way, seeing them in person.

For those of you in a business-to-business (B2B) selling situation, that means going to your client's office or maybe even taking them to lunch. A business-to-consumer (B2C) seller should get out on the sales floor more often.

Sure, you have plenty to do in your office. Bookwork, address personnel issues, or finish your most recent project, but there isn't anything more important than the personal touch of seeing your clients face-to-face. While we are all busy (is there anyone out there that isn't?), your clients and customers still want to see you and know that you care.

OK, I realize it may sound a little corny, but the people factor still plays a huge part in selling any product or service. People still buy from people.

There has been a huge increase in online purchasing. Which means there is a lot of buying done without any personal interaction. And if you can sell your product in strictly that way, you are extremely fortunate.

Many sales still depend on some personal interaction and it is critical that you know when your marketing depends on it and when it doesn't. Don't ignore your customers and the necessary personal touch. Try not to forget them when you get busy with the operational part of your business.

A few ways to reach out and touch your clients:

Retail Businesses-

1. Personally greet your customers when they come through the front door. How many times has that happened to you? Differentiate your business.

2. Ask their opinion of new products you are carrying or thinking of carrying. Give them samples to try.

3. Have an open house or theme event. Announce that you will be holding a holiday open house with food, prizes and/or speakers. Choose an unusual holiday such as National Popcorn Day, National Pie Day, Friendship Day, or Son and Daughter Day. Be creative.

Commercial/Industrial Businesses-

1. Have an open house at your headquarters. Invite all your good clients and prospects.

2. If you are a national company, hold regional meetings closer to your customers' location. Invite several attendees and give them a chance to meet other clients.

3. Surprise your customer by personally delivering a small gift to them, for no special reason.

These aren't the only ways, but this gives you an idea of the type of personal attention you can give your customers.

Spend time with your customers, so that when your competitor comes knocking at their door they won't answer.

Cindy Neky
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MarketingPathways

The 12 Most Powerful (Copy)Words in the English Language

As a copywriter, there are times when I am asked by clients why I use certain words when writing an advertisement. Whether it is for an ad in a publication, online, a direct mail piece or even a radio ad, they don't always understand what words or groups of words work best when marketing a product or service.

Let me explain. Copywriting isn't like other writing. You won't find good copy in a newspaper article. Hopefully, you will find great writing known as journalism. Writing copy is based on getting the reader's attention as quickly as possible and stating your case for purchase of your product or service as clearly as you can.

With ads of any type, you have less than 2 seconds to grab the attention of whoever is reading or watching your advertisement. Not much time to state all the positives of your product or service. That's why a good headline is important in a print ad. Or why the first second or two of a television commercial is critical. (Does anyone still watch them now that the commercials almost outlast the show? Plenty of time to get that snack, do the laundry or take that much needed bathroom break.) Or why a billboard advertisement needs to state its case in a short, but impactful way.

There are specific ways to write effective copy. Some words draw the reader's attention to your offer more than others do. At times, the writing that will create the most impact with the reader isn't proper or a correct use of the English language. Copywriting isn't the English your elementary teacher taught you. It isn't for those who are compelled to strictly stick with only correct grammar. In fact, quite often the words for a great ad aren't correct or proper at all.

There are also those words that are more powerful to use than others are. These are the most profit producing words you can use in any marketing campaign. Copywriters know about them, but few others know how commanding these words really are. When used effectively, they can increase the results of your marketing.

The twelve words below aren't going to surprise you because you see them in ads all the time. Now you know why. They are the most powerful words used in copywriting.

1. You
2. Save
3. Money
4. Easy
5. Guarantee
6. Health
7. Results
8. New
9. Love
10. Discovery
11. Proven
12. Safety

These words have been studied and have shown they elicit the strongest response by people seeing or reading an ad. If you combine them, such as " You Save Money", they become even more powerful. Don't be afraid to use them multiple times in your advertising.

You may wonder why the word "Free" isn't included in this list. When used correctly, it can be even more effective than the twelve words listed above. The word "Free" has been overused though, especially on the internet. Some of its benefit has been eroded because of this.

Keep these twelve words in mind when you (or someone on your behalf) write an advertisement. They could drastically improve the response to your direct mail piece, online blog, newspaper ad or whatever marketing vehicle you are using.

Let me know what you think or if you have questions about these words and writing effective copy.

Cindy Neky
Email Cindy
cneky@marketingpathways.com
Marketing Pathways

Strategic Thinking on the Go via #constantcontact

Strategic Thinking on the Go via #constantcontact

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