One of my current goals is to improve my business and work on personal and professional development in ways that don’t add hours to my already long day or interfere with the time I spend with family and friends.
How I’ve managed to achieve this goal is by listening to informative podcasts during my 45-minute commute. I use an app to download the podcasts I want to listen to, then connect my phone to my car stereo, and voila, I get an education during my formerly-wasted drive time.
If you have a similar goal and some time to listen, whether it’s during a lunchtime walk, on the treadmill at the gym, or during your commute, here are a few podcasts that could help you reach your goals:
Here in New Hampshire, it’s been one of the most exciting, frustrating, and surprising political primary seasons we’ve ever seen. Depending on which side of the fence(s) you’re on, you’re either happy, upset, or completely shocked by the outcomes – and it’s safe to say that we’re all wondering just what is going to happen in November.
Congratulations, you setup your twitter account! Now it’s time to make sure you optimize it so that people within your network, prospective clients, colleagues, media/bloggers, and friends can follow you. The 160 character bio and your profile photo are often the only things people see when judging who to follow and who to pass by, so it is important to take a few minutes to write a great bio that attracts the right attention.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant, business, or retail store and immediately thought: “they’ll be out of business in six months, tops”? Do you think the business owner had any clue that customers had that negative reaction? Doubtful.
We all see what we want to see; and that means that sometimes we can miss some huge, glaring issues that customers will spot immediately. Often, those same customers will choose not to work with you based on this first impression, but may never tell you the reason. And that’s where things can get scary.
Here are the 5 most important first impressions to get right. If you can nail these, we guarantee you’ll see improvement in sales and referral business.
- How does your office/store/salon/restaurant look to prospective customers?
- Is your signage visible from the street? Is it modern? Does it attract attention? Does it match your brand?
- Is your reception area welcoming? Really? What kind of impression do you make to prospects with your furniture, interior signage, magazines, brochures, etc? Do you offer coffee and water to visitors?
- Do you have a comfortable meeting and/or waiting area for visitors?
- Is your location easy to find? Is the neighborhood representative of your brand image? Ie: a high-end restaurant will likely not perform well in a downtrodden neighborhood, and vice versa. A modern, high-tech business doesn’t fit well in a strip mall space.
Printed Marketing Materials
- When is the last time you REALLY looked at your business cards? Are you cutting costs on paper & printing? Your prospects can instantly identify this, and it immediately downgrades your business.
- Is your logo eye-catching? Is it easily recognizable? Does it convey exactly the message you want it to?
- Are your brochures and folders representative of your brand? Do they make people want to pick them up from a table or booth?
- If you’re exhibiting at an event, does your booth stand out from the crowd? Is it clean, organized, and does it attract attention?
Online Marketing Materials
- When is the last time you REALLY looked at your website? Is it up to date? Do you have calls to action on all important pages?
- Are your Social Media Channels branded to match the rest of your organization? Each Social Media Channel (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.) allows you some flexibility in customizing page design, so be sure to take advantage of these free opportunities.
- A visitor’s first experience with your brand, wherever it happens to occur, will help them decide whether to continue pursuing you. Make sure all of those potential ‘first entrances’ to your business are good ones.
Reviews & Testimonials
- If you haven’t ‘Googled’ your company in a while, now is the time. Check out your online reviews and social media mentions. If no one is talking about you, that’s nearly as bad as having negative reviews.
And all those things your 3rd grade English teacher warned you about.
- Typos! Grammatical Errors! Misspellings!
- I am AMAZED at how often I see simple mistakes on company websites, blog posts, press releases, email newsletters, and social media updates. If this isn’t your strongest area, then PLEASE enlist a trusted colleague to review your work for you. Your prospects will pick up on this, and it could cost you thousands of dollars in lost business.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and it’s message is a valuable one in life. But realistically, you can be assured that prospective customers will judge your business by its cover every single time they come in contact with you.
In fact, if you think about the last time you purchased a book; you likely judged it by its ACTUAL cover: the title and cover artwork, whether it had made a bestseller’s list, and/or where it was positioned in a physical store or how many stars it had in online reviews. If you’re taking all of these factors into consideration just to make a $15 decision about a book, don’t you think your prospective customers are considering the same factors when choosing whether to do business with you?
Want some help taking these steps to improve those all-important first impressions? We’d be happy to offer you a complimentary analysis of your marketing materials and/or website. Contact us today for an intial consultation.
Have you ever spent hundreds of dollars, and hours of time finding the perfect gift for a young child, only to have them toss it aside in order to play with the cardboard box it came in? Sometimes when we’re focused on the latest technology in marketing, and the newest form of communicating ideas to our customers, we lose sight of the fact that they just might be more interested in the (theoretical) cardboard box.
Consider this: when you’re wandering around a new neighborhood and start to feel hungry, you’ll generally look around to find a good place to stop for lunch. Maybe you’ll pick up your phone and check Yelp or Google for reviews, but we bet that more likely than not, you’ll be more swayed by the sign on the front of a building near you, a sidewalk chalkboard announcing today’s specials, or the looks on the faces of the customers enjoying their meals. You may notice that an establishment has cool decor, fun music, or cheap drink specials; and that will probably be enough to get you in the door.
Here’s where the cardboard box theory comes in: if that restaurant above spent all of their time focusing only on their marketing toys (Facebook, Twitter, website, online review sites, online video, Pinterest, etc.) they may neglect to write today’s specials on the sidewalk board. Or maybe they won’t notice that a bulb has burned out on their sign, or that their patio tables are not displayed well.
The next time you sit down to work on your marketing tactics, consider your company’s own cardboard box. This typically consists of the tried-and-true (but often dropped-for-newer-ideas) tactics such as:
- Physical signage
- Letterhead / envelopes / presentation folders
- Office reception or retail space – decor
- Direct mail
- Outdoor signage/advertising – sandwich boards, billboards, sponsor signage opportunities
- Sponsorships and targeted event participation
- Speaking opportunities
While there are too many ‘cardboard box’ marketing opportunities to include in this post, the point is to make sure that you’re not forgetting the small & simple efforts that will make your brand stand out in a crowd. While people may love your Facebook posts, if they aren’t excited by the atmosphere of your business when they arrive, you will have achieved nothing more than one more ‘friend’ that will never be a customer.
Do you have a Cardboard Box marketing effort that works for your business? Please share it in the comments section.