Monthly Archives: January 2013

January 2013

Thank you for letting us partner with you through Connectivity, the Connection Group e-newsletter. It is our goal to make our monthly connections helpful and inspiring for you as a business owner.

In this edition, we share one of the best tools you can use to manage your online content.


Your Editorial Calendar

Building your online presence using a blog takes focus and time. You need regular updates and high-quality content that are relevant to your industry and business. One of the ways to streamline your blogging time is by using an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar is a schedule for your blog or website. It is commonly used by magazines and online publications.

Whether it is as simple as a list of monthly topics for blog posts, using an editorial calendar saves you time. No more sitting in front of a computer and staring at a blank page.

Follow these steps to set up your own editorial calendar:

  • Use an Excel spreadsheet or a wall calendar with space to write on.
  • Add the dates of industry events such as trade shows, conferences, etc. Also add special occasions and important holidays. If you’re planning any special promotions for your services or products, put them in as well.
  • Brainstorm a list of topics you would like to write about.
  • Go through your list of topics and choose one for each month. Take into consideration the events and promotions you’ve already added. Eg., if you’re a florist, a post about choosing flowers for loved ones would be a great fit for February (Valentine’s Day).
  • The more specific you are with the topics you choose, the more time you will save when you sit down to write the article. But a general idea for a future article is fine too.

Remember that if ever you find that your needs change along the way, feel free to tweak your planned topics. The goal of having an editorial calendar is for you to save time and have a focus as you build your online brand.


owl logo design by connection graphicsMore for you…
Find out how to manage your brand as a small business on our blog.


Project Spotlight Event Promotions Print and Digital SolutionsMonthly Promotion for January 2013 is 15% off Full color brochures and sales sheets

Print and Digital Solutions for Successful Event Promotion

One of the ways we can help you grow your business is by offering suggestions for products that will help you achieve your goals. This month, we are featuring digital and print solutions you can use for event promotions.

Checklist for Effective Event Promotions

 

wise website home page designBefore you begin, make sure that all details about the event are clear and consistent across all promotional efforts. Check that all materials have the correct event name, time, location, and other information.

Create some or all of the following items for use in your promotions:

1. Save the Date announcements

Create an early buzz for your event with Save the Date announcements for sharing on postcards, emails, blogs, and other communications.

2. Digital and Printed Invitations

Digital invitations can be sent through a e-vite site, on Facebook, and/or by email. Printed options include a traditional card (with envelope), a postcard, etc.

wise event registration button sample3. RSVP and Payment Options

For printed invitations, include a phone number and email, or use a separate card for clients to mail back to you. Always indicate a deadline for RSVPs. On digital invitations, make sure there is a way attendees can RSVP electronically, either through a link, or by replying to your email. It’s a good idea to include a phone number, even in digital invites. Keep track of the RSVPs you receive, and send out reminders as needed.

For events that require payment, create a website page with a secure payment portal and include the link in all invitations.

example of web banner for an event4. Web Banners and Pages

Post event details and updates on your website and social media outposts. Include links to the pages in all your event communications.

5.  Sponsor and Exhibit Packets

For large events, consider creating sponsor and exhibit packets both in print and for the web. The information should include the benefits of sponsorships, the cost and size of booths/sponsorships, a map of the exhibit area, and a map of the general location.  When hosting a multiple-day event, include information on hotels, area attractions, etc.

wise social media logos6. Social Media Announcements

Regularly share information and links on your social media outposts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Spread the word through your company or organization website, and other groups you are involved in. Let your audiences know when you add new speakers, sponsors, etc. Ask them to share, like, re-tweet, etc.

WISE 2013 Save the date flyer7. Print and Digital Advertisements

Purchase advertisements to promote your event. Consider print and online publications in relevant industries and geographical areas.

8. Event Program

Create a printed program with the event agenda, workshop list, speaker bios, etc.

9. Giveaways

Purchase specialty advertising items — such as pens, name tags, and notepads — to give away.

10. Signage

WISE Enter to WIn SignKeep your event organized with printed signs with directions to the location, specific rooms, exhibit halls, etc.

11. Visual Displays for Trade Show Booth and Table Tops

If you are an exhibitor at an event, visual displays for full-size booths or table tops are a must. Make sure your display is at the same level of professionalism as others who will be attending. Don’t be the booth everyone avoids!

12. Awards and Certificates

End your event on a high note with awards and certificates for participants. Thank them for their attendance and encourage them to maintain contact with you for future events and promotions.

13. Specialty Advertising / Promotional Giveaways

wise specialy adveritising mirror graphicHave an item to send home with attendees. Find an item that can be used multiple times and one that ties into your company or industry. Choose an item you know your clientele and prospects will relate to. For WISE, Women in Successful Enterprises, professional business women are the target market. One of the give-aways WISE shares is a small purse mirror with the brand logo and website domain on the back of it. It is an item members use time and time again – plus they use it in public so others can see the branding on the back and make inquiries about the organization. Don’t break the bank on overly fancy and expensive give-aways especially when your event is a trade show that may have attendees who are not interested in doing business with but like to partake in your freebies.

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Use a combination of these digital and print solutions to successfully promote your event. You’ll find that a well-organized and memorable event will increase your audience and cement your brand. If you need help creating these solutions, contact us today.

On the Web: How to Manage Your Brand as a Small Business

As a small business owner, one of your jobs is to manage your brand online and off. In addition to reaching new customers and growing your company, you need to maintain an online presence and use it to achieve your goals.

logosWhile you’re good at what you do for your business and customers, you may not be quite as savvy when it comes to the internet. So, we put together this checklist for managing your website, and brand, as a small business owner. Putting these elements in action lets you take advantage of the opportunities that the web has to offer.

A. Have a Clear Message

Your business (and website) must have what is often called a unique value proposition (UVP), or unique selling point. What are you offering? Who is your audience?  What message do you want to send?

Before you start creating or revamping your website, you must be able to answer these questions.

  • Your offer is simply your roster of products or services and their corresponding prices.
  • Your ideal customer is the person whom you want to engage in your business. These are the people you want to attract to your website, and move to make a purchasing decision.
  • Your message is what you want to stand out in your prospects or customers mind. Are you the most economical, the best quality, the fastest, or the most experienced?

What comes next is a bit more complicated: Identifying and crafting your message. This is where the “unique” comes into your unique value proposition. What makes you uniquely qualified to offer these services? In other words, what makes your business different from the rest?

These are things you must think about before you set up your online hub. In order to have an effective website, you must identify what makes you different from all the others that are offering the same thing. If your business caters mainly to your local community, you would want to include that as part of what makes you stand out. You know your customers by name, you provide a personal touch to your services, and so on.

Once you know your message, you must present it in a clear, concise, and consistent way, which brings us to the next point.

B. Unify Your Brand

Everything that has your company’s name on it – whether it’s a business card, a logo, or a website – is part of your brand. They must all work together to get your unique message across to your ideal client.

Here are some practical tips that will help you with brand management in a way that supports your day-to-day work:

Your website must be self-hosted and be on a relevant domain name.

Self-hosted simply means it’s not a free service or platform, like Blogger or WordPress.com.

When your buy your domain name, it should be “yourbusiness.com” (example: connectiongraphics.com). Make it easy to remember, with no numbers or special characters except if it’s part of your company name.

A self-hosted site on a good domain name tells your customers that you’re an authority in your field. They can trust you with their business.

Create a unified look that reflects your company and mission.

The image your business presents must be consistent across all types of communications, whether it’s online or not.

The first place to start is your company logo. If you don’t have a logo, get a professional designer to make one for you. Use it on all your communications.

Pull colors and design elements out of your logo and use them in your website, e-newsletter, letterhead, promotional materials, etc. For example, if you use a clean sans-serif font on your business card, don’t go for swirly artsy types on your website.

Set-up online outposts.

Whether or not you like being on social media, it’s now practically a requirement for any business. You need to set up and maintain “online outposts.” These in turn will direct your ideal customer back to your website, and toward a decision to purchase.

These outposts include blogs, social media and newsletters.

C. Create Effective Content

Now that you have your self-hosted website and relevant online outposts, you need to turn your attention to the elements of your site that will turn your readers into customers.

Your business website must have the following:

  • About page (what your business is about, who you are, your qualifications, and other special attributes that will make the online reader want to do business with you)
  • Easy-to-navigate information about your services and/or products
  • Different ways to contact you (via contact form, address, email, twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Option to subscribe to an email newsletter or RSS feed
  • Secure product page and shopping cart, as needed
  • Regularly updated information about your services, products and related topics

The last item on the list above will help your clients know your business better, as well as help you get found in search engines. The best and easiest way to do this is to maintain a blog. High-quality and regularly-updated content will establish you as an authority in your niche.

As a small business owner, an effective online presence begins with and is established by a clear message, a unified look and effective content. If you’d like to learn more about how to manage your brand online and off, sign up for our newsletter, Connectivity.

Bring Good Energy to Your Business in 2013 – Feng Shui Your Brand!

feng-shui-your-brandA new year is bursting on the scene ushering in the promise of opportunities and change. This week, the year-end and a full moon energy moved me to clear clutter and rearrange rooms in my home and office. Considering elements, energy, color and flow in my personal space reminded me of how important incorporating the practice of Feng Shui is in business as well.

Feng shui is about creating and maintaining positive flowing energy. Special attention is paid to the five elements, the yin-yang balance of a structure, whether it be a brick and mortar building or a business structure.

Placement and balance of color, symbols, and the five elements of feng shui establish a flow that creates positive feelings and response. Brand messages need to exude positive feelings that resonate with the manager/owner, customers, prospects, employees, vendors and hopefully the general public. Utilizing some basic feng shui practices as it relates to your particular business can increase the positive image of your business and brand.

People respond to color and images much faster than they respond to words and it is wise to look at these guides while considering your business brand and imagery. Specific colors and elements are naturally associated with certain industries and can be incorporated into your office space, website and other elements of your company brand.

Here are the Five Feng Shui Elements applied to specific business industries:

  • FIRE: restaurants, cafes, retail, creative studios, sports related business, etc.
  • EARTH: real estate development, building/construction, agricultural, environmental
  • METAL: architect firms, technology, government, banking, accounting, all financial industries
  • WATER: employment agencies, massage and healing centers, cleaning services, beauty industry
  • WOOD: publishing agency, travel agencies, floral shops, clothing, schools, universities, day care centers, etc.

Each of the five feng shui elements are assigned shapes and colors that increase their energy. Depending on which element your industry belongs to, utilizing the corresponding shapes and colors in your branding will help strengthen the message and increase the positive energy.

Here are the shapes associated with each of the five feng shui elements:

  • WOOD: Rectangular
  • FIRE: Triangular
  • EARTH: Square
  • METAL: Round
  • WATER: Wavy

And here are the colors associated with each of the five feng shui elements:

  • WOOD: Green, Brown
  • FIRE: Red, Strong Yellow, Orange, Purple, Pink
  • EARTH: Light Yellow, Sandy/Earthy, Light Brown
  • METAL: White, Gray
  • WATER: Blue, Black

What do you do when your company offers services or products that incorporate multiple elements?

That’s when the feng shui magic begins!

You can make a determination on what element is the strongest for your company based on your brand focus. For instance, Connection Group provides graphic design and web design solutions for businesses. However, we also develop integrative marketing plans, plus offer marketing consultations, publishing services, and web hosting.

In review of the elements by industry, we could essentially choose all the elements. What is needed is a feng shui ‘cure’.

When you encounter this option, ask yourself which element choice feels and looks better? Since we do all of these services very well, thank you, we wanted to practice feng shui principles in our logo design and brand communication as much as possible. We also know that what our clients rave most about is how we infuse creative talent into every project. Delivering creative solutions is what we want our brand to communicate most. Hence we want Fire to be a strong element in our brand.

We also want to balance the fire by including some of the other elements associated with the services we provide. If you take a look at our logo, first, note the star symbol. A star is light and fire, the symbol itself is also made up of triangles, the shape associated with fire. The gold in the logo brings in the metal element for the technology solutions we develop. The overall circle shape is associated with metal also, but because we are incorporating the moon symbol the connection also relates to the earth element – and of course the circle shape is all about ‘flow’ right? The black interior is the water element that connects and grounds them all and relates to our business clientele.

As brand manager for small business owners, we study the five elements of feng shui and do our best to apply them to your business communications and promotions. However, feng shui should not be forced. It is a natural, organic flow that must feel right to reap the best energy. Balancing colors, shapes and placement to invite a positive relationship with everyone who interacts with your brand. Be mindful of the “feel-good” factor with images or symbols in your business communications.

Feng shui is a very in-depth practice and we have just skimmed the surface on how utilizing its practices can enhance your business. If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate Feng Shui in your business branding, office or lifestyle, please contact us, we are always happy to build positive energy.

For self-study you may want to refer to a bagua map when relating feng shui to a home, office, building or landscaping to determine placement and generating positive flowing energy. Some of my favorite authors and resources on the subject include: Terah Kathryn Collins – Feng Shui for Prosperity and a most beautiful book by Rosalyn Dexter “Chinese Whispers.” On the web: http://www.amazon.com.

I wish you joy and luck in 2013. Stay connected!