Creative and Keepable Business Cards for Your Small Business

Take a look at your business card. If it looks like this, your card is failing at marketing your small business:

Boring Business Card

Custom printing technology has advanced to make many premium elements realistically affordable for small businesses, such as gold foil, rounded corners, double-sided printing and glorious full-color. Take advantage of these possibilities to turn your business card into a marketing asset that customers talk about and keep.

Photographer Laura Northrup of Reflected Spectrum Photography details how her business card design facilitates conversations with prospective clients:

“I use double-sided business cards as a mini-portfolio for my photography business. When I meet a new person who may be interested in my services, I can casually share my photographic style and philosophy through my business cards.  It makes a memorable first impression, yet keeps the conversation fun and friendly.”

Here are samples from three online printers to give you some ideas.

Personalized Pizazz from MOO

With all the design options MOO offers, any small business can craft a meaningful, custom design that speaks to customers. Some of my favorite choices are large-format cards and spot gloss. Find your favorite here.

MOO Business Card

Watercolors and Vintage Style from Zazzle

If MOO has you feeling a bit overwhelmed with choices, here are two interesting styles from Zazzle that draw inspiration from watercolors and vintage designs. View more of their catalog here.

Zazzle Business Card

Zazzle Business Card

Striking Typography and Patterns from Minted

The designs at Minted combine typography and patterns for a modern, artistic effect. Here are two examples (with a little gold foil thrown in). See other designs here.

Minted Business Card

Minted Business Card

Make Your Card Purposefully Creative

Your creative business card design needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy. There are many beautiful designs that won’t encourage customers to buy from you. Be purposefully creative to help customers connect your card with your brand.  Identify these goals before finalizing your business card design:

  • How your business card should be delivered. Do you personally hand it out? Do customers take it from a standalone holder?
  • What you want customers to think when they take your card. Should they think that you’re professional with deep expertise? Maybe a creative problem-solver?
  • What you want customers to do with the card. Hang it on the fridge? Share with a friend? Connect with you on LinkedIn?

Want to improve your business card design? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out to me at amanda@zooinajungle.com.

A Really Limited-Time Offer

The department that writes marketing campaign headlines at Walmart clearly isn’t the same department that designs the automated app marketing:

A Really Limited-Time Offer

Make Mom Happy! Until Saturday, that is. After Saturday, Mom will have to fend for herself.

Consider this weekly ad from Walmart a friendly reminder to always test your automated marketing, mail merge settings and other customer communications before they reach your audiences.

How to Use Photographs in Your Marketing

A photograph is only worth a thousand words if you pick the right one for your marketing message. Here are examples from three photo shoots I have done for clients that we now use in their marketing campaigns.

Show your product in action.

How to Use Photographs in Your Marketing

Use a photo to tell the story of your brand and how it benefits your customers. TriState Water Works provides Prompt and Proven Sprinkler Service so that customers can enjoy lush lawns and beautiful gardens throughout the summer.

Rivet your audience.

How to Use Photographs in Your Marketing

Unique, dramatic or beautiful imagery will draw customers’ attention and interest them in your brand. Paramount Lawn + Landscape offers customers the beauty and drama of architectural landscape lighting, with the added benefit of security. For this product in particular, the photograph does more to encourage the sale than any marketing copy ever could.

Get personal.

How to Use Photographs in Your Marketing

Featuring people or animals is especially effective for small businesses that primarily provide services. This photograph for Grady Veterinary Hospital conveys happy, healthy pets and compassionate, understanding care.

Here’s something to avoid: clichés. Stock photography clichés like a woman wearing a telephone headset or a family holding hands and smiling cloyingly at the camera are completely useless for communicating marketing messages. Customers are so accustomed to seeing these images that they have become meaningless. I won’t even include an example stock photo image, because it might cause you to skip reading this paragraph entirely.

Finally, high-quality, professional photos are much more effective than ones taken by an amateur with a smartphone. Professional photographers know how to tell a story with their camera and capture your brand’s benefits to best effect. Choose a photographer who understands your business goals and brand personality.

Make it Easy for Customers to See Your Marketing Content

When marketing your small business, keep in mind that customers are naturally less interested in seeing your marketing messages than you are in sharing them. One simple way to make it easier for customers to engage with your marketing content is to always think about removing barriers to accessing the content.

Let’s say you have a beautiful and effective direct mail piece that you want to share with your email marketing list and social media audiences.

Many small businesses will share a PDF or picture of the direct mail piece, inserting this image into an email or sharing a link to it on social media. But posting or emailing a PDF actually creates a barrier to seeing the content.

How do you remove the barriers and make your marketing more accessible?

When translating a printed piece for web marketing use, follow these tips:

  1. Reduce the number of clicks required to view the content. Whenever possible, include the marketing message directly in the media. For example, instead of including a “Read More” link, put the entire message in the email or social media post.
  2. Optimize loading speed. Build email marketing messages in HTML instead of embedding an image or PDF containing the entire communication. It will load faster, and if there’s a loading error, most of the message will still make it to the customer.
  3. Consider the media you are using and how customers interact with that media. On a printed direct mail piece, customers expect all the information they need to call you or to buy. However, on Facebook or Twitter it’s easy to put a customer into information overload. Consider more frequent, shorter messages.

Make it easier for customers to interact with your marketing content, and you will enjoy improved results and happier customers!

Marketing Strategy Trumps Marketing Execution

I once helped a small business that sent out poorly-designed post cards. Although the company lacked design sensibilities, its efforts were still incredibly successful because the marketing strategy was carefully crafted and spot-on. The lesson here is that marketing strategy is more important than marketing execution.

If a small business has a fixed marketing budget, I recommend prioritizing an incredible marketing strategy over an amazing marketing design. You have to understand the reasons you are communicating before it matters how that communication looks.

Here are some elements that are crucial for a successful small business marketing strategy,

Top Elements of a Successful Small Business Marketing Strategy

  • Identify your audience – Who are the customers or prospects you should reach out to? Who is going to buy from you?
  • Identify purchase behavior – Think about how customers will buy your product. Are they searching for it, or is it an impulse buy? Do certain events trigger purchases? Is it a gift?
  • Talk the customer’s language – What does your audience care about enough that will influence them to buy from you?
  • Media matters – Where will your customers see your messages and be receptive to listening?
  • Narrow your focus – You can’t be all things to all people. Narrow your focus to be memorable and meaningful to customers.
  • Measure and adapt – Measure your marketing success and make changes based on performance.

Once you implement a great marketing strategy, you should see your success grow. Then, you’ll have the resources to improve design and execution, which will help your success grow even more. Marketing execution is important, but it’s wasted without a great strategy behind it.

Traditional Website Navigation Isn’t Boring. It’s Easy to Use.

Imagine a car designer saying, “It’s boring to have the brake on the right and the accelerator on the left. We need to stand out! Let’s put the brake next to this cup-holder.” How well would a car like this sell? Can you imagine re-training generations of drivers to drive differently just for the sake of one car design?

Every day, web designers are having the same conversation about website design (admittedly, with less fatal results). They are so bored of putting the “Contact” button on the right side of the menu bar that they forget having these conventions makes websites easy to use.

Sometimes web marketers mistake user habits for boring design. If users are researching dozens or hundreds of websites looking for products and services like yours, they appreciate a site that’s easy to navigate– and they’re only going to visit your site for about three seconds before they decide to stay or move onto the next one.

A website design must show the user what they’re looking for in those first three seconds before any user will take the time to admire beautiful design elements or creative devices. Part of that experience is having traditional elements in expected places. If a user can’t find your contact information, how will he ever call you?

My #1 Web Design Tip

The message this week is short but powerful. It’s my #1 web design tip, which is:

Design your website for what your customers care about.

Don’t design for what your CEO cares about. Don’t design based on your past websites. Don’t guess.

If you’re redesigning your website, ask your customers what they care about. Make that the center of all web design efforts.

IT Tips for Small Business Marketing

An effective technology setup is crucial for any small business marketing department. Strategy documents, forecasts, design documents and web files are all managed with computers. Here are some tips for helping you be more protected and productive with your IT setup.

Back up your marketing files

The most important thing a small business can do is develop and implement a back-up process. The hard drive containing all of  your marketing information is simply a mechanical device. And like any other machine with moving parts, eventually it’s going to fail. It’s certain that your hard drive is going to crash someday.

Fortunately, back-ups are pretty easy these days. If you use Macs, the included Time Machine app makes it simple to back up to an external hard drive. Windows 7 also has a Windows Backup utility.

For added protection, consider an off-site back-up service like Carbonite. This way your files are protected from catastrophes like fire.

Be smart with passwords

Social media marketing is great… unless your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or blog accounts are hacked and subject customers to spam communications. I hate seeing this happen, especially since creating secure passwords is easy. Make sure you and your employees are considering security when they set up social media accounts. Microsoft has some nice guidelines for secure passwords here.

Buy professional equipment

I’m always amazed when I see a marketing professional editing video or switching between five PowerPoint presentations on a consumer-grade computer. The extra cost of a more powerful computer is well worth the investment when you consider the value of you and your employees’ time.

Go for the big screens

One of the biggest boosts to productivity is adding screen size– whether that be buying a bigger display or a adding a second display. Apple, in an attempt to sell more Cinema Displays, published an interesting study on productivity and screen size. Here’s a graph from the study:

If you don’t trust Apple to be impartial (and I wouldn’t blame you!), the Wall Street Journal also has an article on the topic.

Calibrate your devices

If you are regularly disappointed that the colors you see on your display don’t match the colors on your final printed piece, try calibrating your devices. Calibration will ensure your display is showing colors correctly. X-Rite is one company providing this service with their i1 Display product.

These are just a few tips to get your small business started on your marketing department’s IT setup. The perfect setup for your small business depends on your goals, marketing partners, kinds of productivity you want to optimize for and how much protection is required. I recommend every small business take some time to think about what they really need. Too often, I uncover serious marketing problems for my clients that could have been prevented with a little planning.

A Primer on the New Facebook Page Design

How businesses can quickly integrate the new page design into their marketing efforts

Savvy businesses already know that Facebook is launching a mandatory page design update for all businesses on March 30, 2012. This quick primer will help your business get ready for the switch and outline a few of the marketing benefits of the new design.

First, to see the new page design in action, visit Zoo in a Jungle Marketing’s Facebook Page. Here’s a screenshot for you to preview:

 

How to update your business’s Facebook Page

When you visit the admin section of your Facebook Page, you’ll be encouraged to take a tour of the new layout. Throughout the tour, you’ll have an opportunity to upload key graphics and learn how to update the content.

  1. The first step is to create and upload a “cover photo,” an image 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. I chose a photo I took at the Cincinnati Zoo with my tagline, “Uncage Your Potential!” Get creative with your cover photo, but be cautious about making it too promotional. Facebook won’t accept an image with too much text, pricing information or calls-to-action.
  2. The next step is to ensure the image containing your logo is square, with a minimum size of 180 pixels by 180 pixels. A rectangular image will not display properly.
  3. Finally, you’ll be given a chance to organize your content, highlight important updates and learn how to interact with Facebook users.
That’s it! Updating your business’s Facebook Page is pretty easy. Remember to keep updating your page at least weekly with interesting content for your customers.

Benefits of the new Facebook Page design

  • Businesses can develop a richer experience for the customers on the new page. Details like “milestones” allow businesses to share more with customers than they could before.
  • The “cover photo” makes the Facebook Page look more polished, like the important marketing communications tool it is.
  • Businesses can customize the new page to fit their brand and business goals.
  • In my opinion, the information on the page is better organized, allowing for faster communication.
You don’t have to wait until the end of March to switch to the new page design! Get started on your Facebook page today. And if you have any questions, just call or email: 513.833.4203 or amanda@zooinajungle.com.

Don’t Make These Marketing Design Mistakes!

Route 52 near Cincinnati is an interesting drive– it follows the Ohio River, takes you through some cute small towns and, surprisingly, presents drivers with a stark marketing lesson. That lesson is to think like a customer.

On my drive, I first  encountered a restaurant whose logo includes a whimsical mouse wearing a chef hat and handling your food:

If there is a mouse on the sign, isn’t it reasonable for customers to assume the restaurant has a lax rodent policy? Either way, a restaurant never benefits from an association with mice.

Next, I drove past a gynecology clinic featuring a mermaid on their sign:

I’m certainly not an expert in this field, but I’m not sure mermaids would even require a gynecologist.

When designing a logo and other marketing materials, businesses must think like their customers. It doesn’t matter how cute, clever or “different” the logo might be if customers are off-put by the concept.

Here are some marketing design tips to help you think like a customer:

  • Understand your customer’s expectations. Would a customer think you are a better doctor with a mermaid on your sign?
  • Consider common associations in our culture. Will customers have a pleasant impression of your restaurant when they associate it with a mouse?
  • Be practical, then be creative. First answer the question, “What are we trying to say to customers?” Then, you will be able to create fun, interesting messages that resonate with customers.
  • Ask others for their opinions. An outside opinion can be valuable to gain insights you might have overlooked.