Archive for March, 2009

I want to tell you a story about two friends of mine.

My friend Sam, has a small business that he has been running by himself for several years. I guess you could call him a “Solopreneur.” I would like to tell you what Sam does in his business, but Sam may be reading this, so I will just say that he produces and sells a luxury product. Sam loves what he does. The problem is that in recent months, with the economic crisis in full swing, luxury products have not been selling so well. Sam and I were discussing and brainstorming options over lunch today. We came up with several interesting ideas, but all of them were defensive in nature. It may very well be that he may close his business.

My friend, Matt has been looking for work for the last several months. I was to the point where I really didn’t want to ask him about his job search activity any longer. A few days ago Matt got involved in a business opportunity that I have written about in a previous post. Well, when we met for diner last night things had definitely changed. You could feel the energy and excitement. Now there were smiles and much talk. A purpose had been found, small goals had been conquered and the game was in a full blown offensive attack. At the end of the evening Matt pulled me aside and said, “I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

It struck me that in less than 24 hours I met with two of my friends and each were at opposite ends of emotion. What was the difference? Easy, one had hope, one had fear. Both had been facing similar circumstances.

Here is the lesson for you (and myself) to remember. In business and in life we never know what lies ahead. Hope is what drives us on. Fear is what drags us under. Our ultimate Hope is in our Lord. Wake up tomorrow with hope and gratitude as you start your business day.

How do you get “The Word Out” about your business?

It’ s all about branding. Step 1 -You need a consistent identifiable look. Step 2 – Display your “look “where customers can find it. This post is about Step 2.

Business Cards

Start with Business Cards. Every businessman needs to have an adequate supply of business cards handy. I said adequate supply handy. You need to think ahead when going into meetings, networking groups and sales calls. Be prepared to give your card out when you are visiting your doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer, or any other business person you meet in your personal life. It’s OK. They are business people just like you and they have their own circles of influence, which they will introduce you to, because you are a valued customer of theirs.

A couple more tips. Don’t let your cards get all crumpled up and dirty in your wallet. Second, have your cards ready (in your hand or in your left front pants pocket or jacket pocket). This will keep your right hand available for shaking hands. Don’t make it look like a big ordeal to dig a card out of your wallet or purse. Be comfortable, hand your card out effortlessly and greet with a smile and eye contact.


It goes without saying that you need to act and look professional at all times when you are in public. If you are a new businessperson (ex employee), you may not have thought about this. Enough said.

It is a good idea to wear apparel that displays your company logo and/or tag line. This gently reminds people that you are serious about your business, just like a sports fan is serious about their team when they wear team colors. I have a friend of mine that displays his team’s colors everywhere he goes. His team is his business.

Depending on your business, sometimes you can be outrageous with your “colors”, with other businesses you will need to be subtle. Wear shirts, hats and jackets with your company colors flying proudly.
has a very cool interactive online design tool that allows you to upload custom logos and graphics and place them on your shirts where you would like them. Easy steps to follow and great selection of products to pick from.

This subject will be continued in a follow-up post. I am trying to keep the posts down to a “bite size” length.

My Favorite Sites

I had lunch with a friend yesterday that was recently laid off. She’s been doing a lot of thinking about “starting your own business” and has come up with some business ideas. After investigating several business opportunities she had settled on a service business. But what she really wanted was to pick my brain about choosing a logo for her new small business.

Here are some of the things we discussed:

  • Branding is important. Establish your own brand by centering on your unique selling proposition. Keep this in mind when thinking about your logo.
  • Remember you logo will be displayed on everything, so allow for flexibility in your design. Think about light and dark color backgrounds and wide or tall areas where it will be displayed.
  • It needs to look professional, so have a professional do it. Monogrammed initials and clip art scream “I am cheap, not experienced and I started this business yesterday”.
  • Simplicity and elegance is key.
  • Consider a one or two color design that uses a unique color or color combination. Don’t make it too busy.
  • Have a custom font designed for your company name. A font style communicates emotion so choose a font that has the right ‘feel’.
  • Be careful with adding a graphic. If you do add a graphic in addition to the text of your company name make sure that it communicates something important.
  • If you put a tagline under your logo it must 1) directly state or support your unique selling proposition and 2) be something no other competitor can say.

Choosing a logo is a very important process. The tendency is to rush this. Give it the time it deserves because if you don’t you will be trying to build a business on a foundation of sand. For this reason, unless you are a marketing expert and a graphics designer yourself, you should hire a professional. This is not the place to cut cost. Get help if you need it.

With these strong words of advice in mind I have a few recommendations for you . The services mentioned below can get you the image and logo you know you want, but just can’t visualize without some help.

In the last 7 hours I have designed a newsletter and emailed it to 90 of my past customers and prospects. I already know that 8 of the emails I sent bounced, 32 were opened and read and 4 people unsubscribed.

I received in my company email inbox 8 responses in the last hour from customers that I have not heard from in more than a year. All of these made comments about my business or provided testimonials about my previous work.

I did all of this for free and I don’t have a website.

When I started this morning I had nothing more than an idea. My idea was this, “How can I get in touch with my previous clients and let them know I am still alive and in business ready to take another order from them”?

Business has been a little slow and as I have been told, your best sales will come from your existing customers.

Well, how did I do it?

In a word, e-Newsletter Marketing. Here is the play by play account since 8am.

  1. Subscribe to the Free Trial offer (i-Contact is an e-newsletter management service)
  2. Read the help and watch the video tutorials
  3. Round up 90 email addresses from previous invoices and list them in an excel spreadsheet
  4. Write a short article on the Most Recent Project I have completed (about 200 words)
  5. Write another article on a handy tip my customers could use (about 150 words)
  6. Find a digital picture of me and crop it down in Windows Picture Manager that comes with XP
  7. Find the digital image of my company logo (got it from the people that did my business cards)
  8. Follow the steps in to Create my newsletter, Upload my email list and Send

Now that’s not so bad. Do you think you could do this on a Saturday afternoon?

Don’t sit there waiting for the economy to get better, Do Something! This simple idea could make the difference in whether you pay the bills this month.

I forgot to tell you about the best part

All I need to do now is write a few more articles (maybe an hour of my time) and I will be ready for the next couple of months of newsletters.

They say it takes at least 7 contacts with your customer before he is ready to buy. I have now found a way to do just that for all my previous customers.

If you decide to try this easy technique, I would be interested in hearing about your experience. You can leave a comment under this post

In future posts I am going to research other e-mail newsletter software and compare features and price.

My Favorite Sites

Being a small business person myself, I’ve many friends that are in a business of one type or another. Most of them are in their 40’s or 50’s and unfortunately the business world has become more uncertain in recent months.

You are probably wondering where I am going with all this.

For small business owners it boils down to two things. First we know deep in our guts that we had better start looking for new ways to get customers into our pipeline. Second we have to quit ignoring the Internet from a business perspective.

Now let me ask you this. How many of you have a web page for your business? OK, how much traffic do you get from it or do you even know? Probably not much; I thought so, I’ve been there.

Things have definitely changed since you last got a customer from your dusty old web page. The new strategy goes by several names: Web 2.0, Social Networking, Online Marketing, etc.

I’ll bet most of you’ve been so busy running your business you haven’t had time to see what this is all about.

In general Social Networking is about two-way communication, hence the name Web 2.0. It’s about establishing a relationship with your prospects and customers and becoming a trusted expert in their eyes. And just like people in the offline business world, people online buy from people they trust or businesses that have been referred to them by a friend. Blasting prospects with one-way ad marketing is not where things are headed.

Now is the time to dig in.

I have found that when you start to get yourself educated on a new subject area, the first place you should be looking is in books. Books help you cover a subject fast from a strategic perspective. You get the big picture.

I can save you some time. I have assembled a book collection of 40 or more books about Online Marketing, Web 2.0, Social Media, Facebook and Blogging. All the books listed are published in 2008 or 2009 so they are up to date.

I know there are a lot of titles, so please don’t get overwhelmed. Browse the list and buy a few that interest you. In these times taking action is a very good thing.

My philosophy on education is that it is always a good value, books especially. I’ve realized that the time I devote to business is worth about a dollar a minute for me. You may bill more for your time. That makes a $20 book look real cheap.

Click Here for the Online Marketing Books page.

Please leave a comment if you have found a book you plan to purchase or thought it was of value for you.