Low Hanging Fruit
Finally, Spring is in the air! No I am not referring to those yellow clouds of pollen that make the horizon look like a yellow haze and alter the color shades of our cars. I am speaking of the much welcomed warmer temperatures, blossoming trees, and longer hours of daylight.
Spring is a time we freshen and clean up as well as a time we look forward to fresh fruits and veggies.
With those thoughts in mind, I am going to share 6 “spring projects” to help freshen up your branding and marketing efforts. My challenge to you is to Pick 3 and make them happen. Let’s think of these potential projects as low hanging fruit on your marketing tree:
1. Refresh Your Web Site (or at least a page or two)
Before you panic, I am not implying a complete redesign of your site. But be honest, is your site a little static? Have you been running the same old slideshow/gallery images for 2 years? Are your “in the news” items ancient history? You get the picture. Keep it simple, but here are a few things to look at. The before mentioned slideshow/gallery images, update some or all of the current images. Read your content. Is it up to date and does it reflect your current products and services? If not, rewrite it and make it better. It is a good exercise. Add a New Product feature. Here is an easy one and a FUN one. Take new staff photos and update bios. Depending on your company culture, have an alternative bio. In addition to the professional bio add a more personal and humorous look into your staff. With a previous company I owned it was the most visited page on the site. Lastly, make sure you have added any social media links you have to your site.
2. Make changes to your Email Signature
This is a must do and it is really the easiest of all the suggestions. Think about how widely your email signature is used and most are never updated. Here are some suggestions on a few things to lose: Fax numbers (do I have to explain why?), Legalese (from the American Bar), cute slogans and other messages that don’t reinforce your brand. This one is subjective, humor and the quote of the week may very well support your brand and company culture, just be sure. Now for some Dos: Publish only one number if at all possible. It is less clutter to go through and no decisions to make about which number to call. Use only one website and make sure the click through works. Again, easy decision on which website is important. Add your email to the signature and make sure it clicks through. It makes it easier if your email gets forwarded and your email doesn’t display correctly. Lastly, change your signature slightly every few weeks or months. It makes people stop and look at your signature. One example is we alter our logo background to pink in October and green/red in December.
3. Update Your Voice Mail
Again, this is an easy one to do. This really should be updated on a regular basis as well and it is really worth a little extra effort. First and foremost, be positive! According to Dale Carnegie of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” fame, we can sense if someone is smiling on a phone conversation. I submit the same goes for a voice mail. Think of something that makes you smile before you record your next message (like that next big order). Change the inflection in your voice. You don’t talk like a robot in your normal conversations do you? Pronounce your words and pace yourself – not too fast or too slow. Lastly, let some of you show through. I have a client that always ends his voice mail with a very enthusiastic “I hope you have a fantastic day”. I can see him saying it and I believe he means it and it makes me smile.
4. Review Print Materials, Business Cards to Brochures
Much like the website this could be a big project, but let’s focus on some basics and find a few small things you could do that show you are on top of your marketing game. Overall make sure all print items look like they are from the same company. You would be surprised at the variations of logos some companies have on various print material. If you have outdated brochures you are still hanging onto because you had to buy way more than you needed “to get the price break”, take a deep breath and dispose of them (recycle). Digital printing technology now allows for much smaller quantities to be run that look press quality. This allows targeted product line material instead of having to put everything you do in a one size fits all brochure. So, it is a much easier task to create updated material knowing you can easily update or break out into different product lines or services. The easiest may well be your business card. The current trend is to go with a 12 to 16 point card. This is about twice the thickness of traditional cards. They are affordable and have a great feel to them. The biggest mistake I see in most cards is too much information and clutter. If you decide to update, look at several layout versions. It is good to be creative with cards but not an end all. It is a meant to be a tool to leave “contact” information with someone, not your sales piece.
5. Apparel Up
Let’s focus on just the internal application and positives of having various branded apparel for staff and management. I have seen this one thing pay big dividends for companies that at first were very reluctant to invest in this form of internal marketing (with external benefits).
Putting your brand on comfortable, professional apparel has never been easier to do. Plus, the options beyond just embroidery or screen printing have advanced with technology. There is now transfer (heat press) type material that looks great on the new “performance” wear shirts and they don’t fade or crack. Another really cool look is the laser imprint. It gives a tone on tone look and larger imprint options. That being said, a good quality, easy care, shirt or blouse with a nice embroidered logo is a proven winner. It says you care about your brand and the folks whom represent it.
6. Look Up – Review your signage
To stay with our theme of low hanging fruit let’s focus on indoor signage and displays. This could apply to businesses that have walk in customers as well as those whose only use is for trade show or public events. Don’t be that company that hasn’t changed your internal signage or trade show display since Clinton or Bush. Ok, maybe it’s only been within this decade. The point is the same, step back, look around and see what simple things you can do to freshen up your brand. I will continue the new technology theme I have promoted on items #4 & #5. There are simply many more choices in products and materials now and pricing is coming down. The only thing missing is a little creativity and focus. For example, one very popular and easy to use material is the wall decals (like Fatheads). They are easy to move around and stick / remove on any flat surface. Also, fabric materials have created flexibility and easier shipping for trade show displays. Don’t forget, you may want to look down as well. Floor graphics are affordable and fun.
Remember, big images can have a BIG impact, use them.
There you have it; these are the types of little things you can do that help separate you from your competition. They will energize you, your customer base and staff.
Now reach up and Pick 3 of these juicy marketing morsels, then enjoy the benefits of better branding that will warm up your leads and blossom into more sales.
Over the last 30 years, Lee Freeman has worked with hundreds of small businesses, non-profits and national corporations to help improve their brands, expand their markets and maximize their events. He has owned and sold several businesses in the printing and promotional advertising arenas. He has won national management and sales awards. His biggest privilege has been working with, and learning from, so many diverse clients and organizations. He hopes this blog will be an additional way to share his creativity and ideas.