KREWNEWS

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! So Many Questions!

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What is the design process? What happens? What can I expect?

I get asked this question all the time and I can’t wait to share with you my method of how I work with clients. More and more it is my main goal to make the process of creating designs for my clients as EASY as possible! The creative process can be overwhelming especially if you are at the beginning stages, because more often than not you are still not 100% sure of the direction you want to go. So here is my process of how we would work together in 5 Simple Steps:

1. First, I do a 30 minute consultation with you to find out exactly what your needs are and getting a clearer idea of your BIG VISION. In this review, I get to know where you are at currently with your marketing presence and specific projects you would like to implement.
2. Second, based on your evaluation I will create an estimate of what you are looking to create. This may fall into one of my prepackaged offerings or I can customize as much as you need. We go over the estimate together and figure out what type of payment plan will best suit your budget.
3. Third, after contract is signed and deposit is made we dive in to the REALLY FUN STUFF! I send you a designKREW customized Design Briefing where we really get to know about your target market and company personality. I also give you my personal consulting time so you can have help clarifying copy, get all your ideas into manageable form and so on and so forth.
4. Fourth, the designing process begins; I muse and create your branded, targeted, beautiful graphics.
5. Fifth, we go over what has been created and go through the revision process so you are getting exactly what you want!

And voila! Your project is complete for you to use and begin your SMART Marketing.

See its simple! You will always have a helping hand along the way too!

FAQ2:
What do you expect of me? What will you need from me?

Like I mentioned before I like to make the process as easy as possible. Here are some easy guidelines of what I expect from my clients:

* BASICS: Of course there are the basics, such as signed contract, deposit and payment on time.
* CHECKLISTS: I give simple, straightforward checklists so you know exactly what I need from you in order to maximize your graphics with as little back and forth as possible. You simply go through the checklist and send the contents as you have them
* COPY: I generally don’t write full copy for my clients (unless we have made other arrangements) So I would need the copy you would like to have in your marketing materials. Of course I can always consult you on what has been
* ASSETS: Any elements that you have had previously created that you would like me to include in your new materials
* EXAMPLES: If you have a clear idea of what you are after, I love to see examples of what that might be!

FAQ3:
How will this increase my business and sales? What will the end result be?

This is something we discuss in the consultation and throughout the design process. It’s really up to you and what your BIG VISION is and then we will create visuals to meet that big vision. As for branding, there are 5 key components that really start to reveal themselves as your brand grows stronger which increases your client attraction and therefore your sales! Those 5 key areas are:

1. Ownership: When and only when your business claims ownership of its position in your mind and in the market can it take the actions that it needs in order to grow and progress. Branding creates your foundation so that you know exactly when, where, how and why to market and to whom.
2. Sharing Information: Creating a brand and marketing materials that are congruent with your brand keep your message clear and concise so there is less fumbling in the dark for both you and your clients. It provides you with a “menu” that says this is who we are this is what we do!
3. Consistency: Branding creates consistency. Period. This is probably the most important function of your brand. Branding make is so your clients and your potential clients see the same message and the same colors and the same solution every time. Repetition is how we learn things.
4. Recognition: Consistency leads to recognition. If you keep going with the same brand and theme eventually you will become instantly recognizable. Recognition also portrays a sense of reliability.
5. Marketing Becomes Easy: This is obviously the very best part! Your marketing is made easy…once you nail it all down, get the flow consistent and recognizable and share it…well the guesswork is diminished. You let your message and brand work for you! You will always know what to say and how to say it with the same look and feel.

I constantly hear my clients say I want to look professional right from the very beginning; this is exactly what branding will do for you! I hope you found this helpful and maybe it took away some of those jitters of knowing how the design process works, what you are accountable for, what branding will really do for your business and how super simple it can be!!!

Please, please, please feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have! You can email them to me at info@designkrew.com

Happy Asking!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (8 of 8) – Communication 101

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Welcome to the 8th article in an eight part series that digs deeper into the 8 Simple Strategies so you can save time, money and energy on your journey to the best marketing materials around.

Sadly and excitingly this is my last article in this series! I hope you have found it informative and helpful. Last, but certainly not least, we will be discussing the importance of effective communication during a project.

Below are 5 simple tips to have your conversations lead to constructive feedback and positive results!

TIP #1
Remember your designer is a person too.
This is a biggy! Sometimes when we are just focused on getting something done we forget that we are dealing with a human being. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. We focus on the result so much that we forget what it takes to make that result come into reality. When we take the time to respect the people we are working with, there is a huge difference in receptivity of change, adjustments and urgent needs. Your designer is here to help and create for you, but not to be your slave.

Also, the creative process can be frustrating because it is SO subjective. Always trust that your designer is trying to meet your needs while applying the rules of graphic design. When they disagree with a change you have requested dig a little deeper, perhaps there is a tried and true compositional rule that is being broken. In the end your designer is trying to manage their own lives and your projects to the best of their ability, just as you are trying to manage your life and business to the best of yours.

TIP #2
Plan what you want to communicate.
Taking the time to know what you want to communicate to your designer before getting on a call or going to a meeting is essential. This negates making the call or meeting your processing time, which can add to your invoice if your designer charges for meetings. It also creates a level of frustration and disrespect because some of the “figuring it out” process becomes obsolete and can make your designer feel like you are walking them around in circles. When you are preparing to discuss a project compile all your main points and questions. And go through each one until you are satisfied. This will save you time, money and probably some frustration too.

TIP #3
Focus on the good first.
This is a standard communication rule…at least one good (preferably more) to every bad. Imagine if a client came to you and only focused on the negative portions of what you were doing with them, despite all the wonderful advancements you had made for their business. How would that make you feel? And how excited would you be to make adjustments? Or how happy did working with someone like that make you feel? Not very, I would imagine. So, take the time to point out what you do like about the project so your designer can get a hold on the things that they are working and so that he or she knows what to sharpen. Communicating your likes first sets the tone of the conversation to a positive note and makes constructive feedback much more palpable. So there is a difference between criticism and constructive communication. Focus on the good first…then…

TIP #4
Focus on the facts.
Say what you want to change and why. Don’t bring drama or emotion into it with such phrases as “this is horrible” or “this is totally NOT what I had in mind.” Those phrases don’t really communicate anything constructive that will move the design forward. Use more factual phrases such as: I love this shade of green but this looping accent is too feminine for the clean structured look I am going for…or…Because the logo is so strong I think it would be best to eliminate all the other detail around it…or…you’ve done a great job so far but can we refer back to the this specific example of colors I showed you, let’s stick to only those, etc, etc, etc. Your point will be made much more quickly and effectively, making the design and revision process practically painless.

TIP #5
Double check.
In the whirl of discussing a project things may get confused, jumbled or down right understood in a different way than you intended. At the completion of your conversation with your designer it is best to do a re-cap of what was discussed. This helps to confirm that you and your designer are on the same page about all the elements that must be adjusted. Have your designer start from the top and review their notes on what needs to be altered. Interject when necessary to clarify or make modifications. Finally, confirm that all is understood. (*If your feel the need, have your designer send an email of what was discussed in the meeting so there is a record of it)

Happy Constructive Communication!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (7 of 8) – Learning to Love your Deadlines!

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Welcome to the 7th article in an eight part series that digs deeper into the 8 Simple Strategies so you can save time, money and energy on your journey to the best marketing materials around.

We can all have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. Imagine, it’s the 11th hour, you haven’t eaten lunch, many cups of coffee in…but garsh darnit you have to get this finished or you just can’t take that next step into your business development or your client will be really disappointed. Not only will your client be upset but so will you, because we entrepreneurs always set expectations and the pile of to – do’s is getting higher and higher. Plus, deep down you are ready to get this project off your plate. And then…wait for it… completion! What a great feeling! You’re happy! The client is super happy! And voila the deadline wasn’t such a bad idea after all. So you know what it feels like to be on deadline, right?

Even with all its ups and downs, deadlines are one of the most important elements of not only your creative projects, but of your business as a whole. Human beings work much better within a structured environment (hence government!). Deadlines are obviously a great way to create that structure and get results.
When it comes to your creative projects its very important to communicate specific deadlines to your designer. This allows your designer to plan their time more effectively and it gets you your projects finished in a fair amount of time for the both of you. There is nothing worse for designer or entrepreneur than a project that drags on indefinitely. So think back to when you have been on deadline, remember you were probably not dealing with just one client but multiple clients. Your designer, if successful, is probably working with a production schedule of his or her own.

Discuss with your designer openly and honestly your expectations for your creative project. You might have some immediate needs, but of course don’t expect a turn around in less than 24 hours to always be possible. Also do not “over deadline” by becoming a micro manager. Make sure that the schedule works for both of you. It is better to communicate your needs and ask if your time schedule is possible for your designer rather than telling them. Remember they are running a business too and to rush the creative process will show rushed results. I suggest setting up your deadline schedule like such:

Logo Design
1st round review: Nov 6th
2nd round revisions: Nov 12th

Final version: Nov 18th

Email 3 to 4 days before each due date to check in

Post this schedule up where you can see it to keep the flow going. Set up with your designer a communication protocol if set dates are going to shift for them or for you due to longer revision time and processes. Then, if you feel the need to check in, email your designer 3 to 4 days before to communicate your excitement to take this next step. Also, make sure they don’t need any additional materials or further clarification from you. This will allow for them to share in your excitement and will often show an even greater loyalty to you and respect to your time commitments. All in all, once due dates have been agreed upon create an assurance with your designer to excitedly meet them. You will both be better armed to finish the project on time with amazing results!
Happy deadline setting!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (6 of 8) – Great Expectations!

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Welcome to the 6th article in an eight part series that digs deeper into the 8 Simple Strategies so you can save time, money and energy on your journey to the best marketing materials around.

There is nothing more frustrating than an unmet expectation. As business professionals we have to remember that working with anyone is like being in an intimate relationship. Communication is key. No one person can read another person’s mind so it is essential to outline your expectations. Equally important is to outline your expectations at the beginning of the project before the heat of deadlines and creative mojo starts getting tossed around.

There are 5 key areas that will help you to have your expectations outlined and met with ease and grace. Not all are necessary to do but a combination of at least a few will get you where you want to be with your design and marketing projects:

Number 1
Set Up a Needs List
A needs list outlines what you think you will encounter during the design process. Make sure you set up a list that works for both you and your designer. This includes:
* brainstorming sessions
* specific number of mock-ups
* images and copy needed
* first draft due-dates
* revision time
* final project completion

Feel free to add any other steps or needs that will make you feel comfortable during the designing process. Also be clear on how extra time (and therefore extra charges) will be discussed when added to your project.

Number 2
Work Presentation
When your designer or marketing team is ready to present you with work find out what presentation style works best for you. Sometimes you might be limited because you will be working with someone out of state or just far enough to make an in person presentation unlikely. Because technology and virtual communication is advancing, there are many ways around having to conduct in person meetings. For instance, you can ask if your designer has a webinar option available for presenting work.
If you do choose email, be clear if you want your designer on the phone to go through each option one on one or if you want time to sit with the design before discussing revisions with your designer.

Number 3
Discuss payment and payment plans
Money can be complicated but it does not have to be. If you discuss payment options and time frames before a project is started it can decrease stress and complications later on.

* Be very clear on whether an hourly rate or a flat project fee will be used.
* Be very clear about other expenses as well, such as stock photography, materials and gas mileages.
* Be aware that most smart designers expect 30% to 50% of the estimate or project fee up front.
* Discuss how soon after project completion they expect payment to be made.
* Discuss payment methods: credit card, cash, or check.
* Discuss how additions to the project either in tasks or hours will be addressed throughout the project.

Number 4
Non-Disclosure Agreements
Although this option is not always necessary, it is important to protect your business and business ideas. A non-disclosure agreement is a contract that you and your designer sign to protect the protietery information that will be discussed in the development of your branding and marketing strategies. It basically outlines that anything about Company A will not be disclosed to anyone outside of Company B. You can get more information about Non-Disclosure Agreements from your lawyer and basic information on line.
Be sure to send a non-disclosure agreement if what you discuss and are creating is confidential or is time sensitive. For example, if you are going to be releasing a new product that has patent pending material or are starting a new seminar course in a highly competitive market and you are having a designer do the packaging or sales page, you may want to have them sign an NDA to keep that information confidential.

Number 5
Signing Contracts
Smart designers will often have a contract for you to sign outlining the project work, explaining expectations for payment, proposed project timelines and other various elements to protect their rights. Be sure to communicate your expectations as well. (For example, if you need a Net 30 payment versus a Net 15.)

This doesn’t mean you also need to draw up a contract, but perhaps an outline that you and your designer can refer back to in order to stay on track. The only reason you may want to compose a contract is if you are setting certain agreements for a particular length of time that will need to be readdressed once you have learned more about one another and/or created a different type of partnership.

Well hopefully this article met your expectations! I also hope it was helpful in setting up some parameters that you and your designer can work within for an effective relationship that gets the work finished how you like it and when you like it.

Happy Expectations!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (5 of 8) – Learning to speak “Designer”

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Welcome to the 5th article in an eight part series that digs deeper into the 8 Simple Strategies so you can save time, money and energy on your journey to the best marketing materials around.

Imagine you’re on a trip to a foreign land. You don’t know the language spoken you have been studying the key words that you think will be helpful to get you around all the spots you have picked to visit: hotel, train, taxi, bathroom, restaurant, cocktail! You arrive and things are going smoothly because of the little bit of research you have done prior to your arrival.

Why not learn a little language of the foreign land of graphic design to make the trip you take with your designer that much smoother? Now you can relax and simply enjoy the “sights”!

Speaking with a tech savvy designer may be intimidating for some, but don’t worry, knowing a few basic things can really take time off your communication and your project creation time. And leave you with a huge smile on your face!

Top 9 Terms to know:

1. DPI: Stands for dots per inch or how many pixels of ink/color are in a square inch of your image. The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution of an image will be.

2. High Resolution: High resolution typically means 300dpi. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of an image. Therefore, high-resolution images are generally used for marketing materials that will be printed onto paper or any other tangible medium. File size is usually 1MB (megabyte) or higher.

3. Low Resolution: Low resolution typically means 72dpi. The lower the resolution, the lower the quality of an image will be. Therefore, low-resolution images are generally used for marketing materials that will be used on the web. The web is a viewer that requires low dpi for a faster upload time and easier viewing. File size is usually 1MB (megabyte) or lower.

4. Vector Image: A vector file refers to an image that has been digitally illustrated with “vector points” that are changeable. Like an illustration you would make with a pencil versus one made with a pen. These exist in .AI (Illustrator) formats.

5. Layer File: A layered fi le is a layout with multiple images and text lying on top of one another. Imagine a collage that hasn’t been glued down yet, its as easy as a gust of wind to move the images and text around. These generally exist in .INDD (InDesign) and .PSD (Photoshop) formats.

6. Flattened File: Flattened files are a layout that was once layered file or vector file and has been compressed into one image. Imagine a collage that has been lacquered with 20 coats of clear wood varnish and there is no way those pieces of paper are going anywhere! That’s a flattened file. These are typically in .JPEG, .PDF, .TIFF, or .GIF formats.

7. CMYK: CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (yeah I know black doesn’t start with K, we’ll get into that over that cocktail I mentioned earlier). These are the colors that all 4 color print jobs are created with. In this color model, white is the natural color of the paper or other background, while black results from a full combination of colored inks.

8. RGB: RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. This is the color space used on the Web. This color space has an even wider variety of options than CMYK.

9. PANTONE: is a color matching system used to create specific colors and know exactly how they will be printed. These are sometimes called spot colors and can be used to make CMYK process configurations or are used on their own.

Why should I know all this?

First, image resolution matters because it directly affects the quality of your project. It is easy to go from a high-resolution image to low-resolution image without losing any quality. However, it is impossible to take a low resolution image and it a high resolution without losing quality. For instance, you can generally never pull an image from your website and use it in printed material. It will be grainy and unclear.

The second thing to know about when working with a designer is flattened files versus layered files. I bring this differentiation up for two important reasons.
1. It is challenging for a graphic designer to manipulate a flattened file without a lot of time and effort. They essentially have to cut every element out in order to move it around, erase parts then recreate them to adjust for changes, and/or add new text, all at the risk of damaging the quality of the who composition. Imagine getting through that lacquer now! This could end up adding to your project time and upping the cost of your invoice.
2. Any time a designer does work for you, ask for a copy of the layered or vector file to have for your records once the project has closed. This protects you in case you have to go with another artist in the future. I want to help you negate a situation where a job what seems like a quick fix, but is actually a major work process.

Lastly, it’s also important to know color terms because you need to know how your final product will look once printed or appearing on screen. For instance – what you see on your screen won’t look like what you print out from your personal printer. Your personal printer is also calibrated (set-up) differently than a professional printer. What you see from your printer will often be at least slightly different than what you print out at home. It’s best to get a hard proof from a printer before submitting a job.

Hope that knocks down some of the language barrier!

Happy chatting!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (4 of 8) – Copy Writing

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Welcome to the 4th article in an eight part series that digs deeper into the 8 Simple Strategies so you can save time, money and energy on your journey to the best marketing materials around.

Dear Jessica,
I am a small business owner and I recently had a brochure created for my company. I thought it would be a super easy process but it ended up being a nightmare and costing me way more than I had expected. I noticed that there was a lot of back and forth between me and my designer because of some text changes I wanted to make. What do you think I could have done differently to make this a less tedious and costly project?

If there were one thing out of all the things in the design process that I could have my clients be the most prepared with, it would be their copy. Can I stress this again?…
If there were one thing out of all the things in the design process that I could have my clients be the most prepared with it would be their copy.  Not just for my sake but for your sake!

Raise your hand if you don’t want to save time and money in your business?

That’s what I thought…
Here’s the thing, having your copy ready isn’t just good practice, it’s a strategy!
Why?
Most designers are not copywriters. When we look at text on a page it becomes not words, but another image or graphic that must beautifully fit into the puzzle of your design. There are also certain typographic rules in design that are implemented in the development of layouts. The sense of balance and hierarchy can get thrown off if even just a letter is added.

Also, when changes are made in a body of text it can completely disrupt the shape that the text makes. This can throw off the aesthetic of the design and cause the need for shifts in all other elements surrounding the text. So it’s not always just a quick fix.

Let me be clear, don’t be scared to make changes after the initial design is presented if you feel a sentence needs to be reworked now that you see in use. The point is to keep these modifications to a minimum by being prepared.

By flushing out your copy a few times before it even reaches your designer, you can save a ton of time and money and, let’s face it – frustration. (You’ll make your designer happy too!)

It’s like when you are making a meal. You want to have all the ingredients ready to go before you start so everything goes in the oven and in the pan at the right times. When you come in at all angles, at all different times, with the wrong ingredients your meal will take hours to make and quite honestly just won’t taste good.

The same thing applies with having your copy ready with design. If you want to discuss possibilities with your designer on what copy to have that’s fine too, but be well aware that you might be charged for that time and they may not have the experience to truly help you get anywhere. There are many great copywriters out there that can help prep you in this area. Or if you are doing it yourself bounce your ideas off a few others to get feedback on what’s most intriguing and informational. Just trust me on this one…and you’ll make huge strides in completing your design materials in a more efficient and cost effective way.

So let’s recap…

* This strategy is very critical in saving time and money.

* Most designers are not copywriters, so have your copy completely flushed out before submitting it to a designer

* Extra special care and possibly external expertise (copywriters and editors) should especially be used with text heavy design projects such as e-books, catalogs and brochures.

* It takes precision, time and the implementing of certain typographic rules to layout copy in a manner that creates hierarchy and is easy for your audience to read.

* Unnecessary back and forth can be avoided with thoroughly prepared copy and can limit fees adding onto your final invoice as well as decrease your production time.

* Do not hesitate to make minor changes and additions here and there so you get the effect you desire, but massive overhauls should be avoided at all costs (literally!)

Happy Copy Writing!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (3 of 8) – Using Resources & Examples

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You want the recipe for success?

Model…Model…Model. No…not struttin’ down the catwalk to some new ditty by a pop star. I am talking about finding resources that are already successful and do what they do in your own way. Remember when you were learning to walk and talk? OK, me neither, but you know how we figured it out?…that’s right, we watched all those big people doing it and so we mirrored them until it finally made sense and we could run and talk in our own way. Building your business and brand is no different. In fact, finding resources is a mandatory step I take with my clients before beginning their branding projects.

These are the 3 most frequently asked questions I get about sourcing examples:

FAQ 1: What kind of resources should I be pulling?

Anything and everything! I bet you’re thinking “Thanks for the focus Jessica!” but it’s true. The point is to be free in this process and, in a way, let the materials come to you. I am sure in the last twenty-four hours you have come across an email, a brochure even a television commercial that has sparked your interest. Why? It’s the same as when you pick one t-shirt out at the boutique over another. Something in ‘it’ is reflecting something in you. Capture them! Anytime you come across something or someone (lets not forget that people can be great examples to source too!) that tickles your fancy, archive it. I recommend making this example sourcing an ongoing process. For those of you who need some guidelines, I would say the best places to find examples are:

-When you are surfing the web and come across a great website.
-When you’re out with friends and family and see a brochure or a free publication.
-When you meet someone new and they give you a great business card.
-Restaurant Menus (see if they have a to-go)
-Other company logos
-CD covers & DVD covers
-Google Images
-Stock photography websites.
-The list is truly endless but these are great places to start!

Secret tip: As you are surfing the Web here’s how to capture specific images…
-On a MAC:
1. Press Command + Shift + 4
2. Left click and drag the cross hairs over the desired image to be captured and let go of the left click button.
3. The image will go to your desktop and be names Picture #.
4. Rename the file with a more descriptive title
5. Move to the specific folder where you are keeping your images (discussed in FAQ2).

-On a PC:
1. Press the Print Screen key on your keyboard. It may be labeled [PrtScn].
2. Open an image-editing program, such as Microsoft Paint.
3. Go to the Edit menu and choose Paste.
4. If prompted to enlarge the image, choose Yes.
5. Optional: Use your image editor’s crop tool to crop out unnecessary portions of the screen shot.
6. Go to the File Menu and choose Save As.
7. Navigate to the folder where you want to save the image.
8. Type a file name for the image.
9. Select a file type. Click the Save button.
10. Tip: Hold the Alt key down while pressing Print Screen to capture only the active window.

FAQ 2: I feel like there would be images and paper and website bookmarks everywhere! How can I keep all these examples organized?

Since examples come in many different formats set up the following organization systems:
* Create a Bookmark Folder in your web browser bar to archive websites
* Create a folder on your desktop called Example Resource for anything that you down load
* Make a separate sub folder just for color examples
* Create a file folder to store clippings, business cards you like, brochures, etc.
* Create a people list. Anyone who you would like to model or emulate put them on a list and then find ways to learn more about them and their processes.
* Be picky. Only put examples in your files that really speak to you in both terms of design and message.
* Clear out every other month. This is good because it makes you look at these valuable resources so you can spark ideas and continue to get clear. Also you don’t want to create a space of chaos with this, they are here to help.

FAQ 3: How will these examples help?

I can’t think of anything more helpful than to have examples of things that are inspiring and in line with what you are after. Here is why sourcing examples is so helpful:

1. You begin to notice trends from what you source. All of a sudden you see that all of your examples are a shade of red but you thought your direction with color was going to be blue. Or you see that even though you thought clean and corporate was your business style there is an organic quality to all the examples that are in your example folders. Even when you create your people list…perhaps they are spreading a common message or possess a certain strength. You can now focus on the repeated core areas and expand.

2. This expansion can really re-focus your message. Perhaps you have strayed from your original business quest or maybe you never really came from one solid place. Having examples, pooling them together is a visual way to focus your energy of where you want your business to go. Just try it and see what comes up.

3. Last, but certainly not least, having examples is a HUGE help that allows your graphic designer to get clarity about what you’re after. Once a designer has a few resources to work from with inspiration, they are no longer taking a stab in the dark. It is important to not choose random examples but to really choose resources that reflect your over-all desired branding theme and then to communicate why you think the examples strongly represent what you are after.

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (2 of 8) – Decisions & Directions

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How many of you have heard a saying somewhere along the line of “If you don’t know what you want, then you cannot go after it”? All of us right! So what do we do when we have trouble reaching clarity?
I would love to just regurgitate Chapter 8 of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich for this article (its all about making decisions). But I will just grab this portion is simple but drives the point home: “Analysis of several hundred people who accumulated fortunes well beyond the million-dollar mark disclosed the fact that everyone of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly and of changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed.” (Hill, N. Think and Grow Rich, pg157. JMW Group, Inc, 2003.)

One of the simple strategies to follow in order to successfully work with a graphic designer (or ANYONE really…) is “Give a General Theme & a Thorough Briefing.”

Here’s the kicker – you HAVE TO make decisions and be clear about them before you can even get to the point of communication. Over the next couple of weeks I will share five easy tips ton how to give effective direction!

1. Don’t Re-invent the Wheel
How many times have you caught yourself starting from scratch only to find that once you do a little research…WHAM-OOH! There it is already “kind-of” been done before but not quite like you! Most likely anything you want to do has been done before in some way or another. Simply enter what ever you are thinking of into a search engine and thousands of articles, websites and images will point you in the right direction. My most successful branding stories have come from clients who have looked for examples from anywhere in their environment that resonate with them. Then we break down the why and formulate something super unique to their message and company personality.

It’s not up to us to figure it all out. There have been signs and great clues if not exact verbatim to show us the way, any great seekers knows this! But don’t feel as though you are a copy cat or a cheat because it’s not about taking it as you find it. The beauty about this great big world and our evolution in it is that we have the opportunity to build on what has come before. Sometimes there is a great foundation that we can lay our own personal layer on. And other times we find in our search what not to replicate and build a foundation of our own. The point is to not flail about in the abyss when all the clues are a mouse click away. Why are you still reading this….go on get! Find your next frontier and lets us know what happens….

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! Simple Strategies (1 of 8) – Targeting

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Do you know how many business owners go about their marketing guessing what their target market is like rather than KNOWING? It’s rather frightening! Too many, to be frank.

It’s this kind of “unknowing” that leads to disorganization, it leads to missed opportunities, it leads to attracting the wrong kind of clients, it leads to not playing BIG in your business…now who wants all that? Not me and I know you don’t either.

And neither do your potential clients. You see when you aren’t focused on YOUR demographic they don’t see you and they definitely don’t see the amazing products or services you are providing. People are missing out on your gifts! Which only leaves you flailing in the infinite water of the human population. Knowing your target market is your life saver!

Quite honestly, I used to be one of those entrepreneurs in guesstimate mode. Crossing my fingers every time I made a decision. Moving blindly through each day wasting a ton of time at my attempt to get clients sporadically here and there. Feeling like I was working really, really hard and at the end of the day not making a dent in the to-do list or making any kind of progress at all. This went on longer than I would like to admit.
Then something magical happened, or at least it felt like magic. I had an amazing and talented mentor guide me through the process of understanding my target market. It was like the red curtain had been lifted and I finally knew my role in the play of my business. But I wasn’t acting! And I’ll tell you what…as soon as I became clear on my target market my client base almost tripled!!! And my income has been growing steadily ever since. If you’re in the unfamiliar zone when it comes to your niche, have no fear! There are answers. (And the best part is…it doesn’t have to be difficult!)

I equate not knowing your target market to when you walk in the other room to do something and you can’t for the life of you remember what it was you were going to do. So you go back to the place of the original thought and if you are lucky the task is recalled, if you’re lucky. AKA…one-step forward, a thousand steps back. Stop everything you are doing after you are finished reading this article and make a point to solidify your target market…You promise me? Good…now here’s a little “how to” on the topic…

There are a plethora of ways to get up close and personal with your target market. Some key areas to research (and not guess) are your target market’s…

· Gender
· Age range
· Household income
· Education level
· Perceived wants
· Hobbies

These are a great place to start! As with anything, the more you know the better! To have utmost clarity on this one portion of your business will catapult success not only with your design materials, but also in every area of your business.

So you’re saying “I know what I need to know…how the heck do I go and find it?”

I thought you might be thinking that. What do you do when you want something?…YOU ASK FOR IT. Poll your favorite clients and ask them specific questions related to the product or service you are selling. After you get the basics from them (age, gender, HHI, and education) the next part is a little more tricky, but also really fun! That’s when you say “Excuse me mister or misses client…have you experienced a different widget in the past? What was that experience like for you? What is it that you want more from the widget. What are you struggling and how can the widget help?”

Feel free to ask these questions of your client directly if you have that kind of rapport with them or send out an anonymous survey. There are plenty or free and paid providers of surveys on the Internet if you do a quick search.

Now, don’t leave intuition completely out of the equation. Your intuition is like the desire to take the journey and these target market tools are your maps. When your intuition pops up (as it likes to do) listen…perhaps its time to ask new and different questions. Constantly check in with your clients to find out there needs and wants. Remember it’s always easier to obtain more business from current clients rather than acquiring new business.

On to the next important matter!

So now that you have your target market all figured out…don’t just stand there! As I like to say…”let’s get visual!”

Now that you know who your target market is you have to start communicating with them so they know how you can help them. And…what is one of the best ways to do this?

Marketing materials!

That brings us to the really fun part…communicating your target market to your designer so that you can communicate your message to your target market. It’s a beautiful circle isn’t it!

“Why do I communicate my target market to my designer? Isn’t she just supposed to make things pretty?”
Heck no! There is so much more going on. When your designer knows your target market AND the importance of it she can create visuals that will attract the clients you are looking for. If it’s a free-for-all, what often happens is, the designer will end up creating for YOU rather than whom your visuals are intended for.

This means your favorite colors, your favorite shapes rather than the preferred message, colors and images of your target market. This creates disconnect between what your visuals are or become and what will be most compelling to your target audience.

Of course, don’t completely abandon your personal touch, as your essence creates what your business continuously evolves into.

Remember having a precise understanding of your target market cuts through the communication clutter when creating the direction of your business and talking to a designer to create your visual marketing material. It takes the guesswork out of what group you are trying to reach, SAVING YOU TIME AND MONEY! The more your you and your designer knows about whom she is creating for the better compositions she can bring to the visual marketing table and the more effectively your message will be shared.

Happy targeting!

TIPS FOR THURSDAY! The Recipe to Solve Your Top Marketing Challenge

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Boy do I have a recipe for you! I can’t hold back my excitement with this, it’s as though my Grandma Alter’s secret pie crust recipe was being revealed (maybe in another article some time). I have been getting a lot of feedback from my clients about the struggles they face in marketing in their respective businesses.
There is one really major challenge that I repeatedly hear from the entrepreneurs I work with and that is TIME and not having enough of it. If you want to speed yourself to success then implement the below tactics and you will see results faster than ever before. Like the quick meal phenomenon that has swept our nation without all the calories and trans fat! SUPERSIZE THIS!

>Ingredients:
1 brand
1 person
1 business model
1 unlimited list
1 plan of action
1 mastermind partner or mastermind group
1 to 2 wealth/success/business coach
Salt and pepper AKA Take action IMMEDIATELY

>Prep:
Preheat: Show up to the kitchen with an open heart, ready to make a mess at times and excited for the results.

SERIOUSLY…GET EXCITED!!!

Read the recipe book: Educate yourself. Who is doing what you are doing at the next level and model after them. Go find seminars and books that discuss what you are after and immerse yourself. Take action immediately…please use this in all the steps discussed, this is your ultimate all purpose spice!

Get to know your eater: Survey your people, ask them what you want to know to make the ultimate “meal” for them. Believe me they will tell you what they want and you can only better serve them when you have more information. Know who they are, where they like to go on vacation, their age, their house hold income, what publications they read, where they shop, etc etc.  Cook for one person: I don’t know about you but if you’ve had people over for a meal and one’s a meat eater and one’s a vegetarian and one’s gluten free and one only eats food that’s white, man is your head turning around in circles poltergeist style. Make your life easier…pick one…if you try to please them all you will go bananas! Then, always and only cook for that one person. Speak like you’re speaking to that one person, write like you are writing to that one person. ALWAYS.

Invite your guests: Build your list of connections. This can be done in a number of ways. If you have been to the http://www.designkrew.com/ you know that there is a space for people to leave their name and email so that I can be in contact with people interested in my services and what I am up to. You can also go to networking meetings where your target market participate, social online networking or even in causal one-on-one chance meetings. The point is to be in touch with your contacts on a regular basis. Always invite them to your “dinner parties”!

Set the table: Make a brand… and make a space that people are excited to come to. This really allows you, the business owner, to take ownership of what you are doing to be the host, if you will, of a fabulous party that only your “eaters” are invited to because it’s guaranteed that they will love whatever you make. So create a space that will resonate with them just as much as your products and services will. This allows all that you do to be congruent and harmonized for the overall experience.
As long as we’re on the food analogy…think about the most amazing restaurant you’ve ever been to. Everything from the greeting of the Maitre d’ to the last bite of dessert was just perfection. You may not remember the color of the tablecloths or how many prongs were on each fork or the flower selection but all were carefully chosen for one purpose and one purpose only…to give you an experience that you would enjoy coming back to. When you have a brand this is what is created for your clients and potential clients. The ultimate experience that they know will be the same when they visit again; creating a trust, a loyalty and repeat purchases! I can definitely help you with this!

>Mix It UP:
Take all the above elements and begin to mix them together with a plan. Some of you might be groaning in your seat…a plan…now you want me to write a plan! I can barely keep my head above all these emails and calls and yadah yadah…I have no time to make a plan!

Well remember that PREHEAT I mentioned before…getting excited…if you knew a plan was going to keep you focused and help you get out of the urgent and emergency mode and into the success mode, would you do it? I think you would!

SO don’t make it difficult, we are at prime time to map out our next year here. I would suggest making a list of the next 24 weeks (the next 6 months). Hop on a word doc or excel sheet and number 1 to 24 and just write your areas of focus for each week with one to five action steps.

>Bake:  Get what I like to call Heat Support. Stick all these ideas and your plan in the hot oven and get some yeast that will make this puppy rise rise RISE!

Who’s on your team that will help you kick it up a couple notches?? I highly suggest getting a Mastermind partner or mastermind group. What the heck is this!? Have someone in your life, preferably another entrepreneur, that you can check in with once a week or once every other week to discuss ideas, growth potential opportunities, etc. Keep these conversations positive and focused, they are not times to complain and say “woe is me,” but a superb opportunity to step into your greatness and have a solid sounding board for all that is going on with you and your business.

Education again: YEP…never stop learning. Once you’ve learned something learn it again and again and again to really hone in on what possible. There are also always new trends and opportunities taking place and it is essential that you are on the cutting edge of that to compete in an ever changing economy.

And last but CERTAINLY not least…get a coach. I would not be where I am today without the coaching I have received. It has catapulted my business forward into the SUPER HOT zone. A coach knows where you want to go and can speed you there with tools and experience. Find a coach that is exactly where you want to be and learn from them without having to go through all the roadblocks that they have gone through. I am telling you

THIS IS THE SECRET ingredient.
Voila! You have the recipe to your marketing and business success. Can you smell it? Can you taste it?

>This Recipe Serves:
You and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of targeted potential clients
I have been implementing these very steps and the growth I have seen in the past 6 months would blow your mind! I have tripled my client base and tripled my income in a very short time frame! And I know you can do it too! If you want more information or to dive deeper on any of these topics I am here to provide information and top-notch resources for you

Happy Love Baking! ;)

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