November 3, 2014

10 lessons learned at the 2014 Founding Moms Conference

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 10:00 am
Jill Salzman and Christie Hefner at Founding Moms Conference 2014

Founding Mom Conference founder Jill Salzman chats with Christie Hefner

I recently attended the inaugural Founding Moms Conference in Chicago, a gathering for women (and men) running businesses, with a focus on mom-owned businesses. There were fabulous speakers on topics such as sales, marketing, communication, and work-life balance.

The overall takeaway for me was: make a difference, get out of your comfort zone, and charge what you’re worth (i.e. raise your prices).

10 lessons learned at the Founding Moms Conference

  1. Raise your prices. (Brad Farris)
  2. If you don’t deal with your money, it will deal with you. (Barbara Stanny)
  3. It’s not about making more money, it’s about making a difference. (Barbara Stanny)
  4. Take something that scares you, remove the “but” and replace with “and” (Jamie Migdal)
  5. You’re educating, not pitching. (Darin Adams)
  6. Build networks instead of searching for one mentor. (Christie Hefner)
  7. Schedule a 4 o’clock tea. (Sandee Kastrul)
  8. What can you do that makes your clients/customers say “wow”? (Darin Adams)
  9. Price is not a POD (point of difference) — your POD should relate to an unmet need. (Susan Silver)
  10. Everything you do is either making a deposit into or withdrawal from your brand. (Christie Hefner)

Heading to a conference soon? Read my tips for designing the perfect conference experience.

October 28, 2014

5 tips for making your business card work for you

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 2:15 pm

a collection of business cards

Ah, the lowly business card. We all have them, but do we know how to make them stand out? Here are a few tips to make sure your business card doesn’t end up in the recycle bin…

  1. Make it unique and memorable: whether expressed through format (size, shape, folds), paper stock (heavy, textured, plastic, wood) or design, a memorable business card will stay in your recipient’s mind—and on their desk.
  2. Include clear and complete contact info: start with the basics: name, address, phone/fax number, email, URL. Then consider adding “extras,” such as twitter username, blog URL, hours of operation, product offerings, etc.
  3. Express your business personality: incorporate an aspect of your business or personality into the card. If you’re a home builder, print your card on wood. If you sell a product, include a photo of it on the card.
  4. Don’t overwhelm the recipient: don’t cram everything you do onto a tiny card. Consider creating a second business card for your ancillary business offerings or sideline business.
  5. Make sure it’s well-designed and thought-out: a good business card—just like a good business—is not thrown together quickly, but thoughtfully considered, planned and executed. Need help? Reach out to a graphic designer experienced with branding and identity for expert assistance (hint, hint)


July 2, 2014

Why I love Trader Joe’s flyers

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 2:28 pm

Trader Joe's  Fearless Flyer

As I was staring at a recent Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” (ie their mailer with featured products), I wondered: Why am I (a visually-driven person) so engrossed in this when there are hardly any images? Answer: it’s the writing!

Through their stories, colorful descriptions and unique pairings, the Trader Joe’s writers manage to capture the unique and “buyable” qualities of every product—basically, making you want to run to the store and buy it without even seeing it. I find this to be a great example of effective copywriting (and a useful case study for small business owners).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Trader Joe’s…

June 3, 2014

Round-up: kicking LinkedIn up a notch

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Networking,Round-up — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

This week’s round-up features my latest obsession: LinkedIn. I never thought much about my profile, however after talking with a marketing coach, I decided to revamp mine and use it more actively—and found lots of great resources along the way.

  1. 10 Insights: How to Use LinkedIn to Build Business Success Faster than Your Competitors [Jeffbullas’s Blog]
  2. How to Use LinkedIn as an Effective Prospecting Tool [Smarter Freelancing Podcast]
  3. How to Attract Great Clients With LinkedIn [Smarter Freelancing Podcast]
  4. How I Used LinkedIn to Get a 41 percent Response Rate and 6 New Clients [biznik]
  5. How to Create a Compelling & Optimized LinkedIn Profile [Top Dog Social Media]
  6. Build a Killer LinkedIn Profile | Think-n-Drink, Chicago – LIVE EVENT TONIGHT 6/3

Have you found ways to maximize LinkedIn? Share your success stories.

Our Round-Up features useful business tidbits we’ve collected. See past Round-Ups here.

March 12, 2014

Marketing tip: decide who you will NOT target.

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , — lidia @ 5:07 pm

A key part of marketing is deciding whom you will NOT target.

From Tips & Traps for Marketing Your Business Tips and Traps for Marketing Your Business by Scott Cooper , Fritz Grutzner and Birk Cooper

December 31, 2012

Things I want to learn in 2013

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , — lidia @ 11:07 am
2013 greeting card by Laura Berger

2013 greeting card by my friend Laura Berger. Buy in her etsy shop! 

So, at the beginning of every year I make a list of things I want to learn. Apparently, I skipped 2012’s list—but I was already busy learning how to be a new mom! (see 2011’s list here).

Things I want to learn in 2013

  • How to create an eBook in Adobe InDesign
  • How to use Google Analytics effectively (admittedly, this has been on my list for several years!)
  • How to narrow down all of my personal creative projects
  • QuickBooks
  • Recipes for my slow cooker
  • Fitting in exercise into my biz mama schedule
  • A fun DIY holiday gift for friends
  • Sewing

What do you want to learn in 2013?


October 22, 2012

Dream of seeing your photography in Chronicle Books? Two ways to make it happen.

Images © Chronicle Books (top) and © Janine Vangool, UPPERCASE magazine (bottom)

If you’re like me and regularly fantasize about having your work published by Chronicle Books, here are two opportunities that might make this a reality.

This is happening – Instagram book

Chronicle Books and Instagram are teaming up on a new book featuring Instagram users’ photos.

The assignment: send your favorite Instagram that captures a fleeting moment that made your day.

“This is Happening” page with submission details and entry form.

Typewriter Notecards

Janine Vangool, editor of the lovely UPPERCASE magazine is designing/curating a set of notecards featuring vintage typewriters, also to be published by Chronicle Books (spring 2014).

She is seeking Polaroid or lo-fi/retro-inspired photographs of vintage typewriters, taken by UPPERCASE readers.

Submission details can be found on the UPPERCASE website.

Good luck!

October 9, 2012

How do you tell your story? Insights from great storytellers @chicagoideas #CIW

Filed under: Branding,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 4:45 pm

This week is Chicago Ideas Week and I was anxiously awaiting today’s session on storytellers, presented by Leo Burnett.

Rushing downtown after a last-minute pediatrician visit, I settled in for an hour-and-half of storytelling inspiration (and a much-needed break).

Speaker highlights:

Obsession—an essential part of storytelling

Author Rebecca Skloot talked about how obsession is an essential part of storytelling. I totally agree, in fact the concept of “creative obsession” drives a lot of popular blogs (including my own type-obsessed blog). She also gave an inspired account of how a professor’s lecture sparked the idea for her award-winning book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. “You never know what one sentence will do to affect someone’s life.” (paraphrasing)

Telling a brand’s story

Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett spoke about storytelling through advertising and marketing. She discussed approaching brands and products as characters in a story. She also elaborated on how storytelling has evolved in advertising: brands are starting stories and people are taking those stories and expanding on them. She showed a wonderful example, the Leo Burnett-produced Secret Mean Stinks campaign (a must-see for parents of girls especially).

Becoming a part of your story

A.J. Jacobs gave an entertaining talk on observing and participating in storytelling. In his case, this means a year of living according to the Bible and reading the entire encyclopedia. “You change your behavior and your mind follows.”

Telling your own story

I was delighted to return to my office and stumble upon this article in my inbox: Want Your Message To Stick? Tell A Story. It tied in nicely with today’s storytelling session and offered  tips for telling your story, such as figuring out your idea (or “character”) and setting the mood. Read the rest here.

One of my recent goals has been to focus more on my (and my business’) story.

What about you…how do you tell your story?


October 4, 2012

Meeting with a prospective client: after [CFC blog post]

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 1:19 pm

Yesterday I talked about how to prepare for a meeting with a potential client. Today we’ll talk about what to do after the meeting (which went wonderfully, of course!)

What to do after your meeting:

  1. Send a thank you note: Yes, I said a note. I admit I do send follow-up emails to prospective clients, but I also follow-up with a handwritten note.
  2. Review your notes: There is usually a lot of information exchanged in a first meeting. I like to go over everything while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Read the rest of my tips for what to do after a meeting on the Creative Freelancer Blog.

• • •

See all of my small business posts on the Creative Freelancer Blog here.

September 7, 2012

When you promote your small business, do you show what you do?

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 10:00 am

Left: HEEX hand-sewn direct mail piece; Right: Lidia Varesco Design Valentine Day promotional piece

I saved a past article in Deliver magazine because it featured a fantastic direct mail piece for a Czech fashion label.

The piece (shown at left) was a hand-sewn mini-garment, with pockets for the business card and letter and contact info printed on the “garment tag.” It was a fabulous example of a brand showing what they do—quite literally—and it resulted in large volume of sales for the company.

Does your small business effectively show what you do?

When you send a marketing or promotional piece, does it reflect your business? Not all of us can create a direct mail piece that is as literal as the fashion brand example. But we can still express an aspect of our business.

A few ways I show what I do:

  • I have a passion for—and extensive knowledge of—paper, so I chose a unique paper stock for my business cards (Gmund Bier Papier made with beer by-products!) I’ve also incorporated handmade paper into my website design.
  • I also love books so for a Valentine’s Day promotion, I sent clients a copy of the CRAVE Chicago guidebook and a handmade bookmark (see above.)
  • Typography is another obsession of mine, so I created Typography in the City, a blog to share found typography in my Chicago neighborhood.

Do your marketing materials reflect your business?

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