March 16, 2011

How to rock your business card

Filed under: Design & Art,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 9:38 am

some of my favorite biz cards

Recently, there was a segment on CBS News about the importance of business cards. It got me thinking: what makes a business card effective?

I host networking events, so I see a lot of business cards (not to mention designing quite a few for my own clients). I’ve noticed that some of them just naturally stand out from the others. So, what makes a business card rise to the top of the stack?

Qualities of an effective business card

  1. It’s 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. The contact info is clear and complete. Ever received a card without an address or URL? It’s frustrating—and makes you less likely to keep that company in mind. Make sure your business card includes the basics: name, address, phone/fax number, email, URL. Then consider adding “extras”: twitter username, blog URL, hours of operation, product offerings
  3. It expresses your business. 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. Remember: this little piece of paper is selling for you long after you’ve walked away—so make the space count.
  4. It doesn’t overwhelm the recipient. Nowadays, many of us wear multiple hats—but don’t cram everything onto a 2″ x 3-1/2″ card. Consider creating a second business card for your ancillary business offerings.
  5. 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? Talk to a graphic designer experienced with branding and identity (and I just happen to know one!)

View the CBS news segment “The Business of Designing Business Cards” here.

Seen examples of effective business cards? Thoughts about business cards in general? Share them in the comments!

February 21, 2011

Are you using O2O marketing for your small business?

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

photo on flickr by zoovroo

I recently read Duct Tape founder John Jantsch‘s article on 5 Trends that Will Shape Small Business in 2011. One trend that resonated with me was: O2O (online 2 offline) marketing.

What is O2O marketing?

John refers to it as “the logical integration of instant media with traditional media, social networks with chamber mixers.” He adds, “Online and offline, traditional media and new media, will stop competing and start working together.”

Admittedly, I’m an avid user of social media, however I also have a personal campaign to encourage people to send handwritten communications (read my articles here). Needless to say, I’m very fond of—and familiar with—the concept of online to offline marketing. And after being bombarded with social media opportunities, going offline for awhile is a nice change of pace.

How can O2O marketing be effective?

In my articles, I talk about about my own business relationships that were initiated online (i.e. twitter, blogs) but became established offline (i.e. handwritten note, in-person meeting). Without the offline communications, I wouldn’t have been able to to get to know the person and learn about their business. In each of these situations, I made not only a valuable business connection, but a new friend. And in small business, it’s all about creating personal relationships, discovering how we can work together or help each other.

How do you use online 2 offline marketing techniques in your own small business?

January 26, 2011

Social media? How about handwritten media?

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

Nice to Meet You card from Lidia Varesco Design

Being an avid user of social media, I can’t deny the effectiveness of making business connections via Twitter, blogs and the like. However, I believe staying connected with clients and prospects also requires a more personal approach: handwritten communications.

Over the years, I’ve personally experienced how handwritten or personal correspondence can positively impact a small business.

I’ve shared some of my experiences, as well as those of other small business owners, in this article for The Paper Mill Store’s latest newsletter.

Still skeptical about sending handwritten notes?

Watch this recent segment from the CBS Evening News about writing thank you cards. Not only does it make you feel good—but it can change your life.

Anyone else have positive experiences with using handwritten communications? Share them in the comment section!


Want handy tips for using handwritten communications?

Download my small business tipsheet on this topic.

October 22, 2010

Paper sells: the comeback of paper

Filed under: Design & Art,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , — lidia @ 1:30 pm

Paper is making a comeback.

Though the last few years have seen an increase in digital and online marketing channels, people are now realizing: paper sells.

Whether it’s a direct mail piece, catalog or marketing brochure, printed pieces are a way for businesses to stand out in the digital age.

This is great news for a print designer such as myself. I do strive to be be green, going paperless when possible. But being a longtime fan of paper (OK, paper junkie), I can’t deny the joy of seeing a printed brochure or announcement on a fabulous paper I selected.

And why not use paper? Most paper companies have responded to customers’ requests, offering environmentally-friendly options. Designers can create a design that uses less paper more creatively (saving trees and money). And there’s no substitute for experiencing the tactile quality of a printed piece.

According to the recent Deliver Magazine, direct mail generated the majority of donations to nonprofit organizations in 2009. Marketers are also realizing the value of combining print with online channels.

Several paper companies have launched recent campaigns to promote paper. NewPage Corporation launched the Paper Sells More Product” campaign, giving away $100,000 in print services to help catalogers, magazine publishers, and retailers sell more product.

Domtar Paper launched the “PAPER Because” campaign to highlight the key role paper plays in our lives and the reasons why it’s an environmentally sound choice.

Several paper and printing companies have also partnered with The Print Council. By providing education, awareness and research, they aim to promote the importance of print and the role it plays in your business’ media mix.

So, when you work on your next marketing or promotional campaign: think paper!

September 13, 2010

Me and hue: researching color

Filed under: Design & Art,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , — lidia @ 9:00 am

Pantone mugs from Uncommon Goods

Lately, I’ve had color on the brain. Between working on a new packaging project and developing new designs for my line of business greeting cards, I’ve been perusing, reading, sketching and generally immersing myself in the topic of color.

Color is generally rather subjective, as one person’s favorite may be detested by another (case in point: I know someone who loves kelly green but for me, not so much). However, as historical and cultural color connotations have grown and evolved over time, some general feelings of color have emerged. Who can argue that a bright, curry red restaurant poster conveys “heat” while a pale, muted gray business card speaks “tradition” (of course, typography and design falls into play, but we’re just talkin’ color).

Here are my general feelings on color as it’s used in business:

  • Red: powerful, bold
  • Orange: unique, creative
  • Yellow: joyful, light-hearted
  • Green: grounded, natural
  • Blue: reliable, trustworthy
  • Purple: spiritual, ethereal
  • Magenta: playful, whimsical
  • Brown: solid, strong

Businesses can use color to their advantage. We’ve all seen how a brand’s colors become so recognizable, that we know who it is without even seeing the entire logo. When you are developing your business or marketing materials, it helps to think about color and how it will portray your business: unique, conservative, intelligent, fun?

Along those same lines, a recent article in Deliver magazine spoke about color hues in relation to the outcome of a direct mail campaign. Color Communications Inc. examined colors in regards to how they make customers perceive pricing, value, safety and sophistication in products. For example, they found that orange helps to play up affordability, while white implies a higher-price point. Very interesting and useful stuff if you are marketing a product or service.

Are you using color effectively for your business?

September 3, 2010

Kicking off Friday Afternoon Marketing

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 3:14 pm

Between working on client projects and office duties, I bet many of us have a hard time squeezing in time for our own business marketing. I’ve decided to kick off Friday Afternoon Marketing. (Yes, I even created a “logo” for it, below)

I started a list of marketing tasks and will devote time each Friday afternoon to check things off the list. This avoids: A) doing marketing tasks in small, inefficient chunks; and B) not doing marketing at all. Of course, my schedule may not always allow me to devote an entire afternoon to marketing but if it’s on the calendar, I’ll be less likely to skip it.

So, what kinds of things will I do on Marketing Friday?

Typical Friday Afternoon Marketing tasks

  • update my profile for online portfolios and directories
  • rewrite my business bio
  • write a blog post (today’s post is a perfect example)
  • send thank you cards to clients and vendors
  • work on designs for new promo pieces
  • write a new Small Business Tipsheet
  • follow up with potential clients and prospects
  • file project samples, upload project images to my flickr portfolio
  • update my website: add new projects or newsworthy items
  • research potential clients
  • answer questions or write a recommendation on LinkedIn
  • watch a small biz or marketing webinar

How do you devote time to marketing your own business?

August 30, 2010

Sharing good (business) news

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 12:09 pm

Your business won an award. You’ve been published in an upcoming book. One of your projects has been mentioned in the newspaper. Don’t be shy—now is the time to share your good news!

When one of my packaging designs was recently chosen to be included in a book (hooray), I realized I don’t have a plan of action for sharing good news with clients and other members of my network.

I jotted down a list for future reference and thought I would share with other small businesses.

Tips for sharing good (business) news

  1. Write a blog post: include an image if possible
  2. Tweet the good news: include a link to your blog post
  3. Post an image of the award or project on your flickr or Facebook page
  4. Post in the news or press section of your website
  5. Mention it in your e-newsletter
  6. Add the project to your online portfolio: include a sentence about the award or publication
  7. Mention it to business or networking groups you’re a member of: if they have a group page, post it there as well
  8. Send a press release to local small business writers or editors
  9. Send a promotional mailing, i.e. a postcard or one-sheet with details of the project and/or award
  10. Last but not least, send a handwritten thank you note to the publisher or editor expressing your gratitude for the opportunity

Read more small business tips on our Resources page.

August 16, 2010

Social media + handwritten notes = great marketing strategy

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — lidia @ 9:00 am

Personalized notecards by Business Greetings by Lidia Varesco Design

I recently read an article in Deliver magazine about the company SimplySoles, who successfully combines their social media strategy with handwritten thank you notes to customers.

Being a graphic designer who uses social media as well a greeting card designer, I can completely relate to this—it’s the same approach I take with my business. I love being able to stay in touch and make connections via social media, but I feel strongly about using handwritten communications as well. There’s just something about a handwritten note that can’t be reproduced online.

Personally, I love receiving a card in the mail so I make an effort to send notes to clients and vendors regularly. Not only is sending a note to someone a nice thing to do, but it helps your businesses stand out from your competition and allows you to stay top-of-mind with clients and customers.

Get out your pen and stamps and start writing some cards!

Read the article here.

April 26, 2010

Crafting a first-class website

Having spent many months and countless hours working on my website redesign (launched last week), last month’s DesignCast titled “Marketing Smart Websites” couldn’t have come at a better time. The first in the Creative Freelancer Marketing Bootcamp Series, this webinar led by Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor was chock-full of practical advice for creating a marketing-driven website.

Some tidbits from the webinar that were useful for me:

  • Show your website to clients/prospects and ask for feedback: see what is important to them – I shared my new site with several clients and friends and found their feedback very useful
  • Write content that is focused and brief, highlighting your experience and expertise
  • Show samples of the type of projects that you want more of
  • Make sure the site reflects your overall position and strengths
  • Share client testimonials
  • Show a human side: videos, links to social media

Between the knowledge shared in the webinar and my own experiences, I had several ‘aha moments’ that allowed me to work more efficiently on my website redesign. I realized that a great website is well-thought out and planned—not to mention a constant work-in-progress: content must be assessed and updated regularly, design samples updated, new links and resources added. I feel better equipped now to move forward with my new website!

April 2, 2010

It’s not easy being green… wait, maybe it is?

Filed under: Design & Art,Green,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 6:59 pm

For some reason, the topic of sustainable graphic design keeps coming up lately in my reading (I think I read too much). We’ve been implementing green practices in our design studio for awhile now. Thanks to these green resources for designers and marketers, I have lots of new ideas…

Do you know of other green resources especially for design and marketing folks? Share them here!

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