Do You Use Email Marketing?

I watched a Webinar last week that went over some nice improvements to the email client I use and recommend: Constant Contact. Take a look:
new features at CC

If you’re intrigued by any of these and want to know more, contact me!

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Beware the Shiny Object

It’s the time of year when I realize that if I want the silver to look shiny again I’d better polish it. We have accumulated a lot as most of the rest of the family on both sides have left or given it all to us, not wanting the hassle of cleaning it themselves. But I love shiny objects and it’s worth it to me to take the time to get that shine.

silver

My parents got this for their 25th Anniversary. It could use a lot of shining up!

In business, though shiny objects refer to those ideas that get our attention to the detriment of the goals we’re striving for. If you have lots of great ideas it can happen a lot! I know in my case that it’s a real challenge. So I am working on narrowing down my focus to be the go-to graphic designer for Wealth Managers that need to publish white papers and books to demonstrate their thought leadership. I can still work with all kinds of other clients if they fit my schedule and skill set of course. However, the website, emails and other marketing I end up doing should be centered on that goal. If you fit that description please get in touch! If you aren’t in that category get in touch too and I’ll see if I can help or know someone who can.

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A colorful business growth idea!

I was driving down a highway one morning recently when I saw a tractor on the grass that had been left there, probably by whoever had been cutting the grass with it. It was a distinctive green color so I thought, “that must be a John Deere tractor”. From where I was passing at a good clip, there was no way for me to know for sure what brand of tractor that was, except by the color. What a great idea for that company to have branded with that distinctive color.

With clients, I worked with at an agency, keeping color consistency for their brand was a must. Major brands know that their particular color very effectively sets them apart, either in the supermarket aisle or in ads, signage, and in the rest of their collateral.

 

Logo design using green for 14 day challenge promotion

Logo design for packaging using green for a 14-day challenge promotion

 

So when I work with my clients at Pat Creedon Design, I suggest that they consider color in their branding, it can get attention as well as an immediate association with your company if used consistently over time. Their color can then help grow their small brand into a bigger one and even a trusted one over the long term!

Do you drive away customers inadvertently?

You may have a website that is fine and informative and otherwise gets the job done but there may be areas in it that could improve. Is it responsive—meaning adaptable to smaller screens like smartphones and tablets? If not that can turn away customers since over half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices these days.

Modern tragedy, pastel of cracked iPhone

Don’t have a site that breaks on mobile devices!

 

Or it may be something small and not that noticeable that bothers the people you are trying to target. Do you drive away customers inadvertently?

I know that when I encounter a site that takes too long to load I’m out of there. Or if music or a video starts to play the moment I land on the site and I didn’t expect it I’m gone. Then there’s the website that has the navigation in a different place on every page. That could definitely frustrate a would-be client/customer. These are some of the examples of ways your website could be driving away the people you want to attract.

If a feature is off-putting to your audience it’s not worth keeping. We can look at your site and recommend the tweaks needed to remove anything getting between you and your customers. It may be an easy fix and just the thing to get your business website helping instead of hurting you!

Get this right and your business will be on its way!

Did you know how important it is to brand your company consistently with web, print, and social media? Get this right and you will have a company look and feel that will reassure customers and potential customers that you take your company seriously.

I understand how difficult this can be. I started my company back in 2010 without a plan for how to brand it. I of all people should have known better since my business plan was to brand small companies! But it’s easy to get caught up in the moving parts and forget to look at the overall picture. I created a look I liked for my business card and some print materials.

Then an ad opportunity came along so I created another look for that.

PatcreedonDesign_NewCanaan_LR

An Ad for My Company from 2010 or 11

I had a website to match for a while that I based on a template I liked.

patcreedondesign

My old Website

But then I wanted to add WordPress to my skills and the theme I liked was a different look again.  It may be  time (Ok it is time) to use my skills to create a consistent brand for myself. I will keep you posted on that.

How should you do it?

That’s where I encourage you to learn from me and not do it the way I did. Instead let Pat Creedon Design give your brand the look that suits it, or work with the one you have to get that professional consistency across all your materials whether printed or online. With a website (preferably with a blog), a Facebook page, a Twitter page and your LinkedIn company page branded with the logo, colors to match your brand look and feel, consistent fonts and a good photo you’ll be on your way!

Why DIY doesn’t work with Graphic Design

Unless you are a Graphic Designer!

DIY is big. It even has a cable channel (that I watch all the time). But Do It Yourself design of logos, ads, brochures, and even websites when it’s the branding and promotion of your own business? Not a good idea.

Would I write my own song? No!

I just got a music composer as a client. She has been my client before when I designed her first CD cover and insert. I’ve never written a song, whereas Monica has written many. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Well maybe I’d try to learn an instrument first or learn to read music! But even with some rudimentary knowledge like that I doubt a song will be penned by me anytime soon.

Have computer, will DIY your design?

If you’ve never designed a brochure, logo, website or ad where would you start? You have a computer and know how to use it, but is that enough to start designing your business materials? Maybe not. If I needed a song written I would not rely on myself to do it. I’d definitely find an experienced songwriter. If you need promotion or branding, your business will definitely benefit from hiring an experienced Graphic Designer. It’s worth it!

One critical fact most business owners don’t know

And it may be the difference between gaining business and losing out.

There is a fact that most business owners don’t know that is critical to their marketing. I have an example below from a major company that should know better.

Have you ever seen something printed that looked jagged and strange? This is from a flyer I got a while back:

pixelatedLogoIt was an obvious mistake since we all know that logo is not supposed to look like that.

But what caused it to print like that? The problem was low resolution of a bitmap image.

Bit-what?

There are two types of images used in printing, vector and bitmap. Vector is done in programs like Adobe Illustrator and it can be resized up and down with no issues. Bitmap images have to have a certain number of dots per inch (or resolution) to reproduce in print correctly (usually 300 dpi or more). Many people pull a logo or other graphic off their website send it to their graphic designer and say here, put this on my print materials. They don’t realize that the resolution on the web is much lower (usually 72 dpi) than what is required to print something with ink on paper. Of course why should they know that? It’s a piece of knowledge we graphic designers need to do our jobs right but other business owners are very often not aware of it.

Why is this important to any business?

It’s important because knowing the difference between vector and bitmap can make or break your marketing materials. With the wrong type of image or the wrong dpi in logos and images your print materials and ads can go out looking very unprofessional, hurting your image and potentially hurting your bottom line!

If dpi, vector, bitmap, resolution are like another language to you then allow us to keep your print materials looking as perfect and professional as your business deserves!

Communication in Graphic Design

I was in a coffee shop the recently where I picked up this little flyer for a flea market.

Flea flyer

Flea market flyer

I like the colors and the fun design. But as I read it I realized it’s missing a vital piece of information. Where is this taking place? There’s only a photo and the town name on it to give me a clue. I don’t know the building in the photo though so there’s no way for me to get there even I wanted to. That made me think about why just having pretty type, pictures and color on a page is not enough. For graphic design to serve its true purpose, it must communicate effectively. If this had that piece of information it would have been very effective because the design got my attention which is half the battle.

Land Customers with a Landing Page

 

So is a whole, multi-part website more than you need or can face right now? Then try a landing page. It’s a single page website that gives your company’s basic information like name, address, hours of operation, directions, a list of products or services, etc. It’s great as a way to stake out a place on the web if you don’t otherwise want or feel you need a full website. Or are so busy keeping up with your business that you don’t want to keep up with a website too. (Lucky you!) It’s important to have some web presence though, if only because it’s expected these days and you want to have clear and accurate information available. It’s amazing how much inaccurate information can start to accumulate on the internet if you don’t take control with your own URL and a web landing page at the very least.

Blogging to Draw a Crowd to Your Website

Blogging is easy if you take it on like any marketing project for your business. You know your business. You talk passionately about it and your industry whenever given the chance. Now just write all that down. For me, the best bet has been to come up with several topics I want to talk about then flesh them out in a Word document. After I have a few I copy them into my WordPress Blog and schedule them to appear every week. I’ll also put in some extras in between if the mood strikes but at least I know my blogging SSM (Social Media Marketing) is taken care of.

The idea of course is to get more crowds to your website so first you need a blog. I’ve found that the two can be easily combined for most businesses by having a customized WordPress website and blog. Pages such as About, Services and Contact can be added and worked seamlessly together with the Blog page. WordPress even makes suggestions on what to blog about if you’re stuck. Some people find a trending topic and put a spin on it that ties into what they do. Others find that posting great testimonials on their blog keeps it fresh. Search engines love new content so get out your pen and paper or that blank Word document and start blogging!