Effective Websites Require More Than a Pretty Design

effective websites require more than a pretty designOne of the hardest challenges web designers face is helping clients create effective websites that actually convert users into customers.  It is not enough for a site to have a nice design. Our real work is to provide a platform that will build interest in the company, instill trust in what they do and that allows for the development of ongoing relationships that will eventually generate business.

People who build their own sites or have a friend do it, are at a serious disadvantage since they don’t usually have the background in website marketing and usability needed to create the proper web presence. Even us professional designers and developers have our work cut out for us in educating our clients and steering them towards best practices.

Clients fall on a continuum of preconceived notions about marketing and personality styles from narcissists to introverts. Web developers working with clients who are entrenched at either end of this continuum have to overcome their biases and inclinations to create effective websites.

On one end of this scale are people who [Read more…]

What Your Social Media Images Say About the Brand of You

Judi Knight Selfie
My latest selfie

This probably comes as no surprise, but “selfie” was the Word of the Year in 2013 according to the Oxford English Dictionary. A selfie is defined as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.

Lately, as a part of working on branding, I take a glimpse at client Facebook images and what they reveal about that person. I find that people don’t really think about how they may come across to others on social media, sometimes at their own expense.

Your employer, your customers, interviewers and even your friends are looking at your pictures and making their own assessments. Have you thought about what they would see and think about you? [Read more…]

Naming Your Business

Name your businessOnce you have done a little branding homework, it’s time to choose a name for your baby business.  You don’t need to pay big bucks to a naming firm to help you choose a name for your business. On the other hand, it is important to spend the time to find the right name for your business and make sure there are no issues with it.

There are several directions you can go to find a name:

1)    A proper name. Using your own name works for a single practitioner or a professional service but for other businesses it can limit you later if you ever want to sell. Another problem with it is that it puts too much focus on one personality. Using a made up person’s name is not recommended unless you have a really good reason, since it is not authentic. You must have a story behind the name that reflects your brand. Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium actually works since it definitely has a story behind it. [Read more…]

Creating a Brand Strategy for Your New Business

Brandind-Just do it!People are always so eager to start their new business that they often overlook the important process of deliberately defining their brand identity. When they do take the time to go through the steps below it will help in every step thereafter. Naming, content development, website design and all other brand messaging will flow from the information that you develop during this process.

What is your product or service?

First you must know what the purpose of your business is. What products and services are you providing? Why are you going into this business? What is the story behind your [Read more…]

10 Baby Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand Online

10 Baby Steps to Online BrandingThis is for those of you that are struggling to find your way. Maybe you are stagnant in your job and looking for a new one. Maybe you have branched out on your own and are trying to get established. Maybe you started a company and are waiting for your customers to find you. Maybe you are totally clueless about what to do next. How do you show up and get on the radar?

I know of a woman in her late forties who has worked as a professional in the same firm for twenty years and watched her field dry up in the recession. Many of her co-workers lost their jobs but she hung on to hers despite her salary [Read more…]

It’s Not too Late to Develop Your Branded Online Presence

Girl holding a laptop who is excited about branding herselfThere are a lot of people who could care less about what others, outside of their immediate circles, know or think about them. Some of these people haven’t given it a thought and don’t need to; others have high privacy needs or for some specific reason, specifically choose to keep a low profile.

But if you want to get hired, be promoted, change careers, write books, sell books, consult in your field, teach, speak, start a business or grow a business, you may want to read on. It will behoove you to care about how people see you and, therefore, you will need to put yourself, your ideas and your voice out in the world for people who are looking for your message, in your particular voice, to find.

Today the web gives us an unprecedented opportunity to get our message out and to show people who we are and what we can do in a way a resume on Monster.com can never do.  We have not always had this magic power available to us and there is no assurance that we have it in the future. But today, if you have some talent and ability and put it out there, you can find and reach the people who are eager for your message. Of course, [Read more…]

Branding: Don't Give Your Self Away.

Fast Company 1997 cover on the Brand of You.

Work hard for others, but don’t forget about the Brand of You!

A few months ago, I read an article in Forbes about Millennial Women working so hard that they were burning out in their jobs by age thirty. I immediately sent it off to my daughter, a 25 year old, self-described, “go-getter”,  doing PR and marketing for two restaurants in Washington DC.

I have watched my daughter and her friends jump into their jobs and give it their all, plus some. They are excited and totally consumed,  working long hours with single minded devotion.  I have watched the promises made by their companies not come through as the wheels of bureaucracy are slow or company priorities change. They work at full throttle and then every so often when the pace drops off for a bit, or  I have seen the crash that comes after the high.

Just last week my daughter’s boss presented her with a contract to work twenty hours a week each on two restaurants and also be floor manager for two shifts per week which added up to about 80 hours.  At least in this case she did point out to her employer that that was impossible.

They are given more and more responsibility and run with it which sets expectations for the next time since they have not practiced saying in nice terms, “Hell no, I can’t do that!” These young women can do it in the short term. But then the short term turns into the long term and the precedent is hard to change. [Read more…]

Design Your Marketing Message to Get More Of Your Right Clients

Design must seduce psoter
Quote by April Greiman Poster, Poster via Conran & Partner

I am a fanatic about having a WordPress website as the hub of your social media marketing efforts. But, just having a site is not enough to attract clients. You must craft a message on your website that targets  and converts the exact people that you want to reach.

Some people are afraid to stake a claim for one group of clients for fear that they won’t have enough business if they limit themselves. But, if your try to go after your whole market you will have to water down who you are and what you write  about so much that it won’t attract anyone. You will just blend right in with the other blah, blah, blah type websites.

Now is the time to step up and stake a claim for who you are and what you want your business to be.

Be yourself.

Let it show in your messaging and your blog posts. Do that and you will be going after and getting the business that you want.

Starting the new year is a great time to get some clarity about what you are doing and who you’d like to do it for. Try this exercise to hone your marketing message and creating or improving your elevator pitch by writing on each of the the headings below. When I do marketing coaching groups,  I am always astounded at how bad people are at briefly explaining what they do. [Read more…]

Branding: Sometimes I Just Hit the Nail On the Head!

Penny Carnathan's headerFrom Penny, my new client upon receiving my first comp for her logo and site header,

I love, love, love it Judi!! I have goosebumps! It is so totally better than anything I envisioned. And you have totally tapped my personal zeitgeist — a lot of my home decor is kitschy old Florida complete with (how did you know???) framed postcards.  I love the colors, I love the style, I love you!!!

I have to say it is really great. Penny writes a garden blog in the Tampa Saint Petersberg area.  I am glad she loved it since I also loved it and might have had to take up Florida gardening and use it myself if Penny  if that design didn’t work for her!

I am originally from Florida and have gardened in Florida and had a good idea of where I would take this project after talking to Penny on the phone for an hour. Sometimes it just works that way. I think it is the easiest to come up with a brand and logo for someone when the person I am working with has a good sense of themselves and their style.

I was on a call today with my business coach who had everyone go through an exercise telling the story of your business. She had us visualizing all of the elements of our businesses in metaphorical terms. If it were a character who would it be? If it were a place where would it be? What does it smell like? What does it taste like? And so on…

I think when I am doing branding and logo work I am most able to nail it for the client if they are able to communicate the essential being of their business to me. Sometimes they are able to use their words to describe what they are looking for. Sometimes I get it it by talking to them and getting to know them and their company better. Either way, the more they “own” and actually radiate their business, the better or I get fuzzy , diffuse messages and have a hard time hitting the mark because their is not one. This also happens when someone is trying to appeal to a broad audience and not offend anyone. If we are going to find “our people” we need to put ourselves out there.If we do that authentically,  it makes it easier for us to write which makes it easier for our readers to decide whether they are in the right place and want to come back. I told someone today that getting a logo design was a bit like getting a tattoo in that it is personal and you really have to like it for your business.  You really should not go in to a tattoo shop and say well what do you recommend! And then say well no that’s not it and not that either. Have an opinion. Own it and make it yours.

I can’t wait to finish Penny’s website. It is going to rock because people love her and her style and I am glad I could help make her vision materialize. Stay tuned  to see the site by signing up for my Just a Digital Minute newsletter which comes out every Wednesday morning with one social media tip per week. I  feature my newly launched sites there, so Penny’s will be coming out real soon!