Category Archives: Branding

The C.R.A.P. Principles

C.R.A.P. (terrible name, infinitely useful) is an initialism which stands for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. The term was coined by Robin Williams (author of The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice) and has become a basic principle of design. Utilizing the C.R.A.P. principles allows even the most inexperienced amateur designers to avoid the dreaded wall of text and instead create dynamic and attractive web content.

The basics of the C.R.A.P. principles are:

Contrast – Elements that aren’t supposed to be the same should be very different. Making the only slightly different confuses the eye and causes the reader to see a relationship that doesn’t exist. Using differing elements on a page draws the eyes to appropriately grouped elements and allows for proper scanning.

Repetition – Continuing formatting and styles for the entire document to create and maintain a cohesive feel.

Alignment – Everything on the page needs to be visually connected to something else, nothing should be out of place or distinct from all other design elements. Clean lines create peace.

Proximity – Proximity creates related meaning: elements that are related should be grouped together, whereas separate elements should have enough space in between to be easily distinguishable. Never underestimate the use of white space.

For more information and examples, visit:
http://www.webcredible.co.uk/blog/revive-the-crap-principles
http://thinkvitamin.com/design/how-crap-is-your-site-design/

Tips for a successful trade show

The very words Trade Show make some small business owners shudder. A Trade Show can take a lot of time and most of the time that’s something a small business owner just doesn’t have. With some careful planning however, a trade show can not only be fun they can be profitable as well.

Here are 10 tips we’ve picked up from attending a lot of shows, not only as vendors but participants as well. They may be basic but the best tips usually are pretty basic.

1. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the show. Do you expect to sell products, launch a new product or promotion, or possibly meet suppliers? You can set more than one goal but be clear and focused on what your participation will involve. In our business (selling web solutions) we don’t expect to sell a site on the spot. What we do look for is hot leads. At each trade show we attempt to identify 3 – 5 hot leads. We do this by gathering business cards from participants. When someone hands me their card, I quickly look for a web address. I then ask them one of two simple questions. If they don’t have a site listed on their card, I ask why? If they do have a site listed on their card, I ask them how happy they are with the performance of their website. Based on their response, I quickly note on the back of their card how “hot” they are. If they expressed some sort of displeasure or unsatisfaction with their website, I mark them as “hot” and follow up with them right after the show is over.

2. Find out everything you can about your space in advance. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to a show only to find that your booth is too big or too small to fit the space. Finding out the location of your booth in advance prevents you lugging around boxes and products in search of the right spot. Finding out everything that is included (table, table cloth, electricity, etc) in advance is a big time and headache saver.

3. Have everything you need, like extension cords; tape etc with you when you arrive to set up your booth. It prevents last minute searching for items needed to set up your booth which, if you’re in a strange town can quickly turn into a nightmare. We have a trade show box that stays with our booth that contains a hammer, thumb tacks, pens, rubber bands, notepads, band aids, extension cords, replacement light bulbs, tape, breath mints and much more in it. It has been used at every trade show we’ve been to and always comes in handy.

4. Make sure your display is appropriate for the group you are targeting. Who is your target market with your trade show display? Different audiences go to trade shows differently and have different needs.

5. Advertise in advance of the show. Let the public know that you are participating in a particular trade show. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers and be sure and give them your booth number. Advertise your attendance to the trade show on your website as well.

6. Stand out! Don’t just be another booth and vendor at the show – find something different and unique and use that to draw visitors to your booth. Arrange your booth strategically so that everything can be seen quickly by visitors. Put larger items in the rear and shorter items up front. A table runner on top of the table cloth is an effective way of making your table stand out. Be creative with your booth, include pictures if possible and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.

7. Should you give something away? Most people who attend trade shows are expecting some giveaways and food is always popular. Make sure you package your food in a way that allows you to have your company information on it. Gift Certificates for some of your services are another great Trade Show giveaway – there’s nothing better than getting a deal on your services. And when they redeem their certificate, they will learn how great your services are and come back for more. Offer a drawing for a prize that complements your business and appeals to everyone. Have visitors and guests sign a guestbook, fill out a form or drop their business card in a bowl. You can then use this information later to make a follow up contact. We gave away a Wii last year at a trade show and we were one of the most popular booths at the event! We collected over 300 business cards and have closed 7 deals from that show alone.

8. Arrive early enough to the trade show and make sure everything is set up correctly and that everything works. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes – you’re going to be on your feet!

9. During the show, never turn your back to the crowd and don’t sit down unless you’re having a conversation with a guest and you both are sitting. Stand in front of your booth, if possible, saying “Hi” to those that turn and look toward your or your booth. Have your elevator speech ready. More importantly, is being ready to listen to what your guests have to say, you may learn a lot about them and be able to fill a need that they have.

10. A portfolio or display of your work should be on hand for visitors to see. A digital photo frame is an excellent way of showing your work or placing a Power Point® presentation on a laptop – your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw their attention. Offering a brochure with your best work for them to take with them will serve as a reminder once the show is over.

These 10 basic steps to Trade Show exhibiting will make your booth stand out, draw visitors so you can gather their contact information, save you time, money and stress. The most important thing about a trade show is to have fun!

Un-Googleable?

Social Media Self Test

Sure there are more tests than you can shake a stick at, but give this one a shot.

    Un-googleable Person

  • Is your facebook status updated?
  • Have you tweeted today?
  • Can you “Google” yourself?
  • Can Ya “Digg” it?
  • Viral means disease or success?

Chances are you if can answer one or more of those questions, you know a little something about social media. Which leads to the question, is their really such a thing as an un-googleable person? Furthermore, if and when there is…would you trust them?

Most business people today meet a new client, investor, partner, provider, etc. and as soon as they get back to their office they Google that person to see what more they can learn about that person. Often times they can find pieces of your history online, and learn more about you. Depending on your online profile, people can gather a positive or negative impression, but one thing they know for sure is that you are who you say you are.

How did you feel the last time you Googled someone and did not find anything about them? Did you trust them? Did you wonder what rock they just crawled out from under? I personally have more trust for a business that has a website, and a person who has an online profile. Both show me they are at least valid and not a fly by night company.

Welcome to 2010! The time is right for Social Media

So what if you are a business, and you do not have an online profile? What if you failed the Social Media test? Well there is still hope for you, but the time to act is now! The first thing I would suggest is getting a website, which will help validate your business. Many web development companies have low cost, entry level websites that can get you started. Typically by putting up a website, doing some basic search engine optimization, and populating your site with relevant, unique, high quality content, you can put your business on the map. Now when people search for your business name, or your online profile, your website will come up first, validating your business.

Once the website is up and running, you can evaluate if you need to branch even further by using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Each of those tools should be considered only once you have a successful website.

The time to act is now, make sure you are not the un-googleable man, women or business.

Social Media Self Test #2

How many of the Social Media Icons below can you identify? Furthermore, how many of them is your business listed on?
Social Media Icons (Orange)

I’ve been in business since 1432 BC at the same location why do I need a website?

I get asked questions like this all the time. The simple answer is: “Maybe you don’t.” If you are comfortable doing what you are doing and your business is meeting it’s growth projections, you may not. But, consider this; if you are not growing or you are tired of advertising that is becoming less and less productive and more and more expensive, then a website is your most effective least expensive marketing vehicle next to a business card.

Let’s face it. If you do not have a business card and a business phone today. How serious are you really, about being in business? A business card facilitates someone getting in touch with you after a meeting.

There is no substitute for just getting out and meeting the people. Face-to-face customer interaction has been and will always be the best way to win new clients. I still have business cards from people I have met at networking events from years ago. And I can remember what most of the people who gave me their cards look like and what the company does. And if I ever need their services I will call them.

But next to talking to people and handing them a way to contact you in the future, a website is by far the most effective marketing tool available. They are low cost. You can have a very effective, very attractive web sites today for less than the price of a soft drink and way less than the cost of a latte a day.

When was the last time your refreshment brought you any business? But your website can. And it will work tirelessly for you 24/7. Unlike any other marketing vehicle, you can tell someone everything that they need to know to learn how to buy what you sell with a website. Can’t do that on a 30 second spot on the radio or TV. Can’t afford to do it in a phone book or newspaper ad either. But whether you say a little or a lot, a website costs the same. So let your website tell volumes about what it is you do. Why you are better. How to buy what you sell. How to tell the difference between you and your competitors. And most importantly why you are the better value. Not the cheapest. People do not want the cheapest things they can buy. They want the best VALUE. If everything is the same then the way to differentiate is price. But rarely are all things the same. Not even with car dealers who sell exactly the same products with the same options in the same color. No two dealerships are the same. Price is not the only factor.

Next time, I’ll talk a bit about why educating your prospects about how to buy what you sell is so important. And why if you do it you will benefit thanks to the laws of reciprocity.

Till next time, good luck and prosperity.

Websites 401 Launches Today!

Only a couple more hours until we teach our first Websites 401 class. I am really looking forward to this class tonight as it will get real people working on our applications. We’ll be able to see just how easy they really are to use and get good feedback from the public. It is going to be a small group tonight, probably only 6 or 7 attendees but that will allow us to give more personal attention to everyone there. I’ll post again after the class with feedback on how it goes.

Signing out for now.

Patrice

A Favicon Shows You Care!

A Favicon (short for “favorites icon”) is a small 16×16 square icon that displays to the left of your URL in the internet browser window. Favicons are an important part of branding your website. A Favicon helps visually identify your site to new and returning users, and contributes to a sophisticated, professional look. A Favicon will also make your page stand out in a cluttered “favorites” folder. Your logo used as a Favicon will quickly become synonymous with your product.

The Favicon feature was developed by Microsoft and became a part of Internet Explorer from version 5.0 onward. Other browsers quickly followed, and all modern browsers should support this feature. As you can see in the graphic below, visitors who use modern tabbed browsing see your Favicon in the tab. Every page, including sub-pages and blog entries, shows the Favicon in the address bar. Internet Explorer does automatically use a generic icon which to a savvy Websurfer can look a bit negligent such as a title bar that says “Page Title” if it is not replaced with your own image. With a distinctive Favicon, pages from your site will stand out easily from other sites.

Are you Ready to join the Favicon bandwagon? Enhance your site with a Favicon for $30! Contact us for this special price.