Goodbye 2016 – Welcome 2017

Happy New Year to all.

Today is my first day back into the office since the holidays and I’m getting organized.  I’ve been reviewing my marketing action plans – not so much for my clients – but instead for my own business.

It’s easy to forget about marketing my consulting business when I’m focused on doing the marketing and branding work for the clients.

Each quarter has 3 months, so I’m planning to do one of each of these in each of the quarters:

  • Press release
  • Speaking engagement
  • Workshop

On Friday, I am speaking in Akron about my experiences in writing and publishing my book: Simple Steps, Big Results. I really have not done a lot to promote the book since it was first published because about that same time there were a lot of changes in my business. Perhaps that will change in 2017!

Even after 19 years of business, I still find it the most difficult to promote my company, my services and myself.

I find it much easier to focus on a client;s business!

At the end of 2016, I made it a habit to attend one networking event each week and talk with someone I don’t know.  While I’m not an introvert, I find it much harder to talk with people I don’t really know. There is such a familiarity in sitting near someone you know and having a conversation with them.  Getting out of my comfort zone is a key to growth.

I want to continue that into the new year.

As we usher in 2017, here are a couple of links that I have found interesting and helpful.  I imagine my branding and marketing friends will also enjoy these:

How to make sure that your business shows up on the GPS maps: From INC magazine, written by Anita Campbell from Small Business Trends.  Colors in Marketing: Also from Small Business Trends.

What are you reading that has helped with your marketing? What are you working on in 2017? Are you working on a new action plan for your branding and marketing?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Go Responsive…NOW!

Go Responsive with Website LayoutsI know that already you know. It’s important to go responsive.

You’ve heard the word “Responsive” used and you know it’s important… but what is it really? Responsive is referring to a website design that responds to the device that is viewing it.

So the website will look different on the big screen of a desktop compared to a little screen of an iPhone…. and everything in between. Is your website responsive? Not sure? Click here or here to test it.

Mobile is the way to go. More and more, people are using their phones to check a website.  And desktop viewing is in a downward trend for searching, online buying and engagement.

New Reason to Go Responsive with Rules for Search Results

Now Google has announced that they will have two different indexes of search results. One for mobile. One for desktop.

Timeframe: “within months.” Maybe that means early 2017, but it could be any time actually.

Mashable considers this revision one of Google’s biggest changes to search.

The MOBILE search index will become the primary index. It will be updated more frequently. And if I am interpreting their announcement correctly, responsive sites will be the only sites that will be shown in search results on mobile phones.

While most companies are updating their websites, if you haven’t revised your company’s website to be mobile friendly yet, you may find a sudden drop in traffic… within months.

You may have just a “few”?? months to get your website switched over to become responsive! I think they were being vague on purpose and it sounds like a threat.  I know I’m going to make sure that we go through our client list and send them an email so they know what’s coming down the road.

I’ll write more on this info as it becomes available.

The OTHER Chris Brown

This is me, the REAL Chris Brown, marketing professional

With a name like Chris Brown, I have my marketing work cut out for me.

Do you have any challenges getting your name found on the internet?

I know I do. Today, I’m working on updating my blog and scripting the video for one of my workshops. In the midst of doing this, I needed to Google my name in conjunction with a project I did a long time ago.

During the moment I was working on this, I had {momentarily} forgotten about that “other Ch__ Br__” that the media loves to cover.

He was there. In fact, he was everywhere.

Today the first page of Google results covers everything from his Halloween costume to his last song release. Not what I was hoping for to say the least.

A big sigh from this marketing professional named Chris Brown. :-O

I know that there are thousands of us out there. One plays football. Another sells houses in the town where I live. Even my first job out of college, one worked in the shipping department and was paged at least 3 times a day.

When the internet really took off in the early 2000’s I was fortunate to have started this blog and become tech savvy. Otherwise, I’d really be tough to be found in the sea of “Chris Brown’s.

I can never let my SEO start slipping. Otherwise a potential contact, client, supplier or anyone looking for me by searching the cyberspace comes up with “him” and not me.

Using the phrases Chris Brown Marketing or Marketing Chris Brown does seem to help. Thank goodness that Chris Brown Marketing Consultant works, even though the results are full of competitor ads.

Don’t think I really want to start going by Christine Brown at this stage of my career… or reverting to my maiden name. But it can be discouraging to see how many results come to the wrong Chris Brown!!

What are your personal challenges for getting found on the internet? Are you keeping up with your SEO challenges?  Leave a message below.

Marketing During an Election Season

American-flag-marketing-during-an-electionIt’s hard enough to break through the clutter during a “regular” 4th quarter, but marketing during an election season is especially challenging.  The intensity of this presidential election cycle adds to the difficulty.

It’s tough to get your message heard past the debate recaps, the “breaking news” of poll numbers or opponent bashing.  YouTube videos, online news stories and even political yard signs are clogging media channels to get your message heard.

The way I see it, you have 3 choices for the next couple of weeks:

Wait – probably the easiest.  Save your effort.  Work on analysis of what worked in the past. Gather data. Do competitive check-ins. Save your ad money. Write content for the future. Prepare your 2017 marketing plan.

Stick to your script – hold your line. Do the plan you outlined at the beginning of the year. Focus on your keywords. Create and push out your content. Stay the course.

Get wild with your content – Brainstorm some clever ideas to get a smile, grab attention and turn lemons into lemonade. If most companies wait or stay steady on their drip marketing plan, you may have a unique opportunity to capture new leads and convert some new business while others take the easier path.

What is your plan?

Developing a Logo for Your Business

ebay logosThere is a lot to consider when developing a logo for your business. What is the purpose of a logo?

Thinking it through before getting someone to start designing is one of the keys to developing a logo that works for your business.

Most companies use a logo as symbol for a brand. It usually has the company name together with an icon and the company colors. Sometimes it is just type, or just initials.  Often the type is a unique typeface, artwork that is solely the companies own.

Sometimes the icon dominates the logo.  Depending on the amount of marketing dollars put behind a logo, it may become a strong symbol for the company.  If it is not used consistently, the impact is weakened.

How do you ensure your logo is used consistently?  Through the use of a branding style guide. Sometimes they are as simple as a few pages, outlining colors, typeface, vertical, horizontal and black & white versions.  Sometimes a brand style guide may be almost a book, offering every example of background treatment, what NOT to do and providing the amount of white space between any other elements on the page, website and package.

In my experience, a short style guide is very helpful, but only companies that are licensing their product and having many many graphic designers and others using their logo need to go into a huge amount of detail. And often the people using the style guide are visual communicators, so having visual examples is often more helpful than lots and lots of paragraphs of copy that sometimes is open to interpretation.

To get started with developing a logo, it is helpful to provide direction to the designer that helps them to understand how you want to portray your brand. Make a list of words. Gathering samples of logos that you like and don’t like also helps. Especially if you can articulate what you like and don’t like about your samples.  In marketing agency terms, this is know as a creative brief.  It sets the tone and manner, provides examples of how the logo will be used and offers direction to the creative professionals who will be developing your company’s symbol.

Some find it helpful to talk about feelings – what customers, employees and users of the product/service are likely to feel or how you want them to feel.  You’ll definitely want to focus on your target market, but logos also are important for others who are part of your business: employees, your vendors, and investors.

It’s easy to get carried away and find that you’re actually trying to recreate something else that you’ve seen and liked.  Don’t end up with a logo that looks like your competitors! While imitation can be viewed as a compliment, being confused with your competitors is not.

I find it is important to provide plenty of input to the designer and talk about colors as well.

If the company will be using the logo predominately on company vans, work shirts and baseball caps, the font and size of lettering with icons needs to be thick enough to read from a driving distance or walking distance.

If most of the interactions with the company logo will be on a mobile phone via a website or an app held at a distance closer than arms length, then a different direction may make sense.

While you hope to develop a logo that will work “forever” for your brand, obviously times change, style and technology affects the logos.  You’ll want to consider a refresh to your company logo if/when it becomes dated.

If you wait too long to refresh your brand and logo, it may be a total “redo” instead of just a minor update.

Where do you go to get a new logo?

Many people go to inexpensive websites like Fiverr, Logotournament or 99designs.  This can be helpful in that they are cheap, but difficult if you’ve never given direction or developed a logo before.

Rather than go immediately to one of the cheap websites and hire a nameless, faceless designer, I’d recommend spend more time developing a creative brief. There are several samples of creative briefs here, here and here.  Read through these examples and then put together your own brief, before approaching a graphic designer or going to a design website.

It’s kind of like making an investment in a stock portfolio for your retirement by buying direct from an investment website, without using a investment broker with experience.  You may do just fine and be ready to brag about how much money you saved and earned, but then again, you may find that a little bit of knowledge can be a problem and want to be redoing your logo within a few months.

Sometimes working directly with a designer is the best thing, other times, you will fair better by going through someone who is great at giving creative direction.

If you find yourself saying something like “just…” or  “I’ll know it when I see it” – then you are not the right person to give creative direction.

More detail is actually more helpful in getting initial direction. Having the parameters before you start  makes it much more likely that a graphic designer will create something you’re looking for, than direction that says, “why don’t you be creative and I’ll pick the one I like the best.” Later when faced with a wide variety of styles, you find yourself combining different elements to mush together a logo.

Again, not the best way to go about designing your company’s symbol.

Having a well defined creative brief makes it much easier for YOU TOO!

Review the brief before you review the initial logos that the creative graphic designer submits. It will help you to evaluate it and will give you a guide to providing good feedback when faced with a variety of choices.

Evaluating the logo is definitely a skill as well as providing feedback to the designer. You’ll be tempted to show the samples to lots of people – your spouse, a friend, employees. Of course everyone has an opinion, but some opinions count more than others.

Good luck with your logo development.  Let me know you found this helpful or if you think I forgot something along the way by leaving a comment below.