I gave a presentation last week to a group of people who were at various stages in their business—some were lifers, others transitioning, still others complete
My focus: how to market yourself on a shoestring budget. We talked about electronic delivery because, let’s face it, the price is right. Newsletters, social media, a WordPress website and a blog. All of these are free or nearly so, unless you count your time–and you must, because as a small business owner, you are CEO, CFO, CMO and COO. You only have so many hours to spend on marketing, so you need to work smart and strategically.
For the most part, this group was a delightfully engaged and appreciative audience. Toward the end, the instructor asked me if I would critique their individual marketing materials. I really didn’t want to do this, as it put me in the position of playing God. I didn’t want to be rude, yet if I wasn’t honest, what was the point of the exercise? I decided on constructive suggestions.
Missing the boat on the fundamentals
What’s the most important thing on your business card? Not your picture or logo, but the name of your business and your contact information. It should not be hiding behind your logo or in a tiny reverse type on a light background that no one can read. Remember that some of your audience is going to be people over 40—people with old-people eyes. Note also that this demographic is likely to have money—actively court this client. Make it easy for them to find you
Logos and pictures should relate to your business
One woman had a flower on her business card and I asked her if this had any relation to her business. “No, I just like flowers.” I guess that’s okay—I like flowers too, but I wouldn’t put a flower on my business card. A picture or logo should be relevant to your business. Save the flowers for the florists. Do you need a logo? No, but it does provide polish and an identity. It helps you stand out from the masses.
A postcard that was lovely but unreadable
One woman had created a beautiful postcard with information about her business. It was in soft shades of terracotta and a smoky blue color. She used italicized terracotta text on blue background that was pretty much impossible to read. On the back, she had overlaid the italicized text on a graphic. No idea what it said—one look and I knew that I wasn’t even going to attempt to read it. On top of everything else, her name and email address weren’t even on the card. Why did she bother?
The winner is . . .
Of course this wasn’t a contest, but one woman had been in business for years, and she had a pretty boring business card. Simple black Arial on an ivory background with a very uninteresting logo, but I loved this woman. I could see her name, phone number and email address without having to squint.
Looking back, I wonder if anyone took my suggestions seriously, and I suspect not. It’s been my experience that people need to make and learn from their own mistakes. A lot of this is, of course, subjective, but I think that there’s an inner artist in many of us that’s waiting for an opportunity to express itself. That’s fine, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your business.
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