Does your customer want to stand out or blend in?

Is your customer wanting to stand out or blend in?

Are you offering a product or service to someone that wants to be distinctive—to have the premium offer or the platinum service?

Or are you offering a product or service to someone that wants to fit in, to be part of the social group they admire or feel comfortable with?

The answer to this question determines how you talk about what you’re offering. You’re either:

  1. Illuminating how your product will improve their status, or give them an above-average experience.
  2.  Ensuring how your product will make them fit in or join the party they want to be part of.

If you aren’t sure what your customer wants, you’re likely to blend in with every other media message competing for attention. Your message will be general and non-specific. Worse, your message will be about YOU and not about THEM.

Imagine what your customer thinks will happen if they invest in your product or service. Think about your existing customers and what they appreciate about what you offer. Are they standing out or are they blending in?

Either way, it’s an important distinction that will help YOU stand out to your next customer—or be lost to your competitor that understands them better than you do.

How to Design Your Brand Assets To Be More Effective With Your Audience

How can you make your brand assets more effective with your audience? This video walks through the questions I ask a client when we start working on a new design for their business, whether it’s a website, brochure, landing page, brochure, etc. These questions are to help me understand who we are designing for.

For example, if I’m designing a landing page for a fitness product for an audience of 28 year old ladies, I’ll choose different images, typefaces and messaging than I would if the product is for 55 year old ladies.

I hope these questions help you work with a designer or enhance the designs you create for your business so they’re even more compelling to your audience.

 

What’s more effective: betting on new trends or timeless standards?

The questions of “What are we going to see trending next year?” or “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” are popular this time of year as we wrap up with the holiday season.

The desire to avoid uncertainty and also to flirt with novelty in the future is hard to resist. Sharing predictions makes great content for articles and talk show commentary. (The best part is no one will remember if you’re wrong.)

The range of possible futures is always changing, depending on who you’re talking to.

What’s less common is to consider a simpler question: what’s NOT going to change in the next 10 years?

I’ve heard that Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos both think this is the more important question. Bezos’ opinion is that putting energy into speculating and predicting might work, and could pay off abundantly–or not. It’s a risky investment.

What’s not risky is investing in what stays the same.

What do you KNOW won’t change?

Fundamental human needs and desires, for one thing: needs for a comfortable home, supportive relationships, good health, desires for variety and actualization.

The need for fun and play, productivity and contribution. The desire for adventure and helping others. The drive for feeling purposeful. The thirst for knowledge and making sense of the world. The restlessness of growth. And so on…

I get energized by expansion and the wonder of new possibilities. But I find peace in balancing that with investing in these areas that remain the same year after year (both for me personally and for humans in general).

Part of what I love about the holidays is the comforting feeling of tradition, with the explosion of a fresh new year to follow. It’s the best of both all wrapped up in a few weeks.

Here’s to your holiday season feeling both comforting and fresh, exciting and nourishing.

 

Photo credit:  Esther Tuttle on Unsplash

 

How to make videos for your marketing that don’t suck

Do you want to make more videos for your marketing and YouTube channel—but feel awkward in front of the camera?

I know from my own experience and working with clients to build YouTube channels, it can be challenging to create a presentation that’s engaging and authentic while also showcasing your expertise for potential new clients.

In this video, I have 4 tips for you to help improve your own video marketing:

1 Practice
2 Make an outline of key talking points, then draw it together at the end for a conclusion
3 Consider using slides for the visual and narrating with your voice
4 Consider having someone else join you, to interview you or to create a dialog so you’re not front-facing directly into the camera

By experimenting with recording yourself, even if you don’t show anyone, you’ll be able to hear and see yourself in a new way. It can greatly (and quickly) improve your speaking cadence, your enunciation and your clarity.

Thank you for watching! I’d love a “thumbs up” if you thought this was helpful. It lets me know what’s most valuable to share to help you do more of the work you love, with the people you want to work with.

 

How to Make Your Website Great Before You Design It

You can hire a designer to create a nice-looking site, but is there anything you can do before that to make your website WORKS with your ideal audience? YES!

In this video I walk you through the initial stages of my project process when I work on a new design. I start with creating “stylescapes”—a collage of design elements (images, colors, brand labels, products) that the target customer is familiar with. This helps both my client and I see who we’re designing for. It also influences color, typeface and image choices when I get to the design mockups.

Next, I create a wireframe or user flow map so we can see the hierarchy of information presented on the new site. This clarifies the lead generation funnel and how to get a website visitor from landing on your site to contacting you or making a purchase.

After these two steps, then I move to the design phase and create homepage mockups. By this point, I know who we’re designing for and have a better idea of what might resonate with them.

This process has helped me repeatedly create successful websites my clients love. Please let me know what YOUR process is like in the comments below!

THANK YOU for liking the video with a thumbs up if this was useful.

 

3 Quick Tips To Avoid Headaches When You Outsource To A Designer

Outsourcing design for your logo, website, brochure, menu or other asset can turn into an expensive nightmare if you think you’re asking for one thing, then get something quite different as a result. This video explains 3 easy ways you can make the outsourcing process easier for both you and the designer. With these quick tips, you’ll be much more likely to get a result that inspires you instead of one that deflates you.

1 Find examples of what you like to share with the designer
2 Give your designer an idea of your target audience and where they will be seeing this design
3 Share examples of things you DON’T like

If you liked this video, I’d love a thumbs up—thank you!

Please leave a comment if you have other tips or suggestions you think help, or that have helped you in the past. It helps us all help each other…good juju all around.

 

How To Improve the Results Your Marketing Team Generates For You

Hiring a marketing team or a contractor to help you with your marketing can be a very scary thing: how do you know if paying them to help you get people to pay you is going to pay off?

Do you look at their case studies from working with other clients? Do you ask for their references? Do you ask questions and hope you can find certainty in their answers?

This gets even trickier when you aren’t really certain how to market your own offerings. If you’re not sure exactly who to market to (because your product or service could benefit “anyone”), or where to find those people you want to market to (online or off-line), or when to come into their lives or their day to share what you have to offer…then handing off all these decisions to a marketing team or a contractor gets even dicier.

If you feel like it’s daunting to hire out your marketing to a third party, imagine how it might feel for your prospective customer to decide to invest in you. You’re offering a product or service to them. You want them to bet on you, to trust that paying you is going to help them get something they want.

It’s a risky situation on both sides!

How can you mitigate this risk for yourself (and also learn how to mitigate the risk for your prospective customer)?

In my experience, one of the best ways to do this is to improve your ability to “perspective.” The better you know your customer and why they buy from you, the more clearly you can hire people to help you market to them. If you have a clear idea of who you’re selling to, what they want and what they don’t want, then you can hire a third party to assist you.

A marketing team or consultant can assist you with your marketing—but you lead them. You lead them because you know your customer better than they do. You guide them on where to research, what you’ve learned in the past and what your vision is in the future.

With this kind of leadership, a marketing team or contractor starts off with a foundation they can springboard from. You’re hiring them to manage the smaller details that you don’t need to get bothered with: setting up Facebook ad campaigns, posting to social media, building your website, etc. It’s not necessary to know all the technical details involved with your marketing. But it IS necessary to be the one leading the direction. Getting input, suggestions and coaching from a marketing consultant will be much more effective when you come to them with this kind of clarity. A marketing consultant can guide the way of positioning your brand against competitors, the strategy for reaching your prospects, the components of a launch campaign and so on. But you’re providing the structure they build upon.

Your ability to “perspective” also applies to helping mitigate the risk for your prospective customer. The better you know your customer, the more you understand what drives them to buy and what concerns they have. With a clear idea of who you’re selling to, the easier it is to talk to them. Instead of talking about yourself and what you’re offering, you can talk about them. Your marketing can include sharing stories they’ll relate to, offering tips and education they’ll benefit from and entertaining them because you know what engages them. This is much more interesting to your prospect, and more effective for converting them into your best customers.

If you want to outsource your marketing or increase the effectiveness of what you already have, try thinking about your ideal customer and answering these questions:

1. What does my prospective customer already know about my product or service?

2. What does he/she probably assume about my product or service?

3. What does he/she probably misunderstand about my product or service?

4. If my customer could wave a magic wand and get exactly what he/she wanted after purchasing from me, what would that be?

Once you’ve answered those as best as you can, test out your assumptions. Ask your existing customers and ask several people that haven’t seen your offerings to give feedback. When you have a clear idea, share this with your marketing team along with the profile of your ideal customer. This will save time for them and greatly increase the likelihood of better conversions.

Working with a Designer: 16 Mistakes Nobody Talks About

I’ve been working as a professional designer for 16 years now. With the help of my team, I design, build and launch an average of 45 sites a year (3-4 per month) along with designing branding collateral, apps, product labels and landing pages.

To get to this point, I’ve seen a lot in regards to web design: the ugly pages that convert really well, the long form sales pages that take a half hour to read, flashy photo galleries and distracting trendy effects, the predictable + stale look from using a bunch of cliche stock photos.

I’ve also learned a lot from working with clients: where they get stuck, what troubles they run into when working with designers and developers, the expenses and time that can sink a once-great idea.

One thing I’ve noticed is that there are certain things about outsourcing design that nobody talks about.

From quick + cheap jobs to in-depth, long-term relationships, I want to share what I’ve learned over the years so you can save yourself some of the frustration and emotional turbulence that come with working with a designer.

Keep reading if you are thinking of hiring a designer sometime soon — or if you’ve worked with one before and you want to see what others have gone through.

Outsourcing Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring a Designer

Until you’ve worked with a range of designers and invested in premium design services, you don’t know exactly what could be missing. It’s the difference between mediocre results with unnecessary expense and time and kick-ass results you want to show the world.

1. Lack of consistency
Say you run a contest to get a logo on 99Designs, get a website designed by someone on Upwork.com and get your business cards + stationery created from a person on Fiverr. Unless you have a clear and thorough style guide to give them to work from, you’re going to have a cluster of deliverables that don’t look like they’re from the same place.

Looking disconnected looks sloppy and amateurish; take the time to establish a set of brand guidelines that say what a brand is, what tone and personality it has and how it communicates to customers. With that clarity, you can confirm the colors, typefaces, style of images and message of your brand.

With a detailed style guide, you can increase the chances that your final results will look connected and congruent.

2. Overcomplicating your designs
A tendency of less experienced designers (or the company hiring them) is to fill up space in a design with more and more information to maximize the space. It doesn’t need to be complicated to look good! In many cases, adding more elements, colors, text, etc. dilutes the overall impact the design. If you look at high-end fashion brands, for example, many times their labels, websites, logos and ads are full of space. Less is more: having less to focus on gives power to the things that remain.

Make sure you’re working with a designer that understands the reasoning behind including each element of your design.

3. Copying others
It’s one thing to research and find examples of brand elements of companies you respect. That helps you understand the tone you’d like to capture in your own designs. But if you imitate their design or messaging too closely, you’ll blend in instead of standing out for your own unique attributes.

You can’t build a serious long-term income or business if you’re constantly piggy-backing on the work of others.

4. Going cheap
It seems to make sense to look for the cheapest price when it comes to outsourcing…and, therefore, get as many designs for as little money as possible. But going cheap can cost you more in the long run.

First, you risk having unscrupulous designers rip off the work of others, creating copied designs to get you a result cheaply and quickly.

Secondly, you may find that what initially sounded good in the designer’s marketing spiel ends up being different from what’s delivered. For example, some designers on low-cost platforms like Fiverr will advertise $5 for a design – but require an additional fee to release the final, full quality vector (or editable files).

5. Focusing on price instead of designs
When you’re shopping for a designer, rather than comparing prices, compare portfolio examples and look for the style of design that looks something like what you want for your own project. If you find a designer you love, you’ll want to develop an on-going relationship with him or her. You can negotiate on price later. When you’re getting started with someone new and want to get a result you love, go with seeing what you like already created in their portfolio.

6. A badly written design brief
Getting high-quality designs and creating a design brief that will get what you want is a skill unto itself. Many folks have a hard time explaining what they want. They figure they’ll “know it when they see it.” If this is you, and you outsource to a designer hoping he or she will hit on it one way or another, you could be left spending twice the time at twice the cost (either from multiple revisions or having to fire a designer and find another).

Designers (especially those in countries other than your own) are not going to be familiar with the terms, references and meanings behind the ideas you send their way. So be as explicit as you can – and provide them with reference information and something to provide context if at all possible. For example, send a crude sketch, a written description, a few reference images or website,

7. Not taking responsibility
It’s your business, so it’s your responsibility. If a designer rips off someone else’s design, that’s on you to make it right. If they misspell a word, or use an unreadable font, it’s on you to notice it and request it to be fixed.

8. Not building in time for potential problems
You need systems in place to catch all of the little hiccups and problems that come with a new project. Guaranteed you will have problems. It takes time to get into a rhythm of working with others, and there’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth – especially in the early days. Prepare ahead of time by giving yourself time to request a revision (or multiple), brainstorm a new idea or incorporate additional features.

9. Overestimating cost savings
Similar to the mistake of going cheap, outsourcing never saves as much time and money as you hope. To start with, managing the relationship and the project itself takes time: measuring performance, offering feedback, answering questions, overseeing unexpected developments, etc. It adds up in the form of extra days, weeks and service expenses.

10. Getting in too deep too quickly
You find someone to outsource to, you like the initial results, you’re pumped! The tendency is to want to turn over a greater amount of responsibility in the early stages of working together—the honeymoon period. The designer may be awesome, but go step by step into the relationship.

11. Not getting involved enough
In the opposite direction of getting too deep too quickly, swinging the other way can make a project painful for both parties. Outsourcing works when there are clear guidelines, procedures and rules. The challenge is that it takes time to create guidelines, procedures and rules. Don’t mistakenly assume that some things will be automatically understood or interpreted correctly. Put everything in writing. That way, if there’s any issues down the road, you can refer back and avoid disputes.

12. Putting all your eggs in one basket
If you become heavily dependent on one person for all your design across all products and mediums, what happens if they suddenly go out of business or have a personal emergency? What if you increase your workload and they can’t handle the additional requirements? If you start with a clear style guide for consistent results, you can get support from several vendors. For example, you could have one designer for print collateral, one for your website design and another for infographics for your social media.

13. Ignoring communication frustrations
When you start working with someone and are excited by what he or she initially produces, you may overlook the fact that you won’t hear anything from her for a week at a time. Or that he’s always 5-10 minutes late for calls. Or that she’s not receptive to feedback. Watch for frustrations early on, before you get too deep into your project and start resenting the quality of service.

14. Missing the opportunity to negotiate on price
Most designers want to find on-going, reliable work. If you can offer or deliver this, then you can negotiate on price. But it’s important to figure out what a “good” price would be for you, based on what you expect to make from the designs. You may not be able to determine this until you’ve worked with the designer some initially. Once you know it’s a good match, propose some options for a price that is a win/win for both of you.

15. Not getting feedback on the designs
If your designer creates something you like but your target audience isn’t drawn to, then is it worth the investment? Make sure you get outside opinions on the design during the process–ideally from existing clients or people that represent your target customer. That extra step could save you from making a pricey mistake that gives you nothing in return.

16. Not looking at your design in the “wild”
Where is your final design going to be seen? On a product label, sitting on a shelf next to competitor products? On your website, viewed from a smartphone? On an image in a social media feed among the hundreds of other images in the feed? As the cover of a book on a bookshelf, with only the spine showing?

Wherever your final design will live, it’s important to view the design as closely as you can to that context. Print out your label, take it to a store and hold it next to the other products. Print your book cover and wrap it around a book tucked between two others. Display your site mockup on your phone and notebook devices, considering the other websites your target customer would likely be visiting on a regular basis. You only have a few seconds to make an impression with your design. Knowing what you’re competing with will help you make better decisions about what to keep and what to drop.

To sum it all up…

Your design immediately sets the tone for your brand, your messaging and the personality of your marketing. Because first impressions are hard to change, it’s crucial to take steps to get a great result with your designer. It usually gets easier as you go. Once you create something that works, additional designs can be made from those guidelines.

Get the design that makes you look good and connects with your audience…working with a Tech Diva to make the process fun. Contact me to see what we can come up with for your next project!

How do you make social media effective for your business? (Maybe it’s not worth it.)

How do you use social media for your business? How do you make it effective–or is it a waste of time for your particular audience? There are a lot of different answers to this question. You might wonder if you really need to invest time or resources into keeping up social media profiles (or paying someone to do it for you), even though it’s common to hear that it’s something that “every business needs to have” to be relevant.

I don’t believe it’s a clear cut answer for everyone, and I think it could certainly be a waste of resources for some people. So how do you decide how much to put into it, or what to share if you decide you want to be active?

In this video, I offer my opinion on this, based on working with small businesses, startups, consultants and solopreneurs. My answer isn’t a fit for everyone, but I don’t believe ANY answer about marketing is. 🙂

I’d love to know what you think in the YouTube comments.

How to find mobile app developers: 8 beginner mistakes to avoid

So you wanna build a brilliant app, that’s great!

Maybe it’s to enhance your existing products, or to offer something brand new to your audience. Creating an app is a fun but in-depth undertaking. What looks quite simple with a few screens on your smart phone requires a LOT of thought around user experience, flow, design, backend development, cross-platform compatibility, bug fixes, etc.

Designers and developers aren’t magical with super powers…we’re simply people who have been immersed in tech long enough to have learned a thing or two about what to anticipate when it comes to a new client project.

Here are a few insights from my experience working with entrepreneurs and small businesses building their first app, with 8 tips to avoid headaches.

View the slides: