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Price Wars

The worst thing that anyone can say about your company is … nothing! Positive comments certainly reinforce your brand, but negative comments provide an opportunity for a company to turn the issue around and help the brand.The BUZZ for any company can be created through the content on the site. This content is then translated to articles that can be blogged and "TWEETED". This buzz can generate leads if the content is fresh and has pertinence in the field that it is written. Company websites have to be informative in that they introduce the customer to creative and factual solutions to that industry. Key word here is SOLUTIONS. Most people are searching the net for a solution to some challenge or problem. Today, the challenge is finding customers that will remain loyal to your brand. Price point is usually the focus in this economic climate. The solution to the "Price War" is knowledge. There needs to be enough information in any campaign to justify the higher price. We need to market to the value contious buyer today. They will still buyer a more expensive better product but the better informed buyer is your best friend. If they are confident of your expertise they will return, if for nothing else, saving time. I recently had to purchase auto parts as I am an enthusiast of sorts. I first went to the larger store "Checker Auto", They were great, really and they did the best they could with what they had. Now, in the past, they have been a great deal less expensive than the smaller locally owned auto store. On this day they failed to know everything that the "experienced" staff at Larry's Auto Parts knew. Now I will still go to both stores but when time is the over-all concern I wouldn't hesitate to go first to Larry's.

 

 

Campaigning | Search Engine and Email Strategy Combination

Search Campaigning? Plan for the long term and combine strategies.

Include an e-mail sign-up on every search landing page, and make it very visible. This is an opportunity to find "opt-In" surfers that have an interest in what you so eloquently got them to click on in your search advertising and optimization.


Create Synergy in your search and e-mail marketing. The subject of this week’s e-newsletter reflect your paid search terms. If a current reader does a search for something they see in your newsletter and you’re the first paid link on the page, it will boost your credibility with prospective clients.

Post e-newsletter content on your website—in proper directory structure, of course—creates content that’s multipurpose and will be indexed by search engines. This is simple and increases your page ranking.

Don’t get lazy do not use the same landing page for an e-mail marketing campaign that you use for a paid search campaign. Develop enough collateral to be ready for all campaign needs. A separate piece will also allow you to track the productivity of a page or ad.
Lastly, the "surfer" or "searcher" that lands on your site probably has never been there before and the message that you convey better speak openly and to the point or you will lose them. Test your message with a focus group and see what will work best.

Reevaluating Your Marketing Plans

New Advertising Tactics

Business owners have to reevaluate their advertising tactics and decide whether or not they actually do justice to the brands they're trying to sell. Your Image/Brand willlay flat if the representation of your products is that of stock photos and generic looks. Throw out those stock photos on your Web site. The idea of having the perfect looking "perfect professionals" shaking hands across a board table is more and more being replaced with pictures that reflect the actual staff, culture and personality of your company. This adds to credibility and stability, especially when the economic environment is so unstable. Seeing the actual faces smiling through an image on your site shows the visitor that you are willing to garantee a great experience with your company through these people. Try getting some of your people together, hire a professional photographer, and shoot away.

A professional photographer will be able to get the right angle look from your staff. If you plan the shoot well enough the photographer will be able to shoot enough assets to last a few years of promotion. Make sure you let the photographer know that you plan to use the images to promote your organization and that you want full rights to the images before they shart clicking. This will save you a great deal of time and money. Remember the days of over paying for anything are over.

Tag Lines Are So Important to a Brand

Distinctive Tag Lines

A tag line is a three to four word phrase that accompanies your logo. It expresses your company's most important benefits and or what you want your customers to remember about working with you. Think of it as the words you want to linger in your target customer's mind about you and what you have to offer. Great tag lines appear to be effortlessly created because they just seem to flow. In fact, creating and refining one takes time, just like designing a great logo. The benefits of taking the time to craft a great tag line lie with the tag line's stickiness. Great tag lines stick in your memory.

The Hallmark tag line, "When you care enough to send the very best," appeals to the human desire to be viewed as having good taste and an appreciation for luxury. If greeting cards are a commodity, then Hallmark has found a way to differentiate itself as the choice for quality.

The Hallmark company was founded by J. C. Hall, so the name Hallmark was a natural. It was also brilliant from a marketing standpoint. Hallmarks have been used for centuries as a stamp to denote quality, purity, and genuineness. Could there be a better way to attach the image of quality to a product? The tag line capitalizes on that image well with words that stick in the mind and exemplify good taste.

Creating a great logo and distinctive tag line are critical in creating a brand that provides the perfect image for your company and great ones just might be memorable enough to give your company the beach front property in the minds of your customers that leaves them thinking only of you.

Karen Saunders is the author of "Turn Eye Appeal into Buy Appeal: How to easily transform your marketing pieces into dazzling, persuasive sales tools!" Hundreds of business owners have used her simple do-it-yourself design system to create stunning marketing materials that really SELL their products and services!

Shooting for Light

Either you have a $5,000.00 camera or the easy $100 point and shoot you will be amazed at the difference in quality because of lighting conditions. In the old days Kodak, Fuji and alike were all wrestling with better film makes a better image. The reality of this is that they were shooting to make all conditions acceptable. Cloudy, rainy, bright sunshine or sunset all craete a different feel in the image. With today's technology we see the chip sensor as the film.

Most digital still cameras use either a CCD image sensor or a CMOS sensor. Both types of sensor accomplish the same task of capturing light and converting it into electrical signals. A CCD is an analog device. A CMOS chip is a type of active pixel sensor made using the CMOS semiconductor process. Some people prefer one to the other but neither technology has a clear advantage in image quality. CMOS can potentially be implemented with fewer components, use less power and/or provide faster readout than CCDs. CCD is a more mature technology and is in most respects the equal of CMOS. CMOS sensors are less expensive than the CCD sensors when it comes to manufacturing. I prefer the CMOS chip myself and do believe the the colors are richer in the CMOS. My biggest concern is how the chip will handle the broad spectrum of light. Shooting outdoors we all look for the golden hour, usually between 4:30 PM and 5:30 PM or better yet 90 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes before sunset. Colors are warmer, richer and shadows are smoother. Shooting during the middle of the day we get the high contrast bright colors also. Shooting a scene on the beach where the talent doesn't need to look into the camera is perfect.

Ultimately the lighting needs to match the work desired. Warmer moments are at sunset or sunrize. Brighter, brilliant coloring will happen best with the sun straight overhead. Planning for the sun will capture the best images with even the simplest of cameras.

Getting Your Business Into Shape-Logo Design

OK, I've lost 12 lbs. and I'm feeling better about myself. What I am noticing is how similar a business is to your own physical health. Here's why. When you're fat... you get lazy. When your company is doing well [fat] the powers that be don't look at the areas that they be able to improve upon. People are less likely to be fired for a lack of enthusiasm or productivity. When companies are fat they don't excersize or run as much as they will when times are slow. Usually, this is due to time constraints and is the natural order of things. When times are tough businesses look for less expensive (let's say what it really is: Cheaper). Quality gets a sidestep hence the "pudgy" look.

Now how do you get your business back on track? Well you make a plan to improve the areas that most likely need development. First I would look at the brand. Is it up-to-date? A dated brand will kill a company. Look at Jack in the Box. They just redesigned their logo. The Logo is a big part of the brand along with everything that s the first point of contact with a company. A new look may be just the push you need to be successful this year. Here are some good design tips for your logo.

7 Logo Design Tips

Keep in mind that a powerful logo design:

  1. has a strong, balanced image with no little extras that clutter its look;
  2. is distinctive and bold in design, making it easy to see at a glance;
  3. has graphic imagery that looks appropriate for your business;
  4. balances with your company name;
  5. has an easy to read font;
  6. communicates your business PROMISE clearly; and
  7. translates well in black and white, as well as in color.

Next we'll look at Tag Lines and their placement

 

Choosing a Commercial Photographer

When the need comes up to find a commercial photographer many organization use the person that they know to do good work or is referred by someone close. In the photo world, photographer's advertise most successfully by word of mouth. If the photographer is worth his weight he or she will have good references.

These references should be based on your needs also. A wedding photographer may not have the same skills as a commercial photographer and vise-versa. The reason for this is that the commercial photog has been trained in commercial applications and advertising campaigns. The layout of a page and the flow of a measage is the first concern in any campaign and the commercial photographer will setup the images in a way to tell the story needed to get the most attraction to the ad.

A wedding photog will be able to set the mood for a wedding but will they know how to capture an audience. I have been both a commercial and wedding photographer. With over 800 weddings under my belt and five commercial magazines I would say that the commercial application is more difficult and requires a much better plan of action. Weddings are an emotional vision of a bride and groom at an event with the family and friends. The event is static and pretty much the same from wedding to wedding so the creation of a new look comes from a new area, new people, new dresses etc. but the overall shooting is very repetitive thus over time easy to capture the look and emotion of the day.

The commercial photographer must be able to see the vision through the eyes of a creative or art director and what they are setting the tone for. This usually means that the set, the models and the products have been thought through days in advance with the photographer only capturing the image on the screen.

Note: We use to say film but alas "film" has gone by the side of the road. Today we may use chps to store images but the idea of "filming" will always be favored to digitally capturing an image.

Now, you may be wondering if a commercial photographer is worth the 2-3k that they may charge. The answer is absolutely yes, and here's why. How much did you spend on the building or buildout of the place that you are in? What is your labor cost? How much do you spend on advertsing? The images that you ultimately get are your first line of visuals that everyone will be judging you and your company. The amount spent for these images is far less than what you've spent on everything else so don't destroy your "brand" by creating mediocre images.

Lastly, check a photographers portfolio and ask all of the questions that you can think of. A good photog will not mind answering any question. If you would like help in this area comment here or send a request through or contact page.

 

Social Networks are in the Limelight

 

If you are still wondering why Google is pushing so hard with its new product Buzz, it is because it wants in on social traffic. For many sites on the Web, social traffic coming through Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace is beginning to rival, and in some cases overtake, search traffic as the single biggest source of traffic. This traffic comes from shared links, photos, and videos. By its own numbers, 5 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every week. What isn’t easily appreciated is the extent to which such social sharing is tied to different identity and authentication platforms across the Web. If you can log into a site easily using your Facebook or Twitter account, it is easier to broadcast links from that site to your friends. To get a sense of which services on the Web drive the most sharing, I asked Gigya for some stats. Gigya powers sharing widgets on more than 5,000 content sites, including ABC.com. NBA.com, PGA.com, Answers.com, and Reuters. Consumers can click a share button on these sites and send an article link, photo, or video via a menu of different services including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, and AOL. Over the past 30 days, people have shared almost a million items over the Gigya network. Facebook and Twitter dominate with about three quarters of all shared items between them. Here is how the services break down (note that these are relative numbers) :

Distribution of shared items 
Facebook: 44%
Twitter: 29%
Yahoo:18%
MySpace:9%

It makes sense, people prefer to broadcast links rather than share them one at a time via email. Although Yahoo makes a strong third-place showing. When it comes to authentication, simply using your existing username and password to log into another site, Facebook is still the most popular via Facebook Connect, but only just barely. Google via Gmail and Yahoo are almost equally popular, at least on certain types of sites where people are just reading for themselves like news sites. On entertainment sites where people are more likely to share content, Facebook Connect makes up the majority of logins.

Here are the stats:

Share of Authentication By Platform:

News sites:
 Facebook: 31% 
Google: 30% 
Yahoo: 25%
 Twitter: 11%
 AOL: 3%

Entertainment sites:
 Facebook: 52% 
Google: 17%
 Yahoo: 12% 
Twitter: 11% 
MySpace: 7% 
AOL: 1%

Facebook Chat is also a strong option, making up more than half of all live event chats measured by Gigya.

Live Event Chat:
Facebook: 56%
Twitter: 28%
Yahoo: 9%
MySpace: 7%

Update: A broader view of sharing on the Web comes from Gigya competitor AddThis, which has its sharing buttons on more than 600,000 Websites. (Gigya tends to be on larger content sites). AddThis also shows Facebook on top when it comes to sharing on the Web, but with a smaller 33 percent share. Twitter is at 9 percent, but it gets beat by email and printing out content as options provided by AddThis. Even with these broader numbers, more than 40 percent of sharing is through Facebook and Twitter.

Top 10 Services, Overall

Facebook: 33% 
Email: 13%
 Print:9%
 Twitter: 9%
 Favorites: 8% 
Google: 6%
 MySpace: 6%
 Digg: 3% 
Live: 3%
 Delicious: 3%

Facebook

facebook.com Location:Palo Alto, California, United States

Founded: February 1, 2004

Funding: $716M

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 400 million users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard

Twitter Website: twitter.com

Location: San Francisco, California

Founded: March 21, 2006

Funding: $160M

Twitter, founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006 (launched publicly in July 2006), is a social networking and micro-blogging… Learn More

Gigya Website: gigya.com

Location: Palo Alto, California, United States

Founded: June 1, 2006

Funding: $23.5M

Gigya is the leading social optimization platform for online business, providing social sharing and registration solutions that enable online businesses to increase traffic, registrations, and engagement. Gigya’s platform aggregates and optimizes