Do you know what your online image says about your business? Take this little two-part test:
You meet two people at a networking event and both tell you that they sell and install fine replacement windows for your home. You gather their business cards for later reference and a week later decide to inquire about replacing your windows. You’ve forgotten who handed you which business card, but they both have email addresses. One says email@example.com and the other says firstname.lastname@example.org. To which company will you feel best about trusting your window replacement needs?
Suppose you don’t want to get an actual quote just yet but want to do some research first. Are you more likely to go to www.finewindows.com first or to http://sites.google.com/site/billybobsfinewindows? And if you didn’t have the website address for www.finewindows.com, how likely do you think it is that a search on Google or Bing or Ask would find http://sites.google.com/site/billybobsfinewindows near the top of the list versus www.finewindows.com?
With so many small businesses running on shoestring budgets these days, it is indeed tempting to use free email accounts and set up websites using free templates available from Google, MSN and others. Or to just set up a Facebook page and hope for the best. But what does that say about your business to someone who doesn’t know you? If you chose www.finewindows.com above instead of http://sites.google.com/site/billybobsfinewindows you already know the answer to that question.
Getting your own domain name for your website, and so-called “vanity” email accounts using that same domain name, doesn’t have to be expensive. And setting up the website doesn’t have to require a degree in web design (or rocket science!). Many ISPs can provide you with bundles that include domain name registration, email addresses, website templates and even more sophisticated capabilities such as newsletter broadcasting, blogging and e-commerce. It might really pay to look into these options before making a decision. Unless you really don’t think your image is that important.
Do you have questions on anything mentioned above? Give me a call or an email, or post a comment, and I’ll be happy to discuss them with you. Do you any have experience using one or the other or, even better, both kinds of approaches mentioned above? I’m betting that lots of people would love to have you share your experience. Let us know what results you’ve experienced. Thanks for reading!
Marketing Help: The Importance of Your Offline Business Image
For a current update on this post, click the image.
I collect a lot of business cards as I build my network and help small business owners with their marketing and technology issues. And I’ve noticed that people are either (1) not paying much attention to the venerable old business card, or (2) getting so enamored with its design as to render it unreadable or (3) going so high-tech that it could be useless to its intended audience. Let’s take these one at a time.
A business card needs to have certain basic elements. These would normally include the name of the business, the tag line if applicable, the name and title of the person whose business card it is, the information on where that person’s business is located — either physically or on the web — and complete information on how to contact that person by all means available. It might benefit from an image or a background, or it might not. It really depends on the business and the intended audience.
If the business card is going to include an image, which is a great idea in many cases, since pictures can be much more powerful in conveying concepts than words alone, that image should not render the rest of the information on the card undecipherable. This might call for a design that uses, against most conventional design advice, reverse (and maybe bold and maybe shadowed) type for the pertinent information. The type face has to be big enough and bold enough to be readable coming out of the image. If the image is only part of the card design, it’s important not to let the image color dictate the color of the type. Even on a white background, a very light blue or yellow color can be virtually unreadable. Especially if the font size is tiny as well.
And then there are the “techie” cards. I have some with no names, addresses, telephone numbers, web sites or email addresses. Just a funny graphic symbol like the one accompanying this blog entry. That funny symbol is called a QR (for Quick Response) code and it contains my business card information. All of it. And it could also contain a link to that card if there was too much information in the QR code for a particular smart phone to read. It could contain a link to a map showing the location of my business. Or other information. QR codes can be very helpful in mobile marketing applications. But if your audience doesn’t use smart phones, how useful is it, no matter how high tech or trendy? The answer is: Not very! But you could print it on the back of your traditional card in order to serve both markets. Make sense?
So the idea is to fit the medium to the message and to the audience. As we all tend to concentrate on our online marketing image and activities, let’s not forget that what we do offline is important as well.
I’d love to have your comments and ideas on this topic. Examples of best and worst cards you’ve encountered could be lots of fun as well. Let me know and thanks for reading.