designed to be unique

I saw a friend out and about a while back, and he mentioned he needed new business cards. He owns a painting business in town, and he said he got his current cards from his accounting software for super cheap and he’s almost out of them. But he also said, with a tone of annoyance in his voice, “Another painter in town has the exact same cards as me, so I need new ones.”

You guys, I live in a town of around 50,000 people. I don’t know how many painting companies we have, but I can’t imagine we have a ton. And the fact that two of them ended up with the exact same business cards just screams the old adage:

You get what you pay for.

I’ve seen it before too. My hairstylist used to have the same logo and business cards as a bridal shop in town. When you get your designs created by a one-size-fits-all shop online, you run the risk of sharing your branding with someone else in town, or even your competition. The internet is big, but not THAT big.

A small design company will take the time to listen to you and learn about your business, your customer, and the message you’re trying to convey. They will create something that is unique to you and YOUR company… something that stands out from your competition’s marketing instead of matching it.

Plus, if you give that designer your repeat business, they will become an extension of your team. They will grow to understand the nuances of your business, and you won’t have to explain who you are or how your business works to them each time you have a new project. It’s like having a designer on-staff, but without having to budget for it.

Sure, you will likely have to pay more for the service of custom design. But, you didn’t design your business to fit into a template; why design your marketing around a template?

photo credit: user RawPixel on Pixabay.com

why use a graphic designer?

Do you need a graphic designer?

Sure, you can put together that ad or coupon using your basic word processing software. Yes, it’s cheaper, and yes, it gets the job done.

You may not have the need for a graphic designer on payroll, but finding one that you can contract and work with consistently will build a relationship. Your designer will come to understand your business, learn your audience, and work more intuitively over time, thus needing less of your time and input. That groundwork and communication on the front end will help you immensely as you develop a relationship, grow your business together, and excellently serve your customers together.

Then this:

email screen shot

…turns into this:

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…with minimal effort from you.

My passion is to take your message, polish it, and create a beautiful design so you can proudly put it out in the world. If it’s a print project, I’ll take care of getting it printed up for you too. Let me take care of those things so you can focus on the parts that made you want to go into business in the first place.

How can I serve your customers? Let’s find out!

cover photo credit: markusspiske on Pixabay.com

marketing kindness

A while back, I wrote about a generous gift I received from a client. I mentioned then that I had been working on a project for them that truly exemplifies who they are, and now that some time has passed and word is out, I thought I’d tell you more about it.

Frozen Yogurt Creations is a locally-owned frozen treat shop, but it’s so much more than that. Anyone who knows store owners Kelli and Bruce also knows that they see their shop as a place for community and family, for celebration and smiles, and a place to pause and reconnect with those we care about. They are intentional in their decisions – from their marketing to their cheery atmosphere to the gifts they give organizations in the community (which they do quietly and frequently).

I struggle to even call their most recent marketing campaign a “marketing” campaign, because for them, it isn’t about the marketing. They want to change the community to be kinder, and they thought of a fun way to do it that is just… well, I don’t know how to say it other than it’s just so them.

It starts with a business card sized coupon:

discount cards

The idea is that they hand these cards out to family, friends, and employees to give to people they “catch” in an act of kindness, which the recipient could turn in for a free treat.

So then the recipient comes in, card in-hand, and writes down what they did on the back of the card. The card gets added to one of 6 posters that are hanging on the wall, such as this one:

poster/wall art
24″ by 36″ custom poster

Each one of those little rectangles will eventually get covered up with a card, but for now, they each contain a little quote about kindness. The posters hang near the seating areas so customers can read them while they enjoy their treat.

Finally, the do-gooder gets their picture taken holding a sign so Kelli and Bruce can brag about them a little bit on social media, like this:

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Finally, they give that person a new, blank card so they can give it to someone else for their act of kindness and keep the campaign going.

So, yes. Technically, this is a marketing campaign. The first Facebook post they did about the campaign got around 150 “likes” and a bunch of shares and comments. Subsequent posts had strong responses as well. People got excited about it, and word is spreading, which I imagine is probably good for their business.

More importantly to Kelli and Bruce, it’s a Kindness Campaign: smiles are being spread during a time in history when maybe the world could use a little extra kindness. That’s their goal; the other stuff is secondary.

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What do you think about their campaign? How can your business create a Kindness Campaign, with the heart being in the kindness and the marketing being secondary? What kind of organizational culture needs to be there so customers know it’s genuine and not just for publicity?
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cover photo credit: user klimkin on Pixabay.com

creating a little motivation

So. You’re low on motivation.

We’ve all been there. When those moments strike, it’s sure easy to come up with why we don’t *have* to do whatever it is:

“I’ll have time tomorrow.”
“I need to think about it more and really get some ideas flowing.”
“I should probably talk to [insert name of anyone even remotely associated with the project] before I get started.”
“The floor isn’t THAT dirty.”

Sound familiar?

There are a ton of tips and tricks out there to get you moving toward your goal again, but it’s always good to have another tool in the ole’ brain box, so I thought I’d share mine.

There might be a million reasons, but I only need three good ones.

Try to think of at least three reasons for getting going on the project/task: one that will impact you immediately, one that will have a short-term effect, and one that will affect you in the long-term.

Let’s take working out as an example. As much as I love riding my bike or going for a hike, I am NOT one of those people who is naturally predisposed to working up a sweat. Sometimes sitting with my feet up, sipping a cuppa coffee, and reading a good book sounds way better. (And sometimes you need to do that too.) But when my brain is throwing out flashcards of excuses why I can’t do it right now (it’s too windy, it might rain, I have to be somewhere in 6 hours and that just isn’t enough time…) I think of my three reasons and usually they’re enough to outweigh my inclination to stay put. So I might think of things like this:

Immediate reason – I always feel better when I get exercise. Or, I’m going out for dinner and I’m certain the Super Fries from Tav on the Ave will wipe out the caloric benefit of this workout so I better bank some sweat now.
Short term reason – it’s a lot easier to stay in shape than it is to get back in shape. Or, I like it when my pants fit.
Long term reason – when I get old, I want to be active and fit, not sedentary and unable to do the things I want to do. Putting the effort in now makes that more likely.

It’s all in your mind.

Most of the time, forcing my mind to think about the benefits rather than the excuses gets me moving in the right direction. Those pesky excuses might still be floating around up there, so I can’t always say I’m raring to go, but at least I can usually get enough motivation to get started. In my experience, that’s the hardest part; once I get started I can usually keep it going. I just need three reasons.

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What trick(s) do you use to get yourself going when your momentum has shifted the wrong way and you’re having trouble getting motivated?

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space for getting things done

A few weeks ago, I wrote about John Cleese’s perspective on fostering creativity. (Get up to speed by reading that post first, if you want.) In that post, I wrote about time, but he also talked about the other necessary elements: space, confidence, and humor.

When he spoke about space, he said it’s difficult to be creative in your regular, day-to-day space, because you operate in closed mode. It’s hard to be creative when ALL THESE THINGS TO DO are staring you in the face. I would say this is especially true for a mom with a Type A personality (not that I know one): picking up those dirty socks, wiping off that counter, where do these papers go… etc.

Cleese said, “You must make a quiet space for yourself where you will be undisturbed.” I’m fortunate enough to have what I call my “yurt” – a space all my own. It’s basically a three-season porch that is detached from our house, set back in the woods on our property a bit. It’s peaceful, quiet, and it has necessary features like a ceiling fan, electricity, and it’s close enough to the house to still get wi-fi. I absolutely love working out there.

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my yurt; most of the time I work alone, but it’s nice to have company occasionally

But life is busy, and I don’t always have time for peaceful retreat. So, here’s where I slightly disagree with Mr. Cleese: I don’t know that the space absolutely HAS to be quiet. We’ve all knocked out a project in a coffee shop, and those are definitely not always quiet. But I would present another example: my daughter is a gymnast, and because of road construction, it takes almost 30 minutes to get to the gym from our house. If I drop her off, drive all the way home, then drive back later to pick her up, I will spend just about 2 hours in the car. I can use that time more productively if I stay at the gym and work. The gym has no AC, and Minnesota summers can be hot and humid. I sweat as I breathe in thick, muggy air, and I tune out the energizing pop music the gymnasts blast. I even suffer that distinct smell a hot building full of hard-working bodies can’t help but have. And I create. I create better there than I do in my air-conditioned dining room, despite the environment full of potential distractions, because I’m away from my other responsibilities that would pull me away and keep me in closed mode.

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it’s loud and often hot here, but I sure do accomplish a lot!

Indeed, my yurt’s physical environment is preferable to a hot, smelly gym, and the air conditioning my home offers sure is tempting. But when it comes to creativity, time AND space matter, so sometimes I have to weigh the options then make one of them work so I can keep creating.

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What are your thoughts? What space allows you to accomplish the most? Is that different from where you actually end up? If so, how do you make that work for you?

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**Special shoutout to K&G Gymnastics for the use of their wi-fi (and fan).