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Dara Turransky
Print and Digital Designer, Marketing Communications
Snohomish, Washington
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Ten Ways to Improve Your Business’s Image

An integrated approach to improving your bottom line through integrated marketing initiatives.
Written Sep 17, 2008, read 39241 times since then.
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Develop your logo to exemplify your business.

While your logo is just one part of your business’s image, it’s a very important one. You only have on average three seconds to attract the attention of a potential new customer, so use it wisely. A company’s identity should uniquely communicate a single cohesive vision of your organization’s purpose and personality within a blink of an eye. Use a professional designer with a foundation in design and business strategy to help bring your brand to life. He or she can develop for you a corporate identity that will set you apart within your industry and give your brand a lasting competitive edge.

Design your points of customer contact to be consistent with your brand.
Your business papers, promotional materials, packaging, trade show booth, and web site need to look like they belong to the same company brand. (If you own a storefront then this would also apply to interior design, signage, shopping bags and employee uniforms). This means all points of customer contact need to be visually consistent to ensure your are maximizing opportunities to create brand recognition. A well designed brand projects a consistent, clean, and professional appearance that prevents consumer confusion.

Differentiate yourself from your competitors by telling your own story.
We as humans have a rich history of storytelling and as such, love to hear a good story. Tell your unique story in as many different ways as possible to support your efforts in distinguishing you apart from your competitors. Photography, illustration, copywriting in addition to market research all play important roles in creating in a lasting competitive edge for your product or service. Hire a creative agency that utilizes current pet market research to drive fresh creative solutions. These are the ones with a foundation in
related market research and will bring the most competency in creating brands with a sustainable edge.

Attend industry trade shows & local events to promote your business.
Trade shows assist manufacturers and service providers in gaining exposure to their market as well as increasing sales by prequalifying the attendees. These shows are for industry members who are interested in purchasing product or services for their store or distribution chain. I always recommend to my clients to raffle some product or an abbreviated form of their service at the trade show as a method of collecting prospect information for their database. (This database can be later utilized for promotional mailings based on specific criteria).

Two other venues that are helpful with promotion include local events and retail stores. They are great places to gain public exposure while demonstrating the benefits of your product or service to end-users. The demonstration should culminate with the distribution of your promotional materials and/or free samples to attendees. The result is feedback from interaction with your customers and an opportunity to obtain positive testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals that drive your sales upward.

Test your Web site for usability issues.
A professionally designed and produced Web site will utilized the industry’s “best practices” in order to enhance the user’s experience while fulfilling business objectives. Such best practices in the internet industry include; intuitive navigation, pleasing aesthetics, succinct copy for your target market(s) and search engine optimization of the site which should include image alternate tags within the site’s code for the visually impaired. For clients that wish to include FLASH technology into their site, I recommend limited usage to ensure all users may access their information.

Create a marketing plan to build & maintain your business’s image.
A marketing plan will assist you in defining your pet business’s mission and values, competitors, financial and non-financial goals, as well as provide the opportunity to assess your strengths and weaknesses. (This is usually incorporated into the business plan for the small business owner). A marketing calender within the plan allows you to not only budget for campaigns, but execute and monitor their progress as well.

Utilize internet marketing in addition to traditional media to promote your business.
Search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and banner ads are all forms of internet marketing. Combine these with print, TV, and/or radio media channels to create a powerful promotional toolbox. For example, the best method of tracking a banner ad or coupon’s effectiveness is to include a code that the consumer inputs into a form to receive the special. This form lives in a target specified page within your Web site and stores its information in a database. A good web analytics program will disclose if your web or print advertising campaign is effective or not.

Another successful technique to drive traffic to your corporate site is search engine optimization or SEO where text tags within the code are used to describe products or services for the search engines. These search engines then “crawl” through your site’s code seeking these text tags or key words to use for ranking your site. The more successful tag words and phrases could then be duplicated for pay-per-click advertising. This type of  promotion (i.e. Google Adwords) places your ad copy and web link next to the ranking page. Your chances of success are doubled if a consumer sees your ranking on the search page in addition to your pay-per-click ad. PPC ads are affordable, too. You only pay if someone clicks on your ad.

Promote your biz with press releases that tie to your overall online marketing campaign.
Professionally written press releases as part of a marketing program can be a powerful lead generator for your business. Their power resides in; maximizing visibility of your company, bringing qualified buyers to your Web site and raising your search engine rankings of your site on the major engines. This is accomplished by including live links in your press releases that link back to a targeted page on your corporate  site. This targeted page should then interact with the user with a call to action or provide product or event-specific content. The more Web sites that link to yours, the higher the page rank.

Develop a database of your current customers’ information to cultivate for future sales.
Everyone is buying. It’s only a matter of when. Your current customer base is a prequalified buyer since they already purchase products or services from you. It’s easier to sell other beneficial products or services to current customers because you already have an existing relationship. The best method of utilizing this relationship to further sales is to capture and store their information in a database. This data should be stored in a database program such as FileMaker or Excel. Have fun. I like to include a client’s pet name(s) and breed(s) as part of my information so that I can include them on the holiday card and send them treats. Your efforts in this endeavor will result in custom mailing lists that fit specific criteria for promotional purposes. A targeted direct mail or permissive email campaign is a cost effective marketing tool to promote your product or service to a prequalified audience.

Connect with other non-competing related businesses & begin a referral network.
Independent retailers, service providers and other independent manufacturers are all good sources to begin a referral network. It can be simple as leaving product samples and business cards with a storeowner or a brochure with a veterinarian detailing your services. Co-operative  advertising, where more than one manufacturer/service provider shares the cost, is also another option. For example, Person A is a pet sitter and Person B is a mobile groomer and there is a new housing development near both businesses. They could together advertise to the new homeowners using a door hanger and split the cost. The same could be said for two manufacturers whose non-competing products would benefit the same target audience. The more people you know in your industry, the more connections you have in your referral network.

Your business’s image mostly depends on the amount of time and money you are willing to invest in its future. A holistic marketing approach, interacting with your customer utilizing multiple touch points as opposed to one or two, gives you many opportunities to tell your unique story. Tell it in as many different ways as possible by utilizing some of the tactics from this article. Remember, frequency is the key for your customer to remember your brand instead of your competitor’s so make their experience memorable.

Learn more about the author, Dara Turransky.

Comment on this article

  • Online Community for Entrepreneurs 
Seattle, Washington 
Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades
    Posted by Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades, Seattle, Washington | Oct 29, 2008

    Dara,

    This is jam-packed with great advice. I especially like your idea of including personal tidbits in my database of clients for more customized marketing.

    You also do a nice job of pointing out the benefits of connecting with related, non-competing businesses to offer clients more than I could on my own. You've got me thinking on this one!

    Thanks again.

  • Print and Digital Designer, Marketing Communications 
Snohomish, Washington 
Dara Turransky
    Posted by Dara Turransky, Snohomish, Washington | Jul 17, 2009

    Hi, Lynn-

    Thanks for your kind words. I'll update the article as new technologies become available to small business. I'm glad that you found this to be helpful.

    All the Best, Dara

  • Small Business Brand Designer 
San Luis Obispo, California 
Erin Ferree
    Posted by Erin Ferree, San Luis Obispo, California | Feb 20, 2010

    Hi, Dara! Great article and good to see you again!

    • Erin
  • Large Format Printing 
West Sussex, Chichester United Kingdom 
Monty Fuller
    Posted by Monty Fuller, West Sussex, Chichester United Kingdom | Jan 12, 2012

    It’s a good idea to tap on current customers for future sales. Familiarity breeds positive impressions. Sending wonderful promotional gifts will raise those positive impressions further and make them more receptive to any follow up marketing campaigns. Everyone loves freebies, useful ones of course.

    Monty - Business

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