This guest post is written by Mandy Petherick of Mooncat Media. Mandy has over 25 years experience in the graphic design and print industry and has worked with many business owners in France and the UK.
With a fresh new year approaching it is a good opportunity to take a long, hard look at your business and identify ways in which your image can be improved.
One of the simplest ways to get your business message across is The Visual – incorporating business cards, logos, flyers, leaflets, letterheads, compliment slips and other advertising material. First impressions count, and if your business looks professional then potential clients will feel that your business will be professional.
So here are a few pointers to help you along the way:
Logos give you a clear business identity and make you instantly recognisable as a brand (think of McDonald’s “M” or Nike’s “tick”). Work carefully with a designer to make sure you have a logo that is right for your business, one that is sharp, relevant and punchy. A good designer will always take the time to work with you until you are 100% happy. This can involve a lot of too-ing and fro-ing of ideas and concepts. Be very honest with your designer, and don’t be afraid to reject designs. Getting it right is a symbiotic process and this takes time. It does help if you have some basic ideas about what you want (or don’t want) in terms of colours and style (Cosy? Modern? Geometric? Traditional? Humourous?). Ideally find some logos that you really like – this helps your designer get a feel for your general preferences.
Once you have your chosen logo use it prolifically! That logo should be visible at every level of your client contact including your : Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, websites, business stationery, promotional items and in all other advertising media. In this way you are building up brand recognition.
Never give out a tatty card containing incomplete or out of date information – it does not give a good impression. Always hand out cards to current and previous clients as these are the very peoplewho will be recommending you to others in future – a great example of direct marketing.
A good business card will be printed on good quality card, and will be clear and concise. At the veryleast it should contain your logo, business name, a brief description of what you do, your siretnumber, contact details (including telephone number and email address), and (preferably) a website address.
Remember, a business card has TWO sides – so make the most of that option. The flip-side canalways contain further information (such as social media links) or, maybe, a clear image of anexample of your work, or you can simply duplicate the information held on the front of the card – never waste a blank space when you can use it to promote your business.
There are various ways of producing business cards including Vista Print templates and similar. This can work well if you do not have your own logo, are looking for a budget option and do not mind that other people may well be using the same images for similar businesses. But please don’t rule out investigating the cost of having a unique design tailor made for your enterprise. If you want to stand out from the crowd then bespoke design is the way to go. A good designer will give you an upfront quotation, and often can source business card (and other) printing at very competitive prices. It is always worth asking and there is no obligation. Also, a designer will understand about colour matching and print “bleeding”. The same process is involved with designing business cards as it is with logos – the proposed design will shuttle back and forth until everyone is happy. The biggest tip I have for anyone producing a business card is to proof read, proof read and then proof read again, especially phone numbers and email addresses.
Always keep a stock of business cards with you, hand them out liberally and actively seek out places where you can display them for free (bars, restaurants, shops, garages etc).
In this day and age a website is so important, in fact often the first thing a potential customer will ask is, “Do you have a website”. These do not have to be all singing and all dancing. For many businesses a simple, static website is perfectly adequate and can cost very little € indeed.
Think of your website as your “showcase”. Images and examples are much more important than a lot of “verbage”. Keep the information on your website clear & concise and when including information and images always ask yourself, “How is this promoting my business?” Potential customers don’t need to know your life history but they do need to know what you do, and that you have the experience and qualifications to run your chosen business.
If you can quote prices on your website, then so much the better, even if it is just a “prices from” guideline. Prices are particularly important if you are running any type of hospitality business, experience has shown that Gites, B&Bs and similar get very little response if a potential client cannot access this information online.........but remember to buy a website option which allows you to update your price page whenever necessary (or involve a website designer who will do this for you for a small fee).
There are many options for websites – you can build your own using template designs, and many of these options are fully fit for purpose. Just be aware that the result could look somewhat generic, and that it will take time to produce, also these “free” websites often come with hefty annual hosting charges.................so again, it is always worth contacting a couple of website designers and getting quotes. Sometimes the total cost of having a bespoke website is cheaper in the long run as a good designer will be able to offer you substantially cheaper annual hosting fees, and that designer will make sure your website works on all platforms as they will rigorously test every link and every medium before asking for their final payment. Most businesses do not require or want anything too complex. Keeping It Simple is often the best way.
FLYERS, LEAFLETS, POSTCARDS , BANNERS, POSTERS
In many cases the combination of business card and website is sufficient, but you may have a business that would really benefit from the distribution of publicity material. A good example is anything tourist related: Gites, hotels, bike hire, restaurants, activities etc. Many holidaymakers will make the local Tourist Office their first port of call – so make sure you have leaflets available there.
Again, it may surprise you just how many leaflets or flyers you can get for your euros. A responsible designer will work with you to produce an attractive, clear and informative leaflet or flyer, and will understand the legalities of what information should be included.
Post cards are an excellent middle option if you do not want a full scale leaflet. These work particularly well for service industries such as the building trades, cleaning companies and similar.
They are more eye catching than business cards & there are usually plenty of places willing to let you leave a stock in their reception areas (for example local vet/doctor’s surgeries, restaurants & bars, shops and garages etc).
Posters are obviously best for special events or promotions and will not be applicable to every business. Likewise banners will not suit all, but I recently produced an exterior banner for a business which could be moved from site to site – and very effective it has proved to be too! All advertising is good advertising.
Lastly, think about other ways of getting your brand known and “out there”. There are lots of options depending on your business type. Have a think about branded invoices, letterheads, compliment slips, badges, fridge magnets, bookmarks...............you are only limited by your own imagination and budget!
Contact Details for Mandy Petherick
Tel: 05 53 62 93 79