If you haven’t yet heard, this Saturday 7th December is Small Business Saturday – a day to celebrate the very many small businesses we have in the UK, and the ambitious, hardworking entrepreneurs who run them. So, this Saturday, why not make your way to a small business near you – the sort run by people who are motivated by their passion and love for what they do. You’ll find them on your high street, residing in an actual shop with four walls and a door which perhaps has a bell that tinkles to announce the arrival of a new visitor – or even online, as there’s a whole world of small businesses who have taken to the web to sell their wares. I promise that you’ll find it a far more rewarding experience than buying from a faceless national chain. Go on, give it a go.
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I’m so excited to be on the amazing Blogging Your Way e-course with the inspirational Holly Becker. We’re just coming to the end of week two and I cannot tell you how much I’m learning! I’m so excited to start putting everything into practice, and it should mean that you, my lovely readers, will have a much more enjoyable reading experience with me. This month, I’ll be making lots of notes, thinking, planning and trying new things. I hope you’ll join me… this is all going to be a tonne of fun…
Expectancy is the brainchild of Denise Tiran, a midwifery lecturer and internationally renowned authority on maternity complementary therapy. The initial brief was to redesign their website, but the scope of the project very rapidly developed into a total overhaul of their brand identity, incorporating a new logo design, swish new business cards and letterheads, a mini prospectus to advertise their best-selling courses, exhibition boards and some very handy little postcards to capture delegates’ data at conferences and exhibitions.
Denise is fortunate in that her business occupies a very specific niche in the market – there aren’t many others out there who do what she does, and certainly there aren’t any others as well known or respected as she is in her field. Through the course of our Mood Board session, we established a clear set of core values and spent lots of time talking in a very animated way about all of the possibilities that lie ahead! We knew that with the solid base that a new brand identity would provide, Denise would have an excellent platform for growth – and so we got to work on the brand.
Sadly, I neglected to get a ‘before’ shot of the website, but here’s a peek at the re-swizzed version, designed by us at Ditto and built by the guys at …Happen
We had already designed and produced a mini-prospectus to act as an introduction to the company, as well as a place for them to showcase their best-selling courses. As well as a great marketing tool for sending out to anyone who’s made an enquiry, they’re absolutely ideal for exhibitions. Next, we needed to redesign the huge exhibition boards that Denise takes out to conferences and exhibitions. We redesigned the boards so that the top two thirds are interchangeable, meaning that the team can mix and match boards as their mood (or stand) dictates.
With the benefit of an eye-catching exhibition stand, we’re the team to see much more traffic when they go to events. To take advantage of this, we created some really handy cards for delegates to leave their details. This is an essential element of data capture, and gives the team plenty of leads to follow up on after an event.
Oh lordy. SurrrrAlan’s latest batch of victims, ahem, hopefuls, are lining up to be judged. Hmmm. Never too sure about The Apprentice. From the bolshy attitudes to the minutiae of the behaviour of all concerned (sorry, but in this day and age, separating the men and women into opposing teams is a dated approach at best) – egos bigger than Wembley Stadium and barely a shred of decency between them.
It begs the question: is there a place for such pushiness in the marketplace these days? I can confidently say that if any of Lord Sugar’s latest approached Ditto, they would be swiftly shown the door. I truly believe that consumers are well and truly fed up of the glossy salesman approach. All mouth and no trousers. No thank you.
Shame really – in the early days of the programme, I’d eagerly glue myself to the television, keen to hoover up any pearls of wisdom I can apply to our own business. These days, it’s less about good business sense and more about backstabbing, bossiness and threaded eyebrows. Goodness. I can only hope that our future business leaders do not reside in Alan Sugar’s boardroom.
If we’ve spoken recently, or you follow me on twitter, you’ll know that my other half and I have been searching for a new home recently (I’m pleased to say that the whole horrid ordeal is over and we’ve found The One – hooray). It’s been a really interesting journey, not least because it’s been a process of buying our first home after renting a small cottage for the last few years. I’ve been fascinated by the way that different estate agents do business – you’ve got those who are incredibly keen, who go out of their way to help and always place a follow-up call the next day, juxtaposed by those who, frankly, can’t be bothered. They all behave in distinctly different ways. And the way they present properties varies hugely, too.
One of the houses we viewed was photographed pretty badly, and the description was sparse. It really didn’t tell you much about the house or the area, and certainly wasn’t doing the vendors any favours. Not to be deterred, we went to view. And we liked it; it was a nice house. In fact – it was much nicer than the pictures in the sales brochure would have you believe. We decided against that particular house, but it made me smile when I saw it re-listed with another agent shortly after. At first, we didn’t recognise it as being the same house. The pictures were amazing – it looked lovely! The estate agent’s photographer had taken the time to stage the photos, lighting the fire, placing fresh flowers in the kitchen and setting the dining table. And the description of the property was a country mile away from the first listing too – the estate agent had put some real care and attention into writing some beautifully descriptive copy which made you really feel like you could make this house your home. Same house, different descriptions – one of which made the house hugely more desirable than the other.
You can apply this analogy directly to the way branding works for businesses
Take two businesses, with identical offerings – on paper, they’re direct competition to each other. But apply carefully considered branding to one of them and you immediately elevate it from being the same as its competitor to something with unique character, making it more desirable and compelling prospects to buy. How can you describe your business differently to make it sound more desirable?
Following a stonking first year in 2010, Sevenoaks Business Show is back again at the Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks on 30th March. Last year we had a diverse mix of businesses, from recruitment agencies and telecoms to wealth management, web design and… us! Preparation is well under way for this years’ show which is set to be bigger and better than last year. Entry is free to all delegates so the show is a must for your diary. I’ll let you know more about the show as the event gets closer, but for now make sure you’re free on the day!
These days, with it being so easy and relatively low cost to get your message out online, should you bother promoting your business via good old fashioned print any more? Well, according to an article in the Daily Telegraph, you should:
‘E-readers ‘too easy’ to read
Readers using electronic books like the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader are less likely to remember what thet have read because the devices are so easy on the eyes, research suggests.
By Nick Collins 8:47PM GMT 13 Jan 2011
It has long been assumed that displaying information more clearly and legibly will help readers take it on board, but the truth could be the opposite – that making something easy to read causes the brain to be lazy.
Rather than making things clearer, e-readers and computers prevent us from absorbing information because their crisp screens and fonts tell our subconscious that the words they convey are not important, it is claimed.
In contrast, handwriting and fonts that are more challenging to read signal to the brain that the content of the message is important and worth remembering, experts say.
Neuroscience blogger Jonah Lehrer found he was less likely to recall information he had read on his Kindle e-reader, even though the reading experience was easier and more relaxing.
He wrote on his Frontal Cortex blog that there are two ways of reading – using the brain’s ventral pathway, through which the brain recognises words and understands their individual meanings, or the dorsal stream, which activates itself when we have to focus on an obscure word, awkward clause or illegible writing.’
Translated to marketing, this could mean that your message isn’t taken as seriously when it’s presented on a computer screen. With studies suggesting that direct mail and printed marketing will be big in 2011, do you need help to plan your marketing this year? Join me for a complimentary marketing consultation to help your business grow – just drop me an email to book your session!
At the start of the new year, we all know we should be promoting our business. With businesses still recovering from snow-hit December, cash might be a little bit tight which means marketing may well go on the back burner. Fear not! (apologies for the cheese factor) Once again we’re running a ridiculously cool competition through our print franchise, printing.com.
Entering is dead easy. All we’re asking for is a shameless plug – get our name out there in the most inventive way possible! Last year, people tweeted about us, blogged about us, took photos of themselves holding our banners – have a look at some of last years’ entries here. All you have to do is email us the evidence of your plug, and we’ll put your entry in a gallery with all of the other entries. The public vote for their favourite and if it’s you, you get a great big £1,000 to spend on printing! That can’t be bad for the new year now, can it. Get cracking – I can’t wait to see your entries!
2010 has been a hectic, frenetic and challenging year for us at Ditto. The snow hit us badly in January (as it did our clients), and we had a couple of huge obstacles to overcome through the course of the year, which seemed insurmountable at the time. Despite all of that, I want to take a moment to reflect on the strong progress we’ve made this year, as in many ways this year has been a big turning point for us!
Anyone who has been working with us since we opened for business almost 7 years ago will know just how much we’ve grown and evolved, but this year was a corker in terms of real, strong growth. We’ve met some fantastic new clients, forged close working relationships and have been lucky enough to get involved in some fascinating projects. The whole team have invested a lot of time in developing our skills – I can rarely be found without a stack of marketing books on my desk, Dan has progressed hugely with his design and illustration skills and Derek has been through training so we can now offer websites. Aside from personal developments, more and more involved work with our clients and concentrating on our sales and marketing, we’ve all faced the challenges of running a business in a not-quite-recovered-yet economy. Anyone who runs a business will know how tough it can be, and when you have unexpected problems thrown your way it makes it all the more difficult!
2010 has been the year that we’ve had the chance to redefine what we do. We’ve had to get our heads together and figure out what it is that Ditto does – we’ve evolved in such a way that our mission was no longer clearly definied. We know that getting this right is crucial; after all, if you don’t know what you do, how will anyone else? By the way, if you’re feeling the same about your business I highly recommend putting pen to paper and listing what you do and what you want to do – it’s tough but totally worthwhile! With the help of my blog (ironic to think I started out dabbling with the idea of blogging, and now I’m managing a blog for someone else and achieveing readership of my own blog waaaay beyond anything I ever hoped for), we’re now attracting exactly the sorts of clients that we love to work with, which is a fantastic start to the new year. We’re not the types of people to get complacent though – as I type, we’re working on relaunching our new branding, website, blog (we’ll soon be migrating to WordPress – more on that later!) and twitter page to reflect what we do. I love the fact that we’re being asked to help at the concept stage of our clients marketing now – I love getting stuck into planning a promotion as it’s always great fun!
We’ve spent the last few days planning our strategy and marketing plan for 2011 (I’m slightly ashamed to say that this is the first time we’ve ever been organised enough to plan ahead), and I’m really looking forward to building on our strong progress this year. For me personally, I’m so proud of everything we’ve done this year. There were times when things got very scary – the backdated business rates demand which landed in June with lots of zeros on the end knocked me sideways – but we’re still here, armed with a fantastic tribe of loyal clients and we’re more profitable than ever before.
I hope your year has been successful too. When you run a business it can be so hard to find a moment to look back on all the brilliant achievements – so take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back for all that you’ve done. So here we are – 2010 draws to a close. Cheers everyone, have a very merry Christmas and a fantastic new year.
We were really excited to be asked to design the promotional items for a fantastic event in aid of Help for Heroes. We were approached by the very lovely Tony Rae to help him create invitations and posters for a white collar fight night, and couldn’t wait to get started. In terms of content, they’re fairly simple – but Dan has used some stunning typography to really convey the glamour and prestige of the evening. Have a look!