Friday, May 30

Manifesto for Children  

Manifesto for Children
By E. Paul Torrance

* Do what you love and can do well.
* Learn the skills of interdependence and gladly share your infinite creativity.
* Don't be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity.
* Learn to free yourself from the expectations of others and to walk away from the games they impose on you. Free yourself to play your own game.
* Find a great teacher or mentor who will help you.
* Know. Understand. Take pride in.
* Practice. Practice. Practice.
* Develop. Exploit. Enjoy your greatest.

Tip: This advice ain't just for kids!

Wednesday, May 28

Business Cards: Small Business Marketing Podcast 17 

Small Business Marketing Podcast 17: Business Cards

10 Commandments of Business Cards for smart marketers... listen in now!


Monday, May 26

Tips for Logo Design 

A logo serves as an organization’s personality and opening statement to the public. Logos can be seen on business cards, billboards, in print, online and everywhere in between. Many well-known organizations have memorable logos -- think of Target’s bull’s-eye, the Nike swoosh and Apple Computer’s apple. All are memorable symbols of the companies they represent. With just a symbol and without ever seeing a written description or company name we can recall a company and a brand promise.

It is important to realize the power of a unique and effective logo and what it can accomplish for an organization’s identity. No matter the size of the business, a logo is its symbol, and an effective logo is a visual icon that reinforces a company’s mission and identity. The following tips will explain how to design a logo that will remain constant on the minds of its viewers.

Express Your Organization’s Personality
Your logo cannot sing and dance, but it can express the personality, purpose and promise of your organization. In fact, it is vital for a potential customer to learn something about your organization just by looking at your logo. It can also provide a clear and consistent image of the company. Believe it or not, the colors that make up your logo are an important component in helping to accomplish this goal. Consider implementing blue into your color scheme, as blue communicates trust. Black communicates authority. Red communicates passion and excitement. And, of course, green is the color of money.

Pop Goes the Logo!
The most effective logos are ones that come alive and jump off the pages or wherever they are displayed. Make sure your logo is bold, and memorable and that it pops. Ensure that your logo design makes sense for your business, and don’t be afraid to test it with existing and/or potential customers for feedback. What you think works might not resonate with your customers.

Keep it Simple
Don’t over-think your logo design; keep it simple and clean. Attempting to do too much with your logo will only confuse your target audience and blur your message. A confusing logo is forgettable and useless. Sometimes, less is more.

Make Sure Your Logo is Flexible
A logo must work well across all media so you can use it in numerous places online and in print. Legibility is imperative, and your logo should be able to work in both black-and-white and color, as it may be on documents that will be faxed or photocopied. A logo that cannot be viewed clearly is not effective. Keep in mind that your logo may be viewed on a small object like a business card or on a larger item such as a promotional flier.

Make a Statement
Many logos also include a tagline, which is a statement of the products or services you provide and separates your organization from your competitors. Some well-known tag lines include Subway’s "Eat Fresh" or Nike’s "Just Do It." As in the design of the logo, a tagline should be short, to-the-point and memorable. Incorporating a tagline can be an effective marketing tool, and it is one best developed in conjunction with logo development.

Research Your Logo
While your logo might symbolize something positive in the United States, it might stand for something entirely different in other cultures. Research the meaning behind your logo before you finalize it so it does not convey a negative message to those people from other cultures. And, of course, make sure another organization is not using the same or a similar logo design especially if they are a competitor.

Use it!
Now that you have a logo, it is time to use it everywhere you use your business name. Put it on all of your marketing materials including business cards, letterhead and envelopes. Include it in your e-mail signature, on your Web site and in all correspondence to reinforce your company image and encourage repeat customers and referrals. Once you have a solid logo that makes an impact, it should be synonymous with your company name.

Protect Your Logo
Give clear, specific guidelines to anyone who will be working with your logo including printers and ad designers. Let them know not to distort the mark and ensure they use enough clear space. If it is used incorrectly, fix it immediately. Your logo is the symbol of your company, and it needs to be consistent.

Be Consistent
A logo is not something that should change regularly. It takes a lot of work to come up with a logo, and it takes an even greater amount of time for customers and prospects to remember it and associate it with your brand. Changing an outdated logo that does not reflect your company’s attitude and identity anymore is wise; regularly changing your logo will confuse your target market and cause more harm than good. Spend the time to develop a stellar logo and tagline now to reap the benefits in the future.

No matter your budget, design resources or the size of your business, the above tips will enable you to create a logo that will represent your organization proudly and effectively and help grow your business.

Thursday, May 22

Forget what you THINK you know! 

Once you think you're at the point that it's time to write it down, build the manual, and document the formula, you're no longer exploring, questioning the status quo. 
-- Lou Gerstner, former Chairman of IBM

This kind of thinking is what brought IBM back from the brink of extinction. In fact, Gerstner wrote a book in 2003 titled, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?

At the same time that people in business are dealing with the most rapidly changing corporate environments, the most demanding customers, and the toughest economic climate in 15 years, it's totally the wrong time to stop and try to create any kind of formula or fall back on "best practices."

In fact, I'd venture to say that best practices are dead.

What works for others will not work for you.

And certainly not in the same way - how could it?

Different company, different people, different everything. The fact is that successful companies blaze a trail using their unique circumstances, people, leaders, and landscape
- and that trail rolls up right behind them! You can't follow. And you shouldn't try. 
That's about as crazy as thinking that watching the Dallas Cowboys play football is going to increase your talents and performance in your weekend warrior football game. It won't
work. You don't have their training, resources, skills, strengths, and competitive environment, do you?

And the point is, your job is to make YOUR elephant dance. You can't do that by watching someone else.

Wednesday, May 14

Free consulting under your nose 

In the real world of business, managers are faced with complex people issues, leading from the gut, hard deadlines and quotas, and making tough practical decisions every day with no theoretical framework or academic research to support them. There is no formal education in these areas.

Managers simply have to get on the bike!

Quite often, the organization of today is being run with staff structures and communication processes left over from years or decades past. Periodically, it's essential to revisit the hierarchy, job descriptions, titles, turf, and processes. Are you having the right kind of meetings? Are
the right people in attendance? Should you be having meetings at all? Unless your company is exactly the same as it was in 1985, your staff structure had better evolve.

One critical element missing in a lot of companies is a clear system of cultural leadership. Simply put, "this is the way we lead around here."

Training, coaching, critiquing and teaching are important leadership duties. Have you designated this as part of the value description of the leader's role? Do managers have the authority, and the time, to do this effectively? If not, explicitly designate a percentage of their work weekto perform these tasks. And hold them to it, encourage it, ask about it, and reward it.

Otherwise, managers are just plugging holes and bailing water to keep the place afloat. Just as you'd have a sales manager review the work of the sales staff, ask leaders to review the leadership work of their next level of leaders - and not in a drive-by, or just once a year for a
"performance review." Make leadership effectiveness an overt priority.

So, where do you start? How do you get better if any of the above describes your company?

Begin with a frank conversation of priorities, and review your staff to see if you have the right players and resources in place.

Is morale low on the sales team? If so, maybe you need to designate a mentor/coach/champion.

Is your company's competitive position slipping in the evolving marketplace? If so, maybe you need to allocate some marketing and innovation expertise in that area.

And no, this doesn't always mean bringing in a consultant or guru from the outside. Sometimes, the best "consultants" are already on staff, waiting to be discovered.

Look around.

Listen hard.

You'll find them.

Sunday, May 11

Brain power isn't enough 

"I start with the presumption that you wouldn't be here unless you had some brain power and competency. The thing that will separate you from everyone else is a combination of innovativeness, creativity, and self-motivation."
-- Walter Shipley, former CEO of Chase Manhattan

Shipley's point applies to companies as well as to the individual employee.

Your organization is expected to be competent and expert at something.

What will separate your organization from the competition is innovation and creativity in all aspects of the business - marketing, sales, product development, employee development, finance, and every other major internal and customer-facing process.

Exercise: What are you doing to make this a reality in your organization every day?

Use this space to make a list and/or jot some notes:

Monday, May 5

Get your people to do "incredible things" 

The question for me is how do we convert business into a form of fun and sharing and stretching and fulfillment that is as touchable as graduating summa cum laude? That's when you get the buy in. That's when people say 'I'm going to do incredible things.
-- David Johnson, former CEO of Campbell Soup

David Johnson was a relentless competitor. He pushed, pulled, and stretched his people towards very challenging goals. At the same time, if an employee reached those goals, he would literally hire a brass band to serenade them.

Johnson was known for saying things like "the competition is always plotting to kill you." So this guy takes business seriously.

But also look at the words he uses: fun, sharing, stretching, fulfillment.

Do you value those things in the heat of the battle?

Exercise: Write down some challenging goals you're working toward right now:

Write down some fun, sharing, stretching, or fulfilling ways to approach them:

Friday, May 2

12 Rules for Bringing Out the Best in People 

1. Expect the best from people you lead.

2. Become fully aware of others' needs.

3. Establish high standards of excellence; communicate them clearly and often.

4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal.

5. Climb on other people's bandwagons if they're going anywhere near the neighborhood you want to go.

6. Employ stories, examples, analogies, and models to encourage success.

7. Use a balanced mix of positive and negative feedback in a constructive spirit and with specific substance.

8. Appeal sparingly (or not at all) to competitive or aggressive impulses.

9. Encourage and reward collaboration.

10. Build into the group an allowance for healthy conflict and "fights" around issues, not around personalities.

11. Recognize and celebrate achievement.

12. Take steps to keep your own level of motivation genuine and high.

Thursday, May 1

Professional keynote speaker David Newman in Philadelphia 

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