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Need to create a pool of quality clients? Try these five easy steps.

Building a Better Client Base in Five Easy Steps

Building a Better Client Base in Five Easy StepsSo, it is that time. You are a working designer who has built a solid portfolio. You are as experienced generating concepts as you are comfortable sending them to print. You have carefully weighed your options and are finally ready to begin working for yourself. Congratulations! Now what do you do?Assuming you are equipped to handle the administrative functions of trekking out on your own (which is another article in itself), the next step is to begin building a client base. However, if you want to be successful in this highly competitive profession, you must not only build a client base, but you must build a solid client base. To help you on your way, I have complied five tips for building and improving your client base that I have found useful in my own work: 1. Form Partnerships with Other Vendors: When I was first getting started, my company was able to secure a contract with four major print centers which referred all of their clients who needed graphic design and typesetting work to us. In turn, we would complete the project and send the job back to the center to be printed. Not only did this provide us with a steady workflow, but we also established valuable relationships with new clients who would trust us with work in the future. I highly recommend forming relationships with other vendors. Print shops often need designers who can provide them with print-ready files, small marketing and public relations firms often need a reliable designer they can send work to, and many designers get overloaded with work and would love to pass some on to others in need of it. Get out there, make friends, build relationships and you will find good work. 2. Network, Network, Network! As you grow your list of contacts, you will find that something good starts to happen; you will gain momentum. When you build relationships you will find that the best way to gain new clients is through your established ones. Be clear to all of your clients about the services you offer and they will remember you the next time they hear of someone with a need you can fulfill. 3. Charge What You Are Worth. This is one of the most difficult things for a designer when they first begin to freelance. Inevitably, the temptation to discount your work will always come. The most frequent phone call I get is one where the prospective client needs something simple but really means cheap. Resist temptation. While there are times when these phone calls can lead to valuable client relationships, the majority will often lead to more calls asking for discounted work. Run the numbers beforehand. Establish your pricing and be clear about it with your clients. If you find that you absolutely must accept discounted offers, clearly represent how much you would normally charge and mark the discounts on the final invoice. This way, your clients will at least know what you would usually charge when they recommend you to others. 4. Learn How to Say No. Learning how to decline projects is an integral part of working on your own. Bad projects eat your time, create frustration, and cost you money. Establish your criteria for accepting a project and stick to it. You are much better off seeking and planning for the right job, than you are accepting the wrong one. Accepting only the good jobs will help you network with the right kind of clients and produce better work for you in the future. 5. Stay Focused. Focus! Focus! Focus! This is more of a tip for internal use than it is to outwardly seek clients. However, it is the most important advice I can give. So many projects remain incomplete because designers lose focus and turn their attention elsewhere. Whatever your goals are, write them down, create a plan, and stay focused on achieving them. Designers who run a tight ship are almost always the ones who achieve success in this industry.

Market Testing: The Key to Advertising Success

Market Testing:  The Key to Advertising Success

Market testing is the key to increasing the effectiveness of your advertising campaign. If youre like me, just the word testing makes your shoulders slump and a groan escape your lips. Hey, its really not that bad... especially when you notice the substantial increase in your bank account!Think about it... how much profit is your advertising campaign producing? Which marketing material is providing the greatest revenue? If you dont know the answer to these questions, youre gambling with your advertising money!Cut Out Risks And Rake In More ProfitsWouldnt it be great to be in total control of your business profits? Yeah, knowing that the simple act of putting a set of postcards in the mail with this week's offer is going to net a 20% increase in sales feels great. The key to being in command of your financial future is effective and continual testing.Break down your marketing products, and choose one of these aspects to experiment with: * The offer* Advertisment Copy* Web page Design* Sales Letter Wording* Advertising Mediums* Mailing Lists* Product Guarantees* Combination OffersA word of caution: test only one aspect at a time if you want to be sure what is causing the success or failure of the ad. Tracking each variation and the results it produces will increase your market knowledge. Incorporate your new knowledge into your marketins strategy, and then go one to test another aspect listed above. I like to make a start by simply changing the headline on my Websites or sales letter before making any changes to the body of content. Its amazing to discover the powerful impact a headline has on the consumer. Youll also get a better idea of how to change the main content when you know what attract the readers initial interest!Okay, for those of you who dont have the time to invest in constant testing... heres a rule of that will still get you a higher profit margin without stealing your valuable time. Its the 80/20 principal. Keep 80 percent of your advertising in its current form, but take 20 percent of your advertising budget and dedicate to experimenting with advertising methods. Hey, its not the most profitable, but youre still sure to see an increase in sales and gain valuable market savvy in the process.

Link Baiting

Link Baiting

Link Building in a competitive niche is one of the most difficult marketing tasks I'm asked to do. Not only do I have to work in link-saturated industries, but more times than not I have to find a way to out-rank a "complaint site" and/or Wikipedia. If you've ever tried to do this you know how difficult it can be and how it's necessary to think outside the box in order to net the links you need.

Successful link building in competitive markets takes both traditional as well as Web 2.0 linking tactics to make an impact. How do you avoid being buried in the search results or move above the complaint/Wikipedia site? One way is to work on developing reputation link bait.

What is reputation link bait?

Reputation link bait is the combination of two marketing strategies: pitching the media with an interesting story, and developing link bait. Traditionally, media pitches involve floating story ideas to journalists in conjunction with an upcoming event, while link bait is written to attract links from a wider audience by using controversial content. Reputation link bait uses each tactic, but with a twist—instead of promoting events and controversy, it focuses on promoting a company's overall image through positive buzz. In a nutshell, reputation link bait is a tactic used to promote a company using newsworthy and trendy angles to build a positive corporate reputation.

As a linking tactic, reputation link bait makes sense. Done well, it offers the potential to generate a lot of quality links in a Google friendly manner while establishing your company as an industry leader.

Developing a reputation link bait angle

Spinning a positive corporate image isn't something new, but unlike traditional marketing, reputation link bait doesn't wait for opportunities to come around. Instead, reputation link bait is a process of creating high profile "angles" to pitch. Let's look at two angles you can use to attract links using reputation link bait:

Capitalizing on current trends. There's a lot of support and publicity behind the "buy local, go green" movement. Take advantage of this hot trend by turning some of your products green and developing a full publicity and link bait campaign to promote the changes.

Modify a number of your best selling products to use recycled materials and then blog about the positive results of your new green products. Write a two-part series on the process highlighting the outcomes and use environmentally focused social news sites like Hugg and TreeHugger as well as the general news sites like Digg, Reddit, and Propeller.

Build testimonial links. A single positive testimonial is good, but 50 is reputation making. Using the testimonials you have in place plus the new ones coming in as a result of going green, look for a line of commonality in each. Once you have it, develop an article series around the product or service everyone is raving about.

Promote the piece on social news sites such as Digg, Reddit, Propeller, TTiqq, and Fetch, as well as StumbleUpon.

Encourage comments and return the favor by commenting out. Doing so helps attract more comments from people with similar experiences and the attention of the media who monitor the social news sites. And don't forget to contact the people who gave the testimonials. There's a high probability they have web sites and blogs and will link to where they're mentioned in your article series.

Take the testimonial angle a step further by getting celebrity and non-competing experts to endorse your brand. Offer a year's supply of your product in exchange for a testimonial link from their websites, blogs, and newsletters. Once the links are in place, launch a full scale media blitz announcing the endorsement.

If you keep promoting the positive aspects of your business through reputation link bait, two things will happen: First, you'll see which tactics consistently work and can invest resources into these venues, as doing so means more inbound links; and second, you'll create positive link marketing momentum with the media and within the new industries you're tapping into. You'll find building links for competitive terms becomes easier when you have new sources to draw links from and more positive content in the search results than your competitors.

Brand Your Business

Brand Your Business

You may have heard something about branding in regards to marketing, but perhaps youve wondered what that means exactly.Sometimes it is better to explain something in relation to something else. Thats what I am going to do so first I will start with positioning. You also may have heard that term, but also did not really know what it meant. Positioning is a marketing term that means to take a product or service and position it in the mind of your prospects/clients by comparing it with or against something already familiar in their minds. Al Reis and Howard Geltzer first published a book about it in the 1970s.To give you an idea of positioning, take Avis. Hertz car rental already had first place in the market. By being first place, they preempted that position. Everyone knew that they were #1. So, Avis, to get any recognition at all, had to position themselves with Hertz, but actually couldnt take their spot. Do you recall what they did? You got it Avis. We try harder. By positioning themselves as the best second runner up, they were able to capitalize on a larger portion of that market.Some people think branding is like positioning, but it is different. The main difference is that positioning is a fluid concept. In other words, you can position yourself at different times in different markets as different things. Branding is more set in stone- its a hard-core recognition factor.To give you a better idea, the other day one of my subordinates saw a cup of mine with red circles on it. He said it looked like a Target cup. That is branding. That red target logo is branded in that persons mind. He saw it and immediately thought of the chain store.However, Target is positioned differently its discount chain with good style. Some people even refer to it as Targ that is positioning. It positions the store with some hoity-toity posh boutique but everyone knows its right there with Walmart price wise. Good position.Branding is more about the following of rules because if you dont follow those rules, things dont look the same and people wont remember you. What if you changed your body periodically I mean really changed your body. Oh, today, I think Ill be Asian straight black hair, slanted eyes but yesterday you were Caucasian; how do you expect anyone to remember who you are when they see you on the street? It is kind of the same. When you put out your marketing pieces, you want to create a similar look and feel so that people remember you. And you want that similar look and feel on every thing you put out.The good thing is that you get to make the rulescolors the same, style of lettering the same, logo etc. And there is some flexibility as long as you follow the rules. You cant go too far out of bounds, but you can change some things within the frame of what others can still recognize.There was an actual study done by GE (General Electric). They found out that it only takes 22% of their logo for people to recognize. Only 20% of their logo needs to be seen before people recognize it.So, it sort of is like the Western concept of branding your cattle making sure people recognize what is yours.Remember I said the same look and feel? Well, the other side of branding is what it makes you feel about it. Chevrolet used to say it was Americas vehicle baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Now it is like a rock. That makes you feel a certain way about it. It still is in line with the old idea about Chevrolet. Americanism = loyalty = dependable = Chevrolet. That song that comes on is their brand. Being Americas vehicle is their position. Both give you a certain feel.Branding in your marketing has to make you feel something. A technology company cant have an old style font you might not think they were very far advanced.Take PostcardMania. Our colors, bold style font and humorous quips give you the feeling that we are happy and lively. We make sure that our prospects and customers get that same feeling every time they see our mail, emails, packages, logo, etc.. Therefore it is important to look the same every time.Take a dry cleaner for example. His postcards, packaging, hangers, etc. need to have his logo, colors and font all the time all the same - on everything. That way when people receive his postcards in the mail, they look for what specials that he has because they already like him and have him identified in their mind as something they are familiar with. If he is constantly changing what he looks like, when they get his postcard they dont know whether they are looking at his specials or what some dry cleaner in general is offering. If they are already familiar with him, they are most likely going to pause and look at what he has to say.Branding is just like the old coat of arms that families used to have connected with their name. It would instill respect, fear, and wealth - whatever. Likewise, a countrys flag gets people to feel a certain way about their country. Heck, Stalin even used branding! He used the same picture to portray who he was to his people - I am this, I am this, I am this he wanted them to think a certain thing. Its really not a new idea Im trying to get you to see it has been around for quite some time.At PostcardMania, we want people to recognize that we know how to get their attention bright colors, loud type shows that we know what were talking about in terms of marketing. But Postcard Marketing Experts is our positioning. Does that make sense? You can see how the two tie in together. One is our position and one is our brand. Were hoping to create a feeling of being expert, the best in the business, etc., but also friendly and easy to confront.Think about what message you want to portray. What do you want recipients of your promotion to think about you? What image of your company do you want to put out there? That is your brand. When people see you continually as one thing, they begin to expect the same from you and they get used to you.Remember when Pepsi came out with clear Pepsi? People freaked out. They didnt want to drink it. It was a flop. It wasnt what they were used to so it didnt even taste the same to them.Branding in marketing is recognition color, font and logo keep it the same.If you can get them to remember what it is you are selling, the more likely they will come in and get itif not, you are depending on drive by traffic and are wasting your money in marketing. And dont forget this very important marketing truth if youre only planning to promote merely one time then branding is not going to help you. Branding is only for marketers that already understand the concept of repetition.(For more information on repetition and how this works in marketing, read What the Heck is a Campaign and Why do I Need One by Joy Gendusa at www.postcardmania.com.)

How To Generate 270 New Keyword Ideas In 15 Minutes

Dear Pay Per Click Marketer,You should, by now, be aware that having a massive highly targeted keyword list with terms related to your site is a gem. The more keywords you have in your list, the more traffic you will generate to your site, and the more sales you will make. The formula is simple. Many people ask me how I generate hundreds of these high quality, targeted keywords every hour; so I decided to leak my #1 secret to the world. I hope that you will use this secret to your advantage and it will help you tremendously in your Pay Per Click Marketing.Step 1Go to Google Suggest: http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=enStep 2Type in the root keyword you're trying to SEO for or brainstorm around. If you haven't used this tool before, then listen closely.[DO NOT PRESS SEARCH]Just wait, and the results will pop-down with the top 10 most popular searches on google for that phrase and 10 others. This way, you know that the keywords you are collecting are not only highly targeted, but also consistently pulling in traffic.Step 3Okay, now here's the sneaky part. Let's pretend our website is about 'dating'.Typing in 'dating' gives you the following keywords:datingdating directdating servicesdating sitesdating tipsdating servicedatingdirectdating advicedating simsdating agenciesNow, here's how you get your 270 more keyword ideas:-Type in 'dating', space, and then the letter 'a', 'b', 'c' etc. (26 letters in the alphabet, 10 keywords for each letter, plus the keywords from the root list above)Just for show...Here were the top results for 'dating' and the letter 'a':dating advicedating agenciesdating agencydating after divorcedating advice for womendating a married mandating agencysdating australiadating advisedating agencies ukAnd how do I know Google actually gives you the top 10 real searches?Quote From Google (Quotation comes from: http://labs.google.com/suggestfaq.html)Our algorithms use a wide range of information to predict the queries users are most likely to want to see. For example, Google Suggest uses data about the overall popularity of various searches to help rank the refinements it offers. An example of this type of popularity information can be found in the Google Zeitgeist. Google Suggest does not base its suggestions on your personal search history.Now you know my secret; use it wisely...

Trade Show Exhibit Shipping Tips

Your trade show costs can dramatically escalate if you just happen to hire an inexperienced shipping company to transport your "trade show" booth to the conference site. You may suddenly be faced with broken or missing parts, late delivery and a budget that could put your companys trade show display in total disarray and your job in jeopardy. Although unforeseen events such as a major winter blizzard can cause havoc with your trade show delivery schedule and budgeting, it is always best to minimize your chances for error by picking the right professional transportation company. If you want your "trade show booth" to arrive in good condition, on time and within your budgeted allowance, you need to be informed on how to pick the right freight handler and transportation company.You can take control of your trade show booths destiny by becoming fully informed.Bad weather, causing flight delays at certain times of the year, is a concern beyond your control. But just like you can reclaim lost luggage from an airliner if you have your name tag on it, you have a better chance of finding a lost or misplaced trade show booth element if, for example, you labeled every part of your "trade show display" in advance. Although GPS technology has been a boon to tracking trade show booths, it cant find what is not labeled. And, since there are so many different people handing the shipment of a trade show exhibit booth, there is no guarantee that your "trade show exhibit" exhibit will arrive safely on the other end. You can, however, improve your odds of success by taking steps to insure your trade show exhibit displays safe journey. Thus, the first step is to find an experienced trade show exhibit specific carrier.George Poppe of National Transportation in El Segundo, California, offers the following tips on what to look for in a trade show exhibit freight carrier. They are:1.Make sure your transportation company records all of your trade show exhibit exhibit information, such as destination, schedule, weight, number of pieces, and exact dimensions of your pieces. This detailed information not only determines the cost of transporting your trade show exhibit booth to the exhibit site but also drayage costs (what the unions charge to deliver your booth from the loading dock onto and off the trade show exhibit floor)2.Look for a freight carrier that has a good rapport with the unions soyour trade show exhibit exhibit will be in reliable hands. You are better able to avoid unnecessary charges if your transportation carrier deals regularly with the trade show display conference hall unions. Your carrier benefits from knowing the industry venues well--whether they be the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, the Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the Santa Clara Convention Center or the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.3.Look for a transportation company that handles a large volume of "trade show display" business. You can get price breaks if your cargo company has multiple or less than truck load shipments to a convention site. An example of what can happen is the recent Semicon West 2006 Convention at Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco July 11 -13th.Poppe reported that, due to the popularity of this show, his National Transportation Company had to wait in the marshalling yard for 11 hours before delivery at the unloading dock. Because he had 3 trucks and multiple shipments, he was able to waive the waiting charge fees which would normally be charged. A less experienced trucker most likely would pass along these charges to the trade show display exhibitor. Marshal yard fees range anywhere from $45 - $85 hour.4.Select a trade show display freight company that has first class communication capability. Check to see if they offer 24/7 contact with a live person, since trade show displays are not a 9 to 5 business. Also make sure you give them contact names and cell phone numbers of your exhibitor reps on the trade show display floor. Check to see if the freight company has the capability of sending Internet air bills and bill of ladings in case an air bill is lost and you need a duplicate copy immediately.Poppe suggests that once you select your freight company, you should ship 7 10 days ahead of your targeted move in date in order to avoid late penalties. And be sure to also communicate your trade show display exhibit details with the company you select to do your trade show display installation and dismantling. Its really all about communicating.Remember, do your homework in advance and know what you can do to avoid major mishaps of shipping your trade show display booth. By picking an experienced freight company, you can minimize your exposure to mislaid or damaged trade show display rental booth components and budget cost overruns.

Summary

Need to create a pool of quality clients? Try these five easy steps.