How to start a successful business

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If you’re like many businesses trying to sell your product or services in today’s extremely competitive market, you already know the importance of getting the word out. You’ve got several choices on how you can best do this. And since this is literally our full-time job, we have plenty of answers to help you out.

One of our loyal readers recently submitted a question that we think many of you are wondering about yourselves.

WeCanHelpQ: I’m interested in turning my hobby into a full-time business. Where do I even begin to get the word out so I can make some money?

A: That’s awesome. Congratulations! In today’s technology-driven world there are many options for you to market your business. But before we think about how, you need to think about who.

Who are you selling to? Knowing your audience is an essential part of knowing how you’re going to market.

For example, if you’re trying to sell to a specific demographic, consider how they get their information. Do they pick up the daily paper every morning? Turn to social media? Listen to talk radio or go directly to the Internet to look something up? Once you figure out who you’re selling to, figuring out how you’re going to reach them is easy.

Let’s say you’re a physical therapist here in the Hill Country and you’re seeking to expand the number of patients you treat.

  1. Look at your current clientele. What do they come to you most for? Sports injuries? Accident rehabilitation? Age- or health-related wear and tear? And how far do they travel to get to you?
  1. How did your customers come to know you? Were you referred by other patients or doctors?
  1. Think about why you would come to you. What makes your company stand out against others offering similar services?

Getting your name and information out to general doctors’ offices and even fellow physical therapists is essential for referrals. Other doctors may not be able to help, but if you’re available they most likely will tell their prospective patient to come to you. It’s considerate to do the same for them. Customer referrals are extremely strong as well. If you have someone exceptionally pleased with your service, ask them if you can use them in marketing campaigns.

But just like strong referrals can push your business forward, so can your company branding—an attractive, clean logo can do wonders for you. Put that thing everywhere: business cards, letterheads, pens and notepads you pass out, on your store sign up front, on staff shirts, EVERYWHERE. Not sure where to start with that? We can help you. Give us a shout.

If you have a question on how to get people knocking at your business door, email us at denise at rudkin productions dot com.

Marketing Collateral 101

By Meg Guillory Burke

Our daily lives are saturated with advertisements and marketing messages. Practically everywhere you look someone is trying to capture your attention and sell you on the idea that what they have to offer is the best of the best. Estimates now show the average American sees over 3,000 of these messages every day, talk about overload! As a business in today’s market you are probably wondering how you are supposed to stand out in this crowded marketplace long enough to earn your potential customer’s hard earned dollar… well, it all starts with your marketing collateral!

What the heck is marketing collateral anyway?

Basically, marketing collateral is any Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.53.15 PMprinted element used to promote and sell your ideas, goods and services. Smaller businesses may have basic marketing collateral such as business cards, letterhead, envelopes and perhaps a brochure or a flyer; while larger businesses may have sales kits, catalogs, mail-outs, data sheets, charts and graphs, specialty products and more.

Whether your business is small or large, your marketing collateral is used to visually communicate who you are and what you do, to your target consumer. Your marketing collateral acts as part of your sales team and represent you to the public, so make them as good as your finances allow.

How do you create effective marketing collateral?

Set a goal.   Initially you must decide what each of your collateral pieces will be used for. Your business cards provide pertinent contact information and may be used in initial meetings with potential customers. A brochure may provide a brief overview of your company’s benefits and capabilities; while flyers or direct mailers could be used to promote a special event or sale. Letterhead and envelopes support brand identity and may be used for follow up communication or invoicing. Sales kits provide a more detailed insight into your business and/or services and can work as a secondary form of communication to keep your business top-of-mind and recognizable.

Develop a theme. Each element of your marketing collateral must work to convey
your company image and collectively. Implementing a consistent theme throughout creates brand recognition or an awareness of your business’ existence and availability. People buy from who they know; generally the more recognized brands achieve the most sales.

Consider your audience.  Most businesses have a specific target. A simple way to Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.53.47 PMdetermine your target consumer is to ask yourself who, what, when, where, why and how questions.

  • Who is your end user?
  • What do they do?
  • When would they seek your services or products?
  • Where do they live?
  • Why should they choose your business?
  • How can you reach them?

Answering these questions help you understand your audience’s demographics and psychographics, or what drives them to buy.

Determine your message.  Once you have determined who you are selling to, you must be able to inform them about what you are selling and then motivate them to make the purchase from you and not your competition.

It is imperative that your information and facts are accurate and truthful. Use proper grammar and check spelling and punctuation, something as simple as a misspelled word can reflect poorly on your company’s image. Include a call to action or incentive for your audience, such as a discount or special reward, as a way to track the return on your collateral investment. You can even generate a sense of trust by including past client testimonials or listing any performance recognitions your products or services may have received.

Remember to keep the message simple. Your marketing materials have a matter of seconds to capture someone’s attention, so make sure the benefits of doing business with your company can be comprehended quickly without causing any confusion.

Implement strong creative.  Are your marketing materials attractive and engaging? Do they persuade the potential buyer to inquire further? The look and feel of your materials greatly affects whether or not you make the sale, so every detail matters.Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.54.36 PM

There are countless ways to visually communicate your message and achieve a one of a kind look. For example, on a brochure, flyer or sales kit, use graphic elements, charts or graphs to make facts such as your capabilities, costs and/or business location stand out. Use photography or images to suggest reality in your customer’s mind. Then, add captions to help convey necessary details.

A unique shape or size can make your brochure stick out in a stack of hundreds. A catchy or humorous slogan could make your business memorable.

Even the paper stock you print your materials on can set it apart from your competition. Really, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creativity, just be sure these creative aspects compliment your overall message and are consistent.

Don’t forget to include your logo on everything! Continually use the same color selections and font styles on all your materials. An inconsistent look can confuse your customer and negate your brand’s identity.

Seek help.  Not everyone is creative and witty; don’t let this defeat the effectiveness of your collateral! There is no shame in seeking help. Hiring a third party, such as an advertising agency, who offers solutions for copywriting, editing, creative development and market research can greatly improve your chances of creating successful marketing collateral.

You are now equipped with all the necessary knowledge to create outstanding, eye-catching, unique marketing collateral elements! Just remember, businesses are a dime a dozen, but with proper research and a savvy strategy, your business can stand out from the crowd!

How to Plan an Out-of-State National Event for 5,000 Attendees

CUFI

One of our most exciting accounts we work on is Christians United for Israel (CUFI). CUFI is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with over 1.6 million members, 1.1 million Facebook fans and conducts over 40 pro-Israel events a month.

CUFI has two main missions. To educate America’s Christians about the biblical and moral imperatives to support Israel. And to activate America’s Christians to speak out on Israel’s behalf to their churches and communities, as well as to their leaders in Congress.

For the past nine years, starting in January, we begin the long preparation for this three-day event that takes place every July in Washington DC.  The thousands of attendees who arrive and participate in this event are probably not even aware of the six months of planning and work that happened prior to their arrival.

Under direction of the CUFI national office and their incredible staff, we join forces to put together this massive event. The list of needs to put on an event of this magnitude is endless. In January, we start with website banners, microsites, postcards, invitations, ads, brochures, registration forms – all the paperwork that is needed and associated with kicking off a large event such as this. Next, we move into actual tangible needs for the events – registration information, folders, media kits, notepads, magazines, programs, pens, tote bags, lanyards, badge-holders, itineraries, maps, vacation information, signage and banners, magnets, informational flyers… the list goes on-and-on.

This July 20-22, 5000 attendees begin to arrive from around the world traveling to Washington to learn about the Biblical, moral and historical reasons for standing with the Jewish people.

The event is held each year at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. This year’s line-up of speakers includes the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be addressing conference attendees live, via satellite. Members of congress, including Congresswoman Michele Bachman, Senator John Cornyn, Senator Tim Scott, Senator Lindsey Graham and many others who will brief audiences on legislation affecting Israel and the Middle East. In addition to elected officials, a host of Middle East experts and Biblical scholars will also address Summit attendees such as Charles Krauthammer, Malcom Hoenlein, Bill Kristol, Dennis Prager and Pastor John Hagee.

In 2011, CUFI introduced The Battle For The Future:  Israel on Campus exhibit, which is basically a traveling museum; for the past three years, the exhibit has grown to include over 200 elements including interactive signs, booth graphics and tents. This year, we expanded the exhibit with a few new signage elements and we updated information and design on about 20 existing pieces! The amount of work, organization and care that goes into this part of CUFI’s Annual Summit, is just mind-boggling!

New this year, we also handled a national media blitz with billboards, direct mail, radio, national digital and social media as well as a nation-wide public relations campaign.

Summit attendees can also visit the CUFI Store, which offers merchandise made in Israel, art from Israel as well as t-shirts, books and CDs. We play a large role in the CUFI store. We produce many of their the specialty products such as t-shirts, mouse pads, buttons, Bible covers, pins, license plate frames, picture frames, tablet and phone covers, bumper stickers – an array of products that support and make others aware of CUFI’s mission post Summit.

If you haven’t ever had a chance to attend this event, it is definitely worth it! The excitement, enthusiasm and support this event produces for the nation of Israel is truly awe-inspiring! For more information, go to cufi.org (which by the way, was also produced by yours truly, Rudkin Productions).

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