March, the only month where the 4th day is a command.
The month when allergy pills fly off the shelves and the month when you should take an assessment of your goals from the beginning of the year and decide what will be the best use of your summer season.
Are you busier than ever in the next 3-6 months?
Has the marketplace changed drastically in the last 2-3 months? Ummm. lumber… mortgage rates… gas prices?
Is Q2-Q3 a slower time to get ready for the Fall and holiday season?
All of this means you need to think about what to prioritize so you are making the most of your time and keeping things neat and tidy so you can operate at full force!
“What brand areas do I NEED to be looking at?”
I’m glad you asked! (since they aren’t always obvious.)
Here’s a shortlist we focus on reviewing:
- Review website design
- Logo and colors
- Social Media Presence
- Events and PR
- Email campaigns/Newsletters
- Communications with your client base
- Printed materials to hand out
- Digital graphics for sales emails and communication
- Signs or displays directing traffic to your store
- Google my business page
Print this out or write it down on that scrap paper to your right. Now, make a check next to everything you have reviewed, updated, or modified in the last 2-3 years.
*(Checks next to everything? Take another pass and see if you have reviewed everything in the last six months.)*
With your list in hand and the to-dos pointed out, we need to prioritize and take it 1 step at a time.
If it were up to me, here is the priority I would put them in based on urgency, opportunity cost, and the road to completion.
Logo and colors = MONEY SPENDING – This is first because it’s usually a pretty easy choice. You have either been tired and getting a lot of negative feedback on the design or something about your ‘brand,’ so you need to get it addressed right away. OR it’s something you know will need to happen, but in the scope of ten years, you refreshed your brand even a little in the last eight years. Just check where you stand on this because if logos and brand color need to be changed, it affects EVERYTHING else below this. And you could waste thousands or millions of dollars if you change your mind in 6-12 months from now. You are welcome, I saved you money and that was free advice.
Review website design – This is crucial because, without a website, you are essentially a ghost company only known through direct referral. Now certain people may prefer that. If you have a 100% referral business, I would love to talk with you, and you could teach me a couple of things. Most likely, though, a substantial chunk of your NEW business is created from your website. Even if you don’t know it. (I’ll get into that more in a future post) A great way to do this is to have someone who has never used your business go on your website. If they are frustrated using it, that is a problem. An easy test is to check if they can tell you what you do in 5 seconds after looking at your home screen. Review links and ensure your products are up to date and take your customers to the right screen. Have you ever received the 404 error? Yeah, we don’t want that.
Google my business page– First of all, have you checked your name if you Google it? Is the map to your address correct? Do you have negative reviews that have not been replied to? Make sure you claim it, update your hours of operations, and add some photos. There is an entire strategy behind this, but for now, make sure it is correct and respond to the public.
Social Media Presence – This is a combo of 1, 2, and 3. Have you updated your logos on these in the past few years? Do you have accounts with all of the major social sites you would like to be on? Have you heard of Parler? Is YouTube in your future? When did TikTok change from the sound a clock makes? Take a half-day to review everything, your reputation online could depend on it. Check how often you are posting, and find a couple of competitors on social media to compare some of their postings. Then you are sure you aren’t missing out on opportunities to attract attention on Instagram, Linked In, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter (and more).
Printed materials to hand out – This is our specialty. So I bring this up because print goes out of date or expires, but the printed materials are not being reviewed against the online messaging. Stay consistent. Make your life easy. Your flyer should look very similar to your home page, and your business card should use the same fonts. They should tell people who you are by the quality of the piece and the page’s information. Just make sure everything is up to date with your website and social platforms’ colors and designs.
Follow up 5
Digital graphics for sales emails and communication – This is right in line with #5 above since this could be the digital copy of your flyer. Any PowerPoint presentations you have, or even photos of your products and clients that you share, do a quick review to ensure it still speaks to the economy and society’s current environment. Sometimes words and phrases change meaning outside of our control, and you don’t realize how a simple misplaced sentence can ruin your statement.
Email campaigns/Newsletters – Like above, you need to review your emails and newsletters every so often to check that you speak in a sensitive voice. Review any product you have been marketing that is no longer relevant or not even sold by you. It’s like when you search online, you click the product, and it says ‘no longer available’ you think, “why was it there at all?” (With all of this proofreading, there are freelancers and companies that specialize in this. Spending a few hundred dollars for someone’s time is well worth it if you are too busy right now keeping your business running. Let me know if you need a referral 🙂
Communications with your client base – When did you receive a letter in the mail last? We had Thanksgiving through the New Year. Then perhaps you received some Valentine cards? Has your doctor ever sent you a handwritten thank you card? When was the last time your financial advisor sent a postcard to say hi and wish you well? You know the feeling from hopefully your birthday and holiday cards, so why wouldn’t you surprise YOUR clients with a little note? These scale from small businesses that serve a few dozen accounts to larger corporations with tens of thousands of consistent clients. It would help if you made sense of it, perhaps sending different notes at different rates depending on how long they have been a client, or you could even base it on the volume of their purchases. Regardless, think about a way to make sense for your situation and within your budget. Using a mail house not only saves you the time and hassle of inserting and mailing, but the postage can also be discounted significantly as well. In turn, you can mail for less than a first-class stamp! (If that sounds good, stop reading and give us a call! 602.995.7841 …. Or keep reading and then call!)
Signs or displays to direct traffic to your store – Here is the bummer of retail. You can’t move. So it would be best if you found a way to attract eyeballs. If all of those windsock-smiling guys are rented out from your local party shop, perhaps a printed flag or sandwich board can draw attention just as well. If your signs are taken care of, remember every six months, you should be updating your messages and imagery. We get distracted, and we also start to ignore the same thing. (Reticular activator anyone?) Our brains are built for efficiency. We don’t like overthinking about the same thing. When something new pops up, we need to reprocess. So start messing with people’s heads and change out your signs!
Events and PR – This is an entire division for some companies. Suffice it to say, in the current state of the world (This is 2021, by the way), events can be tricky. There could either be a challenge getting people to show up or managing all of the precautions not to make a health and safety nightmare.
Done with your list?
Now on the PR side, that can be viewed from multiple perspectives. Do you actively want to pursue opportunities? Is your desire to connect and engage with local charities and organizations? Do you want to have members of your team have interviews with local journalism and publishers? It’s at the bottom because until everything else is built correctly, making a big public announcement or event could be a negative since you are drawing attention when you have so many items on the checklist that need to be addressed first.
I’m not talking about anything fancy, just the basics. Consistent brand, working website, marketing materials to pass out, and banners to make it easy to find you.
So there you are. Q1 is coming to a close; delegate some of these responsibilities to your team and get started on reviewing your company brand (especially if this has never crossed your mind before). Personally, at the end of 2020, I checked our email campaigns and noticed quite a few little errors and bad links to websites that no longer worked. It only takes a little bit of time, but these small tasks are driving hundreds of your clients crazy all the time.
If you don’t have a team to help you, yes, there are many moving parts. Because of that, each little thing takes time. So make your priority matrix! Take it one day at a time. Make a productivity sheet (message me, and I’ll send you mine firstname.lastname@example.org). Check it off as you go, and before you know it, everything will be in motion.
At VeraPax, we are here to help coordinate and guide you through any of these steps. So if you have a small team or cannot pass these responsibilities off, we are here to help. Give us a call or book on my calendar here …… 602.995.7841.
Let’s talk about your brand!