Tagging – how to help and get help from your fellow bloggers

Tag Your Blog

Tag Your Blog

I have always enjoyed helping others.  It make me feel good – as Jim Connolly says, “It is nice to be nice.”  Here is how you can help fellow bloggers (and yourself – bonus!) by using tagging.

Tagging – Helping Your Fellow Bloggers

Tagging other bloggers brings attention to their blog. Why would you want to do this?  By doing so, you can bring more readers to your own blog!  It is a win-win.  Nice is nice!

I learned about tagging from loongirl, a photographer, antiquer and a gem of a lady (a real bona fide, make you not want to swear, lady).

Tagging is a really great way to introduce yourself to other bloggers – so I’m going to ‘tag’ her blog and then add four other bloggers to the Tag List that I think you should meet.

Here is how you do it (no, not that “it” stay with me)

1. Link to your original tagger, and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share five facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird – be interesting.

3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

That’s it.  Pretty easy huh?
So here are my five facts.  (Don’t care about my five facts – that is okay, scroll down and keep reading)

Five Facts About Leah Dossey

  1. I believe in Creative Wisdom. I believe that we can all help each other succeed by sharing our past experiences and what we have learned from them and then translate that knowledge into new and useful applications.  This is the foundation of Creative Wisdom.  This is why I blog and why I try to do everything I can to help those I can.  (like you, right now – and we’ve never even met!)
  2. I believe in empowering others to become the best they can be. I do this by volunteering with cub scouts (I’m a den leader, assistant cub master and the PR chair for my pack), reading at the local elementary school (knowledge = power), and sharing what I know about graphic design and printing to business owners to help them build stronger businesses through powerful visual communication.
  3. I have a chronic illness. I have to take shots weekly to stay mobile.  I was diagnosed when I was 27.  I’m not telling you this so you will feel sorry for me, I’m telling you this because it is a part of who I am now.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  I don’t!
  4. I am a first generation American.  I am proud of my Greek heritage.
  5. I have nerd tendencies. I love TNG (Patrick Stewart is hot!), Star Wars, The Matrix, Harry Potter, Artimis Fowl, and the art of Yoko Ono.  My kids love that I can kick their butts on “expert” in Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

So those are five facts about me.  Hope you think I’m as interesting as I do!  lol

Tag Your Blog

Tag Your Blog

Tag – You’re It!

Here’s the Five Bloggers I’m tagging, and I’m not giving you any clues about any of them – you’ll have to decide for yourselves.  They all have something different or interesting to offer and also provide great Tweets on Twitter.

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Who has your favorite Twitter background?

A good Twitter background can do a lot for you.  It can brand you, your company, your message or your cause.  It can give information to your visitors and encourage click-throughs to your website or blog.

Who has the most interesting, informative or creative Twitter background?  Nominate your friends (not your self – any side deals you make with people to nominate you in DM (direct messaging) is up to you.  🙂

We want to be inspired by others and see their Creative Wisdom.  So post links to your favorite Twitter background pages below and share with us why you like them!  Share your suggestions on how they could be better.

Here are three I really like – the bug thing is just a coincidence. (two happen to be designers…hmm, do I just like designers or do they “get” the fact that visual communication is important and know how to execute it?)  The third is by Jim Connolly – I like this because it shows both his professional photo and his “everyday” photo – makes him more approachable.

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Jim Connolly

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s creativity!

Follow Leah on Twitter, join the facebook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative. Connect on Facebook, Visit Blueleaf Creative online. Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com

Why Creative Wisdom shared on Unconventional Marketing

We are happy to share with you that some of our Creative Wisdom was shared with the world on the blog Unconventional Marketing.  Find out how you too can take, small, free, steps to gaining revenue this holiday season.

Did you find this article helpful?  What questions do you still have.  Please leave comments below.

If you found this article helpful, please Stumble or give a TWEET.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

Follow Leah on Twitter, join the facebook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative. Connect on Facebook, Visit Blueleaf Creative online.

8 Ways to Make Sure Your Direct Mail Marketing Is Effective

Get the Most for Direct Mail Marketing

Get the Most for Direct Mail Marketing

Many of you may have tried direct mail marketing only to feel like it was a waste of time, energy and money.  Why did your campaign not perform?  What type of response were you expecting and how did you measure that response.  I am sharing this information with you because I want you to succeed – not just with your direct mail campaigns – but in everything you do.  If you have questions or need assistance, please contact me or leave a comment below.

Here is what you should know about direct mail

The average response rate for the 1,122 industry-specific campaigns that the DMA studied was 2.61%.

Within sectors, nonprofit fundraisers enjoy the most success with direct response, getting rates of 5.35%. Close behind are retail stores (with 3.36%) and establishments selling services to businesses (3.34%).

Manufacturing delivers 3.17%; personal and repair services 3.07%; and travel 2.98%. The two sectors at the bottom of the list — computer/electronic products and packaged goods — still get better than 2% response.

Variable Print Campaigns increase the response rate by up to +5%

(from http://www.directmag.com)

So what does that mean to you?

Have a resonable expectation.  If you send out 1,000 postcards to a qualified mailing list, you should expect about 20 people to respond (don’t confuse respond with purchase).  Make it a variable print campaign and that number could up to as high as 75 people.

Here are some tips to have a successful direct mail campaign.

  • Use a qualified mailing list. Seems like a no brainer, but often companies miss this step.
  • Have a resonable expectaion on the return. Don’t expect a 50% response.  It isn’t going to happen.
  • Take advantages of new technologies to drive up and track your response rate.
  1. Variable printing (where you can customize the message on each card to be relevant to the recipiant) has great power and will increase your response if done correctly.  (Not those stupid postcards you get with a billboard that has your name on it – very, very lame.
  2. Personalized URL (PURL) allows you to add a url to your campaign where recipeients can log on to get thier offer.  For example, you can offer a generic 10% discount for your product or service, but then have a second “Vist http://www.personalizedurl.com and get 20% off!”  When they arrive, you can give them what you have offered, ask them to take a survery, gather more information from them etc.  It is a win-win for everyone.
  • Make sure you direct mail campaign is strongly branded and consistent with other items you may already have out there.  You want your prospects to recognize you and have a sense of familiarity when they recieve the item.  Working with a graphic designer can be a very critical key to this process.  For example, you send out your item, someone goes to your website and they leave becuase they think they are at the wrong place – there is no visual consistency to tie your messages together.

Tips on developing a direct mail campaign2361223017_299381b262

1. Develop A Primary Offer

If you sell something – tacos, make-up or elephant dung – that is pretty simple.  Create an offer that would interest clients like, “Free Taco Tuesdays for Kids”.  If you are in a service industry – accountant, home design, exterminator – this step may not appear easy, but it is!  It is a two step process.  FIRST you have build the value of the service to your audience – then you can offer them things like a free consultation, discounted rate on hourly services, or free evaluation. Here is a good example, “We will inspect your home for pests at no cost and make recommendations on how you can avoid future infestation, while saving you 10% on your first home treatment.”

2. Develop a Secondary Offer

Your primary offer will attract prospects that are ready to do business today or in the near future. However, this represents only a small fraction of the potential market. Therefore, you need to make a secondary offer to attract those prospects who are not ready to buy right now but may have a need in three, six or 12 months.

This secondary offer can be a free booklet, special report, brochure, fact sheet, free gift or other item  the reader can calling or visiting your site or PURL. Going back to our taco example, it could be something like, “Purchase a $25 Taco gift card and get a $5 Taco gift card for yourself!”  Stress the primary offer with strong graphics all over your mailing.  The secondary offer needs to be visible, but think of it as a “P.S.” in terms of the impact it needs to make visually.  For our exterminator your message could be “Call today to request your FREE 3 Simple Steps to a Pest Free Home Guide”

3. Encourage a Targeted Response

How do you want these prospects to contact you?  Phone?  Email?  Decide and make that message loud and clear!  If you want them to pick up the phone – your phone number should be in at least 2 VERY VISIBLE places.  Want them to email?  Same deal?  Want them to visit your web site?  (That can be a slippery slope if you are not using PURL as you are asking for 2 actions – visit web site and then contact us – you may loose some along the way)  But always free free to promote your site by providing your web address.  Those doing research or wanting to learn more about you will appreciate it.  Bottom line –  contact information should always be clear and easy to read.

4. Establish Credibility

Prospects want to deal with businesses who are experts in their field or marketplace. Here are some techniques that can build this sense of credibility into the direct-mail package:

  • Add a few quotes from happy customers, it makes prospect comfortable about what you offer.  “Taco Palace has the friendliest staff and tastiest food.  My kids won’t eat anywhere else!  Thanks Taco Palace!”  “Bob’s Bug Bashers provided fast and professional service, they showed up 20 mintes before my dinner party to remove a dead rat in the wall.  I will alwasy use Bob’s Bug Bashers for all my bug bashing needs!”
  • If there has been positive press, you may want to add that too.  “Taco Palace – Voted Houston’s best Taco 3 Years in a row!”  “Bob’s Bug Bashers received the award for most bugs bashed in 2007.”
  • Name drop (if it is relevant – and true).  “Oprah’s favorite taco spot in Houston!” “Bob’s Bug Bashers services the homes of Mayor John Doe and rap star Real-E!”
  • Include associations you are a part of including the Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure the direct mail item is consistently branded with what prospects have seen before from you.  This increases reconition and builds consumer confidence.  (Just putting your logo somewhere does not count)

5. Use other promotion techniques to build your reputation

Direct mail is effective for generating immediate leads, but it is not the primary tool for enhancing credibility. To build a professional reputation, get involved in your community, get local press from the newspapers, join associations and volunteer your time.  Make visable donations to causes you feel strongly about – in your business name – not yours.  You can also use social media and social networks as well as blogs to build credibility.  Get endorsements for people others respect. Performing these activities will lead to a higher response to direct mail because the recipient will have already heard of you when he receives direct mail piece.

6.  Stay Visable!

Plan on doing at least a 2 part or 3 part campaing.  If your offer is time sensitive and ends in four weeks – send out a mailing three times reminding them that the deadline is approaching for you offer and to ACT NOW.  If your offer is no

t time sensitive you’ll want to stay “in their face”.  Maybe they accidently threw away the first post card you sent out, maybe they were meaning to call and forgot.  Either way, staying in front of your prospects is a way to build recogntion and credibility.

7.  Have a Great Design

services_-direct_mail

Your direct mail items needs to be effectively designed.  A graphic designer is the best person to do this for you (your sister’s son who has taken a few college courses, does not count!).  They will know the best techniques to make your direct mail piece stand out from the rest of the mail.  They will know how to emphasize your primary message and secondary message.  They will add credibility to your business by making you look professional. They will know the best ways to visually communicate your message with the greatest impact.  Working with a graphic designer does not guarantee results, but it increases them.

8.  Understand the Printing of your Direct Mail Piece

How will it be printed?  Is it going to be full-color?  Glossy?  How big?  How will the size effect your postage?  What is the best method for printing that is the best value?  Establish a relationship with a qualified printer and they will be able to guide you through these question and make recommendations.  A qualified graphic designer will do the same.  For my clients, I turn-key these types of projects, not only providing the design services but the printing as well.  This benefits them in two ways.  First, it allows me to make recommendations on the design and the ENTIRE project that fit my clients budget.  If a client says, I want a JUMBO post card that is full color with lots of zing – I don’t design one until I know they understand that a JUMBO post card will cost more postage, that full-color can also add additional expense, etc.  This is part of a qualified consultation – one each of you should be getting if you work with a designer.  Second, it allows my clients to focus on the business of doing their business.  We work on the design, they finalize the artwork and BAM in a few days the final printed items arrive on their door step.  Find someone that you can develop that kind of relationship with. If you don’t have someone you know and trust, contact me.  I’ll be happy to assist you!

Happy Direct Mail Marketing!

Did you find this article helpful?  What questions do you still have.  Please leave comments below.

If you found this article helpful, please Stumble or give a TWEET.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Follow Leah on Twitter, join the facebook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative. Connect on Facebook, Visit Blueleaf Creative online.

How to Create a Twitter Background Image

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How to Create Twitter Background

You are on Twitter and you want a custom background.  Here is what you need to know.

You can create your own background in any application that will let you save the file as a .jpg, .gif or .png and allows you to create the graphics you desire.  I used Adobe Photoshop to create mine (take a peek to see what it looks like).

Here are some things you need to know before getting started:

  • Your twitter background will force itself to the far left of the page.  Give your self some room from the left side.
  • People have different size monitors, so it is best to keep the graphics on the left and a solid color on the right so that you know they are seeing what you want them to see.

Creating your background

Set Your File Dimensions (page size): 378 px x 583 px or 5.25 inches wide x 8 inches tall

Now Set A Logo Area: 80 px by 583 px or 1 inch x 1.25 inches (this is about how big you want it to be)

Left Margin: Remember to set everything over 3/4 of an inch from the left side.

Top Margin: 14 px or 1/8 inch from the top is where you are going to want to put your logo (this way it lines up with the Twitter logo).

Right Margin: 3/4 inch – 1 inch  from the right is where you are going to want to put your guides.  Place your information between the left and right margins.  This will give you a little “elbow room” as people expand and collapse their windows.  Thanks The Harriman Team for point this out.

Important Note:  Different monitor sizes, and different screen resolutions will cause variations on how your background appears.  The sizes above were created so to meet the needs of most people.

Final file size according to Twitter:  “Images must be smaller than 800k.”

Make it “Purdy”

Colors: Select colors that match your Twitter template colors. You can change the colors for Text, Name, Link, Sidebar fill and Sidebar border as needed in the dialog box on Twitter.
Recommendation: Choose colors that work with the template you have choosen and save yourself the headache of matching the links, etc. to your image.

How to Upload your Twitter background

  1. Login and click ‘Settings’ >> click ‘Design’ >> Select ‘Use my custom style below’ radio button >> Upload your image

It took me quite a bit of time to get a background image that I was happy with. There was a lot of editing and uploading again, and again until it was just the way I wanted it. Have patience and you’ll be thrilled with the results. Remember that you are working within someone else’s website and can’t control all the features.

Keep these things in mind when creating your new background for Twitter.

Things to remember when creating a twitter background image

Things to remember when creating a twitter background image

Good Luck!

If you found this article helpful, please Stumble or give a TWEET.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions or problems, please leave comments below, Tweet me or send me a direct message via Twitter.  I’m always here to help!

Happy Tweeting!

Connect on Facebook, Visit Blueleaf Creative online. Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com Follow Leah on Twitter, join the facebook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.

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Ramp Up Sales this Holiday Season

Many companies believe that pulling back on their marketing and advertising budgets right now is the smart move.  I am here to tell you that it is not.

What I am about to say may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out, it makes sense.  SPEND on your marketing and advertising.  SPEND as much as you can reasonably afford.  Why?  Because while others are pulling out, that frees up room for YOU to get in front of more potential clients and customers. 

The competition is being weeded out by poor marketing and advertising decisions – capitalize on their mistake!

Many newspapers, magazines, print and online publications are discounting their ad placements to help fill the gaps – let your companies message fill that gap!

This is a great opportunity to gain new customers and be seen where you haven’t been seen before.

How to be smart about it.

So let’s not go off the deep end and spend a bunch of money on stuff that isn’t going to get you the best return on your investment.  You should know what works for your company (if you don’t work with a company, like Blueleaf Creative and others that can help you develop a good strategy) use that method now and double your efforts.  The opportunity for great reward is out there.  For example.  If you usually post on ad in a local magazine with success, post 2 or 3 in the same publication – not the same ad, but variations on that ad that will build your brand and get you repeated exposure and increase your chance of making a sale.  Perhaps you use direct mail marketing or email marketing – keep it up and increase your mailings.  The repeated exposure will pay off.

Try something new (but be sensible about it).

Try a new marketing technique that will get you in front of NEW potential clients to help you increase sales and GROW your business.  Again, be sensible, don’t put all your eggs in a “new” basket that isn’t proven.  Do a test.  Track the results and if it works – hit it hard!

Time is of the essence.  If you haven’t already developed a Holiday marketing and advertising plan, you need to start NOW – like right now.  On average you will need 2-4 weeks (or longer) to successfully put a campaign together.

Gain last minute sales.

Many customers and clients wait until the last minute to make holiday purchases.  Plan now to gain those last minute dollars.

BUT I’M NOT RETAIL. I don’t care if you are a roofer, a tutor, a valve distributor, or an elephant wrangler, the opportunity is the same.  Your competition is pulling out – so step up, fill the gap, increase your sales and grow your business!


How Obama used the Power of Branding – The Big O

Sorry Oprah, you just aren’t the Big O anymore.

It doesn’t matter if you were in the 46% of voters who voted for McCain or the 52% who voted for Obama there is no denying that Barack built a strong recognizable brand and then used that brand recognition to help him get to the White House.  How can we repeat his success with our own business?  Sure, he had millions of dollars to spend and you don’t, but that doesn’t matter – that type of brand recognition can be accomplished by anyone on any budget.  The idea is simple.  Start with a strong visual image that accurately communicates what you are trying to say and then repeat it everywhere.  It is okay to have variations – you message or call to action will change – but the overall image should connect with what people have already seen.  This is called building brand equity.  Just like the equity you build in your home, the more and more people see your brand the more and more they will identify with it.  There is power in this recognition so don’t squander it by constantly changing your visual presentation of your business.   All visual communications should connect, so that they can in turn connect with your target audience, each time stronger than before.

How do you do this?

Practical Application

1.  You need a logo (or brand).

See my post regarding this all important part of your business and how to hire someone to create one for you and what to expect.  This is the foundation of all your brand building and brand equity.  Love your brand.  Make sure that it can be adaptable to other applications.  Make sure it effectively communicates what you want it to say.  Your logo itself does not HAVE to be the only visual item associated with your brand.  Think of Wal-Mart and their use of the smiley face.

2.  Plaster your brand.

Now that you have your logo or brand, (or other linked identifying item that is consistent with your brand, like the Wal-Mart smiley face) you need to adapt it to everything associated with your business.  It needs to be everywhere.  Your website, invoices, facebook page, letterhead, brochures – everywhere.  The more places you put it the greater the chance someone will see it.  That is what this is about.  You have to have brand recognition before you can have brand equity.  (kinda like you need a down payment before you can buy that house)

3.  Police your brand.

Maintain your brand standards.

Nothing irks me more as a designer than to work long and hard with a client to build and create a perfect brand for them, and the get an email from someone in the office who has little hearts and flowers all over the page and not the branded email signature we created for the company.  Is this the message you want your employees to send out?  This weakens your brand (not to mention it isn’t professional).  Select a company font and use it.  No more emails or Word Docs using Comic Sans.  Select a professional font for ALL of your correspondence (email too!) and then make everyone use it.  Period.  It is your company and font choice is not anything anyone should get twisted about.  If they do, they obviously don’t have enough work to do.

Nothing irks me more as a designer than to work long and hard with a client to build and create a perfect brand for them, and the get an email from someone in the office who has little hearts and flowers all over the page and not the branded email signature we created for the company.  Is this the message you want your employees to send out?  This weakens your brand (not to mention it isn’t professional).  Select a company font and use it.  No more emails or Word Docs using Comic Sans.  Select a professional font for ALL of your correspondence (email too!) and then make everyone use it.  Period.  It is your company and font choice is not anything anyone should get twisted about.  If they do, they obviously don’t have enough work to do.

4.  Be consistent.

Don’t change things every six months or every year.  Just like your home building brand equity takes time.  Stick with your brand for the long-haul.  (note:  it is okay to rebrand yourself, but only after careful consideration and a plan.  Think about the Cingular and AT&T.  Two and a half years later they are still merging those two brands.)

5.  Develop a plan for the brand.

How will you use it in new and creative ways?  Do you have it everywhere you can put it?  Does everything surrounding your brand help to promote your brand?  (Do you hand a brochure with your brand on it, only to have a new client then go to your web site and they FREAK out for a second because they don’t think they are in the right place because your brochure and website look NOTHING alike?)

6.  Self promote your brand.

Your facebook page, myspace, personal email, etc.  It is okay to be shameless when promoting your brand.

“Well, I have a logo, but none of my stuff is branded and I don’t have the money to do what you are talking about!”

Yes you do.  Just not all at once.  Again, and I’ll say this over and over again on this blog, you need a plan!  List all of your current items and the importance they are to your business.  Then item by item have them reworked to fit into your new branding, as your cash-flow allows.  Be diligent and self-promote by letting your current clients know what you are doing.  Send out a letter, email, press release, what ever and tell them, “Acme has a new look and feel.  Over the next few months we will be getting a make-over.  Keep your eyes open and watch how we transform!”  Get them excited about making your brand consistent – tie it into new products or services you are offering.  Use your Creative Wisdom and make it happen!

Still not convinced.  Think about how Barack branded himself, use that to benefit your business.   It isn’t that hard.  You just need a plan.

Written By Leah Dossey, owner, art director and designer at Blueleaf Creative.  Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com  Follow Leah on Twitter,  join the facbook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.