Archive for the ‘Branding for solopreneurs and small business’ Category
How to create an email signature: 5 tips to create a professional-looking email signature that supports your brand
Often overlooked, the email signature is a hardworking “marketing tool” that supports your brand.
I’m a big believer in ensuring your entire marketing toolkit is on-target and informative – and supports your brand. Of course, this includes critical marketing tools such as your website, business card, and printed collateral (e.g., brochures, sell sheets, and speaker one-sheets). This also includes a smaller “marketing tool” that is often overlooked: your email signature.
How do you create an informative, professional-looking email signature? Here are tips!
- Some information is critical to include – It’s important to include these components: company logo, your name, your title, your phone number, website address (with link), and social media icons (with links).
- Some information is optional – Is your company name clearly spelled out in your logo? If so, you may not need to include it in the text block of your nicely designed email signature. Are you a solopreneur (e.g., professional speaker, consultant, or author)? If so, I strongly encourage you to include your photo. Also consider including a limited number of icons for special awards or a link to read your company’s 5-star reviews. Another optional item is your email address. Some people insist it’s not necessary: “Your email address is elsewhere in the email – save the space!” Personally, I prefer to include my email address (with link) in my email signature. This way, recipients can quickly find ALL critical contact info in ONE place.
- From a branding standpoint, consistency is critical – Everyone in your company should use the IDENTICAL email signature, especially those who correspond with customers and vendors. Of course, change the personal information: name, title, phone, email. Don’t let employees get creative and come up with their own, unique email signature.
- Here’s a tip to create a professional-looking email signature – Outlook and other email clients/software programs don’t make it super easy to design a professional-looking email signature. MY TIP: I created my email signature in a Microsoft Word document, then copied/pasted the artwork into Outlook. My email signature is below. Since email signatures can contain a lot of information (both text and graphics), creating a professional-looking design can be a challenge. If you’re struggling, it’s time to call your favorite designer and ask for help.
- Look online for examples and inspiration – Search the Internet for “tips to create a professional email signature.” You’ll see a wide variety of examples. Like Goldilocks, find one that is “just right.” Use it as a template to organize your logo, photo (if appropriate), and all contact information. The goal is to create an email signature with an attractive, uncluttered design. This small “marketing tool” should be informative, professional, and support your brand!
BRANDING FOR SOLOPRENEURS: If you’re starting a business, start with this fast, affordable, results-driven process to nail your brand
Your website and marketing tools must be on-target – and it all starts with clarifying your brand message.
In these fiercely competitive times, your website and other marketing tools must be crisp and clear, polished and professional, strategic and hardworking. An on-target marketing toolkit sets you apart from the competition – it helps you promote and grow your business. Without question, your clear brand message serves as the foundation.
First step: If you are a solopreneur launching a business as a professional speaker, business coach or author, let’s lay a solid foundation by clarifying your brand.
Backed by 40 years of marketing experience, I have “cracked the code” for small business branding! For the past 15 years, I’ve teamed with hundreds of solopreneurs to clarify their brand message before writing on-target website copy as well as content for their speaker one-sheet or author one-sheet. This led me to create my unique Nail Your Brand system. In a fast-paced, affordable, results-driven process, we work together to identify the unique Brand Elements for your business.
Next step: Let’s create a hardworking website and marketing toolkit.
As project manager, I lead my hand-selected team of designers, website developers, and social media marketing experts to create polished marketing tools that powerfully and beautifully convey your brand and “speak” to your target market. Typically, this includes a new logo, website, blog articles, social media profiles, speaker one-sheet or author one-sheet, and business card.
Ready to launch your business? Ready to shine as an expert?
Let’s clarify your brand message, develop a strategic website, and create marketing tools that ensure you shine as the expert you are. You’ll enjoy this fast-paced process AND you’ll be thrilled with the results!
It’s time to ditch the boring head shot!
In the past 2 days, I’ve chatted with 3 new clients who are ready to STEP UP and shine as the experts they are. It always surprises me how quickly “the photo” comes up in our branding discussions.
Intuitively, many solopreneurs understand that the traditional head shot does not serve them.
Are you a professional speaker, consultant, coach, or author? If so, you may be an expert in your niche. In fact, you may be a thought leader, shaking things up in your industry!
If you’re a solopreneur – without question – your photo should be on your website’s Home page, on your business card and, of course, on your speaker one-sheet.
Why? Because YOU are your brand. Your photo communicates who are you, and it creates an emotional connection with your prospects.
I believe your photo is a key Brand Element™. And I believe it must be a GREAT SHOT, not a head shot.
What makes for a great shot? It’s a STRATEGIC discussion and highly individual for each person. The following 12 tips offer guidelines. And scroll down to see 18 examples of my clients who use their great shot on their website Home page. (All are my clients, and all are solopreneurs – most are professional speakers, consultants, coaches, or authors.)
Here are 12 tips to ensure you get a GREAT SHOT (not just a head shot):
- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Everything your photo “says” – overtly and covertly, symbolically and in subtext – must support your brand. Remember, planning your photo is a STRATEGIC discussion; give it the time and attention it deserves.
- The photo shows more of your body (for example, from the waist up), and therefore expresses more body language. When it comes to poses and props, there are a zillion creative approaches you can take! Just be sure the approach is appropriate for your brand. Take time to look at lots of websites, and be sure to scroll down and see the 18 examples below.
- Your facial expression and body language express confidence (without ego) and approachability (without being folksy). Note that it’s perfectly ok to cross your arms. This is a comfortable posture, and it conveys confidence. I often hear the comment: “But it’s closed body language!” As long as your facial expression and overall body language are warm and inviting, then crossed-arms is fine.
- It’s relaxed and more “you.” It’s not stiff or formal. Also, if you’re a professional speaker, don’t wave your arms around as if you’re gesturing in the midst of presentation. I’ve seen a few photos where this works, but I’ve seen MANY photos where it looks faked. “Fake” is the opposite of honest and earnest – NOT what you want to communicate.
- Instead of taking the shot in the photographer’s studio, there may be a different location – different context – such as an interesting outdoor environment or your work setting. Note that the context can symbolically underscore your message. For example, an artist or personal fitness coach would want their photos taken in their studio or gym, because the context adds more to the “story.” Carefully consider the context. If it isn’t a fit (symbolically), it can detract from your message. For example, a corporate consultant specializing in streamlined high-tech software tools shouldn’t be photographed in a rustic barn – this sends a mixed message.
- The professionalism of your outfit is appropriate for your target market. Not too formal, not too casual.
- The colors in your outfit complement your eye color and skin tone. If you’re already working with a designer, email him/her a few quick snapshots wearing different outfits and ask for an opinion. Designers are color specialists and can offer good advice.
- Get several different photos taken, so you can choose the best of the bunch. Take several outfits to your photo shoot and try different poses. (Don’t settle for one outfit/one pose.) As a bonus, when you give a variety of photos to your designer, you are doing him or her a big favor. Designers relish the opportunity to play with multiple images and ideas. If you have only one photo, this limits their creative options.
- The colors in your photo (clothing, hair, skin tones) “marry” with your logo. In other words, if your photo is primarily pink, it will clash terribly with your purple logo!
- “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Don’t wear large earrings or loud jewelry that take the focus off the eyes. For key photos, such as the image on your Home page, look directly at the camera when taking the picture. That way, in your photo, you are gazing directly at the viewer. Symbolically, this conveys concepts such as straightforward, honest, and straight-shooter.
- Hire a professional photographer. Professionals know how to get that spark you’re looking for! Don’t skimp and ask a friend or family member who is “good with the camera.” Professional photos are well-lit and capture your sparkling personality. “Home-grown” photos tend to be dim and dull.
- Communicate with your photographer. Take time to explain strategic concepts around your brand and what you want the photo to convey. Talk about tactical ideas such as studio shot versus other location, horizontal versus vertical, and website versus speaker one-sheet. (How you plan to use the photo can influence the photographer’s decisions.) Show examples of photos you like and don’t like, and discuss why. Photographers are visual artists, and they will appreciate your visual aids.
Remember, YOU are your brand. Your photo communicates who are are and creates an emotional connection with your prospects.
Getting a GREAT SHOT is a STRATEGIC discussion and highly individual for each person. If you’d like to strategize YOUR great photo, click HERE to schedule a consultation.
Clarity is rocket fuel! Here’s a great way to LAUNCH your New Year – take a peek at my 2016 branding consulting package
Branding consulting for solopreneurs:
CLARITY IS ROCKET FUEL!
Your clear brand is the launchpad to promote and grow your business. My “Nail Your Brand” 2016 branding consulting package is a great way to LAUNCH your New Year.
When chatting with my clients (and in my “Nail Your Brand” workshops), I often field the following questions. Are YOU struggling with these Qs?
- “How do I differentiate my business from my competition?”
- “How do I communicate what I do? My elevator speech is all over the place!”
- “Who’s my target market? Should I niche or keep my options open?”
Clarifying your brand in my FAST branding consulting process automatically answers ALL these questions.
Your clear brand will provide a solid foundation – the launchpad! – to promote and grow your business. And better yet, you’ll discover that clarity is rocket fuel! Armed with a clear brand, you’ll tap into a wellspring of focus and energy.
Here’s my definition of branding…
Your crystal-clear brand quickly tells your prospects:
- Who you are
- What you do
- What they get (the benefits and results your clients receive)
Introducing my “Nail Your Brand” 2016 one-on-one branding consulting package.
At-a-glance, here’s what you get:
- Together, we clarify your brand – You gain clarity about the unique expertise you offer and your target market. We discuss the many benefits your clients receive (and audience members if you’re a professional speaker). And we identify THE TOP benefit your clients receive. Next, we identify your Brand Elements™ including your tagline.
- Your customized “Nail Your Brand” document – This detailed document serves as a touchstone for you AND all your vendors: designer, copywriter, editor, social media consultant, etc. It also guides them to apply your Brand Elements™ consistently in all marketing tools: website, speaker one-sheet, PowerPoint presentations, workshop handouts, social media profiles, and so forth.
- Detailed instructions for your developer – Use this fully customized document to team with your developer to update your current website. Or use it to create an entirely new website that more powerfully promotes you as the expert you are.
- Your new elevator pitch – You get a crisp, clear, compelling (and brief!) elevator speech. This empowers you to comfortably and clearly verbalize “who I am, what I do, and what my clients get.”
Your clear brand is the rocket fuel to promote and grow your business. It’s time to get clear – and get energized!
Think of a theme for the year – a meaningful phrase to stay focused.
Business plans are important, but they are chock-full of details. A theme, on the other hand, is simply a word or phrase that is…
- personal and inspiring
- meaningful and memorable
- a touchstone (like having a lucky coin in your pocket, always at your fingertips)
What’s your theme for this new year?
Take a moment … give it some thought.
- What do you want to accomplish this year?
- What changes do you want to make in your personal or business life?
- What Big Goal will you accomplish by December 31, 2016?
- What word or phrase encapsulates these aspirations?
- What word or phrase would inspire you to stay focused and energized?
I’m planning to really stretch my business (and myself) this year. Reaching Big Goals requires me to STEP UP, more than ever before.
Still thinking about your theme?
This could be your “LEAP YEAR.”
The calendar shows that 2016 is a leap year. Do you have Big Goals for the year? If so, this could literally – and metaphorically – be your LEAP YEAR.
Here’s to 2016 – a year to achieve Big Goals!
We were in middle-of-nowhere Utah…
Soon, our archaeology buddies would emerge from the canyon, wrapping up their 5-day backpacking trip. As arranged, Mike, Paul, and I were picking up Laurie and Terry’s sizable SUV at their starting point. Our mission was to transport the truck and rendezvous at their exit point: Peekaboo Camp.
I climbed into the massive vehicle and slid the key into the ignition. That’s when I saw a note on the seat, scribbled on an old envelope:
Mike and Patrice,
The road to Peekaboo Camp is actually a creek, running high right now.
The ranger said to drive on the right size of the creek – the left side is QUICKSAND.
See you at Peekaboo!
L & T
Drive up a flowing creek? Avoid the quicksand?
This roadtrip encompassed all the adventure I love: high-adrenaline four-wheel driving, scrambling on cliffs to hunt for ancient rock art (petroglyphs and pictographs), dramatic Southwestern vistas, and lots of camaraderie, to boot.
Outdoor adventures – big and small, near and far – light my brain on fire and make my heart sing!
For me, ADVENTURE is a “Big Why?”
While creating my 2016 business plan, I listed multiple drivers. Front and center is ADVENTURE. I realized this is one of my answers to the question: Why build your own business?
- I love guiding business owners to clarify their brand. I believe clarity is the rocket fuel to promote and grow your business.
- I love that my business gives me the independence, empowerment, and success I simply could not achieve in the corporate world.
- And I love that Mike and I continue to carve out a life that is invigorating, fulfilling, and adventurous.
What is YOUR “Big Why?”
Did you know 2016 is a leap year? Metaphorically, this could be an important LEAP YEAR for you and your business. At the heart of it all is knowing your “Big Why?”
Here are 3 questions to clarify your “Big Why?”
- Regarding quality of life: What is the lifestyle you want to live? What does it look like? Take a few moments to draw a picture, create a vision board, or jot down a list of activities that, together, create a healthy, fulfilling, well-rounded life for you and your family.
- Regarding servicing your clients: What is the unique expertise you deliver to your clients (and audience members if you’re a speaker)? As a business owner, you are an expert – you bring a distinctive combination of experience, expertise, and new ideas to the table. Write down the unique expertise you deliver. (Hint: Clarity on this point helps to clarify your brand.)
- Regarding building your business: What is the “fire in your belly”? Every morning you get up, ready to fight the good fight. What energizes you? Is it serving clients in need? Earning more money? Creating a better life for your family? Sharing your expertise and growing your reputation? Write down the fire in your belly:
In a few words, can you express your “Big Why?”
Clarity is the rocket fuel to promote and grow your business – and to create the quality of life you desire.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Pictures at Peekaboo Camp
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Business Innovators magazine.
Our discussion topics included:
- Why branding is challenging, particularly for solopreneurs (professional speakers, business coaches, life coaches, authors). Spoiler alert: Gaining objectivity and perspective on your business – and the unique value you add – can be quite challenging!
- Why it’s important to clarify your brand. Spoiler alert: I believe a clear brand is rocket fuel for your business – your clear brand quickly communicates Who you are, What you do, and What they get (the benefits and results your clients receive).
- The fast-‘n’-efficient Nail Your Brand™ process I have created, which guides solopreneurs and small business owners to quickly clarify their brand.
- The Brand Elements™ I’ve identified, and how these are used to create an on-target, clear, and consistent marketing toolkit including your websites, speaker one-sheet, business card, and social media profiles. Spoiler alert: Some of the Brand Elements™ include your name (with credentials), title, tagline (aka promise statement), and logo. For solopreneurs, your photo is also an important Brand Element™, since you ARE your brand!
Are you busy planning, strategizing, and doing other “heavy lifting” this time of year? Me too.
Still, I like to grab a theme for the year and hold on tight.
Like a touchstone, a theme is something you carry with you. It’s always accessible, unlike a hefty business plan.
Personally, I try not to overthink my annual theme – it’s more of a gut feel. My theme encapsulates key goals to grow my business and achieve ongoing quality of life.
In 2013, my theme was “Leap Year!” That year, I sharpened the brand for my business, created an entirely new website and marketing tools, and became clear and committed on this key goal: Become the thought leader on branding for solopreneurs.
In 2014, my theme was “Step Up!” I conducted umpteen workshops throughout the year to multiple groups of small business owners including professional speakers, corporate consultants, business coaches, authors, and self-publishers. I also rebranded my blog to “Branding Views” and added video blogs, shot throughout the West and Southwest with backdrops of breathtaking vistas.
This year, my theme is: “Expanding Horizons”
I’ve been scribbling, sketching, and mind-mapping some very exciting project ideas. (And pinpointing new destinations for road trips!) I’m not revealing secrets yet. You’ll just have to stay tuned. :>
WHAT’S YOUR THEME FOR 2015?
REPLY TO THIS POST & SHARE IT HERE! (Scroll down to the comment box)
Mike and I have been actively ringing in the New Year … here are highlights:
WHAT’S YOUR THEME FOR 2015?
REPLY TO THIS POST & SHARE IT HERE!
Shout-out to NSA/Colorado: Thanks for hosting my workshop on Branding & Marketing Materials for Speakers and Solopreneurs
Here’s a big THANK YOU to the Programming team of NSA/Colorado and the many participants who attended my “Deep Dive” session on October 17. Participants included professional speakers, corporate consultants, business coaches, and other solopreneurs and small business owners.
In this mini-workshop – “Your Marketing Materials: Up-level Your Marketing Tools so They Hit the Mark and Get You Hired” – we covered:
- Why your clear brand and your specific Brand Elements™ are the foundation of your marketing tools
- How to write benefit-rich content that compels your target audience to take action
- The first step to start every marketing project: Clarify your objectives (this is your road map)
- And several before-and-after case studies of websites that (now) sport a clear brand, impactful messaging, and professional design
If you’d like to learn more about these topics or your group is looking for a marketing speaker who specializes in branding and marketing for solopreneurs and small business, contact me at Patrice@BrandingAndWebsites.com.
“Patrice, you did a great job of stepping us through a lot of very good information in only 45 minutes. Thank you!” – Workshop participant
THEME: “Breathing Space”
TIME: 1 minute
LOCATION: A cornfield near Sioux Falls, South Dakota
THE KEY VIEWPOINT: Allow wide-open space – breathing room – for creativity and new ideas in your business.