content marketing

How Content Marketing Makes You Look Like a #Boss

Content marketing and its importance to your business brand, is growing. Ensure that your business is on pace with the trend and implement it effectively.

Content marketing is the useful, informative, and creative way to build relationships with your customers with your brand and your business.
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Brand Management and Graphic Design

The What, Who and How of Brand Management | Anchorage Alaska Brand Management & Graphic Design

You did everything right. You wrote developed your vision, got a great looking logo, have your brand “story” to tell……and still nobody knows who you are, or what you do.

Whether you are just starting out or your business has been open for years, one thing that I’ve learned is the missing piece in most start-ups, dying, or stagnant businesses is lack of ongoing brand management. In other words, you’ve built the brand….but it has no push.
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small business brand

5 Easy Steps for Small Business Brand, Marketing & Management in Alaska

So we’ve explained how not having a small business marketing plan negatively affects your business. How not establishing some sort of budget for your brand, equates to having no brand at all. Why consistency in small business brand can save you money, energy, and reinventing the wheel. Now the next step is what steps are […]

How Brand & Marketing Costs You Money: Without Spending a Dime

So you say brand & marketing, web design and social media management is expensive.

Well, yes…….I’ll agree…….It is.

And being a small business owner myself, I get it. Although I don’t have to pay directly for a designers time, or a marketing strategy….. I do pay with MY time.

Often times, my marketing and design take a back seat to looming project deadlines. My portfolio updates are left for Christmas Breaks and strings of influenza when I’m stuck in bed. As a matter of fact, as I type this blog – I’m sick – Not a coincidence, but I digress.

Even though I am the designer, and I am the marketer, and I am the social media manager…..My business takes a back seat. I don’t give it the time it needs. I’m often the last to update my blog and branded content, last to have something meaningful posted on my facebook page, and last to interact to really track after clients.

What I’ve realized is that I’m not alone. I find that most small to medium sized businesses are in the same boat. They don’t have time to begin to figure out what they may need but they know they need something, and they realize they are losing traction by doing nothing at all.

I’ve said before, that if you have no budget you have no brand. This is the same concept as losing traction by not marketing and consistently keeping your brand in center focus.

It’s a frustrating position to be in when you are trying to keep your head above water managing the day to day operation of your business. You think of potential business ideas and see opportunities slipping by because you simply just don’t have the time to “make things happen.” You look at the well oiled machine of a business someone else is running and you wonder…how are they doing all of that and growing at the same time? You begin to feel overloaded and defeated, until you realize why you got into business for yourself to begin with. People have misconceptions about business ownership and you feel like you’re drowning.

Always caught in this catch 22 of not having enough, and needing to do more.

So how is brand & marketing costing you money without spending a dime? Well….. you are losing money, by lost opportunity. When you don’t send a message out…it’s never received. Growing your brand equity and brand recognition in the marketplace is essential to staying relevant to your target demographic.

So….for my fellow business owners I have some food for thought for you. 3 simple steps to take to start moving in the direction of gaining traction and getting things done.



Design and Marketing | Bianca Frank Design

Step 1 for Brand & Marketing Your Business | Find Your Purpose

Get OFF of the focus of how to make more money, save more money or grow. First things first is that as a business owner you have to figure out who you are and where you’re trying to go. Rationalize it, analyze it, speak it, and eventually write it down! Do not ask other people (unless they are co-owners of the business) what their opinions are. You have to be able identity for yourself why you are doing what you’re doing and why your customers and potential customers should even care.

Some key things to take inventory about:

  1. Why am I in business for myself? Money? Time with Family? Passion for the Industry?
  2. What is the purpose of this business? Am I helping someone? Am I providing a Needed Service?
  3. Where am I trying to take this business? Am I trying to leave a legacy? Am I trying to Grow it, to sell it? Am I just working until retirement and then close it?
  4. Why should anyone care that you are in business? (sounds harsh) but this is by far the most valuable question I ask my clients. If you don’t know why someone should care why you’re in business, then you shouldn’t be in business. You won’t be able to sell yourself to anyone if you can’t sell yourself to YOU.

 

Step 2 for Brand & Marketing Your Business | Work with People

The best of the best of the BEST see the value in TEAMS. You can’t be a one woman/man show and expect to be able to take over the wingbat technology sector. You have to formulate a plan and that includes having people around you that round out your strengths and weaknesses. Key people you may need:

  1. Small Business Administration – Utilizing places like the Small Business Administration is of great value to small business owners.
  2. Accountant – if you aren’t good with money or budgeting this is essential.
  3. Alaska Small Business Development Center – Another great resource for Alaska Small Business owners.
  4. Anchorage Chamber of CommerceOffers networking events to tie into others in your sector or partnering with businesses to lift one another up.
  5. Brand Consultant and Graphic Designer – You will spend more for a designer but the impact of having a strong aesthetic, unique brand asset, color and typography will push your message further and consistently.
  6. Marketing and Social Media Management – Keep your brand equity growing means keeping a tangible place in your market, and in the face of your target audience.

 

Step 3 for Brand and Marketing Your Business | Execute Your Plan and Stay Consistent

A sure fire way to make sure that your business grows and remains relevant is consistency. No you don’t have to come out of the marketing gate blazing trails, but you do need to have at least a small drip of movement. Small businesses are expensive to open, operate, and run but you do not want to have a brand that has zero gas behind it.

You have to utilize the vision, brand, and plan that’s been developed and consistently put that message out into the marketplace. Alaska is a small enough market that luckily it doesn’t take long for the word to get out about your business. Especially if you do things the right way.

Content is King and Consistency is Queen!

Contact Bianca Frank Design today to see how we can help increase your brand equity!

Bianca Frank Design offers a comprehensive brand and brand development package that can be utilized to begin or reinvigorate your small business marketing strategy. Whether you are in need of small business marketing strategies, graphic design, brand design, web design, or just need brand or design consultation on where to start. Drop a note and we will be in touch soon.

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3 Reasons Why You Need A Website

A new spring means new marketing strategies. If you company doesn’t already have a website, you should definitely add it to your To Do List for 2015.A website can help with any number of things involving your business strategy.

A Website Offers Visibility

If you want to expand your business outside of your current customer base, you need visibility in your market. Most consumers are on the web now both trying to find new places to shop or acquire services and also to research those companies they find. Ideally, a quick Google search for some keywords about your business will bring up your business as a top hit but it takes some time for that to happen.The first steps are getting a website, optimizing it will happen after.

A Website Provides Your Customers Up to Date Information about Your Company

Using a website to provide up to date information about your business is crucial.You can inform customers about events and new services you provide, or show off pictures of projects you’ve finished. If you have specials or sales that you want to advertise, your website is the perfect place to do it. Announcements about store closings, new employees, and other business logistics can be posted to your website to keep loyal customers informed of your company’s happenings.
Website Visibility | Bianca Frank Design

Your Website Improves Your Business Traceability

The best part of a website is you can keep track of how many people are seeing your advertising.Simple counters will tell you how many people have visited your site and you can even find out how they tracked you down.This allows you to see what other types of online visibility are working. Do you have a Facebook page or other social media outlet you like to use? Maybe your business is listed on a review website like TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Angie’s List that allows users to go straight to your page from the host site.You can see what’s working and what needs help.

Contact us today to see how we can help get your website up and running in 2015!

Bianca Frank Design offers a comprehensive brand and brand development package that can be utilized to begin or reinvigorate your small business marketing strategy. Whether you are in need of small business marketing strategies, graphic design, brand design, web design, or just need brand or design consultation on where to start. Drop a note and we will be in touch soon.

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Small Business Marketing on a Budget – Free Template

The concept that you have to spend money to make money is true. Without marketing, people don’t know who your small business is or what you do. These tips can help you market your small business on a budget.

Focus Your Efforts | Small Business Marketing on a Budget

While you do need to spend some money on your marketing campaign, you don’t need to spend a lot of if you properly focus your efforts. You want the most bang for your buck and depending on your market, that might be an ad or commercial or it might be buying branded t-shirts and other swag. It may help to do some research and determine the most effective way to spend your money.

The biggest idea here is to ensure that you are doing something, because doing nothing ensures you 100% that there will be no return on investment. Having worked with large and small budgets a like, it’s imperative that you stay consistent. Ways you can stay consistent, on a budget:

Social Media Calendar

Make a calendar of social media, marketing campaigns

This sounds daunting but it really isn’t. There are a lot of great online templates to utilize to get you started. Here’s a simple spreadsheet that I’ve created. Nothing major, just a start.You will notice, I’ve left Monday open. As a small business owner myself, I’ve learned leaving Monday free for the organization needs of the week and fixing any weekend issues is vitally important. Avoid scheduling tasks on Monday if you can avoid it.

Keep a Consistent Small Business Marketing Message

 

If you say the same thing over and over and over, your message (in it’s entirely) whether you are advertising on your website, Google ad words, print magazine, radio, or tv is saying the same thing. Eventually people will link who you are with what you do, and that’s the point. I tell some of my clients that the time that you get tired of hearing your message, the better that you are on the right track.

Stop reinventing yourself at every marketing turn. Say the same thing. Simplify your message and stay consistent. If you don’t have a message, it’s time to take a step back and define your vision statement.

Your vision statement is the basis for all of your marketing efforts and from where your brand voice should be resonating from.

Small Business Marketing
Update Your Website REGULARLY with NEW BRANDED CONTENT & Blogging

Update Your Website REGULARLY with NEW BRANDED CONTENT & Blogging

Yes, Blogging. Even if you feel that you aren’t gaining any traction with your website, consider it an investment. You have to add content to grow your exposure online. Substantial content shows your expertise in the industry, your commitment to your service or product, and offers your customers information they may not know otherwise.  What benefits does blogging on a regular basis offer to your business? Well here are some taken from (source)

Regular Blogging Gets More Clients to Your Existing Business

When you publish in-depth blog posts that help potential clients/customers solve their problems, they come to trust you and respect you as an expert in the field. If they want more help than a blog post can offer, then they’re likely to be interested in hiring your business.

 

With Regular Blogging You Gain Influence

A successful blogger gains a wide audience of people who trust and respect them.

You have the ability to gain influence and show your credibility in your industry when you have a voice about your own brand.

Regular Blogging Establishes Yourself as an Expert in Your Field

But over time, as you write more posts and share more of your expertise, you’re website will change from ‘just another blog’ into a powerful demonstration of your knowledge in a field. When somebody visits your site and sees the insights you’ve shared on a subject, along with the community of people who respect and seek that insight, it will be clear that you’re genuinely an expert in the field.

In the Media | Small Business Marketing on a Budget

One of the best ways to get your small business name in the press is to do some good deeds!Hold an event or sale that benefits a local charity, get your employees on board for a volunteer effort, or be a part of a community event by donating goods or services.

Using free social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get your company name out there is a great way to market your small business.

Business Partnerships | Small Business Marketing on a Budget

There is strength in numbers and this is true of marketing endeavors as well!

If there are companies in your area you could partner with to advertise and it would be mutually beneficial, you should take these opportunities.Some examples include restaurants that offer discounts when patrons bring in a movie ticket stub from a nearby theater.

The restaurant gets advertising on the ticket stubs and movie goers may be more likely to go to dinner and a movie if they get a deal out of it. Your small business can have an effective market campaign, even on a budget!

Contact us today to see how we can help!

Bianca Frank Design offers a comprehensive brand and brand development package that can be utilized to begin or reinvigorate your small business marketing strategy. Whether you are in need of small business marketing strategies, graphic design, brand design, web design, or just need brand or design consultation on where to start. Drop a note and we will be in touch soon.

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How To Develop An Effective Social Media Campaign

Effective Social media is a critical part of any business’s marketing campaign. A social media campaign will help take your business to the next level and reach many more customers.

The tips below will help you learn how to develop an effective social media campaign.

Pick Your Social Media Platforms | Effective Social Media Campaign

Depending on the kind of business you run, you may choose to use any or all of the social media platforms available. Facebook and Twitter are good for text based marketing. Instagram and Flickr are picture based and allow you to show off your work.

All of these platforms link to each other, so you can post a picture on Instagram that shows up on Facebook. It’s good to use at least one social media app since some of your customers may only use one.

You’re more likely to reach a wider audience with multiple apps. Creating visual social media campaigns are also effective in gaining connections with your clients.

Share Social Media Posts Selectively | Effective Social Media Campaign

Not every article you like personally is good for you to share and associate with your business. Keep your shared articles and pictures related to your business. You can share links to events you have advertised on your website on your Facebook page or as a tweet as you get closer to the date.

Keep Track of Your Social Media Campaign | Effective Social Media Campaign

Which platform are you getting the most hits on? How many followers do you have on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter? You may blast customers you already have by email to try and get more followers are on your social media platforms. Keep track of how many followers you had before and after and see if this is effective. Other ways to get more followers include offers or discounts by way of a password or trigger word that can only be obtained if they follow you on one of your social media pages.

Social media is a very important part of your overall marketing campaign and it can help you reach your goals! Social Media is also a key element in growing you small business branding and keeping things consistent.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

Bianca Frank Design offers a comprehensive brand and brand development package that can be utilized to begin or reinvigorate your small business marketing strategy. Whether you are in need of small business marketing strategies, graphic design, brand design, web design, or just need consultation on where to start. Drop a note and we will be in touch soon.

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BEWARE WEB DESIGN PROJECT SCAM

Just a quick note:

Hey all, just spreading the word to my designer friends. Received a weird text message this weekend regarding a website redesign. Details of the email are below. Please always do your due diligence when working with clients online.

A simple google search of key elements of the email I received confirmed my suspicions. What surprised me is that I even received a text from this person.

Text Received from 303-999-5798 Paul Fowler. He indicates he is hearing impaired, which didn’t alarm me as much as the immediate question as to whether I can take credit cards or not. Most clients leave bill payment to the absolute end of the conversation with regard to web design projects.

Paul Fowler Website Scam

The email I received was:

Here is the job details

I have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in TN and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible. http://www.agroamerica.com.… the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.
Note:
1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as topfarmproduce.com
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. I will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
6. I want the site up and running before ending of next month.
7. My budget is $4,500 to $7,000

Kindly get back to me with an estimate okay.

Best Regards
Paul Fowler.

Some others same experience.
http://blog.ihenix.com/nearly-got-scammed/#comment-90

Create Visual Billboards to Promote Your Blog Posts

Create Visual Billboards to Promote Your Blog Posts

An eye-catching, infinitely share-able blog post billboard made for free on Canva.com

Cliches tend to be thrown around haphazardly in every industry, but marketing and branding professionals may be some of the worst offenders. Still, I’m about to drop one. Here goes:

Create Visual Billboards to Promote Your Blog Posts – A picture is worth 1,000 words

You know what else tends to be about 1,000 words (give or take)? Blog posts. Except those are 1,000 words you want people to read, because those words are your business, your voice, and the valuable information you wish to pass on to your dear readers.

But, what if you could use 1,000 words just to convince a potential reader that they should read your blog post? 1,000 words to persuade them, entice them, and communicate with them before they even read line one of your post.

If you could create a billboard, advertising your online content, for free or almost free, how could you say no?

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6 Misconceptions of Small Business Ownership

So many misconceptions about being self-employed and owning your own business. Here are a few I’ve experienced in my business life that maybe you can connect to also.

Misconception #1 of Small Business Ownership: Obviously, You’re Rich

Anyone who is an entrepreneur, or has started a small business of any kind, has had to deal with the perception that because they own a business, they must be rich. Oh how I wish this was true. And, logically thinking, if it was, then the small business failure rate wouldn’t be running at around Y1-25%, Y2-36%, and Y3- 44% (staticbrain.com).

Business Failure Rate

Although, most start-ups begin on varying budgets, the idea here is that most entrepreneurs are entering into this area of their lives because of one of two things. Either necessity, or passion. The biggest being passion. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s the elusive desire to work for themselves, provide a much needed product or service, or the freedom of being their own boss.

I actually started my business in design from a desire of both necessity and passion. My necessity pushed me further into growing my business and that passion kept me consistent in my desire to grow as a business owner. Both for financial and personal freedom.

Whatever the reason may be, assume that at the start most entrepreneurs are barely making ends meet. That most are definitely fearful of what their financial future looks like. That they have risked a great deal in order to have taken this leap to pursue their passion in entrepreneurship.

So to be safe, this would not be the best time to be hitting them up for a loan. In fact, if you are friends or family with a new small business owner in your circle….take them to lunch. Trust me, they will appreciate it.

Misconception #2 of Small Business Ownership: You Have Copious Amounts of Free Time

It’s not unreasonable to think that self-employed individuals definitely have some flexibility in their schedules. As a matter of fact that’s one of the greatest benefits of working for yourself.

However, don’t confuse that with “copious amounts of time” it’s just not reality. Honestly the opposite is true. Especially if you’re building your business with sweat equity. You literally don’t have “hours” you work because you are willing to work at any hour for pretty much any client. Ok, well that doesn’t sound great, but you know what I mean.

As a designer, the term “starving artist” takes on an entire new meaning. I understood that I was willing to take any job, any specs, and pretty much at any rate just to get SOMETHING in the works.

Anytime you perceive “free-time” in all reality is lost opportunity to work.  Small Business owners will learn either by reading what I’m saying, or learning the hard way, that they have to stay busy. There is always work to do, even if it’s building your business. You should always be your first client.

Misconception #3 of Small Business Ownership: As Long As You’re a “Friend” We Won’t Charge You

I mean you’ve been a friend since 1st grade why wouldn’t I give you something for free? Well, probably for the same reason that you can’t go into your job and give them a week worth of free employment. If the purpose of your business is to make money then I will charge you. You won’t get free work, whether a friend or family member. If you’re making money in your venture, then expecting free design work really isn’t fair.

One lesson I learned early is if you DO discount a rate, show it on the invoice. Not to let the client know how much they are saving, but to show the value of the work they received. Nothing hurts your business worse than you undervaluing your product or service. Sure it may be necessary to cut your rate, put a product on sale, in order to get the customers attention….but don’t do it blindly. Make sure your client knows they got a deal. Yes, even friends and family.

Misconception #4 of Small Business Ownership: We NEVER Work for FREE

Ok, so I’m not a complete stickler. I’d be lying if I said I never work for free for friends and family, but I’ve found a way to incorporate that into some specific boundaries that I have established for myself and my business.

The first area that I work for free for friends or family are life events. Graduation Announcements, Wedding Invites, Funeral Programs etc….. I WILL design these for free. I don’t know why, I’ve just never felt right about charging for these. Maybe it’s the sentimental part of me, but if I can be a part of the atmosphere of the event, then I’m more than honored to do this work. That one for me was always a no brainer.

The Second, I am open to consider doing free work for ANY company/business/event that is a not-for profit business. It’s at my discretion and according to my availability. I do like to take on pro-bono work at least a few times a year, or when business is slow. It’s also a great source of inspiration because most non-profit work, in design at least, serves to be a great source of design exploration.

There’s a ton of freedom with design work in this field because the majority of people you are working for appreciate you helping them, and it feels good to do it. I’ve heard of designers using this as a means to gain exposure for their business. idk, I guess that’s ok, a free plug. But if you’re doing pro-bono work it should be done without any strings attached (and that means no notoriety). Of course, you find your boundary and work within them.

I think it’s important to not turn into a tyrant or scrooge, when you become a small business owner. Which means staying faithful to the friends and family that were faithful to you. Give back from your passion what you can. I’m not saying give away at the extent to damage your business venture, but “give-back” should constitute at least some value of your services and yes the recipients of that should be your closest friends and family members and those within the community that could benefit from what you do.

Misconception #5 of Small Business Ownership: You Need a Job? We’re ALWAYS Hiring

For some reason it seems like if you own a small business, long lost friends, family members, ex-colleagues, and old high school sweethearts…. reach out to you in order to find employment. U.S. Small Business Administration show small firms employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and created nearly two-thirds of nation’s net new jobs over the past decade and a half.

Now with that kind of figure, of course one would assume that we’re always hiring just because our neon open sign is lit, and we have purchased our business license. NOW, let’s understand that the term “small business” is a broader term on a national level than the small business I’m discussing.  The SBA considers firms with fewer than 500 employees a “small business.” I’m discussing the mom & pop shops and the one-woman shows.

It costs money to hire an employee. Even one, and even minimum wage. There are taxes involved and most of the time the help we need isn’t in the menial tasks that we COULD potentially hand off to someone else. We need help in the areas that are usually more technical, more strategic with a specialized skill set.

So, is the first line of jobs available for my business going to be someone who can answer my phone, send out my invoices, or respond to emails like an administrative assistant? Not likely, because what I need are skill sets that will expand upon the businesses and services that I’m offering or wanting to offer my clients.

So for a designer, I’m looking to hire employees like an accountant, business strategist, blogger, content strategist, web developer. These as you can see are all specialized skill sets. Once I’m in a place to not have to answer emails personally to clients, well then this blog will no longer apply.

Misconception #6 of Small Business Ownership: Clients Shmiants

I swear it took me YEARS, and I’m not exaggerating to say YEARS to convince my family (especially my mother) that I had legitimate “clients”. That my design business was no longer just something I did for fun. That I literally worked with large corporations and legitimate business heads in areas of technology, real estate, service industry, media, etc…

For some reason, it’s hard for people to see the person I used to be, and the business person I’ve grown into . Honestly, I’ve had a tendency to keep my business and my family separate for a lot of the formidable years of  business growth, because I didn’t want my already insecure spirit to be shaken. It’s hard being in business for yourself. It’s even harder to not have the people closest to you fully on-board with your vision.

Keeping your business plans, your expectations, hopes and dreams limited to a trusted “few” is something I highly recommend. Your business is honestly to be protected, and sometimes that protection needs to be implemented against a well meaning Aunt Sally, that thinks your business hopes are “cute”.

Until a point where your business is speaking for itself, so to say, keep it under wraps. Even Jesus was kicked out of his hometown because those that saw him growing up weren’t geared towards seeing him as anything other than the child he had been. This is a great lesson for business as well. Keep it under wraps. Let your family and the outside world see it’s growth from their own perspectives. All in due time.