Pick a Color, Any Color
Your brand is reflected in your company colors. When you are first forming your company, you need to decide the colors you want associated with your company, products and services. Best Buy uses blue and yellow; Coca-Cola relies on red and white; Bachmans, a Twin Cities florist, uses purple and lime green. Which colors represent your company? What colors do you like? What image are you trying to portray?
Consistent use of colors helps to solidify your brand with customers. Use your brand colors everywhere: on your website, YouTube channel, Twitter background, email templates, product packaging, marketing and collateral materials, promotional items, stationery, and business cards.
If website visitors aren’t converting to customers, changing the color of your website might not be the solution. If your car stopped working, would you paint it a different color to make it work?
If you aren’t happy with how your website is performing, ask a third party to review your website with you or hire a website consultant. Does the text answer or raise questions? Are the pages laid out logically? Where are the calls to action? Is it easy to read and uncluttered?
Notice I haven’t asked what color it is. Pick a color. Any color.
Pantone just announced Honeysuckle is the 2011 Color of the Year. In the comment section below, post links to your favorite websites and list their dominant colors. (Can you find any using honeysuckle?)
Domino’s delivered 400 million pizzas last year. Monster Energy is the Number 1 energy drink by volume in the U.S. What can a small business owner learn from these mammoth companies? Plenty, including how marketing with photos can be used to promote your business. Regardless of the size of your staff or the industry you are in, you can take advantage of photos and photo opportunities to market your company online.
6 creative ideas for marketing with photos
Here are 6 creative ways to use photos to promote your products or services online:
- Run a contest. Ask customers to submit photos featuring your products or services. Offer a prize or discount for entries. Domino’s Pizza created a special URL to promote a photo contest in 2010 called ShowUsYour Pizza.com.
- Create an account on Flickr for your business. Upload photos that build anticipation for an upcoming event or new product line. I use my Flickr account to showcase community and nature photos I have taken as editor of the North Oaks News as well as to promote my company.
- Feature one photo on each page of your website to add visual interest. While too many photos can be distracting, one large image can have a lasting impact on visitors. Additional photos may be placed in a less dominate location lower on the page. Photo gallery pages are an obvious exception to the one-photo rule.
- Send photos via Twitter. Using TwitPic, you can share photos from your PC or camera phone via Twitter in real time. TwitPic also provides stats on how many people have viewed your photo, and you can add the TwitPic widget (above right) to your website for additional exposure for your photos.
- Upload photos to Facebook. Create albums based on themes. The Monster Energy Facebook page has more than 70 company-created albums and encourages customers to post their own photos. The result? More than 5,000 photos uploaded by Monster Energy customers. Examples Facebook albums small businesses could create include:
- Holiday Gift ideas
- Why customers love us
- How we make (product)
- Before and After
- On the road
- A quick, fun way to promote your small business or organization using photos is Smilebox. This website offers a free (or relatively inexpensive if you choose to upgrade) way to create a short video display of 8-15 photos. Below is the Smilebox I created in just a few minutes using a free account to promote Reciprocate LLC.
Click on the play button above to view the Reciprocate LLC Smilebox creation.
5 small business “photo op” ideas
Opportunities for using photos to promote a small business abound. Keep a camera or camera phone handy as you go about your day. Make a conscious effort to take 5 photos each day for one week. By the end of the week, you’ll have created a photo gallery to choose from and you will have also created a mindset to look for and create photo opportunities.
Here are some possible photo opportunities to get you started:
- Products or services
- Company-sponsored events
- Employee meetings, client successes, awards, and celebrations – especially if you can feature your product, service, or company logo somewhere in the photo
- Company representatives and/or your product at trade shows, speaking engagements, and events. Stage photos in front of banners and signs which promote the event or in front of recognizable location signs.
- Before and after photos — this can translate into almost any industry but works especially well for organizers, home improvement companies, and decorators. Think outside the box. Even accountants can show a “before” photo of a mountainous pile of receipts and an “after” photo of a clean desk, featuring their company logo displayed on the monitor along with a happy customer.
Use your imagination. Get creative! Unless you are in the professional photography industry, don’t worry so much about getting the perfect shot with perfect lighting. Some applications (like TwitPic) atually lend themselves to impromptu camera phone images. Have fun but do keep your company image and marketing goals in mind. I encourage you to share links to your favorite use of company photos in the comments section below.
Twitter recently reset passwords on numerous users’ accounts.
If you cannot log into your Twitter account, check your emails to see if you have received one from Twitter that looks like this:
If you received this email, you will not be able to log into your Twitter account without clicking on the emailed link. Additional information may be found on the Twitter help page.
As a precaution, Twitter users are advised to not share their Twitter password and account information with third party companies that offer to increase follower counts rapidly.
Once you have completed all the sections of your LinkedIn profile and believe your profile represents the best “you,” it’s time to engage the LinkedIn community.
This is the first in my series of LinkedIn Strategies. With the goal of increasing your professional network through LinkedIn, over the course of the series I will share a number of tips including profile settings, the importance of connections, activities and networking, joining groups, and how to use special features to help you stand out and be noticed.
#1: Profile Settings:
Set your profile to notify your connections of your updates
Both the Member Feed Visibility and Profile and Status Updates settings are accessed through the “Settings” tab on the very top right of the LinkedIn screen.
Select "Yes, notify my connections" for both your profile and status updates
Set Member Feed Visibility to "Everyone"
Set these three simple settings properly for maximum exposure and impact.
Member Feed Visibility displays a condensed version of your recent network update activity including status updates, connections, and recommendations. To see your recent activity, click on “View Profile.” A list of your activities appears on the right side of your profile.
The Profile Updates setting will let your connections know when you have received a recommendation, made a change to your profile (including adding a new position and changing a title as well as editing changes). Your connections will also know when you choose to follow a company.
Status Updates are key to engaging your connections. Status Updates are an easy way to tell your connections what you are working on — the final touches to a major project, research you are conducting, meeting preparations, and seminars you are attending. The Status Update area very valuable PR real estate that can be used to promote you, your image, your products or services and your company.
- In keeping with the rule for all social media, this is NOT the place to sell. This is the place to share what you know and what you are working on. Subtle self-promotion is acceptable.
- Begin each Status Update with a lower case action verb.
- Include links, if appropriate, to your website, an article that highlights your point, registration information for a seminar you are conducting, or a presentation you gave.
In addition to being displayed in the top portion of your profile, Status Updates are also sent to your direct connections and posted on your direct connections’ home pages under Network Updates. This feature is similar to the way Facebook posts are displayed on your Friends’ pages. Connections on LinkedIn are also able to comment on your Status Updates.
Recommendation: Turn these three settings to “Nobody” and “No” when you are initially creating and editing your profile. When your profile is complete, turn the settings back to “Everyone” and “Yes.”
The power of LinkedIn starts with the proactive use of the Member Feed Visibility and Profile and Status Updates. Checking these three settings is an easy first step to ensure you receive maximum exposure for your time and activity on LinkedIn.