Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Networking. Part 2.

Firstly sorry this has taken so long to get up here, I have had a lot of "real life" things going on and so I haven't has as much time for article writing.

So last time we spoke about some general etiquette rules, this time let’s take a look at which websites are out there to choose from.

First things first… where do you start?! There are hundreds of networking sites out there, which are the right ones for you? Here is a list of the most popular sites with some information and pros/cons about each, we'll speak more about how to choose what's right for you at the end of the article.

Myspace-
One of the most popular and original places for social networking.
Pros:
-Large number of users
-Popular with a wide variety of age groups
-Focus on youth culture
Cons:
-Full of fake accounts and "adult content"
-Users very jaded towards marketing as they are bombarded with it every time they log on
-Many people only there for dating or to keep up to date with favorite music artists
Good for- Small businesses marketing to youth culture, clothing, music etc
Bad for- Professionals, marketing to older generations, businesses not in arts industries


Facebook-
In the last few years Facebook has taken over from MySpace as being the standard social networking website. Originally it was built for college students to connect to each other but now anyone can join and businesses can create "pages" to promote themselves and gather "fans"
Pros:
-Lots of people
-Ability to buy advertisements cheaply and easily
-Large variety of different demographics
Cons:
-Not built for advertising, built for keeping up with friends and family
-Many people don’t want to be marketed to via Facebook and consider it spam
-Must cold contact people or you can’t see their profiles.
Good for- Businesses with a fan base, charismatic people, making friends and getting to know your customers, getting customer feedback
Bad for- People just looking for a sales tool


Linkedin-
Social networking website actually aimed at businesses and business people
Pros:
-Actually made for business networking
-Good for finding other professionals
-Connect with people you’ve already worked with easily
Cons:
-Most of the people are based in America
-Not good for finding average consumers
-Harder to make contact with people you don’t know
-Setting up groups costs $
Good for- Professionals, re-connecting with old contacts, making business contacts, marketing yourself (rather than your business)
Bad for- Finding new customers unless they are business professionals


Twitter-
Social networking based on the idea that any idea can be conveyed in 160 characters or less.
Pros:
-Short messages
-Lots of people
-Ability to look on the public feed, search for posts relevant to your industry
-Easy to make connections
-As many businesses use it as people
Cons:
-Short messages can be hard to understand
-Jargon can be hard when you don’t know what it means
-Many people won't friend you if all you do is advertise
Good for- Connecting with new customers, being involved in industry discussions, keeping customers up to date with your business
Bad for- Long updates, long involved conversations


Livejournal-
Built as a website for people keep online journals/blogs. Built for personal journals not business, lately business has gotten stronger.
Pros:
-Many users
-Communities can make it easy to find like minded people or industries
-You can use html in posts to make them more attractive
-Good cross section of ages
Cons:
-Many people don’t friend users unless they personally know them and many people have “friends only” journals.
-Many people do not appreciate constant advertising here
Good for- Targeting youth culture especially fan based and other subcultures, keeping a blog on
Bad for- Professionals, making contacts quickly, broad range of user demographics


Blogger/Wordpress/Typepad etc-
Various websites where you can create and customize your own blog for personal or business use.
Pros:
-Customers can get more personal information about your business
-Connect with customers personally and answer questions or concerns
-Great way to keep up to date with other businesses
Cons:
-To be effective must be updated regularly
-Content must add value and be interesting otherwise no one will read it
-Takes time to be effective
-Not having your own domain name can look unprofessional
Good for- Adding value for your customers, educating new customers, addressing concerns
Bad for-Making an overnight difference to your sales, people without much time to update


Etsy-
Website where people can set up virtual shops, they only allow handmade items. Forums and chat rooms attached.
Pros:
-Easy for people to find you
-System to deal with non-paying buyers
-Good support system in forum and chat
-Very easy to set up a shop
Cons:
-Everyone else is selling things too
-Not having your own domain can look less professional
-Must promote yourself outside of Etsy to make it work
Good for-People who don't know how to put a shopping cart on their website, people looking for a support community, first time sellers, small businesses who make their items (clothing, craft etc)
Bad for- Businesses who don't make their items.


YouTube-
Website created for users to share videos.
Pros:
-Great for providing extra value to customers with complimentary videos for your industry
-Videos can be posted on blogs or anywhere else very easily
Cons:
-Making good videos can be a lot of work
-Must have video equipment and editing software
Good for- Bloggers wanting to jazz up their posts with video blogging, marketing people providing free information to potential customers, adding value to websites
Bad for- Businesses without access to video equipment


Specialist/niche sites (Like Essentially for Women or industry specific forums and sites)
Pros:
-Like minded people
-Support networks
-Good places for learning and information
Cons:
-Some have few members
-Everyone could be in the same industry as you rather than being your customers
Good for- Meeting like-minded people, gathering information, direct marketing as everyone is there for the same thing, finding other businesses, friendships, support groups
Bad for- Marketing to a large number or people at once, anything if you don't actually belong to the corrct demographic (ie joining a women's group if you are a man etc...)


Ok so now you're completely overwhelmed! Where do you start? To begin with, you shouldn't over reach yourself. Sit down and think about how much time you have for this, how long can you spare every day to actually sit at the computer and do this? I suggest that you start with one website and built from there. As a guide I leave around 20 minutes a day per website I'm a member of. This varies depending on how active the site is, something like Twitter I will do every day where as something slower I will spend half an hour once a week to catch up.

It truly is another form of marketing and for example if you sold children's toys you wouldn't advertise in a XXX magazine! You need to think about which sites will suit your business and how often you can update them. Just like having a website, it's better not to do it at all than to do a half-arsed job.

Next post I will be going through each of these websites individually and looking at how to make them work for you and common pitfalls people fall into. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Over the last couple of months...

It's bee a busy month here at Blue Crane Design!

-We have done some massive updates to the website, including changing the gallery system to make it more user friendly! Look for more updates in future, we're going to do an overhaul!

-Our Mascot Cranezilla has decided to take a world trip, read about it on his Blog

-Nikki has been featured as a woman in business, check out the interview here.

-Nikki was also chosen as Nuffnang's Featured Blogger for April. Take a look at the interview!

-We have made a partnership with Women Wise Marketing and will be providing Graphic Design articles, you can read the first on on our blog or on the Women Wise site here.

- We were also featured on Pink Expertise with a short interview. Come and read it here.

-We were invited to speak about how websites can benefit businesses at the Mt Gravatt NEIS Class. We were welcomed warmly and did questions and answers for almost 2 hours with the class. It was a wonderful morning and we really enjoyed meeting all the new business owners. Congrats on almost being finished guys!

Now we have some other exciting news for all of you Cranezilla fans out there, he now has his own T-Shirts! You can show your support for Blue Crane Design by wearing our colours!

You can order through our shop by clicking the link below or you can contact us directly by email at info@bluecranedesign.net It’s available in a variety of colours so pick up yours today!

Click here to pick up your Cranezilla T-Shirt and represent!

Why spec work is not good....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mailing List

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Three Ways To Get A Custom Logo—And Which Is Best

Below is the second article Nikki has written for Women Wise Marketing Blog. Enjoy and don't forget to check out the Women Wise Marketing site!
(Photos borrowed from Women Wise Marketing)


Logomania

This post is part two in a series by Womenwise Marketing contributor Nikki Matarasso, graphic designer and maketing coordinator for Blue Crane Design. Read part one, The Five Elements of Really Good Logos. Photo collage courtesy of captcreate.

So you’ve decided you need a custom business logo to catch attention and get customers in the door. Now what? Where do you get one? How much should you pay for one? You don’t have a giant budget, but can you really get a quality logo for free?

Well, you’ve got a couple of options. Each has pros, cons, and associated costs.

1. Do It Yourself

On first glace, making the logo yourself might seem like the cheapest option. But there are quite a few hidden costs associated with creating a custom logo.

Frustrated WomanLet’s assume you have a computer. You’re going to need software. If you want to put your business logo into multiple formats and create an image which can be used at any size (called a vector) you’re going to need something more than Microsoft Paint.

The cheapest version of Photoshop Elements is AU$165. It has limited functionality but is fine for beginners.

Now before you start designing your business logo, you need to learn how to use Photoshop. To get a basic understanding you’ll probably need at least two days. If you’re going to research what makes a logo effective, add another day for that. Then there’s the time it takes you to design your custom logo. (Let’s say another two days).

Do you want to go with a word mark? A symbol? Perhaps a monogram? Which ever it is you want it to have a high mnemonic value, right? These are all things you need to think about.

Your time is worth money. After all, you’re spending time you could be looking for new clients or working on current ones doing this. For these purposes we’ll assume you’re earning an average wage of $100 a day.

If you want any stock photos or images you’ll have to pay for those too. We’ll estimate $20 minimum.

So far, this has cost you around $685 for a custom logo that most likely won’t be as effective as one created by a professional with years of experience. It’s kind of like going to a doctor verses looking your symptoms up on the internet.

2. Hire a Professional

I’m going to base these calculations off the prices my graphic design company currently charges: AU$325 including gst for a logo with five revisions. Very importantly, I have a contract which protects both the graphic designer and the client.

Graphic DesignerWhen you hire a graphic designer, you’re not just paying for a custom business logo. You’re paying for the experience, training, software, hardware, knowledge and research that goes behind the logo.

When a client comes to me I organise a meeting where we talk over coffee about their business, their ideas and what they want to get out of the logo. Then I research their competition and the industry itself.

Finally, I create three drafts of custom logos which the client can choose between or take elements from for the final version. I keep the client informed at every step of the way of what’s going on and the information or techniques being used in the process. We tweak the final logo until it’s perfect and then hand over to the client in as many file formats as they require. All this for $325.

3. Use a Design Contest for Spec Work

Some websites let you create a competition that essentially says, “I have a gardening business and I’ll pay $25 for a custom logo.” Graphic designers submit their work in hopes that you’ll pick them as the winner. Most of these competition websites charge a flat rate or take a cut of the designer’s fee.

090604-contest

One problem with this system is that you have no idea who is on the other side of the computer screen. The designer could be a 14-year-old with little knowledge and too much spare time rather or a graphic designer who has studied for four years to get the job.

These contests also lead people to pick designs that are the most visually appealing, rather than designs which are commercially viable.

They are also generally a bad way to do business. Imagine if you owned a retail store and I came in to buy an item. I tell you that I want this set of towels but I’m going to get a bunch of towels from other stores too, try them all out, and if I like your towel best I’ll think about paying you about 100th of the price.

I think you would kick me out of your store!

Possibly the most dangerous part of these competitions can be found in the fine print. You have no control over the use of the work created.

Most people don’t read the terms and conditions of these websites, but doing so is really important. I’ve heard story after story of people going through a contest, picking a winner and then several years down the line having the creator of the logo sue them for rights and earnings.

Some designers enter very similar designs in many competitions. Even after you’ve chosen one, they retain all rights to the other designs so they can submit them to other businesses or retain them for personal use. You have pretty much no recourse and no way of knowing how many other businesses have a very similar design.

For these reasons, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a contract that both designer and client understand.

The Final Word On Choosing A Logo

Unfortunately that old saying “You get what you pay for” applies to logo design. There are some business expenses that you can skimp on, but a custom business logo isn’t one of them.

By doing it yourself or hiring a spec work artist, you may be saving money in theory. But when it comes back to bite your sales figures, you may wish you had reconsidered!

Nikki MatarassoI hope that this article has given you all some insight on the true costs of logo design. Next month I’ll be covering advertising: what should you look for, how often you should be doing it and where you’ll get the best results. Until then, check out my own blog at Blue Crane Design.