10 Tips for a Great Business Card

Great Business Card Top 10 Checklist

I read once a long time ago that all you really need to get started in business is a good idea and a great business card, and I've found that's pretty much still true today.

But not all business cards are created equal. A bad business card is more of a liability than an asset, but a great business card is worth ten times what you pay for it.

Wondering if your business card is an asset -- or a liability? Read on for a checklist of the elements of a great business card.

Make sure your card:

1. Has your contact information. Sounds basic enough, but some folks actually forget to include their NAMES on their business cards! Your name, your business name, phone number, email address, web URL, and address (either physical or mailing) are all necessary. Anything less diminishes your credibility.

2. Has your core marketing message (not your tag line). A tag line is a positioning statement (such as "Have it your way!") that doesn't necessarily tell what you do, but positions you against your competitors. Your marketing message is probably very close to your elevator speech, and describes the outcome of your work as well as your ideal client (what you do and for whom).

3. Is readable. Print that is too small means your card is unreadable. But small print isn't the only issue; I've seen "arty" business cards that make no sense in terms of layout and copy, so unless you ARE Pablo Picasso, make your card easy to read and not a visual challenge.

4. Looks professional, not like a craft project. For example, unless there is a legitimate reason to hand-letter your business cards (such as you are ten years old, or your business is all about hand-lettering) or do anything else that is "crafty," don't. Not only is it probably a waste of your time, it looks both juvenile and terminally unprofessional.

5. Is visually arresting, although consistent with your overall design concept. Photos are great on business cards, because they are visually arresting, help people recognize you, and because your face (in a photo) is an implied guarantee, especially for big-ticket items (now you know why most real estate agents have their photos on their cards).

6. Is the right size. Anything that doesn't fit into a standard card holder is the wrong size. It can be a little short, or a little thick, but never too wide or too tall.

7. Uses both the front and back. Have you ever noticed that when we get a card or a letter, the first thing we do is look at the back? I guess we all want to see what's behind Door #2. Take advantage of that behavior by including more information on the back of your card, such as a Top 10 list or a special offer.

8. Has a secondary use. You card can invite, inform, inspire, or amuse if it includes a special offer, an invitation, an appointment confirmation, tips, calendar, inspirational quote, or Top 10 list.

9. Is given away -- over and over again! Please don't be stingy with your business cards. While you should not force your cards on people who don't want them, you do not need to "qualify" each recipient of your business card. Remember: Just because someone isn't a prospect now doesn't mean that they might not pass on your card to someone who is a good prospect for you.

10. Doubles as a nametag at networking events. Just slip it into one of those plastic holders and clip it on to your lapel for an instant nametag. Not only will it be a great conversation starter, but you'll find people will remember you better.

By Veronika Noize
Image by Brenda Carson
This article was written by Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach. Ronnie's web site is a comprehensive marketing resource for small office/home office business professionals. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable marketing tools, visit her web site at http://www.VeronikaNoize.com, or email her at Ronnie@VeronikaNoize.com.



How to Stop Random Marketing & Work from a Marketing Plan

Are You Doing Random Marketing Activities or Working From a Marketing Plan?

Most business owners, when you ask them about their marketing activities, will describe disjointed, random efforts, or nothing at all. There is no marketing plan. They don't plan activities with intention. There is no cohesiveness - with activity planned to lead potential clients ever closer to becoming a client. There is no assessment of the effectiveness of results. There probably is little in the way of results either. The owner may go for long stretches without taking any marketing action. Then, driven by low sales and revenue, take multiple desperate actions, without any unifying theme or logical approach. If this sounds like you and you have no idea what it takes to create an effective marketing plan, here are a few ideas.

1. Keep it simple.

Often, we want to jump in with an overly ambitious plan that has us taking marketing action every minute of the day. This is usually not effective because it simply is not sustainable. It's much better to choose a few actions and maintain focus on them NOW and consistently.

2. Think of your marketing strategies as short-term and long-term.

Don't try to do them all now. Put together a plan with short-term strategies and work the plan consistently. Work on the short-term strategies with the majority of your effort, and put small (and consistent) effort into your longer-term strategies.

Marketing activities like networking, public speaking, joining business groups are short-term strategies. They are ways to associate with potential clients and get to know them. It is reasonable to expect results within a few days or weeks from the short-term strategies.

Marketing activities like creating or revising a website, publishing an ezine, selling information products, publishing articles or books are all long-term strategies. Results are longer in coming.

3. Do not expect to go to a networking event and get new clients.

It could happen, but is an unusual occurrence. You can create better results with your networking if you approach it with intentionality. Maintain focus on your reason for networking - to associate with potential clients. Don't get distracted into too much simply social interaction. Spend the bulk of your time and attention on those attendees with business possibilities. If you don't do this deliberately, you'll likely feel very disappointed by the event. It's OK to simply socialize, but do realize that the purpose of networking is business.

4. What turns your random marketing activities into a marketing plan?

Realize that each activity should be aimed at the possibility of moving potential clients one step closer to becoming clients. If you cannot clearly expect a particular marketing activity to advance the relationship, familiarity, and trust that potential clients feel for you - reconsider it. Often, we do "marketing activities" that have no possibility of furthering relationship, or we fail to do them in ways that further relationships. Ideally, what you want is to create is a logical progression of activities that leads potential clients closer to wanting to work with you. This is the key to an effective marketing plan.

5. Whatever your do, do it consistently.

Do not imagine that you can "market" occasionally and have it be effective. Put together a plan that you can definitely commit to and take sustainable, regular action on. It has to be made up of activities you enjoy, and will continue to engage in. Don't include marketing activities that you hate, dread or avoid. That's a guaranteed losing plan. Leave yourself open to developing those skills later or over time, but don't start there.

Stop doing random, occasional marketing activities and create and work a marketing plan. It is the way to a sustainable, steady stream of new clients.

By Suzi Elton
Image by Boris Djuranovic

Suzi Elton provides business writing that attracts targeted prospects to your service business and converts them into clients for you. She is a Robert Middleton Certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, as well as a professional writer. Her website offers a free series of 8 assessments you can use to analyze your own site. To learn about her Robert Middleton style Web Site Tool Kit Writing Package, go to http://www.wowfactorwriting.com/services/web-site-tool-kit-package/


10 Ways To Market Your Design Business By Doing What You Love

10 Ways To Market Your Business By Doing What You Love To Do

1. If you like to do public speaking then let association and club program chairs know that you are available to speak. Invite your customers and potential customers to come to hear you when it is appropriate.

2. If you like to write, write a newsletter, book, article etc and distribute it to your prospects and customers.

3. If you like to dine at special restaurants, invite a client or strategic partner to join you.

4. If you like sporting events (baseball, football, tennis etc.) invite your prospect to watch a game with you.

5. If you like the theater or concerts, invite a prospect or client to go to a production with you.

6. If you have a strong feeling for a particular nonprofit and they have a benefit, invite a client or clients to join the festivities as your guest.

7. If you like to participate in a sport (golf, tennis, sailing) invite your client or prospect to participate with you.

8. If you like to entertain in your home, have a dinner party, brunch, or cocktail party for clients and prospects.

9. If you like to teach, run a workshop for prospects and clients to teach them something.

10. If you are someone who likes to do volunteer work, invite prospects and clients to work with you. (Houses built by Habitat for Humanity might be a great place to work on a project together. There are other nonprofits that give you an opportunity to work on a day or half day project.)

By Alvah Parker
Photography by Theodor38

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys' Coach) and a Career Changers' Coach as well as publisher of Parker's Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website http://www.asparker.com/samples.html


My "Scientific" Process for Establishing Your Fee

There are so many differing opinions on how to set your pricing you could drive yourself crazy if you listened to everyone. But, I want to tell you how I did it so you can use this simple method to see how it will work for you.

When I was first starting out, I didn't know what to charge. I decided to look around and do a bit of research to see what other similar services were charging. After I collected enough information, I picked a price that was basically in the middle of all the fees I learned about. Really scientific right?

I picked something in the middle because I wanted to fill my practice quickly. I purposely didn't choose a high price point so I wouldn't have what they call a "barrier to entry". A barrier to entry is a price point that is higher than what the marketplace will bear. You don't want to set the bar too high when first starting out because too many people will find the price unaffordable.

How do you know if you have selected the right pricing? Here's how it worked for me. I could gauge if I was overcharging or undercharging by how quickly I filled my practice. If I was getting 80 percent of people to say, "Yes", then I kept going until I nearly filled my practice. Only then, did I raise my rates because I could afford to have people say, "No" at that point and be more selective since I had lots of clients and money coming in. For me, I raised my fees frequently, sometimes almost every three months, but at least a couple of times a year.

This is my philosophy: If you are not well-known and you have more time than money, it's simply better to work with more clients. As soon as you fill your practice, then you can afford to up your rates and increase your marketing. As you gain experience, you will better understand what marketing works for you and who you can serve best. As you refine your target audience and how to talk to them, you will be able to charge more.

Click here for step by step tutorial on how to set your hourly rate.
Your Client Attraction Assignment

Have you done research on pricing and what your competitors are charging?

If you are a new business, this is an important step to making sure you are not under or over charging. I recommend finding that middle spot and holding there until your practice is nearly full. Then, you can feel free to raise your rates as you and your business continue to evolve.
By Fabienne Fredrickson
Image by Paul Moore
Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to attract more clients, in record time... guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and receive her weekly marketing & success mindset articles on attracting more high-paying clients and dramatically increasing your income, visit http://www.attractclients.com



Attract More Clients by NOT Discounting What You Charge

Clients often ask me about discounting their services fees. This comes from a desire to attract more clients, particularly when there is a lot of competition or the economy is on a downward trend.

In fact, you can attract more clients by NOT discounting what you charge.

Usually the reason why more people aren't hiring you is because they don't understand the value of what you have to offer or they don't know about you. Neither is a pricing issue. It's more about awareness and value, right?

My recommendation is to never discount your fee. The truth is, you can make money in any business, at any time, in any economy. This is a matter of mindset.
Here are three big reasons why you don't want to discount your services and how to attract more clients as a result.
1. Discounting your fee discounts your value. Plain and simple. Doctors and lawyers don't do this and neither should you.

2. You are focusing on pricing rather than value. A stronger promotion is to add value to whatever you are offering. This helps prospects feel like they are getting MORE when they sign up to work with you. Prospects may feel more inclined to say yes since they are getting a good deal. But you can achieve this without sacrificing your fee and also attract more clients as a result.

3. From a mindset perspective, whatever you focus on is what you get more of. So the last thing you want to focus on is discounting your fees. That sends out a message that cheapens your service and impacts your confidence.

What can you do instead?

1. Point #2 above talks about adding value and that is a great way to attract more business. Give clients something in addition to your services at no extra cost. This is a common practice in the cosmetic industry where they never discount the product, but add other products or provide a special gift. People love freebies!

2. You can discount your products with a special promotion. This works best when offered for a limited amount of time. People will be motivated to act now in order to take advantage of the lower price.
Your Client Attraction Assignment

If you want to attract more clients by offering a special promotion, come up with a package that delivers something additional to your services at no extra cost. For example, throw in a free product when people sign up to work with you. Think about what you have to offer and how you can combine the items to make the best value for attracting new clients.
By Fabienne Fredrickson
Image by Melinda Nagy
Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to attract more clients, in record time... guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and receive her weekly marketing & success mindset articles on attracting more high-paying clients and dramatically increasing your income, visit http://www.attractclients.com


How to Shift Your General Practice to Your Niche

The Best Way to Shift Your General Practice to Your Niche
If you've been in business for a while, you may have an assortment of clients and types of work that you do. You have identified the one particular area that you really want to concentrate on. How do you make this transition to focus on your niche?
I recommend that you build up to it. The last thing you want to do is let go of all your current clients to start fresh and then have no money coming in. That creates the 3am sweats, right? When you are still in the business building phase what you want is more clients and more money.

The idea is that you don't have to turn away business while building your niche. You can say yes to referrals and clients who come to you for your services to keep the cash flow moving. However, you can start to focus your marketing to attract your niche.

Here's a great example. I had a client who is a videographer. She shot all kinds of videos from weddings, to business, to Internet marketing. But her true passion was shooting videos about dancing. When she went to networking events, she started to say something like, "I'm a general video producer with a growing specialty in dance video."

Now this client didn't turn away other video business while she was growing her dance niche. She took all the jobs that suited her needs to get more clients and more money. Then, as her video business grew, she could afford to become more selective about the jobs she took. With time, she finally got to the place where she could decide to only shoot dance video and has stopped doing all other types of video.

By being clear about your niche and applying the marketing systems, you can grow the part of your business where your true passion lies until you can focus solely on that work. As you get more and more clients in your preferred area, you will shift your marketing materials until they only promote your niche. Step-by-step is just a smart way to go.

Your Client Attraction Assignment

Are you struggling to balance the work you want with the work that brings in cash?Think of how you can integrate the two. This way you can talk about what you do and the niche you want to grow. Look at your marketing materials for ways to increase your niche slowly. As you start making this transition, so much more about your niche will become clear. That's why you want to let it build while you are still bringing in clients to support you through the shift to your ideal clients.
By Fabienne Fredrickson
Image by Juha Tuomi

Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to attract more clients, in record time... guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and receive her weekly marketing & success mindset articles on attracting more high-paying clients and dramatically increasing your income, visit http://www.attractclients.com



Four Simple Ways to Discover Your Unique Selling Proposition

When you start working on your branding, one of the first things you need to determine is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). You want to know what your clients like about the experience of working with you. What results have they gotten? What did they like most? What makes the biggest difference for them?

Make sure you don't ask clients what they like about you. It's never about you. It's always about the experience they receive from you.

There are a number of ways to gather this information about your business. You could:

1. Schedule appointments for a phone conversation with select clients

2. Ask them to fill out a questionnaire while they are at your place of business. But don't let them take it home because they probably never will complete it or send it back

3. Invite a group to lunch, your treat, and have an open discussion

4. Send a link to an online survey. This works best for a more conservative business versus a touchy-feely business. It would be too cold for a warmer type of business

Some people tend to make things complicated which can prevent you from doing this work. You don't need to hire a research firm or do a focus group so someone else is asking the questions. That's good when you have a multi-million dollar business, but for most entrepreneurs, feel free to do this fact finding yourself. Simply ask your clients.

Naturally you'll want to choose your best clients who are making progress and getting a lot out of your work together. You can learn a lot about what you are doing well and even discover opportunities for your next step. You may be surprised by the information you collect and this process can be eye-opening. It can also bring items to your attention that need improvement which is a good thing - knowing what you need to do is so much better than being in the dark.

Once you figure out your USP, establishing your brand will become so much simpler. You'll know the type of people you serve best, what their issues and needs are and how to give them what they want. All of that will make your marketing efforts easier.

Your Client Attraction Assignment

Have you determined your unique selling proposition? It's not only a smart thing to do at the start of your business, but also as your business grows and evolves. Staying in touch with your clients or customers is a smart business move at any point to be sure you are providing the best service possible.

By Fabienne Fredrickson
Image by Jean Scheijen

Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to attract more clients, in record time... guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and receive her weekly marketing & success mindset articles on attracting more high-paying clients and dramatically increasing your income, visit http://attractclients.com


How to Manage Your Interior Design Clients

How to Manage Your Clients

Today I want to talk to you about how to manage your clients. Whether you are just starting out or you are at full practice right now looking to multiply, you must know how to manage your clients effectively.

You might be thinking, "What does this have to do with multiplying my business? "It has everything to do with it because when you have a practice full of clients who are all doing their own things, it creates a big stress and drain for you and it's very, very time consuming.

When you have each of your clients behaving properly, and I know that sounds funny, you create a problem-free zone. So managing your clients equals a problem-free zone. And when you have a problem-free zone, you have more time for more clients, more time to market, and more time to make more money in your business.

So how do you properly manage your clients? Again, it doesn't matter if you're just starting out or if you have a full practice. If you're just starting out, you need to come from full practice mentality. Even if you have two clients, you've got to pretend that you have thirty-two clients and set up the right systems ahead of time.

My number one tip around that is to be very clear. Start by getting yourself really clear on what your standards are for your business. What are the rules that you want your clients to follow in your business? If you have a web-based business, then one of the rules could be that you want them to call on time, you want them to call a particular number and you want them to end on time. Why? Because if they don't, they eat up into other people's time, etc.

If you have a brick and mortar business, then you need to get really clear on what you want them to do when they arrive. There needs to be rules for everything. You might think, "Oh no. Clients are not going to like rules. " I totally disagree. Clients like to know what the rules are.

In fact, I will share with you that about a year ago, I hired a practitioner for a healing session. I paid up front and waited for the appointment day to arrive. I never got an email that instructed whether I was to call or if she would call me. I didn't get an email that instructing whether this was an online session or phone session. I didn't even know how long our session was going to be. I didn't know if I was expected to send something in beforehand and frankly, I was a little annoyed by it. I like to know what the rules are so I can follow them.

What I've realized over the years, and I've been doing this for a very long time, is the more specific you are about what you expect of your clients, the more they enthusiastically follow the rules. Then you have a practice full of yummy people who are behaving properly as opposed to saboteur clients who create havoc and messes in your business.

So to reiterate, the very first thing that you want to do is set up these policies and procedures and communicate your expectations and rules. I have a Policies and Procedures document that I share with my clients and the rules are stated with kindness and warmth but also some sternness so people know that I'm serious about these things.

The key is to communicate it at the beginning of your working relationship so it's not something that you come back to a few months later when they're already used to behaving in a certain way. Here's the thing. If you get them to do this and understand these at the beginning of your working relationship, even before you get started, you're likely to never have somebody behave improperly. You can even have them sign off on, "Yes, I understand these policies and procedures. " Then you have a copy of it, they have a copy of it. It's all good.

But let's say that in your working relationship with a client, somebody doesn't show up for a pre-scheduled call or doesn't pay on time or just goes against one of your policies and procedures, it's important that you uphold your boundaries. Uphold your standards and your procedures and you remind them that this was something that they agreed to. Again, you have to do it kindly and warmly but the idea is that you must remind them so they get back in line.

I'm going to leave you with a final tip. You always want to play the 'good cop' role because if you start chasing clients for money or scolding them for not following your policies and procedures, it's going to tinge your working relationship. Ideally, you hire an assistant, you have one of your existing team members or a virtual person do that for you so you always stay the 'good cop' and they become the 'bad cop'.

Your Client Attraction Assignment

Define what the rules for your business are when it comes to clients. Write them out and be sure to share them with your clients.

When all of your clients follow your policies and procedures, rules and expectations, it's smooth sailing. Is it smooth sailing 100 percent of the time? It never will be because you're dealing with people and each have their own behaviors and quirks and intricacies. You can make it as smooth as possible though and a smoother ride allows you to have a smoother practice, with more room for more clients, more room for marketing and more room to multiply your business.
By Fabienne Fredrickson
Imaage by Theodor8
Fabienne Fredrickson, The Client Attraction Mentor, is founder of the Client Attraction System, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to attract more clients, in record time... guaranteed. To get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD by mail and receive her weekly marketing & success mindset articles on attracting more high-paying clients and dramatically increasing your income, visit http://attractclients.com.


10 Questions to Ask If You Want Clients to Work WithYou

10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself If You Want More Clients To Buy From You

The old adage "work on your business rather than in your business" is true.  However, if you're an interior designer, small business owner or even a freelance consultant looking for additional clients, it's rare that you have the time to get away from the day-to-day 'doing' to work on client-building activities.

Nevertheless, answering the following ten  questions will  help you get some clarity.

1. What does your ideal client look like?

If you can't describe them, how do you determine who you should be targeting and accepting requests for proposals from? e.g. size, reach, business model, industry sector, business practices, location, life cycle etc?

2. Does your ideal client know who you are and what you do?
If not what are you doing to rectify that?


3. Is what you're offering something that's going to ensure potential clients want to work with you?

How do you know? How often do you ask this to prospective clients?

4. Are you being interested or interesting?

Are you asking your existing clients enough relevant questions to ensure you gather the right information to be able to present answers to their real problems? Or are you too busy trying to sell your services to them?

5. Are you helping your clients think about their projects differently?

Are you helping them uncover and solve their biggest problems and continually ensuring you understand the real issues affecting their business and them personally? If not, how are you differentiating yourself from other agencies?

6. How closely are you paying attention to the state of the relationship with your current clients?

Or are you just focusing on delivering what you need to in order to keep the business?

7. Are you asking your committed clients for referrals regularly?

If not, do you ask them for testimonials? How could you start doing this or training your staff to do it?

8. Are you holding strategic review meetings with your clients and your team?

How else do you ensure you know what's coming down the pipeline in their business and thinking about how you could help?

9. Are you paying attention to clients, the competition, the market, trends?

Do you think you're one step in front or two steps behind?

10. Are you looking for new business often and effectively?

How could you spend your time more efficiently?

Have these questions prompted you to think about something new or did you have everything covered?

By Jenny E. Plant
Image by Photo Rack
Jenny Plant has worked in account management for various advertising agencies for most of her 22 year career. She was General Manager for a major global healthcare agency and now trains customer service skills to account managers. http://accountmanagementskills.com