Posts tagged ‘Marketing’

Five Secrets to Personal Branding

Personal branding is a new hot concept, which can be both good news and bad. With everyone trying to make a name for themselves, it’s harder and harder to be heard through all the noise.  Sound familiar- What designer doesn’t want to be the next best celebrity designer in a sea of designers?  That’s why a personal brand is crucial in 2010; to do it right means expert help, and for that there are few better qualified to help than entrepreneur and uber-blogger Guy Kawasaki. I recently came across the five secrets of personal branding success via Jessica Stillman on BNet Insight via Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog. The secrets come from Pete Kistler who dug into Kawasaki’s book Art of the Start.

 These 5 points are valid when it comes to trying to create your personal brand- something that designers seem to struggle with. In our DBRx consults, we find that design pros have self esteem issues and find it difficult at best to present themselves in a compelling way. So take a look at Kistler’s  5 branding points.

  • Make Meaning, Not Money. If you’re into personal branding with the goal of making money, stop now. You will attract the wrong kind of people into your life. Instead, start with the goal of making meaning. What better way to align all your actions with your long-term goals. What kind of meaning will you make? Kawasaki suggests two ideas for inspiration: 1) right a wrong, or 2) prevent the end of something good. What will you do to make the world a better place?
  • Make a Mantra. In three words or less, what are you all about? Kawasaki believes that mission statements are useless. He says, make a mantra instead. FedEx stands for “peace of mind.” What do you stand for, in the simplest terms?
  • Polarize People. Personal branding pundits often advise against being a “jack of all trades,” or a generalist that isn’t very good at something specific. What does Guy believe? He suggests being great for some people rather than trying to please everyone. Do not be afraid to make people react strongly for or against you. Someone once said, you’re not doing something right unless you’re pissing someone off. That doesn’t mean be a jerk. That means just don’t try to appeal to all people, or you’ll end up a mile wide and an inch deep, mediocre to everyone.
  • Find a Few Soul Mates. We’re all on this journey together. It’s silly to think we are alone in our careers or in our life. Find people who balance you. Then make time for them. If you’re busy, make plans in advance so you have to schedule around them. You’re only one person, so surround yourself with people whose skills round you off.
  • Don’t Let the Bozos Grind You Down. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will always agree with you. That’s a fact of life. So don’t let criticism or doubters bring you down. As you live out your mantra, it’s your responsibility to be strong in the face of “no,” and “you can’t do that.” Guy says, ignore people who say you won’t succeed. Use negative words as motivation. Prove people wrong.

 Jumpstart your personal brand with these mantras posted on Guy Kawasaki’s Blog:  

“Connect People to their Purpose.” That includes connecting them with each other and with resources that grow and strengthen them.

“Dance Your Life. Find Your Gift.”

“Making Work Meaningful” – we’ve been saying this internally for the past 18months and now it’s reasonating through our organisation – very powerful concept.

“Pay it Forward.” It keeps me grounded and focused on others. And, I’m connecting with others more than ever — in a sincere and caring way.

4 July 2010 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

More Money, Less Pain

The June edition of Psychological Science published the results from six experiments conducted by psychologists and a marketing professor that tested the power of money in relation to social interaction. In one of the most startling results, they found that merely touching money or thinking about expenses affected participants both physically and emotionally.

In one experiment volunteers were asked to take a “finger-dexterity” test, one group counted stacks of $100 bills, while the other group counted paper. Afterwards both groups were but into a social interaction simulation where they were meant to feel snubbed and isolated. The group that counted out the money before the simulation rated their level of social distress much lower than the group that counted paper.

In another experiment, the same “finger-dexterity” test was taken and then the volunteers were asked to dip a finger in very hot (122 degree) water. Those who counted the money rated their pain as lower than those who counted paper.

The pain test was then repeated but with the volunteers now writing about either their expenses the previous month, or the weather. After the finger dip, those who wrote about spending their money rated their pain as higher than those who wrote about the weather!

“These effects speak to the power of money, even as a symbol, to change perceptions of very real feelings,” like pain, said Kathleen Vohs, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.

What does this mean for the designer? It’s just one more thing to consider when presenting the project costs. Clients need to feel comfortable enough with the potential of your work to transform their lives and their interiors to offset the real and psychological pain of letting go some of their hard-earned money! It’s about making sure the client understands the value–both immediate and long term–of investing in their home décor; so that the experiential satisfaction they get from the process and the results more than offsets the purchasing pain.

See more about this on Live Science. Within that article are also links that discuss the value of “experiential” purchases vs. “product” purchases.

7 August 2009 at 8:46 am Leave a comment

What Makes “Couture” Couture?

The Paris couture shows for Winter 2010 are taking place right now, inspiring oooohs and aaahs of envy and inspiration for both Deb and myself. But as Deb often mentions, the descriptive phrase “couture” is too often tossed off to describe something without have a true understanding of what separates couture from something well-built, well-made, well-crafted.

Take a look at this video, where a Karl Lagerfeld sketch is transformed into a finished Chanel dress and jacket. Each pattern is made and cut by hand, each sequin hand-sewn, each seam hand-pinned…

Lagerfeld is known for his dedication to the petites mains, the specialty seamstresses, milliners, button-makers and other decorative artisans whose elaborate handiwork transforms a design into a showpiece, this video is a clear example of why they deserve his high praise.

10 July 2009 at 7:25 am Leave a comment

Get on The Web

marketing-to-moms-top-10-activities-moms-online-july-2008Susan and I have been encouraging pros to get a web presence for some time in our seminars and discussions at IWCE, Showtime and NeoCon. Well, if you don’t think you need one or “you are working with a web designer and we should be up and running by September” – read this.

This study by Marketing to Moms Coalition found that American Moms with kids under 18, log an average of three hours a day on the internet and that their school age kids log only 2 hours. What’s interesting is that women (your target market) spend  nearly half (49%) of their time on the web- that’s 1-1/2 hours a day -researching and comparing prices. So if you’re not on the web they don’t know you exist! 

Run, don’t walk to your computer and do one or all of these things:

Build a blog ( WordPress is our blog platform of choice)

Join LinkedIn

Create your Facebook profile.

You can add content whenever you like without having to know a bit of HTML. You can show your work. You can tell your customers what you’re up to. You can establish you self as the expert pro you are.

 When you get on the web or if you are already; send us your address and we’ll link up.

28 June 2009 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

The Future of Marketing

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Marketing is in the midst of a C change. The old marketing model was to broadcast ideas and the message in hopes that your target customer was listening and would act on it. It’s TV thinking mentality- where the power of marketing was seen in the maxim that the more dollars you spent the further your message spread. It didn’t matter when or where or how the message was received. It was OK to interrupt anyone; anytime. Not so anymore. The system is broken. It was hurt by all the clutter and too many choices. The shift in power is to what experts are calling permission marketing. It’s a power shift away from the marketer to the gatekeeper-the consumer . The internet has brought all this about. TV, radio and direct mail are the traditional channels of communication invented by marketers for markets. They exist to sell ads. The internet doesn’t care. Marketers are no longer in charge. They can’t control the customer anymore- what they see, read or especially what they say.
So what will the future bring for marketing? Seth Godin recently looked in his crystal ball to identify these  fourteen future marketing trends:
1. Direct communication between the people who make it and people who buy it. Create a community of your customers and engage them, cutting out the middle man in the relationship. Be prepared to take the bumps and bruises that might come along with it.
2. Amplification of the consumer Every person is a designer or reviewer and has the power to reach others. They are the new gatekeepers; embrace them and invest in their experience. Seth says instead of selling stuff; spend your days creating joy.
3. Authentic stories mean people do not buy facts; so you must sell the story. Is it about the location; is it about being green; is it about ownership, is it about why and how we make it? Facts are not important; it’s about creating opportunity. So craft a story that resonates with your view of the world and then live the story. You must do both- the customer can always spot if you are telling the truth or not.
4. Speed or let’s be honest- hyper speed. It’s about no waiting, it’s about reorganizing your business and building your processes around speed.
5. Longtail has proven that if you give people a choice they will take it. Over half of books that Amazon carries aren’t available in book stores. Offer your customer a chance to have a choice. Look for the small profitable niche.
6. Outsourcing products and services that were inconceivable five years ago .
 Google has diced the world into bytes. Social media and the internet are now the marketing platform. Your website needs to be friendly to the visitor. But you also need to realize that they are treat searches have become sophisticated; they are landing deep into you site more often than on your home page.

Check back tomorrow for the the rest of trend list

28 April 2009 at 10:44 pm 1 comment

Anticipating the Home Sector 2009

This is a blog post from Home Accents Today with the transcript of a panel discussion at Las Vegas Market revolving around what will 2009 bring for this industry. Good reading!

25 February 2009 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School

So as I was cleaning out and starting a New Year,  I came across this piece written several years ago by Michael McDonough and published by Design Observer. I have to confess, I pull this out periodically and reread it because it is timeless advice for designers.  Each time I read the list something different hits me. Lately, its number 9 -Show me the outputand I’ll show you the money. What ones strike you?

Enjoy and Happy New Year.

From Michael Bierut, Design Observer Blog  03.24.04:

The Architect’s Newspaper is my new favorite design publication. It’s a 16-page tabloid that comes out about twice a month. It’s literate and timely, a fast-paced collection of news, reviews and opinion from voices as various as Michael Sorkin, Peter Slatin and Craig Konyk, all beautifully designed (in two ruthlessly efficient colors) by Martin Perrin. And, best of all, it has a gossip column.

Last month, they published a piece by Michael McDonough, the accomplished New York-based architect, writer and teacher, called “The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School.” I read lots of these kinds of things (and even written a few myself), but I found McDonough’s not just entertaining but actually quite useful, and valid for nearly any kind of design discipline. He has graciously given us permission to reprint it here at Design Observer.

The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School by Michael McDonough

1. Talent is one-third of the success equation.

Talent is important in any profession, but it is no guarantee of success. Hard work and luck are equally important. Hard work means self-discipline and sacrifice. Luck means, among other things, access to power, whether it is social contacts or money or timing. In fact, if you are not very talented, you can still succeed by emphasizing the other two. If you think I am wrong, just look around.

2. 95 percent of any creative profession is shit work.

Only 5 percent is actually, in some simplistic way, fun. In school that is what you focus on; it is 100 percent fun. Tick-tock. In real life, most of the time there is paper work, drafting boring stuff, fact-checking, negotiating, selling, collecting money, paying taxes, and so forth. If you don’t learn to love the boring, aggravating, and stupid parts of your profession and perform them with diligence and care, you will never succeed.

3. If everything is equally important, then nothing is very important.

You hear a lot about details, from “Don’t sweat the details” to “God is in the details.” Both are true, but with a very important explanation: hierarchy. You must decide what is important, and then attend to it first and foremost. Everything is important, yes. But not everything is equally important. A very successful real estate person taught me this. He told me, “Watch King Rat. You’ll get it.”

4. Don’t over-think a problem.

One time when I was in graduate school, the late, great Steven Izenour said to me, after only a week or so into a ten-week problem, “OK, you solved it. Now draw it up.” Every other critic I ever had always tried to complicate and prolong a problem when, in fact, it had already been solved. Designers are obsessive by nature. This was a revelation. Sometimes you just hit it. The thing is done. Move on.

5. Start with what you know; then remove the unknowns.

In design this means “draw what you know.” Start by putting down what you already know and already understand. If you are designing a chair, for example, you know that humans are of predictable height. The seat height, the angle of repose, and the loading requirements can at least be approximated. So draw them. Most students panic when faced with something they do not know and cannot control. Forget about it. Begin at the beginning. Then work on each unknown, solving and removing them one at a time. It is the most important rule of design. In Zen it is expressed as “Be where you are.” It works.

6. Don’t forget your goal.

Definition of a fanatic: Someone who redoubles his effort after forgetting his goal. Students and young designers often approach a problem with insight and brilliance, and subsequently let it slip away in confusion, fear and wasted effort. They forget their goals, and make up new ones as they go along. Original thought is a kind of gift from the gods. Artists know this. “Hold the moment,” they say. “Honor it.” Get your idea down on a slip of paper and tape it up in front of you.

7. When you throw your weight around, you usually fall off balance.

Overconfidence is as bad as no confidence. Be humble in approaching problems. Realize and accept your ignorance, then work diligently to educate yourself out of it. Ask questions. Power – the power to create things and impose them on the world – is a privilege. Do not abuse it, do not underestimate its difficulty, or it will come around and bite you on the ass. The great Karmic wheel, however slowly, turns.

8. The road to hell is paved with good intentions; or, no good deed goes unpunished.

The world is not set up to facilitate the best any more than it is set up to facilitate the worst. It doesn’t depend on brilliance or innovation because if it did, the system would be unpredictable. It requires averages and predictables. So, good deeds and brilliant ideas go against the grain of the social contract almost by definition. They will be challenged and will require enormous effort to succeed. Most fail. Expect to work hard, expect to fail a few times, and expect to be rejected. Our work is like martial arts or military strategy: Never underestimate your opponent. If you believe in excellence, your opponent will pretty much be everything.

9. It all comes down to output.

No matter how cool your computer rendering is, no matter how brilliant your essay is, no matter how fabulous your whatever is, if you can’t output it, distribute it, and make it known, it basically doesn’t exist. Orient yourself to output. Schedule output. Output, output, output. Show Me The Output.

10. The rest of the world counts.

If you hope to accomplish anything, you will inevitably need all of the people you hated in high school. I once attended a very prestigious design school where the idea was “If you are here, you are so important, the rest of the world doesn’t count.” Not a single person from that school that I know of has ever been really successful outside of school. In fact, most are the kind of mid-level management drones and hacks they so despised as students. A suit does not make you a genius. No matter how good your design is, somebody has to construct or manufacture it. Somebody has to insure it. Somebody has to buy it. Respect those people. You need them. Big time.

1 January 2009 at 12:51 pm 1 comment

Get a Makeover to Start the New Year

Dynamic Graphics is a well respected trade publication for graphic designers that presents the real world ideasfor creative professionals. Their makeovers contest issue is always sought after. This is an great opportunity to have today’s prominent graphic designers reinvent your brand.

So enter the 12th Annual Dynamic Graphics Makeovers Contest today. Send them your logo, newsletter, website or other design project. Their judges will select the entries with the greatest potential for improvement, and Dynamic Graphics + Create magazine designers will rework it—FREE. Results are published in our June/July 2009 Makeovers Special Issue. Download the entry form and requirements at www.dynamicgraphics.com/makeovers

Good luck. Keep us posted if you make the finals.

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30 December 2008 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

The Paradox of Choice

 In August Susan discussed Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Choice that Shapes our Decisions touching upon client’s indecisiveness because of too many options. Mark Hurst,a marketer, that I follow recently talked about the same subject with Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice , another  outstanding book on the subject. As can be the case, I am in a different business place today than in August and after rereading Mark’s blog; it all came together for me and I am on board.

Schwartz says, “Everyone agrees that having choice is better than not having choice. It seems evident that if choice is good, then more choice is better. The paradox is that this “obvious” truth isn’t true. It turns out that a point can be reached where, with more choice, people are worse off.”

People can’t ignore options. There’s more effort put into making decisions, and less in enjoying them. What’s nagging is the possibility that, if they had chosen differently, they could have gotten something better. Some social science research says that one consequence of leaving your options open is that people are less satisfied with their decisions; if a decision is non-reversible, you’ll make yourself feel better about the choice you made. If it’s a reversible choice, you don’t do that. He refers to it as accepting choices that are “good enough”.

Transfer that thought to your retail business. If you provide sales options in your retail store, SAH or website, you might think the way to attract people is to provide as many alternatives as possible. But that’s wrong. You’ll attract people, but they won’t buy as much as they would with fewer choices.

 Schwartz goes on to outline how we should do that:

“There’s no general answer except “restrict options” – though in what way depends on what you’re selling. For example, e-commerce sites and store or your SAH client presentation should be designed so that the complexity is hidden, so that people who really care, or know a lot, can find their way to the complexity, and the rest of us who can’t be bothered to find it, won’t have to.

He cites an example of home furnishing stores -stores that sell things that don’t go naturally together – like clothing and furniture. They’re selling a certain aesthetic. How does a small store sell furniture? It puts a couple of things on display, and then offers a million items in the catalog. You’re not overwhelmed when you walk in; instead, you are in an environment where that’s manageable. If you like a couch, and tell the salesperson you’re interested, and ask if it comes in different colors or fabrics, the salesperson can trot out the catalog and then you can see the infinite number of couches you can get. First you’ve been seduced into wanting a couch by what appears to be the simplicity of the decision. That’s the right way to design things in the modern world, where everything is too complex.

He goes on to discuss Amazon.com’s If you like this.. popup. I have to say that I find it annoying. I don’t find myself buying from those popups and if I do start surfing, I end up losing focus and leaving the site without buying what I intended. So maybe he has a point. Schwartz suggests somewhere in the range of six to twelve options is what most people would be comfortable with, most of the time.

The lesson here is to arbitrarily limit the number of options you’ll consider. My husband I just bought a new TV and it took us over 1 year to decide because of all the options, new models and upgrades coming on the market. I was about to throw in the towel. I should have promised myself that I would go to only two stores and then stop my research and make a decision.

That brings me to a retail trend I have been noticing lately- the limited edition, curated site or store. While this concept plays into several consumer behaviors right now it also is based on the paradox of choice. Gaby Basora, the genius behind coveted line Tucker, just launched e-commerce with a twist. Here’s how it works: Each month, there will be a limited-edition (100-150) classic blouse in a unique print that is available only on the site. That print will not be sold again, which means that if you score one, you will be the proud owner of a Tucker collector’s item, so to speak. Consider Gaby’s take. Cut back on the number of samples books you’re bringing into the house or consider a limited edition window fashion website,

For a “more is better” person like I am; I have resolved to start to editing my options in both my personal life and in working with my clients. If they came to me because I am the so –called expert: then here are the choices I recommend and I can back up. If she needs to see every fabric in every sample book, she’s not the client for me.

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14 December 2008 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

Overcoming Overwhelm

As solopreneurs we are at a high risk for overwhelm—one missed deadline by a supplier, one mis-shipped material, one mis-placed file—and our carefully planned project schedules are thrown into a jumbled mess. Or somedays it’s the thought of having to be the collections officer, the bookkeeper, the marketing coordinator, the sales rep, the office manager, etc., when what you really got into business for–the design–seems like the last thing you can get to.

And so you slip into that frame of mind, where you’re sure the next phone call is going to be even worse news, the next e-mail will just be more trouble…and your negative feelings become self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling, because when you believe you are overwhelmed, everything seems overwhelming! Your main thought is “I don’t want this, I can’t handle this,” but when anyone tries to offer assistance, the main response is often a childish “I fine, I can do it, just leave me alone.” Nice.

The thing I’ve come to realize is that “overwhelm” is often a great shield to hide behind. We can get so caught up in the drama of everything that needs to be done, of all the problems and issues and concerns, that we can use it as an excuse for missed deadlines, poor behavior, and a wide range of other bad habits. Other people, we think, will realize that these things are beyond our control because there’s just soooo much going on.

And here’s the thing, giving into overwhelm diminishes your responsibility and shifts the “blame” to others: your vendors, your clients, your co-workers, etc. It’s “their” fault you’re in this situation.

So the next time you feel yourself getting caught up in the drama of overwhelm, take just a minute and think about what it gets you. What’s the prize for feeling rushed, stressed, abused, mis-understood, etc. That it shows how much harder you work than anyone else? That you care more? That you’re more committed? Those are the most positive spins to be on it, and if true, surely there are better, more productive, less draining ways to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment! Or is it about sticking it to “them”, you know, the “them” that put you in this situation?

I found that the key to calming the storm of overwhelm is to recognize how self-perpetuating overwhelm is and how much “being the victim” helps me justify not-so-professional behavior. And that’s not what I want to be known for, not what I want to project and not how I want to live. Now I’m not perfect, by any means, and still find myself in that overwhelm state of mind. But now I force myself to be aware of it and think about what trade-off I’m making: overwhelm or ????

6 August 2008 at 3:35 pm Leave a comment

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