Most people think that branding is simply a logo or a slogan. And while these two elements do form a part of your brand, branding itself goes far beyond these two elements. When we talk about branding we are talking about every aspect of customer experience, across multiple touch-points. Whether it's your logo, website, social media, staff uniforms, advertising or even the way in which you interact with your customers.
Branding is how you are perceived by your customers. It's what they think when they hear your company name, service or product. They'll consider the factual information but also the feel of your company, emotive things, like if they consider you a luxury brand or a low end copycat.
So why is branding so important to businesses? And how can you build a strong brand to withstand the test of time?
Today branding is more important than ever. But good brands don't emerge overnight - they are a result of sustained planning, development and growth, which involves numerous steps and a desire to push the brand forwards. Many small businesses completely neglect the idea of branding without realising the power it can have. Good branding does more than increase the value of the company, it motivates employees, guides the employees and aids in acquiring new customers.
Today's blog takes on a slightly different approach. today we're going to talk about investing and my recent foray into stocks, shares and investment funds. This may appeal to many business owners who want to find the best ways to look after their profit and maximise their earning potential. So this week after much research into investing I have decided to take the plunge, the only way to truly learn is to immerse yourself in the subject.
So with no experience and little guidance I jumped right in spreading my money evenly over 4 separate investments. One cautious, one positive and one adventurous fund with the rest being invested in shares of a well known UK company. Now as we have all seen on TV the excitement of the stock exchange and films like the wolf of wall street etc, I'm sure you are all expecting some exciting ups and downs and buy/sell actions on a regular basis. This couldn't be further from the truth unfortunately.
In real world investing, when you are only leveraging modest amounts of money, it is more of a buy and forget policy. To get any realistic return on investment, the funds will have to mature for 5 years or more and the shares? Well they won't provide me with any tangible profit for at least 18-36 months, so not the excitement the TV promised. Another thing to be clear about is the "profit" claim, this is of course only if things go well, there is a very real risk that I could lose all of my investment, such is the nature of the game. However, what little knowledge I do have through the research I conducted, guided me to diversify my portfolio and encouraged me to spread my risk in four areas of differing risk levels.
It is of course early days and this investment strategy will take time to prove itself. If there are many major updates in this area I will gladly share my insights, or if you have experience with investment and would like to share your insights, then I would love to hear from you.
Highstreet Media Corby (HSM) announced today that it will be attempting to drive reform among business in the East Midlands. Company officials are expected to meet with Maplefields Circle of Friends officials later this month to discuss providing free support to the charity and help raise their profile.
HSM officials expect this to improve the charities support in the local area and raise money for the great work that they do. In addition to free marketing, HSM are offering free graphic design services to the charity which will hopefully generate a solid brand around which they can secure a stable future.
The purpose of this is twofold, first and foremost it is the ethos and beliefs of the HSM brand that simply being successful in business is not enough, everyone has a responsibility to look after each other in the community. Many businesses find themselves in a good position financially, however do little to display social conscience. HSM hope by doing work for such good causes, they can spearhead change in local business, encouraging them to give back to the community and thus improve the lives of everyone within it.
More information is expected to be released following a meeting later this month (June 2017).
About Maplefields Circle of Friends
Maplefields Circle of Friends is an award winning nonprofit organisation. Their aim is to enhance the lives of those living with additional physical and mental health needs and their families. Specialising in complex social, emotional, behavioural needs but inclusive to all.
For more information, please visit http://www.maplefieldscircleoffriends.co.uk
About Highstreet Media
Highstreet Media is a graphic design and marketing company. It specialises in web, print, design and marketing services for business’. We are committed to integrating ourselves in the communities where we are based, by helping grow the communities for the good of all within them. We currently have 2 branches in the UK, both in hard working areas that have been hit by the fall of industry (Steel and Coal). For more information, please visit http://www.highstreet-media.co.uk
REJECTION, we have all experienced it right? It is a painful experience for some, acceptance or affirmation that what they do is never good enough. For others, rejection can be seen differently, a mechanism to learn and move forward positively and realise the previous efforts did not work. It can evoke huge emotions and affect confidence.
To reject, we consciously dismiss another person’s thoughts, ideas or experience. Within life we experience rejection all the time, no more than when applying for jobs. How then do we best deal with rejection and overcome that fear of failure? Before I answer this, I provide a little personal story.
I remember applying for the RAF back in 2003 and being rejected via a letter for having a welsh accent and nasal inflection that reduced my ability to communicate effectively (would not happen today). This was a huge blow to me as I had a dream of becoming a pilot in the RAF since I was 13. Initially I was distraught and could not accept that the RAF did not want me. I was in denial of course, frustrated I questioned my whole being and in retrospect I was realised I was highly sensitive to rejection.
There are people who actively avoid any type of rejection and will only do jobs or activities that sustain their comfort as to avoid the thought or potential realisation of rejection, as it is just too much. There are also individuals I will call ‘strivers’ who continually strive for excellence and become so obsessed to avoid making even the simplest of mistakes to avoid any critique and fear failure. These people ‘strive’ past their successes and never actual acknowledge their success and ability for fear of complacency and ultimate rejection!
I was once a ‘striver’ and the stress and fatigue I experienced in attaining standards that I could not sustain in the long term led to a bout of depression. I now realise that in life we must enjoy the journey or path that lead us to success. Failure is part of that journey, to learn and adjust and become more competent in our abilities. The reward of success should not just be a 30 second adrenalin rush or brief pat on the back that usually results in an anti climax, but the journey to that success should be have fulfilment and joy, bringing others with you, making success even richer when it comes.
Once you recognise that you fear either rejection or failure then you can overcome it, avoiding it will stop you achieving your goals and ambitions. Here are 5 steps to think about which may help:
We must remember rejection and failure are normal, we must experience it to move forward, however do we choose to look at it negatively and avoid moving forward or embrace it and build a stronger and more confident me! I am now in the RAF and used my rejection to focus on strengthen my weaknesses but importantly now enjoy the journey!
Nick Carter MA LL.B MCIPD
HR Consultant & Leadership Specialist
When we get into the office in a morning many of us have the same old routine, get our lunch in the fridge and grab a brew before logging on and checking our emails. So rather than getting into the office and hitting the ground running, we are all checking our emails, waiting to be dictated to by the requests that have manifested in the form of little electronic time thieves.
I invite you to challenge the norm, and fight this heavily ingrained routine. The problem with opening your emails first is that you're allowing others to set your agenda, establish your priorities and determine what you spend your energy on first thing in the morning. By being drawn into this way of operating you may be really busy all day, and even please some customers with your service and productivity. The problem is, you haven't prioritised your business and worse still, you've done nothing to actually drive it forward.
I challenge you to live by a different law, come in and don't check your email for the first hour of the day. Instead use this time to tackle the things that are your real priorities and to drive your business forwards. Trust me, anything that comes into your inbox can wait an hour. Live your work life by the following motto 'today isn't over, until tomorrow is planned' and you won't go far wrong.
What on earth does that mean I hear you asking. Well, I'm saying for you to set your priorities for the next morning before you leave work, while it's fresh in your memory and you can be objective about the importance of your tasks. By doing this you save time in the morning, rather than trying to reacquaint yourself with the tasks you have outstanding, enable yourself to hit the ground running by preparing adequately. You'll avoid having your priorities dictated to you, meaning you can focus on what really matters, and drive your business to the next level.
There is nothing more precious to a business owner than time. You can earn more money, you can't earn more time. many people say that if they had more time they could build their business into an empire, or how they could do this and that. Well the time to stop dreaming and start achieving is now. You can have a brilliant business in just 60 minutes per day. How? let me tell you.
First you need to highlight the single most important aspect of your business. If you think it's attracting and keeping customers, then you're bang on the money. The most important part of any business is selling the products/services to the clients and building a relationship with them. This doesn't mean take their money and run, invest time in your customers, have meaningful relationships where you meet their needs and in return earn the profit you yearn.
Now you know the single most important aspect of your business, all you have to do is set aside 1 hour per day where you devote all your attention to that goal. Don't get caught up in the humdrum busyness of your day to day business, dedicate yourself to the primary goal. Sure the other work needs doing to, but for one hour a day give your 100% undivided attention to finding new clients and improving relationships with existing clients. This will boost your business and keep driving it in the right direction, learn to delegate and prioritise your workload in such a way that you spend more time ON your business and less time IN your business.
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Often people make business far harder than it needs to be. By over-thinking our strategy, complicating our product line and worrying too much about our staff.
All of these are important issues, but they pale into insignificance compared to the one area of business that contributes most to success.
That area? Time spent daily on Sales.
I have mentored literally thousands of business owners and almost every time I see a business not performing it is primarily because they are not spending enough hours in the day on the sales process. Either refining how they sell or getting out there and getting face to face with potential customers.
How much time should you spend on sales? Well if you're running a new business you should devote at least 80% of your day to it.
If you're an established business you should spend at least 30% of your day on the sales process or connecting with customers.
Does that sound too extreme? It shouldn't. What else could you be doing that is more important?
When you spend most of your time selling opportunities quickly arise. Doors open. Checks get written. Good things happen. When you stay in your office talking to your staff, pontificating over product details, admin and minutiae you may progress your business, but you won't greatly increase your revenue.
Only going out there and asking more people to buy your stuff will make a real difference in the long run. All else is tinkering at the peripheries of success.
All great companies are great at sales. They grow huge not just because of the quality product line (the world is filled with companies with great products that are struggling to survive) but their utter commitment to selling it better than their competitors. And getting out there and asking people for their business.
Here's an exercise well worth trying: Sit down and work out what the average amount of time is your people are spending each week either directly selling or on improving the sales process. Then set a goal to triple it, starting next week.
Sales should be the absolute centre of what your company does, every single day. Ignore it at your peril. As the founder of IBM, Thomas Watson once remarked, "Nothing happens until somebody sells something."
If you're not happy with how fast your business is growing, this is the area you should focus on, first, second and third. Get out there and ask more people for money. It may sound crude, but ultimately an obsession with sales is at the heart of all sustained business growth.
This article is an edited version of Siimon Reynolds' piece for Forbes Magazine.
In our last post we discussed the fact that we are growing our business, and wanted to share insights and advice with you guys on what has worked for us. We want you to be able to avoid the pitfalls and have as straight a line to success as possible. Don't get caught with your proverbial pants down, be prepared.
This means ensuring you're always presentable, approachable and have branded materials on hand. This is crucial as you are your brand, people will not differentiate you from your business, you will be indefinitely tied together in the eye of your consumer. The first impression a potential customer makes of you will undoubtedly impact whether or not they see you and your business as something they value, by being approachable and presentable you will portray that your business in goof hands. The people you meet will make a snap subconscious judgement of you, a presentable and approachable person portrays an organised, well-run and helpful organisations.
Next thing you need to be conscious of is your brand touchpoint.. A touchpoint is anything that represents your brand (including yourself) that a potential client comes into contact with. Research has shown that it usually takes 7-11 touchpoints for a potential customer to be comfortable enough with a brand to buy from it, assuming that all these touchpoints meet the clients expected standard of course. So the importance of having something to hand your potential clients is undeniable, for instance by meeting a client and giving them a brochure or business card with your website address or phone number could provide you with 3 touchpoints instantly.
So as you can see being caught without materials can potentially harm your sales potential, for one you will seem unprepared and secondly you will miss out on 3 touchpoints straight off the bat. It is however important that these touchpoints are memorable and well done, again image is important as potential customers will subconciously judge your materials as they will have judged you.
We are always keen to help businesses and discuss marketing further, our preferred method is over a coffee, but we are just as good over a phone, email or if need be carrier pigeon.
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As some of you may already know, in the latest chapter of our business we've recently opened a new branch in Corby, Northamptonshire. To celebrate our new studio we will be bringing you some new and exciting things over the next 12 months. We'll start slow by offering some insights and advice that have lead us to be able to grow our business and presence in the UK relatively quickly.
To grow your business in today's crowded market it's crucial you're online, I don't care if you're a baker, hairdresser or a carpenter. If you don't have an online presence, you're already behind. In the words of Bill Gates "by the end of 2002, there will only be two kinds of business, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all." claims Karen E. Spaeder. To me this means a quality website. Sure people get by with Facebook pages, but people always google you and look for a true online presence, without it your business can seem very low end and unprepared. After all the whole purpose of social media platforms for business is to engage with potential customers and direct them to your website, which is essentially your shop window, the home of your brand.
I know what you're thinking, shock horror the web design company is pushing the importance of a website right? But I can promise you that regardless of what industry I was in, I would give you the same advice. The first thing anyone does when they hear about a new business or product is get out their phones and search for them, if you're not on that first or second page of a search engine, chances are they'll get board or more likely be distracted by your competition who have a good web presence.
Do a little test for yourself search for a key product/service you offer and your target location. If you have a web presence already, give it a try and see what you find. If you're not finding yourself on the first two pages at least, then you're unequivocally missing out on business opportunities and revenue. A strong website with well managed and maintained SEO is a must, I kid you not. In fact even if you don't have a website perform the same search, and check out your competition.
We will put out more useful and in-depth information over the coming weeks, make sure you sign up to our newsletter and not miss out on these business gems.
In an ideal world, businesses would be able to choose to try out all available marketing solutions for their advertising needs…however that takes more than a lot of money, it also takes an awful lot of time which let’s face it, is just as precious a commodity as hard cash is.
When it comes to searching out the most cost effective marketing solutions for business, print is an often ignored and yet extremely high performing option. Consider the various forms in which print marketing is available.
Posters are traditional and affordable and yet have such high impact that they are an excellent investment for a small business. This applies most especially for local independent businesses where special offers need to be advertised and passing trade needs to be targeted. Flyers perform a similar function but in a more mobile fashion; you can leave them in places where you know they need to be found…they can be dropped in the letter boxes of people you know will be interested in them and they can be tailored for maximum impact at low cost. Get the design right and a simple advertising poster or flyer can become an object of desire…we’ve all seen them haven’t we? Those old, framed posters? Look to the classics to see why these examples have lasted down the years and why we still want to look at them.
People like brochures. They just do; there’s something luxurious about them and a company offering their products or services for viewing within the pages of a high quality, glossy brochure just screams style. Brochures are kept on coffee tables, they’re handed round, they’re shared… they’re always in sight unlike a web page which is easily lost in the melee which is the internet and the competing ads and entertainment on offer there.
The Business Card
“Here’s my card.” Three words which we’ve all heard and know we’ll hear again. Why? Why don’t people say “Here’s my website?” because they can’t. People don’t lean over and type their own web addresses into other people’s devices in order to successfully network do they? No. they hand over a small, robust card with all their details clearly printed on it. The business card transcends the internet by dint of its simplicity and the polite insinuation…that it offers something you need.
For impact and cost effective outreach, print remains the most reliable and comfortably familiar way to speak to your audience…the written word is powerful no matter how it reaches it’s audience and people will almost always stop to read advertising matter when the layout and the images therein are appealing. This is where you can benefit from knowing your audience…a good knowledge of what will be visually appealing to your targets will be invaluable when designing your print marketing…speak to the experts and don’t be afraid to stand out…that’s what will get you where you want to be!
Get in touch with our team to find out how we can help promote your business through low cos advertising
Brochure Printing, Print, Printing, Stationery Printing, Flyers & Posters