4 Things Clients Want Most- Part 2

4 Things Clients Want Most: The Secret to Gaining and Maintaining Happy Clients  – Part 2

The 4 things clients want more than anything else. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be revealing the 4 secrets to gaining and maintaining happy clients. It’s essential to the health of any business to leave a trail of happy clients. Without it, there’s no genuine, exuberant promotion from your clients and in this day and age, it’s vital.

#2 – Attention to Detail

The small bow on the wrapping, the lovely hand-written card, the special wine from where they first got engaged, all the little things that give the finishing touches and let clients know they are important to you. Attention to detail, small or big, has been one of the most powerful ways to positively influenced clients. Especially at wedding time, when everything is examined and noticed, what better way to show the people who have entrusted you with part of their big day that they can feel confident in their choice, knowing that you heard them, you understood them but most of all, that you took the time to show them you care.

Key: Every interaction with your client, whether in-person or over the phone, should be filled with your truly heart-felt attention. Taking note of little clues and mentions of personal likes and dislikes and then applying them to your client service will definitely not go unnoticed and will without a doubt, reinforce their confidence in their vendor choice and build you up even higher in their opinion.

Attention to detail is one of the biggest wins you can do for your client, even if they don’t mention it to you, they will certainly mention it to others.

clients want

4 Things Clients Want: The Secret to Gaining and Maintaining Happy Clients  – Part 2

4 Things Clients Want Most- Part 1

4 Things Clients Want Most: The Secret to Gaining and Maintaining Happy Clients  – Part 1

These 4 things are what clients want more than anything else. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be revealing the 4 secrets to gaining and maintaining happy clients. It’s essential to the health of any business to leave a trail of happy clients. Without it, there’s no genuine, exuberant promotion from your clients and in this day and age, it’s vital.

#1 – Fewer but Better Choices

I like to use the fast food analogy when describing this first key, easy to understand and easy to visualize:

You walk into a fast food restaurant and you look at the menu board only to be met with a multitude of similar options. Single patty, double patty, triple patty, large size, larger size, cheese, no cheese, add lettuce, add bacon, add more bacon, wheat or gluten-free…you get the picture. Now, image that same board but each option can be viewed as better than the last: Beef, Chicken, Fish, Vegetarian… so much easier to make that first choice, isn’t it? Then, once you have made that first choice, it’s not such a struggle to customize and offering fewer and different options will continue to make it easy, fries or side salad, pop or water, large or small.

Key: When presenting your services, offer fewer but better (not similar) choices to help clients make that first choice to book you. Then, present fewer options but different options when customizing.

Easy choices make for a stress-free experience and also help a client feel confident about their decision afterwards.

clients want

4 Things Clients Want: The Secret to Gaining and Maintaining Happy Clients  – Part 1

The biggest mistake creatives make

The Biggest Mistake Creatives Make

I was under the notion for many years growing up that it was an arrogant thing to admit to and agree with people that I was good at what I did. How wrong is that? The message behind it about being humble was honest but how we went about it was completely wrong. For example, when someone would compliment me on my work (as many creatives do), we begin the response by pointing out everything negative or imperfect with the work or process, trying to downplay the compliment, as if the giver was mistaken to think that it was worthy of the compliment in the first place. That is the worst thing you can do for yourself and the people around you. By saying those negative words about you and your work, you’re planting the seeds of self doubt which will slowly but surely eat away and eventually swallow your self confidence. It will suck the creative juice right out of your soul.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. Don’t pave the path to creative failure by putting yourself down.

Try this instead:

Don’t kill the compliment!

Downplaying a compliment also kills any conversation and relationship that the giver is looking and probably hoping to spark. Put that unworthy artist “my-work-isn’t-good-enough” mentality aside and instead, reply with a huge smile and say “Thank you! What did you like best about it?”.

Doesn’t that feel better! Now, instead of killing the conversation you’ve instantly made a positive first connection with your new friend AND opened the door for what could lead to wonderful things: a sale, a referral or better yet, an adoring fan who will sing your praises, re-post your work and share it with others.

Love yourself, speak well of yourself and your work. It’s a good thing to recognize your blessing of talents and it’s your job to grow them, not kill them. You’ll see that the atmosphere will be full of possibility and that’s a place everybody wants to be.

The Biggest Mistake Creatives Make

 

The Biggest Mistake Creatives Make

The Right Client: Loyalty vs. Incentive

The Right Client: Loyalty vs. Incentive

Client loyalty is huge key to long-term growth and success for your business. Far too often though, we confuse the success of sales incentives (sales, bonuses, loyalty program, cash-back, gift with purchase, etc.) for client loyalty.

Here’s a quick way to identify loyal clients and incentive clients: Loyal clients will talk about the person/business first, then the product. An incentive client will ONLY talk about the price, product or convenience of the purchase. Have you ever noticed that?

Loyal Clients:

Truly loyal clients are those people who first and foremost connect with your WHY and because of that, they willingly choose you over a cheaper deal or a more convenient option just so they can have another opportunity to see your face, have your brand experience and continue to buy from you. Treat them like gold, treat them like family and you’ll see that they are your biggest cheerleaders to their friends and anyone who will listen to them rave about you. It takes time to cultivate a relationship like this but will prove valuable over the years.

Incentive Clients:

When clients don’t know or connect with your WHY, price and convenience become the deciding factors. They will only buy when there is an external incentive: sales, gimmicks, gift-with-purchase, etc… which can in the short-term produce high sales but the downside is now you constantly have to have some sort of promotion going on in order to bring these people in.  No one knows you, connects with you or shares about you because there is no connection in this scenario and so price and convenience take over.

Loyal clients connect to why you are in business, will remain with you through thick and thin and tell the world about you.  An incentive client will only be with you until the next guy rolls around with an even better offer than you and then they’re gone.

Your time is valuable, make sure you share your WHY, let people know about it and it will attract the right clients for you: those who connect with you and why you’re doing it. Treat them like gold and invest in the people who invest in you.

Client loyalty is a huge key to long-term growth and success for your business. Don’t confuse the success of sales incentives for loyalty.

Sparkling Swarovski Client Gifts

Sparkling Swarovski Gifts: Perfect for any wedding client

Swarovski  has long been a favourite of ours and now they have some beautiful accessories to add to their collection: Guest sign-in pens and memory stick USBs, all filled and covered with sparkling crystals, perfect for any wedding. These gifts start at only $38 for the pens and USBs come in both 4GB and 8GB starting at just $69!

In order from left to right:

  1. Crystalline Lady Ballpoint
  2. Crystalline Stardust Pen Rose Gold
  3. Crystalline Stardust Pen Silver
  4. Crystalline Strdust USB Pen
  5. Stellar Pen White
  6. USB Crystalline Memory Stick
  7. Crystalline Stardust Memory Stick
  8. Lovely Crystals USB Memory Stick

Who can say no to sparkles!

Check out more Swarovski gifts at Swarovski.com

Know your ‘WHY’ and your ‘HOW’

How will you accomplish your ‘WHY’?

Now that we understand knowing your ‘why’ is the guiding facet of your business, let‘s take a look at some well-known companies and see how they accomplish their ‘why’:

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s ‘why’ basically reads like this:

Build sustainable, quality growth so we can refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, create value and make a difference.

HOW they achieve their ‘why’ is clear in every area of the company.

– Refresh the world: They carry over 500 different products ranging from water to juice to sparkling drinks, something for everyone. They also have one of the world’s biggest distributions with products in over 200 countries.

– Inspire moments of optimism and happiness: This one is clearly seen in any Coke ad. It all stems around making someone happy or turning a situation around by the iconic ‘hand them a Coke’.

– Create value and make a difference: Coke has long been a supporter of communities, charities and a helping hand through organizations around the world for various causes.

Let’s take a look at another.

Lennox

Lennox has been around since 1895 and continues to be one of the leaders in home and commercial air systems. Their ‘why’ is a little simpler than Coke’s but still important:

Be innovation leaders so people can be the most comfortable in their home or commercial space.

HOW they accomplish this is by:

– Being manufactures of energy-efficient products

– Delivering the most precise comfort available to homeowners

– Design systems that are exceptionally quiet and energy efficient

Lastly, let’s look at a company almost everyone has had some contact with in their life: LEGO!

LEGO

LEGO’s ‘why’ is also simple but so meaningful and can be summed up in the following:

Committed to the development of children and inventing the future of play so we can inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.

HOW LEGO accomplished their why is:

– Offer a diverse line of building blocks ranging from DUPLO for toddlers then LEGO for kids and adults with their various themed sets for both girls and boys.

– Build theme parks celebrating creativity and innovative thinking for youngsters

– Offering inspirational behind-the-scenes tours of the company to children, students and groups of all ages with their Lego Inside Tours

Knowing your ‘why’ is the foundation of your business. It guides all actions, offerings and decisions, gives clarity for the future and fuel for the journey.

Do you know your ‘why’?

Know your ‘WHY’

Knowing ‘why’ changes everything

Why? Why am I doing this? You may have moments in your day when those words cross your mind or you’ve felt more and more like a slave to your work. If you have experienced this, as most of us have, chances are your ‘why’ is unknown or unclear.

Why do you do the things you love? It’s a very important question. In fact, it’s THE question you need answered BEFORE you ever start a business. If you don’t know ‘why’ you do something, how can you understand your goals and build a clear and solid vision for what you’ll be spending most of your life doing?

Starting a business doing the things you love is great. Knowing ‘why’ you love those things is even better! When you understand and discover the core reason why you love the things you do, it opens a whole world of greater clarity and vision for everything you’ll do.

When you know ‘why’, you’ll have a solid knowledge of:

– Your message

– Your ideal client

– Your style

– Your marketing plan

Your ‘why’ guides your business, helps make decisions more clear and identifies a purpose that will be your message in everything you do and offer.

To start on this journey, write down all of the things you love (you know, all of the things you daydream about and google when you should be working ♥) and really think about why you love them. Break it down to its simplest form, the base reason for why you do them…that core reason is the fuel of your business and will show you the course for the days ahead.

Tomorrow, we’ll examine some popular companies who live by their ‘why’. We’ll see how everything they do all leads back to their message, their reason, their ‘why’.

3 Money saving promo products

Save money with these 3 amazing products, perfect for small business

It’s Fall and everyone in our industry knows that we’re entering prep and wedding show season in the coming weeks. With all the costs for your booth or space, decor, rentals, signs and promo materials, it can really start to add up. We all want to save a little extra money, especially when it comes promo and marketing materials. We’ve gathered 4 tried and true companies who will help you save big so this show season doesn’t have to dig too much into your pocket and won’t sacrifice quality. The best thing about each of these products is they come in smaller quantities which is always helpful. We not only want to connect you with quality companies and people, we want to connect you to helpful products and services we know you’ll enjoy.

1. GTA Imaging – Retractable banner stand with custom print

We searched high and low and could not find this deal to be beat. GTA’s Retractable Banner stand comes with your custom banner and it’s own carry case!! They are slim and don’t take up a lot of floor space, perfect for tucking behind tables and in tight spaces.

Cost is CDN$200 for 2 or $250 for one and that includes the banner and stand! Use the link here to discover their other amazing products!

Banners are true photographic Fuji Luster paper with a protective lamination to give it flexibility and protection.

Size is 30×80″ and comes with a silver collapsible stand.

2. Rice Studio Supply – Euro-Totes with custom logo

These Kraft paper totes are perfect for small handouts or order larger bags to hold products. Each comes with a cotton rope handle and our favourite, your custom foil imprint with text or logo! Minimum order is only 25 pieces so there is much room to experiment with colours or order a collection of sizes for your business needs. Click the link to see other great packaging product options, so much to choose from!

Bags range in size from 8x4x10 to 16x6x12 inches and come in black, white or kraft.

Very low starting prices and quantities over 100 receive a volume discount.

25 piece minimum order. They do not sell to the general public, you have to be a small business to order.

3. Vistaprint – Promo Oversized Cards

These promo cards are the perfect solution for take-aways, gift bag promos, thank you cards and product cards. Low quantities and great print quality are sure to please. Matte and glossy paper options with both front and back printing available, helpful templates or upload your own design make these easy to make and quick to order. Hint, if you sign up for their emails, they often have sales which make them even more appealing.

Sizes range from roughly 5×4″ to their jumbo 11×6″ cards.

Quantities as low as 50 and pricing starting at just CDN$0.30/piece (open to the public) and it comes with a standard glossy finish and blank backside. Matte and recycled paper options available as well as full colour two-sided printing.

If you order now, use the promo code BIGDEAL to get up to 40% off your order!! Offer ends Sept 21, 2015

Get ready for a new year and wedding show season with these 3 money saving products and build a cohesive brand with great materials and beautiful promotional paper and products. If you would like to share your tips on other great finds, feel free to leave a comment below.

Instagram Direct Message: Engage Followers

Are you using Instagram’s direct messaging feature? No? You should be, especially if meeting new people is essential to your business.

Not too many people realize that you can use Instagram to send a direct message to an account. One of the most rewarding things I have received from being on Instagram has been the real, yes, real relationships I have made where our first contact had been by using Instagram direct messaging. Where else in the world can you have people from all walks of life, all levels of business and every profession you can imagine, at your finger tips! What a huge opportunity for small businesses to make new connections! In a time when traditional email and even Facebook messages can get overlooked, Instagram’s capability allows you to send photos with a message or even better yet, a short intro video!

Make real connections with real people and cut through the noise.

Real life connections is what Moda is all about and we use Instagram to help us accomplish this. Meeting out-of-this-world talented people with high character makes it worth the time investment to get out there say “Hi”. It’s a joy to think of all the new people you can meet. And the bigger your network grows the more opportunities are available to you and your business. We first met Jessica Williams, Lead designer at Alvina Valenta through a direct message and we got an exclusive view into her beautiful world of lace and tulle.

Here’s a simple how-to for a direct message:

1. Make a video or select a photo to go with your message, like you would normally do when posting to your account.

2. Before you hit “share”, up at the top of your screen it says “share to followers or direct”, choose “direct”.

3. Write your message in the caption area and select a recipient in the “To:” section right below it.

4. Hit “send”.

5. How to check your direct messages: On your home screen, where you normally see all of your followed accounts’ posts, there is a mailbox icon in the top right of the screen. Any messages will be highlighted there with an orange number. Click the mailbox icon to see your messages.

Word of caution though, the quickest way for you to get blocked or immediately written off by your recipient is to make your direct message impersonal, salesy and spammy.  Treat this function like a call to your mom or to your best friend. Be real but most of all only use it to connect with businesses you actually want to have a continued relationship with.

Life is too short to make empty connections because after all, what good is your network if you don’t actually connect and know any of them?

Bite-size SEO for Pinterest

To a creative brain, SEO (search engine optimization) for my website, Pinterest, Facebook and the likes, is not the first thing that excites us about business. In fact, I would say that most of us do not look forward to the time we need to invest in learning and applying the tactics to move our business along with the times. I’ll be honest, going over even just a few steps loses me quite quickly. I’d rather be working on my photos and the “pretty” aspects of my business, like packaging and tangible materials (ask anyone who knows me), I’m a sucker for attractive packaging! More on that in a later post 🙂

As I’m sure most creative people are like me, more into the visual and less into the technical, I wanted to make the much-needed and unavoidable task of keeping up with the internet ‘Jonses’, easy by presenting some simple yet effective tips in bite-sized posts. One at a time.

Take the time to read and then go do. That seems to be how to make things stick in today’s world rather than rattling off a huge laundry list of steps. Let’s learn it so it becomes habit and not something we forget.

Tip for today: Pinterest Board Names, Board Description & Pin Descriptions

For those of you who frequent Pinterest quite regularly, you’ll notice how popular some pins get by being found when you search for them using the search toolbar. That is not by accident. There is a method to the finding. Real quick and simple, let’s break it down:

-When creating a new board, name it as close to if not exactly what it’s about. If you’re pinning wedding dresses for example, if they are all from one designer, name the board the designer and possibly include the collection. If it’s a variety of designers, name them in the board description. You may call the board “Wedding Dresses Spring 2015” and in the description you would list the names of the designers included. Use words that will describe what they will find on that board.

-When pinning the photo/content, don’t be vague in the pin description. Be specific and try to include what the pin features. Taking the wedding dress for example, you would put “Suzy Davis spring wedding dresses 2015, a-line, perfect summer wedding dress”. Also add a link to more information about your pin. A great exercise is to see what pins are getting a large number of re-pins and take a look at what they are including in the pin description, if you need help. As we mentioned in an earlier post “Features vs. Benefits” tell people in the description how this pin will benefit them, ie. save time, money, look more beautiful…to entice them to click.

Stay tuned next week as well be hearing from our good friend Feuza Reis as she shares her bite-sized SEO tips for Facebook, Instagram and more!

10 Steps to Getting Published

You have beautiful, outstanding work and want it to be seen but how do you get it from here to the pages of a bridal magazine or be featured on a popular blog?

Every wedding magazine and blog has their own style and it’s important for you to submit the right materials to help you get noticed, stand out and get published!

 

Here are 10 key steps to getting your work published and to start accumulating those tear sheets!:

1. Decide where you want to submit the material

The MOST IMPORTANT first step is to know where you want the material to end up. This is your starting point when choosing your editorial content.

Before you begin planning, contact the publisher to ask if they are currently accepting submissions and then ask if they are promoting a specific colour palette or theme for their next blog post or print issue. This will ensure that your submission will be within the general theme.

 

2. Read the submission documentation!

So many submission are thrown out because they were not submitted correctly and do not contain the requested elements. Give yourself and your team the best chance at publication by ensuring you have provided and complied with all of the stated requests or rules. If you are unsure about something, ask or look for an FAQ page on the publication’s website concerning submissions. Most will have it listed or will provide a PDF when responding to submission requests.

 

3. Get creative and pull ideas from unexpected places

Your biggest success will come when you make each shoot different from the last. If you look at weddings for inspiration, try looking at home décor or a travel magazine for new ideas. Keep the tear sheets and ideas in a small notebook you can carry around. I always bring mine when I go out for the day. Creativity strikes at the oddest of times and you want to be ready to write or sketch the ideas.

 

4. Be original…enough

Publications receive hundreds of submissions with each call-out and yours needs to stand out from the crowd. Look at what they currently publish. What style are the clothes, what lighting do they favour? By keeping their style in mind, try something unexpected or something traditional done in an unusual way.

 

5. Create an inspiration board

Use your original piece of inspiration and establish a colour/texture pallet. Use Adobe Kuler. It can create a colour pallet from a single photo giving you plenty of options with 5 different palette types, all taken from the same photo.

Putting together a visual plan of what’s inside your head will make it easier to communicate your team.

Add the images and notes on one piece of paper to see how they all flow together. Swap out what doesn’t work or make subtle changes to modify pieces.

 

6. Sketch and plan out your main shots

This will save you THE most time for shoot day. Draw on paper or gather sample photos together to show how you want your main images to look. This will cut your shoot time in half and will give your photographer a better idea of what you want to see in the final photos. It also helps to know when you’ve got the shot and can move on.

 

7. Don’t be in a rush

Allow enough time for professionals to gather their materials. Frustrations are felt when work which can normally take two weeks to create is requested to be completed in a matter of days. You want your best work to be showcased and the best way is to have clean, well thought out elements. Post production to fix sloppy work is too time consuming, make look right before you shoot it.

 

8. Choose the right people

Is Letterpress what you want for the stationery? Is it a cake that has precision piping details or a peculiar shape that requires special knowledge? Identify the key factors for each piece of the shoot and choose a professional who does that skill exceptionally well.

Make sure to check with the publication requirements to see if they have any participant rules or requests. Some publications favour teams which include current advertisers or special members.

If you have someone who wants to give a new skill or material a try, account for the extra prep time in your scheduling.

 

9. Be open to change

More often than not, your sketches and plans will vary slightly from what is actually produced.

Seasonal and product availability can sometimes be a factor. Roll with it, be open for modification and substitutions and allow for creative interpretation from the professional you’re working with.

When professionals are allowed flexibility in design, it makes them feel that they have contributed artistically to the finished piece and that makes it an enjoyable experience for all involved.

 

10. Fill out your paperwork AT the shoot

Have models fill out release forms at the shoot or send it to the agency a few days prior to the shoot date. Have the other participants fill out the necessary information before they leave the shoot. Get as much done while you have them in-person. This will save time tracking people down and delaying submission of the work.

Publications do not like chasing after release forms and participant information. Make it easy dealing with you, provide them with what they ask for and they will look forward to furthering their relationship with you.

 

Remember that the simple keys are to make your submission unique, relevant to the publisher and easy for them to process. Build consistent material not just one-hit wonders and they’ll come back for more!

10 Steps to Getting Your Work Published. Every wedding magazine and blog has their own style and it’s important for you to submit the right material to increase your chances of having your work featured and published.

4 simple things to make your photos crazy ‘likeable’

Photo Credit: Simply Sweet Photography by Nomo Akisawa

Did you just fall in love with the image above? There’s a good reason for that. There seems to be a lot of mystery around knowing which images will gain attention and garner more “likes” on your social media channels. Some images will get liked right away while others will gain the same number of likes but over a much longer period of time. Is it by chance or is there actual science behind knowing which images will gain popularity? Turns out, there is!

We recently came across a very intriguing paper released by MIT stating various graphs and figures using a base of approximately 2.3 million images used in a study to find out what exactly made an image popular. The findings are a gold mine of insight and a very helpful tool for growing your social following. Here are 4 key elements observed in their findings which I have combined with other findings:

4 keys to posting images that will win your audience and gain you more “likes” and a good chance, more followers!

1. Warm colours win 

Turns out colour does matter, it really matters, in fact. Most marketers will tell you that it’s well known when marketing to men that you use higher contrast and darker tones to attract the majority whereas with women, they tend to prefer, in most cases, far more softer and lighter colours, such as pastels. Obviously this isn’t the case with all people but on average, these are confirmed facts. Take a look on any popular wedding Instagram account and you’ll see that the vast majority of images are in this soft tone.

According to the study findings at MIT, people tend to favour colours that have warmer tones with rose-magenta being the highest. No surprise then that we are so enamoured with the colours of a sunset. The other favoured colours are warm yellow/greens, purples, reds, golds (sun-flares) and then aquas (why we flock to the aquamarine waters of the tropics).

 

2. Water, water, water

There’s no denying that we spend thousands of dollars a year to travel to water-front  tropical destinations and according to the study, seashore, lakeside, sandbars, valleys and volcanos were the highest rated natural elements in images which garnered high interactions on social media.

 

3. Objects of desire

I wouldn’t think an image of a dirty old plunger would ever beat-out a darling little puppy or the big wide-eyed gaze of a 6 week old kitten, and neither would you. Have objects that elicit positive and warm feelings to win the majority of the time over objects that cause negative or stressful feelings. For instance, a few of the lowest ranking objects were a laptop, plunger and a spatula. Avoid objects that will make the viewer think about work or unpleasant tasks.

 

4. Well-lit and well placed

Knowing a few simple rules of composition can drastically improve your post interactions. The study showed that images that were not properly lit, underexposed or poorly composed did not rank high on interactions.

One simple tip is to turn on your camera’s “grid mode”, the tic-tac-toe grid that appears in your viewfinder. Use this grid to place your subject in the cross-hairs of the grid. The most powerful spot being the upper left cross section. Placing your object directly in the centre can work and look appealing if it shows off symmetry or makes a point using the white space around it.

Make sure to capture the subject in good light and if it looks too dim on your camera, take the shot again or edit to increase the exposure.

 

We did our own test, using these tips, over a period of about a month and lo and behold, they worked! The images we posted containing these elements (warm tones, sun-flare, sunsets, soft warm tones, water and positive objects) were rewarded with a higher like count and quicker interactions. We also saw an increase in followers after these posts.

Try your own experiment using these 4 key elements and see how they compare with the frequency of interactions for your previous posts. Take note of the added element that sends you posts even higher and keep posting those. Share your findings in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy Posting!

4 simple things to make your photos crazy ‘likeable’.

3 Easy tools to help you build your brand identity

If your brand was an outfit you could wear, what would it look like? Would it be a tailored suit, clean cut in classic neutrals with elegant pearls and metallic shoes or perhaps a summer casual outfit, khakis shorts, a pretty soft pastel floral top with accessories in bright colours and fun materials? Chances are, if you can’t picture how your company, or brand, would look, you probably don’t have a clear understanding of your brand identity.

Brand identity is like a person wearing a staple outfit or uniform. Simply put, brand identity is how you use and put forth visual, tangible and experiential elements (your colours, font, logo, styling, materials, client experience) to guide people’s thoughts about yousimilar to the elements of an outfit to tell people who they are (like a police officer). Brand image is how your company or brand is perceived by others after seeing all of those visual and experiential cues. Let’s take Tiffany’s for example. Their brand identity uses: little blue boxes, clean, classic fonts, simple styling, high quality craftsmanship and personal customer service, in efforts that we would perceive their brand image as: classic, elegant, luxurious…etc.

Brand identity is one of the easiest ways for prospects and clients to recognize and connect with you. We all know that if you can get your prospect to connect with you, they are that much closer to becoming a client and more importantly, a loyal client.  One of the key factors as to why clients become loyal is because you output a consistent message in both visual and thought.

If you’re like most small businesses, you probably produce a lot, if not all of your marketing, promotional and social media content yourself. If you are unsure about how to picture your brand and if you can’t budget to hire a professional brand or graphic artist (although I do agree in working with them on major elements) here are three free on-line tools that can help you start building a visual guide to establishing your brand identity and so shape your brand’s image.

First, ask yourself or someone you know to write down 3-5 words that describe who you are as a brand (i.e. whimsical, humorous, classic, traditional, friendly…) or how you want to be perceived and start there.

Here are 3 free online tools you can use to gain a deeper understanding, to help you start building the right ‘outfit’ and a consistent brand identity for all of your marketing avenues.

1. Plyvore

This site is very useful to see how the public (they have over 20 million monthly users) views those descriptive words and how they think they should look. It’s definitely worth an afternoon to see what you look like compared to the user examples and consider how the public thinks you should look using those descriptive words.

Using the ‘outfit’ tab, enter those 3-5 descriptive words (try one at a time or all together) along with your colours (if you have established brand colours) and see the collages that show up.

Save a few collages that speak to you and your words. Also pay attention to the ones that get the most likes or interactions, to see what’s favoured and popular.

2. Adobe Kuler (if you don’t have your brand colours or want to change them)

Once you have saved a few of those ‘outfits’, also pull together a few photos (it can be of anything) that you feel have the same descriptive words as your brand. You can upload the images right into this site, (go to the bottom of the home page, under the ‘create’ tab and click on ‘create from image’). It will give you an auto colour palette based on the uploaded photo. It will even give suggestions for a “bright”, “muted” or “dark” looking palette. Colour can have a major impact on who you attract. It’s helpful to look at major brands who exhibit the same image you want and study to see what colour and tone (bright, muted, bold) they use and how they use them. Are they in everything, are they used mostly as accents, what colours are their links and action buttons?

3. My Fonts

This font website has some great search and tag sections where you can find a whole slough of fonts you can browse that match your descriptive words. Try the tag cloud to see if any of your descriptive words appear there first. If not, try the search tab at the top. This site provides downloadable fonts that can be used for a variety of purposes, you can even select ones that will appear better online versus print.

In most cases (not all), your main font is a serif (the ones with the notches on the ends of the letters ex: Times New Roman) and your secondary is a sans serif, (without the notches ex: Helvetica font). On occasion, you can use a stylized font (like a script or brush) as a signature header font, if it goes with your brand.

By starting with these simple and easy tools, we hope this will give you a deeper look into your brand identity and help you create the beginnings of a consistent ‘outfit’ that will be identifiable throughout all of your marketing so you can attract and keep the right clients for you.

 

 

3 free online tools you can use to gain a deeper understanding, to help you start building the right ‘outfit’ and a consistent brand identity for all of your marketing avenues.

Customers buy benefits, not features.

Customers buy benefits not features. What’s the difference?

Grab a pen and write down three reasons why someone should do business with you instead of the other guy? Did your answer consist of listing features about your business: facts, what you have, what you offer? Or did you mention the benefit of what you provide? What you can do for the client is not what you have for the client. There is a big difference.

You are either selling the features of your business (what you have for the client) or selling the benefits of your business (what you can do to improve the life of the client). Simply put, how is what you’re selling going to improve the life of the buyer? Will it make them healthier? Save them money? Save them time?  Those are benefits.

The honest truth is that in the beginning, customers and clients don’t really care about you or what you have. What they do care about is how you are going to make them look and feel using your products or services. Why do you buy luxury brands instead of generic ones? Often times, the quality of the actual product may only differ slightly (with some exceptions, of course) but the main reason we buy luxury brands is because of how they make us look and feel. The benefits of those brands are that they “make us more beautiful”, “feel more important”, “appear richer” and those are the reasons we buy. For example we don’t buy a wallet because it’s “100% leather construction”, a feature, unless that leather comes from an organic farm with a humane process which will tell the world by our purchase that we care for the environment, the benefit. Do you see the difference? For the most part, people buy based on benefits not on features. Take a look at your last big purchase, why did you choose that product over the runner-up? Did it save you money? Was it more convenient? Knowing the benefits of what you sell is a major key to developing a successful marketing strategy.

It is important to know why your best customers choose you rather than the other guy. Ask them why, you may discover that you’re providing benefits you didn’t even know mattered to your clients. Compare your customer’s list of benefits to what you think are your important benefits. Are they in-line with each other, are they completely different? Have you been promoting the benefits that the clients care most about?


“People don’t buy based on how a product looks, they buy based on how a product will make them look and feel.”


I really want you to understand the difference. Let’s take the selfie-stick, for example. The features of the stick are carbon fibre construction, universal clip, and comes in a variety of bright colours.

Benefits of those features are:

Main benefit of the selfie-stick = beautiful photos with you in them

carbon fibre = lightweight so your arm won’t get sore from holding it

universal clip = saves you money from buying a clip specific to your phone

bright colours = easy to find it if you lose it

See the difference? Do you want to buy a selfie-stick now?

Now, use that list of benefits, from your customers and from your own examination, to compare to your competition. Cross out the common benefits that you both offer and what you’re left with is your competitive advantage. Is it a strong difference? Can you promote these benefits to make them matter more to your clients and prospects? When prospects don’t have enough information about the benefits, they will default to the next thing that matters…money! We don’t want to get caught in that downward spiral. The ideal strategy is where your benefits are so strong and talked about that money becomes secondary, not first, in their decision process.

If you want a recharge on your business, help identify and shape a game plan to take you where you want to go, I highly recommend reading Guerrilla Marketing in 30 days by Jay Conrad Levinson & Al Lautenslager. It is jam-packed with exercises to lead you to discover what your business really needs to move forward. You can find it here on Amazon

People buy based on how you will make them look and feel. Sell your benefits, not only your features.

How-To: Gluten-free French Macarons

Client Gifts: Gluten-free French macaron how-to


Learn this easy gluten-free recipe for French macarons that will leave your clients oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing at these deliciously simple yet luxurious french biscuits. Follow the easy step-by-step and show us a photo of your beautiful creations. Use hashtag #modaclientgifts on Instagram or Twitter, we’d love to share!


The French macaron has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever attempted to bake. I have been making these tiny delights for almost 3 years now and I still kneel eagerly at the door of my oven, with nose pressed hard against the hot glass, in anticipation of watching the macaron’s signature “foot” rise from the batter and then breathe a sigh of relief, success. The key to a successful macaron is all in the mixing. Too much and they’ll come out flat. Too little and they will be too stiff to form an even dome.   These little sweets can frustrate you with their finicky ways but also give you the greatest sense of accomplishment when they come out in perfect form. Here are the tips and tricks which I have learned over the past two years from expert chefs, blog stalking, numerous taste tests of local macarons and trial and error in my own kitchen with HUNDREDS of cookies going into the trash after numerous failed attempts, all in the name of mastering these delicious biscuits.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A. 2 Aluminium baking sheets  B. A kitchen scale  C. Parchment paper  D. 3 large eggs  E. 12-14in piping bag  F. No. 11 plain piping tip  G. Powdered or liquid food colouring  H. Stainless Steel bowl  I. 45g berry sugar (or castor sugar)  J. Fine mesh sifter  K. Silicone spatula  L. 175g. icing sugar  M. 90g Almond flour

Yield: 16 macarons

Step 1. Preheat oven to 320F for a non-convection. You may have to play with the temperature to get it just right as every oven is different. Line your baking sheet with the parchment and if needed, use a couple of forks as weights to pin down the edges to prevent it from curling into your macarons. I use a doubled tray to prevent burning on the underside of my macarons. Use a wand mixer to combine together the icing sugar and almond flour . Sift the mixture using a fine mesh. If there are any large morsels, use the spatula to press them through the mesh and toss away any which won’t fit. I find this helps to give the macarons very smooth tops.

Step 2. With room temperature eggs, separate the whites into a clean, dry, grease-free stainless steel bowl. For some reason, I find they whip up better in steel than in a glass bowl. If you get some yolk in there, you may be whipping them for a very long time. Best to start over. Beat on high with a hand mixer or whisk attachment, until they become frothy, like a bubble bath. When the eggs lose the yellowish tint and it starts to turn white, now is the time to add your sugar, a little at a time until gone.

Continue to whip the eggs until they get glossy and stick firmly to the sides of the bowl when held on an angle and the whites form stiff peaks which curl slightly at the tips. It usually takes anywhere from 2-6 min. On a more humid day, I find it takes longer to get to this point. You’ll have to go by how it looks.

Step 3. Now is the time to add the colouring. I used a powder colouring but you can use liquid if you add it at the beginning. Adding the powder later will give them a stronger colour.

Step 4. Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 equal parts, folding the mixture under and over with my silicone spatula until all is incorporated and no dry bits are visible.

Step 5. Now comes the tricky part, the macaronnage (or mixing). We want to stir out some of the air to make the batter have the consistency of running lava. You have to do it by eye. Mix the batter until you can take a scoop and it runs off the spatula in a ribbon-like manner with little to no breaks in the falling batter. The ribbons should disappear back into the batter in a matter of 10-20 seconds and it becomes smooth again. If you mix it too much you will have flat macarons, too little and they will form uneven domes.

Step 6. Prep your piping bag with your No.11 plain tip and use a shot glass or small round object to trace circles on the underside of the parchment as a guide when piping the macarons. Remember to pipe a little less than the template outline to allow the batter to spread when it settles on to the parchment.

Pipe the macarons onto the parchment and give the piping tip a quick flick of the wrist at the end to help smooth the surface. Don’t worry if there are slight peaks, if you mixed the batter correctly, by the time they go into the oven they should be smooth and even.

Step 7. Give the tray a firm tap or two to help the air bubbles rise to the top and burst. You can use a toothpick to coax the larger bubbles to pop. Set the tray of macarons on the counter and leave them to air dry until the tops are dry to the touch. This is what will make the macarons rise and show the signature little ruffle at the base, called the “foot”. Depending on the humidity, this can take as little as 10 min or up to 2 hrs.

Step 7. Once they are dry to the touch, place on the middle rack of the oven to bake at 320F for 10 min and then at 285F for 7-8min. If your oven has hot spots, try rotating the try halfway through the first stage of baking to prevent burning. The foot should be visible by the end of 10 min. When done, remove the parchment with the macarons from the hot tray and set on the counter to cool. The macarons should lift easily from the parchment. If they are a little sticky, you may need to increase the bake time for the bottoms to cook completely. Some suggest popping the tray of macarons in the freezer for 15-20 min and then, using a knife, lift them cleanly from the parchment.

Step 8. To make the filling, I chose a simple butter-cream. It’s roughly a 1:2 ratio of unsalted butter and icing sugar and then a few tablespoons of Apricot jam. I like mine a little sweeter so I added a little more icing sugar to taste. In a small glass bowl, use a spatula to cream together the icing sugar and butter, then add the jam to taste. Pipe desired amount onto the cooled macarons. Place the completed cookies in an air-tight container and pop them into the fridge for 48hrs. This helps to soften the macarons and allows the flavour of the filling to permeate the entire macaron.

The finished macarons should have a delicate outer shell with a moist, not chewy interior which may look slightly wet. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!….and remember to save some for your clients 🙂

Client gifts: Learn this easy and cost-effective recipe for luxurious French macarons. They make the perfect client gift and gluten free!

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