Your own experience is often the business coaching entrepreneurs ignore. Probably because you cannot put a price tag on it.

We can maintain the most accurate schedules, but ultimately, we cannot predict the unforeseen problems that life will throw our way. Being a CEO puts me in a position to have other levels of management extinguish most fires. But major disasters require personal intervention.

Embrace a good challenge

I actually enjoy a good challenge. Sure, money is a great motivator when it comes to resolution, but there is something about the fire in the belly, the drive propelled by business obstacles, that draws me to these events.

So much of business is second nature to me now, a challenge is actually fun.

When I look back on my career, I recall opportunities…some I created, and others I recognized and seized. Of course there were always challenges along the way.

Unfortunately, a few years back there was a set of related catastrophes so overwhelming that it shook me to the core. Yes, they concerned me, puzzled me, gave me countless sleepless nights…but they never broke me.

I was determined they would not shatter the dreams I was building into a rewarding reality. By rewarding, I mean much more than profitable. I have been able to do what I love, with people I appreciate, people that respect and share my vision.

Money made, and continues to make, many things possible, but in the words of William Henry Channing I wanted “….to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; prosperous not superior…” All of the above cannot be attained without principle or compassion.

I quickly realized that this particular chain of events would change my life forever.

Now let me say, I rarely find myself in the middle of anything I haven’t anticipated. I make it a point to know what may be coming my way. This set of horrendous circumstances, however, really did arrive out of the blue.

As I stated earlier in this piece, I love a good fiasco. Usually, I enjoy the amalgamation of creative thinking, logic and collaboration that results in a resolution that is satisfactory to all concerned. This disaster was very different.

My opponent was the ADA of a bordering state. If you haven’t figured it out by now (especially if you noticed the countless election ads recently shoved down our throats via mail, telephone, TV and internet), having or seeking a formidable title does not guarantee integrity. In my opinion, the individuals whom I was forced to deal with conducted themselves under the pretext of practicing justified prosecutorial law to conceal the slander they fabricated to advance their own careers.

Overcome it

Every attempt to seek a corroborated truth on my part resulted in another door being slammed in my face. Days turned into weeks; weeks into months and months into years. Occasionally there were glimpses of light, but hope was usually short-lived.

Knowing the truth was on my side, while worrying about individuals and families depending on me, I could never and would never subscribe to the philosophy: “if you can’t save everyone at least save yourself.” So I continued to fight. Ultimately, we reached a conclusion: not anything that even resembled an honest settlement, just an ending to a 3-year nightmare.

During the entire debacle, few of my business associates had an inkling of what I was experiencing. Neither did most of my family and friends. While, I was trapped in a labyrinth of lies, it was business as usual for everyone else… nothing to trouble anyone….except me. Many people helped my company and me in many ways. However, no one knew the depth of issues.

Naturally, there is much more to this story. It is my goal to recount it in a full, accurate and substantiated book, which I will to publish in the future. My goal in sharing what I have discussed today is simply to advise you that calling yourself an entrepreneur requires more than innovative thinking and an adventurous spirit.

Learn from it

Being an entrepreneur immediately transforms you into a guardian of sorts. You gave birth to an idea, which led to a business. Now you must be the sovereign protector of all who depend on you: from the loyal administrative assistant who has served you for years, to the brilliant young designer you hired last month. There may be times you’ll have to walk through hell to do it, but you must. Your company deserves it, your employers and shareholders deserve it and your good name deserves it.

My advice for entrepreneurs:

  • Even though you take every precaution to operate within the parameters of the law, those charged with administering the law are not necessarily pillars of integrity
  • Dishonesty is an equal opportunity destroyer, particularly when fueled by ambition
  • Truth, transparency, and a clear conscience may not help you when people are serving their own ego and aspirations
  • Just remember…if your grit is greater…if your fight is fiercer…if your principle prevails…you will eventually win

When I started my first company 33 years ago (yes, I was 18 years old) I thought being an entrepreneur was about getting financially rich. I started with nothing (actually $102) and turned that into millions of dollars and industry accolades.

The “rich” I feel today is deeper than the money that comes–then goes–and comes back again. Determination, which is realized in obtained results, especially when overcoming great odds, provides a greater feeling of wealth then flying first class or driving a race car. What a higher high? Forgive those that “try” to hurt you. Success is good revenge, but forgiving them (yes, you ADA) is the best of all!

Recently I was asked if I could rewrite my past, what would I do differently? My response? I cannot do that and do not know if I would. What I learned has made me a better entrepreneur and man. So not only do I forgive you, Mr. ADA, I thank you. You tested my entrepreneurial spirit and helped me realize true wealth is internal self-realization. Oh, and yes, I will be back in first-class soon and back on the track in my race car. This time it will be fun on many levels.

I love speaking and working directly with other entrepreneurs, helping businesses grow, and seeing dreams come to fruition. I’ve been asked what is the best advice you can give? And my reply is the absolute best business coaching entrepreneurs can find will come from within. Encounter challenges, embrace them, overcome them, and learn for true fulfillment.

About the Author, Edward DuCoin

In 1984, with less than a $500 investment, Edward launched Impact Marketing. He quickly grew the small company into a thriving organization that was later publicly traded on NASDAQ and listed as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies for three consecutive years by INC. Magazine.

Edward built his team to include more than 1,000 members and attained numerous entrepreneurial awards, including a feature in Success Magazine that recognized him as one of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs in the Country.

In 2000, after Impact was sold, Edward returned to his entrepreneurial roots and over the past six years has founded three companies and raised over $15 million in equity investment. Edward is regularly invited to speak to business and trade groups on topics such as business operational excellence and marketing.

You could be the owner of a small, family-owned architectural firm with a modest staff of six employees. Or maybe it’s just you and you’re running a Kickstarter campaign for a new product that helps keeps kids safe on swing sets. You could even be responsible for building a Fortune 500 company up from the ground floor.

Despite where you fall on the corporate (or entrepreneurial) ladder, you need the right tools to get where you’re going. And oftentimes if you dream big, you need to start small.

A well-designed company logo might just be the smallest in scale, but it is the among largest in value. Chances are your logo will precede your first in-person introduction. That makes it worth its weight in gold for any business in a world where you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Make it a good one by considering these three steps for how to design a logo the right way:

Step one: do your research

Developing a one-of-a-kind logo that tells your story while simultaneously building brand recognition is no small task. And, like anything you’ve done for your business, organization and research is a crucial first step.

From color scheme and size to font and imaging, there is a lot to consider. And there is psychological evidence to support the importance of choosing the right elements of your logo. Take color scheme for example. Huffington Post recently highlighted the use of color in an article that cites how color plays a role in emotions like excitement, creativity and trust. Companies like Lowe’s, JP Morgan and Facebook all utilize the color blue to evoke a sense of dependability and trustworthiness. Paletton is an online resource that provides users with help creating color combinations using coordinating pallets of colors. It is thought to be among the best of its kind because it’s built on a basic foundation of the color wheel, applies color theory and works with a specifically created color space.

In addition to suggestions for effective use of color in your logo, consider consulting online resource guides that offer valuable advice regarding other things to consider as you develop your ideal logo.

Aside from the fundamental elements of a logo, the most effective tool for logo design lies with you. When it comes to your business, you know best. You know the ins and outs, but most importantly, you know your why and how that relates directly back to your business plan. You know what motivates you, and understanding what you like and don’t like is a crucial element in designing a logo fit for your business.

Step two: don’t be stingy

Any smart business decision starts with a plan. A 2010 study conducted by Small Business Trends found that business owners who establish a business plan from the start are twice as likely to be successful. What does that mean for your logo design? Everything. Most business plans outline a vision, goals and the steps it will take to get there, but it is what happens every day that brings a plan to life.

A simple search of Google will reveal the resources that abound for finding logo design applications. There are free and paid options to fit most budgets, but therein lies one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It may seem tempting to cut corners. Don’t. Stick to the plan and remember the necessary steps to success.

There is a reason web sites like “Death to Stock” exist – people know when something looks manufactured. They know and they pass you up because they want something unique. People know when something is fresh off an assembly line.

Your business is worth it. You are worth it. And you are unlike any other business out there, so why not make an investment in the best first impression your business can offer the world?

Step three: Work with a professional

It might be challenging for you to admit. Because this business is not a 9-to-5 business for you. It’s your passion. It’s your dream coming to life. But just because you can crunch numbers doesn’t necessarily qualify you to design the most memorable logo for your business. And frankly, your logo is too important to risk having it not be absolutely perfect. That is among the reasons why experts who can work with you personally to design a logo to suit all of your needs is the sharpest logo design tool in the shed.

Forget working with stock photos or online “logo makers” and work with a professional who is committed to doing more than just designing your logo. Sure, they provide essential services by helping your brainstorm creative ideas, but they do more than deliver a logo. Professionals help you build your brand.

Orpical Group is a local, full-service marketing agency where we use logo design as the crucial first step for all of our clients. Unlike free and paid online logo design applications that draw from a limited selection of stock or template images, our logo designs are 100% custom-made, just like the businesses they represent.

Best of all, we walk you through the process from start to finish. And to us it doesn’t matter whether you own an architectural firm, created a new product or want to become the next Bill Gates. We not only share your belief that its possible, but we also have the tools to bring it all to life.

Get A Free Logo Design Quote

Contact us to get a free logo design quote.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a small, family-owned architectural firm with a modest staff of 12, or if you have built a Fortune 500 company from the ground up.

When it comes to big business, size doesn’t matter. Most entrepreneurs dream big. They are all in, even if that means working longer hours and forgetting to take time off. They dedicate their life to helping their company succeed above all.

You believe in your business. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have taken the leap to make your dream of becoming a business owner a reality.

Yet it is challenging, particularly as you are faced on a daily basis with choices that can make or break everything you’ve worked for.

That’s why it pays sometimes to get back to basics. Successful entrepreneurs are, by definition, driven, focused and dedicated. They know there is a difference between working your business and being your business.

So how do you stay on track and avoid the common pitfalls of entrepreneurship?

Pitfall #1: Thinking it will be easy

Solution: Be prepared to work hard

Nothing comes without hard work. While it may be true that doing what you love means you won’t work a day in your life, most entrepreneurs put in some pretty long hours.

A study by The Alternative Board found that 19 percent of small business owners work more than 60 hours a week, and only one in five small business owners work less than the standard 40-hour work week.

A whopping 97 percent of small business owners report working on the weekends as well.

Building a small business requires an investment of time and energy. It’s not uncommon to take your home with you too. Being an entrepreneur means few things out of sight are actually out of mind.

Pitfall #2: Forgetting your “why”

Solution: Prioritize work-life balance

It may sound contradictory, particularly when you’ve got your eye on the prize. You’re prepared to work hard, but burning out is a real thing that happens all too often.

That is why making time for family, reflecting on why you started your business, and doing something fun every now and then is so important. It doesn’t have to be a significant amount of time. Make sure to take time off with no laptops or phones.  Do something to help you re-focus.  An investment in yourself is a worthwhile investment in the future of your business.

Pitfall #3: Running out of money

Solution: Be financially prepared

Managing a budget and staying on track with finances can be one of the most challenging parts of starting a business.

A good first step is to make sure you’re prepared for anything that can happen. Have a healthy savings account you can draw from as you take time to figure out cash flow. While it may be trying, make a personal budget and do your best to stick to it each month.

And, perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Unless your degree is in accounting, it is invaluable to have the insight of a professional to draw on in times of financial confusion.

Pitfall #4: Giving up too soon

Solution: Build yourself a thick skin

Hearing no and encountering failure along the way is part of the game. It’s normal to learn as you go, and often that means learning from mistakes.

Don’t let a mistake break you. Instead, find ways to learn from what happened and use that knowledge to make your business stronger.

Pitfall #5: Trying to be a one-man show

Solution: Have a support system

One of the biggest and most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make is trying to take on the world of small business alone.  There is truth to the concept that no man is an island and no business person should be either.

Having a mentor or qualified business coach from the start can be a game changer. Beyond that, drawing from family and friends, as well as your personal and professional network of resources, is a great place to find support for everything you’re trying to accomplish.

Avoid forgetting yourself. Your time as a business owner is incredibly valuable. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or reflecting on the success and growth of your business.

It all starts with you.

You believe in your business. You are living your dream. Don’t let anything, or anyone, get in the way of that.

This might sound odd, especially coming from the project director of a full service creative agency, but you don’t need a creative agency to be creative.

Wait, what?!

Give me a chance to explain.

First, look up any creative marketing, advertising, or web firm. Go to our menu of services for example. Notice that our creative agency services are not simply limited to “Be Creative.”

Why? Because that would be an insult to you and jeopardize our integrity. For us to say we specialize in being creative, would be like you going to a restaurant and asking what is being served for dinner, and the chef replying unimpressively, “Food.”

The Best Creative Agencies Innovate

The Best Creative Agencies Know the Difference Between Creativity and Innovation

The best creative agencies innovate. There are a lot of people, creative agencies, and businesses in unrelated industries that readily create, but there are few that persist beyond creativity and successfully innovate.

Recently, I was introduced to an old (before my time, at least), still wildly relevant, critique on creativity while reading about autonomy and entrepreneurship in the best selling book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies.

The quoted piece was written by Theodore Levitt and published by Inc. in 1981. It is titled powerfully and effectively revealing: “Ideas are Useless Unless Used.” You could end the discussion there, but we will keep it going for the sake of fun and to help better shed a light on what a creative agency does.

I have read Levitt’s analysis on creativity vs. innovation numerous times. In fact, I have felt compelled on a few occasions to recite the excerpt to colleagues and friends. I’ve always felt that when a quote is often quoted, there isn’t anything more on that subject that should be said. So I want to exercise Levitt’s own words here:

The trouble with much of the advice business gets today about the need to be more vigorously creative is that its advocates often fail to distinguish between creativity and innovation. Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things…A powerful new idea can kick around unused in a company for years, not because its merits are not recognized, but because nobody has assumed the responsibility for converting it from words into action. The proof of their value is only in their implementation. Until then, they are in limbo.

If you talk to people who work for you, you’ll discover that there is no shortage of creativity or creative people in American business. The shortage is of innovators. All too often, people believe that creativity automatically leads to innovation. It doesn’t. Creative people tend to pass the responsibility for getting down to brass tacks to others. They are the bottleneck. They make none of the right kind of effort to help their ideas get a hearing and a try…

The fact that you can put a dozen inexperienced people in a room and conduct a brainstorming session that produces exciting new ideas shows how little relative importance ideas themselves have…Idea men constantly pepper everybody with proposals and memorandums that are just brief enough to get attention, to intrigue and sustain interest—but too short to include any responsible suggestions for implementation. The scarce people are the ones who have the know-how, energy, daring, and staying power to implement ideas… Since business is a “get-things-done” institution, creativity without action-oriented follow-through is a barren form of behavior. In a sense, it is irresponsible.

Redefining “What is a Creative Agency?”

Most people define a creative agency as a company, primarily made up of creative professionals, that offer a combination of strategy, design, technology and advertising services to clients.

To me that says a lot, without really saying anything. We should redefine what is a creative agency. Simply, a creative agency brings the best, most lucrative ideas that you are intensely passionate about to life and fruition. We do this by:

  • Supplementing new and supporting ideas to expand your perspective(s)
  • Converting your/our words into action, beautifully
  • Moving you out of limbo by delivering the rare know-how, energy, daring, and staying power that successfully implements your products/services into its appropriate market
  • Bridging the gap between creativity, innovation, and release to create a fluid path to profitability

Don’t hire a creative agency to simply create for you.

More than likely, you already have a ton of great ideas. You don’t need a creative agency to be creative. Hire a creative agency to get your creative ideas from Point A to Point B, so your market can realize your true value.

The cat’s out of the bag. The cheese is off the cracker. The secret is out.

While what happens behind the scenes to make it all measurable remains a mystery to many, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are the way of the future. Heck, they’re the way of the past and the present too, elusive as they may seem to newcomers to the online marketing industry.

Personal experience and opinions aside, more than 100 experts in the industry have agreed on a handful of secrets you need to know to create a more effective website. Does it all start with search engine optimization? You bet it does.

And it seems complicated to the average person. All the terms like long-tail keywords and backlinking and the inner workings of Google Analytics can make the whole thing seem much more transcendental than necessary to anyone who’s not an SEO expert or working for a SEO Agency. Yet that’s kind of the point. Just because electricity is complicated from an electrical engineer’s standpoint doesn’t mean the average person doesn’t know how to turn on a light switch.

The Best SEO Secrets

So what exactly are the mystical (so-called) secret ingredients for your business’ recipe for success? The experts have some pretty strong opinions that can be broken down into categories as outlined below.

Build a strategy / process and stick to it (3.63%)

According to research conducted by Small Business Trends, businesses that establish a plan from the start are twice as likely to be successful. The same can be said for having a strategy in place for the role SEO will play in your business. Taking time to put together plans for what your SEO efforts will look like and how it is managed is the first step, but it doesn’t stop there. Sticking to the plan over time, and staying consistent with it, is the most promising way to maximize its potential.

Lead (stay ahead!) of the market / change constantly / keep content fresh / measure and improve (9.33%)

Anyone with a Smartphone or table knows it’s true. Technology is advancing faster than the average person can keep up. What does that mean for SEO? SEO strategies are evolving even faster. Staying ahead of the curve by consistently producing creative, new and unique content in this constantly changing market is the only way to go.

Avoid being “spammy” (1.04%)

Google doesn’t want to upset its searchers anymore than you do, so it’s simple. Avoid techniques that could be perceived as spamming. If you don’t, Google will know and your efforts may end up being in vain.

Hire the right resources / use the right tools (3.11%)

You may know your company inside and out, but that doesn’t make you an SEO expert. And that’s ok. Turn to a reliable resource to point you in the right direction, guide the process and produce content that is more likely to reach a larger audience with a smaller investment of time on your part.

Use common sense/ there is no secret /stop overthinking it (12.44%)

True to the aforementioned light switch theory, experts agree that one of the biggest pitfalls people make in SEO is overthinking it. And it’s easy to do. But using common sense will pay dividends in your SEO effort. Think like you are the one doing the search. You are the one looking for the answer to a question. What does that answer look like? How does it read? What draws you to click on one resource over another? These are simple questions with simple answers that make SEO much less of a secret than even the experts like to admit.

Quality content (17.62%)

There is really no secret to this one. Readers want high-quality, unique content. It’s as easy as that.

Focus on networking and internal / external linking (15.54%)

Establishing an efficient network using internal and external linking methods is key. Back-linking will help keep users on your site, and external linking to reliable sources will help expand the scope of your content.

Embrace video (2.07%)

Video is among the many ways of the future of social media. As apps like Snapchat and features like Facebook Live continue to gain even more popularity, video is becoming a necessary element to effective SEO practices.

Do customer research /build relationships / be sociable /engage (13.99%)

So you have unique, high-quality content that needs to somehow make its way in front of the right people. This is where networking takes on a less technical form than before, requiring you to know your customers. Build relationships with them by being sociable and creating shareable content. Use a variety of platforms to reach as many people as possible, but don’t stop there. Most importantly, engage.

Don’t forget details (1.55%)

Little things matter. Making sure links work, landing pages look appealing and there aren’t any spelling or grammar mistakes are just as important to the overall success of marketing as anything else.

Usability / mobile friendly / make site faster/ avoid technical issues (6.22%)

If the tool is broken, users will move on. That’s why it is that much more important to make sure your web site is user-friendly. In this day and age, that makes being speedy and mobile a necessity.

Focus on keywords, particularly long-tail (10.36%)

They are not the only thing, but keywords are at the forefront of any conversation about SEO. Doing keyword research, understanding the elements of an effective keyword and using them correctly will help take any SEO effort to the next level.

If you succeed, keep the secret (3.11%)

Most experts agree, finding a SEO strategy that works for you can be hard work worth keeping close to the vest. In this case, sharing isn’t always caring for your business. If you find a secret that works well for you, use it! And share with caution.

The above categories and percentages were calculated based on 193 public responses on Quora on 12/17/2016. 

You may not agree on the station. You may not agree on the playlist or the genre or who the best rock band of all time is (Led Zeppelin, obviously). You could loathe Christmas carols or Classic Rock or whatever the office mandated soundtrack to your day is. (Anyone who’s ever worked in retail or at a bank knows this truth all too well).

Or you could be like most people, who enjoy a sampling of their favorites in the privacy of their headphones or ear buds.

Despite what your music preferences may be one thing unites us all. Music is scientifically proven to have a positive impact on productivity in the workplace. Study after study confirms the science behind it, acknowledging that the chemical known as dopamine is released in our brains when we hear music, and dopamine helps boost our mood. A happy worker is a productive worker, making music its own kind of catalyst to business success.

Combine that with a well-laid out business plan that appropriately integrates elements of the ever-evolving world of social media, search engine optimization and search engine marketing, and you have earned yourself a one-way ticket to paradise.

So the time is now to channel your inner music lover and embrace the ambiance provided by a compilation of search engine marketing tracks sure to entertain and inform you of everything you should expect from a search engine marketing company worth their weight in Grammy’s.

#1 – TLC – No Scrubs

Identify the right keywords, scrubs need not apply

Most search engine marketing services revolve around a pay-per-click model, which is exactly as it sounds. You want to drive traffic to your website, and clicks get them there.

How that happens begins with a process of identifying the ideal keywords to use that will fit best with your goals, product offerings and target audience. A big part of creating a successful pay-per-click marketing campaign is knowing what keywords do and don’t work for you.

A good search engine marketing company “don’t want no scrubs.” When it comes to hanging out the passenger side, PPC marketing can’t get no love from anything but the best keywords that promise the greatest impact for the campaign.

#2 – Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

Keep your ad campaign’s eye on the tiger

Once the most effective keywords have been identified, it’s time to play around with different configurations of PPC advertising. Trying out a few different ad sets and ad variations to see what works best for your unique search engine marketing campaign is akin to keeping your eye on the prize. That’s where a pay-per-click agency thrives by “rising up, straight to the top,” “just a plan and its will to survive.”

#3 – Phillip Phillips – Home

Bring it all home (to your landing pages)

Once the keywords are understood and the ads are created, it’s time to bring it all home. Curb appeal has its perks in the PPC management realm, where search engine marketing services companies want you to “know you’re not alone, ’cause we’re going to make those landing pages their home.” Often the landing page is just that, a welcoming beacon that can either make or break the entire pay-per-click process.

#4 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Ain’t no mountain high enough, to keep us from getting leads to you, babe

Tracking installation and testing are the next steps to making sure everything will fall into place at campaign launch. Like any of the steps in the process, this is one that involves careful consideration and collaboration from everyone on the team to make sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. A good SEM company is confident that together they can help clients reach new heights. And more importantly, track where exactly those leads are coming from. “Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no river wide enough, to keep us from getting leads to you, babe.”

#5 – The Smashing Pumpkins – Today

Today is the greatest (campaign launch day)

It’s time for all that behind-the-scenes work to go live. The keywords are in place, the landing pages are ready and today is the day. Campaign launch is the day we say “we wanted more, than your old page could ever grant you” and “today is the greatest day you’ve ever known.”

#6 – The Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn

No sleep, no sleep till we’re cooking.

Whoever said life is more about the journey than the destination knew something about the future of AdWords, Bing Ads, and other search engine marketing platforms. The work doesn’t end after launch, it begins. Search engine marketing is an ongoing process of monitoring performance to ensure the pay-per-click advertising process is doing its job. PPC management agency professionals get no sleep until the campaign is optimized and countless hours are spent working on and tweaking the ad copy, analyzing top performing keywords and adjusting bid strategy, among other things.

#7 – Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

SEM is your stairway to heaven

An effective adwords management company ultimately conducts an assessment that includes providing analysis and feedback from the overall campaign. It is at this point that pay-per-click management services are evaluated for their return on investment. It is something most PPC management companies know will “glitter in gold, because you’ve bought a stairway to heaven.”

#8 – Alan Jackson, Jimmy Buffet – It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere

And it all starts all over again tomorrow

And the best part of it all is that a good SEM company knows when its quitting time. (Aside from the overall effectiveness of search engine marketing services, obviously). They know when it’s time to put down the spreadsheets and data and let off some steam. Because tomorrow is another day.

(B2B) Business to Business marketing is often over complicated. You can spend the rest of your life reading any of the million articles or countless tutorials on marketing solutions, tips, and tools.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what your channel is. You can do B2B content marketing. Or you can invest in social media. Maybe your marketing objectives revolve around pay per click advertising. All of these are great, but none of them work without one key strategy.

Just Follow Up: The Forgotten B2B Marketing Strategy

Anyone who has ever had business to business marketing success understands and preaches the importance of the “follow up.” To reach your target sales and ultimately grow your business, a clear follow up plan and execution is imperative, especially for sustaining long-term clients and relationships.

It is important to make sure your prospects and clients believe that they are being cared for with the highest level of service and professionalism. Your purpose is to address their needs and wants, and provide a solution.  You need your clients to listen to you, and to continue to do business with you because with no clients, you really have no business.

Show sincere interest in your prospects and clients, offer adjustments, walk them through each step in the relationship, and identify their preferences.  But is it really as simple as picking up a phone and making a call?  And is there more to it than cashing in on immediate business?

What Is Your Marketing Objective?

How you approach your follow up should always depend on the nature of your business. Ask yourself: What is my marketing objective?  Think of your business as a garden and your clients as tomato plants. You can plant a seed and let nature run her course, or, you could position yourself for success by planning ahead.

Ideally, you’ll choose to position yourself for success.  The first step is to determine what type of tomato you want (your marketing objective).  Do you want to grow an heirloom tomato, known for it’s characteristic shape and flavor?  Or do you want to stick with a hybrid, and increase your yield?  It’s important to understand that in business to business marketing, before a follow up can even start, you need to have your end in sight.

Gather Your Marketing Tools

Once you’ve determined your goal, the next step is to begin to plan your attack.  What type of marketing tools will you need to get the job done?  Are you going to send an email campaign?  Are you using social media?  Do you have marketing materials to feed to the target?  Stress the importance of knowing everything about your client, so you can get what you want.  The more you know: the easier the job.

Using the tomato plant analogy, we know that we could easily plant a seed in the ground.  But wouldn’t it be nice to boast about having the best tomatoes, or clients, in town?   The way you can do this is simple. Just do your homework, gather the right marketing tools, and plan the right way.

If you were to do your homework on tomatoes, you would quickly learn that they are heavy feeders, meaning that they are plants that need a lot of fertilizer for optimal performance.  Just by doing this simple, 1-minute background check, you would know that investing in the right organic material, fertilizer, and tools would drastically help you develop the perfect bed, helping push you ahead for success, and continued performance.

B2B Sales Marketing Requires Frequent Waterings

You’ve identified your marketing objective, completed the careful steps of preparation, and you’ve planted your seed.  Your client or prospective client has a foundation, but is that enough?  Again, if you have done the proper homework you would know that your job is only half complete.

Like tomatoes, your clients need careful attention. B2B sales marketing requires frequent and deep “waterings”, or follow ups. It is important to implement your “watering” to maintain a consistent buying attitude and to prevent your relationship from rotting.  Once the relationship rots, so does your fruit.

Fortunately, you have already done your planning, so you know what type of “watering” is needed and how often it needs to be completed.  As an example, you might have a business that sells green technology, and you might have a client who is interested in buying an energy management product from you.

Already, you should have planted the seed, delivered a proposal, and discussed the opportunity by identifying the key reasons why they should buy your product.  However, the client just is not ready to buy. Perhaps they are not convinced in the technology, or do not understand how it works, so your harvest has been postponed.

Your “watering” in the example of the energy management system might be scheduling a conference call with an engineer to give a more technical background on the system, and address additional questions you might not be able to answer.  Another watering might be to offer some additional marketing materials, case studies, and white papers catered to the client’s industry.

Whatever it is, the sole purpose of the follow up, or “watering” is to provide key nurturing, so you do not lose sight of the end result—getting your sale, or harvesting the fruit.

Bottom Line: carefully planned and frequent follow ups are important, but they aren’t fool proof.  There’s more than one way to grow a ripe tomato.

Fight B2B Marketing Challenges by Pulling the Weeds

We cannot understate the importance of a scheduled follow up, but they only cover one spectrum of your business.  Unexpected B2B marketing challenges happen.  Weeds grow.  And any gardener or business leader can attest to this.

To truly “Master the Art of the Follow Up” you need to combine your scheduled follow up efforts with practice, and execution of the chance by cultivating a follow up culture.  Don’t make following up a task. Make it a habit.

What happens if the prospective client you were targeting goes cold.  Is all of your hard work just lost and tossed in the garbage?

A business unpracticed in the art of the follow up might think starting over is the best thing.  But many successful business leaders would tell you otherwise.  An unplanned follow up is important because it salvages relationships that once seemed to be dead or stagnant.  It prepares you and gives your opportunity new life, so you don’t have to simply cut your losses.  An unplanned follow up gives you a chance to plant your trimmings elsewhere and continue to grow.

In the instance with the company that goes cold, ask yourself is there anything that you can do.  Can you start a drip marketing campaign and automate a follow up for every 30-days to rekindle the relationship?  Is there another point-of-contact within the company that you can approach?  Would your prospect be interested in a more casual approach and enjoy a day of golf? A follow up might not always be planned, but it always opens new doors.

Bottom line: It’s not dead until it’s dead.  Clients occasionally require unexpected attention, so businesses need to be prepared to get their hands dirty to save their work.

You say Tomayto, I say Tomahto

When it’s all said and done, a follow up is sometimes just a follow up. And as long as there is business, there will be discussion on what is working and what isn’t.  There will always be various B2B marketing strategies—new and old—configured to execute the ever so important action of following up.

However, the most successful businesses and business leaders, the true master gardeners, are always sufficiently prepared, adaptable, and practiced.  Fostering these skills helps businesses identify exactly what is working, and what isn’t, so they can implement key processes for improvement.

Bottom line: One way or another, a follow up always delivers a learning experience.  The key is to take that learning experience and make improvements to yield better business to business marketing and sales results.

Want to know how a graphic designer and online marketing agency create their professional logo designs?

Here at Orpical we’ve done the logo design dance only a bagillion times. So, we’ve gone through all of the motions. That’s why we collected our emotions in action through a series of GIFs to showcase exactly how the best logo designers create a rock-solid brand building block.

1. Client discovery

It might shock you, but we’re a little creepy. By the way, any online marketing agency or graphic designer that tells you they aren’t creepy is either lying, or not doing their job right.

A professional custom logo is a reflection of a business’s values and culture. That’s why we launch every logo design project with some intense, deep-diving discussions with the man or woman behind the plan. Our goal is acquire as much information as possible about you, why you do what you do, and discover what makes you different.

We need to know how you think and sometimes that requires us to ask those awkward first date questions. Beyond hearing it from you, we’ll also take our research team to the streets (The Internet) and learn about your industry, your competition, and more.

Our motto is: If it doesn’t make you squirm then we can’t learn. Just kidding, client discovery is all relatively painless.

2. Set benchmark

After we’ve successfully stalked you—errr, we mean “discovered” you—we will collect a variety of resources and design elements that we think you will “Like.” Often, we set up a dedicated Pinterest board or online sharing area for your logo design inspiration. This enables us to have a visual point of reference on what to use and what to stay away from during our initial designs.

We will work with you to establish what colors, fonts, layouts, and styles you like best, and share what we feel is appropriate up front. Almost 9 times out of 10 this enables us to get very close to what you’re looking for on our first presentation. Once there are thumbs up across the board, we will start sketching and drafting our initial designs.

3. Sketch / Draft Designs

We sketch. A LOT. Before even opening up Adobe Illustrator, we play around with dozens of ideas on paper because it helps weed out the good from the bad. Plus, it makes us feel more artsy, and we have to maintain our rep as Today’s Monet.

The best logo designers come from the school of doodling during school. So, while sketching might seem like a waste of time, it really is essential in opening up the creative corners of the graphic designer’s mind.

Once we have 4-5 concepts we believe will help you truly stand out in your market, we can move into Adobe Illustrator, a vector based application, to bring our conceptualizations to life.

4. Share Initial Designs

Just because we are nerds and we have done the logo design dance a bagillion times doesn’t mean that we aren’t human. We are artists, remember? When we send our designs to you for the first time, we schedule a follow up to review our initial concepts with you. Then, we wait.

Anxiously.

Very anxiously.

5. Collect Feedback

There are usually four outcomes on the initial call when we review our logos.

  1. We nailed one concept, but just need to make a few refinements.
  2. You like bits and pieces from each concept and want to mix and match.
  3. You love them all and have no idea how to choose.
  4. We missed the mark.

For outcomes #1 and #2, we can wrap up our call or meeting in typically 30-minutes or less and move on to the next stage: Refinement.

Outcome #3 tends to result in the client asking us: “Which concept do you like best?” And while we certainly have our favorites, we choose to put our biases aside. Whether you choose to work with us or someone else, just remember this: The designer’s opinion doesn’t really matter. In fact, your opinion only matters 5-10%. The only opinions that really matter come from your target market.

If you have a hard time choosing, we defer to your market. We will set up social focus groups and ask our participants about their perceptions and opinions to help you make a more sound decision to move forward.

Outcome #4 rarely happens, but we would be misinforming you if we did not include it. Again, we are humans, the one species that cuts trees, creates paper, and writes ‘Save Trees’ on that very same paper. Even careful preparation, years of experience, and advanced resources cannot always combat the unexpected, mysterious variables characterized by the descendants of Fred Flinstone.

It might be best to use an example to illustrate how we would handle Outcome #4: About a year ago, our graphic design team in New Jersey worked with a local start up who had a very specific “vision” for their logo design. They had bookmarked fonts, icons, shapes—you name it, they had it covered. We completed steps 1-3 as outlined above and presented our work. Unfortunately, the client did not love any of the initial logo concepts.

Here’s the quote of the century from the owner that sums up logo design better than any quote we’ve seen to date:

Guys, these logos are great. You did everything that we asked for, but it’s just not what we are looking for.

Though slightly befuddled, we did not panic. What we suggested was for the client to first walk us through each concept and articulate what they did not like. We had them focus on core elements like positioning and layouts, as opposed to little details like fonts, and worked back off of their earlier examples to compare and contrast.

In addition to collecting as much feedback as possible prior to moving into refinement, we informed our client that we would assemble a second design team to work on additional concepts. The thing about design is it is ALL subjective. Think about those trendy Paint Nite sessions: A group of people gather around and all paint the same picture. At the end of the night, often after a few cocktails, everyone holds up their interpretation. What do you see? Different brush strokes, hues and saturations, and more. Every painting is the same, yet completely unique.

The same Paine Nite principle applied to logo design works wonderfully, especially when the first set misses the mark. On occasion, all it takes is a second pair of eyes to get a logo design right.

6. Refinement

The moral of the above story is that you want to make sure you work with a designer or marketing agency that is flexible. Fixed bid contracts without revisions and unlimited concepts rarely work.

You are not going to bowl a strike on every frame. With that being said, an edit-friendly agreement and strong communication will almost certainly result in “picking up the spare” or “cleaning things up.”

Logo generators, stock logos, and those $49 logos outsourced overseas either do not give you the opportunity to make changes, or they make the process of implementing your changes cumbersome and frustrating. A good professional logo designer will give you a custom bowling ball (one where your fingers actually fit in the holes), and they will let you throw the ball as many times as you need. Hell, they will even throw bumpers on the lane if it is needed.

6. Deliver Final Files

In this case, the logo designer is Mufasa. Simba represents ALL of your final logo files, including the Adobe Illustrator source file and scaleable vector formats. If someone says you only need a JPEG or PNG, run. Fast.

This stage usually marks a triumphant day and consequentially results in the entire village celebrating and bursting into song and dance. Celebrate—good—times—come on!

Get A Free Logo Design Quote

Contact us to get a free logo design quote.

This is a post that most web designers don’t want you to read. It’s a short, sweet guide that will hopefully help you avoid common “slip-ups” that even the smartest business minds make when hiring a web designer.

Don’t Be Stingy

We all love bargains. Websites are no different. Some people try to justify stinging out on a website by telling themselves the less they pay the more they save. Not exactly. When you nickel-and-dime, you actually run the risk of having a crappy, unprofessional website, perhaps missing content, or lacking functionality. All of which ultimately cost you money down the road. Here a some sample ways of “nickel-and-diming” and their pitfalls:

  1. Hiring someone overseas at a stupidly low rate: They probably don’t speak the same language as you. They sleep when you’re awake. You sleep when they’re awake. The project will take forever. You’ll get the bare minimum. Who wants to be a Benedict Arnold anyway?
  2. Using a free website builder: Just because you can get access to the software to design and develop your own website, doesn’t mean that you should. Case and point: I have Quickbooks, but I don’t do my own bookkeeping. You might learn the software after buying your WordPress for Dummies, and upload some content in a Free Template, but will it really get the job done right? For more info on this see my post on Custom Vs. Customized Web Designs.

Don’t Drop A Fortune

Paying an extra $10,000 on your site won’t change the fact that you will still be getting a page marked up with HTML and styled using CSS. Don’t get taken advantage of. But also don’t expect a designer or design firm to work for pennies. Work with someone who is fair, understands your budget, and is willing to be flexible to help you achieve your digital marketing goals. Your web designer should a “partner in profitability”.

Consider All Your Website Needs

Do you need a logo? Copy and content? Multimedia such as videos? Should the content be optimized for search? Custom scripts? Integrations with third party applications? Need a content management system? These are just some of the many questions any good designer and developer will ask before getting started.

Be sure to work with someone who can provide related services, or at the very least, has access to solutions. Think about when you go grocery shopping. Isn’t it a pain in the rear end when you do your bulk shop at WholeFoods, but then have to stop at Trader Joe’s to get those delightful Triple Ginger Snaps? Same thing goes for web design. Consider working with a full-service firm if you need more than just the basics to consolidate your expenses.

Gearing up for a new web design & want more advice? Sign up for a 30-minute conversation and receive a free estimate for a custom website.

Our team of web designers at Orpical Group work closely with you to outline a web design plan that makes sense. At no-cost, we’ll discuss your ideas for your project and will provide an itemized estimate for a custom website.

Roger Goodell photo courtesy of Zennie Abraham.

As if they haven’t gotten enough bad press following wife beating and child slapping scandals, the NFL gets another black eye following what has come to be known as deflate-gate. Is it a black eye though? Maybe to some but the entire incident has garnered unprecedented press for a game that is traditionally TV’s biggest event of the year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, NBC sold every available commercial spot for Sunday’s Super Bowl, ultimately establishing a new revenue record. Reportedly, each 30-second spot sold for an average of $4.5 million, to generate more than $360 million for Comcast-owned NBC. “This is a record day, I believe, in media, and certainly for our company,” Seth Winter, executive vice president of NBC’s ad sales for news and sports, said during a conference call with reporters. “The NFL and the Super Bowl remain the platinum standard of all media.” This year more than ever, those sponsors will get their money’s worth and they can all thank the New England Patriots and Deflate-gate for the favor.

Bill Belichick

Let’s face it, a villain always makes for a better story.

This year, the Patriots and their deflated balls have become everyone’s villain. The boys from Boston, already known for bending if not breaking the rules, unknowingly transformed the trash-talking, or in the case of Marshawn Lynch (aka Beast Mode)…non talking…brash, bullies from Seattle into the good guys.

This story has generated interest from so many angles. On January 21st, it trumped the President’s State of the Union address as the lead story on four major networks. On the lighter side, Deflate gate provided fodder for late night talk show hosts as well as a very funny skit on Saturday Night Live. From a more serious perspective, it focused a spotlight on the already questionable leadership of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Following his poor handling of the Ray Rice-Baltimore Ravens debacle, it was Patriot’s owner Kraft who came to Goodell’s defense…the same Kraft that played a major role in approving Goodell’s stout salary package of approximately $44 million last season. According to GQ writer, Gabriel Sherman: “So large is Kraft’s sway with Goodell that one veteran NFL executive likes to call him ‘the assistant commissioner,”

From a PR perspective deflate gate is a polarizing promotional pearl.

It has expanded an already massive interest in the Super Bowl, generated thousands of hours of TV, radio, and internet discussion, and pages and pages of press while prompting usually reserved personalities like Joe Montana to comment on the situation. Just about everyone has taken a side. The best part about deflate-gate? It promises to be around for a while. People will want to see if Commissioner Roger Goodell has the inflated balls to stand up to his good friend, Robert Kraft’s deflated balls. We’ll be watching.