Savvy networkers always have their networking tools with them at all times. The Networking tool kit includes: Your elevator pitch, an ample supply of well branded business cards with all your relevant details, any pertinent collateral material (flyers, brochures, etc), your marketing message for the event – three bullet points you want people you meet to remember – and a confident and enthusiastic demeanour.
2. Set Your Goals
Successful networkers always have an idea of what the goal is for each event they attend. Know, before going in, what the outcome is that you want for yourself at each event. Do you want to meet 3 people and focus on getting to know them really well? Are you looking for an introduction to a certain type of client? Are you looking for information or connections that will get you that information? When you have a plan, it is easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome. Be generous with your own knowledge and connections.
3. Arrive Early
Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy. As an early attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter and people won’t have settled into groups. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet. Many people dread walking into a room and introducing themselves to a bunch of strangers, you will not be alone in this. If you’re early, you can relax and focus on learning about the other people in the room. You will be judged by others, like it or not, based on their first impression of you, so be enthusiastic, engage in conversations, dress well, smile and be confident.
4. Ask Easy Questions & Be Genuine
Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen actively to their replies and engage fully in the conversation. Everyone knows when someone is “schmoozing”. Be genuine in your interactions with others at an event. It comes back to building trust, to building “Brand YOU”. When you are interested in learning about someone and their business you will leave a lasting impression as someone who genuinely cares. People choose to work with people they like and have an affinity with. Take care with other people.
5. Listen With Focus
When someone is speaking with you, give that person your entire focus. LISTEN ACTIVELY. Really hear what the person is saying, ask questions, engage. The greatest gift that you can give to another person is to truly hear what that person is saying. How rarely do we hear “She made me feel like the only person in the room”? Take a business card and if possible make a note about the person or conversation that will be valuable to them in your follow up.
6. Be a Giver and a Connector
Networking about is about connecting with people and getting to know them without the need for immediate gain. Be a known as a connector and you will be held in high esteem. Networking is about generosity. Quite simply, give and you shall receive. When you are generous, people will notice and respect you. And, people generally do business with people that they respect, trust, and like. Act like a host at every event you attend by connecting people. Always invite people who are standing by themselves into your group – they will really appreciate it. If you connect with someone and do something for them, your generosity will be repaid a hundred fold, often when you least expect it.
7. Share Your Passion
Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
8. Don’t Hijack the Conversation
Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
9. Don’t Sell – Educate.
The Savvy Networker knows that the immediate sale of a product is not the goal in networking. No one likes a direct hard sell. Networking is about building relationships with people who will be happy to tell others about who you are and what you do. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with those whose company they enjoy. At every opportunity, teach others about who you are, as a person, and what it is that you do. Always present a clear emphasis on the type of client that you are looking for. In doing this, you will be building a salesforce that can reach far wider than you can on your own.
10. Follow Up
After the event, send a short note to each person that you had direct contact with – not just an email – getting your brand across their desk. If there is a referral that you can supply, include that in the follow up note and mention something you discussed when you met or a blog entry or tweet of theirs you have read since. A great way to follow up with them online is not only to follow them on Twitter, but also to make a brief post about your conversation with them. Promoting other people is a great way to create value for them and build the relationship. Do not automatically send a LinkedIn or Facebook request. So often people immediately send social networking link requests to people they just met. However, different people have different policies about whom they link with. If they believe in only connecting with those whom they have established relationships, you make it awkward if you send them a link too early (which they then ignore). Best is to ask people if they would welcome such a link at this time. Be respectful of the fact that they might use social networking differently than you do.
Following up is, sadly, the most neglected part of networking. Since so many people fail to follow up, you can really stand out by just doing this simple act of reaching out to remind someone of who you are and what you do … and that you are interested in exploring a relationship.
Attending a conference with other participants from around the country such as the upcoming National Women’s Day conference or this week’s International Web Summit in Dublin opens up a world of opportunities for growth, learning, and fellowship. Why not take a little time to plan ahead so that you can maximize your results from attending.
1. Set Goals Before You Go
Before you leave for the conference, write down some goals that you want to accomplish during the conference. Be specific but holistic – not “I want 50 new business cards”! These goals could include items about specific skills you want to hone, questions you want to have answered, people you want to contact, areas for which you want to have referral contacts, etc. Set three to five goals for each day of the conference (some goals may stay in place each day) do a mind check on them throughout the day and then hold yourself accountable for them at the end of each day.
2. Be Prepared
It always astonishes me how often I meet people at conferences who can’t succinctly tell me what they do and why I should work with them or recommend them to my clients. Get your Elevator Pitch polished and ready. Be prepared to chat about your work – have three bullet points you always get across. Have your business cards to hand (not buried in your bag across the room), with strong branding and all your relevant details clearly printed. Ensure your website is up to date with your latest announcements or offers and that the branding on your site is the same as the branding on your cards. Bring samples if relevant, it’s always easier to touch or taste than to understand a waffling description. These are the most basic marketing must haves and it’s amazing how many people you meet without them.
3. Dress to Impress but Efficiently
The way you dress and your overall look tells me a lot about who you are, what area you work in and the way you do business. It may be unfair but it’s true. You need to always look professional but with your own style and flair. Plan your look for a conference, keeping in mind the people you will want to talk to and the message you want to leave with them. Hotels and conference centers are notorious for having great variations in temperature, so dress in layers that can be removed and added on. You will probably be spending more time on your feet and doing more walking than usual, maybe reconsider those killer heels unless you wear them daily. Be comfortable, you’ll exude more confidence.
4. Be Attractive
Everyone goes to a conference to learn and have fun, but no one enjoys being around people who are boorish, self-centered, or needy. Don’t be a seller or a clinger, be a conversation maker. Show enthusiasm for what you do, ask questions, introduce people, draw people into your circle and use humour to make people feel welcome and interesting. Be yourself. Have a friendly exit strategy ready it’s easy to get stuck with a group who are not helping achieve your conference goals.
5. Network, Network, Network
A conference is a priceless opportunity to make yourself and your brand known and to get to know others. You’ve already set some goals that will get you started. Now be alert to other opportunities. Always remember the person you’re chatting with may never buy from you but it’s who they know that counts. Be sure they understand what you do and the type of client you’re looking for – make it easy for them to refer you. Be a good and active listener and engage in the conversation if you want others to remember you. Get a card from everyone you meet and make a note on it as an aide memoire. Be active networking online throughout the conference, using hash tags give a live feed on the key learning points for each speaker on Twitter, give relevant updates through LinkedIn and on your company facebook pages. Comment on other posters updates, start conversations and meet up face to face.
6. Learn From Every Experience
You will learn a huge amount from attending a conference. There will be wonderful speakers with knowledge and experience to share. Take just one or two points from each session – Imagine you have to sum it up in a single tweet (Better still, send that Tweet!). You will learn a great deal as you network with colleagues. And there will be some mistakes you make that will also teach you important lessons. Learn from every single experience that you have. Keep a note of your key learning points both positive and negative.
7. Lighten Your Load
Conferences are great places to pick up “Stuff”. You’ll collect business cards, brochures, handouts, t-shirts, bags, books, tapes and random samples. Before you know it you will have more things to haul home then you can imagine. Working in Marketing I am a divil for this, I collect designs I like, marketing ideas I think might benefit clients, web shots etc. Needless to say most I never look at again. Lighten your load throughout the conference by trawling through the collateral you collect, make notes on it on the conversations you had with the provider and be ruthless in what you jettison. If you are abroad, simply post it home… It’s much easier to mail a few pounds of material to yourself than it is to haul it back on a plane. Make a note of everyone you met regardless of their value to your business, keep the cards with you. Make notes of what you promised and to whom to make follow up fast and easy. Do this at the end of each conference day.
8. Back at the Office
When you return to the office after the conference, be sure to promptly do whatever you have promised to do. Make contact with everyone you had conversations with, even just to say it was good to meet them, or to thank them for their advice. Don’t just send an email – write a letter – you are bringing your brand and message across their desk, again making it easy for them to refer you. Connect with these people on LinkedIn and Twitter using a personal message and if they accept your invitation you have access to their online networks, leveraging your relationship as a referral. Contact attendees you met based near you and arrange to meet up face to face to discover more about each other’s business. The more they understand what you do and the type of client you are looking for the more confidence they will have to refer business your way. Remember 14% of EU businesses say they will buy from an advert, 78% say they will buy from a referral. Go through the notes you made and look at where the learning can be applied – act on it!
Building a brand isn’t solely about numbers and figures. It’s about attracting an audience that will be an asset throughout your brand’s lifetime. Unfortunately, for a brand to be successful today, it has to distinguish itself amid the noise of thousands of others vying for attention on the same platforms.
With venues like Twitter and Facebook already flooded with brand marketers, how can you ensure that any outreach you do on behalf of your brand is actually working? Here are five ways to measure and monitor your brand’s effectiveness online.
1. Are You Engaging Your Fans?
Marketing is no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace; it is about participating with fellow consumers, building relationships, and serving those who share your passion. This is why you should use social media to build those alliances and show how active, responsive, and engaged you are.
Orange, a French telecommunications company did a nice job of this when it asked followers to tweet their summer plans with the hashtag #thissummer. The company then recorded the plans with a special radio voice-over effect that followers could find on the company’s blog. That generated traffic and allowed followers to identify with the company’s branding. It was also a smart way to engage users about a topic they enjoy.
2. Are You Adding Value to the Conversation?
Create content that other people look forward to getting and want to pass on to others. Healthy Choice engaged their follower base by implementing a .75 cent coupon on Facebook that would increase in value as the site grew its followers. In a few weeks the brand went from 60,000 to 70,000 fans and 60% of new fans decided to subscribe to the Healthy Choice newsletter. The company chose to bring value to its customers, by reinforcing its brand image and increasing engagement. What are you doing to add value for your customers?
3. Are You Practicing the 20-to-1 Rule?
Give and you will receive. For example, a client recently posted a video review of his experience using a product. He wasn’t trying to sell anyone on it. He was simply being helpful by sharing something that he believed was of value. He practices digital generosity so when he does ask for something, his followers and fans respond. This phenomenon is what we have come to call the 20-to-1 rule. It means that you have to make twenty relational deposits for every marketing withdrawal. If you want to build a social media platform — one where people can listen to you — then you have to be a giver, not a taker… it feels good too!
4. Are You Monitoring Feedback?
Your brand cannot be effective if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Feedback is easily accessible making it simple to correct problems if they arise. Your brand can be impacted in seconds. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Create an outpost where you can monitor what people are saying. This has three benefits: One, you can address your customer’s concerns. Two, you can receive immediate market feedback. And three, it demonstrates that you are listening and are responsive.
5. Are You Engaging Through Your Blog or Website?
Uploading a website into cyberspace and expecting its mere presence to create a following is futile. You may be coerced into thinking that flashy graphics will correlate to higher traffic, but this isn’t the case. For an online strategy to work, you need to create a site that is compelling and makes people want to come back for more. Consumers aren’t particularly interested in visiting a website because it is visually appealing, they like to feel that someone is listening to what they have to say. For example, end your blogs with a question so that readers will more likely engage with you. How are you engaging with your followers?
(This post was originally published on Mashable July 2012)
How are you sharing your blog? How are you making sure your content is found and then shared? Is your social media strategy working?
Are you promoting yourself via social networks, or are you leaving that to your readers? Do you make sure potential clients know about your blog, if you’re using it as a business platform?
Are you simply using the standard sharing options – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc – or are you thinking of ways you can be a little creative when it comes to sharing your blog socially?
Let’s face it, if you’re using your blog as a business platform then the more eyeballs it gets, the better for finding potential new clients or customers. Even a personal blog can benefit from extra visitors.
So here are a few ways you can get outside the normal views of retweets and shares, and promote your blog to a bigger crowd that may miss it otherwise.
Social Sharing Groups
The most oft-used method of sharing a blog post is via social sharing buttons on the post itself.
These are either located at the top and/or bottom of the post, or to the side. But why not take this a little further, and create a social sharing group?
For example, one of the best resources for traffic to this blog is Stumbleupon. This is a great social sharing platform that lets you “stumble” the web, and allows you to give either a thumbs up or down to the site you’re currently on (you can also leave a review if you like).
What happens then is that the site is put into the Stumbleupon library, so anyone else using the stumble option could land on your blog. If they then like it, they give you a thumbs up and your currency increases on Stumbleupon. It’s easier than it sounds, and it’s a great passive traffic generator.
So create a Stumble group.
Grab about 10 of your online friends, and help promote each other’s blogs. Anytime a new post is published, have one of the group stumble it, then you can give it a thumbs up.
You can then take this idea to other social bookmarks – Reddit, Digg, etc. Just make sure you also highlight a lot of other great sites too – don’t create the group just to promote your work, that’s just spammy.
Side note: While traffic from Stumbleupon can be great, bounce rates can be affected (the amount of time someone stays on your site), so keep an eye on that in your analytics.
Turn Posts into Ebooks
You blog. You write. A lot. Depending on whether you’re a niche blogger or not, you might have a lot of posts on similar topics, or even run a blog series of interconnected posts.
So why not turn them into an ebook?
The market for ebooks is huge, and offers a great way for you to either give back to your blog community for reading you, or sell them as part of your business offerings.
Write a crafts blog? Put together some of your favourite tips and publish as an ebook. Chef? Collate some of your favourite recipes and sell them via your blog. And so on – the possibilities for what’s in your ebook are endless.
Turn Your Blog into a Slide
One of the best platforms around at the moment is Slideshare. Essentially taking PowerPoint presentations to the next level, Slideshare also allows uploads of PDF’s, documents and other presentations.
It then turns these into slideshows that you can either grab the embed code for or download to your hard drive, as well as the normal sharing options on Twitter and Facebook, etc.
You can even add audio or talk tracks, or turn your slides into mini-movies.
So working from your ebook idea, collate some of your best posts on a topic and create a presentation. Edit the posts accordingly to make the best use of Slideshare’s capabilities (perhaps a connecting image, statistic or similar), and then upload and choose your sharing settings.
If folks like it and decide to embed on their own blog, you instantly have a new audience. That could go one step further, and businesses could pick up your kick-ass presentation and use it as a training resource.
The next potential step from that is to bring you on board to expand on your initial ideas – so now your original blog post has become both a training resource and a client lead.
Just Getting Started
These are just three ways that you could take the normal social sharing option, and add a little extra to help promote your blog.
The thing is, just because you already have sharing options in place doesn’t mean you need to stop there. The great thing with blogs is that they can be essentially timeless, given the right post and topic. Why not use that?
How about you – what are you doing to extend the reach of your blog? Feel free to share your tips on what works for you in the comments.
(This post was originally published in For Bloggers June 2012)
To most business owners who have spent years and thousands of euros building their brand and developing a client base, chucking it all away to reinvent your business probably seems like the height of insanity. And if you do it on the fly or haphazardly, it probably is. But there are many reasons to tweak your business model, or to try out a whole new one, that make perfect sense. If you do it thoughtfully, it could be the best business decision you ever make.
Here’s our guide to reinventing your business, one smart step at a time.
Know When to Make a Change
The first step is deciding if it’s the right time for a change. Carol O’Kelly, a strategic marketing specialist and business development mentor says she sees a pattern with small-business owners. “Most people who come to me have been running their businesses for about seven to ten years,” she says. “They spend the first three years absorbed in getting things started. Then they’re in a growth phase for three or four years. Then they hit a hole, can’t sustain the business or don’t find the work challenging anymore and want to try something different.”
Many factors can push a small-business owner toward reinvention – it may be a market driven push, the need to spend more time with family or lack of financial sustainability. You may just be bored. All are legitimate reasons for change. But you need to be practical, too. Any change involves risk. You need to set out very clearly why you feel you want to change and be specific about it.
Decide What You Want
After the decision is made to change, you need to decide what type of change is necessary to meet your goals. “Once you decide there’s something you can do better, you need to decide whether to make a little tweak or a major overhaul,” O’Kelly says. “You have to decide what’s best for your brand. It’s a matter of looking at your core competencies and concentrating on what you’re best at.”
“Entrepreneurs have more ideas than they have time for. The absolute first stage is deciding to cut off all those other ideas and focus on one. Making a decision to make a decision is the hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do.”
The easiest way to figure out what to change – and at what magnitude – is to work backwards. Are you chiefly interested in reducing the hours you spend in the office? Are you sick of selling office supplies and think running a dog bakery is your destiny? “Once you have clarity on your goals and values,” O’Kelly says, “you have a compass to guide you and help you decide which ideas are good and which are simply the desire to do something different.”
Follow the Plan
The next step is something every business owner should be experienced at – developing and following a business plan. You need to approach each change as if you’re starting from scratch. You need to think it through thoroughly, figure out who the competition is, how you are going to beat them and what the costs are.
Entrepreneurs and owner/managers tend to rely on intuition a lot, but you need to make sure other people think your plan is a good idea. Sit down with a mentor for an hour and justify your proposed changes.
Make the Switch
During the transition, you’ll likely be running two businesses at once as you phase out the old business model and ramp up the new one. “Sometimes reinvention means running two businesses simultaneously for almost a year,” O’Kelly warns. “It’s overwhelming, and business owners are often so excited about the new model, they want to let go of the old model. It’s not fun.”
The solution is to create a detailed exit strategy. Allow time to negotiate new leases, bring on new employees or train current employees. Be transparent through the whole process with vendors, customers, employees and, most important, your family. Give everyone notice that changes are coming, when they will happen, what it means for them and why it is important for you.
Mentor and Manage
Even those committed to sticking to their business plans can start to deviate. O’Kelly suggests bringing in outside help. “Business owners sometimes need people to bounce things off of to keep them from going off in crazy directions,” she says. “Some people go through a grieving process. They’re letting go of a piece of something they’ve built and need to process that. There’s a lot of stuff to deal with, but if you don’t, it will come back and bite you hard.”
Although the process can be rough, reinventing your business can be a rush. “It’s an exciting place to be.” O’Kelly says.
Wonderful flashy graphics, bright colors and spinning messages, they may look great but do your potential customers actually know what you are trying to say?
I think the biggest mistake we make in marketing is making everything so difficult for consumers to understand that they just don’t get what it is we do. And if they don’t understand it, they won’t feel compelled to act or buy… Marketing is about informing consumers about your products and services and telling them why they should pick you over your competitor – it really is that simple.
Are you doing that? If you are not it’s time to really analyse your marketing strategy and evaluate the point you’re trying to get across.
How do you do this? It’s by moving a customer from the point of just attracting their attention to inspiring them to actually take action – which is making a purchase from you. There are four basic (but often forgotten) steps to doing this.
Step 1: Get their attention
You have competition, it doesn’t have to be a lot of competition – but you have competition. It is up to you to get the attention of your consumers. Do you know how to do that? You speak to their need. You inform of them of the solution that you provide for that need. If you don’t provide a solution that benefits their business – it’s time to get back to the drawing board.
Step 2: Create a marketing message that speaks to them
You know your solution, and you know they need it, now you have to create a message that says “I’m your answer.” Have you done that with your marketing message? If not, why do you think they will buy your products or services? If you don’t inform them about your product who will? Craft your marketing message so it’s easy to understand and a consumer doesn’t want to walk out of a store without purchasing your product or service. Your marketing message has to speak about the solution as well as creating an urgency for the need. Have you done that? If not, again take it back to the drawing board!
Step 3: Evaluate different marketing methods
You have to examine the different marketing methods available today and really evaluate which ones will work for you, with your target market in mind and your budget in sight. Be aware of, and informed about, different marketing methods and which ones will work with your market. It’s not a one size fits all deal and these new marketing tools are changing every week. It’s an exciting time for marketing with all the new mobile and digital tools becoming available and the winning marketeer is the one who harnesses these new tools tightly and creatively for their business.
Step 4: Use marketing methods that are visible to your consumer
The reason you need to evaluate the different marketing methods and tools is so you can select those that are more visible to your potential purchaser. The great thing about marketing a small company is the ease with which you can create tightly targeted campaigns depending on your given audience for specific products or services. Don’t feel that a nationwide TV campaign is a must if a creative digital and mixed media campaign is affordable and successful. When you select the right marketing methods, you create a market position for your business that your potential consumers will see. When you select the wrong methods of marketing, you might as well throw your money out the window.
Choosing a name for your e-business requires just as much time and effort as naming a brick-and-mortar store. Here’s how to get started.Q: I’m opening an online store and was wondering how important the name of an online business really is. Should the name reflect what the business sells, or is it better to come up with something catchy and easy to remember?A: What’s in a name? When it comes to your business, a lot more than you might think. Deciding on a name for an online business is no less important than deciding on a name for a brick-and-mortar business. In each case, coming up with the business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The right business name can help you rise above the crowd, while the wrong business name can leave you trampled in the rush. With the economy in a slump and competition on the rise, now more than ever it is important that you put considerable thought into coming up with the perfect name for your business.Unfortunately, this is a task that is easier said than done. We live in an age when a business called “The Body Shop” might repair wrecked cars or sell bath products to teenagers, so before you send your letterhead to the printer, consider the following points to help you select the business name that’s right for you.The first thing you should do is determine if the name is already in use by someone else. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs forget to research this point and open a business with a name that is already in use. If the name you choose is available, you should immediately reserve the name and apply for legal ownership.Another important thing to consider, especially for an online business, is the domain name for your business. The domain name is the Web site address (or URL) a customer will use to find you on the Web. Is the domain name for your business name available? If not, is there a domain similar to the business name you’re considering?You’ll undoubtedly discover that securing a suitable domain name is actually harder than choosing a business name. Most logical domain names are already reserved, but you might get lucky. Keep in mind that domain names should be short and descriptive. Whatever you do, don’t use a domain name that is a confusing amalgam of letters and numbers that’s hard to remember and even harder for your customer to type.One good way to approach the task of naming a business is to do so from your customers’ point of view. Your business name should clearly define your offering and communicate your message to customers. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. If you were looking for a business that provides your product or service, what would you expect that business to be called? The name of your business can also spark subconscious reactions in customers that may drive them to you or drive them away.Finally, let’s talk about things to avoid. Experts agree that you should avoid using generic terms like enterprise, corporation, partners and unlimited as part of your everyday business name. These terms are fine for the legal business entity name, but are often too unclear for everyday use.Here’s to your success.
You have a great idea for a new business, you have a plan for how you’ll go about it, you may even have funding, customers and a web site design… Now you’re only stuck on one thing – choosing a name!We’ve spoken to entrepreneurs, marketers, strategists, branding experts and design gurus to get some structure on how to go about picking a name that will last, that you’ll still love in 10 years time and that will come to hold value in the mind of your customers.
1. How Do I Start?
Initially, begin by brainstorming a list of keywords that relate to your product/service, company or blog. Then hit the reference materials, look at dictionaries, thesaurus and online for more options around your chosen theme. Try to think of all different types of names, compound words like “Facebook”, blend together words like “RedStorm”, add affixes “coComment”, make up words like “Squidoo” or even phrases such as “StumbleUpon” or “GoToMeeting”Once you’ve got a healthy list, start cutting it all back. Begin by asking yourself:
2. Does It Mean Something?
Names can be classified on a continuum based on how they communicate to consumers. There’s a spectrum from descriptive names which speak directly to a product benefit or attribute, “Organic Supermarket” to empty vessel names, where it doesn’t mean anything about the product “RedHat Linux”.Descriptive names, such as “Murphy’s Ice Cream”, immediately convey information about what you do. They are simple, intuitive and help consumers easily identify the mission of your business.The downside? They can sound generic and boring, and the accompanying domain name is usually taken. They are also limiting in a fast-moving industry like technology, where what you do now might not be what you’ll be doing in a few years. Don’t forget, a name can be a prison… it can restrict what you offer and to whom you offer it as you move through the phases of development.
3. Or Does It Mean Nothing?
Empty Vessel Names can be completely made-up words (Kodak or Squidoo), words in another language “Hulu” which roughly translates both to “holder of precious things” and “interactive recording” in Mandarin), or those whose meaning is so obscure that people interpret it as an invented word “Google” (sparked from “googol,” the name for the number consisting of a one followed by a hundred zeros).Empty vessel names can be fun to say, can separate you from the crowd, and can be subtler than descriptive ones.But you may need to put in more money to get the word out initially. And a word to the wise: Check to see if the word means something in another language — you don’t want unintended meanings to make a mockery of your carefully crafted name.If neither descriptive nor empty vessel names appeal, try a suggestive name, which lies somewhere in between. Names like Apple which indirectly alludes to the simplistic and perfectionist values for which the brand would like to be known.
4. Will It Work Online?
Nothing kills a name faster than finding out someone else already has it, a competitor or even an totally unrelated business — and in the online hunt for domain names, it sometimes seems like every possible option is taken.More and more, search engine issues and domain availability are affecting the style of names businesses can launch with. Some people consciously try to create names with unique keywords so theirs will be the only result in targeted Google searches. Although it can be dangerous to go down this road as keyword incorporation can be viewed as spam by search engines.
5. Is It Sticky?
Amidst all the search engine and domain name drama, consider that names are memorable when they sound good. Names like “Bebo” and “Yahoo” are great sounding memorable names.You can also use poetic devices to ensure the names stick. Names based on rhymes (TopShop, HotSpot), repetition (Bebo,LaLa), and alliteration (FireFox,BlackBerry) tend to be memorable.For the advanced namers out there, try what’s called the “Part of Speech Test.” Look at whether potential names can be used in multiple parts of speech. These are stronger because people will use them in speech more often. LinkedIn, for instance, can be used as a noun “We connected on LinkedIn”, as an adjective “Did you look at her LinkedIn profile?”, and as a verb “I am going to LinkIn with him”. When a name passes the Part of Speech test, it becomes pervasive.
6. Is It Simple?
Any name should be easy to pronounce, easy to understand, easy to spell when you hear it, and easy to know the pronunciation when you see it written down. However, you can mitigate confusion by also holding domain names with likely misspellings and redirecting users to your correct site. Remember, although almost all single word domain names are gone, try to keep your name short as it has to appear in email addresses and on business cards as a www.Punctuation is trickier. Although adding hyphens to domain names or underscores to Twitter handles may allow you to get the name you wanted, people are likely to accidentally leave them out, especially when typing on mobile devices. You’re better off avoiding punctuation if you can.
7. Forget the Rules
If a name is really meaningful to you, it might work even if it doesn’t quite meet all the other criteria. So don’t be intimidated by the rules — just grab your thesaurus and get going. Check with friends, ask them to describe what type of business the name suggests, can they spell it? Pronounce it? And can they remember it a week later?
When choosing a name for your new company, keep these tips in mind to help you find one that will work now and in the future.Naming a business is a lot like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once it’s in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, even just a bit, the rest of the building is off, and the misalignment becomes amplified. So if you have that gnawing sense that choosing a name for your new business is vitally important, you’re right. To help you get off to a good start, read on to discover the top 8 mistakes people make when it comes to choosing a name for their business:Mistake #1: Getting the “committee” involved in your decisionWe live in a democratic society, and it seems like the right thing to do, to involve everyone (your friends, family, employees and clients) in such an important decision. This approach, however, presents a few problems. Mainly, you often end up with a consensus decision, which results in a very safe, very Vanilla name. A better method is to involve only the key decision-makers – the fewer the better – and select only the people who have the company’s best interests at heart and those who have experience in this naming process.Mistake #2: Employing the “train wreck” method of creating a nameWhen forced to come up with a catchy name, many aspiring entrepreneurs simply take part of an adjective and weld it onto a noun, essentially colliding the two words head on to create a new word. The results are names that have a certain twisted rationale to them, but look and sound awful. Someone starting a high-end, service franchise becomes QualiServe. Someone starting a classy day spa becomes TranquiSpa. Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with either word, but they just don’t go together. The problem with this approach is that it’s forced–and looks and sounds that way.Mistake #3: Using words so plain they’ll never stand out in a crowdThe first company in a category can get away with this one. Hence you have General Motors. But once you have competition, it requires differentiation. Imagine if Yahoo! had come out as GeneralInternetDirectory.com? The name would be much more descriptive but hardly memorable. And with the onslaught of new media and advertising channels, it’s more important than ever to carve out your niche by displaying your uniqueness. Nothing does that better than a well conceived name.Mistake #4: Taking the atlas approach and using a map to name your companyIn the excitement of starting a new company, many businesses choose to use their city, county or region as part of their company name. While this may actually help in the beginning, it often becomes a hindrance as a company grows and reaches farther afield.Mistake #5: Turning your name into a clicheOnce past the literal, descriptive word choices, your thought process will most likely turn to metaphors. These can be great if they’re not overly used. For example, since many companies think of themselves as the top in their industry, the world is full of names like Summit, Apex, Pinnacle, Peak and so on. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these names, they’re overworked. Instead, look for combinations of positive words and metaphors, and you’ll be much better served. A good example is the data storage company Iron Mountain, a name that conveys strength and security without sounding commonplace.Mistake #6: Making your business name overly obscureIt’s great for a name to have a special meaning or significance – it sets up a story that can be used to tell the company message. But if the reference is too obscure or too hard to spell and pronounce, you may never have the opportunity to speak to that customer because they’ll simply pass you by.So resist the urge to name your company after the mythical Greek god of fast service or the Latin phrase for “We’re number one!” If a name has a natural, intuitive sound and a special meaning, it can work. If it’s too complex and puzzling, it will remain a mystery to your customers. This is especially true if you’re reaching out to a mass audience.Mistake #7: Selecting an awkward nameDriven by the need for a domain name, many companies have resorted to awkwardly constructed or purposefully misspelled names. The results are company names that sound more like prescription drugs than real life businesses, names like KwaliTronix. It’s amazing how good some names begin to sound after searching for available domain names all night. But resist the urge. Avoid using a “K” in place of a “Q” or a “Ph” in place of an “F”. This makes spelling the name–and locating you on the internet–all that much harder.You may argue that “Xerox” and “Kodak” are pretty awkward. Keep in mind that many of the companies that successfully use this approach were either first to market or have large marketing budgets. “Verizon”, for instance, spent millions on their rebranding and education efforts. So did Accenture. So check your bank balance before you decide on these types of names.Mistake #8: Choosing the wrong name and then refusing to change itMany business owners know they have a problem with their name and just hope it will somehow magically resolve itself. Often they began with a regional name “Dublin Cleaning Services”. Having expanded nationwide they needed a change but how to do this with out losing the trust and brand value they have created over the past years of service? “DCS – nationwide cleaning”.And Finally…In the fever to start your new business or expand a current one, take time to think through some of these issues. By tapping into your creativity and avoiding these potential pitfalls, you’ll be able to create a name that works for both the short and long term. Like the original cornerstone of a building, it will support upward expansion as your company reaches new heights.
Naming your business is one of the hardest tasks when you are starting up – no matter how creative you are. Carol O’Kelly, founder and CEO of Redstorm, a marketing company in Dublin, Ireland, that specialises in branding strategy, has been an expert in naming products and companies for over a decade. Here are six steps Carol believes every entrepreneur should follow when choosing a business name:Step 1: Identify who has a voteEverybody involved in your startup has an opinion and will want to participate in the naming process. Leave the decision in the hands of those who know the business best.Step 2: Know yourselfUnderstand the essence of your company. Find a hook – something that’s compelling about who you are-and build on that from a vocabulary perspective.Step 3: Know your competitionUnderstand what other people are doing, and dare to be different. You don’t have to jump into the middle of the pack and use the same language or style as that of your competitors.Step 4: Be creativeDon’t come up with just two or three names. Push the envelope, and try to expand beyond the obvious by not getting stuck in generic naming solutions.Step 5: Do your homeworkBefore you form an emotional bond with any name, find out if it is legally available for use; and make sure it won’t translate oddly or offensively in another language and check if you can secure the domain name.Step 6: Select a nameIt’s an obvious step but often the most difficult to make. If you’re waiting for an epiphany, a moment where you say, “This is the one,” you could be waiting forever. Print out each name, in colour, on a separate sheet of paper and put them around your home and/or office. Let them catch your eye as you go about your daily tasks, look at them as “Company Signage”, live with them all for a week or so, then set a deadline, and just choose a name.And Finally…Remember, names should be simple, memorable and catchy. They should not constrict your future expansion and you should not need to educate the market expensively as to what you do.
Start promoting your business blog today with these five effective tips from TopRank: 1. Involve influential industry bloggersBy linking to popular blogs, you can gain the attention of both the influential blogger and his or her readers. But your blog won’t be the only one to benefit. You’ll be giving the other blog a little link juice – and be paying them a compliment at the same time. 2. Promote your blog via social mediaIf your organisation already has a solid presence on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels, leverage your followers or fans to promote your new blog.For example, when a new post goes live, create a short tweet with a link back to the post – and provide the link on your Facebook fan page. 3. Create “link-bait” posts and “sticky” headlinesCreating compelling headlines or posts that resonate with social web users is another way to garner attention for your new blog… who can resist a “Top 5 Tips…” article? 4. Promote the blog on your corporate websiteIt’s important to gain some valuable real estate on the homepage of your corporate site – particularly in the early stages of getting a new blog up and running. Create a button with a link to the blog to appear on the homepage, or at the least provide a link to the blog in the navigation of the site. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find your blog.5. Promote the blog offlineFor all of the online channels available to promote your blog, there are just as many offline channels to leverage. Don’t limit yourself to the online world.Instead:Add your blog URL to business cards.Promote your blog at industry events.Get print publications to pick up blog posts.Use word of mouth to let customers and business partners know of the new blog.Include the blog URL in the boilerplate of press releases (and in online releases, too).Of course, these five tips are just a few of many ways to promote and market business blogs. Whatever promotional efforts you choose, look for tactics that will help you reach business goals whether they are increasing awareness, garnering buzz in the media or driving additional website traffic.Here’s the full article from Toprank…What tactics have you used to promote your blog? We’re launching our new Social Media Marketing Service in Paril – call us on +353 1 236 0909 to chat through any questions you may have on social media or blogging.
In today’s cluttered, hypercompetitive marketplace your business can’t afford to make a poor first impression. Every touch point that leads to your company needs to impress, motivate and inspire a prospective customer. You may have a great product or service, but to be taken seriously, clients need to believe that you’re on the same playing field as the bigger guys. Even if you’re a consultant that works from a home office, you’ll need to position your company as a polished brand that touts confidence, experience and quality. Fear not. Here are five simple tips for branding your business to create the illusion that it is a global corporation with an army at the ready — all without breaking the bank.1. WebsiteYour website is the center of your brand universe. Simplicity is the key to looking like a big fish. Less is more. A clean, easy-to-navigate two-page site with useful content will make your company look far more established than a cluttered 20-page site with long-winded fluff. Design your site with the needs of your user in mind, not your ego. Sites that try to be everything to everyone will often become nothing to anyone.Choosing the right URL (Domain Name) is also a vital part of your brand positioning strategy. Your main URL should be as short as possible. Long URLs are harder to remember, harder to read and are more likely to be spelled incorrectly. There is a reason why apple.com isn’t weloveapplecomputers.com.2. Contact NumbersHow often have you seen a billboard or heard a radio spot that advertises an easily forgettable phone number? Phone numbers should be catchy and easy to remember. Using a catchy number is a great way to increase sales call volume, build brand awareness and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Not only is it easy for potential clients to remember but it’s easy for them to pass on too.3. Automated Phone SystemsCombining an easy number with automated phone systems and virtual assistants enables small businesses to look and sound professional and capable. You never miss a call, the caller’s details or their query – nor are you caught dashing into a meeting with a mobile sounding like the caller is the last person you want to speak to! This also small-business owners and employees the ability to receive calls in their home offices or on their mobile devices when they choose, while appearing to be available in their office. Which brings me to…4. Virtual OfficesEven though you might be answering a call on your mobile phone from your living room, it’s important that your customers believe they are contacting a competent established and trustworthy business. Virtual offices are an effective solution for businesses that conduct most of their day-to-day communications via phone calls and emails, and rarely need to meet their clients in their own offices. This is especially the case for smaller companies based in more remote areas who are targeting larger urban based clients. These larger clients would often rather deal with fellow urban based suppliers and a Virtual Office address can enable your brand to be seen as being London based, for example, without having to actually be there.5. The Business CardNow you have a slick website, a memorable phone number and a captain-of-industry street address. It’s time to combine all of those elements into a single tool. The business card is a vital part of the first impression experience and an instant reflection of you and your company’s work. A cheap, uninspired business card will send the wrong message to a prospective customer. Spend time designing a card. Be creative, yet tasteful. Choose a thicker card stock with a high quality finish. Remember, there is a reverse side! Use this effectively to show examples of your work, bullet points of your services, your web address etc. Make sure that you are able to write on your card – people often make notes about you or your company on the card to remind them of salient details of your service, so stay away from very high gloss finishes. Customers want to do business with companies that demonstrate their ability to provide high quality services, and a creative business card will send them that message.
Redstorm CEO, Carol O'Kelly, is a very hugely respected, award winning, keynote speaker in the areas of Personal Branding, Strategy, Communications, Executive Presence and LinkedIn. She has a huge passion for what she does and for the clients she works with. From C-Suite Personal Branding work to Communications Strategy projects and her Advisory roles, she brings all her energy, enthusiasm and focus to her work.