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2018 Is Here. Are You Market-Ready?

2018 Happy New Goals on Purple Background

Will your current marketing collateral help you reach your goals in 2018? Becoming more profitable means selling the right services to the right clients. Determine what you need to sell (and to whom) and then communicate in a clear, concise and professional manner: “THIS is how my magic happens.”

Every piece of collateral that speaks for you should CONNECT with the right target and CONVINCE them to give you a try: your logo, cards, brochures, mailings and website should be an instant and convincing expression of your ability to fulfill your customer’s desires. Your messaging should be rich with images that communicate immediately and emotionally, paired with words that explain how you are different, better, and the one they’ve been looking for.

Now is the time to ask yourself: will your current marketing materials support your 2018 goals or hold you back? Appeal to a specific audience with a targeted postcard or brochure. Update your website to reflect the company you want to be. You can even update your logo/tagline if what you have doesn’t resonate with the right people.

Most importantly, don’t forget to represent yourself with quality. Know that do-it-yourself marketing tactics mean an immense loss of time and a suite of materials that are unprofessional and disjointed at best. At worst, they have bad spelling and grammar, lack clear messaging, or miss the target audience entirely. Start 2018 smart; hone your cohesive, professional corporate identity with C. Liston Communications.

Give Thanks. It Pays.

Horn Cornucopia with Gold Coins

Giving thanks is always the right thing to do, but there are a couple of weeks in November when it’s suddenly and briefly in style. But for business owners, there’s a reason to keep the Thanksgiving spirit throughout the year. Let’s look at how giving thanks is profitable:

Marketing is really hard for a lot of small businesses. It takes time away from crucial operations tasks, has wildly varying options and pricing, and can feel like a lost cause if your competition has billion-dollar marketing machines. So you have to be smart about it, and the first step is knowing that the least expensive sale to make is to an existing customer.

Why? Because this target audience doesn’t need a dozen repeated impressions before they recognize your brand. They know you. At least, they think they know you. Reach out to them to let them know about your new offerings, new information to make the most of their already purchased products/services, or to find out how you can can serve them better. That last idea is routinely overlooked, but consider how asking about their ideas for new or improved offerings can both cement a lifelong relationship AND possibly better your products or services for all of your clients/customers.

Also, staying involved with a customer greatly increases the value of the product sold. It says you take pride in your brand and you stand behind your work. Even if you intended to do your job perfectly in the first place, things aren’t always perfect– staying in touch positions you to know about possible failures and to fix products and relationships. Recognizing the crossover between customer service and marketing is a turning point in developing a devoted customer base.

How do you market to these current customers? Email, mail, social media, and websites are all useful, as long as the messaging is correct. Support, educate, and remind customers that you are there for them and everyone wins.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And if you haven’t already, embrace an attitude of gratitude. It’s good for everyone.


Beware the Bad Touch

Oh, the horror!

In both networking and marketing advice, you’ll hear as many references to “multiple touches” as you will see bags of candy corn on sale racks on November 1st. It’s great advice, because in both areas businesspeople are trying to turn first meetings into lasting and beneficial relationships. What gets mentioned far less often is the chilling effect of “Bad Touch,” which is when well-meaning businesspeople send touches that have the opposite of their intended effect.

The most common Bad Touch is inattention to detail or quality. It’s a horror when potential clients and customers receive business cards, brochures or mailers with poor grammar or spelling, and/or distorted or cheap graphics. EEK! No matter your business type, the message you’ve just sent about your disregard for detail shrieks from the printed page. Customers may not precisely pinpoint your errors, but if they value quality, an uneasiness with your brand and company will creep into their subconscious. On the web, such mistakes are much more terrifying. First, because websites touch potential customers many times. And second, because web errors can be corrected instantaneously. When the errors are allowed to linger, the very scary “you don’t know or don’t care” message is magnified.

Other Bad Touch examples include fragmented branding, misdirected messaging, and… well, think of it like this: Picture the poor, misunderstood Frankenstein monster, trying earnestly to communicate with townspeople, but lacking the skills to do so. WIth each greeting, he gets farther away from his goal of connecting with people until the relationships are irreparably damaged. Don’t Frankenstein your communications. Let us hook you up with the right skills and thinking to get people running in the right direction.

Have a Happy Halloween, everyone!

Print is Dead. Long Live Print.

As the world of online information began to explode, decades ago, it was clear that the need for and use of print would change. It has. But far from being unnecessary, printed materials have come to make their content more special simply by virtue of being in print.

Print is the phoenix of marketing communication. Why?

FOCUS. Print gives specialness to chosen content and helps readers focus on specific information, instead of swimming in a sea of never-ending and unpredictable content.

TACTILITY. The touchable nature of print—which we once took for granted—engages an additional sense and connects on a deeper level.

RESPITE. Print gives its audience an opportunity chance to unplug, to escape the assault of lighted, flashing screens.

Online sources are invaluable in many cases, like up-to-the-minute information and specific searches. Consider, though, that what makes them great for some messages also makes them less significant if you have an audience you can reach physically.

If what you have to say is special, consider print.

What’s True About Time

Our Project Management software peppers me with wonderful sayings about time. They are old or new, pithy or acerbic, and sometimes quoting recently-fallen celebrities. It seems anyone who was ever successful has had something to say about using time wisely. They make us laugh, think, refocus, and appreciate how so many diverse personalities struggle with the same issue. But the quote that makes me stop and take notice is this one attributed to Lao Tzu: “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.” … Whoa. That is not just true, but a revelation for time-challenged people.

When we allocate our time, we must note the difference between what we want to do and what we just say we want to do. A lot of things we SHOULD do are hiding in the latter category, safe from ever getting done because of a seemingly logical physical excuse. “Oh, if only there were more hours in a day!”

Business owners frequently say that they don’t have time to create or update marketing materials. Unless you are completely booked with the exact kind of clients you want, skipping this work is a poor allocation of your time. With more and better clients, you work less, make more money, and have more… TIME. Mind blowing, right?

We get it. Self-promotion is scary, time consuming, expensive, and/or doesn’t pay off immediately. But if you find the courage—and a little bit of time—we can help with the rest. Connect, convince, and find yourself in that place where you ARE completely booked with the exact kind of clients you want.

Love vs. Respect

Call Me!

What do you want them to FEEL about you? 

When you’re trying to connect to an audience and convince them to try or buy, what matters more: love or respect? Much like human relationships, the answer probably hinges on what relationship you’re looking to have with your product. If you’re being courted by a smartphone, for example, creating respect is a necessary part of the messaging. Love and sex have certainly found their way into the marketing (thank you, Apple), but there’s no question that the goal here is an intimate, long-term commitment.

Your relationship with a Big Mac, on the other hand, is probably more of a lusty, impulsive, hate yourself in the morning kind of thing. Its not wrong—we’re only human after all—but we’re likely going to make ourselves feel better by calling it love. Heck, let’s put “love” right in the new tagline. Who doesn’t love love? But respect doesn’t really enter into this “come hither” conversation with the buyer.

When you’re shopping services (like print/web marketing firms), how you find a match still depends on what kind of relationship you want to have. Will you get picked up at a bar, seek a match online, or be introduced by a friend? (No offense to those who met their perfect spouses in bars, but you should admit you got lucky.) Decide who is worthy of a first date and what you want to learn on that date. And, of course, figure out how far you want to go if the date goes well. We on the other side of the table need to think this through too…When I’m really connecting with a potential client, I can get pretty deep into ideas and sketches before the commitment. (But I’m a decent judge of character, so I usually respect myself in the morning.) A great first date leaves both parties wanting more, in a good way.

if one night stands with various marketing people have you feeling like you have nothing solid to show for all the time and expensive meals, and you want to have a conversation about love and respect, call me. I’m listed.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.


Setting the Stage

Make sure your marketing efforts have direction.

Who’s directing your play? Small businesses don’t always begin with a clear vision, marketing budget, or plan. Most of us add experts and services along the way, eventually assembling a cast of characters that can become muddled or unmanageable.

Diverse experts can be good, since specialists bring expertise, but be sure you have someone directing the cast with a cohesive script. If there is no one behind the scenes directing the dialogue and tactics, the message and purpose is lost. Set the stage for your success by creating intervals to assess and direct the efforts of all your players. For help plotting your organization’s plan, connect with C. Liston Communications.

Marketing Resolutions


The holiday season offers welcome downtime for most busy professionals. But in these quiet moments away from day to day business operations, success-minded decision makers are reflecting on their goals for 2017. Now is the time to ask yourself: will your marketing materials support your growth or hold you back?

C. Liston Communications is helping clients assess and plan. We recently did a site rebuild for a client who had been holding back for over a year on revamping their old website for budget reasons, only to have their highly paid sales staff report that the delay was costing them tens of thousands of dollars. Potential clients who liked the sales pitch naturally went to the website for more info, where they saw an out of date presence that caused them to doubt the company’s ability to deliver.

Make sure your marketing materials are helping, not hindering. Contact CLC today.

BRANDED: 10 Points of Logo Design

BLOGHACK: If you already have a logo you love, skip to 9 & 10.

  1. Know yourself: Your logo is a visual handshake you’ll use for years. What messaging does it need to carry to accurately represent you?
  2. Know your audience: What are your target demographic’s preferences? Fancy or simple? Masculine, feminine, or neutral? Traditional or modern?
  3. Keep it simple: Do you need a company name, graphic, and tagline in your logo? How can you simplify your mark to reduce visual clutter?
  4. Be consistent: You’ll need to employ slightly different versions of your logo in different places, but make sure that they all have a cohesive look; make multiple impressions, not different ones.
  5. Get vectored: You’ll need a vector logo (eps/ai) file for most offline marketing applications, so make sure your logo is designed that way—or have it redrawn as a vector.
  6. Color: You’ll spend a lot of time choosing colors that communicate what you want, especially the psychological aspects. Make sure you know how your colors will look across platforms, and identify the exact Pantone, CMYK, RGB, and Hexadecimal to deploy across print and web. But don’t rely on color: create a logo that has clear and pleasing shape when it is used in only one color or reversed.
  7. Shape & proportion: Will you go long, square, round, or with the more traditional 3:2 or 4:3 rectangles? Consider how your logo’s shape adds to or detracts from your message, and how it will fit in all the places you need it to go.
  8. Uniqueness: The hardest part of logo design is doing something excellent that hasn’t been done before. Do some research in your region and your industry, as well as considering confusion that might be created with global brands.
  9. Have formats ready: Don’t miss a marketing opportunity or deploy the wrong logo format because you can’t find the right logo file. Have a collection at your fingertips in a zip file: the all color format files (see #6), plus grayscale and one-color (and reversed, if applicable), vector and web-optimized, as well as any options with different layouts or taglines you might need.
  10. Know that it’s never too late: Even companies with big brand recognition are not afraid to refine their logos to reflect changing times and tastes—or changes in themselves! If you’ve significantly tweaked your business, consider tweaking your logo to help customers see that you are evolving to serve them better.

Need help thinking through how a logo can best represent your organization’s brand? Ready to create a new logo or refine an existing one? Connect with us now.

Back to School, for EVERYONE

Do you still get that shiver of excitement when Summer turns to Fall? We do. The American school system has conditioned us to expect new challenges at this time of year, so it’s a great time to think about what you don’t know, but SHOULD.

Long after graduation there are new things to learn, as the world changes at an immeasurable rate. Marketing is arguably the fastest changing part of business, because it taps into communication systems that never stop evolving. Understanding new opportunities is time consuming, but understanding what marketing tactics are the best investment for your business is crucial.

You probably don’t need every service, but don’t assume that if you ignore new media and marketing opportunities, they’ll go away or become irrelevant. (Someone said that about social media once, you know.) If you need help exploring new opportunities and/or deciding how best to mete out your marketing budget, connect with C. Liston Communications.