Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Mainly graphic and media designers are using Photoshop for image editing. This is partly due to the high price, but also due to the complexity of the software.
If you have access to Photoshop (no matter which version – an old one is perfectly fine too), you can seize the opportunity to acquire some tricks with the software.
Brighten dark images
If a photo is too dark, you can brighten it easily.
- Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast
- Image > Adjustments > Levels
- Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight (to brighten dark areas)
- Image > Adjustments > Curves
Adjust images that seem dull or too bright
- Image > Adjustments > Auto Levels
Usually works without problems and is the easiest way for Photoshop beginners.
- Image > Adjustments > Levels
- Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast
It is probably best for you to just try out these few functions in order for you to understand how each one works.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The color orange
- Orange combines the energy of red with the happiness of yellow. Usually, the color symbolizes joy, sunshine, the tropics, enthusiasm, fascination, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement and inspiration.
- For the human eye, orange is a very hot color. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red.
- As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and also stimulates the appetite.
- Orange is the color of autumn and harvest and symbolizes strength and endurance.
- Design and Advertising
Orange has very high visibility and is therefore used to attract attention and highlight the main elements of a design. The color orange is particularly suitable for the advertising of food and toys.
- Color gradiations
Dark orange represents deceit and mistrust.
Red orange is associated with desire, sexual passion, pleasure, dominance, aggression and drive.
Gold is associated with illumination, wisdom, wealth and high quality and evokes the feeling of prestige.
The color brown
- Brown represents health, authenticity, down-to-earthness, steadfastness, simplicity, convenience and reliability.
- Brown is a warm neutral color that can stimulate the appetite.
- Color gradiations
Red brown is associated with autumn and harvest.
Get to know more about the colors red and yellow.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
When working in advertising, sticking to the truth is very important. However, many advertisers do not care about this simple rule.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
However, for many applications you use every day, there are great alternatives that are even for free. Here are some of the main software alternatives for Windows:
Office suite (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations)
Software package that is comparable to Microsoft Office. Contains a word-processing program (like Word), a spreadsheet program (like Excel), presentation program (such as Power Point) and others.
- Google Docs
Similar to Microsoft Office, but it is used online in the browser. A Google account is required. The created files are stored online and can be opened from anywhere (Cloud Computing).
Very useful, but not a real alternative to OpenOffice or Microsoft Office.
Creating and editing PDF files
Creating PDFs and other files (such as PNG, JPG, BMP, PCX, TIF, PS, EPS). The tool is controlled by the print function.
- FreePDF Ghostscript
Create PDF documents.
Both software packages must be installed. The configuration is done automatically.
- Free PDF to Word Doc Converter
Converts PDF files into Word files.
Playing DVDs, videos and audio files
- VLC media player
Plays almost any audio and video formats.
- Kantaris Media Player
Plays DVDs, videos and audio files. Version 0.6.6 works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista or 7.
Email (instead of Outlook or Outlook Express)
Offers great expansion possibilities (with so-called add-ons https://addons.mozilla.org) and therefore offers everything Outlook has to offer.
Online-mail program with more than 7 GB of memory. Provides labels and grouping of emails into conversations.
- Mozilla Firefox
Very popular browser that can be extended easily with a variety of add-ons (https://addons.mozilla.org/en/firefox).
- Opera browser
Good performance, but cannot be extended.
- Google Chrome
Very stable and incredibly fast, but sends your data to Google.
The Mac browser is also available in a version for Windows. However, the browser offers no advantages over other browsers.
Programs for burning CDs and DVDs
Burns CDs, DVDs (including double layer and rewritable), Blu-Ray and HD DVDs. Reliable and not overloaded with extra features.
Burns DVDs, CDs, Blu-Ray and HD DVDs, and supports popular image formats.
With this software you can edit photos, create images, convert several files at once, use layers, fonts and effects. GIMP is developed by a large community.
For organizing and archiving photos, but also for image editing.
The free anti-virus programs protect against viruses and some also against spyware, but they do not protect against phishing attacks nor do they check your emails for viruses.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The meaning of the color yellow in Eastern Europe and the U.S.:
- Yellow is the color of the sun and is associated with joy, happiness, intellect, energy, honor and loyalty.
- The color yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, generates muscle energy and stimulates mental activity.
- Pure yellow is an eye catcher, which is the reason that cabs are painted yellow. Often, yellow on a black background is used as a warning.
- Design and advertising
With yellow, certain parts of a design can be highlighted.
Yellow is used to produce positive and friendly feelings.
Especially when advertising children's and leisure products, the color yellow is used.
For advertising more prestigious, expensive products for men, yellow should not be used, as men rather see the color yellow as "childish".
Also when advertising products, where safety and stability are important, you should avoid the color yellow, as it is considered unstable and sponatenously.
- Color gradiations
Color gradiations of the color yellow do not look very appealing, as the color loses its serenity and starts to look dirty.
Dull yellow stands for warning, jealousy, illness and decline.
Light yellow is associated with freshness, joy and intellect.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
- Try out different things.
- Motivate others (such as your employees) to try new things. Routine kills creativity, because there is no need to be creative when doing routine tasks.
- Be curious. Complacency, indifference and disinterest disable creativity.
- Take failures and errors into account.
- Isolate your creative sessions from your usual work.
- Provide a relaxed environment, so that creative ideas can flourish. Avoid bad conditions, such as creative sessions in the office or a meeting just before lunch break.
- Avoid bad structures in your company, such as when the right conditions are missing to incorporate creative innovations or when transparency and internal communication are poor or absent.
- Sharpen your attention and look at things unbiased. Set thinking blinds you and will keep you from seeing variations.
- The problem itself should have priority.
- Track your goals persistently and stay tuned for ideas. Having an idea does not mean that it is also useful. Ideas must be developed first, which can take time.
- Focus on one idea and work it out.
- Put faith in yourself and also in your employees. Lack of confidence prevents creativity, because anyone who does not have confidence in himself does not take a risk and is convinced to fail.
- Do not rest on your success. Instead, follow developments and trends.
- Turn off competition. Competitive pressures make it difficult to collaborate and communicate and therefore creative work.
- Do not offer rewards to your employees. Rewards only raise the interest in the premium instead of solving problems.
- Do not work under time pressure. Instead, plan for enough time and take enough breaks. Time pressure can be deadly for creativity, since ideas need time to mature.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Designer have to deal with colors a lot. Most of the time, the clients do not even know. Color can improve a design or it can destroy it.
Colors have different effects. Depending on the country and the cultural background there is a different color symbolism. The color symbolism mentioned here only applies to Western Europe and the U.S. only. Not every color has the same meaning in every culture.
Different color combinations can also have different meanings. In addition, there are different shades and hues for every color - whose meaning can also vary a lot.
The color red
- Red is the color of blood and also fire. This, it is associated with danger, war, energy, strength, power, passion, love, desire and determination.
- The color red is an emotional intense color: It enhances the breathing rate, the human metabolism, as well as the blood pressure.
- Red has a high visibility, which is why traffic lights, stop signs and fire extinguishers are painted red. Red is also used to show courage and is found in many national flags.
- Design and advertising
Red emphasizes texts and pictures. It is often used as an accent color, in order to inspire people to make a quick decision. Red is the perfect color for "Buy now" or "Click here" buttons on advertising banners on the Internet or on websites.
In advertising, red is often used to evoke erotic feelings, for example with red lips or red nails.
Since red is associated with energy, the color is often found in advertising for sports, cars, games or energy drinks.
- Color gradiations
- Light red is associated with sexuality, passion, empathy, love and joy.
- Dark red stands for anger, rage, willpower, spite, courage, desire and leadership.
- Pink is associated with romance, friendship, love and passivity.
Friday, October 1, 2010
There are hundreds of different techniques. Some of them require groups with several people others can be executed alone. There are written exercises, word games or improvisation.
One of the most known creativity techniques is brainstorming. Brainstorming can produce a variety of new and unusual ideas within a short period of time. If you are at the very beginning with your problem solution, but you have a fairly specific question, then brainstorming can prove very useful. You can actually use this technology in all areas. Brainstorming works especially well when experts from different areas have to work together. However, complex problems cannot be solved easily with brainstorming. Also when having tension within the group, brainstorming is not appropriate.
You need four to 20 people and a moderator, who will record every suggestion and idea. You also need a flip chart or a board to list all ideas.
The brainstorming session consists of two phases, the production of ideas and the evaluation phase.
It is important that no criticism is allowed during the phase of idea production! No idea can be evaluated here. All suggestions and ideas are welcome, no matter how wacky they are. Ideas that were already mentioned can and should be recombined. The phase of idea production should not take more than five to 30 minutes. In most cases, however, after five to ten minutes people make less suggestions. Do not stop the production of ideas yet! After a short time, more ideas that might be even more original will come up.
All ideas are written down immediately by the moderator. He/she should not be involved in the brainstorming and under no circumstances should he/she make own suggestions. However, the moderator should make sure there is a pleasant atmosphere. He/she should also encourage the group to participate. The moderator has to ensure that ideas are not actually evaluated during the idea production phase. All ideas have to be recorded by him - without hanging anything and without making comments.
After producing idease, you should take a break. This break can be a few minutes or even an entire day.
During the evaluation phase objective criticism is welcome. All ideas are evaluated and are studied regarding their feasibility. The moderator must ensure that the evaluation stays objective.
You can decide at the beginning, if you want to make a pre-seleciton or if the group will evaluate every single idea. You can also choose an order or choose only a single idea and have it developed by the group.
Variations of brainstorming:
- Stop and go brainstorming
Go back and forth between idea production and evaluation (each phase should last five to 10 minutes).
- Destructive/constructive brainstorming
Divide the phase of idea production. First, negative (destructive) suggestions are made that prevent a solution. Then, constructive ideas are produced.
- Single brainstorming
Here you do the entire brainstorming session alone, without a group. The process remains the same. Do not evaluate your ideas during the first step. Before evaluating, take a break - even one or two days is fine.
- Sandwich brainstorming
Change between phases of collective and individual production of ideas.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Berger explains, how designers think, reinvent things and combine them in different ways. Designers have the power to change the world. He shows this with different examples, so the reader can see how to go about it.
The auther presents the history and the future of proactive design with many anecdotes and interviews. He also mentions important international designers, such as Dean Kamen, Yves Béhar, Brian Collins, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister and of course Bruce Mau.
Berger relates the design philosophy of Bruce Mau - for whom everything is a design project, even his own life - with endless possibilities of what design can do in order to improve our lives.
The book also contains little sketches and drawings that help understanding everything.
Reading "Glimmer" is really worth it: The book presents a hopeful and fascinating view on the area of design and shows us how a "glimmer" can change the world - or at least your life!
More information on the glimmer movement can be found on www.glimmersite.com.
Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even the World
by Warren Berger
Penguin Press, Oct 2009, 352 pages
ISBN 1594202338 / ISBN-13 9781594202339
To get a cheap copy of the book, go to www.bookbutler.com, enter the ISBN and press "Compare Prices".
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
As an entrepreneur or member of a board, in spite of paperless e-mail communication you still have a lot of communication printed on paper. In order to print your correspondence on paper, you either need an inkjet or a laser printer. Think about what you consider important in a printer and find out in these ten steps, whether you should buy a laser or an inkjet printer.
Before you buy a new printer think about your requirements: How many pages do you print per week/month? How many of them are in color? Do you print many photos (on special paper)?
Laser printers print faster than inkjet printers. If you often make a lot of prints within a short time, it might make sense to buy a laser printer.
When printing with laser printer, the print quality is better.inkjet. In addition, the ink of the laser printer is (somewhat) water-resistant and abrasion-proof. Printing with inkjet printers, your prints are neither water-resistant nor abrasion-proof.
- ! Health !
If you decide to use a laser printer, you should set it in a well ventilated area that is not someone's office. The toner dust is toxic and damages the genetic material of human cells! An inkjet printer on the other hand can be safely put right next to you in your office.
- Purchase and printing costs
Inkjet printers are cheaper to buy than laser printers. Since the cartridges of inkjet printers are relatively small, they are much cheaper than the toner cartridges for laser printers.
Inkjet printers are relatively compact and can fit on any desk. For a laser printer, however you need a separate table and of course a seperate room - unless you want to ruin your health.
- Media to print on
For inkjet printers you will find an incredible number of different media to print on, such as photo paper and other special papers in all kinds of sizes, labels, t-shirt transfer paper, printable CDs/DVDs). For laser printers, it is more difficult to find different printing material.
- Ports for memory cards and cameras
Most new printers (both laser and inkjet printers) have connections for various memory cards or digital cameras. So you can print directly from your memory card or digital camera without having to go the detour via your computer.
Photos can be printed in very good quality with a sharp image on any type of paper when printing with a laser printer. For an inkjet printer you need special photo paper to ensure that your pictures look good.
- Scanning, copying, faxing
If you scan many documents, but do not really have room for a separate scanner, consider a multifunction device. Inkjet printers with integrated scanners are still relatively small. The multi-function devices and laser printers however really take a lot of space.
If you often make copies, but do not want to buy a copy machine, a laser printer with a copy function could be a good solution.
Among both inkjet and laser printers you can find multifunctional devices that also have a fax option.
A multifunction device (whether laser or inkjet printer) does not only save space, but also money, since you only need to buy a device and not several different ones.
With inkjet printers, you have to ensure that the ink does not dry up and the print head does not get clogged. Laser printers require relatively little attention from their owners.
Friday, September 17, 2010
- Choose an appropriate profile pictures. If you own a business, add a picture of it to your facebook page - preferably with the opening times in the photo. If you operate an online store you should use your logo together with the URL as a profile picture.
Your facebook profile picture can be 200 px wide and 600 px high. It should not have more than 4 MB.
- Create a short URL, such as www.facebook.com/agadugu. To make your URL shorter, go to www.facebook.com/username/. Here you can set a username for your own facebook account and/or the facebook page of your association or company.
It is best to use the name of your association or company, if it is not too long or already taken. Try to choose a user name that is easy to remember.
- On your facebook page add as much information as possible about your business/organization, such as the opening times, locations and a brief description.
- Add the links to your website and blog on your facebook page.
- If you sell products, you can upload pictures of them under the tab "Photos". Of course, you can also add pictures of your events etc.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
There are different kinds of creativity:
- People who make a groundbreaking invention and come up with a brand new product are creative in a different way then people who create a text for a website.
- New inventions and new trends require engagement with the topic for years.
- Changes of existing things, such as improvements or modifications (great ideas everybody has once in a while)
Here are four tips, that can help you with solving problems in a creative way:
- Some people are more creative then others, but everybody can be creative!
- Do not make the mistake to press your ideas into a tight system immediately.
- If you are not able to move forward with a problem, it may be helpful to involve outsiders. Non-professionals see things in a different light and judge them differently than professionals. In order to really be creative, you need at least a little clue in the area that you want to be creative in.
- Younger people are not necessarily more creative than older people. Young people might have more ideas. On the other side, older people are creative in a different way. They have more ideas that are usable and more useful.
Friday, September 10, 2010
You can change this habit. Here are a few helpful tips from experts against procrastination:
Merlin Mann suggests the (10+2)*5-rule. Work for 10 minutes – solely concentrating on your task. Once 10 minutes are over, take a two minute break, doing whatever you want to do, such as surfing the web or drinking coffee. Do this for exactly five times – 10 minutes work, two minutes break and so forth.
On his website, John Perry explains how structured procrastination can be useful. Structured procrastination means you structure your tasks in a certain way.
The list of tasks you usually have in your head is sorted by significance. The most urgent tasks appear on top of the list. However, there are other tasks at the bottom of the list that are also worthwile. Doing the tasks from the bottom of the list is a way of not doing the tasks on the top of the list. However, that means even though you are a procrastinator you get things done – but not the ones that are urgent.
Procrastinators often follow the wrong path. They try to minimize their commitments, as they think they will be able to do everything on their list if there are only a few things on it. According to John Perry this does not work, as the tasks left on the list are now the most important ones. So now, the only way to avoid them is not to do them. This will turn the procrastinator into a couch potato.
So change your list and put the right project at the beginning of it.
A great book that can help you with your organization of daily tasks is „Getting Things Done“ from David Allen (ISBN 978-014-200028-1). The author gives helpful advice on time management, stress-free productivity and organisation.
Additionaly information on procrastination can be found on Wikipedia, 43folders.com, or stevepavlina.com.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Do you stop the clock when you are running out of time? Of course not! However, many businesses and organizations stop advertising, as they think they cannot afford it any longer.
How come that many businesses are able to advertise big time when everything goes well and they are in a good financial position? Once business slows down and they make less profit, the budget for marketing and advertising is cut. But shouldn’t you expand the marketing budget at this time?
Once the economy slows down, many businesses – big and small – cut their advertising. That means if you advertise now, you will be recognized much easier, as the advertising landscape is not as crowded. The chance of people actually noticing your advertising efforts increases. Maybe you are lucky being the only business in your industry showing consumers that you are there.
If you hide once your sales go down, your customers will not recognize you anymore and your sales will keep on going down. When your competitors hide is the perfect time for you to advertise and show that you are there for the consumers.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Even if your competition is big, you can carve out one or more features of your product or service in a way that you have a USP (unique selling proposition) over your competition. This means you can set your business apart from other businesses.
For an apartment complex in a U.S. city it can be hard to find a USP. 'Sedgefield Apartment Homes' in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, was successful in doing so. They decided to address Latin American customers ('Se Habla Español' - 'We speak Spanish') and also offer an additional service to families with kids and teenagers ('Free After School Program & Teen Center'). However, with 'Free Rent' you can hardly attract anyone as most apartments offer 'free rent'. Also, this statement is not entirely correct, as only the first month's rent is free.
Unique selling propositions (USPs) can be the following:
- An innovative concept, such as the combination of a product with a service
- Innovative product features that were not existent before
- Extraordinary quality
- A long lifetime
- Extremely low price
- Extraordinary price-performance ratio
- An accelerated process (for example with services)
- Extensive service that goes beyond what competitors offer
- Special size
- The usage of environmentally sustainable material or the usage of environmentally sustainable processes
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The rate of female and male facebook users in the U.S. is about 44 percent male to 56 percent female facebook users.
24 percent of facebook users in the U.S. are between 25 and 34 years old, another 24 percent are between 18 and 24, 17 percent between 35 and 44, 13 percent between 45 and 54, only seven percent between 55 and 64 and about six percent between 16 and 17 years old.
The brand with the most users in the U.S. currently is Taco Bell, with more than 2.3 million fans. Followed by Playfish, with about 2.2 million fans, Walmart with 1.6 million fans, Best Buy with almost 1.2 milllion fans, JCPenney with 945.00 fans, Verizon Wireless (925.000 fans), Southwest Airlines (913.000 fans), Six Flags (618.000 fans), AT&T (586.000 fans), and Macy’s (almost 500.000 fans)
(sources: checkfacebook.com, facebakers.com)
But what does all that mean for you as a small business, freelancer or organization?
Through facebook you get the possibility, to distribute news of your organization or company fast and easy. New products can be presented and tested. You can also share interesting news, links or videos with your “fans”. Your fans can also get in contact easily with you. And all this you can get for free. You can also create a facebook page easily.
On facebook, you can also run ads (with costs), to promote your facebook page, website or your online shop.
Also check, what your competitors are doing on facebook. If your competitors have facebook pages already, this could be a reason for you to get such a page as well.
Update your facebook page is much easier and faster than keeping your company’s or organization’s website up-to-date. However, you should make sure to keep your facebook page as up-to-date and relevant as possible. Of course, this can be a lot of work, as you will have to think about contents to post and what to answer to your fans’ questions.
Facebook (and other social networks as well) offers a lot of possibilities for small businesses and organizations.
However, it is also possible for people to damage your name and reputation.
In future, facebook will probably continue to grow and also gain relevance in advertising and communication.
As business or organization with a small budget, you have the opportunity to reach out and connect to more (potential) customers or members world wide.
There will also be new possibilities every now and then, since facebook is developing over time.
Does it really make sense for you as a busy business man/woman or director of an organization to jump into facebook marketing?
I can’t give you an anwer to this question ... you will have to find your for yourself.
If you should decide to start a facebook page for your organization/business, here are a few tips to make your facebook presence succesful:
- Post relevant contents. Contents that do not have any benefit (information, additional knowledge, entertainment ...) for users or your fans are useless.
- Encourage interactivity – through involving your fans in decisions. You can also test new products with the help of your facebook fans.
- Take your fans’ feedback seriously and act appropriate.
- Keep your facebook page up-to-date.
- Add new content to your page on a regular basis.
- Look at what your competitors are doing. Knowing this can be very helpful – it might give you new ideas.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
16 steps to your new computer – what you need to know when you buy a computer for your organization/company
There are some things that you should consider, when you go out to buy a new machine:
- First, think about what you actually need the computer for: Do you just need it to look good in your office? Are you doing office stuff with it? Do you want to use it to work while you are travelling? Do you want to watch movies on it? Do you just need it to read emails and surf the web? Do you need it to do image editing on it? Do you want to listen to music on it?
- Which software do you need? To make it easy to choose the right hardware, decide first, which software you will need to be able to work.
- Buy a new computer. Otherwise you will be stuck with a computer that is old before you even use it. Technology changes fast.
- Make sure the computer is compatible with all devices you use (in future). Does it have enough USB connections? Will you be able to connect your PDA/mobile phone?
- Your computer should have sufficient memory. Of course, you can always add more memory later. However, it is advisable to buy a PC that has more memory than the most basic model.
- When buying a computer, get a model that saves energy.
- Do not fall for advertising campaigns and forget everything you have ever heard about brand names. Choose the computer that fits your needs.
- See your new computer as an investment for your business/organization. With enough memory, a good processor, the possibility extend the machine and a warranty, you can have your computer two years or more.
- A desktop computer can be extended any time. That means you can use it for much longer than two years, which will reduce your costs for computer equipment.
- Before getting help from a computer specialist, you should try to familiarize yourself with the terminology (e.g. on www.techterms.com).
- Remember that you will also need a keyboard, mouse and screen, if you buy a desktop PC. These are additional expenses that you should factor in your overall calculations..
- Also when using a laptop computer, you should use an external mouse. This will make working much easier for you and also faster and more effective.
- When looking at offers of different stores and comparing prices, you should remember that you also need an operating system, such as Windows 7. This should be included in the price.
- Do not forget the expenses for software. Software can be pretty expensive – often, software can cost more than the computer itself.
- When buying a computer, you often get a one-year-warranty. However, the sales clerk will try to sell you an extended warranty – often the price is really high and you end up paying too much. It is better to look for a computer expert among your friends. It will be a hassle to ship it to the manufacturer to have it repaired.
- Buy your computer in a well-known store – online or in the store. Only buy it, if you are certain the dealer will still be there next week. Remember that you (often) have to rely on the dealer if you want to have the computer repaired during the warranty period.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Follow these 8 tips for a relaxing sleep:
- Listen to your biological clock, but make sure it ticks right: Stay outside in the sunlight during the day as long as possible and do not go to sleep too late.
- Engage in sports in order to get your circulation going. Additionally, your body becomes tired, which will extend your deep sleep phase.
- Take the time to sleep according to your sleeping needs. If necessary, go to bed earlier or take a nap in the afternoon.
- Your nap should not be too long – not more than 30 minutes. Otherwise you will fall in deep sleep, which will make it hard for you to wake up.
- In order to be awake after your nap, you should drink a cup of coffee or black tea before your nap. The caffeine will start kicking in after 30 minutes – just after you wake up from your nap.
- Falling asleep at night will be easier for you, if you do not eat anything two hours before and do not drink coffee or black tea.
- Right before going to bed, you should take a short walk or read a few pages in a good book, instead of watching TV.
- Your bedroom should exclusively be your bedroom. Take out your office (computer, printer) out of your bedroom and also remove your phone and TV.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
When people want to buy something, they often look online first. Especially buyers of computers and consumer electronics rather rely on search engine results before buying, than on social media. This is shown in a stuy by comScore ('The Value of Retail Search and Position') that asked more than 1000 buyers. 30 percent of people asked in the study said, they would use search engines as a first or second step when looking for information.
In order to find out, which keywords are used by your potential clients, use the following tools online:
- Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Enter a search term here and the tool will give you other search terms related to it. You can also see the popularity of keywords over time here.
- Google Trends
Here you can see trends of keywords you entered.
- adCenter Labs Keyword Forecast
Shows the popularity of keywords entered.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Typing letters or texts can be very time consuming – especially when you type with one or two fingers. The easiest thing would be to hire a secretary. However, this is unrealistic for most freelancers, small business owners or organizations – due to various reasons, such as lack of space or lack of money. Therefore, you should learn how to type yourself - learn the system of touch typing - and improve your way of communicating.
There are various possibilities for you to learn how to type: You can take typing classes. Many times, such classes are offered for free by communities.
There is also software on DVD or CD or as a download that can help you learning to type fast with ten fingers.
You can also find various possibilities to practice online, such as a speed test, various typing trainers (just google ‘learn typing online free’ or play typing games. You can also practice touch typing online for free.
A very good possibility people often forget are books. These might be useful if you do not want to install software or do not have internet access. Just remember, sometimes the most simple things are the most effective ones.
In order for you to be able to learn quick, you need to practice a lot. Just follow the different units in the given order – again and again.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
With only five gates, the McAllen airport is relatively small. However, many people pass and stop here daily - to welcome friends and family or say goodbye to them. Instead of the usual background music through speakers, visitors got to hear live music now. In one corner of the airport there was a country singer with his guitar. He played songs from country through pop to rock music. Next to him there was a board with the name of the main sponsor – a local car dealership. Additionally, in the short breaks between songs, the singer mentioned the other sponsors – the local chamber of commerce, a local restaurant and the airport.
If you are planning a similar event, you should consider the following:
- Choose a place, where a lot of people pass by and also stop.
- Look for a singer that can actually sing. Even though he/she might be a little bit pricier than one that cannot really sing. Nobody will be happy about a bad singer – not you and certainly not the listeners.
- Depending on which place you choose, you can hire a complete band or orchestra.
- Choose a music style depending on the chosen place and your target group (customers).
- Cooperate with other local businesses. Form partnerships – this way you can share costs and the organization of the event.
- Think about how you could show or tell listeners who are the sponsors. How do you want to advertise your company? You can put up boards, posters or have the singer name or sing the sponsors.
- You can have a small event (such as the one in McAllen airport) or you can have a bigger event (for example with a band, a stage, free food) – depending on the size of your budget and the place.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Pricing strategies – step-by-step increase in prices brings more revenue than immediate price increase
Studies (Michael Tsoiros, University of Miami, ALBA Graduate Business School and David M. Hardesty, University of Kentucky in the Journal of Marketing) show that there is a third possibility that is even more effective.
A store can create more revenue with a price promotion, by increasing the prices step-by-step after a price reduction – instead of offering the product for the original price again.
Customers expect a higher price in future and therefore buy (inaction regret).
You should therefore think twice about setting your prices and also work out a good pricing strategy. However, this strategy should also fit into your marketing or business plan.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Make backups from all important (and unimportant) files regularly.
Especially when you mainly work with portable devices you should save your data more often. External hard drives and laptop computers have a shorter life span than hard drives in desktop computers.
Get yourself an external hard drive so you can save a copy of all relevant data on it. If you keep updating the files on it you will have access to all important files in case of an emergency.
Additionally, you can save backups on the hard drive – with the help of the backup function on your computer.
If you are still worried about your files, you can burn them to DVDs. However, you need to make sure you use DVDs of high quality. Also, you should not burn your DVDs with the fastest speed available, as this might cause a loss of data. Files are not as safe on DVDs (or CDs) as you might think. When using cheap DVDs/CDs files can be lost a few months after burning them and pictures might only be shown half way. A good alternative to regular DVDs are so called archival DVDs that have a golden layer (and are also more expensive).
You should keep your different media in different places. So in case your office burns down and you only have your files saved to your desktop computer and the data DVDs are next door, you will loose everything. This can also happen after a break-in or when a pipe bursts.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
If there are no events present, you will have to create some. Organize an open house or hold lectures. You can make proposals to certain media (e.g. magazines) for journal articles on a specific subject, appear as an expert or write a journal article yourself. You can also offer your customers/clients something really special, such as an expert hotline, a free book or a raffle.
It is important that the event or occasion is interesting and arouses the attention among readers/viewers. So if you want to open a bakery in a city where there are already hundreds of them, neither the media nor the newspaper readers will be interested. But if you open an organic bakery, where people can also bake their own bread, it would be something very unusual and the media will certainly take it up. Organize events in cooperation with other companies or organizations. This way, you can create unusual events.
Always remember to make sure that your PR campaigns fit your company/association.
Do not make the mistake of underestimating local media, such as daily newspapers. Many people are subscribers to local newspapers - because of the local section. Let the local press know, what you do as a company/association.
Possible content for your news release could be the following:
- News about the development of innovative products
- News about the development of products for a special occasion, such as World Cup sausage
- Messages that have serious consequences
- Unusual news
- Opinions or information about a current topic that affects/interests many people
- News about record attempts (e.g. the Bavarian Red Cross set a record with getting 400 new blood donors within two days)
- The parties are members of the public
- Study results, test results, market surveys
- Messages that have a benefit, such as events
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
When advertising through social media, being quick is essential. There are not many companies that are fast and at the same time deliver appealing content. A company that was able to do so is Old Spice - with advertising for deodorant and body wash for men. Old Spice belongs to the Procter&Gamble group.
The clip „The Man your Man Could Smell Like“ by Old Spice with Isaiah Mustafa was first published on Youtube on February 2nd, 2010 and has had almost 15 million viewers since then. On June 29, 2010, the Clip „Questions“ was added. As the actor from the clip tells in an interview, the entire clip is one single shot without any CGI (computer-generated imagery). To build the set in Vallermo, California, took several days.
A week ago, an Old Spice hype started, as the company added personalized videos to its Youtube channel OldSpice. The "Old Spice Guy" from the commercials answered questions and responded to tweets - topless and just with a towel around the waste. Even conversations and flirts between him via video and (female) users via Twitter started. The Old Spice guy answered to random questions from users - almost in real time. Within 24 hours, more than 150 videos were created.The video responses are between 20 and 60 seconds long and react to the users' comments (Tweets, Youtube comments, blog articles, facebook comments, reddit comments and others). The responses contain a lot of charm and humor and are also sexy.
Very funny are the video responses to the twitter question of @isaiahmustafa, the actor who plays Old Spice guy or also the question of Haley Mustafa (the actor's daughter) who wants to know why Old Spice guy looks so much like her dad.
One questions however remains: who is the actual target group of the Old Spice commercials?
Old Guy certainly speaks to the "ladies". Nevertheless, the products are for men. For sure, Old Spice guy is every woman's darling - maybe guys should become jealous? Or it speaks to women who should then go and buy Old Spice products for their men?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Act like chicken. Make noise. Market your product. Without marketing nobody will see you!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Simply google your name and see what you find on the online. Then google the name of your company/organization. Also google your website to find out if and where it is mentioned. Additionally, you should enter your name, your company’s/organization’s name on Twitter to find out whether someone twittered about you.
This way, you can find out what others are saying about you or your company/association. You can also find out if your work or your business name is used (without your permission).
You should set up a Google Alert, so you do not always have to google your own name. You will be sent an email as soon as Google finds something on your search term.
If you find that someone uses your information, data or work without your permission, spreads negative information about you, you can either ignore it and hope that the person fails to do so in the future. You can, of course, confront the person directly, and also ask why she/he did it. A third possibility is to get professional help. There are firms or lawyers, who specialize in such cases and know what to do.
Do not forget to check again, what is distributed through online about you and make sure that your image does not suffer.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
According to the CEO of Intersport International, Franz Julen turnover from the World Cup in June and July was about 30 to 40 percent of the annual football sales - depending on the country and when the team is eliminated from the World Cup.
Products that are hot during the World Cup 2010 are jerseys, footballs and flags for the car. Also the flag that is attached on the mirrors of the car is enjoying great popularity in Germany this year. Annoying, but quite a sales hit - not only in Germany - are the Vuvuzelas. Those horns that make viewers think of a huge swarm of bees in the stadium.
Of course there are numerous other memorabilia, such as Hawaiian chains, fan hats, sweatbands, headbands, makeup, car magnets with the flag of a country, key rings, key chains, glasses, bags, stickers, cups, glasses - everything goes with the color of the country.
But you cannot only make money with these mentioned products. Even products that have to do with the host country South Africa are hot. Thus, supermarkets offer more wines from South Africa and also South African food during the World Cup.
As a company you should not only get the maximum revenue from the 2010 World Cup, but to also offer the best service to your customers - regarding football. Public transportation in Germany is a good example here: Hamburg's subway reports the scores of games during the World Cup on the display board and the German railway announces the scores on their trains. For non-football fans, this may seem trivial or even annoying. However, any football fans will welcome this service.
Other companies rely more on online services for football fans, such as animated World Cup calendars, projections etc.
Next time, think of mass events like the World Cup in advance, so you can offer special services to your customers, in order to differentiate from your competition.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
- Photo books consisting of your own photographs: www.myphotobook.co.uk
- Customized M&M's: www.mymms.com
- Personalization of various objects, such as chocolate bars, cups, calendars, cards, labels for beer bottles: www.mip2smile.com, www.zazzle.com
- Personalized gifts: www.personalizationmall.com
- Personalized labels: www.myownlabels.com
- Individual chocolates: www.schokologo.com
- Your personal Hershey bar: www.wrappedhersheys.com
- Personalized cereal: www.meandgoji.com
However, individualized products cost significantly more than similar products in the supermarket (surcharges of up to 200 % compared to standard versions). Customers accept the high price, as it gives them the chance of otbaining their absolute dream product.
Even large corporations are increasingly focusing on the individualization of their products. Thus, you can choose from various designs for products such as bags, shoes, t-shirts and laptops.
The personalization of a product can take place at different levels. Either by the imprint of a customer specified word or sentence, the (additional) adaptation of various product features (e.g. color, shape, size, ...) or by creating a completely new product by the customer (e.g. tea, cereal, sausage, chocolate). Some companies also offer the individual design of the products' packaging. So you can give your compiled product a special name and appearance of your choice.
Surprisingly, some companies are now offering their personalized products in shops, bars or cafés. This will require completely new business strategies. The online shops primarily form cooperations with small local businesses, which like the products offered.
All these mass customized products are not only individualized for the end user (public), but also for companies. Often small companies want special products for events (such as an open day), for their long-standing customers or simply as a special promotional gift or give-away.
Maybe now you are thinking about giving some special müsli mix to your long-time customers with your company logo on it? Or as an organization you want to give your major donors a very special chocolate with their name on it?
Which online shops that specialize in mass customization do you like? Let me know and I will add them to the list.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Whether you print your own stationery or have it printed, use better paper. Most people use cheap copy paper (80 g/m²). For a professional appearance, this is not really suitable. Experiment with different papers and try them out to make sure that you select a paper on which the ink runs from inkjet printing. Consider a slightly thicker paper such as 90 g/m². Also ensure that with the weight of the paper you do not exceed the normal weight limit for standard letters. Otherwise you will have to pay more postage.
Nowadays, there are different beautiful (white) papers made from 100% recycled paper - so that you can actively contribute to environmental protection. Should you not like a pure recycling paper, you can instead use an FSC-certified paper. The abbreviation FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. Resources for paper with this label come from sustainable forests.
If you have more stationery printed professionally, you should think about, which information will stay and which will be dated after a while. For example it makes little sense to have an address printed that will be changed soon anyways.
Even if it is cheaper to print more, do not print too many. Otherwise, years later you will have stationery that you do not really like anymore.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The perimeter advertising is now completely electronically and therefore ads can be exchanged more often. That means more companies can advertise. Video perimeter advertising also has the advantage of being percieved. Perimeter advertising that is static and does not change is often ignored by the viewers of a game.
However, from the perspective of a viewer, perimeter advertising is annoying. The constant changes just distract viewers and instead of watching the came they are distracted. No matter if it's the old dynamic version of perimeter advertising or the new video perimeter advertising.
According to Wikipedia, you can attach about 240 m long of perimeter advertising around the soccer field. The perimeter advertising used at the World Cup 2010 is very bright and consists of thousands of LEDs.
There is a total of only 19 companies that use perimeter advertising at the World Cup. Few are known internationally anyways: the FIFA partners Adidas, Coca-Cola, Emirates, Visa, Sony, and Kia Motors. The international FIFA World Cup however, are not know all over the world yet: Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch), Castrol, Continental, McDonald's, MTN, Mahindra, Satyam, Seara and Yingly Solar. The national sponsors are BP, First National Bank, Neo Africa, Prasa and Telkom.
One of the sponsors of the 2010 World Cup, the company Continental, has perimeter advertising at most of the games during the World Cup - and therefore also advertises on television worldwide.
The Indian IT company Mahindra Sayam succeeds in gaining international recognition, due to perimeter advertising.
It is really questionable whether the company actually manages to quickly build a reputation.mPresumably, the recall for the companies or brands is relatively low and therefore not worth the financial outlay necessary. Moreover, it is questionable what people from the audience connect with the brand or company names.
The financial burden is certainly not negligible. According to Financial Times Germany, FIFA has had sales of $ 1.6 billion thanks to the sponsors.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Articles in the press are more likely to be read than ads. People percieve ads consciously as advertising and therefore are less likely to notice them. However, more people than just your target audience read press reports.
Additionally, press reports are more credible than advertisements, as they are written by (independent) journalists, wheras ads are designed by advertising specialists.
In an article in the press your company or organization can be represented in detail - including pictures. In an ad, this is more difficult and only possible with a lot of money.
Press reports are free, whereas ads can be very costly. With the right PR, you can not only make your firm or organization known to the public, but also your products and services. You get the opportunity to build a distinctive and credible image, which will help you gain more customers, clients or members - especially in the long run.
Ads on the other side might increase awareness, but do not build credibilty. But how will being famous help you, if people do not trust you, because you lack credibilty?
Make sure the media report about you and not about your competition. You can for example feed the media with material, such as press releases. Organize interesting events, to which you will invite the media. You can organize a run for a good cause, hold an open house in your organization or as a company you can support a non-profit organization (NPO). Make sure that all events support the purpose of your organization or your company's goals. If you support an organization, you should make sure that the organization and your company are a fit. It makes little sense to support a non-smoking organization when you are a tobacco shop.
Publish a short press release with a picture for every event you organize. It is worth much more when the regional daily newspaper publishes a note on your event, than any marketing in form of an ad.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Under the brand "Taste of Afrika" a lot of products that have not a lot to do with Africa are offered, such as fruit gums (at least in the form of various African animals), coffee mousse (with African coffee), noodles (with African spices) or cocoa biscuits (with animal prints). Normal products are spiced up with something "African".
Many companies changed their products in time for the World Cup. There are now Marshmallows called "World Cup Stars" in black and white or chocolate cake that looks like a soccer ball - also in black and white. Also very popular is the so-called soccer burger, a hamburger with the shape of a soccer ball (with pentagons).
The most popular product during the World Cup seems to be "Chakalaka". Chakalaka is originally from South Africa - it presumably has its origin in the townships of the city of Johannesburg. It is a spicy vegetable relish (usually with tomatoes, carrots, peppers, chili, beans, cabbage, garlic, pepper, curry, ginger and cilantro), served with bread, stews, curries and pap. German sauce manufacturers put in varying ingredients. Often, Chakalaka is added to existing products and a new World Cup product is created (e.g. peanuts with Chakalaka, Chakalaka BBQ sauce, Chakalaka dip sauce).
For companies it may be worthwhile to produce special products for special events. Clever marketing also means not exaggerating the variety of products.
Companies should also assess whether the event is large enough and a special production is worth it.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
For sure, blogging, twittering and facebooking takes time - a lot of time if you want to post more articles than just one every now and then.
There are some things online that you can automate, such as the update of your twitter account, that you can set up in a way that it will show your latest blog posts or facebook post. However, communication through social networks should stay personal. That means, not everything should or can be automated. If you really want to start interacting with people, you yourself will have to answer their questions or respond to their comments they might leave on your blog or facebook page.
So why do businesses and organizations even have blogs, twitter accounts, a fanpage on facebook, if it is so much work to keep it updated?
They do it to draw attention to themselves, to gain more and more subscribers or 'followers'. Of course, as a company or organization you also want to sell. Either your product or service or your organization’s purpose.
If you do not gain any new subscribers, ‘followers’, customers or clients with all your efforts, then you are probably just wasting your time.
Of course it will take some time (at least several months) until you succeed with your efforts in social networks. If you are not successful, you should reconsider your strategy. It might be better for you to target your audience through other channels.
How much time do you spend with social networking? Do you believe it is a waste of time?
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
For example, you can set your ads to be shown to just 40 year old, single, male facebook users who have kids, like hiking and live in Switzerland. This example is very specific. However, you limit the number of facebook users, who will get to see your ad. The fewer attributes you set for your target audience, the bigger your target audience will be and the more facebook users will get to see your ad.
In order to advertise on facebook, you already have to be a facebook user. If you do not have a facebook account yet, you will have to open one.
Go through the following steps in order to advertise on facebook:
- Log in to facebook with your user name and password
- Click on your profile, click on “Create an Ad” on the right side
- Now you can start creating your ad
- „Design your ad“: Under „Destination URL“, enter the website that you want users, who click on your ad, to go to. You can add the URL of your facebook page or the url of your website. Under “Title” you should add a title for your ad. The text of your add can not have more than 135 characters and has to be added under “Body Text”. Under “Image” you can upload a picture for your facebook ad. This is optional. However, pictures can not be bigger than 110x80 px.
The last sentence of your ad should give an instruction to the viewer, such as “Order now!”.
On the right side you can view your ad, while you input the text.
- “Targeting”: When you put in details here, you will see that the “estimated reach” will decrease. Remember that not all facebook users make all information in their accounts and thus may not be counted as your target audience, although they should.
Under “Location” enter the country in which the ad should be displayed. The ad can be seen in the entire country or in specific cities (“by city”) and the area around them.
Under “Demographics” you can provide information on age, gender, relationship status and languages of your target group.
Under “Likes&Interest” you can add certain styles of music, bands, movies etc.
Under “Education&Work” you can specify what education it is your target audience should have. You can even add a company or organization.
If you advertise your facebook page in your ad, you should add it under “Connections on Facebook” > “Target users who are not already connected to:”. Otherwise, facebook users who already like your facebook page will get to see the ad as well.
- Under “Campaigns and Pricing“ you will have to decide whether you want to „pay for impressions“ (CPM – cost per impression) or „pay for clicks“ (CPC – cost per click). You also have to add your maximum bid. The maximum bid is the highest price you are willing to pay per 1,000 impressions or per click. Just choose “Use Suggested Bid” – this is the simplest way when you are just starting out with facebook ads.
I recommend you use the model of CPC (paying for every click on your ad), as this is more cost effective.
- Click on “Review Ad”.
- You will now see your facebook ad and you can also assign a name. This is especially useful if you decide to run different ads.
- The costs for your ad will be charged to the credit card that you have already stored in your facebook account. If you have not put in your credit card information, you will have to do so now.
- If you do not want to change your ad, click “Place Order”.
- Under “Run Status” you will now see “Pending review”. This means that facebook is currently reviewing your ad. You will receive an email from facebook once your ad is approved and active.
- In this overview, you will later on be able to see how many people have seen your ad and how many actually clicked on it.
Friday, June 11, 2010
People who who are just working around the clock, do not nearly do their work as powerful as someone who regularly relaxes.
Recovered and relaxed people can concentrate better and perform their tasks better. This was confirmed by a study of the Johannes-Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany – even though you probably knew that already a long time ago.
Recreation and leisure go hand in hand with the marketing of a company. Only people who have free time on a regular basis can make good marketing. People who do not compensate work with recreation cannot be creative.
Go out, enjoy the summer and leave your computer and Blackberry at home.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
For business cards, there really is no standard format. However, there are a few formats that are common:
- 85 x 55 mm (EU credit card size used in Belgium, Germany, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland)
- 85.6 x 54 mm / 3.370 x 2.125 in (credit card size according to ISO 7810)
- 74 x 52 mm / 2.913 x 2.047 in (ISO 216, A8)
- 81 x 57 mm / 3.2 x 2.2 in (DIN C8)
- 100 x 65 mm / 3.937 x 2.559 in (with photo)
- 88.9 x 50.8 mm / 3.5 x 2 (business card size in U.S. and UK)
- 91 x 55 mm / 3.582 x 2.165 in (Japanese business card format)
- 90 x 55 mm / 3.54 x 2.165 in (used in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden)
- 90 x 54 mm / 3.543 x 2.125 in (used in Hong Kong and China)
- 90 x 50 mm / 3.543 x 1.968 in (used in Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Finland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary)
- Fold-over business cards usually folded to one of the above formats
You can design and print your business cards on one side or on both sides. The one-sided print usually is a little bit cheaper. You can just have something printed in black on the front side - the print shop will call this 1/0. Or you have something printed in black on both sides - 1/1.
However, I recommend using color. Either just on the front side (4/0) or the front side colored and the back side in black (4/1), or both sides in color (4/4). '4' stands for the four printing colors used: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
You can also use special colors - at additional cost of course.
Also, you have the opportunit to have your business cards coated with a UV lacquer. This is offered by most of the print shops now.
Another possibility, which is particularly common in the U.S. is the thermography process. Thsi simulates the more expensive raised-print effect with the application of plastic powder that is melted onto the card.
The font on your cards should be adjusted depending on the appeal wanted. Avoid using all capital, script or ornate writing - these are difficult to read.
Select a font size that is not too small - less than 8 pt can only be read by some people with the help of a magnifying glass.
Your business card should appear clearly. Do not stuff it with too much text. Do not overload your card with too much information, as this will appear cluttered.
If you already have a Corporate Design (CD) - a consistent corporate identity - you should also use it for your business cards. At least your logo should appear on your cards!
Important content of your business card:
- Company name
- Maybe a short description of the company
- First name, last name, title, function
- Full address
- Telephone, mobile telephone number, fax
- Website, blog, facebook page
One way to print the cards is doing it yourself - with your own printer and special business card paper. However, since this appears unprofessional, takes time and is not necessarily cheaper than having the cards printed professionally, you should make use of another possibility: You can use a local print shop or an internet print shop. Mot internet print shops are a little bit cheaper - however, they lack personal contact. To find an internet print shop simply google 'printing business cards'.