Help for Boulder County Fire Victims

I received this in an e-mail from Boulder real estate agent Chris Haught, of Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty.

Good afternoon-

After speaking with the Red Cross we have 4 immediate needs to focus on.

1) Clothing of all sizes and furniture. (Will be taken to Salvation Army)

2) Bottled Water. (Will be taken to Fire Station or Holiday Inn Express)

3) Financial contribution or donation of time at Boulder County Animal Shelter. All of the horses are at the Boulder County Fair Grounds in Longmont.

4) Toiletries- Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair brushes, shampoo, conditioners, etc.

At the conclusion of this tragedy, there will be dozens of homes lost. Some of our clients homes and active listings are in immediate danger. The Red Cross is still trying to gain perspective on the overall needs of the community. Of course, financial contributions can be made directly to the Red Cross.

The clothing/water/toiletries can be dropped off at the Sotheby’s Boulder

office if you are in the area. Each of the Sotheby’s offices: Cherry Creek, Downtown, Evergreen, Castle Pines, and DTC offices will be accepting donations at their offices and making trips to the Salvation Army location in Boulder. A map of the office locations can be seen here.

I have a banner being printed that will placed in front of our Boulder

office asking for community support. Your individual support will be much appreciated!

Thank you,

Chris Haught

Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty

Please help in whatever ways you are able to.

Thanks,

The Speakeasy Crew

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The Business of Selling Yourself, Part Two: Your Website

No matter the size or nature of your business, having a company website is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. The only thing worse than not having a website is having a bad one. Why? Because more than any other marketing tool or tactic, a website is the one that often determines:

• how customers find you
• how customers judge you
• how customers interact with you
• how customers come back to you

Additionally, a website serves as a foundation and tracking mechanism for all other marketing efforts. Don’t waste your money on print advertising or direct mail if you don’t have a website to steer people to for more information. When you use advertisements or other marketing tactics to drive people to your website, you can measure the effectiveness of those tactics. Your website’s traffic stats will give you the data you need to evaluate and adjust your overall marketing plan.

Advertising tactics can drive people to your site. But to really sell yourself and your business, your website must be easy to find and easy to use. It also must contain proper branding that reflects you and your identity (we love this topic … see recent posts “The Business of Selling Yourself, Part One: Personal Branding” and “Branding: How to Set Yourself Apart“), and your site must have relevant, quality content that is fresh and engaging.

Too often, companies take the “launch and leave” approach to websites: They launch a website and then leave it for months or even years without updating its content, images or functionality. It’s like an abandoned vacant house that over time smells stale and looks haggard.

Stale, haggard websites don’t help a company’s image or inquiries. Broken links, outdated text, boring images and faulty navigation defeat the purpose of having a website. They collectively send this message to customers: “We don’t care about our business … why should you?” States Canadian Web company Bluefur.com:

“For owners of brick-and-mortar stores, however, it is not uncommon to see a website thrown together by an amateur designer over a weekend and then it is completely forgotten about by the business owner. This is not how you should be running your company website. In this day and age, it doesn’t matter if you are just a greasy spoon diner on the corner or a high-end boutique hotel in Manhattan. It is very important to have a well-designed and comprehensive website for both existing and prospective customers.”

This doesn’t mean your site must be high-maintenance to be a good website. By building your website so that other marketing efforts such as blogs, news releases, e-newsletters, etc., can be integrating into it, fresh content can happen with very little effort. It just takes a little ingenuity and foresight during the website development phase.

So how do you launch a stellar website and keep it that way? We could tell you but, well, we’d have to kill you. We’re kidding. Web development is Speakeasy’s specialty and we love sharing (and implementing!) our strategic bag of tricks with potential clients. When developing a site, we utilize the following to ensure a client’s website looks great, works great and stays great:

• professional graphic design
• intuitive navigation
• SEO-rich professional copywriting
• seamless integration with social media efforts
• interactive elements
• monthly tracking and analytics
• monthly maintenance packages
• annual hosting packages

Shoot us an email or give us a call at 970/663-EASY (970-663-3279) to learn more about our website services that help small business sell themselves.

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The Business of Selling Yourself, Part One: Personal Branding

If you work in the real estate, mortgage, insurance or financial-planning industries, or any service-related industry for that matter, aren’t you really in the business of selling yourself? Think about it: If you’re a real estate agent, you know that a homeowner can sell their home without you … they can use another real estate agent or try the for-sale-by-owner route. But with all the services you offer and the expertise you bring to the marketing and sales process (not to mention your likable nature and slew of other personal attributes), why would they want to do it alone or with anyone else? That is the message your personal marketing to current and potential clients must clearly and consistently demonstrate.

But how? Well, that’s a big question and it deserves a multi-part answer. So we’re going to tackle this one in a series of posts. Let’s start with Part One: Personal Branding.

What is personal branding? It’s a collection of everything that represents who you are and what you stand for. It’s how you market yourself to others. Personal branding is just like corporate branding, only YOU are the corporation. Think of all parts and pieces that contribute to a corporate branding strategy:

• logo
• tagline
• stationery
• business cards
• signage
• web site domain name
• web site design, content and functionality
• social media engagement: Twitter, Facebook, blog, LinkedIn, etc.
direct mail (print and electronic)
• advertising
• media relations
• charitable alliances
• events
• company dress code
• office decor
• company policies

And so much more!!

Corporations spend millions of dollars on branding because it’s so critical to establishing and maintaining their desired image. Personal branding is no less important, even though an individual’s budget is typically a tiny fraction of a corporate one. Fortunately, the Internet age has made personal branding very affordable. Of course, that also means that everyone is doing it …. or at least trying to.

To stand out among a sea of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, financial planners, etc., you need to differentiate yourself by establishing a personal brand … and strategically maintaining that brand in everything you do. It’s called “brand continuity.” It also needs to be authentic, because trying to be someone you’re not is simply too much work and will inevitably backfire anyway.

As stated by personal brand expert Dan Schawbel: “You need to be yourself because everyone else is taken and replicas don’t sell for as much. Furthermore, you need to define your brand before someone else does for you!”

Ready to take a hard look at your personal brand? Ready to take some simple, affordable, effective steps to enhancing and controlling your personal brand? Speakeasy Studios now offers several personal marketing packages that collectively work toward creating and managing your brand.

Give us a call (970-663-3279) or shoot us an email. Let’s talk branding!

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Branding: How to Set Yourself Apart

In today’s competitive business world, it’s important to do anything you can to separate yourself from your competition. The most effective way to do so is obviously to offer service or products that are second-to-none. If you’ve already done so, the next thing to focus on is branding.

What’s This Branding You Speak Of?

Brand by definition is “the sum total of a company’s value, including products, services, people, advertising, positioning, and culture” and “the use of logos, symbols, or product design to promote consumer awareness of goods and services.”

The overall goal of branding is simple:

Establish a positive image for your business in order to distinguish you from your competitors.

The Who

There are some things one must consider when starting a branding process. The first is your business as a whole; who are you? What makes your business great? How do you want to market yourself?

  • What is the main focus of your business?
  • What service do you provide?
  • What are the values you carry out in your business?

Once you’ve determined how you’d like to market yourself, its time to figure out who you’d like to reach and how to do so. Many people make the mistake of molding a branding package around their own personal preferences. The real secret is to take the perspective of your clients. What will appeal to them? What will they be drawn to?. Consider the following characteristics of your target market.

  • Who are they? (gender, age, profession, values)
  • Where are they? (environment, living conditions, work conditions)
  • What do they do? (physically active, socially active, nightlife, networks and groups)

This is important because you obviously wouldn’t try to market to young, single, socially active professionals as you would to older, retired, married couples. (at least you shouldn’t)

The How

Your branding as a whole can be broken down to several smaller parts

  • Logo: The visual symbol of your business.
  • Name: The name of your business
  • Colors: The colors you choose

These components can determine how successful your branding will be. When used correctly, your branding can deliver your exact message to your exact audience. On the other hand, a poorly thought-out branding package can go completely unnoticed by your target audience or even deter clients.

Check out the links below to see some great examples of smart logo design

The Why

Branding can do a lot for your business.

  • Let you stand out in a crowd: A good combination can explain who you are and what you do without saying a word.
  • Create brand resonance: Well-thought out branding will come to the minds of your audience without thought
  • Create Brand Loyalty: The more people remember your brand, the more they’ll return for your services

      Although there is no cut-and-dry solution for a successful branding package, with some preparation and thought, you can aim your message at your target audience and make sure that they hear it loud and clear.

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Social Networking for Small Businesses Part Two: Why and How

The Why

If you’re paying attention to the media, it’s not hard to find people using social networks to promote their businesses. Large-scale media outlets like CNN have numerous accounts so all of their high-profile personalities have their own place to connect with fans. Volkswagen used their Facebook fan page to connect with viewers in a new television campaign. But why?

Active Audience

In the days of old, marketing efforts interrupted the viewer. A commercial on television is a pause in the viewer’s favorite show. A newspaper or magazine ad is something else the reader has to flip past to get to the rest of the story. Social networks are different. The user is already there looking for new ways to connect and be engaged.

Ideas Spread Like Wildfire

By staying active on on social networking sites, you can send your message to not just your personal connections, but to theirs as well. Picture if you will, your business (Lets say you’re a producer of rubber ducks) has just released a line of ‘unsinkable rubber ducks’ and marketed the new line via your Facebook Fan Page. Some of your fans may have commented on how much they like them. Others might ask where they can get them. By replying to or answering these customers, you increase the visibility of your message exponentially. Not only do your fans see this conversation, but it can be seen by all of their friends too through Facebook’s news feed. It doesn’t stop there though. If what you’re saying is well received, it can spread to sites like Digg, del.ic.io.us, blogs and beyond. How does this benefit your business? As your message spreads to these sites, search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo! read through or “index” them and increase your likelihood of being found through searches.

The Face-to-Face Effect

The backbone of social networking sites is the connection of people. You can use these social networks to answer a customer’s question in Taiwan, make a new friend connection in Los Angeles, and anywhere in between. As I stated in my last post, Social Networking for Small Businesses Part One: The Basics, these sites are world wide. This doesn’t mean you’ve got to engage everyone on the planet, but you should take advantage of that. Depending on your business, it could lead to new sales, distribution, or just new leads.

The How

So now you understand why you should be promoting your business on social networking sites. But how?

Online: The original

If you’ve created a profile on any social networks, you’ve obviously found their website. You can log on here any time to make wall posts, reply to messages, expand your network, tweet, or anything else that can be done through your chosen network. This is often the easiest option, and there is always lots of information and instructions on the help page.

Social Networking Applications or Programs

Depending on what networks you use, there are many options that will streamline your social networks to one screen. With these you can update your Facebook status, read and reply to tweets on Twitter, and depending on which you choose, connect via e-mails, chats, and so many more. Most offer customization too so you can keep track of it all from one place. Look through the options below and find one that works for you.

Feel free to comment and let me know what works for you and what doesn’t.

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Social Networking for Small Businesses Part One: The Basics

Social networks are all the rage in today’s media. Businesses of all types are using them. The Search Engine Journal lists several of the biggest right here on their blog. The overall idea of these sites is for users to create a network of friends, associates, and others to share information with. Now not only are there more people using social networks today, there are more of them available. Here are a few of my favorites, along with some examples of how they can help your business.

Facebook

In the eyes of most, Facebook is the current king of social networking. With 350 million users worldwide, its easy to see why. Facebook users can search for people to connect with, then have the ability to share photos, links, and other information, post public comments or send private messages to their friends, and much more. Volkswagen recently started using their Facebook Fan Page on television commercials. When viewers see the ad, they’re encouraged to view the Facebook fan page where they can do everything from chat with other VW enthusiasts to customize a brand new model to suit their own needs.

How Can It Help My Business?

Use Facebook to create a ‘Fan Page’ for your business. Then encourage your current clients to ‘Become a Fan’ of your page. Any of their friends will have the chance to see your page and hopefully be enticed by what you have to offer! What do you offer? Here you can list your services, promotions, and most importantly, connect with your clients. Giving people the opportunity to communicate back and forth helps build a good relationship. Your fans will also be able to comment to each other, building a community feel where your clients can come to ask questions or find new information.

Twitter

Short and sweet, Twitter is concise and to the point. Users build a network of people whom they ‘follow.’ Then users share posts of up to 140 characters with those in their network. Users can ‘mention’ another user in their post or ‘re-tweet’ another user’s post to spread news to all those that follow them. In this way, news can spread exponentially as multiple users pass it along to entire new circles. JetBlue and United Airlines recently started giving discounts to their Twitter followers that were quick to respond to tweets regarding the promotion.

How Can It Help Me?

Use Twitter to update your clients on news or promotions. With one simple click you can share information with your whole audience. By doing so, you can inform those in your network on what’s new. If followers like what you have to say, your message can quickly spread through re-tweets

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a way to connect with other professionals. Users create a profile, add a profile containing professional information, and build ‘connections’ with others they’ve worked with or for. When building connections, users must add the business relationship and company that connects them to other users. In this way, LinkedIn is a more professional social networking alternative to Facebook, as the main focus of a user’s LinkedIn profile is the professional, rather than personal information.

How Can It Help Me?

Use LinkedIn to find old or even current business associates whom you have a good relationship with. Ask them to not only join your social network, but offer to write a recommendation for them. If they are kind enough to write one in return, you can post it to your profile. These recommendations will be seen by anyone viewing your profile. In this way, you can build credibility as well as a strong professional social network through LinkedIn.

MeetUp

Meetup is a lesser-known social networking site with one main feature separating it from its social networking counterparts. It is based around face-to-face meetings. No, its not online dating, but it works in a similar fashion. Users can either find groups of people with similar interest or create a group themselves. These groups hold face-to-face meetings, more than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day. Each one meets with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

How Can It Help Me?

You’ve got a couple options.

1. Use this site to start a Meetup group in your area. You can moderate the events or create a network of others in your local area and invite others to help out.

2.Find an existing Meetup group. You never know, there could already be groups in your field right in your hometown. Use the search feature on Meetup to locate them, and become active to further build face-to-face relationships with both perspective clients and peers. These groups can literally be of any kind, so look around and see whats out there!

There you have it, just a few ways to make Social Networking work for you! There are many more options, all with differences and benefits. Want to know about more social networks? Check out the list that Wikipedia has put together. Check back soon to see more about how you can make social media work for you and your business.

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Welcome!

Welcome to the new and improved Speakeasy Studios Blog! We’re glad you stopped by. Check back soon for marketing and design tips and tutorials, updates on new clients and projects, to see whats new at Speakeasy Studios!

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