Posts tagged "branding"

The Case of the Killer Squid

November 17th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “The Case of the Killer Squid”

Most mistakes that we make in the normal course of business are not killers. And that’s a good thing of course. If most of the mistakes we made were killers, we wouldn’t be around to learn from them.

As a matter of fact, since most of our mistakes (squids) are not killers, our survival lulls us into a sense of complacency and acceptance. We make a mistake and we think, “well, the last mistake/series of mistakes didn’t hurt us all that much, so let’s just put this behind us as fast as we can and get on with the rest of our lives.”

That’s a dangerous mindset and one of the reasons why I wrote Killer Squids. Your complacency/accepting mindset of your mistakes can be fatal in the long term. As Bob Newhart would say, “Stop it!”

But some mistakes can kill you. Some mistakes are so big and so bad and the consequences so dire…there are Killer Squids.

I extended credit to a friend who was starting a business. Over the objections of my long-suffering wife, I allowed him to rack up bills of $20,000. When his house of cards came crashing down, we were stuck with big paper bills and labor costs. This was not a killer squid, but it could have been. The loss was great enough that it jeopardized our ability to stay in business.

My takeaways from this Squid?

  1. Listen to your wife.
  2. Don’t let friendship cloud your judgment when it comes to extending credit.
  3. Don’t extend too much credit to start-ups.
  4. Don’t let anyone go past a pre-determined amount of credit. Limit your potential losses.
  5. Have your credit policies in place before you encounter a problem.
  6. Know your policies and stick to them no matter what.

These are the lessons I learned (I hope).

This was not a Killer Squid, but it could have been. And there are mistakes that you can make that will kill your business, or your job.

I remember well a Killer Squid that took out a client of mine. Sad.

It was a big project for us; the client requested a bid for scanning and printing a 500 page book; the quantity was 2000. We won the bid and started scanning the pages. Early on in the scanning process, our production expert came to me and said, “hey Kevin, this project is not 500 pages…it’s 500 sheets, front and back. It’s actually 1000 pages.

Uh oh. Our client did not know the difference between pages and sheets. Of course when you are dealing with a 1,000 page book vs a 500 page book, the price is going to go up, a lot.

We quickly communicated the problem and a new quote back to our client, and then it went quiet. Real quiet. Crickets.

But the deadline was fast approaching, and still we heard nothing. We knew our price was good and we were prepared to proceed (not many other printers could knock this job out fast enough), and our client was in a bad situation. And so, our client authorized us to proceed.

We finished the project on time and on the newly approved budget, but our client lost her job. Painful. Killer Squid.


  1. Double check your specifications.
  2. Understand the jargon of the industry.
  3. Slow down and think through ramifications of not understanding all the specs before you begin.

What’s your marketing strategy?

December 4th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “What’s your marketing strategy?”

Consider a “little” bit of branding.

Getting your brand out there with signage, business cards, letterhead, a website, brochures, etc., is foundational to your marketing strategy. Branding doesn’t always have to involve big items. Small daily interactions can help reinforce your brand and positioning. Here are 4 places you can do a “little” bit of branding:

Packaging and/or Packing Slips – and are two large companies who are doing it right, when it comes to packaging. Branded boxes and tape bring instant consumer awareness to what has been delivered. If you regularly ship a product, consider branding your boxes.

Email Signatures – With every email you send, you can bring your brand to life with a small twist to your signature. Not only can you add your logo, but also your title and links to your social media profiles as well. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Here’s my signature; I get positive comments on it quite a bit. 

Wi-Fi Name and Password – If you regularly have customers use your Wi-Fi, why not have a little fun with it? Name your network something fun and relevant to your business and have the password be the feeling you hope they get from your business. A restaurant password could be “yummy,” for example.

Bills and Receipts – No one likes to get bills, so why not include a little humor or inspiration next to the logo on your bill/invoice? Both paper and email receipts offer a tiny moment that may be remembered long after a product’s been paid for.
Think about the potential, everyday moments that could be tweaked to surprise and entertain your customers. Work hard at creating a stronger brand connection. You don’t always need to spend big. Instead, spend smart by finding small branding moments that matter. We can help you with a “little” branding. Contact me at

How do you get to YES with emails?

November 27th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “How do you get to YES with emails?”

A golden rule of writing is: Respect the reader’s intelligence.

This rule gets magnified by a factor of 10 when you’re composing unsolicited emails. Most people who receive any significant quantity of email in a day have developed extremely refined B.S. detectors. They can identify an impersonal templated email in 0.5 seconds, and they can spot a time-wasting “let’s explore the possibilities” request from a mile off. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you’re composing an unsolicited email message.

Make it easy to say yes. Whether you are requesting a lunch meeting or a phone call, make it obvious, so the recipient knows EXACTLY what you are asking and can respond with an answer. Make your message concise and to the point so your “ask” doesn’t get lost in a long email. Consider highlighting your ask; many readers scan to the bold headlines or highlighted areas. Don’t overdo this…too much highlighting will have the opposite, negative effect. Giving the recipient a deadline to say yes can also help them put the requested task on a timeline and prioritize it.

Write an interesting subject line. Avoid stock or cookie-cutter phrases that might get your email lumped in (and glossed over) with others. Try using the recipient’s name in the subject to draw extra attention to your letter. I run ALL of my headlines and/or subject lines through Headline Analyzer. I ran the headline in this email through the Analyzer and improved it’s score from 25% TO 50%. Contact me at if you need help with this resource.

Establish credibility. “What’s in it for me” or” Why should I care” are questions everyone will be asking when reading an email from someone they don’t know. When creating your email, share data points or experience that supports why you are corresponding in the first place.

Be interesting and interested. It’s nice to articulate why you’re interested in them. It’s also nice to articulate why they should be interested in you. Try to have a voice and say something funny, meaningful, or thoughtful—preferably all three!
Try using these four tips in your email marketing and get to YES much quicker.

Kevin's Sig

Email marketing by the #’s

July 10th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Email marketing by the #’s”



Email marketing

Email marketing is an effective and popular way to reach customers, if they get read. These tips can help keep your subscribers engaged:

  • The best time to send emails is in the morning between 9am – noon.
  • Targeted emails’ open and click rates see a 14% improvement relative to general emails.
  • 52% of people use their cell phones for sending and receiving email. Make sure your emails are mobile friendly.
  • When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more.
  • 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone and subject lines with fewer than 10 characters had an open rate of 58%.
  • 7 in 10 people say they used a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week.

Quality communication with your prospects and customers can get you closer to that sweet spot of people actually looking forward to and reading your messages. Try testing subject lines and different offers in your email to see what is most effective with your clients.

Kevin's Sig


Are your images horribly scrunched and skewed?

July 1st, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Are your images horribly scrunched and skewed?”

Bad news on laptop screen

We have all visited websites where the images load very slowly one line at a time or we’ve seen horribly scrunched and skewed images being forced into some weird size. Using properly sized images on your website makes your website look more professional, and it loads faster! This is crucial when visitors are looking at your site on their phones. Here’s what we look for when we are resizing images for use on the web; file size, file type, desired dimensions and cropping.

File Size

Most photographs taken with a phone or digital camera are well over 1 MB (megabyte) in size. While 1MB isn’t extraordinary in size and likely wouldn’t take too long to download on a high speed connection, having an image that large on your site is not necessary. An image that is a MB (or 1024 kilobytes) can typically be resized using an image editing program to be much smaller (usually less than 100kb). Resizing your images before you load them on to your website will keep the site loading quickly and keep the quality of your images in tact as the browser won’t have to resize or reshape the image to fit the location.

File Type

Images come in many formats; jpeg, gif and png are a few of the more common file types. So how do you know what to use and when?

  • Jpg or jpeg – typically when we are using a photograph on a website, we will reduce the file size and save it as a jpeg. Jpegs were designed to make detailed images as small as possible by removing information that the human eye won’t notice. Jpeg is a good file type for a photograph or an image with a gradient. However, jpeg is not good for logos and line drawings as it tends to make them fuzzy.
  • Gif and Png – Gif and png files use lossless compression, meaning that you can save the image over and over and never lose any data (unlike a jpeg). This makes gifs and pngs good for logos, line drawings and other simple images that need to be small and crisp. These file types can also be transparent which makes them useful on websites when designing layered files. Depending on how your image was created and how you will be using the image, a png and gif file can be larger in size than a jpg.

Desired Dimensions

Creating an image to fit an exact area can be tricky. Typically when we are talking about dimensions for a website image, we are speaking “pixels.” A really wide website image might be 1900 pixels wide while your standard “about us” profile picture would be closer to 250 pixels wide.

A custom home builder recently sent us a group of photos to use on their homepage slider. The slider has fixed dimensions of 1000 pixels wide by 350 pixels tall. The images they sent us were taken by a professional photographer and they were huge (roughly 7MB each and approximately 6000 pixels wide by 4000 pixels tall). If we had loaded the images in their native file format, with no reduction, the image quality would have suffered when it rendered on the website. Here’s what we did: first, we reduced the image file size by running it though an image resizing program. The program we use is called PixResizer by BlueFive Software. It is freeware and can be downloaded from BlueFive Software. When we resized the images provided to us by our client, we chose to reduce the width of all the images to 1000 pixels which would fit our slider perfectly. However, the height of the image was still too tall for our slider. In this case, we also had to crop the image to make it fit our exact dimension.


In our example above, we had an image that was the correct width, however, the height was too tall. The image was 1000 pixels wide by 667 pixels tall. We needed an image that was 1000px x 350px. For this group of images, we needed to crop them in order to make them the right size for the slider we were using. Cropping can be tricky as you are actually cutting out part(s) of the image in order to make it a specific size. To do the cropping to specific dimensions you can use an online source like PicResize or a software program like Photoshop.

Properly sized images can make your website look and function better. If you aren’t sure if the images on your site are sized correctly for the location you can check it by going to your website and then right clicking on the image in question. Select the option to “View Image Info.” Under dimensions, you’ll see a pixel skewedpicsdimension (for example: 1,000px x 471px). If it shows that the dimensions have been scaled to a certain pixel size  you may want to resize the image outside of the website and then re-upload it with the proper dimensions. In this example a very large, 10MB 4,000 px wide picture has been forced into a tiny 152px wide space. Resizing this image and then re-uploading it to the site will increase the load time of this website.


Kevin's Sig


The lifeblood of your business

June 26th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “The lifeblood of your business”
Marketing and design

Your website … the lifeblood of your business.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, so you have to ask yourself, “are you giving them what they need?” 97% of all shoppers research products and services online before buying. Yet, many small business websites miss key elements consumers are looking for in their search.
Review your site today to ensure it includes:

  • Hours of operation: Customers don’t like showing up to a closed store.
  • Correct address: Help them with maps and local landmarks nearby.
  • Phone number: If they have a question and can’t find your number, they may contact a competitor.
  • Easy navigation: If they cannot find the information they want easily, they will move on.
  • Lipstick and rouge: Sites need updating to keep things fresh. Trends change. Judgments about the quality of your products and services are made while viewing your site. Make sure yours sends the right message.

Making a good first impression could mean the difference between them staying and buying, or moving on to your competitor. Since research can be done from a desktop, laptop, tablet, phone (even your wrist if you’ve added a little tech-style to your wardrobe), don’t overlook the tiny—but very important—details on every device.

Kevin's Sig