Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How to Start a Business in 7 Steps

Small businesses are part of an overwhelming majority of all combined businesses in the United States. In fact, there are nearly 30 million small businesses that make up well over 99% of all businesses in the U.S.

Becoming an entrepreneur and designing a flexible career path doesn’t require a college degree, decades of management experience, or tons of money in the bank. Having a plan, following necessary steps, and maintaining the persistence to see it through are the only basic prerequisites needed to set you on a path for success.

Entrepreneur business startup strategy planning

Remember to set goals for yourself, your team, and your business as you go, and follow these seven steps to help get your business up and running smoothly.

1. Successful Business Start-Ups Have a Vision and Plan

A business plan is a clear snapshot of your business. It should be designed to clearly define the start, growth, and objective of your business, and the products and services one intends to offer and sell. In solidifying what’s ahead, a plan should outline its goals and milestones, primary operating procedures, and its greatest competition.

A well designed business plan should include the following sections:

1. Title Page
2. Summary
3. Business Description
4. Marketing Plan and Strategies
5. Competition Analytics
6. Development Plan
7. Operation and Management
8. Business Projections
9. Appendix

NOTE: If you seek funding from a loan or venture capitalist, nothing will be achieved without a business plan. Make sure your plan includes a marketing campaign, as sales is the lifeline of every business, and a business can not last without new buyers and customers.

2. Starting a Business Based on Market, Product, and Customer Research

The majority of new entrepreneurs will tend to neglect market research, but such due diligence is critical and helps you in the following ways:

Identify Your Target Market - Identify and research the people you are trying to reach, their needs, mentality, and current options in the market.

Test Your Idea - Before going to the market with your idea or product, test its viability and feedback from potential customers. This process will help you to identify ways to better your approach by revealing opportunities to better your product.

Understand the Needs and History of Your Target Market - Knowing all previous and current solutions will help to further define your options for bettering your product, and the approach you take in getting it to the market.

Research the Competition AND Market Partners - Start with online searches. Observe how their websites are structured, how they present their product, and the mechanisms they use to illustrate the benefit of becoming a customer.

NOTE: If no one else is doing “this” in the market, find out why. There may be a strong reason or validation that your product is in fact unique.

When researching or holding a focus group, ask about the factors that lead to the purchase (or not) of the product, about areas or opportunities for improvement, and (if purchased) about product satisfaction. Be willing to accept negative (or harsh) feedback as well as the good, both forms of information serve the same purpose: to better your product and improve chances for long-term success and profitability.

Research their advertising and marketing approaches. Learn from their mistakes and their success. Every pitfall you can identify and avoid will help to get your product to market faster and more efficiently.

Diversify Your Market Research Approach - Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in only one form of research, rather employ various methods such as: online, face-to-face, phone, surveys or questionnaires. The content value of your research gains value when diverse methods of acquiring such information are used.

3. Choosing and Registering Your Business Name

Before anything else, you must understand that your business name represents your business, your product, and you. It has the power to attract or repel potential customers and is as important as the product it represents.

Keyword brainstorming will help you to come up with a list of relevant potential names. Remember that this brand name will play a role in every aspect of your business and branding efforts. When developing a short list of possible names, identify potential implications (positive and negative), and associative words that represent your product.

When you settle on a business name, research it to make sure it is not in use or trademarked. If the name is okay to use, register it with your local and/or state Government (Secretary of State or County Clerk). Also, secure it as a domain name via GoDaddy.com or other Domain name registrar. If the exact name is not available, use slight variances until you find one that is relevant and available.

4. Create Your Business Logo and Marketing Material

Establishing your company’s identity (branding) involves a combination of Business and creative efforts. To help potential customers find, identify, and remember. You should have a logo that makes sense. That logo should then be visible in every aspect of your company’s marketing and promotion campaign.

Seeing its importance, the logo should embody your companies core character, and display these values using relevant colors, designs, and font styles.

Printed marketing materials include business cards, letterheads, envelopes, notepads, t-shirts, stickers, etc. Generally the more visible you become, the more the public will begin to know, like, and trust your company.

Business graphic design marketing material

Marketing is about effectively communicating the benefit of your company, and it starts with your logo and the design of your marketing materials. If you need a savvy graphic designer or printed marketing materials for your business, visit clashgraphics.com.

5. Get Business Tax ID, Licenses, and Permits

In order to avoid intellectual theft, lawsuits, or being misled in a partnership, take steps to secure all of the legal aspects of your business early on.

Some of the requirements to ensure your company is properly structured are:

  • Business Name
  • Business Structure (corporation, partnership, LLC, etc.)
  • Federal Tax ID or Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • State Tax ID
  • Municipal Tax ID
  • Register Your Business
  • Commercial/Business Permits
  • Commercial/Business License
  • Business Bank Account
  • Insurance

Being in good standing with your local government and tax authority is a fundamental prerequisite to your business success. It is prudent to consult a lawyer, tax specialist or accountant to ensure you are operating in accordance with all laws and fully protected. If you have employees, be aware that the following payroll requirements may also apply:

  • OSHA Requirements
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Federal Tax
  • State Tax
  • Local Tax
  • Payroll Tax (FICA, Social Security, Federal and State Unemployment Tax)

6. Choose and Establish a Business Location

Your business location should fit your current business needs and be flexible enough to support growth. Take the following into consideration:

Business Location - Does the location geographically suit the needs of your business and the business you will be doing? Is it convenient and easily accessible to your ideal customers?

Buy or Lease? - Determine the affordability of the location and whether or not this will be a short, mid, or long term location. This will be a substantial commitment, so consult a real estate professional to ensure that you understand all terms of the lease or purchase agreement.

Home Office or Storefront - In many business startups, the storefront is the home office. As your business grows, will you plan to move the “home office” to another location? Do you have the capital to maintain two separate locations from the start?

Foot Traffic - For a storefront location, ease of access is fundamental. Is there sufficient foot traffic to bring walk-ins and is the location easy to find?

Parking - If your customers have trouble finding a parking spot or simply don’t know where to park, they will go elsewhere. Again, ease of access plays a tremendous role in the success of your company.

Competition - After having invested in market research and done the footwork to know your customer’s demographics, the choice location may be near your competition.

Lastly, consider the majority of customers will navigate and find your location using their smart phone devices. Check that Google and Apple Maps recognizes and provides clear directions to your new potential place of business

7. Plan Your Finances and Fund Your Business

Part of being a small business owner is having the upfront capital for the initial investments and ongoing expenses until your business begins to turn a profit.

Having a clear concept of the difference between one-time costs and ongoing expenses will allow you to appropriately plan and invest in both. The following are the potential one-time startup costs you may have:

  • Market Research
  • Leasing Expenses
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Legal Fees
  • Office Equipment
  • Manufacturing Equipment
  • Trademarking
  • Branding

A few of the ongoing expenses you will have to cover may be:

  • Salary / Payroll
  • Rent
  • Advertising / Marketing Budget
  • Supplies
  • Utilities

When you self-fund your business, you are in control of its path, equity, and future. Seek additional funding through a bank loan, credit union, or line of credit.

Another capital strategy is to negotiate advance payments from strategic partners, or offer a discount to clients willing to prepay their services. If your product is in high demand, those that have a need may be willing to fund you as well.

Kick starter or other crowd funding platforms are popular and effective methods to raise capital for your new venture.

While there are infinite ways to fund a new business, beware of unscrupulous contracts and agreements that may jeopardize the present or future well-being of your business.

Starting a Business Through Informed Decisions

When creating, developing, realizing the information and structure for a new business, every available venue for research and knowledge should be exhausted. Making informed decisions about the structure, functionality, size, and location of your business from the start will give you a better chance at obtaining steady growth and eventual success.

A potential framework for your new startups’ success is - having surpassed tangible milestones while setting new goals to reach.


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/how-to-start-business-7-steps/

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Printing Essentials for Promoting Your Band and Music

Competition in the music industry is fierce. With so many online platforms to get songs out to the public, there has been a flood of aspiring musicians and bands releasing music haphazardly.

Many believe that releasing a good song is all they need to do to be “discovered”, only to find that without a team, fan base, marketing plan, and consumption of the music, failure is all but guaranteed.

Marketing and promoting band playing on stage

With everyone focused on digital marketing, there is a tremendous marketing opportunity for terrestrial or physical promotion. Don’t misunderstand this, the digital market is important. However, successfully promoting your band and music requires a multi-faceted approach that leverages all mediums and avenues available to provide exposure to your artistry.

The following are physical marketing essentials that any band or musician can use to increase their local visibility, brand themselves, and more importantly, stand out in an over saturated market that's primarily focusing on online marketing and social media.

Using Outdoor Banners and Posters at Events

Banners provide a “larger than life” image that when properly placed will catch the attention of onlookers near and far. To see examples of banners, large format printing, and signs, visit clashgraphics.com/large-format-printing/

Likewise, posters are another beneficial marketing tool. In a closed environment or location where there is heavy foot traffic, well designed posters can bring awareness to your latest release, next show, or simply help to increase your exposure to a new audience.

When booking an event, a consideration of your marketing team should be regarding banner and poster placement. Most venues do, so if the venue has the space to support them, plan to use posters and banners strategically.

Having Business Cards and Flyers

The music industry is essentially like any other business. Until reaching “Pop” or “Iconic” status, you will need to consistently promote an exchange your contact information with other music professionals, fans, and media. Professionally printed business cards and flyers are both great ways to accomplish this goal. For business cards, visit clashgraphics.com

Using business card for promoting band and music

Business cards will share your contact information, while flyers promote your activities, events, for upcoming releases. Both are invaluable tools that are efficient and easy to distribute.

Branding with CD Inserts and CD Duplications

Like anyone else, you probably have a stack of your favorite CD’s sitting somewhere. Some of them have elaborate designs or striking images (full color print), while others only have a name or title printed on them (partial print).

Printed CD design and duplication with insert

Whether you are marketing a single track or a full album, the visual can be as important as the musical content when it comes to brand recognition and accomplishing widespread adoption. Music is often associated with an experience or feeling, and from the branding perspective, its visual representation can also have a profound impact on the psyche of consumers and fans.

Besides CD duplications, CD inserts are a wise option. With inserts, branding, social media, the track listing, band members, and history of the band or musician, etc. can be easily presented and consumed.

The Success of Your Band and Its Music

Success in the music industry depends on several factors outside your immediate control, such as - what genre is popular at the moment, if the industry evolving due to cultural or technological changes, what the listeners want to hear.

However, what you can control is the quality of your music, your persistence, and the strategy you employ for your marketing and promotional efforts.

While nothing can guarantee “super-stardom”, maintaining a balanced quality marketing strategy with both online and physical promotion can help you solidify a place in the market, and hopefully atop the Billboard charts.

As with any other business, advertising and promotion draw attention! However, it is the quality of the product - and in this case music - that keeps the consumer coming back for more.


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/printing-essentials-promoting-your-band-music/

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hair Salon & Barber Shop Business Secrets Revealed

While sitting in the barber chair having my hair (what’s left of it) cut and styled, I had an epiphany. The next subject for the Clash blog would be about start up secrets to help you in opening your own hair salon or barber shop. After putting the word out, a successful young salon owner named Monica contacted me. Following is a Q & A session we had over a couple of acai bowls.

Barber drying hair in salon after drying

Describe Your Hair Salon Start Up Experience

“That’s a big question. It can actually be answered in four parts which led up to the grand opening of my salon. Inspiration, training, business plan, and courage were the principle factors leading to my successful salon opening and its longevity since.

Inspiration - As a child, mom and dad gave me a ton of stuffed animals and dolls. Armed with a pair of kiddy scissors, I went to work cutting and grooming all of the hair on all of them. As I grew older, it dawned on me that their “hair” never grew back (chuckling), but our hair never stops growing or changing. We will always have a need for barbers and stylists. That moment and realization was the turning point in my life. I knew my calling was in the beauty industry.

Training - For a barber or stylist, certification and experience are vital components to their careers. For the salon or shop owner, certification, experience, business administration, financial administration, marketing, and investing must all be accurately mastered and employed to secure and maintain a successful venture. These skills can be improved over time, but hiring and training the right people is a tremendous shortcut and advantage.

Business Plan - The guiding light of your vision is your business plan. As simple or complex as it may be, this plan is the blueprint of how your business will look and operate. Some of the necessary components of a business plan are a set of operational values and mission statement, acquiring proper training, skilled persons, a timeline targeting specific goals and deadlines, location scouting, pricing, furniture and supply cost, financing opportunities, filling key positions, and when to fill them. The core structure and outline of this plan can prevent the haphazard operation and failure that many proprietors face.

Courage - You cannot quantify the amount of courage, hard work, and persistence needed to start your own business. There are numerous “unknowns” that come with a start up, and your ability to remain committed and adapt to circumstances is crucial to your success. Meeting any and every challenge, with the ability to modify your plan accordingly will get you through the toughest of times.” Business IQ takes experience to learn, but success is attracted to fearless leaders that take bold action. If you need coaching or consulting, ask for help, but never ask for permission.”

How Did You Choose Your Salon Furniture and Equipment?

“The beauty industry is well populated with successful business models, as well as not-so-successful ones. When I was developing my business plan, I visited many salons and barber shops. I spoke with barbers, stylists, owners and customers to get first hand knowledge of what worked and what could be improved.

An interesting aspect of the salon vs. the barber shop became very evident. Most of the furniture, equipment and products were virtually the same. Decades ago, the setting of a barber shop was dramatically different from that of a salon. Now-a-days, the core structure is not very different, in fact, in many cases, they are nearly identical.

With my vision firmly laid out, I also scoured the internet looking for salon equipment suppliers and comparing their prices and financing opportunities. I broke the materials needed down into four segments; Salon equipment, salon furniture, hair products, and the reception area.

Salon Equipment - The selection of quality equipment, tools, and supplies is fundamental in creating an excellent work environment, leading to fantastic styling and customer experiences. Once you have decided on the brands, colors, quantities, and varieties, start shopping local and online stores for the best prices and terms. For example, salonca.com will offer or create a “package deal” offering discounts and special financing.

You really need to look at everything. Whether it’s brushes, combs, clippers, appliance holders, appointment books, towels, aprons, and hair dryers, be detailed in what you want, expect, and need from each piece of equipment.

Salon chairs furniture and equipment

Salon Furniture - The selection of salon furniture is another tremendous ingredient of the decision making process. The question here is “What theme/era are you planning for the salon?” Whether it be a contemporary, luxurious, goth, pastel, or posh theme, the quality and comfort of your furniture can set you apart from the competition.

The comfort of your salon chairs, barber chairs, cushions, styling stations, shampoo chairs and bowls will impact and can determine whether or not you win over and attract repeat customers.

Before choosing your location, these equipment and furniture details should be ironed out. It is imperative that you compare companies for pricing, warranties, and financing. Strategic planning and knowing how much you are going to spend in your start up is a key factor in determining most other aspects of your business plan. After the location has been chosen, the interior plan can be modified to accommodate the size and physical limitations of the space.

Hair Products - The hair products that are used and available will speak volumes about your salon. The better the quality of shampoo, conditioner, gel, and coloring products, the better the result for the customers. Having reached this stage in your profession, you have probably already chosen a favorite line of products. Find a reliable supplier that will keep you stocked up without breaking the bank.

Reception Area - The first impression! Having visited hundreds (yes, hundreds) of barber shops and salons, I can attest to the absolute necessity of a comfortable, well lit, relaxing environment for your customers to comfortably wait in. Offer them the opposite and you are asking to wave goodbye to your clientele.

It should always begin with a warm greeting, but there’s much more to it from that point. The reception desk, displays, pictures, chairs, tables, magazines, television, etc. all play a role in the vibe and customer’s experience. Always keep in mind that customers are shopping with more than their budget restrictions. Most often consumers patronize businesses where they feel respected, appreciated, and part of the community.

Given its impact, this area within your business should be well planned, researched, and budgeted beforehand.”

How Does Location Impact the Business?

“Quite frankly, location is everything. You will need to ask yourself, (pause) here let me ask you, it will be easier;

  • How much money have you projected for rent?
  • What demographic are your skills best suited for?
  • Can you communicate and interact well with a diverse clientele?
  • Is this going to be a permanent location or will you eventually expand and move?
  • What types of businesses do you want in the vicinity of your salon?
  • What are the city and/or county taxes on business income?
  • Are there grants, tax breaks, or financial assistance for new businesses at the city, county, or state level?

With those questions in mind, let’s now switch gears and take a look at three typical locations for a barber shop or hair salon.

Retail Area - The cost for this type of location may be a bit higher than average. However, this can easily be offset in revenue generated with the right marketing and advertising campaign that turns passerby’s into paying customers .

A core benefit of this type of location is the visibility and traffic created by businesses surrounding it. What anchor stores are in the vicinity or nearby strip malls? Will they help promote your business? Popular grocery stores and restaurants help to attract large volumes of people, furthering your exposure and growth opportunities.

Strip Mall - In this scenario, you will likely end up with a neighbor on either or both sides of your salon. There will also be a list of rules regarding the use of the facade, hours of operation, trash and dumpster location, etc.

Barber shop entrance in strip mall

You can add a property, maintenance, or building administration fee to the rent. And depending on the affluence of the neighborhood, that rent may be a hard cookie to swallow.

Again, location is everything. If there is a popular anchor store in the strip mall, foot traffic resulting in walk-ins will increase. Are there schools or community centers in the vicinity? Reaching out in the surrounding community offering promotions or even sponsoring events will attract great press and increase your visibility.

Shopping Mall - Locating a hair salon or barber shop start up in a shopping mall can get extremely expensive very quickly. The rules and guidelines for store operations and advertising are extensive and may be limiting, so get full disclosure of all policies and regulations.

Quite frankly, the idea of opening a start up in a shopping mall is way too risky. Once your business has established itself, accumulated significant capital, and a stable customer base, this may then be a viable option.”

Target Customers and Demographics of the Immediate Area

“Most salons and barber shops serve a particular customer base from a certain geographic area. Ease of access and convenience are major factors, so it is important to consider the area surrounding your location, and survey:

  • Where are the surrounding competitors?
  • Is there sufficient density of the market segment your salon is catering to?
  • What are your prices and the wealth or affluence of the homeowners in the area?

Your location is a major decision in the success and outcome of your salon. Be mindful and extremely considerate before making a commitment to your business location.”

How do You Go About Financing Salon Equipment?

“As I mentioned earlier, salon and barber shop supply stores will typically offer financing for larger purchases. In many cases, they are willing to bundle equipment, furniture, and all the supplies into a single salon equipment package.

In many cases, banks and credit unions will offer low interest loans to help get your business started, in return for your banking business. A little research here goes a long way. Online there are a number of resources, such as Kabbage which offer short term business lines of credit. With Kabbage, you can obtain a business line of credit up to $150,000.00 with 6 or 12 month terms (subject to approval of course). You can read more about them here kabbage.com/hair-beauty-salon-equipment-loans/

Your success or failure in receiving financing hinges on your personal and business credit worthiness. Be vigilant with your credit scores, how you use your credit cards, and more importantly, make your payments on time. Late and missed payments reported to the credit bureaus can heavily impact how lenders see you, dissuading them from offering you loans or further credit.”

What Advice Would You Leave Us With?

“Do it right the first time. Make a plan, do the research, educate yourself, get the proper training, acquire the proper licensing, get your website up and running, start a social media campaign, acquire a good location, get your salon equipment and furniture, hire amazing people and train them well, watch videos like this one:

This list can go on and on. Ultimately, your business will reflect the amount of energy, education, and passion you are willing to invest in it. As with any other business start up, make sure you have a plan and have fun as it comes to life.”


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/hair-salon-barber-shop-business-secrets-revealed/

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Real Estate Marketing - Secrets Shared at a Private Event

Sitting in on a real estate marketing meeting was never on my list of things to do. Until one day, I was shamed by my best friend Shawn into going.

Looking back on the experience, I can say that it was truly an eye opener. The people were friendly, the food was excellent and the drinks were killer! Most impressive were the topics and ideas presented to the 30 men and women that day.

Following are the enlightening real estate marketing tips that were presented by Don and Pat (husband and wife real estate wizards).

Build a Website That is Capable of Generating Leads

Don began by explaining how the methods of marketing had dramatically changed over the past decade. People’s attention span was about 2 seconds and if your website content couldn’t deliver a clear benefit quick enough, it would fail.

He then showed us the differences between successful websites and poorly managed one’s. The successful sites were well structured with pertinent information, high-quality and captivating photos of all properties, video walk-throughs, and other features that enhanced the process for a buyer or seller. Take a look at this video walk through virtual tour example:

After delivering valuable information and rich content, the website left you asking for more but required your email address or phone number. This turned visitors into leads, and made the website more than a digital brochure.

After Don’s presentation, it became obvious how certain elements could greatly impact the effectiveness and value a website delivered.The two core principles Don presented that stood out were;

Navigation through successful sites was obvious and always simple. Even the novice users could get the information they needed without getting “lost” or having to search. Visitors come to a website for their own benefit; make what they are looking for easy to find and they will reward you with their attention. In the web design industry, intuitive design and ease of use is known as “user experience”. Ensure your web development company is proficient in this department, or little else will matter.

Branding and curated content that spoke to a specific segment of the market. We can’t be all things to all people. A real estate website is no different, and must clearly indicate the market and people it serves. A first time homebuyer has vastly different needs than someone looking for a luxury home. Or consider parents buying a home in a great school district and the things that would be important to them. Knowing and displaying this information on your website speaks volumes, and subconsciously lets the customer know you understand them and their specific needs. Feeling understood is an intangible that makes your customer comfortable. When setup properly, your website can help earn the goodwill and trust of a potential client.

Take a look at this well branded website that is catering to luxury condo owners:

Real estate agent branded website

Establish a Referral Program

Pat took over at this point and provided an interesting and shocking statistic. She said, “On average, out of every 100 people that call you, only 18 will come from your marketing efforts. The other 82 will be referrals from past or current clients.”

This made perfect sense to me. All my adult life, I have understood the building power of “word of mouth” and how important it is in any business to keep your clients buzzing about your products and services.

Real estate meeting and referral program

Thus this staggering statistic cannot be overlooked, or you will fail. Put into perspective, 8 out of 10 calls are a function of your network and six degrees of separation amongst people you know, or people that know you.

With this in mind, a large part of your marketing efforts must be to encourage and facilitate said referrals from this group. In essence, your job in marketing is to create visibility and awareness while fostering deeper relationships within your existing network.

She went on to explain how simple “rewards for referrals” would entice people to spread your name. Be creative she said, “rewards can be in the form of any number of fun things, like concerts, dinners, or money.” People want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts.

However, Pat warned us, “Your service and product must contain superior quality in all of its aspects. Without quality, there will be no referrals to worry about.”

Remaining Relevant With Social Media Profiles

Don picked up seamlessly where Pat left off and asked the room for a show of hands, “How many of you have a Facebook profile?” Everyone had a hand in the air. He then went on to explain that social media is the new-age dominant word-of-mouth marketing medium.

Real estate agent social media facebook profile

“Everyone in some way is connected by social media, Facebook alone has over 2 billion users.” and that “Anyone shying away from building and asserting their brand and value on social media is losing out on potential clients and revenue in a big way.”

After taking us on a quick tour of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, Don said this: “Quality and engaging engaging content is your #1 goal. Not sales! If you can’t focus on quality content that’s relevant to your customer, don’t waste your time.”

Home buyers and sellers are interested in a wide variety of things. Use your social media platform to call attention to the important ones that are directly affecting your clients. Some examples are: pricing trends, housing inventory levels, interest rate hikes, a new home coming available in a highly sought after area, or highlighting the schools and local amenities within a neighborhood.

Relevant facts and statistics are critical in getting people to pay attention. Stop and think, how many of us randomly post images, phrases, and comments without giving much thought to them. What if we were (as Don put it) focusing first on the end-user and their needs.

The majority of the time you should focus on their interests, but being entertaining also has its benefits. Watch how this young realtor uses her YouTube channel to be personal and showcase a day in her life:

Sponsorship of Local Teams, Charities, and Events

At this point, we all expected Pat to pick up the microphone. She did not and Don sat down. They toasted each other with their martinis as Brad came from the back of the room (microphone in hand) talking about sponsorship.

“Sponsorship of local events, charities, and athletes is one of the fastest ways to create visibility, awareness, and build trust in a community. With banners, flyers, hand-outs, and signs, you are able to personally engage and show the people your investment in their well-being and the local community.” He went on to explain, “For your yard signs to be effective, there must be a level of trust behind the brand. Only then will the SOLD sign be attached.”

Real estate community charity sponsorship

Turns out that Brad is Don and Pat’s son. Also a very successful real estate agent (and great bartender too). His message ended with an emphasis on the quality of all printed material and again, “Your content on everything printed must contain the highest quality customer-focused information, otherwise it will not convey your message and simply be tossed in the trash.”

This is part one in a two part series. For the rest of these real estate marketing tips, check back here: www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/real-estate-marketing-secrets-shared/

Monday, October 2, 2017

Restaurant Marketing - Increase Sales and Fill Empty Seats

Successful restaurants establish a connection with their customers. It is this connection that keeps loyal customers coming back and telling others. Customers become “Fans for life” when the ambience and food quality come together to create a lasting emotional and culinary impression.

A fantastic example of this impression is found with a memory nearly all of us over 30 from all walks of life share: It begins with red and white checkered table cloths, dark wood finishing on the tables and booths (with their red leather padding), slightly dimmed lighting, parmesan and chili flake shakers next to the salt and pepper shakers, a juke box in the corner, and winding down to a table top PacMan or Space Invaders game somewhere close to the salad bar.

As the example illustrates, when a restaurant is able to capture all or a part of something unique and special, business picks up, sales increase and empty seats get filled. After all, “the greatest expense a restaurant can have is an empty seat.”

In this article, Clash Graphics addresses the impact of customer experience and marketing on keeping the seats in your restaurant filled. Both of which every restaurant owner should relentlessly keep at the top of their priority list.

Restaurant Customer Experience

Ask yourself this: “How do I see my restaurant?” Before answering that question, consider getting feedback from both customers and employees. Ultimately, it is the customer experience that drives a restaurant’s revenue. While it is the employees that support the customer experience by maintaining the ambience, food quality, service, and engagement with customers.

Discovery - The two principle ways a person finds a restaurant are by personal recommendations or through the marketing plan with ads, signs, invitations, etc. Both of which provide the opportunity to exceed expectations and create a customer for life.

Customer Expectations - Understanding the wants and needs of customers is vital to meeting their expectations. Encourage them to give reviews, fill out comment cards, or take online satisfaction surveys.

Customer feedback is often priceless insight that should be taken seriously. It is this information that provides an exact blueprint which enables the development of a plan to meet and exceed their needs.

Diner providing feedbackfor restaurant customer service

Curb Appeal - What does the entrance of the restaurant look like? Are there cars in the parking lot (signaling success and popularity). Is the location easy to find for a first time customer? The importance of location and visibility cannot be overstated. That said, the outside of a restaurant will often times determine the customer’s mood and expectations before ever stepping foot in the actual restaurant.

Restaurant Staff - These are the people responsible for bringing your vision to life. In turn, they must deliver an elevated level of service, and seamlessly work together from all points in the restaurant to create an amazing experience for all customers and guests.

Think how genuinely engaged the staff at Disney World is, and how their cheer, charm, and willingness to go to any length impacts your experience and emotional association with their brand.

For this reason, service staff applicants should be screened and hired with the customers in mind. Remembering that personality and attitude are fundamental, they can’t be taught. However, the skills to support an amazing customer experience can be taught, and must be purposefully reinforced.

Food - The greatest asset (or detriment) to the customer experience is the food. It is the make or break ingredient from your menu (click here) which ultimately determines whether a seat remains empty or a restaurant has a highly sought after waiting list.

One of the most special things to hear is your customer saying, “Mmmmmm, this tastes so good...” or “This reminds me of...” It is food that is nearly always associated to people, places, and memories. Thus, being associated and part of a lifelong memory of your customer is the greatest of accomplishments.

Satisfied diner eating pizza in restaurant

So, when customers offer feedback on a restaurant’s food, they are speaking from their taste in food, cultural experience, and more importantly their expectations. Use this invaluable information to fine tune the kitchen and at times, refine the menu.

Superior Relationship Marketing for Return Customers

“What am I going to eat tonight?” This is the question that your restaurant’s marketing campaign should consider and effectively answer. People in general want to feel they belong and are a part of something authentic. Running promotional “gimmicks” can generate short term results, but consistent, meaningful, and engaging interactions will create “life long fans” for your restaurant.

Comment Cards and Satisfaction Surveys - In the above section we discussed encouraging feedback, comments, and online reviews. This not only gives your customers a sense of inclusion, but also illustrates that their opinion matters. The win for the restaurant is a better understanding of what customers not only want, but what they expect.

However, merely asking for feedback isn’t enough, and is your opportunity to prove your genuine concern and commitment to a fantastic experience.

An impactful way to encourage customers to contribute feedback is as simple as offering a free side or dessert. Not only have you gotten valuable feedback, you’ve given them a reason to come back to claim their complimentary dish.

First Time Customers - Creating an experience for a first-time customer venturing into your restaurant can be truly exciting and leave a lasting impression. Ring a bell, make an announcement, offer a token of appreciation, a discount on the meal, free drinks, a free appetizer, or free dessert. And for a cherry on top, involve the chef or owner to personally welcome and extend these accommodations.

Not only does such a gesture buy goodwill and leave an impact, but this personal touch also gives the patron an opportunity to become acquainted with signature dishes and desserts they may otherwise have never tasted. Sometimes, putting on a little show can bring big results, especially when combined with culinary charm and great food.

Celebrating Milestones - Set up a customer contact database with contact information and relevant dates (first time at the restaurant, birthday, anniversary, children’s birthdays, etc.). This information allows for dynamic future customer interaction via text, email, or phone.

Diners toasting milestones in restaurant

Whether offering a “Half-Off” day for their “Birth” day, free champagne for an anniversary dinner, or even a free signature dish; their occasion will be unforgettable, unique, and special.

This level of personalization and attention is a sure fire way to permanently embed the idea that you and your staff care about and value them as customers.

And dare not forget about game day (if it’s that type of restaurant). If you simply collect their favorite team or sports preferences, you have the opportunity to create Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, or World Cup events. Which affords your restaurant another rapport building opportunity, where your customers can eat, drink, and cheer on their teams while enjoying your food and service.

All too often, marketing campaigns are selfishly-focused and structured for short term results. Employing a celebratory and unique approach not only provides a higher frequency of engagement, but also establishes a deeper and more meaningful relationship with your customers.

Take a look at these guest testimonials from Adventures by Disney:

Using relational marketing you now have the opportunity to acknowledge, invite, and celebrate their milestones along with them.

Lifelong Customers Expect Value and Quality

Marketing and acquiring new customers is expensive, thus care and special attention to improve customer retention is an efficient means of improving lifetime value, and creating long-term relationships with potential loyal supporters of your restaurant.

The goal of this article has been to initiate a conversation on how customer experience and retention-focused marketing are inseparable. Simply serving decent food will only get you so far. Offering value and quality in exchange for the customer’s time, money, and experience are fundamental for a business to survive.

As people are becoming more desiring of ordering takeout and prone to convenience, it cannot be stressed enough that “value” is the key to unlocking the loyalty of lifelong customers and filling those empty seats.

High-quality food and unique experiences go a long way in communicating your restaurants commitment to earning patrons business, and delivering an unmatched service. At the end of the day, filing empty seats is a reward for the restaurant that caters to and serves its customers best.


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: http://www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/restaurant-marketing-increase-sales/

Monday, August 21, 2017

Three Secrets to Growing Your Gym or Personal Training Business

personal trainer providing individual customer experienceIf you work in the fitness and personal training industry then you know how competitive and difficult it can be to keep loyal customers. Some clients give up after just a few sessions in the gym, while others will change their gyms to avoid the monotony.

You may feel people are going to come to train at your gym simply because it’s the closest one too them, but a gym needs more than being close to a client to draw them through the door. Marketing strategies are needed to not just get customers to join your gym in the first place, but also to build and maintain the relationship that keeps them coming back for more.

The only way to attract new clients and ensure old ones keep coming back for more is to offer them something that is unique to your gym. They must also be kept motivated. They rely on you to keep them on course for reaching their personal goals. It is also critical to create personal relationships with clients and offer them benefits that make training in your gym a more attractive and unique experience that what your competitors are offering.

Clash Graphics serves a number of fitness professionals that have and are aiming to grow their training businesses; below are 3 fundamental business strategies that will help accomplish that goal.

Offer Specialty-Focused and Unique Classes

One of the most common reasons for losing members – and an issue frequently brought up in customer feedback – is that there aren’t enough unique classes being offered by the facility. Providing clients with a range of relevant, popular, and interesting gym classes that give them the results they need is the simplest way to retain customers and boost business for your gym. Here are 3 fitness classes that focus and target varied demographics and customers.

Barre – Barre classes combines postures taken from disciplines such as ballet, yoga, and Pilates. Barre is popular with women in particular because it tones down the areas they want without stressing their joints. Barre is a group training that promotes community and brings women together as they tone their butt, thighs, abs, and arms.

outdoor gym class using hiit high intensity interval training

HIIT – HIIT – short for High Intensity Interval Training – is a kind of interval training where short but intense periods of anaerobic exercise are combined with less intense periods used to recover. HIIT produces great results and is ideal for both men and women looking to push themselves past merely lifting weights.

Zumba – Zumba is an aerobic fitness program inspired by a range of Latin American dance typically performed to Latin American dance music. Zumba classes appeal to former dances and people that enjoy burning calories and enjoying an elevated heart rate while having a lot of fun.

Engage with your customers. Find out what they enjoy and any new classes they have heard of and are interested in. Kickboxing, spin, and Crossfit are all popular classes that have exploded in popularity. Listen to your clients and satisfy their interest with new and exciting ways to stay fit.

Build Community and Personalized Experiences

Personal trainers and gym owners need to give individual customers their personal attention. Providing quality customer service is another way to build sales and improve retention. Even if you have the most physically fit personal trainers around, clients will look elsewhere if they feel they aren’t treated as individuals.

A good quality personal trainer aims to make working out as enjoyable as possible. They encourage clients during the tough lifts, and show members proper form and technique to prevent injuries, which can cause clients to cancel their memberships.

Make the most out of group training and classes. Offer a range of group activities to get your customers conversing with each other and creating the kind of relationships that go beyond the gym. This creates the feeling of community and friendships, and gives clients more reason to come back to the gym outside of having a good workout.

Prioritize Online and Search Marketing

Search engine optimization and marketing through search engines allows customers to discover you when looking for a gym or personal trainer in their area. Consider how important and valuable it would be to have your service right in front of potential customers right when they want to find a workout solution or personal trainer. There’s also the important fact that these people might be customers you would otherwise have no access to, and they might go to a competitor.

using a search engine to locate a personal trainer

Search engine marketing involves creating and distributing content relevant to your gym and potential clients. Create content that would interest your customers and makes you – and your gym – come across as an expert. You are an expert after all!

The content should be a mix of things like workouts, ideas for meal plans, and photos and videos of exercises. After producing the content you should push it out onto your social media networks and make use of relevant hashtags and keywords.

It all goes together to tell a search engine that you have a lot of relevance to fitness training, which means that your business will show up higher in Google search results when people search for local gyms and personal trainers.

Note: 9/10 online experiences start with using a search engine, and over two-thirds of customers that perform local searches go to locations within 5 miles of where they live.

Grow Your Gym Through Meaningful Marketing and Action

It is important that you think proactively about the next strategy you will use – along with how to best communicate the value and benefits of your services to ideal customers.

All too often a promotional or marketing campaign is focused entirely on bringing in new customers – and they do it well – but without considering, or indeed offering, the kind of long term care and attention needed to retain customers.

The process of marketing your gym or training business is an ongoing one. Surviving in the modern market means building interest and credibility through word-of-mouth, impactful advertising, and – perhaps most importantly – the results and experiences you deliver to clients.

Once you satisfy your customer’s needs, you must continue creating an unforgettable experience in the gym to keep them engaged, committed, and spreading the word.

In a later series we will cover specific strategies and promotions that will instantly drive new business. Check back, and for additional printing and marketing articles, visit


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: http://www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/three-secrets-growing-your-gym-personal-training-business/

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Political Campaign Marketing - Identifying & Developing a Narrative

printed vinyl banner behind Ronald Reagan 1984 campaignEach and every candidate puts forward a set of policies and values which represent their intentions if elected. The voters are seemingly voting based upon these policies and values.

Skillfully optimized political campaigns target and influence the votes we cast. Policies and values are great to have, but alone, will not win an election.

Marketing is the arrow while public opinion is the target. Everything from coffee mugs, t-shirts,
yard signs, bumper stickers, campaign rallies, and talk shows are used to impact that opinion on a candidate or an entire political party. For high quality campaign printing products visit www.clashgraphics.com/campaign-printing.

In this article, we address the identification and development of a narrative, which is required to run and win a political campaign.

Political Narrative Explained

“Narrative-building is essential for almost every complicated argument because it’s the only way to get our pattern-seeking brains to discount contradictory facts and data.”, as described by Jonah Goldberg for National Review. A narrative is a communication mechanism that must be strategically created.

Identifying the Narrative

For a political campaign, there is no other aspect as important as the narrative. Look no further than the candidate. It is the candidate’s set of beliefs, character, personality, and history which mold the narrative. Considering, representing, and exemplifying the wants and needs of one’s constituents is largely what makes a candidate worth voting for.

Presidential Campaign Narrative Example

2008 - Presidential Election John McCain vs. Barack Obama - With John McCain, the narrative was wrapped in a blanket of long term experience, having made serious sacrifices for the country as a wartime veteran. “Country First” and “The Original Maverick” were slogans based on his life and history.

Professionally printed campaign signs and banner McCain 2008

Barack Obama’s narrative was focused on his being a junior Senator and a political outsider. “Change We Can Believe In” and “Yes We Can” became the focus as the campaign developed while inspiring the hope for real change and political reform.

printed banner and campaign signs Obama campaign speech 2008

At the time of the 2008 election, there were several factors which led to Barack Obama’s victory. Many argue fatigue over the Republican party and a desire for radical change in Washington D.C. were the deciding factors. It is undeniable however, that Obama’s “Yes We Can” and “Change” narratives were suited and appealed to the majority of voters in 2008 and 2012.

Developing the Narrative

Over the course of a campaign, the primary narrative does not alter. The details of it are exalted to attain a desired reaction from a specific voting demographic. A candidate must consider their hometown, age, ethnicity, wealth, education, and gender. Then careful research and a deep understanding of the opinions and emotions of voters, allows one to succinctly summarize and verbalize a core purpose and aim of the campaign. The following five steps will assist in the formulation of a political narrative:

Interview the Candidate - Learn about the candidates past experiences, how he/she was influenced in life. Gather stories or anecdotes which can be used throughout the campaign.

Create Compelling Ads from the Narrative - Using current events and demographics as a guide, create ads which speak to voters and the issues they are dealing with.

Use the Candidate’s Personal Stories - Voters typically cast their votes for someone they can relate to. In this case, it isn’t as much about party affiliation or even politics. The most effective hooks are sometimes derived from the candidate’s personal stories, allowing voters to get a glimpse of and relate to the person.

Current Events and the Message - As a campaign progresses, the narrative and message should be able to absorb current events at the local, national, and international level. Voters will learn about breaking news and wait to see what the candidate has to say.

Target Narrative Keywords and Phrases - Once the campaign has developed the narrative and its message, the keywords and phrases should then be turned into campaign marketing materials, such as: coffee mugs, t-shirts, yard signs, bumper stickers, hats and banners for rallies, town hall meetings and conventions.

Narratives are Branding Strategies

Similar to how large companies employ branding tactics, creating a narrative makes a political party or a candidate the favorable brand. It is through the narrative that people are able to relate to the candidate.

As with any marketing strategy, this sort of branding must be masterfully employed. Even the most well-tuned narrative can backfire. However, when implemented correctly, a narrative and its slogans can be remembered for generations. “Prouder, Stronger, Better” and “Morning In America” were campaign gems that made their way to bumper stickers, yard signs, t-shirts, and flyers from coast to coast as Ronald Reagan swept the 1984 presidential election. 

Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440469/political-narratives-make-facts-serve-larger-storyline

Photos: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/President_Reagan_giving_Campaign_speech_in_Austin%2C_Texas_1984.jpg


Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing
2140 Peachtree Rd NW #301 Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 235-3464

To view the original version on Clash Graphics, visit: http://www.clashgraphics.com/printing-tips/political-campaign-marketing-identifying-developing-narrative/