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Posts from the ‘Blog’ Category

Watering Down Your Brand

August 8th, 2013

Paul Merrill

Perrier teams up with Andy WarholPerrier teamed up with Andy Warhol (http://warhol NULL.perrier NULL.com/) for a series of limited edition bottles.

The problem is that the bottles are a long way from Andy Warhol’s original art. (The top photo shows Perrier’s plastic rendition. The bottom photo shows Mr. Warhol’s art.)

Since Andy Warhol died in 1987, he cannot speak up for maintaining the integrity of his artwork. And Perrier is driven by profits, so their reproduction of his artwork is limited by cost factors.

Andy Warhol and Perrier are a good reminder that you need to stay on top of how the public sees you or your organization. You can keep your organization’s image in the best possible position by doing these things:

1. If you have a logo, make sure the latest generation is everywhere. (Yahoo did not do that. Update: Yahoo is actually trying out 30 different logos (http://www NULL.usatoday NULL.com/story/tech/2013/08/06/yahoo-is-getting-a-new-logo/2617033/) on the unsuspecting public. But for the average person, this may appear to be some kind of a mistake.)

2. If you partner with another organization, make sure they keep your identity intact. Logo Design Love has a great set of links to graphic standards manuals (http://www NULL.logodesignlove NULL.com/brand-identity-style-guides) from many major corporations. Download a few to see how that’s done.

3. Set up graphic standards for your organization. (See the link just above.) This involves things like keeping the colors consistent across everything you produce.

4. You need to have a good website and a social media presence. Give me a shout and I can help.

Bad Social Media

August 1st, 2013

Paul Merrill

bad social mediaThere are a few easy things to do that will keep your social media presence looking and working right.

1. Carefully watch how your auto-posting applications work. This screen shot shows a content creator who was not watching. When someone sees the same post two times in a row, they know the source didn’t care enough to look at their content.

2. If your Facebook post is going to be fed to Twitter, make it short enough to not be cut off. Generally, craft your posts for Twitter differently than for Facebook, and don’t auto-post from one to the other.

3. Avoid the default Twitter background. Tweety Got Back (http://tweetygotback NULL.com/) has some awesome free Twitter themes.

4. Never tile your Twitter background. If it repeats, it looks very unprofessional.

Thanks!

Two Quick Tips for improving Your Blog

July 29th, 2013

Paul Merrill

your comment in jailHere are two very quick tips for improving your blog:

1. Do not require comments to be approved before they go live. By insisting on comment approval, you take away instant gratification from your readers. People love to see their blog posts go live right away! By allowing comments to go live instantly, you have to frequently monitor your comments. But you should be doing that anyway, so you can interact with your readers. Tip: Use captcha or another comment verification tool, so that you won’t have to wade through spam comments.

2. Do not require readers to register before they comment on your site. Adding that extra step will cut off many who would comment otherwise. Remember that your blog is about your readers and not you.

Take a Break

July 23rd, 2013

Paul Merrill

Merrill family vacationOn this Greener Grass Media blog, you are used to reading ideas to improve your business strategy. One of the best tips I can give you is to step back, take a break, and recharge your batteries.

The best way to improve your effectiveness at what you already do well is to breathe, go for a change of scenery, and take some time off from the pressing duties that fill your life. It’s good to do that away from your home. If you take a stay-at-home vacation, you will be constantly reminded of the things you need to do there. If you can’t afford to get away, drive to a different part of your town for the day. Eat lunch at a restaurant you’ve never been to.

Wherever you take your break, try these things:

  • Turn off your smartphone.
  • Use some physical energy – that will recharge your mind.
  • Do something that uses a totally different part of your brain than in normal life, such as drawing or doing puzzles.
  • And get some extra sleep.

A helpful tourist recently took this photo of my family in Yellowstone, Wyoming.

How Much to Charge?

June 19th, 2013

Paul Merrill

How Much to Charge?Three players are vying for the top slot in the smartphone universe: HTC, Samsung and Apple. Recently, the price of the HTC One dropped to $49 (http://www NULL.androidauthority NULL.com/sprint-htc-one-wirefly-49-99-229612/). The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been seen for $99. The iPhone 5, which is the oldest of the bunch, is still priced around $199.

Each phone has its advantages, but there is no clear winner (http://www NULL.theverge NULL.com/products/compare/6927/6116/6863/6814/6274/6082), unless you are an Apple-only person. Is Apple hurting their sales by keeping the price at $199? It is hard to say. They may be trying to keep an impression of exclusivity around the phone and the brand, or they may prevent new buyers from considering the phone.

Apple has so far avoided releasing more than one new phone at the same time. They will still sell you previous generations for “free” or for $99, but they do not yet have a lower-featured new phone. Just as Apple has a very carefully considered pricing policy, you need to carefully consider how you price what you offer.

Here are some things to consider as you figure out how much to charge:

  • Supply vs. demand: if supply is short, you can charge more. If the market is flooded, you have to charge less.
  • Positioning: if your offering is at the high or low end of the market.
  • What your competitors charge.
  • Differentiation: how unique your offering is.
  • For a service: factor in your hourly rate.
  • For a product: factor in how much it costs to produce.
  • Market demand will vary, so cover your costs enough to make up for the low times.
  • The amounts you pay for rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
  • How long it will take you to pay for the development costs.
  • Legal fees to protect your product or service.
  • Talk with potential end users of your product or service to find out if they think your proposed price is reasonable.

Value is important. But people will only pay what they think something is worth.

When to Push the Boundaries

May 28th, 2013

Paul Merrill

Chevrolet Impala controlsWhen do you keep things the way they are, and when do you push for change?

Chevrolet recently released a whole new version of their Impala (http://www NULL.chevrolet NULL.com/impala-sports-sedan NULL.html), a large sedan formerly banished to rental car lots. The new model is being marketed to a much younger audience. Chevrolet thinks they can gain some traction with the car’s sporty exterior and faster performance. What they don’t realize is that generally, people from 25-40 do not want large sedans.

A puzzling decision was their choice of people representing the selections in their on-screen dashboard control system. Each would appeal to people between 15 – 25. Current Impala buyers are in their 50s – 70s.

This is a small detail, but it reflects a lack of overall direction for the car. When you start your project, whether it is the revision of a multi-million dollar car or the relaunch of your newsletter, think of your actual audience. Be realistic by focusing on what they will respond to – and not on what the potential bleeding edge audience might like. Push the boundaries in areas where you will get some payback.

Photo courtesy of Car and Driver (http://www NULL.caranddriver NULL.com/) magazine.