Email your clients a virus (just kidding)

How a negative email turned into a positive experience.

A few months back one of my employees sent me an email with an attachment saying, “I can’t open this, can you? Is this from one of our clients?” I glanced at the email, saw it was from one of our valued clients and opened the doc. Uh-oh!

Thank god it wasn’t a terrible destroying type of virus, but it was a “phishing” email trying to collect as many emails as possible. It started sending the same email to all 3000+ friends, family and clients in my in contact list.

Within two hours my phone was ringing off the hook and my email was jammed. “Why are you sending me this? Did you mean to send me this? How do I open it?” On and on for the next 48 hours, argh!

Ok, so this experience was annoying and embarrassing, but it was also delightful! I heard from clients and friends that I haven’t heard from in years. We were reconnected! We set up lunch appointments and happy hours, I had past clients wanting new work, referrals were passed, the list went on and on.

When was the last time you reached out to your clients?

In a way it was one of the best “mistakes” I had made. Marketing 101: Reach out and stay on the top of people’s minds. We tell our clients this all the time. Why? Because it works. You don’t want to be selling to your clients all the time, that would get annoying and become of the best reasons for them to unsubscribe from your list. Instead, reach out to say “Hello” and see how things are going. Send along a cool article or give them some nugget of information that may help them with their business or personal life. That’s the good stuff! There are six types of emails that you can send to stay connected to clients without overwhelming their inbox. Let them know you value their opinion by sending a short survey, you can even offer an incentive to encourage a response and thank them for their time. Another great way to keep in touch is by sending a holiday email, this type of email is a great way to connect on a more personal level and build relationships. Those little touches can make a huge difference, please don’t send them a virus, but do stay in touch!

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Internships in Marketing

Is it time to find an intern?

If you are a small business owner, at one time or another you may have thought “I have no time for marketing or social media, maybe I will hire a marketing intern to do it for me!” How did that go? I laugh because I have had that same thought. Over the 14 years that I have owned Spot Color Marketing, we have brought on several interns. While none of them took over our marketing, they did help.

We have had design interns, marketing interns, and even development interns. Some of them lasted for a couple of days, others did their 3 month internship and became full time employees that stayed for a couple of years. A few have even turned into our top employees.

A couple of things to think about when hiring an intern:

Don’t think of an intern as “free labor”. The internship isn’t really supposed to help the company as much as it helps the intern. Internships are best if there is someone in your office who will take the time to teach and train. Some interns can be very time consuming and will ask 20 times a day how to do something, while some just ask my favorite question, “What’s next?”

The best marketing internships we have had are the ones where we took the time to create a detailed plan for them before they started. For example, if you want someone to write Facebook and twitter posts, write up the content calendar for them ahead of time and have the topics decided upon. Definitely review all their work before anything is posted. Jeff Selin, agency owner and friend, says an intern could easily ruin your business and reputation in 5 minutes by posting something inappropriate. OYE! That might be the worst case, but it could happen! Do not let your intern run your marketing.

  1. Be prepared for your intern
  2. Be available to teach and train your intern
  3. Don’t expect them to be a social media genius just because they are young!
  4. Pay them if you can. We pay a daily stipend for parking and lunch.

There are a lot of ways to attract marketing interns. Reach out to local colleges or Barefoot Student, I put ads in the “gigs” section of Craigslist. The best interns we have had are smart, eager to learn, show up and do what they say they will. They are go-getters. Sort of like your best employees, right? Entrepreneur has more tips on the qualities to look for in a great intern.

For some of our favorite clients we have set up marketing plans and then helped our clients find interns or junior marketers to implement the work, when done correctly, it can be a win/win for everyone! Who doesn’t want to help a young person start their career, or help a person get into a new career? One of our favorite interns was 45! She was an awesome intern and we have hired her several times since to write marketing copy.

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Selecting Photography for Your Website

Our clients often ask us about graphics and photos for their website. Should they use stock imagery? Hire a professional photographer? The answer depends on a few different factors. Let’s take a quick look at three of the most important questions to ask yourself when selecting photography for your website project.

1. How quickly do you need the images?

The turnaround for getting stock images can be very quick, depending on how much time you spend searching and deciding on the images you want. There are many stock imagery websites out there, and it doesn’t take long to set up a free account, search for images in their database using keywords, purchase the image, and then immediately download the image to your computer.

Hiring a local, professional photographer takes a little more time for planning and execution. Depending on the photographer’s schedule, you can most likely get a photo shoot scheduled within 1-2 weeks and have access to the final images within a week after that.

2. How important is it to be unique from your competition and accurately reflect your specific people, locations, events, equipment, etc.?

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Stereotypical stock images can make it difficult for you to communicate unique value propositions because your website ends up looking like everyone else’s.

It can be a real challenge for companies, both for-profit and non-profit, to find stock images that feature the specific qualities that make them so unique. We’ve all seen the stereotypical stock image of the business team with big smiles and freshly whitened teeth just a few too many times.

Let’s quickly summarize the two types of stock imagery:
Rights-Managed & Royalty-Free.

With Rights-Managed images, the photographer is paid a royalty and there are limits set for the dates and number of times the image can be used. This does increase the uniqueness of your image in the market, but does require a much higher budget.

With Royalty-Free images, you can always spend extra time searching for those that don’t have a “stock image” look, or spend extra money on more stylized images from special collections, but remember that anyone who purchases a Royalty-Free image is free to use the image unlimited times for many different purposes. This means your website is probably not the only one out there with that same image (does that friendly-looking lady with the headset really work at all of those different companies?).

Another important factor to consider before purchasing stock images is the size / proportion of the image and where the image will be used. You may have found the perfect stock image for your website: it’s a standard horizontal shot of a family playing together on the beach. But what if the image is going to be used on your website’s horizontal banner, which is extremely wide and not very tall? After cropping the family image to fit in the wide banner, the only visible part would be the kids heads, while all that’s seen of the mom and dad are arms and shoulders – not exactly the look you were going for. 

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When you hire a professional photographer, you’re paying for their technical expertise and creativity, which means you can work with them to customize the specific content, colors, layout, etc. A good photographer will be able to capture the mood and passion behind your company, and work with you to creatively highlight your products or services. When you discuss your needs with your photographer, be sure to talk about where your images will be used, and any specific sizing and placement that would work best.

3. What is your budget?

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A good photographer knows how to collaborate with you so your company’s personality is seen through your photos.

Your budget often dictates which options are open to you. Royalty-Free stock images are attractive to small businesses that are on a limited budget and are willing to accept the downside that their images are not unique and may be used by others. Many businesses will use stock photography until hiring a professional photographer is in their budget.

Every business that desires to use custom photography should, at the very least, check out the galleries of a few local photographers and get some estimates. Many small businesses are surprised when they find out how affordable a small custom photo package with a 1-hr photo session and 10-20 photos can be. Many times it is in the same ballpark as a similar quantity of unique stock photos. Professional photographers can also provide business portraits, store photos, and product photography.

Summary
Whether you choose stock photos or professional photos, be sure you use images that target your specific audience and complement your content. High quality photography can play a big role in your marketing campaigns and draw positive attention to your business. At Spot Color, we can help you choose the best stock images, or we can set up a custom photo shoot with you and your team.

We’d love to sit down with you and offer you a free consultation to discuss your website and your business goals – contact us today and let’s talk!

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