So, what exactly do you do?

When you run a small business, you are the business. You may not have the resources of BP or Nestlé; but what you do have is you. Every relationship you build has the potential to be a business relationship.

That means you need to think seriously about how you present yourself (your Personal Brand), and by extension your business (your Brand), to the people you meet. There’s a difference between knowing what you do and knowing how to talk about what you do. So the next time someone asks what you do, these points might help:

1. It’s not all about you. This is the old story about the man who wants to buy a 5mm drill bit, but not really wanting the drill bit at all – what he really wants is a 5mm hole. If your business is cleaning people’s houses you might be surprised to learn that you don’t really clean homes. What you actually do is give people time to focus on their families, or turn homes into sources of peace rather than sources of guilt. Start thinking about your business in your customers’ terms, rather than in your own. Their reasons for hiring you should be the foundation of your marketing communications.

2. Mugs, Elevators and Shakespeare. There are three different levels of marketing communication. You need to work out when to use which.

The mug: if you had to fit what you do on the side of a mug, what would it be? 5 seconds of speech – no more. When you’ve worked it out, how about putting it on the reverse of your business card?

The elevator pitch: in the time it takes to get to the 4th floor – 20 seconds – describe yourself and your business. What will you say?

Shakespeare: if someone is really interested in what you do, then you have permission to launch into the soliloquy.

3. Experiment. Edison tried thousands of times before getting a light bulb to work. It may take you a few attempts to get your message right. Aim for “interesting, tell me more!” not “what do you mean by that?”.

When you find what works, you’ll know it.
Doing this is hard work, sometimes very hard work. Crafting effective marketing communications takes patience, discipline, and creativity.

But it pays off when someone asks:
‘So, what do you do?’

Dump the ‘dit’

With many years of typographical experience, I finally feel compelled to rant about one of my pet typographical hates.

You see them everywhere if you look – even produced by so-called ‘respected’ design outfits. A couple of weeks ago, to my amazement, the BBC put out a programme title logo containing one.

I’m talking about the prime symbol, generic apostrophe or what I call the ‘dit’ [ ‘ ]. It should not to be confused with the apostrophe: [ ’ ]. The prime symbol represents feet (ft), arcminutes (am) and minutes (min). It has mathematical uses too, but I was never much good at that.

Once upon a time, when we used olde fashioned typewriters, we had an excuse, because that was all there was if we wanted to apply an apostrophe (punching a hole in the paper in the process).

Not any more. We’ve become so used to our software automatically inserting ‘typographer’s quotes’ that we don’t even notice when the odd ‘dit’ creeps in.

One of the late, great Steve Jobs’ gifts to us all is hidden away in the iPad and iPhone’s virtual keyboard. Try it if you have one. Hold down the apostrophe key and voilà – you’re presented with an array of options! Now, even you travelling bloggers have no excuse. So, unless you’re talking time, feet or formulae – please dump the ‘dit.’

It’s a sign…

Chichester College has been busy over the summer, rolling out it’s new campus signage designed by Tim Mulkern Design Chichester. The signs were manufactured and installed by local signmakers Supersigns.

The project involved over 60 directional and identifier signs of varying complexity over two campuses – Chichester and Brinsbury College. It’s too early to measure effectiveness of the new signage, but so far the signs are good.

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