In this era of attractive generic template websites, it’s easy to forget the importance of good graphic design. Ironically, however, it’s actually the prevalence of “cookie cutter” content that’s made striking graphic design more important than ever: In today’s cluttered online marketplace, you literally can’t afford to have a website that mimics your more established competition. The only way to get consumers’ attention is to let them know who you are and how you’re different from the “other guys.” While there are a few different ways of doing this, establishing a unique visual presence online is invariably step one.

5 Ways Good Graphic Design Builds Your Brand

1. Good graphic design reduces your “bounce rate.”

Getting people to visit your website isn’t the hardest part of marketing—Getting them to stay on your website and click around it is much more challenging. In an era when most people have an attention span of about seven seconds, your website needs to be able to grab people’s attention and hold it.

Furthermore, uninspiring graphic design sends the message that your company is neither passionate nor professional, and this can actively push consumers away. According to an infographic published by Red, 94% of consumers will immediately leave a website that exhibits poor graphic design.

2. Graphic design is necessary for brand recognition and recollection.

Good graphic design doesn’t just look appealing; it tells a story about your brand. It uses colours, symbols, and shapes to convey intangible values and provoke an emotional reaction in the viewer. Because emotion is intrinsically linked to how we form memories, these reactions make your brand memorable. Whenever human beings are exposed to an engaging story, an area of the brain called the sensory cortex lights up, activating the imagination and committing the experience to long-term memory.

Graphic design also provides visual consistency across platforms, allowing consumers to recognize you immediately wherever they find you. Using the same company logo, colours, and fonts on your social media profiles and printed fliers that you use on your website, for instance, will identify them as belonging to you, even if visitors only glance at their content.

3. Graphic design has important internal benefits for your company, too.

Younger workers—think Millennials and Gen Z—are innovative, independent, and motivated by having a sense of meaning in their work. This, along with a favourable economic climate, has made talent retention extremely challenging for most businesses. Even if you’re offering fair wages and provide good working conditions for your employees, you might still lose them to more exciting prospects. In fact, according to the Independent, a shocking 50 percent of all Millennial employees plan to leave their current job within the next two years. Naturally, then, any means you have at your disposal to make your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger should be fully utilized.

Cohesive graphic design sends the same messages about your priorities and values to your employees that it does to your customers. When employees all have the same stationary, publications, etc., they’re more likely to feel like they’re striving together towards the same goals. This is thought to increase employee loyalty and rates of engagement. (For even greater success, get your employees on board when shaping your company’s mission statement and core values. The more your company, and your graphic design, represents the personal priorities of your team, the more likely it becomes that they’ll stay through thick and thin.)

4. Simply put, graphic design sells.

While Apple makes great devices, their products are far from being the only reason why they’re the most valuable company in the world. It’s their emphasis on selling an image of clean, low-key coolness and a feeling of creative self-expression that’s really propelled them to the number one spot.

Apple is far from being an anomaly in this area, either. Time and time again, research has shown a link between excellent graphic design and increased profitability. Back in 2005, for example, a group called The Design Council took an in-depth look at the most prominent companies trading on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE). What they discovered shocked the business community: Those companies that put a strong emphasis on graphic design weren’t just a bit more profitable than their competition—they were many times more profitable. The companies that focused on excellent graphic design were 200% more profitable than the companies that didn’t, even if there was little difference in the quality of their products and services.

5. Good graphic design shows your business is trustworthy.

Today’s consumers are well aware that basically anyone with an internet connection can put up a website. As such, they’re keenly attuned to signs that a business might be less than reputable. Graphic design that looks overly generic, amateurish, or hastily thrown together will make your business look not only unprofessional, but possibly dishonest as well. According to the study Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites, “Poor interface design was particularly associated with rapid rejection and mistrust of a website… In cases where the participants did not like some aspect of the design the site was often not explored further than the homepage and was not considered suitable for revisiting at a later date…”

Clearly, instead of asking ourselves whether or not we can afford graphic design, we should be asking ourselves if we can afford to do business without it. From your packaging design to your product photography and company logo, the graphical materials associated with your business need to convey the message that you’re serious about what you do. They need to incorporate style, substance, and intangible values and feelings in order to create a memorable experience. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, good graphic design is a must.

Want to check out some examples of good graphic design in Toronto? Visit the AllinBrand portfolio. You can also see some of our food photography and restaurant website design at Sweet a La Mode.


We all know that sponsoring an event—like a trade show or exhibition—provides an exciting opportunity to “give back” to your field and professional community. There’s something magical about having a group of like-minded individuals all in one place, sharing what makes them passionate about what they do. What you might not realize, however, is all the ways in which sponsoring an event can give your business a powerful boost. Did you know, for example, that on average, 81% of trade show attendees have purchasing authority and 67% typically represent potential new leads? Clearly, few other environments can compete with events for potential return on investment (ROI). If you’re weighing up whether or not event sponsorship will be worth the work (and expense) involved, consider the following points:

1. Sponsorship greatly increases your brand authority.

There’s a reason why sponsors are often referred to be as being “official.” To be eligible to sponsor an event, a business has to be found to be reputable, credible, and an overall valuable member of the business community. As such, people know that event sponsors have earned a high degree of authority in their industry. When you sponsor an event, you therefore greatly increase general trust in your brand.

2. Sponsoring an event gives you a chance to prove your value.

In addition to generating a great deal of exposure for your logo, trade show and corporate event sponsorship gives you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge of, and commitment to, your industry. Some event sponsorship packages even include the option to create a presentation about your business, giving you a chance to display your expertise and reach out to potential leads directly. Just remember to keep your presentation about generating real value for your audience; no one likes to hear an extended sales pitch.

3. You can expect a certain amount of free marketing to be part of the deal.

Everywhere the event is promoted—on social media, via email, magazines, apps, online maps, and so on—your brand name will be attached to it. If you think of how much it would otherwise cost to obtain this kind of far-reaching exposure, it quickly becomes clear that event sponsorship is more than worth the initial investment required.

4. Not only will you generate new leads, you’ll probably follow up with old ones.

In most industries, people tend to run in the same overlapping circles. This means that by sponsoring an event, you’ll not only be putting your brand name in front of new customers, you’ll be reconnecting with current and past customers. This gives you the chance to keep your network thriving, build brand loyalty, and collect feedback on your performance. You’ll learn what your business is doing well and where it needs to improve—incredibly valuable information that can be notoriously hard to collect.

5. You’ll have the opportunity to make new and existing customers aware of upcoming developments.

If you’re planning to upgrade one of your existing products or services or you’re currently developing a new one, what better place to build excitement about it than an event? It is, after all, much easier to get and hold people’s attention when you’re featured front and centre in a large congregation. You’ll also be able to actively engage with your customers, fielding any questions they have about your upcoming release in real time.

Final Thoughts: How to Approach Event Sponsorship

There’s no questioning the fact that event sponsorship has excellent ROI potential. However, as is the case with any marketing endeavour, you’ll need to have a cohesive plan of action in order to be successful. Before you enter into event sponsorship, make sure to come up with a list of specific, measurable goals. What do you hope to achieve by sponsoring an event, and how will you know whether or not you’ve achieved it? How will you connect with new leads, store information about them so they aren’t lost, and follow up with them after the event? By answering these questions well in advance of the event, you’ll prepare yourself to make the most of the five benefits of event sponsorship outlined in this article. Good luck!


Local events have always been popular thanks to their ability to add vibrancy to communities. Whether it’s a sporting event, a miniature festival with buskers, or just a business inviting people to head to a stall and sample some free merchandise, local events hosted by businesses are an essential part of what makes summer special. They give people a reason to look up from their phones, pay attention to what’s going on around them, and connect with their neighbours. In our increasingly digital world, it’s impossible to underestimate the value of opportunities like these.

3 Ways Hosting a Local Event Can Help Your Business

Just like people need to connect with one another in “real time” in order to thrive, your business can’t succeed if it exists in a digital vacuum. Most businesses rely primarily on the loyalty of local clientele to maintain their sales, and word of mouth is still one of the best ways to attract this clientele. According to a survey conducted by Alignable, 85% of small business owners report that word of mouth referrals generate the most new customers for their firms. Though hosting an event can be a lot of work, it’s without equal when it comes to generating exactly this kind of buzz; here’s why:

1. People rarely travel alone.

Events are inherently social in nature; as such, attendees usually bring their partner, children, or friends with them when attending. For event hosts, this translates into completely free, trust-enriched marketing: The person initially interested in your event will tell his or her friends what’s so special about your brand that they felt compelled to make the time to be present. Because this information is being relayed by a trusted friend or loved one, its recipients will automatically believe what’s being said. This kind of authenticity in marketing is worth its weight in gold—and more than worth the work and expense involved in event hosting.

2. Local events have a lot of visual impact.

If you have any interest in marketing, you probably already know that visual content is vitally important to brand engagement. People recognize images much more quickly than they process words, and images are far more memorable than text. This is why you’ll find images attached to professional social media marketing posts. Even on platforms like Twitter where short form content is the order of the day, including an image has been shown to increase engagement by 150%. (Digital Glue) At your event, visual content related to your brand will feature prominently: On signs, banners, posters advertising the event, flyers, etc.

3. Local events are memorable.

When you host an event, not only will signage promoting your brand be prominently displayed, you’ll be creating a space for it to be recognized. This is significant because one of the most challenging aspects of marketing is simply getting people to notice your message in order to internalize it. While images can help encourage awareness of your brand, the fact is that many casual observers are distracted (by new social media posts, by conversations happening around them, etc.) This results in a net loss of conversions when using digital advertising or physical signage. At an event, on the other hand, full focus is being placed on your brand. People are insulated from the distractions of the outside world… And you are the topic of conversation. If attendees enjoy your event, you’ll quite literally be unforgettable.

Planning Your Event

Just like any marketing strategy, events require careful planning and orchestration in order to be successful and make a lasting impact. If you’ve never hosted an event before and need some inspiration, we suggest checking out Optimy’s list of five examples of highly successful local events hosted by major businesses. This will give you a solid idea of the different forms local events can take.

Finally, if you need help with event planning or logistics, why not reach out to us here at AllinBrand? Local events in Toronto are one of the many aspects of marketing that we specialize in. Don’t be intimidated by the scope of hosting an event; we can help you understand the process from start to finish, create measurable goals, and get existing and potential customers on board.

3 Ways Events Can Supercharge Your B2B Marketing Strategy

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Marketing business to business (also referred to as B2B marketing) is in some ways more challenging than marketing to consumers (B2C marketing). According to a recent study by Act-On Software, 75 percent of small business owners say that improving B2B lead quality is their number one marketing priority. In fact, this facet of the sales process causes so much confusion for businesses that improving lead quality is a higher priority than improving new lead quantity. Just 40 percent of respondents said that the biggest issue they’re facing is attracting new clients.

This divide highlights a fundamental reality in the era of digital marketing: Today, it’s easy to superficially connect with people, but it’s harder than ever to establish a lasting relationship with them. For that, you’ll need to look outside the digital sphere—you’ll have to instead turn your attention to events. Sponsoring a B2B event (or even just participating in one) can cement the quality of your B2B leads in all of the following ways:

1. Events are the perfect place to clarify lead compatibility.

B2B relationships are all about finding the right fit. Because the vast majority of industries now rely on the use of complex technology, many small to medium sized businesses are incredibly specialized. For example, while the term “web design” covered virtually all aspects of website creation twenty years ago, today, a web design company and a web development company have very different roles. Web designers create the graphical portions and layout of a site (usually with some help from graphic designers), whereas web developers typically handle the coding side of things. In other words, if you’re a web designer and you acquire a lead that’s interested in having complex PHP code written, that relationship is probably going to fizzle out. (Unless, like AllinBrand, your company employs both web designers and web developers.)

Because events give you a place to communicate with leads in real time and actively demonstrate your products and services, they innately lend themselves to high-quality lead generation. Clients will be able to see exactly what you do and how you do it, eliminating misunderstandings and false leads. They’ll also be able to ask any questions they might have, further strengthening the relationship.

2. Sponsoring an event will lend your brand credibility and authority.

Both the best and the worst thing about small businesses is the fact that anyone can create them. This means that clients are often wary of working with a business that’s as yet unknown to them. How do they know you’re established, experienced, trustworthy, and reliable?

When you decide to sponsor an event, you show clients that you’re an established part of your industry. After all, if you’re willing to invest the amount of time and money required to sponsor an event, you’re obviously serious about what you do. You also clearly have the resources and expertise needed to carry off such a feat. Pair this with an effective presentation, and you’ll already have made a mark in your field—even if you’re still a fledgling company.

3. Attending an event will put you in touch with the needs and desires of clients.

As Godfrey Account Planner Jim Everhart so aptly put it when describing the challenges of B2B lead generation, “[You] know that you want a lead. But what do they want?” Understanding the wants and needs of customers is integral to attracting quality leads. So is generating the data you’ll need (e.g., case studies or product specifications) to convince your leads you’re ready to meet their expectations. By providing a focused, interactive environment, events give you the perfect chance to assess what you need to do to drive value. Attending events will also ensure that you stay up to date with the latest trends and innovations in your industry.

To really leverage all of the potential advantages outlined above, you’ll need to prepare thoroughly for your event of choice. You’ll need a way to collect data about potential leads (e.g., by incorporating detailed forms into your registration process) and a system for following up with them. If you’re new to B2B event planning in Toronto, we suggest working with an experienced event marketing team, like the experts at AllinBrand. We can help you design an effective event marketing strategy that’s guaranteed to yield not simply leads, but leads that actually matter.


The need for a website is nondebatable as we’ve written in our previous blog post, but your website is more than just a functional platform; it’s the face your business shows to the world. If you’re new to online marketing, you might think that it’s enough for this face to be attractive and usable… But imagine this: What happens if you place a nondescript, pleasant face into the middle of a crowd of thousands of others like it? It quickly fades into the masses. The same is true of websites; unless they’re expressive and unique, they soon get lost amongst the competition. Obviously, then, you’ll need more than a template from a website builder if you want your business’s site to succeed. You’ll need the assistance of a professional web design agency, and most likely a Toronto web design agency because of geographical advantage, for all of the following reasons:

 

  1. Functionality needs to be more than skin-deep.

This might not seem like a deal-breaker at first, but as your business grows, you’ll probably find yourself wanting features (like expanded e-commerce functionality, live chat, and database support) that require custom programming. If you’re stuck with a website builder, you’ll be out of luck unless you’re willing to start from the ground up with the aid of professionals. (Most website builders will not allow you to download your existing site and take it elsewhere because they own a large share of its content.

 

  1. Those “free” website builders can get really expensive over the years.

Most website builders either place ads on sites built for free or severely limit the functionality of their non-premium sites. In either case, it inevitably becomes necessary to upgrade to a paid package (let’s face it, no one will take your business seriously if its landing page is full of ads)… And these packages usually aren’t cheap. The cost of paying for these packages year after year can easily approach what you would pay a small business to take on a similar project.

 

  1. Most Toronto web design agencies perform a full suite of necessary services.

In 1996, just having a website for your business was impressive and made people sit up and take notice. Alas, it’s not 1996 anymore; today, chances are good that no one will even find your website if you launch it as a standalone entity. Instead, launching a successful website requires a wide array of supportive services. You’ll need someone to set up and manage social media accounts, for example, so that your customers can interact with you. You’ll need someone to optimize your site for search engines. (Yes, many website builders offer basic SEO features, but there’s a lot more to SEO than just on-page optimization. You’ll also need someone to build backlinks for you, generate blog content, help you manage your online reputation, etc.) You’ll probably need someone who can build an app for you, too.

Website builders usually provide none of the above services, whereas many professional web design agencies provide all of them. Even if they don’t, they almost certainly know someone reputable who can provide you with the extra services you need… Something that is invaluable in a day and age when freelance marketplaces are less reliable than ever before.

 

  1. Branding matters.

There’s only one way to make your brand memorable in the minds of customers: Make it unique. Of course, it doesn’t take a great leap of deduction to figure out that a site built on templates (templates used by thousands of other people) is going to be a lot less unique than a site with 100% bespoke graphic design. When you work with a professional web design agency, your site can be designed to wholly embody your brand’s aesthetics, allowing you to achieve a consistent look and feel across multiple platforms. If you want to be instantly recognizable to your customers (and trust me, you do), then an agency is absolutely the best choice.

When investing in your business, it’s important to take calculated risks that are aimed at helping you grow over the long-term. A website builder might get you online today, but a Toronto web design agency will ensure that your online presence greatly expands over the next five years. The bottom line? If you’re serious about the future of your business, start from scratch and do web design right.

 


The demand for restaurants has increased exponentially over the last few decades as more and more people have left the home to work longer hours. Incredibly, the number of restaurants currently in operation in the United States alone has risen from 155,000 approximately 40 years ago to nearly 960,000 today. The restaurant industry is crowded, competitive, and hectic—but it still has a lot of room for expansion. Strategic small restaurant marketing can help the owners themselves cleverly can easily carve out a very profitable niche within the growing field of food service. If you’re ready to get started, check out the seven budget-friendly tips below:

  1. Blog, Blog, Blog.

Attaching a blog to your restaurant’s website and updating it frequently (at least once per week) will enhance your marketing efforts in a number of ways: One, it will give you content you can share on social media. Two, it will boost your site’s search engine optimization and therefore increase organic traffic to your site. Three, it will drive link-backs to your site, helping to get word about your restaurant out there.

Food service industries are well suited to blogging because people are always interested in finding useful food-related content, e.g. recipes and cooking tips. And the best part of all? Blogging is free! You can do it in your spare time without having to invest in any additional services (unless, of course, you choose to hire a ghost writer or editor).

To give your blogging efforts an even larger reach, try submitting guest posts to other food-related blogs. Just don’t forget to include a short restaurant “bio” and link back to your site!

  1. Get Active On Social Media.

Social media marketing is especially effective for restaurant owners owing to the popularity of food images on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Make sure to take high-quality pictures of the food you serve (the more mouth-watering the images look, the better) and post them on social media frequently, along with hashtags that clarify the area in which your business is located. You should also post links to your blog content where possible in order to boost engagement. And of course, don’t forget to interact with your customers! Replying to comments and “liking” customer’s social media content is a great way to increase brand awareness and trust.

  1. Getting The Social Influencers To Help.

Ever heard of influencer marketing? A form of publicity that brings your restaurant maximum awareness and high conversion rate while producing quality content that will last a lifetime in your target audience’s mind. Save some time from your social media and identify highly engaged and passionate users that speak to your food, cuisine, and industry. Then, send them an invitation to visit and provide them with a good meal. They’ll take care of the rest in terms of the whole awareness and conversion thing. That just proves how powerful social media is. Forbes and HubSpot have some brilliant articles about this. Click on their names for the links!

  1. Make Sure You’re On Google And Yelp.

While being present on Google My Business and Yelp is important for many different types of businesses, it’s absolutely essential for restaurant establishments. People often use online reviews exclusively when deciding whether or not to try a new restaurant, so you want to make sure you have a strong presence on all of the major review sites. Don’t forget to politely and helpfully respond to any critical reviews, too; this will help to lessen their impact on potential customers.

Additionally, Google My Business ensures that your small restaurant marketing efforts will turn up in local search results and on Google Maps, making it far more “searchable” (particularly for those on mobile phones). Google My Business also allows you to provide photos of your establishment (showing potential customers that it’s clean and professional), post business hours, and add a link to your website. It’s therefore little surprise that restaurants listed in Google’s local listings get 37% more sales on average than unlisted restaurants. Incredibly, given all these benefits, Google doesn’t charge businesses for listing with them—Google My Business is 100% free to use.

  1. Build An Email List.

An email list is a great way to both reach out to new customers and retain the ones you have. An email list allows you to notify interested patrons about upcoming events, deals, and new items on your menu. Email marketing has an unusually high conversation rate (in fact, it typically generates more sales than social media marketing) so it absolutely should not be discounted as a marketing strategy.

Small restaurant marketing usually produces a neat email list, you’ll probably be able to manage it for free (most email management services offer a no-charge option for smaller lists). MailChimp, for example, offers its service for free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.

  1. Host An Event.

Sponsoring a charity event is a great way to increase your restaurant’s exposure while also helping to carve out a place in the local community (and thereby enhance customer loyalty). To find applicable charity events, check with your local chamber of commerce—they should have listings of all the upcoming charitable functions. You can then reach out to these charities and ask if they need catering or refreshments for their events.

If you can’t find an upcoming charitable event to support, consider hosting a “themed” event (such as a celebration of a sporting event or a particular holiday). Offer discounts on the food and drinks you serve during the event and decorate your restaurant accordingly. You can also check out whether any local businesses are hosting events—they may need catering services as well.

  1. Connect With The Local Press.

Print media is still an extremely useful tool when it comes to promoting restaurants. Get in touch with your local paper (or papers) and see if you can place an advertisement in them and/or write guest articles. Additionally, if you do end up hosting a charity event, you should reach out to local radio and television stations as well and see if they want to cover the event. Local reporters are always looking for exciting new stories, so they’ll probably be happy to provide you with some free press. Just make sure you have a good “pitch” for the story that explains why the event is an important, relevant thing to report on.

If you use the seven strategies above, you’ll soon see your restaurant filling up with new patrons. Just like AllinBrand did for its restaurant client’s Saigon Lotus! Impress them with your food and your great service and your customer base will soon be firmly established. Before you know it, you’ll be eyeing new real estate to create your very own franchise!


Running a nail salon can be incredibly rewarding—it’s creative, dynamic work and you get to meet great people along the way. That being said, the manicure and spa industry is incredibly competitive. When you first start a nail salon, trying to entice clients away from established businesses can present a real challenge. After all, they have built up numerous positive reviews and a secure local reputation, and you haven’t. What’s more, finding the money to invest in state of the art salon equipment in order to compete with bigger businesses is hard. In order to entice new customers, you’re therefore going to have to rely on your imagination—and the seven strategies below:

  1. Charge reasonable prices. One of the perks of being a smaller nail salon is that your overhead costs are probably lower than those of larger establishments. This means that you can charge lower rates for your services and subsequently entice customers away from existing salons in your area. Once you have earned a number of loyal repeat customers, you can gradually raise your prices to match market standards. If your work is of high quality, you’ll retain your existing customers regardless, and in the meantime, you’ll have established a good reputation that will keep drawing in new ones.
  2. Make sure your business is listed with online review sites. Over 80% of potential customers now turn to online reviews when they want to verify whether or not a business is good to deal with. As such, you should make sure your salon is listed on business review sites like Yelp and Google My Business (Google’s local listing service). The latter is particularly important because it will place your salon on Google Maps, allowing people to easily find it even when they’re on their mobile phones.To quickly accrue reviews on these sites, you can offer incentives to your customers. Giving people who review your salon on Google or Yelp a 5% discount on their next manicure, for instance, can help encourage them to post favorable reviews your business. Additionally, it will give them a reason to return to your salon in the future.Finally, don’t forget to check back now and then to make sure you respond to any critical reviews of your salon. If you politely tell your side of the story and offer to make amends to any unhappy customers, potential new customers will be less likely to take those negative reviews to heart. This process is known as “reputation management” and it’s extremely important for any service-based business.
  3. Host a special event. A special event (like a grand opening or holiday-themed event) can help your salon to stand out from the crowd. For best results, pair the event with service discounts, such as offering free French manicure upgrades, free manicures for children, or extended massage times. (Be sure to create a party-like atmosphere as well, such as by offering light refreshments and decorating your salon.) Remember: Becoming more popular is all about giving potential customers a compelling reason to walk through the door. Once you have them in your salon, all you have to do is wow them with your excellent service and high-quality work and they’ll almost certainly become customers for life.
  4. Offer perks for referrals. For many people, going to the salon is a social experience—they like to go with a friend or family member. This means that referral programs are often an extremely successful way to entice new customers. Just offer your existing customers referral rewards based on how many new customers they can refer your way, then sit back and watch the business come rolling in. (Note that this program pairs very well with “first time customer” discounts.)
  5. Partner up with non-competing businesses and share customers. To effectively do the aforementioned, you’re going to have to establish an understanding of your target demographic: Where do you think your potential customers like to shop, other than at salons? Department stores, bridal boutiques, and jewelry stores, perhaps? If you can find local businesses that serve similar clientele as you do, you can create a mutually beneficial partnership. You refer customers to their store, and in return, they’ll refer new clients to you. It’s a win-win.
  6. Offer unique “extras”. Standing out from your competition requires being unique in some way. Yes, you may offer great, high-quality manicure, pedicure, and massage services in your salon, but chances are you’re not the only business in town that does so. To really be successful, you need to offer something more. Some salons achieve this by pairing their salon with a tea or coffee room so that clients can relax and chat with their friends before or after their appointments. Some salons turn their lobby area into a relaxing lounge that feels like a hip nightclub rather than a bland waiting room. Others go out of their way to offer fabulous group event packages. There are many different methods you can use to go the extra mile and offer something special, so use your imagination.
  7. Make sure you’re on social media. Social media platforms, especially image-heavy platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, are excellent places to attract new customers. Hire a professional photographer to take stunning pictures of your completed manicures and pedicures and post them frequently, preferably with hashtags that clarify where you’re located and what services you offer. And don’t forget to get out there and “like” and “follow” the accounts of people who look like potential customers—It’s all about spreading the word!

As a final note, once the new customers start coming in droves, make sure you become more efficient with scheduling. New customers don’t like to be left waiting, so if you’re overbooked consistently, they’re likely to get frustrated and turn to someone else. Good time management is essential to keeping your salon running smoothly and ensuring your customers remain satisfied. Good luck!

Photo credit goes to Gina at Twinkle Farts!

values graphic design, flatlay of design, technology, and stationary
values graphic design on flatlay of design technology and stationary

We’re living in an increasingly visual society. Let’s get that emphasized.

Everywhere we look, statistics support the fact that beautiful imagery drives engagement: From a 2014 study conducted by eMarketer that revealed simply adding an image to Facebook posts boosts the interaction rate from 4% to 87%, to research from Social Media Examiner that showed adding a photo to tweets can increase retweets by 35%, there’s no denying that high-quality visual content makes people sit up and take notice. It’s therefore surprising that so many business owners overlook the fundamental values graphic design provides. Unlike marketing or accounting, graphic design is seen is a “non-essential” component of their overall business strategy.

Small to medium sized business owners often cite budget concerns as a reason for delaying hiring a graphic designer, not understanding just how necessary good graphic design is. Unbeknownst to them, utilizing professional graphic designs can do a number of things to help entrepreneurs establish and maintain a successful business. In all of the key areas below, graphic design functions as an invaluable aid:

  1. Establishing a professional reputation.

In order to entice clients, vendors, and customers to your fledgling business, you need to make a great first impression. You need to convince people that you’re established, professional, reputable, and have the capacity for excellence. Because your company logo is the first thing people will “see” when they look at your website, receive emails from you, etc., having a well-designed logo is integral to conveying a polished image. If your logo looks cheap and amateurish, potential clients, vendors, customers, and other entities are going to assume your business isn’t successful or experienced. One of the values graphic design brings here is showing interested parties that your business can afford excellent graphic design is the most direct way of saying, “Our business is doing well and you can trust us to deliver.”

  1. Better branding.

In today’s cluttered online marketplace, brand recognition is everything. A graphically striking, attractive, and cohesive brand image will both draw new customers to your business and help you retain existing ones. One of the values graphic design offers is the essence of standing out from the crowd.

Even if you have a great company slogan, it’s ultimately the visuals associated with your brand that people will remember. Think of it this way—we all recognize the Nike “check mark” symbol even with no text attached. The human brain is simply wired in such a way that most people understand pictures much more quickly than words or data. According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners, meaning that they process concepts and commit them to memory through primarily visual means. Powerful images are therefore the most efficient and effective way of getting people to connect with your brand’s message.

  1. Enhanced employee loyalty.

A great deal of attention is paid to how external parties (i.e., customers) will be impacted by the quality of a company’s graphic design, but what about internal parties? It’s important to remember that your employees will constantly be looking at the imagery associated with your business, too. From viewing your website to wearing uniforms and handling newsletters, business cards, and much more, your employees probably absorb more of your brand message than anyone else. Having well thought-out and well-designed positive, uplifting imagery is, therefore, a core part of helping employees feel motivated and inspired to rally behind your business. The better your graphic design is, the more clearly your message will come across to your employees, and the more they’ll believe in the central mission of your company—it’s that simple how there are many values graphic design can provide.

  1. Better communication of information.

Graphic design can be used in a diverse array of applications that extend far beyond logo creation and banner images. Infographics, for example, are an excellent way to communicate information to your clients and customers in an engaging format. Images can be used to bring data to “life” so that viewers are not confronted with dry, intimidating lists of facts and figures. If conveying your business’s core mission involves a presentation of statistics, graphic design can be life-saver when it comes to retaining the attention of your audience.

Likewise, the cleaner your website’s overall design is (i.e., with legible fonts, clear navigation, and colors that are not distracting) the more accessible the information therein will be to clients, customers, and your own employees.

  1. No unexpected expenses.

When you hire a professional graphic designer, you can rest assured that you’ll get graphics that are not only web-ready but print-ready as well. If, on the other hand, you take a “low budget” approach, you will probably not get graphics that are suitable for print. (Designing high-resolution print-ready graphics is a complicated process that requires training and expertise.)

Many business owners fail to anticipate the hassles—and expenses—that this oversight will incur. If you send an unsuitable design to be printed and receive lackluster results, not only will you have wasted a great deal of money on useless printed materials, you’ll immediately be faced with the (now absolutely necessary) cost of hiring a professional to correct your mistakes. In the long run, it’s simpler, easier, and cheaper to hire a professional graphic designer from the outset.

  1. Higher conversion rates.

A large body of research indicates that the better your graphics are; the more sales you’ll make. Take, for example, the following experiment, conducted by The Conversion Rate Experts: “[One] of our clients carried out a very simple page re-design. They didn’t change a word of copy, nor did they change which elements were on the page, or their position. In fact, they just redesigned a few of the page elements, to give the page a more consistent design.

Here are the results: The test results show a 7.4% increase in conversion. If that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, imagine what you’d need to pay a salesperson to increase your business by 7.4% indefinitely!”

Ultimately, professional graphic design will pay for itself—and then some—making it one of the best possible investments for any small business. Remember that if you truly don’t have the money to hire a great graphic designer, you can turn to alternative funding sources, such as crowdsourcing, to help you finance the expense. Whatever you have to do in order to “go pro” when it comes to graphic design is well worth the extra effort.

Ready to learn how to build your own brand through graphic design? Check out our next blog post here.


Video is widely being heralded as the future of digital marketing: Not only does video have a peerless reach—YouTube alone boasts over one billion unique viewers each month—this medium is by far the most accessible to mobile users. Given the fact that over half of all internet usage is now conducted via mobile devices, and this figure is predicted to rise considerably over the next decade, those who ignore the potential of video marketing as a content platform do so at their peril.

4 Strategies For Creating Videos That Convert

Like all forms of content marketing, video content needs to be structured in such a way that it is engaging and, above all else, persuasive; it’s not enough to simply throw together a video and upload it to YouTube, hoping that it will catch someone’s attention. To create video content that converts, utilize the four strategies below:

  1. It’s all about the viewer

The number one “rookie mistake” that most brands make when they begin to produce video content is following the same format as a traditional television commercial, i.e., creating videos that are little more than promotional blurbs highlighting their brand and company (rather than offering the viewer anything of real, useful value). Naturally—as no one wishes to voluntarily sit down and watch an extended commercial—this quickly drives away viewers.

Instead of making the above error, apply the same rule to video content that you apply to text content: Avoid obvious brand promotion and create content that offers user valuable information in an entertaining and engaging way. To do this, devise a “marketing persona” based on your target demographic (a fictional viewer who embodies the typical traits of the individuals you wish to market to, e.g. their average age, gender, interests, and so on) and ask yourself, “What kind of information would benefit to this user the most? How do I convey this information in a way that would interest this user and make him or her want to share it with his or her friends?” That’s when it’s all about the viewer.

  1. Tell a story

Your video content should include a clear, focused mission statement—a “higher purpose” that will inspire your viewers to get involved with your campaign—and this purpose should be delivered in the form of a story. Ideally, your videos should include a human presence, a visible narrator who appears at points throughout and makes eye contact with the viewer while speaking in a conversational style, discussing your campaign’s goals and how they will make the world a better place.

For greater reach and exposure, tell your story in a series of short (about one to three minutes long) videos that you publish regularly. Remember, the average user today has a short attention span and a robust desire for fresh new content, so delivering your message in a series of easily-digested chunks is often the most effective approach.

Storytelling, through is vital tactic, has become imperative for brands to inculcate a cohesive stream into their content marketing strategy. To learn more about storytelling in video marketing, visit this outstanding blog by the SME.

  1. Don’t forget to include a call to action in your videos

Just because your videos aren’t obvious promotional vehicles, it does not mean that your brand should be invisible; on the contrary, the mark of a successful video marketing campaign is enhanced brand awareness and, of course, increased conversions. As such, you should always include a segment at the end of each of your videos where the viewer is asked to take some kind of action, e.g. you ask the viewer to visit your website to learn more, to join in the conversation on social media by following your various accounts, or to sign up for your newsletter. This will effectively use your videos to direct traffic back to your website and help to nurture your overall social media presence.

Here’s our CTA (call-to-action) example at 0:41 and onward in this video below:

  1. Have fun

Above all else, don’t be afraid to enjoy making video marketing content: as content creation expert Ann Hadley, author of the book Everybody Writes, so aptly put it: “Content Marketing has the heart of a storyteller, the soul of an artist, and the playful spark of spontaneity.” The more you engage with the production process, the more your audience is likely to engage with you—So get creative, be innovative, experiment, and let your content take both you and your audience on an adventure.

 


For small business owners who are new to the concept, deliver your brand through video marketing content can feel like an intimidating prospect: Not only are there a range of costs to consider, the production and post-production process often appears worryingly complex. However, numerous statistics support the fact that investing in a brand video is more than worthwhile despite these challenges; in fact, doing so may be vital to the growth of your brand and your business. If you’re unsure about whether or not your business truly needs a brand video, consider our 5 reasons below:

  1. Video marketing is a proven traffic vector. By 2017, video content will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to a study released by tech giant Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic is expected to increase threefold this year alone. At the same time, Google has committed to including video content in its search results, meaning that video is a valid and valuable part of search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Google also received sterling feedbacks from advertisers who use Google TrueView, an AdWords for video content. Additionally, Brightcove’s international survey of 2,000 consumers revealed that 76 percent of online shoppers stated video is their favoured medium when it comes to consuming branded content.
  1. Video content has a better mobile reach. Video content inherently flatters responsive website design as it’s fully scalable and can easily be consumed via any device. Text content, by contrast, is difficult to digest when presented on a small screen (making it less than ideal for mobile websites); most users would vastly prefer to click “play” than scroll through a dozen pages of text. As such, over 50% of video plays now occur on mobile devices.
  1. Video marketing provides an excellent vehicle for genuine brand communication. Today, the best way to promote your brand is not through conventional advertising techniques, but rather through what is known as “brand communication”: Creating a warm, “human” online presence that consumers can emotionally connect with.

Having a brand video helps businesses to create a sense of direct communication with their customers because video (unlike text) can include numerous nonverbal cues, such as facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact, and body language—all of which have been shown to increase consumer trust. When your customers can see and hear you, they feel as though they are conversing with you and getting to “know” you and your brand; this removes much of the cold, faceless anonymity of the internet and builds a loyal rapport between you and your target market.

  1. Brand videos are “low risk, high reward.” Though it sounds surprising to many business owners used to putting their most professional face forward on the web, a brand video doesn’t need to have a high production value in order to be effective: A relatively low-cost but innovative, inspirational, and, wait for it, relevant brand video will often out-perform a costly yet bland production. According to a study conducted by Pixability (“The Top 100 Global Brands: Key Lessons for Success on YouTube”) the relatively low production values endemic to most YouTube videos have taught online viewers not to expect “prime time” quality when viewing online video content; instead, what they most wish to find is an insightful, informative core message that suits their context.

Brand videos are also a wise long-term investment: With only a small outlay of resources, your business can produce something that will be viewed thousands or even millions of times. Once your video is complete, all you have to do is sit back and watch the traffic come in. It can also be utilized for digital ads under a video marketing tactic. This movement from display ads to video ads was recorded a 35% YOY growth in 2015 revenue by IAB Canada across all Canadian advertisers.

  1. Brand videos increase conversion rates. For most consumers, seeing truly is believing: According to a recent survey conducted by Video Rascal, 85 percent of people report that they are more likely to buy a product that’s accompanied by a video. The main reason for this is that videos—owing to their wealth of both visual and verbal content—are excellent at making the objective of a product or service clear.

In summation, video is the magic that brings brands to life, both practically and emotionally speaking. Video has a power to persuade that is currently unrivalled in the online marketplace, providing an essential bridge between businesses and their customer base. Without a brand video, your business will be perceived as static rather than dynamic, distant rather than relatable. In today’s cluttered online marketplace, video provides an edge that businesses cannot afford to lose.