Sunday, 14 December 2014

Nothing Says 'I Love You' like a Stubbie Cooler...

A full colour stubbie cooler will both impress and connect with
not only your customers, but those they socialise with as well.
Nothing says 'I Love You' quite like a Stubbie Cooler. Although, if you have a wedding anniversary coming up I'd strongly recommend exploring further options first.

I'm talking about love in a business capacity here... (OMG, it's getting worse. I'd better bail out and get to the point!)

What I mean is this: Depending on your business market, the stubbie cooler might be the ultimate promo gift item.

Why? Because of what it means. Yes, it'll keep a drink cold longer. But there's so much more to it than that.

Whereas things like coffee-cups, pens, calendars etc are very useful in a work sense. A Stubbie Cooler is different, in that it is used in a capacity of relaxation, enjoyment and celebration.

When you give a customer/client (existing or potential) a stubbie cooler, it's almost like buying them the drink itself.  It conveys a positive connection and the formation of a relationship.  What's more, it conveys that to not only your customer, but also to those who they may drink and socialise with.

And if it's a great-looking stubbie cooler, let's say designed-by-me for argument's sake :), it will be well noticed and may even get pinched or passed on in favour, resulting in more exposure and possibility for new business.

Technology has progressed much since the early single colour screen printed varieties (though still available and a good choice for some designs). Plastisol transfers enable bright designs in 2 to 6 colours, and modern dye-sublimation processes now enable full-colour photographic style printing with surprisingly affordability.

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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Hey, there's my sign! ..sort-off :)

The new-look Woombye Pharmacy reflects the town's
heritage and community spirit.
One of the fun little satisfactions of being a designer is getting to say that to myself every now and then.  It's just a little bit of megalomania, probably from spending too much time in my design coocoon(!)

Hopefully, those of you who drive through Woombye from time-to-time might have noticed the new-look to the Pharmacy and thought something like, "My word, doesn't that look better than the old one!"

When new owners took over the Pharmacy this year, they decided to move away from the existing franchise and re-brand the pharmacy as more of a true local business. So the first task was to design a logo that conveyed this.

The old franchise signage.
Woombye is proud of its heritage as a Cobb & Co. coach stop from the old days, so this was the main theme the design would stem from. A timber-spoke wheel was chosen to represent this, and the circular shape frames the logo and provides a good focal point. To represent health and well-being, and old-fashioned medicine bottle and some flowering herbs were incorporated.

Quite a few versions were explored. The manger, Andrew, was great to work with. I think he may have been starting to feel a bit bad about asking to see yet another version... But in my experience, the more thought that goes in to a design, the better the end result. And I think in this case that is again true.
Early stage design mock-up

For sign production, I often help arrange production with one of the many local sign-writers I know. In this case, Andrew elected to manage that and again the results are excellent.

Good logo design and signage is so important for any business. Apart from the odd exception, it forms the first point of visual contact and recognition.  Get it right, and a business will have a face and a name that people remember.

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Marketing Plan... it's not such a monster.

"Marketing Plan" is term used widely and with varying definition. The resulting lack of clarity on what a Marketing Plan actually is, tends to preserve it in the domain of the "Marketing Experts".  That said, uncovering the mystery of the "Marketing Plan" is easy to do and is a must for any business to survive and grow.

In my reading and listening to recognised experts, other marketers and business people of experience, I've come to realise that there is a big difference between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Campaign.

A Marketing Plan is really a subsection or variation (depending on who you ask) of a Business Plan, covering and combining many aspects of the business, the product and the market.  I'm not going re-invent that wheel here. There is a very comprehensive template available here at This is important stuff, but many business owners tend to skip the Business/Marketing Plan because of the time-cost and the fact they intuitively have enough of the information "up there" in their heads to get business happening at a basic level.  In many cases, the Marketing Plan only comes out when the business owner wants finance up, or to sell up. 

A Marketing Campaign, on the other hand is more of a 'how-to-do'. And for most people, it's more fun... like a game. It represents challenges with strategy, decisions, actions, outcomes and ideally... rewards.  This is more my world!

Starting with the end in mind (always a good start), the object of this game is to increase sales volume.  Maximising profitability was part of the previous tasks of the Business & Marketing Plans (which also covered basics such as: client profiles, demographics, seasonal factors, popular trends etc.). The stuff you determined there will enable you to design the best Campaign possible.

The activities that make up any Marketing Campaign will vary greatly across different business, but will generally be drawn from a familiar list that includes;

  • Mainstream Advertising:  Signage, Printed media, TV & Radio, Sponsorship
  • Directory Advertising:  Business directories, printed and online
  • Direct mail: Targeted recipients, or geographical mass mail-outs
  • Online Advertising: Pay-Per Click Ads, Banner advertising
  • Online Marketing: Your business website, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Social Media/Blogging: Essentially a form of online word-of-mouth or "Guerrilla" marketing
  • Door to Door: Being there personally, to assist your customer/prospective customer.
  • Promotional Events: Exhibitions, Competitions, Give-aways, Seminars
At the end of the day, it's all about knowing what your customer wants and bringing it to them. If you can do that, they'll pay you!  Marketing is the means to that end.

Creating a Marketing Plan and deciding on what Campaigns to employ needn't cost anything more than careful thought. Even if you don't have the cash right now to put it in place, having a plan will help keep you on track to the point when you can. 

How is your Marketing Plan looking?  Is now the time to get it started?  If you'd like some input on how to create a Marketing Plan and/or Campaign for you business, buy me coffee and we'll have a chat :) 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Wish there was such thing as a Sales Magnet?

There is! ...of sorts anyway.

It is the good old magnetic car-door sign that enables you to convert your plain old hack into an executive ambassador for your business with the slap of a vinyl mat.

Magnetic car door signs, Sunshine Coast
The sign might not be very big, but the difference between dis-
playing your business on your car, and not... certainly can be.

But do they really work?  Good question. And the answer will vary according to the context in which it is being asked.

My own vehicle has a full vinyl wrap pretty much. Which is great for me. I'm really going for a theme with the whole car.  Of course, a door sign won't have the same impact as a wrap, but for many businesses the less-is-more approach is a better look and a far more convenient choice. And what's more, at a tenth of the price.

Regardless of how big your vehicle signage is, experience has led me to understand that it will probably not create a massive increase of sales enquiries in its own right.

What it will acheive though, are three very important things;
  1. Impression: In the mind of your potential customer, a well-designed vehicle sign will create an impression that you are an effective provider, before you've even begun a conversation with them. Starting a conversation on the assumption of quality
    and professionalism is a huge advantage in your aim to convert an enquiry to a new sale.
  2. Familiarity:  Your potential customer may have seen your vehicle signage some time before their first enquiry was made.  Familiarity is something that all people find fundamentally comforting.  If your customer is comfortable with your business, they will buy from your business.
  3. Advertising: Following on from Familiarity, having your business displayed on your car helps to establish your business in terms of local identity.  People in your local area will read the sign when they first see it as a matter of subconscious curiosity. Then when they see it again, they will subconsciously index your business as part of their local community.  They may not need your service for some time, but when they do... there's a good chance they'll be giving you a call (that is, as long as you didn't give them the finger when they cut-in-front of you last May !) 
How much do magnetic car door signs cost? Competition in the printing & promotion industry nowadays means that a glossy full-colour set of door-magnet signs can be had so cheaply now, there is really no reason not to have them.  If you're considering a set, give me a shout. We'll have your doors all dressed up in a week!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Where's the Ka-Boom!?

Lime Dezign is not really a business. Its current form would be more accurately described as a term of self-employment. Which is cool with me for now.

I had a crack at running to a small business model a few years back, but it didn't fly for long. I guess for a first go it didn't do too badly; especially when I realise now how short I was on resources and experience.  But with Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III, and still the desire to transform to a true small business, I'm still excited at the possibilities about me now, and those that lay ahead.

Why exactly didn't it fly before? Well, I could say there were some circumstantial factors that contributed, the work "dried up" and I couldn't sustain.  But behind all that was another cause; I was too busy paying bills and wasn't investing enough time in growing the business. Which is kind of ironic since my job is helping others grow theirs.

I've always been to scared to take the time out. There's always been something else that "needed" to be done first.  I unwittingly put my own business on the back-burner! After a particularly stressful period a couple of months back, and a BAS return that actually made me feel ill, I eventually woke up with a jolt and realised where I'd been misplacing my energies.

It is now 6 weeks since I made a firm decision to dedicate 1 day per week to growing Lime Dezign from essentially self-employment, into the business I've always wanted it to be.  That's a big chunk... 20% of my time budget!  So far, I've stuck to it.

And you know what? Lime Dezign is running better now than it has in quite some time.  Not because I've got more work; it's still about the same.  But because the work is getting done more efficiently, I have more energy, my focus is improved and my enthusiasm is higher again.  Jobs are out on time (at least from my desk... dealing with some printers' excuses is a whole other party trick sometimes!), and I'm finally making really good progress on the developments I promised I'd do 2 years ago!

One day a week is a big portion, and at the moment my little business is really benefitting from that.  The amount of time experts recommend for growth activity varies, and probably not all businesses need the same anyway.

I guess I just wanted to share my current experience which may encourage anyone else who might also have felt trapped in the output-priority scenario.  And I also know from experience, a little encourage often goes a long way.

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Friday, 7 November 2014

Silly Season. Quiet Season.

Unless your business is selling back-to-school stuff, you will very likely know what I'm talking about all too well.  That mad work-rush up to Christmas, then... nothin'...  or next to it, for sometimes a couple of months.

It's a typical boom-bust cycle.  At the end of the year, most of us are so pre-occupied making deadlines that we neglect our marketing and business development even more so that usual. Then comes the silence of January and we try not to freak out too much.

Maybe you've done things differently this year and taken steps to generate new enquires and sales through this quietest of periods. Well done! Leave a comment if you have. I love that proactive idea stuff.!

If you haven't, there isn't much time left.  Maybe it isn't too late. It will depend on the business and the strategy.  All is not lost though. Even if things do quieten off in the new year, it will make for more opportunity to dedicate some time to tuning up your business and getting your marketing plan renewed and implemented. In up-coming posts I'll be featuring a great article on how to get a really simple and effective marketing plan happening.

Do you have some marketing ideas on the back-burner?  If you do, give me a call or drop me an email and let's get that ball rolling (or at least line it up).

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Friday, 31 October 2014

Are You On ...a Blacklist?

If you run your email with your web-hosting as many business do, you may have already suffered the inconvenience of one day finding that your emails sent to certain recipients get bounced back at you with a very robotic-looking message that seems to vaguely refer to a poor reputation.

Having your email blacklisted can be a real problem.This can be particularly upsetting for ladies. ;D

What you are seeing is indeed a rejection of your message by the reputation service enlisted by the Internet Service Provider of your intended recipient. Worse is, it's not the message being blocked, it's the IP address of your server. So all email accounts that run from your hosting are affected.

"But why me?!! I'm not a #&^*@! spammer... All I do is GET spam!"


It could be that an email account on your hosting has been compromised by a malicious script from within an email, or an external hack.
Or it could be an innocent mistake by a user at your end. Unfortunately with the ridiculous prevalence of spam nowadays, the largely futile measures taken by ISP's to try and protect their customers tend to also take out their customers as collateral damage.  A Blacklisting could be triggered by things such as:
  • Sending too many emails in succession
  • Sending to large mailing lists
  • Forwarding an email from an undetermined source
  • Clicking a link or download in an email from an undetermined source
  • Sending emails to an address that does not exist or is expired
What can you do if your Domain/Server IP is blacklisted.
Because of the overwhelming prevalence of spam and the mass incidence of false-positive listings, most Blacklists will de-list automatically between 1 and 7 days.  Some Blacklists may require a removal request to be sent.

To see which Blacklist is blocking you from your intended recipient, either
  • refer to the failure notification message that you received, or
  • perform a search using an online service like
The important thing is that you find out whether or not your email account/s remain comprised.  Repeated listings would indicate that there is an issue.  In such a case, the simplest and surest thing may be to delete the offending email account from both the server and every office computer, and then re-create it afresh. Yes, you WILL LOSE YOUR MESSAGES when you do this, so take steps to record anything that must not be lost.

What can you do to minimise the chance of being Blacklisted?
  • Be careful using mailing lists
  • Use a quality internet security software application with email scanning
  • Do not forward emails that have "done the rounds". You know the ones.
  • Clear junk folders every time you check you mail.
  • Use complex passwords and change them periodically.
Another option to consider may be to run your email through a external paid subscription service like Google My Business (previously Google Apps for Business).  This option is highly recommended for people travelling internationally with on business, when reliable sending of email becomes even more difficult to achieve.

For those with patience and a reasonable level of web-savvy, avoiding the blacklist is something that be achieved reasonably easily.

But if the back-end of the internet is really the last place you'd want to be, Lime Dezign can work through the issues with you.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

My Award Speech

In years gone by, I've been fortunate enough to have had my efforts rewarded and recognised as winner of the odd award here and there.
Could be funny when people Google "Best actor 2014".
Despite the inference of my heavily doctored image, the awards of which I speak were not of such ceremony that any speech was required. Whilst that is almost always a good thing, it occurred to me that when spoken from the heart, the speech is possibly as important as the award itself.
There aren't any formal awards for me anymore.  I'm way over all that.  But I am very conscious of how blessed I am with all that I have and the people in my life that have made it possible.
I think; Sure, it's important to have some talent and work hard. But that's not all it takes to do well & be happy. So many of the blessings and challenges that carry me through are because the people who have supported me in all ways, both directly and unwittingly.
So without further ado, and for no other reason other than I'd really like to say so; here is my thank-you speech:

Thank-you... my Mum & Dad. Being a parent myself now, I have a reasonable idea of what you would have went through raising me, and how much you love me. my brothers and sisters, immediate and extended. I'm ever enriched by your friendship, humour, love and support. the Mother of my boys.  Ange', even through our ups & downs, it's obvious still what a wonderful person you are. Since the day we met, my life has been so much better because of so many things you put into it. my daughter Cam'.  So wonderful I can barely grasp it. Love you. my boys, Wyatt & Flynn. You're EPI----------C!!! Love you. my friends. For the pure enjoyment of your friendship and being able to share a bit of life with you. my clients, many of whom I can unpresumptiously also call friends. Without your faith in me, and your continued support, I wouldn't have my business or freedoms I enjoy from it that are so important to me and my boys.
And lastly but not leastly, God.  Not just for repeatedly sparing my butt from a higher-than-average incidence of my own dumb sh*t over the years, but for a life of love and opportunity that has always had pretty good head-start.

So what was the Award? Dunno really. Doesn't matter!  :)))

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Many Faces of the Humble USB'

USB sticks, thumb drives, flash drives, memory thingies... there are many names for them. But you might be surprised at how many forms they can take too.

In a recent job, one of my fav' clients needed to supply data with staff training manuals we were printing, but was concerned that a conventional USB stick would be too easily lost. A way was needed to keep the data and printed manual together.

 A solution was found in these credit-card sized "wafer" style USB memory cards which slipped neatly into a pvc card-wallet fixed inside the Manual's outer cover.

The USB contact swivels out for insertion to any USB port.
Available in capacity ranging 2Gb to 16Gb, they are printed both sides with any full-colour design you can think of, and are protected with a high quality gloss laminate. Costs per unit are around the $15 mark (depending on capacity), plus design. Minimum order is 25.

Innovative USB flash drive designs currently extend to many forms, including "keys", pens, wristbands / bracelets, even LED mini torch-lights!

Have a idea for your own promotional USB's?  Contact me. As far as promotional gifts go, USB flash drives certainly rate highly in terms of use & appreciation.

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Friday, 10 October 2014

Ten Years in Design: Time to Start that Blog

Brett McGaw - Lime Dezign
It's something that so many small-business people know they should do. Yet even after it's started, the novelty of the Blog falls back to the bottom of our inexhaustible list of tasks.

Having started my first blog only now, I suppose that I hardly qualify to give advice!  Perhaps. But mine is a case of sorting my clients first, and leaving myself to last.  It's a bad habit. ; j

My experience in online marketing shows that not maintaining the online presence of one's business means getting left behind in the race to connect with customers online.

I've built and optimised websites for a quite a few clients now.  They're getting anywhere from 200 to 700 page sessions per month now, with bounce rates between 40% to 60%.  Even with only 200 sessions, the stats show that probably half the visitors were relevant. That's not bad.

What am I getting? About 120 sessions with a bounce rate of over 90%.  In real terms, that's only 12 visitors per month who actually bother going beyond the first page. And all but 5 were from other countries!

But isn't SEO expensive? Well it can be, depending on who does it. I'd say that the clients I've served are getting a decent return for their outlay.  In my case, leaving online marketing unmaintained and completely to chance has proven expensive anyway; in terms the opportunities I've missed (and my competitors have gained).

So I'm starting by Blog as part of my recovery plan.  It will serve as an interesting and useful resource for prospective clients to get an idea of who I am and what I can do to help in promoting their business. When aligned with my web-marketing strategy, it will also increase the prominence and relevance of my website to users searching for the type of services and information I provide.

Thanks for reading. You're comments and feedback are most welcome!

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