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Exclusive Zpd.TIPS from Z promotion & design
Volume 5 - 2004

The Zpd.TIPS archives has been divided into 5 10-week periods. As you click on the links below, you will be taken to that section of the tips.

Volume 5 Number 1

Welcome to the new year! As we continue our look at branding, this week we look at how branding provides direction to your business.

The points of differentiation that you emphasize will provide the path you should follow in your marketing and advertising. For example, if you find you can become the high-end business that caters your market’s “upper crust”, you will find yourself in a very different direction than if you position yourself as the discounter in your field.

Next week we look at adding value to your business.

Volume 5 Number 2

As we continue our look at branding, this week we show how branding adds value to your business.

Regardless of your points of differentiation or the direction you take, your value as a business will emerge. Your marketing and advertising efforts will establish and exploit the value and credibility you have to your prospective clients.

Next week we look at how branding evokes customer loyalty.

Volume 5 Number 3

As we continue our look at branding, this week we consider Customer Loyalty.

By design, branding exploits your positives, feeds upon your success and is not shy about telling the world about it all! Establishing, sustaining and living up to the brand you establish will instill customer loyalty. After all, if you treat your customers right – they will not only return, but they will send their friends, as well.

Next week we look at the internal benefit of branding.

Volume 5 Number 4

As we continue our examination of branding, we look at the one of the internal benefits – Staff Retention.

A well crafted and executed branding campaign will transform your business into a more focused business. You will take on the reputation you espouse in your branding effort – and everyone wants to work for a winning team!

Next week we look at how branding will focus your marketing strategy.

Volume 5 Number 5

As we continue our look at how branding helps your business, we look at how branding focuses your marketing strategy.

Once you have established your differentiation and direction, the marketing guessing game is over. You can plan for the year, comfortable in the knowledge that your efforts are well thought out and leading you toward the goal(s) you have set for yourself and your business.

Next week a focused advertising campaign!

Volume 5 Number 6

As we continue our look at how branding helps your business, we look at how branding focuses your advertising campaign.

As you go through the process of branding your business, you begin to understand who your clients are and how best to reach them. This allows you to develop a more effective advertising campaign, as you are able to create the theme, the words, and the look based on what will reach and touch your potential client base.

Next week increased profit!!

Volume 5 Number 7

We continue our look at how branding helps your business.

An effective branding program can increase your profit margins. The investment you make in branding and the subsequent marketing and advertising will bring in more to your bottom line. Then based on your business acumen, your gross profits should increase. In many cases, the cost of branding can pay for itself with the greater profits covering the additional expenses.

Next week more details!

Volume 5 Number 8

Over the last few (or more) weeks, we looked at the benefits of branding. Since we all agree that the benefits make beginning a branding process a “no-brainer”, let’s look at the process itself.

And Branding is a process; one that takes time, energy, effort, money and patience. But, if you could become the BMW brand of your industry in your market…

The Branding process can be broken down into four primary areas:

  1. Crafting your message
  2. Developing your identity
  3. Disseminating your brand
  4. Patience

Next week… crafting your message

Volume 5 Number 9

The branding process… Crafting your message

This is not as simple as making up a slogan, although that can be part of it. Your message should reflect your ambitions and dreams as they relate to doing business in your market. Let this be a personal as well as professional mission.

The analysis exercise should include:

  • A definition of the greater market
  • A definition of your target market
  • An evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses
  • An evaluation of your competition’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Goals for your business

Next week… more on crafting your message

Volume 5 Number10

The branding process… Crafting your message

Once you have completed the analysis, you will see a picture of your future emerging. You will see your customer, know their buying habits, understand their desires and recognize how you and your competition fit into the equation. Now, you couple that picture with your own goals and you can begin to position yourself as the only alternative for your customer base.

Next week… developing an identity

Volume 5 Number 11

The branding process… Developing an Identity

Your identity is your image to the world. It consists primarily of your logo and “look”. Your “look” is best defined as the way people see you; the colors you use, the feel of your ads, the type of music you use in your television and radio commercials, the way your logo is represented, your web site and other marketing collaterals.

They should all be consistent throughout your marketing efforts; regardless of medium. The world to which you are speaking will begin to recognize each element as yours, and respond in kind.

Next week… more on developing an identity

Volume 5 Number 12

The branding process… Developing an Identity

Along with the identity you may want to take a long, strategic look at your business’s name. Some owners prefer a name that explains it all (or most of it) - Z promotion & design for example, doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. Others prefer a name that is more memorable; something unique that will stick in consumers’ minds because it is different. Still others take on names that get them better placement in the phone book, or because there is still a .com domain name available.

Regardless of your reason, as you begin the branding process in earnest, if you ever wanted to change the name of your business – this is the time!

Next week… more on developing an identity

Volume 5 Number 13

The branding process… Developing an Identity

Identity means maintaining the consistency of what you have selected as elements of your identity – so make sure you are on board with them. If you hire an outside agency, remember this is your business – not theirs – before you begin, be sure you have the final say-so, not them.

Next week… Dissemination

Volume 5 Number 14

The branding process… Dissemination

Assuming you have crafted your message and developed your identity, it’s time to let the world (or at least your market) in on your secret. In simple terms, it’s time to market yourself.

This can be traditional advertising on radio, television and in the print media, or you can disseminate less traditionally and focus your efforts on the internet, direct mail, and other creative ways. Typically, however a combination of efforts will get your name and brand “out there.”

Next week… more on Dissemination – Marketing

Volume 5 Number 15

The branding process… Dissemination

Setting up and defining your marketing budget may include money for everything from advertising to your collateral materials to your web site to the development of a new position line or logo.

One of the major stumbling blocks to effectively disseminating your message is an unrealistic (or non-existent) marketing budget. Each industry has its own suggested levels of budgeting, usually as a percentage of your annual sales volume. Although this figure is a start, in order to be sure you are not short-changing your efforts, 5% is recommended as a minimum for a total marketing budget; and that’s if you’re established with an established brand in your market.

Next week… more on the marketing budget aspect of your dissemination.

Volume 5 Number 16

The branding process… Dissemination

Last week I suggested you look at 5% of your gross sales as a minimal marketing budget. This week I will ask you to consider how much that is in real dollars, and what you hope to accomplish with that cash.

If this is your first real venture into branding, you will have expenses that you won’t have in the “out years”. For example, your web site, brochures, sales materials, etc. Many of the upfront expenses will need to be purchased during the first year, while years 2-3 or 4 will not have these same expenses.

The point is to look at your realistic budget and your expectations – there is a correlation.

Next week… another way to look at your marketing budget.

Volume 5 Number 17

The branding process… Dissemination

I have suggested that you look at your marketing budget as a percentage of gross sales. Another way to look at it is as a fixed expense – just like rent, the phone or the electric bill.

The logic is this… you can’t afford to put your marketing on a sliding scale. If business is down (for whatever reason) your marketing budget will decrease, and your advertising (marketing your brand) will diminish. The exact opposite is what you want to happen. If business is down, you need to be “out there” dragging people in.

Tough economic times are when you should be advertising. Chances are your competition won’t be, and you will have a clearer platform from which to shout! Even in tough times, someone needs your service – regardless of what it is… And when economies improve, you will have been the lone voice for so long you will be remembered.

Next week… paying for all this.

Volume 5 Number 18

The branding process… Dissemination

So how do you pay for branding?

Look at it this way. An effective branding campaign can increase your profit margins allowing the investment you make in marketing to be more than covered in an increased bottom line. In other words, the additional [marketing] expense is made up with greater profits.

Next week… patience... patience… patience

Volume 5 Number 19

The branding process… patience… patience… patience.

Coca-Cola got its start in 1886 – even the flowing script logo type.
BMW began in 1913, although its current branding can be traced back about 20 years.
Nike got its swoosh in 1972
The NBC Peacock was first introduced in 1956. It’s latest iteration in 1986.

My point. It takes time to build a brand and brand awareness.

In realistic term for a small single market business, give it two to three years of consistent advertising and marketing to develop your brand in the minds of your consumers.

Volume 5 Number 20

This week begins a series that Zpd.TIPS has covered in the past, and will likely discuss in the future… finding search engine success through your web programming.

We will take a look at eight guidelines that can help your site get found among the mass of web sites in your business category.

The search engine game is all about keywords and links. Keywords are those words you want visitors to type into their favorite search engine to find you. And links to your site – how many other web sites link to you?

Next week… more about the use of keywords.

Volume 5 Number 21

Using Keywords…
During the week I read an article that best describes the function of keywords and links to your site.

Keywords tell the search engines what to do.
Inbound links tell them how important you are.
The combination determines your relevance and search engines rank by relevance.

Next week… more about the use of keywords

Volume 5 Number 22

Within the HTML (code) of your web page you should have META tags. META tags help search engines find and categorize your site. The two most important however are the “Keyword” and “Description” tags. They are the street signs for your site. Search engines look at the META tags, and then at your copy – and if they don’t match, your site won’t be indexed for those keywords.

Search engines also consider how often the keyword is used in the copy. If you don’t use keywords in your copy, search engines will ignore your site.

Next week… writing keyword-rich copy while maintaining the marketing edge.

Volume 5 Number 23

Over the next weeks we will look at guidelines that can help you optimize your site for both search engines and visitors.

This week - Categorizing…
You should categorize your pages for optimal keyword searchability. This narrows the scope of each page and lets you optimize the copy for the topic of the page. This will help search engines find your page when customers search for specific qualities or words.

Print out existing pages and label them with their key points or benefits.
Create new pages around other/missing key benefits or offerings.
Try to work keyword phrases into the copy of your website to target and capture a specific audience.

Next week… how to find out what your customers search for.

Volume 5 Number 24

After categorizing your webpage around concepts, you’ll need to find out exactly what keywords your customers are looking for.

There are companies that will analyze your site and your keywords, providing you with suggested keywords that will increase your hits – I have not used any of them, but  will allow you to run a limited test.

You understand who your market is – determine your keywords based on how you want customers to find you, and make sure they correspond with the body copy of your site.

Next week… using more than keyWORDS..

Volume 5 Number 25

Keywords are more than just single words, they are phrases.

1- There is too much competition in single words – go to google and search for music, now search for folk music, then for “folk music”, next try “american folk music” and finally both “american folk music” 60s and “60s american folk music”
Look at the difference in the number of results you get!

2- And customers are becoming much more internet-savvy, searching more and more for specifics.

Next week… how to get around the competitive searches.

Volume 5 Number 26

More on Phrases….
Because of the more specific and targeted searches, you have to choose phrases that will help you stand out in the search, no matter how specific.

Figure out what is unique about your business, product or service.
Use obvious phrases that are down-to-earth and allow people to search in their own language.
This will get you a higher percentage of people who are actually looking for what you are offering.

Next week… IMPORTANT phrases.

Volume 5 Number 27

Picking the important phrases can be difficult. Too often, it is tempting to want to include every single keyword phrase on every page. This can actually be an overload.

Choose one or two keyword phrases for each page, depending on the content of each page.

Next week… Being specific with keywords.

Volume 5 Number 28

When writing copy in the website itself, add your keyword phrases whenever you can. It’s very important, however, to keep readability smooth and consistent, since your service is reflected in your website’s professionalism and clarity. The best compromise is a balance of readability and use of specific keyword phrases.

Next week… linking keyword phrases.

Volume 5 Number 29

This weeks Zpd.TIPS is continuing our discussion of getting found by search engines…


Linking pages together through text links is normally a good idea, though you shouldn’t link every phrase on every page.

Links provide a sense of connectedness from one page to another.
Linked pages let search engines know that your pages are connected when pulled up.
It is a good idea to have as many links as possible, especially if the link text is a keyword phrase.
Try having some links at the bottom or side of the page and some in the copy itself, as long as it doesn’t reflect readability.

Next week… how to encode your page to avoid blue underlined text in your copy.

Volume 5 Number 30

Underlining link… Or not.

I am torn about this one.

On the one hand, the visitor has been trained that underlined text is a link (which is why I hate using underlined text – that is not a link – on a web page).

On the other hand, technology today allows us to use text and link it without underlining it.

It’s your call – a subjective decision based on taste.
If you’re a web designer and want to remove the underline, you probably already know how… if you’re not, ask your web designer or you can email me.

Next week… Keyword Phrases in Headings.

Volume 5 Number 31

Headings with Keyword Phrases

Headings are used to by both customers AND search engines to scan through your text and categorize your site. For this reason, you should include many headings and incorporate your keyword phrases into your headings. This serves a two-fold purpose, allowing search engines to find you better and also helping the readability of your text by allowing customers to easily scan your website.

Next week… testing phrases.

Volume 5 Number 32

Testing Keyword Phrases….
After you have made a first attempt at the copy, you should run it through a density checker in order to get metrics on it.

Visit  and type in the domain and the keyword phrase you want to analyze. This should give you a percentage for all the important parts of your page, including copy, title, meta keywords, meta description, etc.

A higher density is better, with most people looking for a density measurement of at least 3-5%. If it’s less than 3%, you will probably need to take another pass.

Next week… finding the overall balance.

Volume 5 Number 33

Finding the overall balance….
It’s important in the end to find a good balance between writing for search engines and for customers. The most important thing is to not overdo it.

It may be necessary to seek professional help to achieve this balance. If you’ve already performed the steps discussed during the last few weeks, your website should be easy for any professional to work with at no extra charge.

Next week… using your stationary package effectively

Volume 5 Number 34

Letterheads and business cards have been around forever, but they have traditionally been black and white with text and a logo. But now there are more reasons than ever to create a more unique business card and letterhead package that will stand out against the millions of others out there.

Over the next few months, we’ll take a look at why and how you can make your business cards and letterhead stand out from the pile. Let’s begin with looking at some of the reasons it is possible now to be more creative in your design and look.

  1. There are better programs that allow for more creative possibilities.
  2. There are easy-to-use programs, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily have to cost thousands to make a creative and interesting design
  3. There are already business people out there making different types of cards and letterheads because they know that it is important to stand out competitively

Next week: the three basic pieces of a good letterhead package

Volume 5 Number 35

There are three basic pieces to a good letterhead package. They include your letterhead, business card and an envelope. On some occasions, extra collaterals will be useful as well, but these basic three are the key components of a good package.

Savvy business people know that letterheads make a difference- they “reflect a business’s professionalism, its originality and its commitment to being better than the competition in every way.” (Fresh Ideas in Letterhead and Business Card Design, Gail Finke)

The important thing to remember is this: just because you are using the 3 traditional package components doesn’t mean your pieces themselves should be traditional. Next week we’ll look at what to avoid doing when making a business card.

Next week… what to avoid

Volume 5 Number 36

Last week we looked at the 3 pieces of a letterhead package: letterhead, business card, and envelope. The biggest problem is that business cards are normally handed out in droves….and often thrown in a drawer and forgotten about just as easily and quickly.

This week we’ll look at what to avoid with your business card designs.

  1. Don’t make it too difficult to store. If it is too difficult to store, it’ll be trashed.
  2. Don’t make it too similar to everyone else’s business card. If it’s too much like the rest, it’ll be lost in the pile.

Next week we’ll look at some simple ways to spice up your letterhead package and make your business stand out.

Volume 5 Number 37

Now let’s look at some small deviations that will make a big difference in your letterhead package.

  1. Size variation--Using a slightly bigger envelop or business card can make a big difference.
  2. Folds and Creases—A folded business card can make an interesting deviation from the norm.
  3. Non-traditional text placement—Putting your company information and logo somewhere besides the traditional upper left corner. Put it at the bottom, the side, the right-hand corner, etc.
  4. Print on both sides of your business card. Utilize the space.
  5. Use a different type of paper for your envelope, card, or letterhead—it will feel distinct in the hands of whomever is receiving it.

Next week, we’ll look at what to put on your letterhead and business card to reinforce your company’s image.

Volume 5 Number 38

When trying to decide what to put on your business card and letterhead, try to remember that many elements go into making your letterhead package.

  1. Your letterhead package should reinforce the company’s image and unique personality, so remember that when constructing it.
  2. Think about who will be using your letterhead. Will a secretary be preparing things on it? Will letters be hand-written on it? Will 1 person use it or multiple people? What type of printer will it be printed on? All of these things will determine the look and feel of your letterhead.
  3. Think about your business card uses as well. Will they be mailed, handed out, displayed?
  4. Think long and hard about your customer base. What kind of thing will they appreciate or like in a business card or letterhead design? Will they prefer a professional or casual approach? Funny or serious? This is a very important thing to consider when constructing your package.

Next week we will discuss the final steps in making a successful letterhead package.

Volume 5 Number 39

The overall purpose of a letterhead package (letterhead, business card, envelope) is to allow people to contact and access you. With that in mind, it’s important that the following things be kept front of mind.

  1. Your package should be legible and accessible.
  2. It must have contact information that is easy to find and use.
  3. All information must be up-to-date

Next week’s tip will take an in-depth look at some detailed elements of a letterhead package that can make a huge difference in your company’s image.

Volume 5 Number 40

There are 6 key elements in a letterhead package that can be mixed and matched to make a huge difference in your letterhead, business card and envelope package.

The first element is color. Working with different colors can be extremely important to your overall look. Here are some simple ideas that can be used to make your business cards, envelopes and letterheads stand out from those of your competition.

  1. Colored inks—Using colored inks, instead of black and white, adds a vibrant look to your logo, text, and overall design.
  2. Colored papers—Colored letterhead paper, business cards or envelopes can add a subtle distinction to your image.
  3. Try using a combination of both colored ink and paper. Be sure to talk to your designer and make sure that the colors you choose represent your business’s distinct personality and level of professionalism.

Volume 5 Number 41

Last week we looked at how color can make a difference in your letterhead package. This week we will look at type, a tool that is extremely easy to manipulate and fun to play with. There are several reasons to experiment with different non-traditional types.

  1. It has never been more accessible as it is today. There are many choices and combination options.
  2. There are alternative fonts on almost every computer program that can add distinction to your package.
  3. Try a combination of different sized fonts and different types of fonts to add a real distinction to your design look.

Volume 5 Number 42

Last week we looked at how different fonts and types can make a difference in your business card and letterhead look. This week we’ll look at paper choices, something that can make a lot of difference in your overall package.
Don’t underestimate the impact of unusual weights, patterns and textures. Heavy paper can seem more important, whereas lighter weight papers can seem more elegant.

Try some of these options to add distinction to your paper choices.

1. Textured paper
2. Colored paper
3. Recycled paper
4. Coated paper

Volume 5 Number 43

Last week we looked at paper choices that could make your letterhead package more distinct. This week we are going to look at printing options that can make a difference.

Try some of these different printing techniques to spice up your letterhead package.

1. Letterpress
2. Engraving
3. Thermography (for raised, glossy printing)
4. Screen printing (saturated color)
5. Die Cuts
6. Foil Stamping

Next week’s key element: logos

Volume 5 Number 44

Last week we looked at printing techniques that can help your letterhead, business card and envelope stand out. This week we’ll look at one of the most important parts of a letterhead package, the logo.

Your logo is a major element of your corporate identity. It is a part of everything that represents your business, but nowhere is it more important than on your business card and letterhead.

Some business professionals choose to adopt an entirely new logo to match modern times, but that is not the only option. Even an outdated logo can be used creatively to create a fresh new look. Be sure to choose a design professional that can work creatively with you and has enough time to take personal time to make your logo and letterhead package stand out.

Volume 5 Number 45

Last week we looked at the ever important logo as a part of making your letterhead package more distinct. This week we’ll check out the last of the six key elements, artwork.

Artwork can give personality and communicate beyond words by targeting something even more important, emotion. Some simple ways to include artwork in your letterhead package include

- clip art
- photos
- illustrations
- patterns

Even on a budget, things like stamps, markers, etc. can be used to spice up your letterhead package and give it some unique personality.

Volume 5 Number 46

For the next few weeks, let’s take a look at online newsletters/tips such as Zpd.TIPS.  I am about to begin the sixth year of these marketing tips… and I wouldn’t keep writing and disseminating them if I didn’t see the value in doing so.  As we delve deeper, we will look at the structure, the recipient list and the benefits.

Volume 5 Number 47

As we look at online newsletters, this week we are looking at the structure. The primary rule; KEEP IT SHORT! No one likes emails that you need to scroll to read. Say what you have to say and get out

Volume 5 Number 48

What should you write about? Obviously something at which you are an expert. Look at your business, your competitive advantage, and your personal expertise – you have wisdom to impart and this is a great media from which to speak. Consider your recipients. Be sure you provide information they can use. If it is too specific, you will narrow your audience.




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