Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Small Business Marketing Tactics: Engaging Your Customers

If you’re a small business owner you probably love what you do. You likely have a lot of knowledge about the product or service you provide and are passionate about it. Displaying the passion and enthusiasm you have for your business to the outside world is not always easy, making it difficult to attract clients.

A business owner’s expertise and excitement helps to engage clients. As many companies and organizations know, if you don’t engage your potential clients, you won’t last long in business. The good news is that there are many opportunities during a business relationship to connect with your customers and clients, even if you only have a few moments of their time. The key is to know how to make them feel valued, and so they keep coming back to your company.

Your Company’s Image

One of the first ways to engage your clients is through your company’s image. That image, also referred to as a brand, helps determine whether or not clients will come to you for products or services, and which clients you appeal to.

Your image involves everything from your logo, to the brochures and pamphlets you send out, to how your staff greets clients, to how your location (if you have one)—or website—looks, to how you follow up with your clients after the transaction is complete.

Your marketing materials should support your image and make it clear, through design and content, what your company does and what sets you apart from the competition. They should be designed to enhance your image and to connect with the clients you seek. They should also give your clients a sense of how passionate you are about what you do, and where your expertise lies. Basically, they should make your client as excited about buying your products or services as you are about providing them.

A unique, eye-catching, professionally designed set of marketing materials—which can include a website, pamphlets, brochures and business cards—gives clients an understanding of you and your business and encourages them to visit your business or website.

Your Business

Once the clients have come to you, ensuring they feel valued helps keep them coming back. This means acknowledging them when you see them, asking if there is anything further you can help them with and answering any questions they have.

Making sure that the information they need or products they seek are easy to come by is another important step in engaging your clients. If they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave. So organizing your business, and your website, in a logical, understandable manner is vital. Making sure help is nearby in case they can’t find what they need is another important step in helping the client feel valued.

Follow Up

Even after the sale, it’s a great idea to follow up with your clients. Doing so makes your clients feel valued and it lets you know if there are any areas you can improve in. For example, if your business sells products online, following up with a client about her experiences will let you know if there were any difficulties with your website, such as trouble finding the checkout button, or problems with shipping. In such cases, you can rectify the situation and address the client’s concerns, while making her feel her input was valued.

If the client had a wonderful experience, getting a testimonial from her is a great way to highlight what your business does well, and get the word out to other potential clients.

The Design Aspect

One of the great things about small business owners is their passion for what they do, but that passion sometimes gets lost in ineffective marketing materials. Unfortunately, outdated marketing materials get ignored or tossed in the recycling bin, without the consumer taking the opportunity to get to know more about a small business. Business owners need marketing materials that are eye-catching and memorable so they engage their audience.

A talented graphic designer—one who is as passionate about what she does as you are about what you do—can help ensure your enthusiasm and expertise are obvious to potential clients, increasing your organization’s appeal.

Gold Leaf Graphic Design and Consulting can design and create marketing materials that grab your audience’s attention. We can help you with everything from professionally branding your company, to designing attractive and engaging marketing pieces, to creating memorable logos and setting up email marketing campaigns that clients will read. And, we can help you determine which of my services will best suit your needs, so you can focus on other things.

Need help creating eye-catching, memorable brochures, business cards, pamphlets or other marketing materials for your business? Contact us for all your design needs!

Further Reading
5 Ways to Ensure Customer Satisfaction

Elevator Speech: Small Business Marketing Tool

Small Business Marketing: Your Elevator Speech

Have you ever been in a situation where someone asked you what you do, only to stammer and stumble your way through an answer? The problem for a lot of us is that when we’re put on the spot it’s hard to come up with an eloquent answer. So we give an answer that half explains what we do, running the risk of losing the person’s interest in the meantime.

The solution is the elevator speech (also known as an elevator pitch, 30-second pitch or a 60-second pitch).

What is an Elevator Speech?

An elevator speech is a short speech—no more than two sentences (or 30 to 60 seconds)—that clearly explains who you are, what you do and who you do it for. The goal is to be as clear and concise as possible, so you don’t lose your audience’s attention. At the same time, you have to give them compelling information about yourself, to encourage them to consider you the next time they are in the market for goods or services your business provides. Then, you finish off by handing the listener your well-designed business card, so they have no trouble remembering you or your business.

What goes in an Elevator Speech?

The elevator speech includes information about who your are, what your company or organization does and who it provides that good or service for.

An example of an elevator speech is: “Gold Leaf Graphic Design and Consulting helps small business owners with their marketing strategy by designing marketing collateral and functional websites that grab people’s attention and encourage them to take action. We get potential clients excited about your organization.”

Some people include statistics in their elevator speech, such as, “ABC Consulting is a technology consulting firm that helps increase productivity in medium-sized technology corporations up to 60 percent by streamlining company procedures.” Of course, if you’re going to use statistics in your elevator speech, make sure you have the facts to back those statistics up.

It’s important that your personality and enthusiasm shine through, so use language that is natural to you and shows off how excited you are about what you do. That excitement will engage the person you’re speaking with.

How Long Does an Elevator Speech Take to Develop?

The speech can take a long time to develop and it should change as your business evolves. The important thing is to practice it frequently, so it becomes natural to say and so it sounds natural to your listener. The difficult thing is to become so familiar with your elevator speech that you know it by heart, but not in such a way that it sounds rehearsed or phony. Take time to practice with friends, who can help you refine your speech.

You can also have a number of speeches depending on your audiences. For example, at a small-business networking event, you may want a speech that highlights your services for small businesses, while at a technology conference you may want a speech that focuses on technology. One company may be interested in lowering costs while another is interested in your unique services. So it helps to have a couple of elevator speeches on-hand, in case you need them.

Listen (and be prepared to follow up)

When you’ve finished your speech, give your listeners a chance to respond. They may have follow-up questions based on what you’ve told them. For example, they may ask how you can help their company or what unique services you provide. Or, you can close with a question about their business, to help identify their business needs. Always be prepared to follow up your speech; don’t expect that the conversation will end when your speech does.

Hand Out Your Business Card

Every speech needs a good ending that encourages listeners to keep you in mind when they’re in need of your products or services. One of the best ways to do this is to have a well-designed, attention-grabbing business card to pass to your listeners at the end of your speech. By handing out your business card during your elevator speech you’ve not only given them a way to contact you, you’ve provided them with an association for that business card. That way, they’ll remember you.

A great elevator speech will encourage listeners to ask more questions about your business or how you can help them. A well-designed business card is the perfect way to close your elevator speech, and the right card will generate interest in you and your business. A great elevator speech combined with a fantastic business card are memorable and will encourage potential clients or customers to think of you in the future.

So take a few hours, grab a few good friends and practice your elevator speech. Then, make sure your business card is as memorable as your speech.

Need help creating an eye-catching and memorable business card design for your business? Contact Us today for help with all of your design needs!

Social Media Week – Vancouver – September 2011

This week kicks off Social Media Week (SMW), September 19th to 23rd, 2011. Social Media Week is a set of international biannual conferences and events, aimed at bringing people together via learning experiences and online information, regarding social media and its role in our society. It also covers emerging trends in areas such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Social Media Week started back in 2009 in New York, and has since grown to encompass nine cities at the last conference earlier this year, in February 2011. September’s conference is said to be the biggest yet, with twelve or more cities participating globally.

This will be Vancouver’s first Social Media Week, and there are many enticing activities that are taking place around the city, to help you engage your audience, and learn effective techniques to make the most of your social media campaigns.

Events in Vancouver

Registration for many of the events is sold out or close to it – but check online as you may still be able to get tickets!

The Blogging Summit
Vancouver’s Social Media Week starts with ‘The Blogging Summit’, on Monday, September 19th at UBC Robson Square from 9am to 12pm. Featuring Keynote speakers such as Shane Gibson (co-author of Sociable! – B2B Blogging and Podcasting Strategies), Dr. Raul Pacheco (Hummingbird604.com), and Tris Hussey (Canada’s first professional blogger). For more information and to register: The Blogging Summit.
For more events happening on Monday, please visit the Social Media Week website.

Social Media 101 Summit
Langara College is hosting their ‘Social Media 101 Summit’ on Tuesday, September 20th from 9am to 12pm, at the W2 Cafe in the Woodward’s building. Registration is over half full so get your tickets soon! For more information and to register: Langara College – Social Media 101 Summit.
For more events happening on Tuesday, please visit the Social Media Week website.

Secrets of a Social Media Campaign, with Matt Astifan
UBC Robson Square is hosting the ‘Secrets of a Social Media Campaign, with Matt Astifan’ on Wednesday, September 21st from 10am to 12pm. This event will cover the aspects of creating a successful social media campaign in your business, by analyzing past business campaigns and looking at how people interact online. For more information and to register: Secrets of a Social Media Campaign, with Matt Astifan.
For more events happening on Wednesday, please visit the Social Media Week website.

Social Networking: What Employers Need to Know
Fasken Martineau is hosting the ‘Social Networking: What Employers Need to Know’ event, on Thursday, September 22nd from 12pm to 1:45pm. This event will cover the many legal aspects of employers using social media with relation to their employees. For more information and to register: Social Networking: What Employers Need to Know.
For more events happening on Thursday, please visit the Social Media Week website.

The Enterprise 2.0 Summit
SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (Cinema) is hosting the ‘Enterprise 2.0 Summit’, on Friday, September 23rd from 8:45am to 4:15pm. This is a comprehensive social media event being presented by top executives and marketers from leading companies such as BuildDirect.com, the Ford Motor Company, ING Direct, and Blenz Coffee. This event will have a packed agenda; for more information and to register: The Enterprise 2.0 Summit.
For more events happening on Friday, please visit the Social Media Week website.

Online

To stay on top of the latest news regarding Social Media Week in Vancouver, you can follow them on Twitter @SMWVAN.

You can also watch content live online from around the world via the SMW Official Channel.

Small Business Marketing: Using the Right Marketing Materials

One of the most important things Gold Leaf Graphic Design does for its clients is help them develop value-added materials to assist in their marketing efforts. These pieces can include promotional brochures, advertisements, sales catalogues, and a variety of other critical pieces to help them stand out in their respective industries.

Many small businesses have a hard time justifying costs for marketing materials – let alone printed pieces, as long as they do not understand the entire process by which these materials can generate income for their business. This is where Gold Leaf Graphic Design comes in.

For example, one of our clients was looking for a way to reach their target market and “get their product out there”. They were looking for a way to define themselves in the industry, as they noticed their customers were not aware of the vast array of products they supplied. This is a common headache for many businesses.

Once we sat down and discussed their needs, it was determined that a promotional brochure was the best option for their current marketing strategy. There are a few key points that were also realized during this process. For example, we were originally going to be doing a larger product catalogue. However, these take time, and as the main goal was to increase awareness about their product offerings, a smaller and more compact version of a product catalogue was transformed into a promotional brochure. A variety of factors went into this decision, and it was realized that the sooner we got a marketing piece completed, the better. Time is of the essence of course – as if you’re not out there in front of your customers, your competition is.

The key point here is that we took the time to go through their needs analysis. This is absolutely critical. We realized that through doing a smaller promotional brochure in this instance, we could have a quicker launch to the target market and gain interest for the client’s products in the marketplace sooner. Also, for their direct mail strategy, they could spend less on a mail merge (lighter marketing piece) and still reach their audience.

Another important point to consider is that in the time we took to complete their smaller promotional brochure, they could launch it to their customers, and gather data on product sales to better restock their inventory and learn usage trends for their products. Essentially, we would be using the promotional brochure as a soft launch for their marketing campaign to gather intel. Also, for future considerations, a larger and more comprehensive product catalogue would be launched. They would now have a clearer idea of what they wanted for their product offerings in this larger catalogue (as well as what items they should feature, based on sales from the first launch).

As you can see, with just a few simple steps, we were able to create an effective marketing piece that both suited the client’s needs and created essential value for their customers – all because we took the time to listen and ask the right questions.

If you’d like to see how Gold Leaf Graphic Design can help your business, please contact us for assistance with your next marketing campaign.

Marketing Mix Strategies – The 4 P’s of Marketing – Tips for Small Business Owners

In addition to my previous article about Features, Needs, and Benefits, I wanted to write an update for Marketing Mix Strategies – this time speaking briefly about the 4 P’s of Marketing.

The 4 P’s consist of Price, Place, Product/Service, and Promotion. These four parameters in the marketing mix are crucial to providing the right elements to marketing success.

Price: This consists of determining the right pricing for your product or service. It is important to ensure that your price reflects the various parameters in your selling environment that could affect pricing, such as your target market and what they are willing to pay, as well as what your competition is doing. After taking all of this into consideration, you also have to ask yourself whether you can remain profitable with pricing at that level. You have to be conscious of all of these various factors in order to price your product or service correctly.

Place: Place deals with distribution and the selling channels that you would be accessing in order to get your product to your customer. For services, it is important to make yourself accessible to your customer, either by having an office that is in a good location with good exposure and parking, or if you are home based, to be accessible so that your customers can find you such as via a website, contact phone number, and so on.

Product/Service: With a product or service, the basic thing to remember is to find something to sell that fills a need. For example, if you are providing a product, then selling one that is unique or made in a better way, that can fill the needs of your customers. If you are selling a service, then providing something to your customers in a way that your competition cannot. For example, providing quality service on a more personal basis to your customers than your competition, will make you sought out by customers who would like this kind of service.

Promotion: Finding the right promotion channels for your product or service is important to get the word out about what you do, and what you are selling. There are many ideas as to what promotions should be done, however I am a firm believer in trying to get as much free promotion as possible. Why not? You might as well exhaust those options before finding out what cost effective advertising methods you can use. Word of mouth advertising and referrals are priceless – specifically because they are traditionally more trusted than paid advertising.

Some other links you might find interesting to go into more detail on the 4 P’s of Marketing are listed below – enjoy!

The Marketing Mix and 4 Ps from MindTools.com

The Marketing Mix – The 4 Ps of Marketing – by NetMBA.com

Small Business Tips: Networking 101

Today I’m going to discuss networking, with tips to help you gain a bit of insight into how to get yourself out there, promote your brand, and connect with new people.

So what exactly is networking? I would define it as meeting people via business and social events, through friends, referrals, and other means, for the purposes of expanding social connections and promoting your business.

HOW DO YOU NETWORK?

Here are a few key points:

  • Become clear on your brand: What value do you as a person and you as a business provide to your clients? You and your business are separate entities, and have different personality traits if you will. For example, value that you can provide as a person may include things such as: good listening skills, resourcefulness, attention to detail, great follow up, etc. As a business, your ‘personality’ might include an extension of this such as quality products/service offerings, fast lead times, competitive pricing, and so on. When you are clear on your brand, you become more confident and are better able to represent yourself on both counts in a networking situation. I feel it is important to know what strengths you have in terms of your own personality, as this is an excellent way to market yourself for future opportunities.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there: I can understand how networking can be quite daunting to some people, as it can be hard to get up the courage to strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger. It definitely takes practice for some of us – believe me! However, I have found it to be very rewarding. Give yourself a task in stages for your next networking event. Congratulate yourself for even going in the first place. Reward yourself for speaking to even one person, and don’t be afraid to say that you’re new to this whole ‘networking thing’ – everyone had to go through it at one point.
  • Take a genuine interest in the other person: Whenever I meet someone new, my attention is centered around the other person, as I am naturally a very curious person. I love finding out new things about people and really value in depth conversations about various topics. This can be a wonderful ice breaker – but please be forewarned that it is crucial to be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say if you intend to have a lengthy conversation and promote your brand afterward. I have found that the right moment to promote myself and my business is entirely based on intuition. When I feel that there is an opportunity to offer my services, I go for it. Even if I do not get a chance to promote my business to someone I have met at that time, I still consider it a win-win scenario as I have engaged in a conversation with them, have made a new connection and perhaps can offer them something in the future.
  • WHERE CAN YOU NETWORK?

    This is a common question – and here are a few ideas:

  • Tradeshows: These are a great opportunity to meet new faces and generate leads. Depending on your business, you may want to invest in getting a booth at a show related to your industry, or you could simply attend tradeshows that interest you, with business cards in hand. You never know who you might meet at a tradeshow.
  • Social Events: Whether its a BBQ at a friend’s house or a fundraiser for your favourite charity by your peers, social events are great opportunities for networking. You may be exposed to new people and can even update the ones you already know with your new endeavors and tell them all about your new business.
  • Community Events: These type of events are great for networking. A wide range of people come out of all backgrounds, and you never know who you will meet. Also, they are a great conversation starter for sharing your desire and connection with the community, which means a lot to people when it comes to your business. You’ll have fun and meet new people along the way.

    These are just a few of the ways to increase your networking abilities. Have fun with it, and always be open to making new connections with people.

  • Small Business Tips – Decision Making Part 2: How to Make Better Decisions

    In the Decision Making Part 1: The BIG Decision to Become an Entrepreneur post, I wrote about the BIG decision to become an entrepreneur. Today I’m going to discuss how to make decisions, once you have taken the leap in starting your own business. Some of you may think this is silly, but trust me, making decisions is not an easy process for most people out there, though it is an integral part of running your own business.

    I recommend the following tips to help you make better decisions:

    1. Learn to be OK with your decision: once you have made a decision, accept it. There is nothing worse than sitting on the fence about a decision you have already made, as it causes you to doubt yourself and your ability to make decisions. If you have trouble with the decision making process, acknowledge that fact, become aware of it, and check out the articles below on how to become a better decision maker. Once you’ve done that and are faced with a decision, be okay with what you have decided and move on. There’s plenty of other things you need to concentrate on rather than second guessing yourself!
    2. Don’t let yourself be persuaded by negativity: you will always be faced with those that challenge you and those that support you with regards to a decision you have made. In the face of challenge, you have to become resilient and act accordingly. Those that challenge you also serve a purpose – so don’t discount them. Usually they are the ones that help you develop a thicker skin – so the next time someone challenges you, become aware of what is happening, welcome the process, and be thankful for the opportunity to express yourself by making another solid decision. Of course, this doesn’t mean you subject yourself to criticism, obviously don’t let people step on you, so just be aware of this the next time you are faced with a challenge.
    3. Celebrate the small things in life: making decisions can be a tough process. Some people are better at it than others, so my advice to you is to celebrate the small things in life. Welcome and reward the experience when you do make a decision and stick with it. Sometimes small decisions can be just as daunting as big decisions, it’s all a matter of perspective. The point is to give yourself a pat on the back for the fact that you have made the decision – there are many out there that haven’t even gotten to this point – they just sit on the fence. So the next time you worry and fret about making a decision – use the processes in the articles below to help you, and remember to use your intuition to guide you in making the decision. Once it’s made, reward yourself and carry on.

    The following articles are also great resources for helping you become better at decision making:

    5 Tips for Making Better Decisions
    This article is concise and a great read. I really like point 3 and point 5. Giving your brain a rest by meditating, or moving onto another task is an excellent way to allow yourself to relax enough to let your intuitive side kick in, and being open and honest enough to admit when you’ve made a mistake is key and a really great exercise for your ego.

    Mind Tools: Six Thinking Hats
    This article allows you to look at the decision making process from a variety of perspectives, as written by Edward de Bono as the ‘Six Thinking Hats’ technique. I found this post quite refreshing since it is a unique and interesting way to approach the topic. You can find more information as well in Edward de Bono’s book, Six Thinking Hats.

    6 Steps to Better Decision Making
    Duncan Brodie’s article is a great resource for how to make better decisions. His point on getting clear on your ideal outcome is excellent since, once again, he’s using the power of intention to guide you. If you don’t see your end result, how do you expect to know where you will end up? You have to get crystal clear on what you want, and only then will you be able to attract the circumstances and opportunities to get you there.

    I look forward to your comments about the decision making process. It’s always great to hear new ways that work for weighing the pros and cons of the next decision.

    Small Business Tips – Decision Making Part 1: The BIG Decision to Become an Entrepreneur

    Making decisions is an important part of business. In fact, the decision to become an entrepreneur is usually one of the most difficult decisions an individual can make, when moving from the “corporate” workforce.

    I have had many people ask me how I made the decision to become an entrepreneur, and my answer is always that I simply felt no job out there ‘fit’ what I wanted to do in life. I had worked in various companies and been very successful, however I was not completely fulfilled nor did I feel that I was expressing my passions in life.

    How to Make the ‘BIG’ Decision to Become an Entrepreneur

    So how does one make the decision to become an entrepreneur? Along with my own suggestions, I have found a number of articles online that I feel can help you on your path to making the ‘big’ decision to become an entrepreneur. The fact that you are reading this article means that you already express an interest in this field, so read on for great tips and resources:

    The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’s article, “163 Ways How to Become an Entrepreneur”
    I found this article to be an excellent resource – these tips are quick and to the point, and very on target for what is needed to become an entrepreneur. Some of my favourite tips from this article include number 1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 33, 45, 58, 64, 84, 92, 118, 154, and so many more! Definitely a recommended read.

    Small Business Canada: Thinking of Starting a Small Business?
    Susan’s article has some great questions you can ask yourself in order to help you make the decision if entrepreneurship is right for you. She also includes links to a self-assessment and quiz you can do. Though there is merit in these types of quizzes, I am a solid believer of the power of intention, and urge you to consider these quizzes and any others as a guide for your decision – not a mandate. You may simply realize that you may not be quite ready to make the move, but don’t let that discourage you – instead consider it an opportunity to do some more soul searching to find your true passions is life.

    Small Biz Bee: How to Decide to Quit the Day Job to Start a Business
    This article is great because it really goes into detail about what is involved with the decision regarding quitting your day job. Though being an entrepreneur is amazing, challenging, liberating, and can most certainly be FUN (amongst the hard work of course), it is absolutely not an easy decision to make. This article goes through more of the emotional aspects of the decision, weighing the pros and cons, and I found it a very interesting read.

    Why Become an Entrepreneur?

    So why would you decide to become an entrepreneur? The following articles list a number of great reasons to make the decision to tap into your passion today:

    Canada Business – 5 Reasons to Become an Entrepreneur
    This article is quick and to the point, and whether you live in Canada or elsewhere, the reasons are just the same, and really the possibilities are endless!

    Small Biz Bee – 5 Qualities of a Good Entrepreneur
    Another great article from the Small Biz Bee website – this time regarding the qualities of a good entrepreneur. These 5 Qualities are excellent – taking risks is definitely something you do when in business for yourself, and time management and motivation is key. You are now responsible for your own success, your own boss, and you have no one to thank for your success but yourself, so why not make the most of this experience?

    Lastly, I recommend you follow @tweetburst, for motivational quotes for entrepreneurs every day to get you going and keep you rocking all throughout the week!

    Apart from the articles I have recommended above, my personal suggestion to you is go for it! Make sure you do your research, see if you’ve got what it takes to go solo, and if you feel a drive to be more than what you’re doing right now, pursue that dream and open yourself up to the many opportunities that await you. If you’ve made the decision to become an entrepreneur, know that it won’t be easy, you’ll probably get discouraged and face many challenges along the way, but you will also face success like you’ve never known before because this time it will be YOU running the show. Good Luck and enjoy the ride!

    QR Codes – Analytics & Tracking

    Back in December, I wrote a blog post about “QR Codes – What are they and what can they be used for?”. Further to that post, I wanted to write a quick update regarding the tracking of QR Codes, as I received a comment from one of my readers about this.

    Tracking a QR code is done in a similar fashion as tracking any other URL – you just need to know what tools to use. For example, you could use the site bit.ly, which is a fantastic URL shortener (for those of us who love to Tweet!) that not only allows you to quickly shorten your links, but also gives you a snapshot of how many clicks you have had for that link, with real-time tracking.

    Bit.ly is amazing because it even has metrics reporting on the links you have shortened, with information on referring sites and user locations. As if that wasn’t enough, bit.ly has even added a custom generated QR Code for each of your links, which, in turn is analyzed and tracked for you as well. I highly recommend this site for its ease of use and effective reporting.

    I also found this post, titled Tracking QR Code Performance by Greg Dowling to be quite informative, as it also gives information on various other mobile barcodes out there. As Greg mentions, there is also another QR Code tracker out there done by Google, which can be found at goo.gl.

    Overall, I think QR Codes are quite fascinating, and it amazes me at how quickly this technology is growing and catching on.

    Creative Burnout: 5 Ways to Manage and Avoid It

    Creative burnout is something that can affect you when you least expect it. It can come in many forms, but I’ve found that it generally manifests itself as something akin to metaphorically ‘hitting a brick wall’ in terms of creative process, and usually means a loss of ideas or new concepts for the project at hand.

    According to Websters.com, an idea is defined as, “any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.” Ideas are gems – they take us to new places, bring our imagination to new heights, and help us develop new and exciting ways to see the world. When one suffers from creative burnout, it’s hard to even come up with new ideas, and consequently we are left with a feeling of frustration.

    Here are 5 ways to manage and avoid creative burnout:

    1. Healthy Balance of Work and Personal Life
    Having a healthy balance between your work and personal life is key. Everyone who knows me wonders how I can manage so many tasks at once, and I admit, sometimes it certainly can be challenging! I have found that the key to success in this area is to ensure you give yourself time to do things non-work related. I completely understand how easy it is to get involved in a project and sit there for hours (before realizing how much time has passed), but having gentle reminders to get you up and away from your desk is a great way to break up your day.

    2. Exercise and Physical Activity
    No matter what your job, sitting at a desk can be draining and certainly mentally exhausting. Taking time out of your day to engage in some sort of physical activity will help you to get your heart rate up and keep your body in a well maintained and conditioned state. Going to the gym is great, but when you can’t make the time, simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk, stretching, and even deep breathing exercises can all aid in releasing stress from your body. Pairing these routines with some of your favourite music is a great way to motivate yourself to stay fit and healthy.

    3. Expand your Circle of Creative Inspiration
    I have found that creative inspiration can come in many different ways and in various forms. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with a new idea or design, so drawing inspiration from another source can be the key to turn on that lightbulb in your head and consequently allow you to have your ‘ah ha’ moment.

    There are so many ways to be inspired – looking through photographs, collecting reference samples, reading children’s books, taking a walk on the beach… these are just a few of the countless ways you can be inspired. Anything that fills you with joy and gives you clarity of mind is a wonderful tool to open you up for inspiration.

    4. Organize and Harmonize Your Space
    Keeping your workspace organized, clean, and free of clutter is an important part of keeping your mind clutter free, too. Organizing, recycling and packing away any items that you don’t readily need on a daily basis ensures that your space stays open and ready for your next project. Harmonizing your space by using appropriate colours to attain the desired energy flow in the room, can put you in the right mood to tackle the tasks at hand. For more information on how colour energy affects us, visit the Colour Energy website.

    Using Feng Shui to organize your office is also an effective way of allowing your energy (or ‘chi’) to flow effortlessly. A quick article on the subject can be found on Care2’s website called, 13 Do’s and Taboos for the Feng Shui Office.

    5. Break out of your Routine… and Learn Something New!
    It’s so easy for us to get stuck in a routine as we go through our daily lives, until one day we find that we’re just downright bored. Breaking out of our routine and learning something new is an excellent way of shaking things up, and allowing ourselves the freedom to expand our horizons and acquire new skills. Taking a class in cooking or cake decorating, painting or drumming, even joining an archery or bowling club – are just a few examples of ways you can open up your mind to different ways of thinking. When we don’t challenge our minds, we’re left feeling dull and fuzzy, worn and slow. Our mind is a muscle, and it must be exercised. Taking part in new activities not only strengthens that muscle, but it also engages you, even gives you an opportunity to meet new people and expand your social network.

    I hope you’ve found these tips useful – please feel free to comment with ways you have found to beat the creative burnout and stay fresh and focused.

    Small Business Tips – Increasing your Productivity

    The topic of today’s blog post is about increasing your productivity for 2011. As an entrepreneur, I am always eager to learn new ways to increase my productivity – do more tasks in less time, by utilizing various tools to help organize my life. Family time is very important to me, and I really value any extra time I can get when I’m able to finish tasks quickly and more efficiently.

    I wanted to share some great tips and tricks with you, that I have found online:

    GeekBeat.tv

    I recently came upon this great website called GeekBeat.tv which is a wonderful source for the latest and greatest information to keep up with our digital age. Their episode on Tools for Productivity talks about 15 various software programs and applications for your mobile phone, that can help you organize your life and get more things done.

    A few of the applications and programs discussed in this episode include 1Password – a handy password keeping tool, Google docs – a document sharing platform, Dragon Naturally Speaking – speech recognition software, as well as many other great resources.

    Check out the episode below for more information:

    iMindMap Software

    iMindMap by Tony Buzan is a great piece of software that allows you to do mind mapping on your computer. This piece of software is simply amazing – it allows you to basically brainstorm in high gear – creating stunning visuals, allowing you to plan and organize your thoughts, ideas, goals, and anything else you’d like to keep track of, in this very simple to use, effective program.

    You can download a free trial for 7 days to test out the software and see for yourself.

    50 Ways to Increase your Productivity – by Kim Roach

    I found this article online by Kim Roach, titled ‘50 Ways to Increase your Productivity‘ and I have to say I really like her writing style. She is concise and breaks down these 50 items in an easy to read list format, so you get a lot out of reading the article without having to search for the information. She wrote this article back in 2007, and yet it is still very relevant today. Enjoy the read!

    Please comment with any tips and tricks you’ve found that help you increase your productivity and make the most out of your time.

    Social Media – Twitter for Business

    This article is the first in a series I will be writing regarding various Social Media applications and how to apply them to your business. My first article centers around Twitter, a social media application that is very easy to use and can be quite effective in marketing your business online.

    Twitter is a very interesting application, enabling people to share their thoughts and connect with others, in 140 characters or less. Twitter has created their Twitter for Business site, enabling business users all around the world access to the latest and greatest information about Twitter and what it can do you for your business, no matter how big or small.

    The Twitter for Business site has three main sections – an area where you can learn about the Twitter Basics such as how it all started, a glossary of Twitter terms, best practices, and even how to use Twitter on your mobile phone. Advanced users can learn how to grow a Community online, read case studies, and read up on the latest resources and widgets available. The possibilities are really quite endless!

    As if this wasn’t enough, you can even start Advertising on Twitter, where you can use Promoted Tweets which basically send your regular tweets to a broader audience, giving you a lot more exposure. Twitter even offers Advertiser Analytics – enabling its advertisers to measure the results of their campaign.

    Twitter has done such a fantastic job of writing all of this content, no wonder they have such a steady following. So why isn’t everyone already on Twitter? I know that some people I have spoken to think it’s ‘too hard’ or think it’s a ‘fad’ or ‘trend’ that they won’t bother learning because it will be gone soon. With over 370,000 new sign-ups DAILY, and a whopping 175,000,000 registered users, Twitter is really a force to be reckoned with online!

    If you’d like to read more about how Twitter started, this article by one of its creators, Dom Sagolla (@Dom) titled, “How Twitter Was Born”, is an excellent read. You can also find Dom’s book, 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form on Amazon.com, with an expanded history of Twitter.

    Twitter has also come out with Twitter 101, a special updated guide with even more information about how to use Twitter for your business. Get started today towards promoting your business online with one of the most effective social media applications out there!

    If you’d like to follow me on Twitter – you can find me online @agataklein.

    Book Review – Law of Attraction Turbocharge – Now on Amazon.com!

    Back in November I wrote a review about the Law of Attraction Turbocharge Ebook by Paul Piotrowski. Not surprisingly, this Ebook has been successful. Now onto the printed version!

    It is now also available on Amazon.com for a holiday special price of 25% OFF at only $19.99! This is a limited time offer so make sure you order your copy now! If you’d like the Ebook version you can also order it here. Enjoy!