Creating a ‘Follow Us on Social Media’ Sign in Microsoft Word

You’ve created your social media pages to reinforce and promote your brand, and you regularly dedicate your time to adding content.  Now, you want to be sure you’re taking every opportunity to properly promote your social media presence.  If your small business has a physical location (office, retail store, etc.), hanging a sign in a high-traffic area is a great option and relatively quick and easy.

I’ll show you the steps to create such sign in Microsoft Word.

1. Open Word, create a new blank document, and insert a rectangle.  (When your cursor turns into a plus sign, you’re able to draw your shape.

By default, mine is blue.  Right click the rectangle and select More Layout Options. 

Set the properties to . . .

  • Size: 10” in Height and 8” in Width
  • Text Wrapping: Behind Text
  • Position:
    • Horizontal – Absolute Position of .25” ‘to the right of’: Page
    • Vertical – Absolute Position of .5” ‘to the right of’: Page

Set the Fill to No Fill and the Line to a Solid Line, Black Color, and .5 pt Width, choosing the Dash Type selection shown below.

2. Click inside the rectangle and type “Follow Us on Social Media”.  Set the font to one or more choices that work as your heading and size to appropriately fill the space.  Set the Alignment to Centered.  I went with the font Candelion Regular in all lowercase at size 160 for “follow us” and (on the next line) Calibri in all caps at size 25 and added a space between each letter.

3. Next, decide which review platforms you would like to feature.  We are currently active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest and will be highlighting those.  Then, go to Google to find logos.  Most social media outlets will have a corporate page that makes their logo available to the public along with instructions for proper usage.  For example, Facebook has a Brand Resources page easily found when searching “facebook logo” on Google.

As you find the appropriate source for each social media outlet, save the logos to your desktop.

4. Press enter within your document to advance to the next line space and then insert each of your saved logos (from the menu at top, press the Insert tab, and choose Picture) in the order you want them to appear on your sign. 

Inserting each of mine took me to the bottom of a second page.  So, the first step in adjusting sizing is to crop any excess space from the logos.  (As you can see above, the outline of the Pinterest image is directly around the icon, so no need to crop that one.)  That’s not the case for LinkedIn . . .

To crop, click Picture Tools (at the very top of the screen), click the Crop icon (at top right), drag the outer edges of the box tight around the logo, and press enter.  Once all the logos are cropped as needed, try to match their size to about and 1.4” in height.  (This will ensure you have adequate room for text.)  To do so, click Picture Tools again and enter a height at top right.

Repeat for the other icons.

5.  Click in the space after your first icon, press enter to add a line space, and type your profile name/URL for that platform; repeat for your subsequent logos.  This process once again took me onto a second page.

Therefore, decrease the font size as needed.  I went with size 20.

And then adjust the spacing a little for each line of text (so you have additional room between each social media outlet).

And you’re done!

6. Save your file, print, cut (on the dotted line, which is 8×10”), and frame!

A Note About Fonts and Colors:
While the instructions described above will achieve the simple and modern design pictured, you can (and should) customize the look for your business. If you’ve been brand building from the start, you already have a Style Guide in place, and everything you create for your business should reflect the guidelines you’ve set for your logo usage, fonts, and colors. If you’re new to branding, be sure to review our story on The Role of a Brand Style Guide.

Happy designing!

Basic SEO: Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . .

CHECK WHETHER YOUR WEB SITE IS INDEXED

Search engines “crawl” the internet, reviewing each web page found, and then organize the content in their “index” to provide as future search results based on the relevancy to keywords searched.  If you’re not in the search engine’s index, you’re virtually invisible to searchers or, as applicable to us small businesses, potential customers.

Seeing whether your web site is in their index is easy.  From any search engine, search for “site:yourwebsite.com”.  (In our case, we search:  site:brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.)

In our check, we found that most of our blog is a part of Google’s index.  Since Google performs the lion’s share of searches (see below), we’re going to focus on them.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR WEB SITE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE INDEX?

According to Google, a few common reasons explain why a site might not appear in search results.  The most popular issues and some potential solutions are listed below for you.

  • PROBLEM:  Other web sites do not link to your site, and/or your web site is simply too new.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  You can create pages for your business in social media venues (like Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and include links to your web site. 
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Find popular web sites that could benefit from content on your web site.  Once you’ve identified some possible targets, send an email or letter to the appropriate person (usually a contact page will have the needed information) and explain why you believe their web site would benefit from linking to yours.  Be sure to follow up.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  Get online reviews.  If applicable to your products or services, create a page for your business on popular review sites (google, yelp, etc.) and seek out reviews.  If you know of a particularly happy customer that has a web site or a strong social media following, ask for a plug to your business.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  Think about business contacts that could help you promote your web site.  For instance, you may use intermediaries or suppliers that have an appropriate place on their web site to link to your business.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: And last but not least, post quality content and be patient.  “If you build it, they will come.”  Whether a baseball field or a web site that adds unique value to the digital world, people will eventually find you, and they will link to your web site.
  • PROBLEM: Google’s ability to crawl the site has been hindered by Flash, other specialized technology, or a lack of text.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: If your web site utilizes Flash or another specialized technology, you may want to consider a redesign in HTML.  While this could be a significant undertaking, you want your web site written in a language that search engines understand.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Review the image to text ratio on your web site.  Do you have enough words for search engines to fully understand the content for each page?  If not, you can either replace your images with text (try to use formatting to achieve that same visual appeal) or supplement the images with explanatory captions.  Remember that you’re communicating with your web site’s audience as well as search engines.
  • PROBLEM: Your web site generated an error when Google tried to crawl your web site.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: The most common reason for this problem is secured content.  If your web site requires a log-in to enter the site, Google won’t be able to enter either.  Consider restructuring your web site so that your more general pages are open to the public and only the pages truly requiring a log-in get that restriction.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: You can also register your web site with Google’s Search Console, which can give you some more specific information about the errors generated.

Once you feel like you have sufficiently addressed your particular problem, ask Google to crawl and index your web site.

If you have any questions or comments about getting included in Google’s index, we’ve love to hear from you.  Scroll down to the comments section. . . .

The next goal of course is to improve your web site’s search ranking, which will be the focus of a future post. 

Special Note:
Brand Building for Small Business has been identified by Feedspot (www.Feedspot.com) as one of the Top 100 Branding Blogs. Feedspot provides “the most comprehensive list of branding blogs on the Internet” so we are pleased to be part of that group.  To learn more, visit https://blog.feedspot.com/branding_blogs/.

How to Create a Facebook Page for Your Business

Your first step to your business’s social media presence on facebook is quick and easy.  In the five steps below, you’ll see how to create a page for your business.

1.  Log in to your personal account on facebook.  Go to Create > Page.

Select Business or Brand when asked to choose a category.

2. You’ll then be prompted to input an address, or you can click “Don’t show my address.  Only show that this business is in the City, State region.”

3.  Next, you’ll need to add a profile photo.  You’ll want to use one that can be squared, the corners rounded/cropped, and at least 170 x 170 pixels in size (which is pretty small).  We would ideally like to use our logo, but it’s not one that would work well in facebook’s profile frame:

If uploaded as is (as I did above), portions would be cropped.  If I added white space to the top and bottom so the sides wouldn’t be cropped, the logo would be very hard to see when displayed at 170 x 170 pixels and smaller.  As a result, I went with an icon version of our logo, created for purposes such as these.  White space has been added all around to accommodate the round frame. 

If your logo doesn’t work for your profile picture or you’d prefer to use a photo of yourself or some other image representative of your business, just be sure to regularly include your logo in your posts (preferably as an overlay on pictures related to the post).

4.  Next up is your cover photo, which displays at 820 pixels wide x 312 pixels tall on computers and 640 pixels wide x 360 pixels tall on smartphones.  The minimum size is 400 pixels wide x 150 pixels tall.  Since the dimensions of your cover photo will vary somewhat in different environments, a simple landscape photo is your surest best – as opposed to including your logo or other text.  (If you do go the route of including your logo or other text, be sure to include lots of white space, so the text does not get cropped regardless of the environment.) 

A Quick Note About Graphics Software:  If you’re not quite sure how to go about creating a cover photo that includes text or how to add white space to your logo, you may want to check out Inkscape (https://inkscape.org/), which is a free graphics editor that also makes a number of tutorials available:  https://inkscape.org/learn/tutorials/.

For our facebook cover, I just used the main image included on our home page for continuity purposes.

You can “drag to reposition” if desired.

5.  Finally, you’ll be asked whether you want to “invite friends to like your page,” which is recommended since pages with 10 or more likes get more engagement.  If you want to wait until you’ve been regularly posting for some time before inviting a lot of people, you can start off with a small group of your close family and friends until you get better established.

And you are done!  You have a facebook page for your business.  Unfortunately, that was the easy part.  The challenge is creating a regular posting schedule and sticking to that plan.  How often . . . ?  A number of sources cite one facebook post per day as optimal.  If you can commit to that, great.  If you feel like twice a day is better for you, just pay attention to your engagement.  If those posts aren’t getting sufficient attention, facebook may decrease your visibility and put your posts into a “spamming” category.  If you’re like us, once a week is a much more reasonable goal.  Do what works for you and your business, experimenting a little to find your optimal posting schedule.

Good luck!  Stay tuned for more posts about facebook.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave a reply below. 

How to Set Up Simple Print-and-Cut Business Cards in Microsoft Word

You want simple, nice, and professional looking business cards.  Easy, Peasy, right?  Unfortunately, creating business cards from scratch can be a little intimidating for even a tech-savvy person.  Thankfully, Microsoft Word actually makes a decent amount of business card templates available to you.  While the focus is clearly quantity versus quality, their templates do save you a number of groundwork steps, so they are a good place to start.  You can go from a blank Word document to print-ready business cards in only ten steps. . . . 

(For a personalize-and-print option for $6, skip to the end.)

1.  From within Microsoft Word, go to File > New and type “business cards” into the search box. 

Scroll down through the search results to the vertical “flower personal business cards”.

Press Create.

2. Right click the cross within a square at the upper left and choose Table Properties.

Select Table > Borders and Shading > Border and set the Setting to All, the Style to dashed, the Color to light gray, and the Width to ¼ pt; press OK.

Then go to Cell and set the Vertical Alignment to Centered and press OK once again.  You now have business cards that are horizontally and vertically centered with very faint visual guides for cutting.

3. Delete all the content from the first card, insert your logo, and size to your liking, keeping in mind you will need space for your contact information.

4. Press enter to advance to the next line and set the font to Calibri, the font size to 11, and the font color to black.  Press Ctrl + D for advanced font and character options.  Click the Advanced tab and set the Character Spacing to Expanded By 3 pt.  Press OK and turn your Caps Lock on.  Type your name.

5. Press return to advance to the next line.  Change the font to Calibri Light and the font size to 10.  Click Ctrl + D, change the character spacing to .5 pt, and press OK; then, type your title.

6. Press return to advance to the next line and change the font size to 7.5.  Then include your contact information, limiting yourself to three lines. 

7. Place your cursor after your logo, right click, and go to Line Spacing Options.

Within Indents and Spacing, set the Spacing After to 6pt, and press OK.

Set the cursor after your title and repeat.

8. Once you’re happy with your layout, select the entire contents of that card, and copy by pressing Ctrl + C.  Then, select the contents of another card, press Delete, and Ctrl + V to paste your new design.

Repeat the process for the rest of the page.

9. Save your file and print; be sure to set your printer Print Quality to the best available option. (When choosing your paper, I recommend a quality cardstock in between 80 and 100 lb — any thinner, and your business card will be too flimsy; any thicker, and you risk problems using the paper in a conventional home printer. A matte versus glossy finish is really a personal preference, but you do avoid any potential for fingerprints on a matte stock.)

10.  Then, cut!  For the cleanest and straightest edges, use a paper cutter.   

A Note About Fonts and Colors:
While the instructions described above will achieve the simple and modern design pictured, you can (and should) customize the look for your business. If you’ve been brand building from the start, you already have a Style Guide in place, and everything you create for your business should reflect the guidelines you’ve set for your logo usage, fonts, and colors. If you’re new to branding, be sure to review our story on The Role of a Brand Style Guide.

Personalize-and-Print Template

If you would prefer to forgo the instructions above and purchase a preformatted template, the file is available for $6. In this version, you need only enter your information into one of the cards, and the rest will populate automatically. Simply type your info, print, and cut!

$6.00

Creating a Review Request Sign in Microsoft Word

Reviews have become an important part of our lives.  We look at them when choosing a restaurant, selecting a contractor, watching a movie, or even buying a new pair of jeans.  As a result, having an abundance of glowing customer reviews can have a big impact upon your business.  However, you know that already, which is why you’re here.  So, let’s get started. . . .

I do believe the most effective way to convince a happy customer to go the extra mile for your business is to personally take the time to ask for a review.  However, a personal request isn’t always feasible.  For those occasions, a sign placed in a prominent area (possibly next to your register) that makes the request visually can be a good idea.  I’ll show you the steps to create such sign in Microsoft Word.

1. Open Word, create a new blank document, and insert a rectangle.  (When your cursor turns into a plus sign, you’re able to draw your rectangle.) 

By default, mine was blue.  Right click on the rectangle and select More Layout Options.

Set the properties to . . .

  • Size: 10” in Height and 8” in Width
  • Text Wrapping: Behind Text
  • Position:
    • Horizontal – Absolute Position of .25” ‘to the right of’: Page
    • Vertical – Absolute Position of .5” ‘to the right of’: Page

Right click on the rectangle again and select Format Shape.  Set the Fill to No Fill, and set the Line to a Solid Line, Black Color, and .5 pt Width, choosing the Dash Type selection shown below.

2. Click inside the rectangle and type “Review Us”.  Change the font to one that works as your heading and increase the size as needed to appropriately fill the space.  Set the Alignment to Centered.  I went with the font Georgia in all caps at size 60 and added a space between each letter.

3. Press enter to advance to the next line and then insert a star. Once your cursor is a plus sign, draw the star about a half inch or so in size. 

Right click your star and select More Layout Options: within the Text Wrapping tab, select In Line With Text from the Wrapping Style section; within the Size tab, make the star .7” in Width and Height; press OK. 

Right click on the star once again and select Format Shape: set the Fill to No Fill; for the Line, select Solid Line, Black color, and 1.5 pt Width. 

Right click on the star one last time and select copy.  Add a space and paste your star.  Repeat three more times. 

4. Press enter and add your company name.  I used the same formatting as the “Review Us” heading but decreased the size to 36.

5. Press enter and include your review request.  I went with: “Your feedback is extremely important to us. Take a few minutes to share your thoughts and help us spread the good word.”  I kept the font the same and just changed the font size to 24.

6. Next, decide which review platforms you would like to feature.  I decided to use TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Google.  Then, go to Google Images (https://www.google.com/imghp) and search for the logo of one of the companies.  I searched “tripadvisor logo”.

Save your selection to your desktop.  (I chose the 4th logo of the top row. )  Press enter to add a line space to your Word Document and insert the logo.

As you can see, the logo is quite big.  Since I plan to include three logos, I decreased the size a bit. 

Repeat the process for each logo you would like to include, adding a line space between each one.  If you extend onto a new page, don’t worry.

7. The last step in Word is simply a final tweaking so that everything looks nice and professional on the page.  I increased the line spacing after the company name, the paragraph, and in between the logos, and decreased the size of each of the logos.

8. Then, save, print, cut, and frame!

Happy designing! 

Shameless Plug:
While our preference is always DIY, a ready-to-customize templated version is available from my shop in case you’re extra short on time this week:  https://www.instant-invitation.com/listing/668274665/review-request-sign-template-printable

How to Create a Mission Statement (Including Definitions, Examples, and a Mission Statement Generator)

Defining the purpose of your business in one or two simple sentences can seem like a very daunting task. . . . Or perhaps the words instantly flow mellifluously from your mouth.  But probably not. 

So, where to start?  Before delving further, I’ll give you a few formal definitions of a “mission statement” so you’re somewhat certain of the purpose of this important collection of words before moving forward.

DEFINITIONS

According to . . .

“An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your business strategy.”

“[A mission statement is] a sentence describing a company’s function, markets and competitive advantages; a short written statement of your business goals and philosophies.”

“A mission statement is used by a company to explain, in simple and concise terms, its purpose(s) for being. The statement is generally short, either a single sentence or a short paragraph. These statements serve a dual purpose by helping employees remain focused on the tasks at hand, as well as encouraging them to find innovative ways of moving toward an increasingly productive achievement of company goals.”

“[A mission statement is] a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time. Properly crafted mission statements (1) serve as filters to separate what is important from what is not, (2) clearly state which markets will be served and how, and (3) communicate a sense of intended direction to the entire organization.”

EXAMPLES

Want to see those conceptual definitions in action?  I reviewed a lot of mission statements (and I do mean a lot), and a collection of my favorites is compiled below. . . .  I found these companies’  statements to be relatively straightforward while being sufficiently descriptive.

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

”At eBay, our mission is to provide a global online marketplace where practically anyone can trade practically anything, enabling economic opportunity around the world.”

“To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.”

 “Dedicated to being the leader in quality family programming, ABC offers opportunities extending from the expansive ABC Television Network and 10 owned television stations nationwide, to more than 60 owned radio stations and the ABC Radio Networks that serve nearly 4800 affiliated stations.”

“We strive to be the acknowledged global leader and preferred partner in helping our clients succeed in the world’s rapidly evolving financial markets.”

 “J.P. Morgan’s mission is to be the best financial services company in the world. To achieve this goal, we focus relentlessly on carrying out our business principles of aspiring to be completely client focused by building a great team from within.”

 “Walgreens mission is to be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, well-being and beauty retailer. Its purpose is to champion everyone’s right to be happy and healthy.”

“We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use.”

 “Our mission is to eradicate poverty and increase social mobility through the power of partnerships. Our work provides support for the immediate needs of families and children in the community and encourages solutions that lead to the self-sufficiency and social mobility that break cycles of generational poverty.”

“Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the United States. We are working to change that and help more moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. From polio to prematurity the March of Dimes has focused on researching the problems that threaten our children and finding ways to prevent them.”

“The mission of Make-A-Wish International is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”

“To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”

“To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

“Our mission is to make Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experiences by consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less. brand promise.”

“Versace will pursue its sales goals on national and international markets through the offer of fashion, luxury and high quality products at competitive conditions and in compliance with laws designed to protect competition.”

“It is our mission to provide the highest level of service in all aspects of automotive dealership operations, providing our customers with the highest quality products and services at a fair and competitive price.”

“To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

 “To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”

“To lead in the creation, development, and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices, and microelectronics.”

“Dole Food Company, Inc. is committed to supplying the consumer and our customers with the finest, high-quality products and to leading the industry in nutrition research and education. Dole supports these goals with a corporate philosophy of adhering to the highest ethical conduct in all its business dealings, treatment of its employees, and social and environmental policies.”

“To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.”

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

“We believe in Bringing People Together. With Wine. We believe that life’s more fun when we’re together. That’s why our mission is to introduce new friends to wines that are fun, flavorful, and approachable.”

“We are all stewards of football.  We unite people and inspire communities in the joy of the game by delivering the world’s most exciting sports and entertainment experience.”

“By showcasing golf’s greatest players, we engage, inspire and positively impact our fans, partners and communities worldwide.”

“We take pride in making the best Mexican style fast food, providing fast, friendly, & accurate service. We are the employer of choice offering team members’ opportunities for growth, advancement, & rewarding careers in a fun, safe working environment. We are accountable for profitability in everything we do, providing our shareholders with value growth.”

“To offer reasonably priced quality food, served quickly, in attractive, clean surroundings.”

“To be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.”

ANATOMY OF A MISSION STATEMENT

As you may have noticed, most mission statements are comprised of the same basic components.  I’ll use our Mission Statement for Brand Building for Small Business as an example:

While I have the different parts listed numerically for clarity, the order isn’t important.  As you’ve seen throughout the dozens of examples, these components can look very different from one company to the next.  All that matters is that you’ve clearly and fully communicated the purpose of your company.

MISSION STATEMENT GENERATOR

So, now it’s your turn.  Are you ready?  Try creating a mission statement for your business based on the structure below.

Need one more example?  For good measure . . .

ALL DONE?

If you’ve gone through the exercise of filling in the blanks and feel like you have a good mission statement in hand, you may be wondering, is that it?  Am I done?  That answer really depends on you and your business.  For very small operations, the owner may be the only one involved in the process.  If that’s the case, we recommend that you at least have a few people review your mission statement – ask for feedback on content, flow, grammar, etc. 

In larger companies, the process can become extremely complicated.  First, a decision has to be made about who should have input into the process.  Then, consensus on the content must be achieved among those parties.  Very often, special seminars or retreats will be employed to brainstorm the matter.  In the case of the mission statement of our former employer, the process was done about two decades ago, and the entire management team met at an off-premises site to craft the message.  Discussions were held and multiple flip charts filled with notes that got compressed down to about 50 words. (While some minor adaptations have been implemented over time, the message has remained largely intact.)

A Quick Cautionary Note:  Mission Statement vs Vision Statement

These two different kinds of statements are sometimes confused.  In the words of one authoritative source (i.e., ClearVoice):
“The vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what the organization wants to become. The mission statement focuses on today and what the organization does. While companies commonly use mission and vision statements interchangeably, it’s important to have both.”

Stay tuned for an article on Vision Statements.

GOING FORWARD

Keep your mission statement at the forefront of your operations.  That way, if you find yourself veering away from your original intentions, your mission statement will either reign you in or remind you that a re-draft is in order because your business’s revised course is welcome and deliberate.

NEXT STEP

Use your company name, logo, target audience, and mission statement as a basis for creating your business’s style guide, which will help you formalize your brand and be consistent going forward. Read the last story in our “The Beginning” series: The Role of a Brand Style Guide.