Optimizing Old-School Marketing Essentials

We all use them. But who thinks about the old-school marketing essentials like business cards, PowerPoint slides, everyday emails, and social media avatars? But the truth is that if we don’t pay attention to these little details, we’re overlooking one of the most powerful tools in our marketing arsenal.

Social Media Avatars that Attract Followers

We’re not talking about those photos of scantily-clad young women that spammers use to get gullible Twitter users to click on links. We’re talking about avatars that make you or your brand seem likable, trustworthy, and competent.

The poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” But consistency is the hallmark of a great social media avatar – use the same one on all your profiles, and don’t change it too often. When you do change it, make sure the changes aren’t too drastic. You want people to recognize you, after all.

If you’re a start-up company, or you’re an official spokesman for a brand, use a photograph of yourself – not the company logo or a product image, and certainly not a photo of your pet – as your social media avatar.  Why?  Because on social media, people want to connect with other people. Profiles that use images of human beings draw followers faster than profiles with a company logo as an avatar photo

You want your business social media avatar to make you look likable, professional, and trustworthy. You don’t have to be a supermodel to create such an image. Start by showing your face only. Why? So people will recognize you if they meet you at a trade show or networking event.

Asymmetric photos that are primarily headshots work best. Here are some examples of really good social media avatars we spotted among people we follow on Twitter. Notice that they’re all front-lit, and give the illusion that they are casual snapshots. Nothing in the photo – not even the skyline behind journalist Larry Magid, overwhelms the person’s face.

Each of these social media users picked an avatar photo designed to make them seem approachable and friendly. Social media avatars, top row, from left: marketing guru Guy Kawasaki, Vizion staffers Deb McAlister-Holland and Josh McCoy (though Josh’s is heavily photoshopped , Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, Tech Wildcatters founder Gabriella Drainey. Second row, from left: Boston Globe technology correspondent Hiawatha Bray, UN deputy chief Helen Clark, venture capitalist Mark Andreesen, filmmaker Noemi Gonzalez, and syndicated columnist Larry Magid.

Each of these social media users picked an avatar photo designed to make them seem approachable and friendly. Social media avatars, top row, from left: marketing guru Guy Kawasaki, Vizion staffers Deb McAlister-Holland and Josh McCoy (though Josh’s is heavily photoshopped) , Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, Tech Wildcatters founder Gabriella Drainey. Second row, from left: Boston Globe technology correspondent Hiawatha Bray, UN deputy chief Helen Clark, venture capitalist Mark Andreesen, filmmaker Noemi Gonzalez, and syndicated columnist Larry Magid.

Each of these social media users picked an avatar photo designed to make them seem approachable and friendly. Social media avatars, top row, from left:  marketing guru Guy Kawasaki, Vizion staffers Deb McAlister-Holland and Josh McCoy, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, Tech Wildcatters founder Gabriella Drainey. Second row, from left: Boston Globe technology correspondent Hiawatha Bray, UN deputy chief Helen Clark, venture capitalist Mark Andreesen, filmmaker Noemi Gonzalez, and syndicated columnist Larry Magid.

Like your avatar, your social media cover – that large photo on your Facebook page or Twitter profile – should let people know what is interesting about you. This is the place to pick an image that shows what your brand stands for, what you’re passionate about.  If you’re a floral delivery service, you might pick a cover photo of your workroom, with buckets of bright flowers and a single beautiful arrangement.

One of the trickiest parts of great social media avatars and cover photos is making them the right size. Facebook and Twitter, for example, measure the images in pixels – not inches.  Here are the dimensions for cover photos and profile pictures on the two big social media sites:

  • Facebook cover photo size: 851 X 315 pixels
  • Twitter header image photo size: 1252 X 626 pixels
  • Facebook and Twitter profile pictures: 500 X 500 pixels

You can resize your photo to fit the required dimensions using a number of free, online tools like the Tiporama image size converter, and both Facebook and Twitter offer online tutorials on sizing photos to fit.  Just remember that you’ll have to cut out nearly half of a standard 6 X 4” photo to size it correctly for a Facebook cover, so select your images accordingly.

Use Your Business Card as a Billboard

If you think of a business card as a miniature billboard for your company and yourself, you’ll avoid most of the most annoying business card design problems. Those problems include cards that can’t be scanned into a database easily, hard-to-read or too-small fonts, or cards that make it hard for someone to reach you.

When you’re ordering new business cards, readability is the most important issue.  Use large fonts – 10 points is the minimum size for type on your card. Avoid design elements that overwhelm the information. Your name, phone number, and email address are the most important elements – not the designer’s swirls, loops, and colorful icons.

A good test is to see whether or not a popular application like Evernote can OCR scan your business card and get all of the information.

Email Business Card Information with Every Message

Make sure that your email signature is included in every email message – and that everything on your business card (including your email address) is in your email signature file. Set your email client to include your signature file on every message.

Why? Because doing so protects you from forwarded emails that might strip an earlier sender’s email address from the thread, and insures that your contacts can reach you.

Consider including your cell phone number in personal email signature files. No, this doesn’t encourage strangers to call you at all hours. But it does make it easy for important contacts to reach you when they need to.

Perfect Your Pitch Deck

If you work in marketing or sales, or you’re the CEO of a start-up, the ability to give polished presentations is essential. So why do we all suffer from so many bad pitches?

In large part, it’s because people focus more on turning every presentation into a leave-behind with all the information in it instead of creating a memorable presentation that serves as a backdrop to a good speaker.

SlideShare.net offers these tips for optimizing presentations, and they’re critical to perfecting any pitch deck.

  • 10 slides is the magic number for a 20-minute pitch
  • A 30 point font is readable from the back row
  • Design each slide to be 16 x 9”, and it will still look good later if viewed on a 4X3” cell phone screen
  • Use a black background. Orange may be the new black on TV, but a jewel-tone bright background is hard to read when it’s projected on a big screen.

Remember that what people want to know is what you do. Then, they want to know what problem you plan to solve for them, or what the opportunity is in working with you or investing in your company. From there, move immediately into a demonstration of your product, or a short video that shows your product or service in action.