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THE ROLE OF HUMOR IN BRANDING

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to your brand identity. Businesses have to decide if their content should be professional or relaxed, academic or casual, use formal language or internet slang, etc. One tool that your brand might also benefit from is humor.

Humor is a bit tricky to master – in the marketing world, it’s kind of like playing with fire. When used right, humor can draw in lots of new views and interest to your company, and with the right content on your page, you can sell them on your product or service. When done wrong, however, humor can alienate your ideal customer base and drive away clients.

So, how do you use humor in branding, and what makes funny content so volatile? Let’s get to the punchline.

What good humor looks like

Like any other piece of content you put out, good humor depends on your brand, your core demographics, where the content is published, and the purpose of using humor. A positive example of effective humor is Old Spice. Just mentioning the name, you probably thought of Terry Crews satirically yelling into the camera while the background changes from scene to outlandish scene. What do you think happens when customers see Old Spice in the store? Not only does humor make the product memorable, but it also tells potential customers what the product is, even though the marketing itself is satirical.

Humor works for Old Spice because it’s part of the brand itself. However, humor can be dangerous, especially for brands that aren’t based on funny marketing. A great example of this is when American fashion company Kenneth Cole joked that “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo” because they just saw KC’s “new spring collection.” Aside from being ridiculously insensitive to the Arab Spring, this tweet also demonstrates what not to do with humor:

  1. Don’t hijack something that isn’t relevant to you – in this case, the #Cairo tag
  2. Don’t use humor without substance – emphasize the product, not the joke
  3. Don’t pander – trying to gain sales from an audience by “speaking their language” will always backfire
  4. Don’t be controversial or insensitive

Why (good) humor works

Assuming you’ve landed the joke, good humor works because it draws positive attention to your brand! Humor increases interest and attracts more consumers, which is especially important if you are entering the industry and trying to gain more customers. The downside to this is that there’s a tradeoff between humor and substance: in order to actually gain sales, you need your humorous content to draw customers in while also having enough marketing material to actually sell your product. 

The drawbacks of being funny

Humor without substance is just empty advertising. You might get thousands of retweets or a Buzzfeed mention, but if your content doesn’t also list the benefits of your product or the reason customers should prefer your business, then you’ll only go down as a short-lived meme.

Companies must also be wary of the Vampire Effect. The Vampire Effect is when funny advertisements are a distraction to the audience. A great example of this is during the 2016 Super Bowl, when Mountain Dew aired that really bizarre commercial of the “Puppy Monkey Baby.” Years later, Super Bowl fans probably remember the odd creature with no recollection of the business that made it. (This ad is also a great example of pandering and substanceless humor). Your humor must be intertwined with your brand, like with Old Spice, not just an afterthought to your brand identity.

Humor is a risk

Even jokes that are funny, relevant, and germane to your brand don’t always stick. Everyone has a different sense of humor, and you never know what will latch on, but the key is to make sure your content doesn’t alienate your potential customers or make them cringe at your products.

Thinking of incorporating humor into your brand? Need help with branding and marketing materials? CAST Design can help! We’re experts in branding and visual storytelling, and we know how to create brands that draw customers in and make them laugh. Contact us for a free assessment and we’ll get you started on crafting some funny business.

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FONTS AND WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS

FONTS AND WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS

When you think of the logo for just about any business, you probably see it as just that – a collection of letters, colors, artwork, and shapes in a cohesive design. What you probably don’t know, though, is that there is an entire psychology and thought process behind which font or typeface you decide to use for your company. You’re ultimately communicating your brand message in a visual way, and the typeface is the “face” and personality of your brand. This doesn’t mean just your logo, but in any way you choose to market yourself. Your website, blog, social media profiles, and business cards should all convey the message you are trying to communicate and reflect your personality as a business.

In order to understand the psychology of the different font styles, we have to explore them a little further.

Serif

Serif is the most commonly used font category. They are easy-to-read fonts with short edges coming off the letters and can accompany just about any personality or mood you would like to set. You might associate traits to them such as reliability, dependability, conventionality, tradition, or see them as being neutral. Maybe your company has been established for decades and is something you want clients to feel like they can depend on and trust. You may consider using a Serif font in your content.

Sans Serif

Sans Serif, without those aforementioned short edges, is also widely used as a neutral font but is a little more contemporary than Serif fonts. It is seen as clean, simple, stable, powerful and modern. When choosing a font for body text, you can’t do better than this for readability. Sans Serif fonts can also evoke informality and can be used well online for personal blogs, websites, and casual business settings.

Script

Script fonts look handwritten, friendly, and graceful, and add a human touch to your content. They are seen as elegant and sophisticated, expressing creativity and femininity. You probably won’t see many full paragraphs of script font (and you really shouldn’t!) but these fonts can pack a punch in the emotional response if used well.

Modern

Modern fonts catch your eye and are well-structured. They vary greatly but can be seen as intelligent, determined, progressive, stylish, and chic. You might see a lot of this style in fashion or tech industries.

Display

Display fonts are decorative fonts that can work well in logos because they are easy to tailor to the vibe of your company. They are dynamic with strong personalities and are seen as quirky, fun, and unique. Be careful when using a Display typeface that it truly reflects the vibe for which you are striving.

Other Considerations

There are other factors to consider with the fonts from your logo and content. The space between letters, called kerning, can also say something about your brand. A logo with large white spaces can be seen as modern and mysterious. If you choose to use all caps you can be seen as authoritative. Use all lowercase, and you’re seen as youthful and friendly. Italics can be used to show motion in a logo. The list goes on!

To sum it up, the goal of your business’ font is to capture people’s attention and turn that into a customer relationship. If the font is unreadable or sacrifices functionality for being pretty, your brand’s message will not be delivered to your audience. Because we associate certain feelings and emotions with different font styles, it’s important to figure out the type of message you’d like to share and go from there. Find fonts that match your company’s tone and aesthetic and you can’t go wrong. 

Do you need help building your brand and deciding on a font? CAST Design is here to help. We specialize in branding and visual storytelling, creating company identities that stand out against the crowd. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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THE POWER OF EMPATHY IN BUSINESS AND SALES

THE POWER OF EMPATHY IN BUSINESS AND SALES

The connections you make with your customers are key to building and sustaining an effective company. Your customers need to trust not only in the product but also in the company itself; brands that inspire trust tend to generate greater customer satisfaction, resulting in higher sales and better referrals.

One of the ways a business can inspire this trust is to act with empathy towards their clients. Now, “acting with empathy” is a pretty broad statement – after all, businesses aren’t people, and a business that pretends to be a person will be scoffed at and avoided. So, how can empathy boost your business and generate sales?

First, we need to define empathy. Empathy is, in simple terms, the ability to understand the feelings and emotions of others. To act with empathy, one must step into the shoes of another person and see what they see; you can’t just assume, you have to know the other person’s thoughts and concerns.

Acting with empathy is the key to improving your business. After all, you started this business to offer a product or service that can benefit your customers, so you need to consider how your product is affecting your customers from their point of view. Is this product user-friendly? Is their experience with the product/service as convenient as possible? Are all concerns met through your customer service? These questions and more need to be answered to properly step in your customers’ shoes and make the necessary adjustments to your products and business model.

One key thing we want to emphasize is that empathy is not a power to be abused – after all, empathy is a gift that distinguishes humans from other animals. Empathy has the power to build communities, create genuine connections, and improve lives, but the key is to use empathy with the goal of benefiting others – otherwise, it isn’t empathy.

So, what are the benefits of an empathy-led company? First, it fosters trust in your brand. This alone carries a lot of opportunities for your business: brand identity means your customers are more likely to stick with you over a different competitor and pay more for your product. Second, customers who identify with and trust in your brand are more likely to recommend your company to their friends and family, helping you further sustain your business. Since your customers know and love your company and feel recognized through your customer service, their high reviews can bring in new customers, both through their existing relationships and on any social media channels they post to.

Finally, understanding your customer’s needs can help guide your marketing materials and product improvements. Knowing who your customers are, what they need, and how they communicate can help forge stronger bonds, both with your current relationships and with your potential ones.

Businesses that act with empathy foster better relationships with their customers and create stronger communities. By fulfilling your customers’ needs and seeking to understand their backgrounds, your company will be better prepared for its future.

Need help developing a brand based on empathy? Looking to improve your existing relationships or target the right audience? CAST Design can help! We’re experts in branding and visual storytelling, and we help businesses like yours foster better relationships with their customer base. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we’ll get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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BUILDING GOOD AGENCY CLIENT RELATIONS

BUILDING GOOD AGENCY CLIENT RELATIONS

The relationships you build with your clients lay the groundwork for your business. Strong relationships in which both parties benefit can have lasting implications for your sales, your brand, and the future of your company. You already know this, and you probably know that great agency-client relationships also make work more productive and enjoyable, but do you know how to improve the rapport you’ve built with your customers?

Agency-client relationships are an essential part of your brand – after all, your brand is impacted by how others perceive you, so developing the right connections with your customers is an essential part of upholding your business. Even the most successful businesses can improve their relationships, so let’s discuss the essential components of a strong bond between companies and clients.

Agencies: Know the Client

Positive communication and understanding of the other party is the core of every relationship. It’s no different from company relations, and you need to have a thorough understanding of your client in order to develop a positive relationship. This understanding goes beyond just their name or their needs. Do you know them demographically? Socioeconomically? Educationally? Do they communicate a certain way or have certain expectations of your firm? How you get these answers – whether in person or via a questionnaire or survey – is up to you, but building both positive relationships and an effective brand hinges on knowing your clientele.

Clients: know the company

Of course, a relationship is a two-way street: your clients also need to know about you. This is where a developed brand and solid marketing material can make a huge difference. If your clients don’t know about who you are, what your process is, and the quality of your products and services just by looking you up, they should know everything about you after they’ve reached out, otherwise you haven’t laid the groundwork for a long-term relationship with them. Be sure your clients know who you are and lead with your best, most authentic foot forward in all of your marketing and branding materials.

Be straightforward

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to your communications. If your relationship with your customers is a car, then communication is the wheel, and dialogue that isn’t open and honest can drive the whole thing off-road. You should also encourage your clients to do the same: clients don’t like feeling deceived, and companies like clarity far more than they dislike criticism.

Be consistent

Just like in your branding, keep your communications consistent. How you speak, what you say, and how frequently you keep in contact are all aspects of your image; your brand hinges on how your clients perceive you, and you want to keep this perception positive. Small, unannounced changes can have big impacts on how your customers view your company, so keep it both real and consistent in all of your communications and brand material.

Struggling to develop your brand? Still figuring out how to present yourself to your customers? CAST Design can help! We’re experts in branding and visual storytelling, and we know how to build and maintain effective brands. Contact us for a free assessment and we’ll get you started on building positive relationships right away!

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When and How to Brand Your Business

WHEN AND HOW TO BRAND YOUR BUSINESS

Establishing your brand involves building your brand values, figuring out your media and marketing strategy, creating content, and making it all work together cohesively. That said, it will take time and effort and should be one of the first things you consider when starting your business. Without effective branding, you can immediately leave customers confused and turning elsewhere for a product or service. So, let’s see why it’s so important to start building your brand from the start of your business. 

Your brand represents who you are and who you want to become. It helps to establish Branding Guidelines and use them as a reference to how your entire business will operate moving forward. Your logo will be the foundation of your brand and should fit within those guidelines, so it’s important to create them as soon as possible. It should reflect who you are and what your Brand Mission, or promise, is. It will be a starting point for your company’s identity and will give consumers a visual way to remember you. After all, they won’t recommend someone or something they can’t recall.

Your brand is both visual and verbal. Once your logo has been designed to have a particular look and style, now it’s up to your Brand Message to determine your value. A logo is meant to attract the attention of your target audience, but it’s up to your Brand Message to connect with people and cause a response from them. Your Message communicates with your audience and explains your story. Have a compelling narrative about why you do what you do and how it will benefit your customer and make them a better person. Choose words that will resonate with your audience, demonstrate your value, and start establishing trust for repeat customers. Everything builds on this foundation.

Branding is not just about impressive aesthetics or a catchy tagline. It’s crucial for your brand to have a clear message, a great user experience, and to tell a powerful story. Having a strong brand is what differentiates you from competing businesses. Get started now and give it time to grow!

Do you need help building your brand? CAST Design is here to help. We specialize in branding and visual storytelling, creating company identities that stand out against the crowd. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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What Can Marketing Mean for You?

what does marketing mean

WHAT CAN MARKETING MEAN FOR YOU?

Once your brand is established, you’re well on your way to start marketing your company. There are several avenues in which you can market your business, including social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, using a personal or business website, or traditional routes such as TV and radio advertisements. But marketing encompasses more than just throwing an ad into the universe. Product development, distribution methods, market research, and sales are essential to building an effective marketing campaign alongside advertising. 

The main goal of marketing is to get people interested in your company’s product or service. Marketing turns people into customers by showing them how your business will improve their lives. You want to send a deliberate message to your audience about the value of your product or service and why yours is better than the competition’s.

Thus, marketing needs to be tactically and thoughtfully considered. Of course, you need to develop quality content that can convert people into customers. However, content is useless if it doesn’t target the right audience, so we have to create strategies for content creation and distribution. The most obvious way to share content is to have a presence in social channels where your target audience spends most of their time. Why focus on platforms that aren’t getting a response?

Well-researched and well-executed marketing is an investment that pays for itself in sales and strengthening your brand. If you want to have a successful marketing strategy, you can’t rely on guesswork and luck to promote the business. That’s where CAST Design comes in. We work to build a marketing roadmap based on our client’s goals and target demographics.

Figuring out the right marketing strategy can be overwhelming considering all the available social channels, and it’s easy for a company’s voice to get lost in the noise. CAST Design works to identify and communicate with your audience, connecting them to your product or service and building brand loyalty over time.

Are you unsure how to clarify your brand messaging? Still trying to figure out what your brand is? CAST Design is here to help. We specialize in branding and visual storytelling, creating company identities that stand out against the crowd. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we’ll get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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Creating the Best Brand for your Stakeholders

how branding effects your business

CREATING THE BEST BRAND FOR YOUR STAKEHOLDERS

Your brand is the keystone of your business. Branding affects how people perceive your products and services, how much customers are willing to spend on your products, and how likely potential clients and investors are to get involved with your business. But how, exactly, does your brand impact all these different groups?

Let’s break it down by your stakeholders. Stakeholders are individuals who are impacted by your business. Internal stakeholders are your managers, investors, team members, and other individuals who already subscribe to your business. External stakeholders are customers, potential clients, suppliers, the media, etc. The right branding will positively impact both groups, so let’s delve into how they’re each affected by your brand.

Internal stakeholders already believe in your business – that’s why they’re involved! Internal stakeholders recognize the value of your product or service, and they might even identify with your brand. However, that doesn’t mean these stakeholders are followers for life, so your branding must continue to inspire their allegiance to your business.

Brands that hold onto their internal stakeholders often foster stronger businesses, because their employees believe in the products they sell, and their investors are more likely to stick with the business if it undergoes challenges or setbacks. All of this generates happier stakeholders and greater revenue. So how do you brand internally? The best way is to create an emotional connection between your employees and your brand by making them key players in your brand vision. Involving your employees and investors in the history, tradition, or social impact of your business makes them more likely to commit for the long run, and bringing your brand alive can sell the brand inside. 

External stakeholders, by contrast, still need convincing. Most marketing efforts are directed towards these individuals, which include customers and investors who aren’t quite sold on your company. These individuals needs to believe that your product or service is superior to the competition’s. 

This is where branding comes into play. Consumers are more attracted to brands that 1) appeal to their demographic, 2) demonstrate a clear benefit to their lives and wellbeings, and 3) tell an interesting story.

So how do you tell a story with your brand? And how do you target the right audience? CAST Design is here to help. We’re experts in branding and visual storytelling, and we know how to create brands that draw customers in and keep employees happy. Our branding services take businesses to the next level, and we want to help yours too. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we’ll get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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Clarifying Your Brand Message

clarifying your brand messaging

CLARIFYING YOUR BRAND MESSAGE

Branding in the most basic sense is your promise to your customer. What level of quality should they expect from you? What makes you stand apart from the swarm of competition? Why is your product or service needed and important? Effective branding should pull people in and is vital to the success of your business. It will establish your company’s image to your customer both verbally and visually. 

Products and services come and go, but brands are what stick in peoples’ minds and what they will be loyal to. People gravitate toward name brand items because they recognize them. They know they can depend on and trust them. In order to clarify your brand’s message and promise, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

Define Your Brand 

Communicating your brand’s mission, voice, and values will help clarify to your clients what your brand is and is not. By having a Brand Mission you can specifically define the purpose and role of your business in the world and how it will benefit the customer. By having a Brand Voice, you will establish a tone that your audience will be comfortable with and recognize. Your Brand Values will help you connect deeper with your audience and let them know why they can rely on you over other brands.

Do Your Research

Knowing what your audience wants and needs is essential in business. Anticipate what really matters to prospective and current clients. Use your Brand Values to connect to your target audience by finding common ground, because people tend to buy from companies who share similar values. Ask for feedback and pay attention to the words they use to describe your brand. Is your message and brand coming across the way you intend it? There’s often a difference between how your want to be portrayed and how you are actually portrayed. Be cognizant of this. 

Be Consistent

If you’re not true to the foundation of who and what your brand is, you lose all credibility. Staying consistent with your core beliefs and statement will help your customers know what to expect each and every time they interact with your brand. Establish trust with your audience and they will want to return and recommend you to others.

Are you unsure how to clarify your brand messaging? Or maybe you’re still trying to figure out what your brand is. Either way, CAST Design is here to help. We specialize in branding and visual storytelling, creating company identities that stand out against the crowd. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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4 Things to Avoid As Your Business Evolves

challenges growing businesses faces

4 THINGS TO AVOID AS YOUR BUSINESS EVOLVES

So you’ve started your business. You have a fantastic team to work with, a great vision for your product or service, and you possess the talent and intelligence to get your company off its feet. Sound about right?

Business leaders often excel when their company is in the start-up phase. However, many of the skills required to start a business don’t translate well to the future of the company. In this article, we’ll go over the four big mistakes that businesses make that prevent them from “scaling” their company, as well as advice for how to avoid these mistakes.

Loyalty

The first problem that often holds a company back is that their leaders are often too loyal to their team. Obviously, you and your team need to have a strong bond. However, business leaders are often blinded by their loyalty that they refuse to recognize when a team member is not performing strong enough. Strong business leaders are objective about their team members, and are able to compartmentalize their personal relationships as separate from what is necessary for their business.

As your business grows, set aside time every few weeks to consider the strengths and contributions of each team member, and be honest when a member’s performance needs to improve.

Task prioritization

The second problem involves the tasks that your company prioritizes. Start-up companies set out with a short set of tasks: putting together a team, designing the product, starting an advertising campaign, etc. As the business grows, so does the task list, and many entrepreneurs fail to accommodate. Businesses with poor task prioritization either believe that they have to invest the same amount of energy into each individual task, or they focus on the same tasks that they started out with and fail to adapt to changing needs.

Your business should set time aside to evaluate its priorities. Successful businesses will often use the quarterly system to their advantage, meeting every 90 days to evaluate their priorities and focus on achieving a few measurable goals rather than a lot of specific tasks. Taking the time to evaluate your priorities will keep your business competitive and at the edge of your industry.

Tunnel vision

Similar to task prioritization, business leaders become inadvertently inflexible when they operate with tunnel vision. Start-up companies often have one goal in mind: successfully building and selling their product. However, the unsuccessful company will be so focused on one specific product that they won’t adapt to changes in the industry or listen to feedback from investors and partners.

Your vision for your product is what helped you create your business, but don’t be held back by it. To avoid this, you should do two things: 1) take note of feedback from your investors and team members. Whether scheduling this feedback into business meetings or reaching out 1-on-1, this feedback is essential to fostering a successful product and a productive company. 2) keep ahead of market trends. A business that is hyper-focused on its product may fail to realize that the market’s interests have shifted, or they may fail to create an effective advertising campaign as marketing strategies evolve. Use teamwork and collaboration to your advantage as you and your company evolve with the ever-changing marketplace.

Isolation

The last problem that start-up companies face as they move forward is isolation. At the beginning, isolation is crucial: long, fervent hours spent designing and developing a product with a select group of people often produces the most influential work. Many visionaries and brilliant entrepreneurs themselves have been introverted, preferring quiet thought and planning to the social demands of leadership.

But those social demands do arise, and the worst thing a business can do is stay holed up – including the CEO. Successful businesses thrive both in isolation and in the spotlight, and an effective company evolves with the demands of social media, advertising strategies, and public campaigns.

Keep these tips in mind as your business blooms from bud to bouquet. As your business evolves from isolation to the spotlight, keep us in mind for branding and visual design services. Contact us at Cast Design Team for a free assessment and we will get you started on the next step to branding your business.

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How Networking Helps Your Business

HOW NETWORKING HELPS YOUR BUSINESS

No man is an island, and no business is either. As your company goes from idea to full-fledged product and brand, networking is essential to keep your business in the public view. We’ve broken down the different relationships any business ought to foster in order to reach its full potential.

Relationships

Of course, the most important networking you can do is with the clients you already have. Your clients are the reason your company stays afloat – you wouldn’t have a business if they weren’t invested in your product or service. Maintaining these relationships are essential. 

Clients will be more likely to remain faithful to your company if you continue to offer them incentives. Offering deals for future products, maintaining a friendly social media presence, upholding your brand and the story behind it, and putting out an informative blog or newsletter are all ways to keep your clientele engaged and interested. This engagement can lead to a broader web presence as well as company referrals from your clients, both of which can increase traffic to your business. Ensuring your clients stay with your business and recommend your product to new members is the foundation of your company’s relationships.

Referral partners

A referral partner is a person or organization that is committed to directing relevant traffic to your website or business. Referral partnerships are a two-way street: they provide you with potential clients, and you provide them with a need of their own, whether that’s resources, ideas, funding, etc. 

Referral partners are great sources of business. Since they are not associated with the company itself, potential clients are more likely to trust them and their opinion of your product or service. Moreover, referral partners are usually associated with your industry, so they are marketing your business to the right people. Fostering these relationships through social media campaigns and networking events are a great way to boost public interest in your business through a 1-on-1 basis.

  1. Organizations 

As a company moves from idea to full-fledged product, the company often makes the mistake of staying in isolation from other organizations, both within the industry and outside it. 

Networking with other businesses opens up new avenues for marketing, relationships, and business ideas. Businesses with similar goals can: host cross-promotional events; publish joint marketing material; partner up for volunteer events, etc. Joining a small business organization or attending meet and greets with other businesses can also help spark relationships and provide useful advice. Finally, taking these ideas to meet businesses outside of your industry can also introduce clients you wouldn’t normally encounter to what you and your company do!

The Media 

The importance of the media cannot be understated. And, with more and more media options available today than ever before – the internet, TV, print, local advertising, small business flyers, etc. – you have the option to fine tune your marketing strategy to the right medium. But first you need that relationship.

First, make sure you are marketing yourself to the right media – different demographics rely on different news sources. When it comes to actually fostering relationships, you want to make sure that you have isolated reporters who are interested in what you do, keep your media lists up to date, and keep in regular contact with journalists. This way, the media will not only push out your brand to the right audience, but they’ll say exactly what you want them to.

Lasting advice

What’s the most important aspect of maintaining these relationships? Keep in contact! We cannot stress this enough – the key to networking is to always follow up. Keep offering services and reaching out to your clients, maintain a regular two-way relationship with your referral partners, schedule regular meetings and events with organizations, and always keep the press updated on what you and your business are doing. As a business, you are in the public eye of the consumer, and while the work to maintain these relationships may be exhausting, the payout can be tremendous.