Author: Mr. Peterman

01 Mar 2019
5 Basics Everyone Needs to Create a Website

5 Website Basics Everyone Needs

Website basics, if you know these it’ll make your life easier! If you are thinking of creating a website yourself or wondering what basic items designers will use to create a website for you, this is for you. There are 5 main items that every website needs to have in order to be a true marketing asset. Whether you work with a design firm, a freelancer, or you create these aspects yourself, you will want to make sure this checklist is covered before you launch your new website. While this isn’t a comprehensive list (different websites might have additional things they need) this covers the basics everyone needs.

Goals. What is the goal of the website, your company, sales, etc. You don’t have to have a ton of goals (I do, but I’m an overachiever), but you should have at least a couple. Know what you are trying to achieve with the website and how it applies and helps your business and it’s goals. Is it sharing your story? Attracting tons of traffic? Selling lots of widgets? Answering peoples questions? Providing services? Setting the goals will help you get the right website made, even if it’s just you doing it.

Brand and Content. You need a brand, even if it’s just a color, a font, and a logo. Most graphic designers would cringe hearing this, but with my design background I also understand entrepreneurs and the start-up process. Now that you have a brand (or the start of one) you’ll also need your written content!

Product, Service, or Both. It doesn’t matter what combination you have here, you need to know what you are are providing to your visitors. It doesn’t have to be paid, it could be free, but what is your product or service? What does it do, how does it help the visitor? Make sure these things are at least loosely defined before creating a website. If you end up adjusting and editing during the process, don’t worry that happens. Should it happen, just make sure you know the basics of what you are providing to your visitors. Being clear about you are offering, be it products or services. The choice can determine if you need an ecommerce website or not. Knowing this is very important as the complexity can change quite a bit when you add ecommerce to your website.

Target Market. Who’s this site for? Tall people, short people, sick people healthy people? This matters because it will help define the content and also tells you about how the content should be made, the type of content, where you’ll want to get your website listed, etc. A good place to start if you don’t have a target already is to define one. I suggest starting with a niche, which I talked about in Defining Your Niche – Why it Matters

Budget and Timeline. So, even if you are doing this yourself, you need a budget and a timeline. We’ve talked about these before in 3 Must Haves When Creating a Project Timeline and Time, Budgets & Luxury Any project without a timeline is a project destined to never get done, or at least not this year. Budget zero? Well, it’ll be really hard to get a website up, but there are some places you can create a free site. These options will make it super apparent that you are using the free one because you don’t have a domain and their company branding is all over your website. Because of this it can be a good start, but you’ll want to move on quickly. Budget and timeline become even more important when working with professionals. The benefit is they will help you determine what kind of help you can get and in what time-frame.

If you have these five basics planned when you start creating your website you will be setting yourself up for success. I like success and I’m sure you do to, so make sure to spend the time putting some basic info together for each of these. Even if you are just wanting a quote, any designer giving you a good quote will need these items and possibly a few more details specific to your site in order to publish it completely. 

23 Feb 2019
3 Steps to Grow Your Brand Peterman Design Firm Blog

3 Steps to Grow Your Brand

So, you’ve got your brand. It’s beautiful, you love it, it resonates with your customers, and most of the time, your designer has walked away. Now you want to build your brand from just the core that it is now and get it out there. Some people will tell you that “building your brand” isn’t necessary, mostly people who want to sell you advertising. Others will tell you that your brand needs to grow your brand and build a presence with it, mostly people who do branding or social media work. I personally believe both are needed, it isn’t just about advertising to build your brand and there’s more to it than just designing a cool brand. So let’s discuss a couple ways to grow your brand and why they are beneficial.

Create Content – Number one most important thing is to create content and not just any content, some combination of useful and entertaining content. You can do this a number of ways, from blogging to posting on social media, to podcasts, and more. Just find the right places that you enjoy sharing your content and start getting it out there. I’d recommend that if you do hire this out you have a very comprehensive conversation with whoever is doing it to make sure the “voice” they use matches or is close to your own and matches your company brand. Content is great because it can be what you give away for free, attracts new and interested customers, and keeps you relevant, as well as being great for SEO when used properly.

Engage – Just posting on your Facebook page doesn’t cut it any more, in fact I don’t think it ever did, people just somehow got it in there head that posting on social media means people will magically see what they post. You need to get your brand out there, interact with current, future, and past customers. Engage on forums, different social media platforms, answering questions, putting out valuable and relatable content that your customers are interested in. None of this is to sell, just to provide value and get your name out there. This will get you found by people you might never reach with advertising and shows that you are actually interested in what you do, not just there to make money.

Build Referrals & Partnerships – You can do this through your customer base and through networking with other people and companies to build your own referral network. Building partnerships is also a great way to get your brand to grow. Finding an established company who’s willing to partner with you can give your own brand a lot of strength as people will see you with a known brand. Keep in mind when you do this that you are only attaching your name to companies whose brand aligns with yours and who you know won’t damage your brand. This is a long term reward process and you may not see this paying out for a couple years, but I know several companies who started super small and because they invested heavily in referrals and partnerships now do basically no marketing or advertising because they have a constant stream of business from their customer referrals and other partnerships. This also gets your brand out there through real people, which often carries more weight than other ways.

If you follow these three steps to building your brand you’ll find your brand growing as quickly as you want it to. A brand is important and it’s just as important that you grow it after you have it.

15 Feb 2019
Product to Market No Money or Experience

How to Get a Product to Market Without Money or Experience?

The answer is time, a lot of time. There are three resources to any project. Money, Experience (Skills), and Time. At least one of these has to exist in a large quantity to overcome a lacking by any of the other two. The most successful products have at least 2 of these in a good amount, but there are also plenty of products that are created using only one resource to start.
 
So what do you do if you don’t have money or experience, but you are willing to take the time to create your product? Well, here’s the formula.
 
First, you’ll need skills and experience. This can either come from a co-founder or by you learning those skills yourself. You might ask, “why don’t you just go get funding first and spend time on that”? Well, it’s because almost no one buys, invests, or steals just ideas. They aren’t valuable enough. You have to create value before someone will invest capital. The best way to do that is to create a working prototype of your product, whether that’s an app, a mechanical product, or an electronics design. To do that, you need the skills and experience to create that prototype, a co-founder/partner who has the skills, or the money to pay someone else to do it. Finding a co-founder that’s willing to jump in at the very beginning is like finding a needle in a haystack. Possible, and we all cheer for the one who does it, but most people don’t find the perfect person to help them right at the beginning.
 
Getting a prototype that would be convincing enough to get funding has, in my experience, cost anywhere from $10,000 all the way up to $50,000 on average. Plus you might want to get a patent in there too. If you don’t have that kind of budget, then you’ll need to build your own prototype, which will still cost some money, and create a proof of concept.
 
Once you have that prototype, which could take you years instead of months to create by yourself, then you’ll be ready to start spending your time getting investments to move the product forward. There is no way to bring a product to market without cash from somewhere, even if you have a great idea. That money will go to marketing, sales, and production. While you could try to get a larger company to pick up your idea, keep in mind that they have teams of people coming up with ideas with huge R&D budgets.
 
If you want success, your best bet is to create a prototype, get funding, and launch a company. It’s much easier to sell a successful product and company than to get someone to buy a product that has no proven market. Not that it can’t happen, because it definitely does, but the chance of success is not as high. Some people will tell you that luck is a part of this, I’d disagree. Be persistent and enjoy the journey. Even if it takes years of working on it as you have time and money to do so, stick with it. Your idea is important as long as you enjoy it. Happy inventing! 

08 Feb 2019

Social Media Setup – 7 Must Haves on my Checklist

How do you set up social media accounts? In a way that is cohesive and fits your brand of course! Well, that’s the goal, but how do you actually set up social media accounts? Our business has set up social media accounts for many companies and we have created a checklist that our designers use to make sure we never miss anything when setting up your social media. I’d like to share the 7 most important things we do for every client’s social media accounts. 
 
Images. There are two primary images you really care about when setting up accounts, which means this really counts as two things. The profile image and the cover or banner image. Making sure you maximize these ensures you profiles (business or personal) will be as clear as possible to anyone viewing it across different platforms, such as phone, tablet, and computer. Once you have both images created following your brand guidelines it’s just a matter of formatting different sizes to match each platform.
 
You’ll find these recommended image sizes all over, but keep in mind each platform can choose to change any of these at any time, however this handy reference will help you! We’ve even included the Google+ sizes even though they have announced it’s getting shut down, Google might change their minds. Units in Pixels:
 

Platform Profile Cover (Banner) Others
Facebook 180×180 820×312 (400x150min) 1920×1080 event image
Twitter 400×400 1500×500 440×220 in-stream image
Google+ 250×250 1080×608 497×373 shared image
Instagram 110×110 1080×1920 (600×1067 min) stories
Pinterest 165×165 222×150 (board cover) 236 wide pinned image preview
LinkedIn 400×400 (200x200min) 1584×396 350 wide shared image
LinkedIn Business 300×300 1536×768 60×60 searches square logo
Youtube 800×800 (icon) 2560×1440 1280×720 video thumbnail
Tumblr 128×128 1280×1920 (500×750 min) image post
Snapchat 1080×1920 geofilters, ads, and lenses
Yelp 533×400
Vimeo 300×300
Google My Business 720x720min 3000×3000 (1000x1000min) logo

*Yes, some spots are missing as there is no option for it.
Handles. Every platform has a handle or username that is attached to your profile that you get to pick. It’s very important that these match across all platforms so that when someone is looking for you they can find you. The other key thing to remember is that this does NOT have to match your exact legal business name. If you are an LLC you don’t have to put that into your handle, but you might do that to differentiate yourself from someone with the same name.
 
Name. This is different, this is your actual business name which helps people make sure they have found the right person or business. We usually put the full legal name here, or the DBA of choice.
 
Tagline. A single sentence that tells people about your company. Think elevator pitch, but shorter! There are tons of examples of taglines online, you can also look up slogans to get ideas. Your tagline is the quickest way to capture people’s’ attention when they are glancing through profiles or searching online.
 
Short Description. This is a single paragraph that describes your business, what it does, and maybe mentions where you are and when you started. Keeping it to under 160 characters makes it easy to share via places like Twitter, and any other short description places on a profile.
 
Long Description. This should be a 2-3 paragraph section that really tells the entire story of your business, how it started, what it does, possibly something about a big or important client of yours, etc. It should be informative and tell a story. There should be no questions as to what you do and who you are if someone reads this.
 
Contact Info. This might seem obvious, but when you are like me and working with many diverse clients it’s important to get all the contact info needed. This is phone numbers, emails, addresses, hours of operation, etc. Making sure that this is the same across every platform is very important when setting up a company and spreads beyond just the platforms mentioned above. There is a whole lot that goes into the contact portion when working on Facebook, Yelp, or Google My Business and it should all be captured and documented.
 
If you get every single piece here together and then create your social media platforms you’ll be ahead of the game compared to many other people.  The downside is now you have to spend anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days creating all this content and then putting it into all the profiles your business should have, which might be less than you think! That’ll be another post though.
 
Great news though is that if you go through all this set up, you’ll have some content for your website as well. We hope this list helps you, happy posting!

01 Feb 2019

Why Does Your Product Need a Brand?

For all the same reasons your company needs a brand, your product needs one too. Your product isn’t your company, it’s something your company offers. Does it need to be a huge thing? No, but it should have an identity that can be separated from your company if needed or desired. By creating a brand for the product, even if plays off of the company branding, it provides opportunities and options that would not be available otherwise. Marketing, testing new products, getting into new industries, or even going after a different demographic with the same product all become easier. So does selling the product or killing it to protect your core brand. Product branding is used by companies everywhere to protect and better sell each product they have.
 
You’ve seen this all over the place and probably haven’t really thought about it. Many large grocery stores have different product line brands, their organic line, meats, every day, cheap, etc. Each one has its own design that does not match that of the grocery story itself. This applies to many other companies as well, from consumer products to cars.
 
Creation of brand trust and recognition tied to the product line more than the company can be very good, especially when your product lines are for very separate groups of people. Putting focus on the product, not the company, is important as the product is what matters. A benefit of this is also protecting your core brand when experimenting with new products or lines. If a product fails terribly, you don’t want that failure to affect your core brand because nothing has changed there.
 
Being able to market properly and effectively across different markets is benefited by using a different brand, even if it’s the same product. Cars are well known for this, selling the same vehicle under a different brand in a different market, or creating a cheaper version for a lower cost brand. Volkswagen Group owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen. You’ve probably never heard of Volkswagen Group, but each “product line” is it’s own brand and if you see an ad for any of the brands, you would never know that these are all owned by the same company. Johnson & Johnson is another company that owns many “product lines” or “brands” (around 88 last time I looked). Keeping them all separate makes marketing and business easier.
 
Business management is also made easier, especially when you begin to cross into very different markets, or highly regulated markets where one side might have very specific requirements, and the other does not. A current relatable topic is any company getting into the Cannabis industry. It can also be anywhere that you want a protective gap between product lines. Doing this is a smart move when trying to get into a new industry, creating a new product line, or testing out something new that doesn’t tie into your primary business. The extent of the separation ranges from same product line, different product and name, to entirely separate business.
 
The brand for your product doesn’t have to be very in depth. It could be just a logo that gives it an identity of its own and is easily recognizable by the people who love that product. It’s not uncommon to have 3 layers of branding – company – product line – individual product. It could be full brand for the company, then logo, colors, & fonts for the product line, and just a logo for the individual products. Or more, of course.

11 Jan 2019

3 Places NOT to Use 3D Printing to Prototype

As someone who supports 3D printing as an amazing tool with vast applications across nearly every industry, I also find that its use as a buzzword has not been entirely beneficial the public and new designers. Working with inventors and startups quite a bit over my career I’ve seen the shift of people from saying “I need a prototype” to “I need a 3D print” and it doesn’t always fit the project. Even in school I saw a shift that was moving almost all prototyping to 3D printing. As always we see the bright shiny thing and drop everything else for it rather than seeing it as just a single tool in a large tool box. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a few times that 3D printing isn’t the best way to prototype.
 
Large mostly flat components. I’ve had clients try to tell me we should just 3D print a flat part that has maybe a couple features on it cut out or added that would fill some of the larger print beds. I’ve done it and it’s either super expensive or there are warping issues that make the part less than idea. In my experience, if you can make it out of wood or sheet plastic (requires less tools than working with metal), then it’s probably easier than 3D printing.
 
Organic materials, and others. While I highly recommend using 3D printing for fit checks any time you can, if you are looking to have working prototypes that might be made out materials besides metals and plastics, prototyping in those materials is often better. Things like wood, leather, and paper come to mind especially.
 
Softgoods. Prototyping any kind of softgoods, whether a bag or clothing, requires textiles, not 3D printing. Even the flexible 3D printing does not adequately provide the material needed to even prototype with. It does, however, work great for custom hardware and components that can be used with softgoods.
 
A side note on hardware and other off shelf components. This one might be obvious, which is why it’s just a side note, but since I’ve had clients ask me to 3D print components that would be cheaper to buy off the shelf, I have to put this here. Sometimes it isn’t the 3D printing that makes it more expensive, but the design time to create the 3D model and then 3D print. If it takes a couple hours of design time, plus time getting the full specs from a vendor, then getting it 3D printed, the cost can start getting high relative to the use. For this reason, I almost always use off-shelf components when prototyping.
 
This list is short, there are very few applications where 3D printing can’t prototype mechanical designs for fit, function, or aesthetics. The technology is ever changing and I’m sure one day we’ll see the ability to 3D print everything. For now though, there are a few remaining ones you can’t 3D print.

04 Jan 2019

Market Research – 3 Ways to Get It

Market Research is something that everyone should get when launching a new product. As we’ve talked about before in 5 Tips for Market Research & Analysis, there is quite a bit of information that you can get even from a low level Market Research done by people who know what they are doing. What we didn’t discuss was where and how to get this done for your product. Here are the three best ways to get Market Research for your business or product.
 
Yourself – This is the lowest financial cost way to do this if you do it right. I recommend that even if you hire a Firm or a freelancer to do it for you, you should spend a little time doing some yourself. If you catch something that is really bad or looks really great, you can tell whoever you hire about it, and they can confirm or contradict what you’ve found. There are tons of resources online about how to do market research, what things to think about, etc. Start there, and of course if you feel confident enough in your product, or business, then go for it. The downside of course is that while you can get lots of resources online and do it for “cheap”, it takes a lot of time and as it isn’t necessarily your day job, you are more likely to have mistakes and miss things than a professional.
Hire a Firm – The best guaranteed way to get all the information you need for your exact projects comes with a price. There are obvious benefits and drawbacks to hiring a Firm rather than a freelancer to do the work. However if you have the funds, a Firm’s benefits outweigh their drawbacks, most of which is price. Often with Firms they have several people check over work and there are checks and balances to ensure the research provided is exactly as needed. With the additional financial investment comes access to better information and tools to determine the information you need to make the decision to go forward or not. Both Marketing Firms and Design Firms can most frequently provide this type of service.
Hire a freelancer – You might be surprised freelancers are listed here based on my post last year 3 Reasons you Should use a Firm and Not Just a Freelancer, but they offer the balancing act that many startups need. Established companies look to Firms for help and any well funded startup, but not everyone is in that position. While some Firms can pull off the work at freelancer rates, they often can’t do it as fast. Freelancers are the in-between area that can benefit someone who’s tight on cash but still want to get someone better than themselves. Freelancers skill can vary widely, as well as their cost and delivery time. As a single person team they don’t have the benefits of checked work as much and usually don’t have the resources to put toward the best tools and databases for research.
 
If you are bootstrapping, I highly recommend that you at least hire a freelancer to do some basic Market Research on your idea. Even if all they do is confirm how market viable your product is, it’s worth it for the extra confidence in moving forward. If you have the cash or are more established, spend the extra and do a more thorough Market Research process. Always remember to do a little research on your own, even if that means having an intern at your company do some initial research to look at before bringing in a Firm. That little bit can help whoever you hire make sure your potential concerns about the market and your product or business can be addressed and clarified for you.

28 Dec 2018

5 Reasons Your Brand Matters (Even if You Are Small)

I wanted to end the year, now that we’re publicly offering branding, by talking about the value of your brand. Every brand, even if it’s not a big one, has value. It might be small or it might be large, but it has value. Your brand also matters probably a bit more than you might think, especially if you are just starting. Building a recognizable and valuable brand is part of every business, though we don’t think about it in those terms necessarily. Because branding is so important and often an afterthought for new and smaller businesses, I wanted to talk about five reasons that your brand matters.
 
Branding Improves Recognition
Being recognized is important to make sure advertising is more effective and people are return customers. Becoming a recognized brand, even if just in a single small niche or your part of town makes you familiar, which is one of the first steps to building trust with potential new customers. Making sure that your brand is coherent across all platforms and conveys the message you want to share ensures that you are recognized and remembered the way you want to be.
 
Branding Supports Design
When you go to start advertising, build a website, or even make a flyer or business card, having a brand supports all of those design efforts and saves you money in the long run. Branding, and the guidelines we create with it, helps make sure future design work follows the same rules and creates the cohesive brand you want. It also saves anyone designing for your company time and effort as they know exactly what your brand is.
 
Branding is Valuable
Examples of this abound, but probably the most easily recognized one is about Coca-Cola. As of 2016 just the brand part of Coca-Cola’s brand was valued at $73.1 billion (yes, with a B). You might not be Coca-Cola, but your brand carries value and only increases with time and good stewardship. Managing and maintaining the integrity of the brand, and making sure it always is represented well through the business and its employees, will increase its value in the long run. This is also something people look at when purchasing or valuing a company.
 
Creates Stronger Workforce
If you have a lousy, or even non-existent brand, it’s harder to get behind the company and product. Think of your brand as your flag, many great movements in history, from civil rights to those of battle have had something that people rallied behind. Now, brands are the new flags people rally behind. Creating it when you are small makes it easier as you get larger.
 
Makes Better Marketing
Branding always makes for better marketing. The key is everything matches and makes sense. When you create a brand you are really putting into graphics, and words, the story of the company. It’s who and why, which makes the job of marketing easier and more effective when you do something. Having an ad with unicorns on it when your brand is gothic vampires doesn’t usually go well (though I’m sure there will be some ad campaign using this effectively).
No matter your size, your brand has value and should be a tool and asset you use to bring more success to your business. Here at the Peterman Design Firm, we understand that value and help our clients to not only see it, but create it. Hopefully this list has helped you see some more value in your brand, and see where it can be when created thoughtfully and with purpose. Contact Us today and see what value we can bring to your brand!

21 Dec 2018

Products + Branding

It’s always been the goal to offer complete design services to our clients to help them be as successful as possible. While we started out in Product Development, the time has come to add the second part to the equation in developing successful companies, not just products. That comes in the form of Branding. While we’re still building our own website, seems all design firms are behind the times on that one, we’ve been putting together years of projects that our team has completed for branding clients to showcase what we are capable of as a firm.

We’ve added a small team of a few graphic and brand designers who have done work for many industries, from restaurants to healthcare to cannabis to manufacturers. Our amazing designers can create a cohesive brand for a company or a product that spans websites, marketing material, and every other part of the business and product. This dovetails nicely with our current services and we are excited to work with our clients in the new year in creating amazing brands and products.

Follow this blog to see tips and learn about Product Development and Branding. We’d love to help you with your product or brand needs. Contact us on our website: Peterman Design Firm

05 Oct 2018

Supply Chain And Its Importance

Supply chains are what make any product possible and while it may sound like a big word only used for large businesses, it is something every business relies on, even the smallest ones. We’ve mentioned supply chains before in our Kickstarter Manufacturing post, but I wanted to discuss it just a bit more because it’s so important.

Understanding and maintaining your supply chain, even if it’s just one or two people or companies is important. Just to get a single pen for you to use at your company involves a pretty long supply chain, from gathering the raw materials, to manufacturing, to distributing, to you receiving the product. Your product has a supply chain as well, it might involve just a couple suppliers, one distributor, and the end customers, but a breakdown in that chain can mean company failure, bad press, or profit loss that affects you for years.

When sourcing for companies, we look at as much of the supply chain as we can see. Many companies keep their exact supply chain hidden in order to keep ahead of competition or many other reasons. The longer the chain the more potential issues can arise. Always look for the shortest chain possible, go direct to manufacturers instead of buying from end distributors for sourcing your products components. Longer supply chains also make for more expensive parts.

When possible, always create backups for your suppliers in case something goes wrong. While you can’t always have this, especially if you require suppliers to be only from a single country or area, you should always try to set it up this way. Manufacturers close down, change services, make certain products obsolete, stop producing a product, etc. You don’t always get advanced warning for this either, which can cause many different issues for you.

Supply chain management and set-up is an investment. Even if you are a start-up and think that the investment is too high, the downside is a much steeper cost and can cause permanent damage to your company. An investment like this will seem small in the future when you’ve weathered suppliers closing, product failures, and many other issues and are still providing the best product possible to your customers. A good supply chain leads to happy customers.

Connect with us to turn your idea into reality.