Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Web 2.0

One of the ideas that I have not yet seen embraced in many web sites is web 2.0. It's not brighter colors, or zippier animation, or even increased interactivity - it is consumer-driven content. Blogs are 2.0. Wikis are 2.0. Personal homepages are not. It's on-line communities based upon interests, purposes, or support.

If you are not getting the kind of traffic you want, experiment with 2.0 resources.

Community Building
People love to give their opinions. More so than ever. Providing options for visitors to be involved enables them to feel that they are part of your endeavor. Many of the options for community building allow both moderated and unmoderated versions of their applications, but before you make a decision on which method to use, consider your audience first. How will they respond to you if they are discussing the quality of your products/services if they know you will be moderating them? Here are some resources that will enable you to test whether community building works for you:

• Bulletin Boards:
• Chat:
• Groups:
• Email:
• Member Content Creation:
• Open courseware:

Passive Income Generation
I'm basically lazy. Anything that can make me money without me doing anything is always a good thing. If you would like more information about how these can work for you, email me at
• Café Press et al
• Franchising
• Affiliate Programs
• PayPal eCommerce Service
• PDF Downloads – White Papers
• Memberships
• Members Only Forums
• Scheduled Special Guest Group Chats
• Discounts on Events, Merchandise, etc.
• Webinars (Trial Software)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Marketing on a Shoestring

Here's 3 ideas for effective marketing on a shoestring:

1. Instead of printing stationery, invest in a decent colour printer and develop Word templates for your letterhead and envelopes. Be sure to set your margins and set up your styles to ensure no one uses lime green Comic Sans for headlines :-). Purchase decent paper and use in tray 2. This will save you money in the long run, plus there will be much less waste.

2. Share your direct mail list with another marketing person that isn't a competitor, but sells to the same target, e.g., let's say you sell classroom-based software training. Find a company that provides user interface design, or an accounting firm that specializes in audits/tax issues for software development companies. You'd be surprised how many organizations will do this. I've done this three ways to my partners - provided a comma-delimited text file, an Excel spreadsheet, and printed labels. Usually we pony up the same number of names... 2,500 or 25,000 depending on the range of the partner's opportunities.

3. Make your marketing program web-centric. Provide all content in HTML and in PDF format. Upload all of your sales literature as PDF and make available on-line. When a call comes in to your call center, sales guy, etc., have him/her ask if the caller is in front of a computer, and if so, ask them to visit your web site. Lead the caller through to the appropriate place on the site to download information they've requested. This has a lot of benefits:

a. immediate response to your content (both web navigation and print materials). If you have holes in your content, or the person cannot quickly find the desired information, your sales department can provide this feedback and allow you to improve it.

b. immediate ability to either close or respond to negative feedback (which is good for marketing to know as well).

c. set up an HTML page where staff can select sales literature like product data sheets, download it and print on your colour printer. This enables your staff to print sales literature only when needed - minimal waste, no storage required, available 24/7 to reps on the road, provides version control (quick updating at little cost), and no client software required, just internet access and a free acrobat reader plug-in.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Networking vs. Cyber-Networking

Networking, they say, is the best way to find your next job. By nature, I'm not a networker. I feel uncomfortable in crowds, especially when I don't know anyone. In that situation, I don't present myself well, either. There are ways to network on-line, through sites such as as well as finding listserves dealing with your profession.

Linkedin has been very successful for me. With the number of companies I've worked with (I specialize in moving startups to the next level - usually to buyout or merger), I've found many people I haven't heard from in years. The opportunities I've received from that site alone have been very lucrative.

Another way to network is to set up a blog and write about your profession. The content, if well written, can position you as an expert in your field. This isn't a short-term solution - this may take a while to work, but keep up a conversation with anyone who responds to your blog. Even if they are in the same situation you are in, they may know someone who is looking for someone exactly like you!

If you like the hands-on approach, join any marketing associations in your locale. Do you have access to chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, etc. for potential speaking engagements? Have you considered volunteering your marketing services to a worthy cause with a board of directors packed with influential people in your industry? The last two may not pay anything, but it gets you in front of the right people who just might need your services in the “real world”. Plus it keeps you from sitting in your jammies all day in front of the TV waiting for the phone to ring… :-)

How I Find the Right Outsources for Writing & Design

For the writers and designers, I was just in the creative hiring process. I called up the visible companies I knew by reputation, asked for recommendations on ChicWIT (a listserv), and then hit up my professional network for names. My next step was on-line. If they didn’t have a polished web site, they weren’t even considered. If their portfolios were skimpy, I assumed they didn’t have the depth of experience required. If there were typos, I assumed a lack of attention to detail.

When I emailed the seven possible candidates, two never replied and another was a bounceback. Down to four. Of the four, two turned down the job because it was too small for them. Down to two: a recommendation from ChicWIT and someone in my professional network. We had them both come in, interviewed them and will be giving the job to the person in my network this Friday. Needless to say, the web sites were critical in my decision-making.

For marketing people, I’ve always maintained that if you can’t market yourself, you shouldn’t be in the marketing business! :-) Seriously, a decent web site will help you as well, but a proactive approach – selecting the companies in your industry, finding the stakeholders, marketing yourself to them directly with a personalized set of features and benefits you can bring to them, that can be quite compelling.

Finding a need they have and suggestions on how you could address it could work as well. I actually went out on an interview for a PR job at a school district, and I didn’t get the job. However, they created a job for me focusing only on web site PR/communications because of the ideas I brought to the table during my interview. I won a Webby from that job…

Coming to America - Finding Work from Overseas

I’ve seen numerous international applications for work here in the U.S. For those unfamiliar with the process and want to move here and haven’t succeeded, I’d just like to review.

In America, we don’t use CV’s – they are quite rare outside the academic arena. Most companies expect a Cover Letter that discusses your best accomplishments and what differentiates you from the other candidates. You will also need to clarify your status to work in the U.S. There are not as many opportunities as there have been in the past to get an employer to pay for your H1-B visa status, which basically means “there is no one in the US with this person’s particular skills, so we are hiring internationally”. It’s a lot of red tape, involves a lawyer, and costs the employer money. This increases the risk for hiring you. Many companies expect you to remain an employee for a certain number of months, or repay the costs for your H1-B visa, or both. Before you can get another job, you will need the new employer to agree to sponsor your H-1B status, so you end up going through the process all over again. There is some risk. Without it, you can get in trouble with the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) and they have no sense of humor.

The next item would be your Resume. BE SURE TO INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION: Name, address, city, state, zip/postal code, country, telephone, fax, email, and web site if you have one, preferably on all pages. There are a number of web sites that can help you with formatting a resume. Try or It should be brief (2 pages at most for someone with a lot of experience), plus you can include addenda such as project highlights, teaching experience, etc. Make sure you format your pages carefully. Even if your CV is quite extensive and impressive in content, if your document comes to a hiring manager with pages landscaped, some pages left justified, some pages right justified, and some with columns that don’t line up, your resume will end up straight in the trash bin. You may want to have a few formats available, 1) text only, 2) Word document, and 3) Adobe PDF.

One other thing you may want to do is provide a link to a web site where your resume and projects can be found. For example, on the web version of my resume, I include links to PDFs that chronicle the kind of work I did at certain companies:

Scroll down and click on anything that says [PROJECT REVIEW]. (I’m in marketing. Your projects may differ obviously.) And use as many good quality photos of your completed projects – exteriors and interiors if possible. The more professional you look, the more impressed your potential employer will be.

FINALLY, Make sure you use American English, not British. Most Americans just think you don’t know how to spell. In that vein, check your spelling and grammar carefully. If you are not confident with your English writing skills, have someone else check your cover letter and resume for you. I wish you all the best of luck in coming here.

Are You Looking For A Writing Job? Not All Writers Are Created Equal

Many HR people think that a writer is a writer is a writer. That a technical writer can do sales copy, and a B2B copywriter can write for B2B. I don’t agree that if you’re a good writer, you’ll be a good writer with other types of accounts. There is a significant difference in tones, approaches, even reading levels based on the type of account and the individual writer. I’ve marketed to engineers, rocket scientists and other brainiacs and in my experience, you have to “speak” to them at their level with logic and facts. Selling to this crowd required much less of an emotional attachment or desire, however they needed to be able to support their buying decision. This type of B2B writing is more suited to a person with a background in technical writing or enterprise-wide computer software or hardware sales than for someone with a background selling beer or soap and toothpaste. It’s a completely different mindset.

There is a significant learning curve to marketing B2B intangibles. (I would think B2C intangibles have many of the same issues.) The sales cycle is much, much longer, and the copywriting tends to be less sales-oriented and more informational. Right now, I am marketing to lawyers in the B2B market and am undergoing a rebranding project. Frankly, I was very humbled at my lack of understanding my target audience. I thought: bright, logical – got it; I didn’t see the conservative, risk-adverse component with the competitive streak. What I thought would be stellar concepts were completely vetoed by my focus groups. I had to start over with a far different, much more subdued and conservative brand, and very organized, logic-focused informational writing. Very cut and dry. Very focused on the win in court.

There’s a lot of dotbomb leftover creatives out there vying for jobs we’ve earned through our years of experience, and they’re younger and cheaper. What differentiates us IS our particular specializations. For me, I specialize in taking small B2B tech companies to the entrepreneur’s exit strategy, be that a buyout, merger, acquisition, franchising, etc. Finding my professional niche is how I market myself, and, let’s face it. If we can’t market ourselves well, how can we do it for someone else?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

JHeydecker Designs becomes GraphicAwareness

The company formerly known as JHeydecker Designs had become GraphicAwareness and the new web address is: Have a visit and let us know what you think! Thanks, everyone, for your support and suggestions during this changeover and redesign. :-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Web Site Redesign

I am in the process of retooling my freelance web site. It used to be at, but I had an issue with the company that registered my domain name, so using my current hosting company, (excellent customer service and cheap!) I am officially designing a new web site with new branding and a new name: Graphic Awareness ( Right now it still features the same content as before, but it will be changing soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The World Wide Web has provided savvy small and medium-sized businesses with new opportunities and tools that enable them to compete effectively with major corporations. The challenge is to look like a major player without spending your entire revenue stream on site development. Keys to success in planning include:

  • Assessing the competition

  • Determining your long and short term goals for the web site
  • Understanding what impact taking different functions of your company to the web will have on your employees and their work environment

  • Establishing what you consider an acceptable return on investment and a realistic schedule to achieve it

eStrategy is the ability to assess your existing site, confer with company personnel, detail the current situation, and recommend options for meeting your web-based goals. The web is a complex place and simply hiring a webmaster does not guarantee success.

Understanding who comes to your web site, from where, and what they do when they get there are instrumental in understanding whether your web projects are attaining your goals.

Requirements Analysis

Develop your web-based projects by consulting with your personnel, clients, and vendors to assist you in defining your entire long-term Internet strategy or simply an individual project within your existing plan.

Requirements analysis usually consists of a client dealing with a business challenge and attempting to solve this challenge through web-based technologies. Since this is not usually the company's area of expertise nor their business focus, it is recommended to bring in an independent firm such as JHeydecker Design Systems to perform two tasks:

  • Act as an independent agent with no political agenda to
    gather as much information from internal and external sources
    and report this data in a meaningful manner.

  • Report on the options available capable of solving the
    business challenge.
Information gathering can be very complex, and bringing in an independent agent facilitates a freer flow of quality information. Depending on the challenges faced by the company, some of the strategies used include:

  • Internal focus groups revolving around company processes,
    such as Customer Support, Sales, or R&D.

  • External focus groups such as consumers, vendors, existing
    customers, or media.

  • Telephone interviews with your top ten clients.

  • End of transaction surveys.

  • Typical purchaser profiles.

  • Vendor evaluations.

  • Product evaluations.

  • Paradigm shift impact analysis.

Once the data has been collected, in-depth analysis is required to organize the information in a meaningful format in order for the company to understand the weight of the business challenge and the existing solutions available at the time. Companies performing due diligence before throwing money at a project will save money and produce a better solution more quickly.

Product Specifications

When developing product specifications that take into account all aspects of the development cycle, users, vendors, marketing, and technology to produce robust, scalable and user-friendly products that are capable of being developed in a realistic time-frame.

As part of a product specification, you should cover:

  • Management Issues

  • Management Requirements

  • Product Objectives

    • Business

    • Strategy

    • Technology

  • Marketing

    • User Profiles & Characteristics

    • User Requirements

    • Competitive Analysis

  • Product Risks & Contingencies

  • Development Phases

  • Product Requirements

    • Architecture

    • User Interface

    • Performance

    • Time-to-Market

    • Service and Maintenance

    • Internationalization

    • Licensing

  • Product Launch Plan

    • Marketing Communication Schedules

    • Sales Tools Schedules

    • Training Schedules

  • Business Partner Impact

  • Proposed Web Site Architecture

  • Proposed User Interface Diagrams

Producing a detailed product specification enables your company to request proposals from any web development company and receive comparable quotations based on exactly the same software product.

Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker is founder of JHeydecker Design Systems (, an Internet company that specializes in designing, developing and executing web-based and traditional sales, marketing, and management solutions. Ms. Heydecker brings over 20 years of experience in traditional and internet marketing programs for the business-to-business and consumer markets. She can be reached at:

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Is Your Web Site Hurting Your Business?

Dress for Success

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself this question: If I dressed like my Website, would I ever close a deal? Your appearance is your visual identity. Successful salespeople craft their clothing to optimize the sale. They understand that their visual identity affects how their message is received. The same rule applies to your website.

The company’s web design directly impacts the business. The website can be used as an effective marketing tool- getting your message across and persuading customers to take immediate action. A visitor’s impression of your site, their ease of navigation and ability to search for what they want effortlessly and efficiently inevitably translates to a set of impressions that shape how the rest of your business is perceived by the online world.

Ways Design Directly Impacts Your Business:
  • Strong design excites and compels
  • Generic design condemns you to anonymity
  • Off-target design sends the wrong message
  • Cheap design is a turnoff
  • Bottom line: Design can make or break the sale
Bad Web Design is a World Wide Epidemic

Fortunately, this epidemic of cheap, off-target, generic web design does have an antidote. It’s called accountability. Apply it across your organization, and start treating design as a serious business component.

Your business strategy is only as strong as its execution. Give design a high priority and you will strengthen and realize that strategy. Your website exists to drive your target market toward a measurable action. Evaluate design by how well it educates, engages and motivates your customers. A website does not live in isolation, it must be integrated into the rest of your branding.

Is the Medium Maximizing the Company Message?

Take the time to investigate your web design firm. Many web development firms have followed assumptions and trends that do not serve their clients or their client’s customers. They gave way to artistic temptations and “cool” tools that sidetracked the company’s primary agenda. Educate your web professionals and keep them involved, so they thoroughly understand your brand and message. Effective professional design does not highlight the capabilities of the medium but uses the medium to highlight the clients’ capabilities. Design, animation, illustration, video and sound only have value when they translate into actualizing strategic business goals.

Hard Questions Need to be Asked:
  • What is the value, or liability, of special effect-driven animated intros?
  • Are you losing prospects during bandwidth delays?
  • If the value proposition isn't articulated within two clicks, will the customer abandon interest? You bet they will!
  • Did that video, for all the visitors that couldn't see it, enhance the message? Would choosing a strong illustration have instead been smarter alternative?
  • Does the web experience make a statement on the credibility, usefulness and value of your of a product?
  • Does a product interface make a statement on the credibility and value of your brand?
  • Are your customers easily and efficiently finding what they came for?
Rx for Corporate Virtual Identities

How do we do it right? You begin by laying two critical foundations:

  1. Your chosen web design firm must thoroughly understand the company’s products, the competitive landscape, the customer's psyche, the company's current position, the market the company wants to target and the key communication agendas. This knowledge forms a strategic plan that informs and guides all design decisions.
  2. Your web design firm must know how to intelligently apply technology. They must comprehend the issues and techniques involved in making the medium perform for you: ergonomics, utility, timing, platform, browser and display variations, bandwidth cost and user tolerance so their creative capacity remains nimble and delivers on the strategic plan.
Measuring the Value of Your Website

The value of this creativity must always be measured against and adjusted to satisfy some basic criteria. During the design process, always ask and objectively answer the following questions:

  • Is the site so visually powerful that it will rise above the mass of market noise?
  • Does the site’s visual personality resonate with your target market?
  • Do the visuals complement and reinforce the product's core messaging?
  • Does every pixel lead the prospect one step closer to becoming (or remaining) a customer?
  • Do you spare the user a thousand words where one picture would have sufficed?
  • Have you made it easy to get the critical facts?
  • Does the navigation separate your markets and lead them to more refined, targeted messages?
  • If the customer only makes it to the home page, will they know what you offer?
  • Are they enticed to stay, to make one more click and learn more about what you have to offer?
  • Will the prospective customer grasp what makes you competitive?
  • Keep your eye on the bottom line. Does the website incite the customer to take action — make a phone call, volunteer demographic and contact information, forward a URL, set a bookmark?

These questions and processes outline the first steps toward evolving web design integration with quality dimensions of integrity, rigor and maturity. If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, you need to rethink your site before the launch. Web designers are not decorators; they are a key part of the business team. When everybody owns this truth, companies will increase their visibility and profitability

Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker is founder of JHeydecker Design Systems (, an Internet company that specializes in designing, developing and executing web-based and traditional sales, marketing, and management solutions. Ms. Heydecker brings over 20 years of experience in traditional and internet marketing programs for the business-to-business and consumer markets. She can be reached at: