Some cool ideas to make your business cards stand out

Piranha Designs - Monday, July 25, 2011

Whilst at university our tutors always spoke about doing things differently. Especially when entering a crowded market, you really need to stand out.

A business card can either be a run-of-the-mill throw away item or something rather original and memorable.

Often it is just a simple idea that really makes a difference.

Here are a few articles which show some really great ideas:

http://mashable.com/2011/07/23/business-card-designs/

http://www.artfans.info/20-original-and-quirky-business-card-designs/

How customer reviews can boost sales

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, July 06, 2011
When you are using Amazon to find a product what do you do? You search, read the short description perhaps, and then probably the most important thing is you look at the reviews. How many good reviews has the product had? What are the bad reviews saying?

People like to buy things based on what others are saying about them, we automatically trust the buyer more than the seller. The seller will always sing their own praises, but the consumers will tell you the truth.

Very often people will simply buy products because they have high reviews, even if they are more expensive than a similar item with no or poor reviews. I know I do. I like to read the reviews to see if the product does what it is supposed to and if it is any good.

Studies have shown that the effect of having reviews on your site can be tremendous.
NetShops, which uses PowerReviews services ran a study which determined that reviewed products experienced a 26% lift in sales.

Using reviews on email marketing has lead to some astonishing results. Golfsmith International Inc. used some tests which showed that emails with reviewed products generated 42% more revenue than ones without.

It is important to note that consumers can read through fake reviews, also just one or two reviews are not enough. PowerReviews say that a minimum of 20% of products on a site need to have at least 3 to 5 reviews each in order to have any real social effect.

For some businesses, like mine, product reviews are not really possible, in these cases testimonials or case studies do the same job. Have you read our testimonials?

Our Piston Commerce software includes product review functionality, are you using it to its full extent?

More people buy from the experts. Are you an expert?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, June 09, 2011
On the web there are some websites that sell everything. Amazon and ebay are the biggest ones. These sites are hugely successful.

However there are also a large number of businesses that seem to offer a load of different services. This can be rather confusing and not as beneficial as it sounds. As business owners it seems good to have as many bases covered as possible, but as a customer this is not always the case.

Let’s imagine you are looking to buy a fountain pen.

Now you search online and you find many different websites selling fountain pens. One of them is a stationery site that sells thousands of products, it has good prices and looks interesting. Now you check another site and see that this one is a fountain pen expert site. It is a store focussed on fountain pens. They have a lot of information, good prices but above all they know their stuff, and that’s all they sell.

Who would you most likely buy from?
The stationery site that happens to sell fountain pens? Or the fountain pen expert?

On the web it pays to be an expert. There are many people out there who claim to do everything. It is often better to claim to do very few things and do them really well.

Can you focus your website a bit more? Can you perhaps make multiple sites each of them concentrating on one area of your business? Analyse your site, do your visitors know what you do straight away, and are you portrayed as an expert?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to buy from the experts.

Can you afford not to offer Free shipping?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, May 18, 2011
As I speak to our customers I see that small businesses are fighting a difficult battle against the larger online stores such as Amazon. I have also seen that one of the key advantages that Amazon offer is Free Shipping.

There have been some recent studies that show quite astonishing results:

Nearly 50% of online orders include free shipping.

61% of people are very likely to cancel their order if they do not get free shipping.



Image and stats from comscore.com

Buying online is always supposed to be cheaper than going to a store, however when I buy from a store I never pay shipping, nor do I have to wait to get the item. It is these two concepts that need to be improved in order to make an online store successful. Short delivery periods and free shipping. That is why Amazon Prime is excellent. People pay a low annual fee and get free first class delivery on almost all products.

Small online retailers need to combat this, you can't just sit back and allow your customers to go to Amazon. At the same time couriers are not cheap, and with the rising cost of fuel this isn't likely to change much. What can you do?

The most popular option is to offer Free Shipping on orders over a certain value, and within a specific weight or volume. Basically you have to absorb the cost of shipping, but the increase in orders should be able to outweigh that.

It is worth a try. If you are using one of our Piston Commerce systems it is an easy option to turn on, give it a month and see the difference.

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid!

Piranha Designs - Friday, May 13, 2011
When I was at University my advertising tutor always used to remind us of these four words:

Keep it Simple, Stupid!

When you are designing or creating something, the tendancy is to over complicate things. We naturally think, it would be great to have this and this. Slowly what began as a simple, clean idea turns into a monster, with loads of different options and calls to action.

When planning your website you need to remind yourself of KISS, it will help you to work backwards. Always going to the lowest common denominator.

There is an interesting story about Google and how one customer helps to keep there website as simple as possible.
Google began receiving an email every so often with just a number on it, say 32. Then another number 37. There was nothing else in this email. After a while they figured out the message. The number was the number of words on the google homepage. This helped them to continuously simplify and remove words, the lower, the better. This simple strategy helped make the Google search engine so incredibly simple that it is extremely successful. Compare it to Yahoo who had hundreds of words and links. People just got lost. They just wanted to search.

When you are planning your site or trying to improve it, think, what are my visitors wanting to do or to read? How can I make the whole process as simple as possible? What steps can I eliminate?

Rather than adding more and more options, try removing some.

Iphone tips and tricks

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Recently a large number of clients have Iphones and absolutely love them. I use my Iphone 4 everyday and appreciate everything it can do for me. However, I have also noticed that a lot of people don't really know how to get the most out of it.

Even simple things like double clicking the home button opens apps that are in use, allowing you to switch quickly between apps. Here is a useful article outlining 20 great tips and tricks for the Iphone. Read the article >

Breaking into the Spanish ecommerce market

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We have recently begun working with a select number of Spanish firms in developing their ecommerce websites. Powered by our multi lingual Dynamo CMS software, the sites are making a solid impression.
A while ago we launched Agape - a large bi lingual website with an online store, videos etc. Last week we have finished two other sites Royal Pianos and Rosa Gabriel.



Royal Pianos.com is a leading Piano distributor based in Benalmadena, with clients all over Spain. Their new site allows for online ordering of Pianos and gives them an easy way to update any information immediately. We have also setup a free ebook, (Guide to buying a Piano) this serves to build trust and also starts a relationship with the company. From the day it was launched we have seen clients register for certain pianos, and are confident that this website is going to go from strength to strength. Visit Royal Pianos >



Rosa Gabriel.com is a very economical clothes store based in Tarifa. They have been around for a long time and are looking to expand. By building the site on Dynamo they can add their hundreds of products themselves, and market them through a weekly newsletter. Visit Rosa Gabriel >



Although the market is very weak in Spain, there are still some companies that are looking for professional suppliers who can help them overcome the struggles and improve their business. Working from Gibraltar, with access to English resources can give us an advantage over the competition.

Websites need to be designed to sell.

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 13, 2011
When you start building your first website or redesigning your current one. It is very common to focus on the looks. Here are some common thoughts, I hear from my clients:

My logo needs to be big.
I want some strong colours.
I need loads of options so people can choose whatever they want.
I like some movement, maybe even an intro page.

Sometimes we can end up building a website that is very attractive, original and looks great to you, but is not much use to your customer. There is no clear message and no call to action.

We must remember that websites are there to sell (most of the time), we need to constantly put ourselves in the customers shoes. Thinking that a customer may not even know what we do, or may not be sure of what they want either.

We like to design sites that have high conversion rates, that turn visitors into leads. Convert people on your newsletter into real customers.

Here is an article which will help you understand the difference:

Your web design is killing your conversion rate.

Gmail Motion - A funny April Fools Video.

Piranha Designs - Monday, April 04, 2011
On April Fools Day there where some funny pranks. Here is one of my favourite:
Google announced the launch of Gmail motion - the latest in email technology, where you can do almost anything with simple gestures. Watch the video below:

Can small businesses save money and time by having employees work from home?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 30, 2011
There is a growing trend in the USA and in the UK for people to work from home. A friend in London works for a top UK television channel, and due to the nature of the work, she has to start at 4am. After an hour or so she has finished and doesn't have anything more to do until much later on. Obviously there is no point in getting her to go all the way to the office, which is quite a commute at ridiculous hours in the morning, if she is just going to sit at a PC and do her stuff. So she works from home. Gets up early has a cup of coffee and does whatever it is she needs to do without wasting hours driving or getting the tube.

There are a number of benefits (taken from UK BusinessLink website)

* improved retention of employees, eg home working can help retain working parents with childcare responsibilities
* a wider pool of applicants from which to recruit, eg disabled people who may prefer to work from home
* possible productivity gains through staff having fewer interruptions and less commuting time
* increased staff motivation with reduced stress and sickness levels
* savings on office space and other facilities
* possible location of sales staff near clients rather than being based in your premises

At the same time it is scary for a business owner to think his employees are in their pijamas playing the Wii instead of hard at work in the office! Obviously there are loads of great tools that can help to make everything easier. Here are some of the best:

  • Dropbox - online hard drive where everyone can share data
  • Google Docs - Online Office documents
  • Skype - Now with multiple video conferencing
  • GotoMeeting - online conferencing
  • GotoMyPC - remote PC access
One company that have really taken this to heart are Citrix Online, a hugely successful US based operation. Read more here: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/feb2011/sb20110215_286886.htm

Also read: Why its Ok to let my staff work from home.

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