Work Shower Shakedowns: Get Your Hands out of My Wallet!

Warning: I’m going to vent a bit

One of my biggest work-related pet peeves is when I get solicited at the office. Not by skanky prostitutes trying to rock my word, but by those money hungry shower planners.

I swear, it must be at least three times a month that I get the same email asking me to pitch in for so-and-so’s wedding shower, baby shower, retirement party, vasectomy shower, or whatever.

I’m not a stingy person, I swear. I’m one of those people who truly do enjoy celebrating milestones with my friends & family by showing up at their showers and bringing a super cute gift with me. What I don’t like is when I’m asked to purchase a gift for someone that I’m not even friends with.

Years ago, when I was trying so hard to be Miss SuperNice, I would try and give money for every single shower.  For those in the know, this buys you the opportunity to sign the card and take 5 minutes out of your workday to eat cake and stare at the person while they open their gifts.

Well, at a company with over 100 employees (all of which seem to have something to celebrate) this really empties your pockets fast.  So, then I tried to cut back to just the people that I actually spoke to on a weekly basis. Finally, I weaned myself down to only participating if I actually consider the person my friend.

You would think that I tried to smack someone’s puppy. When I first started ignoring the emails, I think they got angry and multiplied. I’d get the follow up emails asking if I had contributed yet, or reminding me that they were going shopping soon and needed all the money by the next day. Usually, I felt guilty enough to find some money to add, but finally I just said that I was tapped out and couldn’t contribute.

Does this make me a bad guy? I don’t really care anymore.

Frankly, I wish that there were no work showers at all. I know that seems kind of grinchy of me, but I feel like it’s just a popularity contest to see how many people like you enough to cough up some dough. If I like someone and consider them a friend, instead of participating in a crappy work shower, I’d rather pick out my own gift and give it them on my own.

I know I’m not the only person who feels this way, right?

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Does my business really need a website?

When I wrote the blog post on whether a business really needs a brochure, it brought up the question of whether every business also really needs to have a website.

pinterest website

Once again, my answer is going to be a big, fat, ‘it depends’. Yes, I know it’s frustrating to just not get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, but it really does depend on what type of business you have.

If you have a business that already has enough customers and you really don’t want or need any more, you most likely don’t need a website. Also, if you get as many customers as you need just by them passing your location, such as a gas station at a busy intersection or a deli located in an office building, you probably don’t need a website either.

However, most businesses can benefit by having some sort of a web presence. People today typically will use a search engine like google when looking for things, such as a wedding photographer, a local bicycle store, a spa, or even a veterinarian. If your business doesn’t have a website at all, they’re never going to find you.

For example, when I was looking for a body shop to fix my SUV, I googled body shops in my area and looked at the different customer reviews to determine which I would visit. This doesn’t mean I didn’t also ask friends for body shop recommendations, but when they gave me one I’d immediately google the shop to check the online feedback.

Depending on your business, you may only need a simple website with a couple of linked pages that include your company’s logo, a description of your business, store address, phone number and hours of operation. Or, if you have a complicated offering with various industries and services, you may need a more extensive website with dozens of pages and links to your company’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.*

It is very important that you keep in mind that the idea of having a professional brand for your company doesn’t stop at the business cards and brochures. Make sure your website is also professionally designed to best represent your company to potential customers.

 

* I now realize that the next “Do I need…” blog entry is going to have to be about social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Does my company really need a brochure?

One of the questions that I get most often is whether it’s really, really, really necessary to have marketing materials for your small business. Typically when asked, you can tell that the person wants the answer to be ‘no’ because they are worried about the time, effort and cost of having marketing materials designed and created. However, the answer of what kind of marketing materials your business really needs is determined by what type of business you have.

pinterest brochure

Most of the time, it makes sense for you to have business cards, no matter what kind of business you are running. Everyone from childcare providers to handymen can benefit from having a business card to hand out to potential clients. If you’re talking to someone about your business, they will most likely ask you for your business card. If you don’t have one, it tends to make it look as if you don’t really have an actual business, but just a hobby.

There are many ways to get business cards for your business without spending a ton of dough. If you do a quick google search for ‘business cards’ you’ll come up with hundreds, if not thousands of options. If you’d like personalized business cards made with a special logo designed just for you, there are just as many options of graphic designers.

The next step up from business cards is personalized letterhead and envelopes. Whether you’re sending a letter to introduce your business, an invoice for work completed or a thank you note to a referral source, it is important to have a consistent design with your business cards, letterhead and envelopes.  If you’re working in bulk, it definitely makes sense to have your designer work on the letterhead and envelope design at the same time as the business cards. That way, they can get you quotes to have everything printed for you. However, if you only anticipate yourself using less than 100 pieces of letterhead a year for invoices, it may be a better idea to have something designed for you to print off of your home printer as you need it.

Then we move on to the big and intimidating brochure. ooooOOOOHHHHH [that was scary music in case you were wondering] Almost every business out there can benefit from having a well-designed brochure. Notice I said “almost”. There are some businesses that just don’t need an actual printed brochure. Sometimes having a website is a much better option for the work that you do. For example, maybe the industry you work in changes so fast that as soon as you print something it’s already out of date.

For the majority of business though, having a brochure that explains your services can be quite helpful when meeting with potential clients. Not only do you have something that spells out what you can offer them, but if done well it will gave your business the professional image that you need. If you have marketing bucks to spend, please use them to hire a marketing guru and/or graphic designer to create your brochure for you. You are literally handing your contact a little piece of your company’s brand when you give them a brochure. Make sure you get it right!

The last thing you want to do is talk a great game and then hand someone a brochure that you whipped up in Microsoft Word using their vast array of borders, colors and fonts. I don’t care if you really went ‘above and beyond’ by using a specialty font like Comic Sans in addition to your diagonal and underlined ALL CAPS bulleted services you offer, just don’t do it.*

There are many other kinds of printed marketing materials out there and a large business may have a dozen different brochures, a specialized folder for each industry and 10 different promotional items. However, for smaller businesses you can usually get by with the basics. Just make sure that they are well-designed and represent the business that you’ve worked so hard to build.

 * For anyone who doesn’t understand the sarcasm in this paragraph, please visit the previous blog post “Creating a Flyer in Microsoft Word Does Not Make You a Graphic Designer”.

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