Sparks February 2006 -

Sparks February 2006

In the News

Oops—When government sites go bad
Developers of a new government website for scholars in search of federal grants forgot to check one thing: making sure their site was Mac-compatible. The site, a clearinghouse for over $400 bn of grants from a wide variety of agencies, includes online application forms which can only be filled out on a PC. Several hundred grant applications have been affected by the glitch. The company hired to develop the site builds PC-only sites.
Read news article

Aside from the embarrassment and wasted money of a partially non-functional site, the government is in violation of its own accessibility laws. These require government sites to meet certain standards in order to reach the broadest number of users. Oops.

Don’t let this happen to your business! Ensure your web development firm builds sites for your target market, including the growing cadre of Mac users and those using browsers other than Internet Explorer.

Four steps to turbocharge business referrals
The single most powerful and overlooked form of marketing is word of mouth. Service industries such as law, accounting, medical, and design are driven almost entirely by it. But even if you’re a manufacturer, you can benefit from positive word of mouth.

But don’t just wait for it! Take a proactive approach with these four steps:

Tell people who you want to work with. Be specific. “We’re looking to work with IU professors in the arts and humanities” is a lot more specific than “Know anyone who might need us?”

Tell referrers what to say. Make it easy for people to help you. Suggest key points they might use if they run into an interested party. Tell them what steps the prospect should take next—go to your website? Ring you? Or stop by your store?

Get the backstory on referrals. This may not always be possible, but if a prospect e-mails and says they were referred by your contact, see if you can talk to your contact before talking to the prospect in-depth. Try to get a sense of what the prospect’s issues are and how you can help.

Say thank you! Close the loop with your referrer by thanking them for the referral. Depending on the size of the referral, this can take the form of a quick phone call, a handwritten thank you note, or even a small gift. Most importantly, return the favor! The best way to receive qualified referrals is to make them. Refer qualified leads to your business associates and spread the goodwill—it will make your business grow!



This month’s winner: Alan Spott!
VisoVerbo champ Alan Spott wins a digital print featuring this one-of-a-kind design. Have a favorite quote or saying? Send it in! If your quote is chosen, you’ll receive a T-shirt with a custom design! Check out your competition here.

Client Spotlight

Genius Groups
Bloomington’s technology and life sciences business incubator, inVenture, has launched a new peer learning series: Genius Groups. Each month a different Bloomington “genius entrepreneur” addresses a specific business issue. But rather than a staid lecture format, Genius Groups progresses to true peer learning by having the speaker then join attendees around the table and brainstorm along with them on specific issues they face. Attendance is limited to 25 entrepreneurs who signed up for the whole series, meaning the group will go through a year of shared experiences.

As the agency of record with inVenture, we worked with director Brian Kleber to develop the series name and logo. As frequently happens, we were on a tight turnaround, so we engaged in vigorous collaborative research and brainstorming sessions.

After considering a variety of names, we selected Genius Groups. It refers to “group genius:” that collective wisdom which arises from group interaction. It also plays on the concept of the “genius” entrepreneur—those local business owners who have not just found success, but who have addressed business issues creatively.

Our logo design uses round letterforms to give a feeling of friendliness and camaraderie. Its chunky forms lend a sense of solidity and trustworthiness. The “i” of “Genius” is spotlighted, both by enlarging the dot and by including “light bulb” marks around it. Using this simple approach, it communicates the importance of the individual, the bright ideas generated in the sessions, and a sense of hope. A cool blue and very warm yellow communicate both professionalism and friendliness.

Genius Groups logo designed by