Weekend Favs December Eleven

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image credit: terrykimura

Good stuff I found this week:
25 Amazing But Free Google Chrome Web Apps You Should Try Out Now – I’m not going to lie, I’m starting to really like the Chrome Browser and with the Chrome OS just around the corner it might be time to start learning what you can about Chrome.

Top 50 conversion optimization and analytics tips – Really fine list of things you can and should do to make your web pages convert and sell.

AppBistro – A Facebook App recommendation engine that takes into account your fan page subject.

Accentuate the Negative

Glass half full

Image andrew_j_w via flickr

I’m one of those folks that is squarely in the camp of the glass is not just half full, it’s mostly full, so this post may seem a tad uncharacteristically, well, negative.

But here’s the deal, I’ve worked with thousands of business owners over the years and I’ve learned that the rosy point of view isn’t always the first place that people go when they think about their world.

But that’s OK, because, despite what Harold Alden and Johnny Mercer wrote and Bing crooned, you can learn a lot when you accentuate the negative. People can often tell you what they don’t want more vividly than what they do want and that can be a great place to start to get real.

I was reminded of this by a post that came across my RSS reader this week from Business Week called The Stop-Doing List.

I think it can be very useful to get the negative, what you don’t want, out so you can finally see more clearly what you obviously do want.

If this idea resonates at all, and maybe even if it doesn’t quite yet, I would like to suggest you plow through the following list and throw open the window to the negative so that you can shine a light on what’s left. Get a pad and paper and get to work on this today.

  • What don’t you want in your life?
  • Who don’t you want as a customer?
  • What don’t you want as elements of your brand?
  • What don’t you want as a part of you daily routine?
  • Who or what don’t you want as a member of your staff
  • What don’t you want to let go of in your business?
  • What don’t you to have to do to grow your business?
  • What aren’t you willing to give up in order to have what you want?
  • What aren’t you willing to compromise for your vision?
  • What aren’t you prepared to sacrifice to get a sale?
  • What aren’t you sure of when it comes to your business?
  • What aren’t you doing that your customers need you to do?
  • What aren’t you making a priority?

Um, that should keep you busy – clear the decks by getting this stuff down. Take an afternoon and hole up in the back corner of a public library and make these lists. The very fact that you give what you don’t want, what you aren’t willing to do, some undivided attention will free you to actually see what must be, what you must keep and hold in order to have what you do indeed want more than anything else in the world.

How to Collaborate With a Designer

This post is part of a creative marketing series sponsored by HP

Too often small business owners abdicate important roles to so-called professionals with more experience. The problem with this approach is that nobody has your experience.

Color Wheel

Image majansa via flickr

By that I mean nobody sleeps, eats, drinks and dreams your business like you. So, while it’s usually a good idea to seek the help of professionals, you need to delegate and collaborate to get the best possible result.

One of the most important hats you wear as a business owner is the guardian of all things strategic – you can never give this hat to someone else!

The area of graphic design is one of those “leave it to somebody creative” areas that can be disastrous for the brand without proper collaboration.

Experience with lots of designers over the years tells me that the good ones know this as well and your “I want something that pops” or “I’ll know it when I see it” direction will effectively hobble them from giving you something that will provide the result your brand needs.

Design firms have long used something called a creative brief to help frame the needs of a design project and easily communicate to a designer elements that need to be considered when doing the research and creation of a logo or other design element.

I developed my own creative brief over the years to use as a bit of a process to get closer to the best possible design for the situation and while it’s not foolproof, I’ve encountered plenty of designers that asked if they could get a copy. (You can find examples of creative briefs at scribd)

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