Issue 1 - Spring 2017

First of all, welcome to this very first Kaarma newsletter.
The main idea behind this publication is to share information around so that we can benefit from the experiences of others.
Contents will vary, and include things like insights on current communication topics, updates on Kaarma’s project work, featured client experiences as well as a few fun things to keep you entertained.
We publish this newsletter once every 3 months, following the seasonal cycle.

So let’s jump right into our Spring 2017 edition with our main topic:
How to give your company communication
a good “Spring Clean”

Spring cleaning your communications on a regular basis will give you the same benefits you get from spring cleaning your house:
  • You keep things organized
  • You look at the good things you have and either polish them to keep them working or replace them
  • You throw away old stuff that’s not working and that you don’t need
  • You get an energy boost from the feeling of being better off than before
Step 1: Organize your efforts
This is valid for the short-term “Spring Clean”, but even more crucial for the longer-term communications effort. For the short term, just make a quick list of the communication tools you want to look at: Website – Brochure – Logo – Business Cards – existing social media accounts and anything else that’s important for your particular business.  
For the longer term communications effort, make a plan of what you need to do (important), stick to the plan (even more important).
We all know that the second point is the problem. The idea of a blog or an active Twitter account sounds great, but let’s be realistic: In a small business with no dedicated marketing person, communications is simply not a core task. We know we need to do it regularly and ideally we need to do more, but we either don’t have the time or the budget or both.
The best way forward? Small steps (with a plan). You can’t update all your communications materials at once? Do them one by one every 6 months. You can’t publish a blog article every month? Start with one every 4 months. You can control the pace. But the real key is to have a plan to guide you that will help you execute the task in small steps over a period of time. A bit like this newsletter, which started in January with the Mailchimp set-up and the creation of the email lists. It then carried into February to get some inspiration for this topic and some ideas for the competition. And we finish it off in March with a few 30-Minute sessions to write up the sections.
Like for other areas of our business, it takes dedication and discipline to deliver what’s on your plan. That is the one thing no tool can give you, you have to make it happen yourself. Or… get external help, like the larger companies do. While larger companies tend to outsource the whole process (which unfortunately makes them completely bland and unauthentic as a result), a small company owner can already greatly benefit from having a sort of communications “coach”. His role is essentially to actively manage the plan and to make sure it is delivered, by for example scheduling regular 30-Minute sessions to collect information and exchange with you. It makes a whole lot of difference to provide information for a task someone else is managing than to manage it yourself. A single 30-Minute session per month can achieve a lot over the course of a year… while still remaining affordable.   
Step 2: Polish the stuff you really need
Every company has a logo, a website and maybe some sort of leaflet or brochure. Those elements are the first things people see when they interact with you, they are the “look” of your company. I use the word “look” to deliberately make the link to fashion. Because communications design is a lot like fashion – it is constantly changing and you might not notice the difference every 6 or 12 months, but after 2,3 or 4 years certain things will definitely look a bit has-been.
Change is all around us, but it is often subtle so that we don’t really notice it that easily. But over time the difference between those that are moving and those that do not becomes quite obvious. That’s reflected in the styles, fonts and shapes that are used as well as the colours.

So realistically, it is not something that has to be acted on every year, but you should keep an eye on it. And the added benefit of using and sharing a refreshed look with your customers should not be underestimated. From experience, they will not tell you if your marketing materials look dated, but they will tell you how much better the new stuff is once you’ve changed it. It creates positive vibes all around, for yourself when you present your company and for your clients who see you in a new light.
For your website, even if your look is up to date, you should try to do 2 things at least once or twice a year: Look at your main image and welcome text on your homepage so that people who come regularly take notice again. And secondly try to add some new content, like new project or product information. This is not only important because it reflects your current company activity, but also because it helps your SEO ranking, because Google ranks websites with evolving content higher. 
Step 3: Clear out the clutter
Less is more. That is valid more than ever in today’s communication environment. In the age of shorter attention spans and websites that need to look good on mobile devices, content needs to be compact and focused.
This doesn’t mean that your website cannot have in-depth content, but it should be accessible from the 3 or 4 main pages of your site that provide easy to read summary information. A good help here are the page view statistics Google analytics gives you, where you can easily see which pages are not so popular.
Decluttering might also involve having a look at what you are doing o social media (or often what you are “not” doing). For a small business, doing social media is tough because it is time intensive. It is a great temptation with its promise of ever-growing fame and likes, but unless your product or service has mass appeal, it is a tough battle to really get noticed. If you started Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts and find that you are not adding content, ask yourself if your business really needs them. Creating interesting content for your target audience is a good thing, but you should do it on the terms that suit you. In the same situation, we have asked ourselves the same questions and opted for a more direct approach with this email newsletter.
Step 4: Try out new things
For a business to succeed, it needs to keep evolving. This most certainly applies to your communications tactics because of the strong influence of new technologies.
Should you be doing Google Adwords ? or Twitter campaigns or Facebook Ads ?
What works for you will depend on many factors. And while the decision is difficult, the cost of entry is low, so you can afford to experiment. Trial and error can be a frustrating approach, but there’s also a chance that you’ll come across something new that will open some doors that you never even knew existed.
I’ve recently been feeling that about Facebook for example. For some time, I’d thought that the platform was becoming less interesting for companies because the Facebook algorithm would limit how many of your fans would see your posts, but on the other side I am increasingly impressed by how accurate you can target your ads. I live in quite a small town, and when a new restaurant opened near us, I soon saw some ads appearing on my news feed. For the restaurant, that’s a great thing because they could only get that close to me through Facebook. On the internet and through Google, that would not have been possible (yet), because the targeting works completely differently. It is not based on profile characteristics but on search terms and browsing behaviour – and I would never have searched for that restaurant…
We’ll try our own trial and error approach over the coming months and will talk about the results in a coming edition. 



Currently, we are working on a branding project for an online marketplace and several WordPress website projects:
  • A financial consultant
  • 2 Training providers
  • An accountant

Spring clean your business card! – You want a fresh look or simply need new cards?

Win a box of 250 shiny new business cards, designed and delivered by Kaarma.
We’ll prepare a design to your specifications and get it printed on a good quality 350g card with a stylish matt finish.

To participate in the prize draw, simply follow this link to sign up.
At the end of last year, we started the Kaarma Blog, which provides useful insights into different aspects of our work, covering topics around WordPress Websites and communications design.
The first 2 articles focused on WordPress extensions that add functionality or interactivity to your site:  

Living close to Bordeaux, I had the pleasure to participate in an all-day event on March 11, the Rallye des Pépites (The Nugget Rally). In its third year, the event promotes female entrepreneurship and attempts to connect like-minded people across the city.
The 150 participating teams were given a “race schedule” to visit 7 companies throughout the day and get a score at each stage by completing some tasks. The event was super dynamic, super fun and super well organised. Just a fantastic idea, that has a real potential to be staged in other cities.

With companies of all sizes participating, it was a great opportunity to get to know some smaller businesses and to get exclusive access to some large national or international players.     
Cillit Bang - The Mechanic
Now that’s some pretty good spring cleaning...

Kaarma assists small and growing companies in presenting themselves professionally online and in the real world. Feel free to contact us if you need help with the design or functionality of your WordPress website or if you have some other communication needs.
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