After a frantic, but cheery Christmas and an excitable New Year, I thought mmmm, how do I top this? I know, I’ll interview and Bizsugar. Now those of you who haven’t heard of Anita (Ermmmm, where have you been?), couldn’t have read her book ‘Visual Marketing‘ or have been inspired by her extensive knowledge of the marketing industry. To those people I say ‘shame on you….you best read this blog instead’, because one thing is certain; after my gruelling interview questions, she certainly knows her stuff! The new book ‘Visual Marketing’ is a powerful advocate for show, not tell in marketing, but what visuals capture your attention and why? I pay attention to logos and website headers. Today, more than ever, we may be introduced to a business for the first time online — and you know what they say about first impressions. A prospective customer may make a snap judgment just based on a 5-second visit to your website or blog. A great headshot is also important, given how many times people will look at your avatar on social media profiles, blog comments and in any online interviews you give. I find I’m drawn toward interesting headshots — unusual backgrounds, headshots taken from unique angles (from above, below or sideways), or action shots that show the person doing something (even holding a phone to your ear or with a headset on). A big smile helps. If your teeth aren’t naturally bright, consider photo augmentation to correct that, similar to red-eye correction. With so many people these days getting teeth whitening, that suddenly has become a feature people pay attention to. And remember, a great photographer can work wonders with the right light filters, too. Just look at the new avatar for Mari Smith, the Facebook expert. It has brilliant lighting that makes her face and eyes come alive, and her teeth are so white! Another good visual consists of 3-D marketing materials.. I’ve seen some terrific mailer pieces that can form a 3-dimensional item such as a photo cube with a few folds of cardboard. We featured one in the Visual Marketing book that consisted of cardboard that could be folded into a 45-record player! When it comes to marketing methods and campaigns, are you critical of others or are you ‘wowed’ by their ideas? I’m a glass half-full person, so I tend to spot something I like most everywhere I am, and I easily overlook elements that are not quite perfect. I think everyone should learn to scout new ideas by observing what others do — not to steal the idea and become a copycat. Instead, borrow one or two elements just as general inspiration, and interject your own creativity to create something completely new. To do that, you can’t be overly critical…. Spot what people are doing right, not what they’re doing wrong. Your book details some excellent tips for how businesses can raise awareness, but what what you personally do to raise awareness for your own businesses? Since my businesses are primarily online publishing businesses, we focus 90% of our marketing efforts online. We create awareness through content marketing, social media and search engine optimization. We do a little through advertising — mainly retargeting ads that remind those who’ve already visited the sites to come back and visit (they see our ads when they leave and visit other sites, and it serves as a reminder). We also create awareness through outbound linking. If you want to get the attention of others online, a great way is to link to a blog post, video or other content item of theirs. And use the person’s name and their company name in the text — that way they will spot it in their Google Alerts they’ve set up for references to themselves. If you never link and never quote, it’s like going to a party and refusing to talk to anyone. Don’t be surprised if no one wants to talk with you (or link to your blog!). We do a small amount of marketing at key small-business events, either through my speaking or through sponsoring the event and having a booth there. When you do event marketing, try to create some meaningful “leave behind” piece that catches the attention of those you connect with, and reminds them of you after they get back to the office. For instance, if you’re speaking, a small “tips” sheet for each attendee is a nice gesture, and inexpensive. Or if you’re exhibiting at an event, then some fun piece people will want to keep (such as a printed puzzle), or a useful shwag item, is good — you want something people will keep and have a reason to use after they leave the event. Often these items are better than a standard marketing brochure. With the advent of social media and video, are we seeing a natural trend towards visual marketing? Social media definitely encourages us to be more visual! Take Twitter, for example. Even though you are leaving a tweet that is no bigger than 140 characters, just think of all the ways you can interject the visual: your headshot and/or logo for the avatar; a custom Twitter background; and by attaching photos and videos to tweets (which now show up in tweet streams and Twitter sidebars. Facebook and Google+ are designed to lend themselves to photographs. It’s easy to load photographs in both sites and you can actually create and share photo albums. Also, when you share interesting visuals, your profiles and your news streams stand out because the visuals capture attention in a sea of drab text. How important is it to create a mood using humour, mood, etc? Strive to be memorable and remarkable with marketing, especially visual marketing. One way to do that is to appeal to emotions and feelings, and you can do that through humor, or a sense of restful elegance, or a feeling of dynamism and energy. You can convey a lot of mood or emotion just by the choice of colors, fonts and images you choose to use in your marketing. But do understand that you take a bit of risk every time you interject mood and humour. It’s easy for it to fall flat — not everybody responds to mood and humour the same way. For instance, I happen to really like business cartoons, and we publish one every Friday on Small Business Trends. We have readers who LOVE those cartoons — they are huge fans, just like I am — and they tell me that all the time. But I will also tell you that I’ve actually gotten “hate” mail (maybe it wasn’t hateful, just a rather snarky complaint) from at least one person who thinks humour has no place in a serious business publication. Well you can’t please everyone 100% of the time, and it’s not realistic to think you will. I find adverts these days hit and miss when it comes to communicating a message. What are your tips for clear communication in visual marketing? Because visual marketing conveys so much on many different levels, I think it’s important to test it and get feedback from multiple sources. Get at least several pairs of eyes to look at any creative work. Everyone will see it a bit differently. Less is usually more. Use sparer images; fewer colors; fewer words. You may have heard the old saying by author Mark Twain about how if he’d had more time he would have written a shorter letter. It’s true — whether for words or marketing. It takes active editing to keep something on point and make an impact, whether it is a letter or an advertisement.. So once you create something – edit edit, edit! Don’t let “too much” obscure the message you are trying to deliver. What do you think 2012 will bring and who are the greatest influencers? The year 2012 is the year everybody gets tired of a bad economy — hearing about it and being in it. Take it upon yourself to spice up what you do and resolve to change anything about your business or your personal habits that disappointed you in 2011. Adopt a positive outlook, too. While it takes more than positive thinking alone to make a successful business and a rewarding life, trust me: you’ll have an easier time of it with a positive outlook. Give us three of the best marketing campaigns of all time and tell us what made them outstanding? “I Love New York” — It packed a punch in just 4 words with a catchy jingle of 4 musical notes. There were a variety of interesting commercials that featured Broadway theater stars and movie actors as part of the whole marketing campaign. But even if you disregard those, the 3 letters along with a heart image became an iconic logo recognizable the world over. “I’m lovin’ it” for McDonalds — How do you make a fresh impact with a fast food outlet known the world over? You make the campaign about your customers’ love for your product. And you add in up-to-date dynamism and energy. Just hearing that jingle or seeing it, makes you feel like eating a Big Mac (whether you like them or not!). The understated elegance of Apple marketing — I mean, have you ever seen a more elegant computer store than an Apple store? Or a classier logo or product design than an Apple product? Instead of wanting to get out of the store as fast as possible or being afraid to pick something up because you’re intimidated and overwhelmed, the simplicity invites you to touch and experience the items. Lastly, you’ve recently obtained the ‘head honcho’ role at Bloggertone – I know that plans for 2012 are hush hush , but is there anything you CAN tell us as we are dying to know what to expect. Well I can say this: expect to see a new logo in 2012, and some tools you can use to promote your business! It’s going to be very exciting, and we’re going to take good care of the long-time Bloggertone members. (Tease!) Any further questions I should be asking Anita?