Mr Bankes: Quality Design for the Retail and Hospitality Sectors

We live in an image-saturated society. In this day and age, good visual communication is integral in any industry, be it to get a point across, create the right atmosphere or illustrate a particular aspect of your business. Mr Bankes is a designer who understands how to make the perfect impression, every time.

So who is Mr Bankes?

Mr Banks is Michael Bankes, a curious, creative and down-to-earth design professional who has been making his mark in and around Melbourne – and far beyond – for more than twenty years. While his talents are wide-ranging, his speciality is the design of interior environments within the retail and hospitality sectors.

The Mr Bankes ethos

There are plenty of designers around, but finding the right one for the job is not always easy. Good designers are a dime a dozen. Great designers are a valuable find. It requires not only talent, expertise and experience, but an innate understanding of what a client needs.

Mr Bankes draws inspiration from everything around him, from the mundane to the magnificent. It might be a trip to the markets, or a visit to a friend’s farm. With a head full of opportunity, the trick then is to tailor this boundless energy into the right result for each specific project.

Brand awareness for best results

Effective design solutions in retail and hospitality environments generally entail a seamless integration of both architectural and graphic elements. Mr Bankes is a specialist in this creation of brand identity.

Need an example? At one point in his career, Mr Bankes was the designer du jour for the surf industry. He not only kept a range of clients happy (including Jetty Surf, Billabong, Strapper Surf, GenX, Planet Surf, Winkipop, Blunt and City Beach), he ensured that each developed their own very unique design identities.

Eco-friendly for fabulous design

In addition to creativity and quality, Mr Bankes values the environment and ensures his designs respond to environmental needs. His designs are created with a focus and awareness of sustainable and eco solutions, while using eco-friendly materials wherever possible.

What to expect

The Mr Bankes studio is based in Melbourne, however Mr Bankes can service clients all over Australia. Whether you have a firm idea of what you need, or only an inkling of what you want, Mr Bankes can help you create the best result for your business. That means working closely with you through every stage of development: from concept to creation.

Mr Bankes will also manage the actual building if required, including all paperwork for required permits. Mr Bankes avoids costly overheads, and strives to deliver the best results at the best price possible.

And the nitty gritty

Michael Banks began practicing design more than 20 years ago. He is a member of the Australian Retail Design Institute, has a 20 year citation with the Design Institute of Australia and is a Registered Building Practitioner. He knows his craft, is passionate about quality design and is a long-time supporter of traditional values – that means quality design that’s contemporary, relevant, and will stand the test of time.

Clients

Mr Bankes has more than one thousand projects to his name – and counting. The following is a small selection of his esteemed clients:

  • L’Oreal
  • Koko Black
  • Virgin
  • Honda
  • King Furniture
  • Bakers Delight
  • Raffaelle Cuica
  • DuPont
  • Nissan
  • Parenthood
  • Mazda
  • Edge clothing
  • Muffin Break
  • Sanity
  • Liz Davenport

If your hotel, café or store is in need of a visual boost, Mr Bankes (www.mrbankes.com.au) may just be your man.

Why Content Writers and Site Visitors Hate Your Industry Jargon

If there’s one thing that makes content writers roll their eyes and mutter little curses under their breath, it’s receiving a job brief that contains a list of buzz words or industry specific terminology, accompanied by an instruction to include those terms in the content they’ve been asked to write. It’s not mere preference on a writer’s part that causes this reaction. It’s because a good writer understands that the purpose of written content on a business site is to engage readers. The experienced content writer knows that:

  • jargon-laden content is likely to send the website owner’s prospective clients in the wrong direction – so the content they’re about to write won’t be as effective as it should be;
  • a request to include industry specific or technical terms to describe particular services can result in descriptions that are meaningless to prospective clients;
  • it can limit the writer’s approach and style. The result can be dry, wordy and boring content that won’t inspire readers to continue reading, much less make an enquiry.

There are some industries and professions that seem particularly partial to jargon – IT, project management and human resources are those that quickly come to mind, but there are many others.

Unfortunately, your content writers aren’t the only ones who are likely to find your jargon a turn-off. Here are two more compelling reasons to avoid overdoing it with technical phrases and buzz words.

Jargon can cause mistrust

According to a CBS article, a university study found that using jargon makes you less believable. That would suggest that including copious amounts of it in your website content is likely to have the opposite effect to the one you intended.

It’s bad for SEO

Small business people in search of IT assistance aren’t desperately Googling to find someone who ‘deploys scalable software solutions’ or specialises in ‘web application maintenance.’ They’re searching for terms that describe their needs in language familiar to them. When you operate in a technical field, the chances are prospective clients don’t describe their needs quite the same way you do.

You need to identify terms your prospective clients might use and ensure you mention them in your content. When search engines can’t match your website content to the information people are looking for, prospective clients may never get the opportunity to see your website in the search results. If you don’t understand how search engines work, you might like to read this simple explanation by Google.

The wrong approach for content

Those in favour of using jargon in website content tend to think that it makes them sound more professional than their competitors. But when prospective clients are visiting a business website, their biggest question isn’t “are you up to date with your industry terminology?” It’s this:

Can you understand my business situation and fix my current problem?

If they see that you can, they might engage your services without even considering a competitor. But using technical terms or jargon rather than speaking in terms of problems and solutions they can relate to, immediately erects a language barrier between you. And that’s not a great start if you hope to win their business.

Hiring a content writer

When industry jargon has become your everyday language, you might find writing about what you do in layman’s terms almost impossible. But many specialists have a dilemma when it comes to hiring a writer. How will a content writer understand what you do if he or she hasn’t worked in your industry? It’s a valid concern, but content writers are often people who have turned to writing after working in other professions. That means there’s every possibility you’ll find a writer who not only grasps what you do, but knows just how to make your services appeal to prospective clients and search engines.

Tips on growing your business – from marketing to magnetic name badges

Establishing any business is of course a big deal, but getting past that first hurdle is just the beginning. If you’re looking to grow your business, you’ll need to do your research, make some plans, and follow through with them. Here are just a few points to keep in mind when growing your business.

Create (and recreate) a business plan

Every business owner needs to create and implement a business plan. This should outline what you want to achieve with your business, what services and/or products you will offer, it should set realistic goals, and outline how you hope to achieve your goals. If you‘re unsure just how to write a business plan, you should look for professional resources to guide you. The Australian Government’s business.gov.au website is worth visiting, providing varied information and tips on establishing and developing businesses of all sizes. Another tip? As your business grows, your business plan should also adapt. Make a point to assess and modify your business plan regularly.

Establish a marketing plan

Marketing and social media strategies are vital for any business, regardless of your budget. Your business is going to have a hard time growing if people don’t know who you are, or how to find you. A marketing plan might entail using a combination of advertising, listings, a website, and social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to help spread information about your company and services. Social media is an increasingly popular and highly effective tool that can be used both to attract new customers and help keep your customers coming back. Even better, it can be very cost-effective.

Give time to staff relations

The Queensland Government’s Business and Industry portal has some useful tips on managing staff. Essentially, staff that feel informed, appreciated and part of a team are more likely to give you their all. There are some simple ways to help staff work together as best they can. Keep staff informed via meetings or regular email bulletins or newsletters, implement team-building exercises and training programs, consider mentoring opportunities, and even try something like magnetic name badges, which are not only great for customer-staff relations, they can also help staff feel part of the team. Any business owner should also of course be aware of employer and employee legal rights and obligations.

Focus on customer relationships

Building good customer relationships is vital for business growth. Making a sale (whether it’s a product or service) is just the beginning. Being able to provide fantastic customer service every step of the way – from an initial inquiry following through to the completed transaction – is part and parcel of good customer service. Follow through means everything from providing information and returning calls promptly, to answering queries satisfactorily.

Many businesses that deal with customers face-to-face find something as simple as magnetic name badges are a great first step in setting up a relationship with a customer. Magnetic name badges can break down that initial barrier, and help your staff to create an instant rapport with customers. They are also easy to design, and being magnetic, are simple for staff to wear comfortably.

And how else can you keep customers coming back? Mailing lists and social media accounts can be highly effective in helping to keep customers informed of new products, sales and special offers.

Of course, seeking professional assistance if you aren’t an expert on every aspect of business (and who is) is always recommended. Look to government business sites such as NSW Business, and professionals in any areas you aren’t an expert in, such as accountants, consultants and the like, for help.

Professional event planning: Why details matter

Whether your business is looking to host a dinner, seminar, conference or other event, it’s essential to do it well. An event is not only about sharing information and experiences; it’s an excellent marketing tool. A well-organised event will reflect well on your business, and has the potential to build and enhance business relationships. While venue and catering are important considerations, they are certainly not the only ones. Giving short shrift to invitations, promotional material and even name badges and lanyards, will reflect when it comes to the actual event.

Where to start

If you are new to event planning, the best advice is to do your research and be methodical. Create a checklist of everything that needs doing, give everything a time frame and completion date, and be sure to include even the most minor of details. Always determine a budget, and be sure to stick to it at all stages of the planning.

Help please?

There are plenty of online resources that can help take the hard work out of organising your event. The Brisbane Meeting Planners’ Guide 2011-13 for instance, is a free download full of ideas, information and tips for event organisers, no matter the location. Search for a convention bureau in your area, and there’s a good chance they’ll also have information, advice and publications on hand. The Melbourne Convention Bureau and Business Events Sydney are other examples.

Bigger is not always better

Don’t be daunted if your event is quite small. While organising a low-key seminar and international conference may seem like chalk and cheese, there are elements that overlap. In essence, it’s about finding the right ‘content’ and presenting it in the best available venue, and using the event to help your business shine.

You may not have the budget for instance to present your seminar in a five star hotel, but there are plenty of interesting, and even quirky venues available to rent for affordable prices. Remember too that the venue is just one aspect of any successful event.

Detail, detail, detail

Many successful conferences and seminars have been successful not because of where they were held, or the food that was served, but because of the engaging speakers, quality materials provided, and positive interaction that was had with the host company and other attendees. Hosting an event is an incredible opportunity to market your organisation and build engagement with your business.

One of the key ways to market your business, and engage attendees, is with name badges. Name badges can facilitate networking, and can be branded with your business colour scheme or logo.

If you don’t have a huge budget, it just means you need to start thinking creatively. Want to provide a show bag for attendees? Then perhaps look for local business sponsors who will provide free contents in exchange for logo placement on the official publications and/or banners.

Looking to get your business name out there? Then include it on all materials. Even the lanyards (www.signaladvantage.com/badge-lanyards.html) that hold the name badges can be imprinted with your company name or logo.

Make sure all employees who are working at the event are also wearing name badges. They are easy to put together with a lanyard, and ensure that attendees find it easy to locate staff members if they need help, or have questions. Branded name badges also have the added effect of marketing your business, and showing off how well you do customer service.

Be a role model in your business

If you want your staff to follow and respect your company’s code of conduct, you need to set the example. From the CEO, to the admin workers, all staff members need to be unified in a commitment to the values and strategic objectives of the company. This goes for things as intrinsically important as communication between colleagues, to customer service, and to even less obvious practices, such as wearing name badges.

If you want your employees to all wear name badges, for instance, then upper management should lead by example. It sends a message that no one is above wearing them, and everyone is committed to enhancing the company’s image. And after all, well-designed, engraved metal badges looks smart and professional, and conveys a sense of pride in the company.

Being a role model as a manager, whether it’s by wearing a metal badge, or helping a junior employee with a customer, can help create a dedicated, loyal and happy staff throughout all levels of the organisation. So, what characteristics does a role model have? Here are a few.

  • Dedication. A dedicated worker is someone who regularly goes beyond the call of duty to get a job done. A dedicated worker exceeds expectations, rather than merely performing to minimum requirements, and always tries to perform to the best of their ability.
  •  Loyalty. By loyalty, we don’t mean someone who sticks with a company for an extended period of time. We’re referring to people that – when they are at the company – take pride in that company’s success. These are people who aren’t just working for a pay packet, but derive genuine satisfaction from seeing the organisation they work for flourish, regardless of whether it results in personal material gain.
  • Skills. People with superior skills are often role models, whether they choose to be or not. By the very nature of them having a skill set that many people aspire to, they inspire others to improve their own skills.
  • Generosity. Most high performing, successful workers are very busy, but several of them still give a lot of their time to training, mentoring or coaching others. A person at the top of their game who genuinely wants the people around them to improve is a real role model characteristic.
  • Consistency. There are a number of factors in the workplace and in one’s personal life that can affect work performance, but some people consistently perform at a high level. The ability to be organised, focused, and committed enough to achieve high results consistently is an admirable trait.
  • Enthusiasm. We’re not always thrilled by the thought of going to work. “Mondayitis”, some people call it. But good role models will have that kind of infectious energy that naturally inspires others. Through their enthusiasm and eagerness, other employees automatically want to come along for the ride. Of course, that enthusiasm has to be genuine for it to be believable.

So there you have it, a few characteristics that role models share. Every workplace needs a role model, and while you need to be a role model at the top, all role models do not necessarily have to be in a position of superiority. They just have to take it upon themselves to set the example. That is the main message here – set the right example at the top, and others will follow. To read more about what makes a great role model, read this article.

And, one other thing – have your staff members wear metal badges. They look professional, and no one’s name will be forgotten!

Tips to build your brand

When marketing your business, it’s important to remember that it’s the little things that count. A successful business needs to have a great attention to detail, because customers remember those little details. One of the most important aspects of marketing is branding. A company that gets branding right can significantly boost profitability and reputation. Here are some tips for enhancing your business’s profile.

Employ the right people

To grow your company’s brand, it’s important that your employees are great ambassadors for the company. Personnel are usually a business’s most important resource, so it’s critical that your company’s people operate in the best interests of the company.

A low-cost way to build your brand through your employees is to ensure they all wear name badges. Eye-catching, professional permanent name badges are available at leading name badge supplier Signal Advantage, and it’s easy to customise and design them. Not only is it great publicity for your company when an exceptional employee proudly displays the company’s logo on their name badge, but a permanent name badge can also motivate employees to perform better.

Focus on customer service

This is and will always be an absolute must for any business wanting to grow its brand. Good customer service is delivering what the customer expects, while great customer service is going beyond the call of duty and exceeding expectations. Great customer service generates invaluable word-of-mouth advertising.

Have a consistent look and message

It’s great to have a fantastic looking logo, but it’s much more important to make the logo visible on all your campaigns. If you think about the most recognisable logos, they’re not necessarily the most visually striking ones, but they are the most conspicuous.

Name badges can be a useful tool in improving your company’s visibility in the public domain. Easy-to-read permanent name badges that are aligned with the design of the company’s other marketing tools (website, letterheads, advertisements), can help to create a strong brand.

Find your market

It’s all well and good to want your market to be as broad as possible, but the danger in this is that your message can be lost in your effort to appeal to a mass audience.

It’s important to identify your market, and if it’s a niche market, then focus on appealing to that market. Companies should engage in market research to help them determine who their target audience is.

Use social media

Social media is an extremely useful platform to getting your message out to the public quickly and directly. It’s also a very cost-effective way to market your business. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword. Bad news has never travelled faster thanks to social media, but businesses cannot afford to avoid social media.

Determine your values

Why do some brands stand out over others? Part of the reason is that customers identify with the brand’s values. Your whole marketing strategy should reflect the brand’s values. This means the staff, advertising slogans, and of course, the products, reflect the company’s values. Building values into your brand’s story is a great way to build your brand, but the story needs to be honest. Claiming your product is hand crafted, when it is in fact factory produced, is a betrayal of customer’s trust, and can have adverse effects on your business.

So be truthful, give customers an insight into your brand, and make sure your marketing strategy is implemented across all your branding.

Reduce waste with reusable name badges

One of the key aims for any business is the minimisation of waste. Efficient waste reduction processes are an important part of a business’s overall strategy to maximise productivity and efficiency in the workplace. With that in mind, let’s talk about name badges, which are often under-used, and unnecessarily wasted.

For large companies with a large turnover of staff, you would expect to have to replace name badges on a regular basis. You may consider getting rid of name badges altogether, but this is not recommended, as name badges have several benefits, including:

  • Fostering stronger relationships between employees and clients
  • Encouraging more employee accountability
  • Raising workplace morale with a sense of belonging and familiarity
  • Public relations and marketing benefits

Reusable name badges are the solution. Reusable name badges, if designed well, can be an easy and effective way of having the benefits of a permanent name badge, without the hassle and waste of having to constantly order new ones as employees come and go.

Re-using materials, even things as small as name badges, is one of the best ways to reduce waste. The Victorian Government has a wealth of information about recycling and reusing in the workplace. Good quality reusable name badges can be used and re-used many times, meaning you don’t have to replace name badges when staff are replaced, when employees are moved to different departments, or lose them, of if your company’s details or logo changes.

You may be surprised how convenient it is to have reusable name badges in the workplace. It’s always handy to have spares that you can give to visitors who come to the office.

Reusable name badges are also ideal for conferences or expos. If your company regularly holds networking events, then top quality reusable name badges will significantly cut the costs of producing name badges.

Not only do they reduce waste and save you the cost of purchasing new badges, they also save you the time of ordering new ones. With the right software, replacing a name badge should be as easy as entering the information, such as name and title, into a specialised computer program, printing out a slip, and inserting it into the name badge holder.

No manager wants to see high levels of wastage, and we don’t just mean the disposal of surplus materials, but also inefficient processes where staff, time and financial investment are not used as productively as they can be. Using reusable badges will not solve all your business’ productivity issues, but it’s certainly a good start.

Some other hints for minimising waste in the workplace include:

Review waste management processes. This is something that should be done regularly, so you can determine whether your company’s waste management goals are being reached. If they are not, implement better processes to reduce wastage.

Don’t over-order. It can be extremely wasteful to buy in bulk and then have to dispose of a large portion of stock. Try not to order items that can spoil before you get to use them.

Training. All staff should be trained in effective waste management, and be assessed on their waste minimisation procedures regularly.

Go paperless. Electronic communication has reduced the need for paper. Only use paper when necessary.

Reducing waste not only lowers operating costs, and improves productivity, it can also make your business more sustainable, and eco-friendly. Visit this Australian government website for more waste reduction tips.

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