Weekly business rail, with tips on your business’ personality, a look at the best counties for job growth, BBB Watch and more.

Tip of the Week

No matter what your business, if you expect to make an impact, you've got to create and maintain a business personality. With communications changing at the speed of light, now is the time to get creative and go beyond just a logo on stationary. Here are a couple tips:

- Communicate: Give potential customers many ways to find and interact with you and make it easy for them to use your products or services. Make sure your Web site is updated on a regular basis with company news and photos. Start a company blog and keep it current with relevant information, not only about your business, but about your industry and related issues. If you're not on Twitter, get there. Make it a point to tweet at least once a day to keep your content dynamic. Start a Facebook page and hold a company contest to see who can sign up the most "fans."

- Branding: You've got a logo that reflects the personality of your business, so make sure your brand is consistent in everything you present and communicate. Your business cards, Web site, blog and presentation materials should all match or complement each other and, in a simple, uncluttered manner, reflect what your business does.

- Branding, part 2: The same goes for the physical location of your business. The lobby is the face of a company, and conference rooms are often where deals get done, so your customers' first impressions of those areas are lasting impressions. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to set yourself apart is by using a mural to convey a more personalized, four-walls marketing message. You can take it one step further and customize the mural with your company's logo or mission statement.

- Mission and vision: Whether you've been in business for one year or 50 years, it's crucial to have a relevant and up-to-date business vision and mission statement. Just as your business evolves, your mission and vision statements should be updated on a regular basis after meeting with executives, employees and other key stakeholders. Make sure everyone in the company is aware of the core mission and vision and "lives" it in their communications and interactions.

-- ARA

BBB Watch

"We're all looking for ways to save money, and redeeming online coupons is growing in popularity as a result," said Steve J. Bernas of the Better Business Bureau. "Some coupons, however, are not as great a deal as they may appear and consumers should use caution when clicking on coupons online." The BBB offers the following advice on redeeming online coupons:

- Consumers should check to see if the coupon is being offered directly by the store or if it is being offered by a third party such as a partner or affiliate. If it is via a third party, they might ask for additional info or require that the consumer sign up for additional services to redeem the coupon. If so, the BBB recommends using extreme caution before divulging any personal information.

- BBB advises coupon clickers to be wary of pop-up ad coupon offers that require you to immediately click to redeem. Clicking on the ad may automatically sign the consumer up for services they were not interested in receiving, causing them to be billed every month.

- Carefully read the terms and conditions for the use of the coupon, check for the expiration date, limitations of use and whether it is an online coupon good for only online purchases or if it can also be redeemed at the physical store location.

- Don't fall for phony coupons via e-mail. Many fake coupons have been making the rounds via e-mail and just because it may come from a friend or family member, don't assume the coupon is legitimate.

For more information, go to www.bbb.org.

The List

According to Money.CNN.com, these are the top counties in the United States for job growth:

1. Pinal County, Ariz.
2. Rockwall County, Texas
3. Kendall County, Ill.
4. Loudoun County, Va.
5. Douglas County, Colo.
6. Fort Bend County, Texas
7. Henry County, Ga.
8. Lake County, Fla.
9. Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Ark.
10. Union County, N.C.

Number to Know

$50 million: Amount of money Sony Corp. reportedly bid to obtain the rights to footage of Michael Jackson rehearsing for his “This Is It” tour.

Do you remember the time?

To help you through the dog days of summer, we thought we’d remind you what gas prices were last year: Last July, the national average price hit an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon. This summer, the national average is about $2.50 per gallon.
 
GateHouse News Service