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Saturday, October 1, 2016
How clear is your company's brand?

How clear is your company's brand?

When you say the word “brand”, for many people the first thing that comes to mind is a logo. A brand  - a strong brand - is far more than a logo. 

A strong brand is based on clearly defined values. A clear understanding of values throughout the business – and everything the business does – ensures that customers and potential customers know what to expect when working with that company (or an individual personal brand or a sole entrepreneur). 

It help will ensure customers are connecting with a company that matches what they are about. It creates a stronger connection so a business not only attract clients, but the right clients. 

Your brand reflects the way your business behaves and the way it portrays itself; your logo is just one of the ways your business makes itself visible.

Roy Disney (the nephew of Walt Disney) said it perfectly: "When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier."

I have another thought to share with you: When your company has clear values - a clear brand - your customers can fully engage with your business.

When you’re clear on your mission - how your organization is different, where you are headed, the contribution your team is making - business begins to change. Your team engages more fully. Employees are plugged in to something more than a daily grind - they are part of a larger mission. Business begins to change, team dynamics change. Productivity increases, and your bottom line grows.

Ready to elevate your business brand? Let's chat. 
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Thursday, September 1, 2016
What happened to real salespeople?

What happened to real salespeople?

Salespeople - I've worked with a few. As a young media assistant, then media buyer, planner/buyer and agency owner, I've talked with all kinds. The good, the bad, and the, well, really bad. 
I always felt that media salespeople got a bad rap. A dear friend and media salesperson told me once that media salespeople we perceived as just a tick above used car salesperson in terms of professionalism. This shocked me, as I, at that point in my career, had only worked with good ones.
Well, my friends, the day of the good salesperson is a thing of the past. Not only are good salespeople extremely hard to find, so is good customer service. 
With online marketing and "virtual" business prevalent in society, people forgot something: people do business with other people.

My dad has been a salesperson for roughly 50 years. He's sold everything from pasta and Chevrolets to Fruit Stripe gum. He told me once that if you are in sales, you will always have a job because "people will always buy from other people." Even if you find auto insurance online in 15 minutes and save 15% or more, you will, inevitably, work with a person at some point.
We've forgotten about training. Teaching our teams how to work with people. What happened to treating the customer the way we want to be treated? Or, even still, treating them better than we want to be treated? Going out of our way to help the other person? 
When a salesperson requests and schedules a conference call with me, I expect them to initiate the call. It's not my responsibility to call them so they can possibly sell me something I didn't ask for. When I request information from a person who has sold something to me, I expect to get it. That's part of something called "service after the sale."
Let's put a new focus on customers - getting them, keeping them, and spreading a little goodness in the process.
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Monday, August 1, 2016
How I grew my business during a downturn

How I grew my business during a downturn

I am so blessed to say that my business is more successful than its ever been. Even after 17 years in business (April 26, 1999) I can say that I continue to be a successful entrepreneur (right on!).

I have certainly learned my lessons and each day hasn't been rosy (call me and we can chat - do I have stories!). I can say I've learned so much, and used each lesson to propel my business forward during the "downturn."

My business growth is not out of the fear of other entrepreneurs. My clients don't come to me because I'm selling snake oil that will cure all their ills, as some have implied.  My growth comes from the passion, heart and soul I bring to my work and each client.

So, what else? What are the steps I took to grow?

  • I got serious about my business. I listened and adapted. What were my clients really telling me they wanted? How did they want the services delivered?
  • I looked at my own marketing. How was I communicating about my business? What was I telling clients and potential clients about my business and how did that compare with what I offered? During times of change, marketing must be quick and agile - the one who is quick on is feet wins the race.
  • I worked hard. Really hard. Yes, I talk with my clients about balance. It is important to not let work overtake your life. And, there are times where you have to put your nose to the grindstone and make it happen.
  • I implemented every free and low cost marketing opportunity I could find. Social networking, in person networking (are you doing it, and are you doing it properly?), blogging, speaking, following up. A word of wisdom from my father, "people will always buy from people. Get to know your customers and let them get to know you."
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Friday, July 1, 2016
Brand Personality and Business Decisions

Brand Personality and Business Decisions

Branding goes far beyond colors, fonts and cool images. Branding truly establishes your business personality. And if you're doing things right, should drive all business decisions.

Yes, all decisions. 

A fully elevated brand - one that embraces the organization as a whole - easily can identify business opportunities. It's becomes easy to say "yes" to the opportunities that align with your brand and "no" to those that don't. 

When your brand is fully elevated and your company is in sync with your brand, knowing what's right for your business becomes second nature. It even goes beyond a logical decision - your company's brand becomes part of you, and decisions become innate and automatic.

Are you using your brand to guide you business decisions? Why not? 

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Three Keys to a Better Business

Three Keys to a Better Business

The culture of many organizations offers little support for self-care, and even rewards unhealthy behaviors like overworking to meet unreasonable deadlines or other goals that aren’t aligned with a healthy team. The irony is that the company’s success depends on the performance capacity of its team, even more so on key leader. While many companies provide excellent wellness programs, many tend to make little use of wellness offerings beyond the annual physical.

Science has now proven that without proactive, effective self-care, this overly demanding lifestyle - combined with escalating stress – has serious negative effects. It is debilitating to the insight, judgment, innovation and teamwork required for sustained performance and success in business and in life.

If you are looking for a reason to take care of yourself – think of effective self-care as a business decision.

1. Professional development. Think of professional development as external support, growth. Maybe this is growing a specific skill for which an outside training is necessary. Maybe it’s about enhancing your public speaking skills. Is it a cool new program or workshop you’ve heard of? How about a book, audio book or audio course? Maybe it’s coaching?

2. Health and wellness. There are many factors that affect our health and wellness. Health and wellness is personal and individual. It’s up to each person to understand their bodies and what works for them.

3. “Balance.” This is in quotes for a reason. When I began coaching in the late 90s, work/life balance was a hot topic. But for balance to exist, both sides must be equal. There are times balance is achievable, and frankly there are times it’s just not possible. Think of balance as rhythm. Maybe each day functions the same – at the same pace with the same schedule. Maybe it’s a week that follows a certain rhythm and within each week some days feel “faster” than others. Whatever it looks like, that rhythm, or balance, is that cool space of knowing what you need for your life to function at its highest level.
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Sunday, May 1, 2016
The Value in Values: How Who You Are drives What You Do

The Value in Values: How Who You Are drives What You Do

What are your values? 

It’s amazing the blank looks I get when I ask people that question. It’s that “uh oh, what do I say?” look, combined with “what does she mean by values?”

What exactly are “values?”

Our values are the core of everything we do – they shape what we think, say and feel. They are the foundation of our lives. However, if somebody asks us to define our values, we have a hard time articulating them.

We can all toss around a topic and share our opinion of it. Well, that opinion comes from our values – who we are and what we believe. However, truly defining them is something deeper. It takes looking at ourselves more closely, which may be a foreign – and somewhat frightening – task.

Our values are our principles, our standards, our morals and ethics – that rather complex code by which we live.

And when you lead a business that is born from you - from your personal vision - knowing your values and who you are isn't just a nice idea. A strong connection with your values will help your business.

In order for us to know if our life is aligned with our values, we must first know what our values are. What are yours?
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Friday, April 1, 2016
What I've Learned from Business

What I've Learned from Business

I joined the world of entrepreneurship at 26 years old. In hindsight, I was too young and inexperienced to be scared. Through this crazy ride of business ownership I have learned valuable lessons, and continue to learn more each day. I'd like to share them with you:
  1. You don't know it all, and you never will. You will always have room for growth and improvement. 
  2. Leave your ego at the door. Choose to continually learn from others.
  3. Hire people smarter than you are. Let them help take your business to the next level. 
  4. What goes around comes around. The business world is small. Treat others with respect. Your paths will cross again.
  5. Embrace change. As your business evolves, step outside the "owner" role and become an observer of your business. What were the lessons presented to you through a particular challenge or opportunity? Did you learn those lessons? How did those lessons help you in the future?
  6. Work with people you like. If you wanted to work with "anybody," you'd still work for somebody else. Choose your team, subcontractors and clients with purpose. They must compliment your brand and business philosophy.
  7. Find support - hire a coach, join a mastermind group. Find the right support to help you get out of your own way. 
  8. As leaders, we feel we can't show our weaknesses. If you don't shine light on your fears and struggles, you won't overcome them. Find a place where you can share, your successes, your fears and be real.
  9. Have fun! Each day is a blessing. Choose positivity. Look for the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. 
Thank you to my clients, team members, contractors, vendors, friends, supporters and cheerleaders. It is because of you that I still enjoy this wonderful journey of self employment. I am truly blessed beyond measure. 
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