business, Design, Marketing, Social Media

Do You Have A Map?

 

multiple-signs1

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

After working with small business owners around the country, I hate to say this, but I am certain that this is their business strategy!

Whether they are following the pack, or remembering what their father did when he ran the company, or worse, what they read in college in the 80’s; small business owners need a clear map in order to succeed.  And success can be defined as just one extra customer a week, but without  clear goal and plan, just waiting for things to happen is like trying to figure out which way to turn at that sign above!

Social Media Strategy begins with a calendar.  It is a plan, written out, viewed with perspective, and guided by the mission of the business. Sometimes, it is the cart before the horse (with the horse being the business plan.)  No matter how it happens, using a social media calendar will force you to look at your business with clear goals in mind.

Here is a calendar idea I found and modified to meet my own needs:

social media calendar-DB2-template-1

 

First, looking out over the whole month you can see where you are going.

Second, you can delete items that you are not going to use.  I know that this one makes most small business owners happy. “Twitter and Facebook posts in one day?!” they are thinking. “When will I find time to do that?”

Start with one item.  Facebook is easy because you can schedule posts.  Choose topics that are important to your business.

If you own a school, you might want to highlight the monthly lesson goals.  If you own a restaurant, how about a specific seasonal food category.  Even if you are not cooking that food item, people want to get information from people they like….they did “like” you, right?  well then give them something to enjoy.

Look ahead at the month.  Take a pencil and write out some ideas.  Think of articles you read and saved, quotes about food or education.  If you like them, your “friends” will like them.

Themes
I love having a theme.  It makes things more fun for people.  Look at your calendar…it has a picture above it–a theme of sorts to explain how that month will be.  Snowmen for January, fireworks for July, beaches for August…you get the point.  So pick a theme for your business month.

As a dentist you might want to highlight teeth cleaning.  Toothpaste, brushes, floss, that new water sucking machine you invested in.  It is all part of your business, and if you make it accessible to your customers, they will enjoy the humor in a good spit cup photo.  It makes you real, approachable and most importantly, likeable.

dentist-cartoon

Posts
You know what these are, yes and it involves writing stuff.  UGH!  Well one of the most overlooked posts are not words at all, rather they are pictures and business owners miss this opportunity a lot.  Do you make organic juice?  Do you have hand lettered menus?  Is your receptionist’s smile the absolute best?  Well, TAKE A PICTURE!  Posts that include an image are 60% more likely to be read.  So get out your phone and snap something–up close and personal.  Post it.  Make it a goal each week to take a picture in your office.  Write it out, do it.  Download Instagram and make it fun (plus you get another digital social media site that will attract attention.)
fb posts

Actions
These are for your LinkedIn profile.  You need to interact here too.  How about making it a goal to post an article a week?  It makes you look interesting, knowledgeable and helpful.  Who cares if no one “likes” it?  This is about your digital imprint.  Are you out there?  HELLO?  Just one or two posts a month is all you need to begin to see your business grow in an internet world.
linkedIn

Time
Pinterest is a beast in itself.  If you have ever lost several hours, or one long weekend to the temptation of pinning images of puppies and beach wedding ideas, then you know why I have “time’ here.  You must have a Pinterest account for your business.  It is not optional.  Take a weekend and set it up, or hire someone to do it for you, but it MUST be done.  Once set up, you just need to download the APP on your phone and then take the “time” to post.  Do it on the commuter train, at the doctors office, at the PTA meeting, in the bathroom.  Just do it.  Pick a board and take the week to fill it up.  Add things to your blog just so you can pin.  Devote time.

http://www.pinterest.com/bearmarketing/color/
http://www.pinterest.com/bearmarketing/color/

Topic
Topics are not themes.  Topics are things that relate to your business that your clients and potential clients will find interesting.  Pick one or two and then seek out content for it.  Gum Disease–find cartoons, Dr. Oz articles, anything relating and not to technical on topics to post.  Schedule time to find this stuff.  Put in in your desktop folder marked Content Ideas or better yet, save it to your Delicious.com site for use later.  It will be fun, and you might just find yourself reading all those newsletters you subscribe too and just delete in your inbox!

delicious

Print out two months in a row and schedule simple tasks.  Start out small and just begin to strategize.

roadmap

 

Where is your business going?

business, Personal Brand

The Brand Called YOU

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

When Queen Isabella was busy sending off Christopher Columbus to discover a new route to China, her word was her bond, and her bond was sealed in wax with her initials.

The world recognized that this document as authentic by the seal she placed on it.  The Queen indeed had a logo, but more importantly she had a personal brand.

When I talk with people about this concept of a personal brand and “image,” they shudder. People don’t have brands, big businesses do, right?  Wrong!  People run businesses and your personal brand needs to align with every business decision to make–whether its for your own business, or working for someone else.

Personal Branding is your identity and if you don’t think so, let’s take a look at Queen Isabella I.

Isabella-of-Castile

Young and very strong willed.  Passionate about her faith and her country.  She was not going to let those Ottoman’s keep her from getting to China to trade for tea!  She had a plan and when she laid down her mark people knew all that she stood for….but that wax seal was just part of a finely crafted plan.  Before that seal even hit the paper, Isabella had to identify her own purpose before she could lead a country and gain her people’s trust.  Queen Isabella needed to create her own Brand.

Think of the challenges she faced without printing, television, technology or women’s rights for that matter.  No great company or brand starts without obstacles.  But don’t kid yourself, just because we have Twitter and our LinkedIn accounts you all need a personal brand. It is still at the core of every business decision you will ever make…at least for the people who want to be successful.

What is at the core of YOU?  What do you believe in?  What is your vision?  What is it that you are promising to the world?

And don’t laugh, your success in life depends on knowing those answers,  living them….and then, showing them as a unified brand that is YOU!

If you do not know who you are as a business owner, a professional, then how can your business thrive?  What is at the core of your journey?  What sets you apart from all the others out there trying to get the world’s attention?  What makes you YOU ?

These questions are important and having  your own personal brand is just as important to your business as it was for the Queen.  I work with people who dread sitting down and writing out their business plan and its not because they don’t want to succeed, it is just that without knowing what is at the core of the plan–YOU-it cannot be done.  It all starts with YOU.

Why?  Because having a personal brand is what is at the core of every business decision you make.  It is the ground you walk on, guides every movement you make, filters into every presentation, every call, every order placed.  Your personal brand is what tells the world your story, and we all know that people love a good story!

So where do you begin?

The foundation of a personal brand is the Visual You: Image, dress, health.
Often overlooked is the personal health and well being of the brand holder.  If you feel bad, you look bad.  If you look bad, people wrongly judge your business acumen.  It is all important!  (Think about Lindsay Lohan)  Being healthy, feeling healthy, looking healthy.  Every Image Consultant will tell you that if you can enter a meeting feeling and looking good, the emphasis is on your business (not on the stain on your shirt or bags under your eyes)  the meeting will focus on how you can help that particular customer get what they want/need.  So never underestimate a good nights sleep, or a healthy diet!

The next challenge is the Personal You: Purpose, vision, business plan.
Defining your goals and visions.  Creating a plan of action that will guide every move you make, and most importantly, guide your team. Queen Isabella didn’t just wave her arms around and create one of the strongest empires in the world.  No, she crafted a finely tuned image of who she was, what she stood for, and how she viewed the world—and then she spent the rest of her life living that vision and passion.  Do you think it was easy for a young teenage girl to lead a country?  She had to show a unified front of that vision so that everyone who “worked” for her also lived it as passionately as she did!

The final step is the easiest part because it builds itself-Business You: Logo, marketing & content decisions.
There is an old expression, If you don’t where you are going, any road will get you there.  The Business YOU needs a solid plan in order to follow the right roads.  Having a plan, a  vision, makes all the overwhelming content, marketing and social media decisions so much easier.  Your mission is your plan.  Work the plan and don’t forget to teach your team the mission too!

One, two, three.  These are all at core of your business, the personal brand that leads the elements of your business success.

It is your empire so to speak.  Living your goals and dreams with health, purpose and unified passion!

 

business, Marketing

Believe In Yourself

dove_ad

When Dove created this campaign I am not sure they understood the full impact.

It’s not just about BEAUTY, it is about what we tell ourselves everyday.

Look at the video and notice how the expressions on the faces of the women change when they see the picture drawn from their own descriptions.

Powerful reminder that we create our reality through our thoughts.

How would you describe yourself?

How would you describe your business?

business, customers, Design, Social Media

What’s in Your Lobby?

Eero Aarnio Ball Chairs

I attended a meeting of business owners today and our topic was Social Media.

I would say that most of the people in the group admit that Social Media is important, but have no idea how to really use it.  The rest think its ridiculous, and are too scared to admit they don’t know where to start.

At my end of the table I began to talk about the structure of social media–“its not something viewed with blinders on, as a weekly or even daily activity,” I went on to say as their eyes blurred over.  “Social Media is a long term deal, like good dental care–no “one thing” will give you success, its a long-term, daily process that makes it successful…and most importantly, it takes a commitment to just do it.” (just ask your dentist!)

It’s not rocket science people!  Our kids do it!  Our politicians do it!  We can do it too!

My tips to the naysayers in the room:

  • Do not get overwhelmed.
  • Posting something every day is really for the big guys–more important that posts, small businesses need a strategy–start weekly.
  • Think in terms of the overall month–what is the message you want to speak too?  Can you pick a theme? What is your expertise?
  • Choose one tool this month (blog, fb, twitter, pinterest) and use it all month long.
  • Put the APP on your phone and just look at it daily. Learn about that one thing.  How could it help your business?
  • Write out (in advance) when and what you will post–even a quote will tell people who you are and how you can help them.
  • People use machines, but want to do business with people…..people they like and respect.
  • In its simplest terms–Social Media is your internet personality.

Social Media is a means to an end.  Sadly, it is not an obvious and easily trackable one for the small business owner.

But here is a way to look at social media that every business owner can understand: The Lobby.
Social Media is the “lobby” of your business…and it’s time to paid attention to what is in yours.

Stop for a moment.  Close your eyes and imagine that brick and mortar office that everyone use to have.  Now think of that lobby area.  The place that everyone enters to see you, your business.  This is your virtual business place.

How would you decorate that “lobby”?  What images are on the walls that illustrate your business?  What colors do you use? What magazines are on display? Are your awards/credentials on display? What gives your clients confidence to do business with you?  How can you display your “business personality”? In other words, are you a shag, plush wool or hard wood floor kinda of place?

Now put those thoughts into action.

First Step: Start a folder on your hard drive and call it “My Brand.”

Then make a commitment to daily put articles, images, quotes, web items that relate to you and your business into that folder.

Those are the things that will decorate your lobby ….and for social media purposes—be posted throughout the month.  

See?  it is easy!

By the end of the month you could have collected a years worth of posts and materials.  Now you are ready for a strategy!