The Struggles with Being “You” in Your Business

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”  – Steve Maraboli.

 

Easy enough, right?

 

A while back I wrote about how to be more “you” in your business. Now that you’ve found a way, I imagine you might be finding an element of struggle with it. Being yourself in your business is not an easy task. There are roadblocks you are going to come up on and unpleasant discussions will creep up fast. Despite any bad there may be in being yourself, nothing can trump the feeling that comes with knowing who you are, knowing you are being genuine, honest and authentic in your business. There are four struggles I see with being “you’ in your business –

Struggle #1 – Will I be taken seriously?

This is something all business professionals deal with. Depending on the industry you work it, if you’re too rigid, then you’re a <expletive>. If you’re too fun or out-going, you’re seen as a flake. What you need to do is look at who you are. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not – you will only end up miserable. Do keep in mind your workplace – you want to be taken seriously, so you still need to conduct yourself in a professional manner, but you can do that and still be yourself by –

  • Being honest – don’t EVER lie.
  • Have fun, but still be serious and get the work done.
  • Respect those in authority positions. Don’t treat your boss like he’s your drinking buddy (even if he/she is after hours).

 

Struggle #2 – Will it be seen as “bad marketing” and hurt my brand?

There are some individual brands (think: celebrities) that attempt to “be themselves” to the point you can see right through the publicity stunt. Being yourself will only attract the ones you want to work with and deter the ones you don’t want. If you are genuine, people will see that and work with you because of it. Rarely is being yourself seen as “bad marketing.”

 

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  – Bernard M. Baruch

 

To keep being yourself and not have it backfire or hurt you, keep these things in mind –

  • Be tactful.
  • Be conscious of who you are and what you represent. Don’t ever waver from your core beliefs.
  • Watch your language. You can still be yourself without using cliches and foul language.

 

My friend Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media wrote a great post about when being yourself could be seen as “bad marketing.” I suggest you check it out.

 

Struggle #3 – Will people find me offensive?

This is something I struggle with personally. There are things I want to say or discuss publicly, but I won’t because I know I’ll offend people. Petty, yes, but you do not want to alienate your community. You can still be yourself and interject your thoughts and beliefs without offending people.

 

A typical cop-out is when someone says “I don’t mean to offend, but…” Almost always an offensive sentence follows. Don’t post that. Ever. I’ll be honest – when you are yourself, you will offend someone. It’s going to happen, but how you react says a lot about you as well. Don’t apologize for standing up for your beliefs (whether it’s political, religious, parenting-related, etc.), just recognize that sometimes people just have to agree to disagree. I’m not going to touch on offending someone by posting slurs and other slanderous statements. There simply is no place for that online or really, anywhere.

 

“Never complain, never explain. Resist the temptation to defend yourself or make excuses.”  – Brian Tracy

Struggle #4 – How do I keep from crossing the line of “too much”?

We’ve all seen the celebrities and athletes who share pictures that probably shouldn’t be shared, in the name of personal branding. Being online, there’s a temptation to reveal all. You shouldn’t, not because of bad business, but because of personal safety. It’s risky putting yourself out there – however rely on your instincts when it comes to being yourself. You’ll know what feels right and what doesn’t.

 

To keep from crossing the line, do the following –

  • Ask yourself if the post helps to further your business.
  • Ask yourself if your grandma would be okay with it.
  • Sense what your gut is telling you – are you leery about posting it? If you feel the slightest off about it, don’t post it.

 

It’s tricky to be yourself in your business. I see it as walking a tightrope – you have to be open, yet guarded. Open-minded but not abandoning your beliefs. I think I’m doing a fairly good job at it, how about you? What do you struggle with in being yourself in your business?

Why You Need a Website That Delights Your Audience

Why You Need a Website That Delights Your Audience

Without a doubt, your most powerful marketing tool, hands down, is your business website.

 

And, as you are probably well aware, some websites are designed better than others.

 

Have you ever visited a website and been disappointed? Or worse, tried to visit a website that failed to load within a few seconds?

 

Of course you have. We all have. And, more likely than not, you have probably moved on.

 

Their loss…or maybe it’s your loss.

 

The simple truth is that every business needs a website that wows its visitors.

 

In a nutshell, your business website can either:

  1. Help you stand out from your competitors or
  2. Drive people directly to your competitors.

 

These days, savvy business owners must consider the fact that their audience seeks more than just a place to go online to purchase products and/or services. Instead, they crave a unique and highly visual online experience that entices and delights them.

 

And this is where good website design comes in.

Here are 3 good reasons why you need a business website that “wows” your visitors

1. You only have one chance to make a first impression – so make it count!

Website visitors often decide whether they want to do business with you within a fraction of a second, based on how they perceive your site. They may not even be aware they are judging you.

 

In her article for Design Shack, Carrie Cousins says the following about the importance of visually pleasing website design schemes:

The visuals that will grab the most attention the quickest include a strong image or illustration, sharp contrast or something unusual on the screen, and a phrase or wording that is memorable.

 

The better “first impression” you give, the more likely your visitors are to stay and/or return to your website. Good website design definitely makes a difference when it comes to attracting and retaining potential clients.

2. Your business website is a direct reflection of YOU

Along with that all-important first impression a website gives to its visitors, your website design also gives them an idea (perceived or realistic) of how you conduct business. For example, shoddy web design may inadvertently give your visitors the impression that your products and/or services are also inferior or low quality.

 

On the other hand, a well-designed business website can go a long way towards building trust. And trust is a big factor in sales. An organized website with a strong visual component creates a sense of legitimacy for you and your business.

 

As I mentioned above, your business’ website is also your most powerful marketing tool. Consider a good design as yet another way you can successfully stand out from your competition.

3. Your website is an essential component of your business branding

As well as being a valuable marketing tool, your business website also serves to promote your brand. Brand exposure is valuable for all businesses, of course. However, it’s especially important for new business owners and/or startups that need to establish a positive reputation from the get-go.

What are my options for building the best business website?

Now that you understand why you need a well-designed business website, you are ready for the next step: building one.

 

You’re going to find that there are dozens of website builder platforms and sites currently available.

 

Perhaps you’re strapped for time, or design isn’t your strong suit? Many startups and new entrepreneurs find that it’s easier to hire someone else who has the time and the talent.

 

Unless you personally know or have received a trusted referral for a web designer, consider us to help you with all of your web design needs without breaking the bank.

 

On the other hand, if you are more of a “do-it-yourself” type, you’ll find many affordable options as well.

 

There are some do-it-yourself options for building websites are:

  1. Wix
  2. SquareSpace
  3. GoDaddy

 

Regardless of who designs your business website, these are some of the primary design aspects you should consider when designing your business website:

  • Logo and branding
  • Simple typography that is easy to read
  • Defined color palette
  • Easy user interface tools and elements that work in intuitive ways
  • Navigation that moves users through the site
  • Strong images that showcase your brand
  • Concise and targeted copy
  • Easy to understand calls-to-action
  • Your brand story told in a way that connects with users
  • Modern design techniques and interface

Source: Design Shack

 

Along with a strong design, websites today must be mobile-friendly, aka responsive. Google is now penalizing sites that are not mobile-friendly, which means if you are not and your competitor is, they will rank ahead of you. Site speed is important too. Please be sure to ask anyone working on your website about responsiveness and site speed – any designer worth their money will answer those with no issue.

 

Are you in the process of designing or redesigning your business website? Do you agree that a well-designed website is critical for successful online marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

If you are looking to have a new website rebuilt or are just starting and need one, visit our website design page and contact us to get started!

9 Ideas You Haven't Thought of for Your 2018 Marketing Strategy

9 Ideas You Haven’t Thought of for Your 2018 Marketing Strategy

It’s a new year and by now you should have completed your 2018 marketing strategy. If you’re ducking down in your chair because you haven’t, it’s okay, it’s not too late. If you have, great!

 

The marketing world is ever-evolving. Ten years ago, social was not a major component of the marketing plan and Facebook ads were not even an option. As the world changes, so does how we reach our customers. We are more mobile, more wired, in the technology-sense. When was the last time you went 24 hours without your smartphone? I honestly cannot remember myself.

 

Last year, social advertising took over, as did video. This year, those two will continue to dominate, but there are other creative ways to reach your customers – and stay in touch in with them as well. I’ve read article after article about the predictions and trends for 2018 and guys, what it comes down to is that businesses are going to have to get more creative – and more out of the box – as our digital world evolves. Before you throw your papers in the air and scream “it’s too much!”, it’s not. It’s not that hard. Really. I’ve put together nine ideas you probably have not thought of to incorporate into your strategy this year.

 

Install a chatbot to help with your Facebook page.

Facebook Messenger Chatbots are relatively easy to program and can help you respond to your messages while you are away or helping a customer. Facebook reported late last year they now see 100,000 monthly active bots on Messenger! These can help provide instant connections with customers, solving problems and helping with orders. It also alleviates the problem of the customer having to wait for a response when most expect a response within an hour.

 

Give LinkedIn another chance.

This is one I saw everywhere. The networking platform has undergone many changes since being bought by Microsoft. Included is an updated newsfeed and user interface. There’s not a lot of competition on the platform right now, and a weak algorithm, so it’s a perfect storm of opportunity. Plus there is a mindset change across professionals. They are tired of the nonsense in their other social feeds, so many are going back to LinkedIn.

 

Personalize the experience.

Personalization is something you will not stop hearing about. From emails to VIP exclusives, give your customers and clients a unique experience when shopping or working with you. 56% would rather buy from someone that recognizes them by name, and 58% from someone who offers recommendations based on past purchases. In the retail world, this is the big push as a lot of brick-and-mortar business is being lost to online stores. However, if you do this, make sure your personalization is genuine. Read more on that here.

 

Tell your story.

Customers and clients come to you for a reason – it could be for your work, a price-point, or something they saw. Let them get to know you by telling your story through your branding and marketing strategies. It’s what makes up the core of who your business is. Use your story throughout your marketing – social posts, blog posts, ads.

 

Have a plan for dark social.

If you haven’t heard of dark social, here’s what you need to know – it’s the conversations happening in private (think Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Instagram DMs, WhatsApp, etc.). There is another world out there that you can’t reach entirely. Facebook is slowly rolling out Messenger Ads which will help, but make sure you know how to be a part of those conversations. My friend and mentor Mark Schaefer touched on this in his digital trends for 2018 post. The graph below that he shared showed how more people are going ‘dark’ –

Go with the group – Facebook Groups.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Facebook organic reach is down and it’s not going to come back up. You are going to have to run ads. You are going to have to get creative. You do still need your page though! Fortunately, Facebook now allows you to create groups through your Page – and here is where the potential starts. You can create a group for insider perks or for just general discussion. The engagement in these are much higher – but they do require more moderation and attention so make sure you have someone reliable manning them!

 

facebook group marketing strategy

 

Use text messages in your marketing.

One of the key reasons why SMS (text) marketing is so popular is the fact it is such an accessible and widespread way of contacting people. 98% of text messages are read within two minutes and more than 1 in 10 text exchanges in the U.S. are with businesses. This is an avenue that not a lot of businesses are using – and something you may want to consider! Here are two examples from businesses that I receive texts from below:

 

text marketing strategy

 

Survey your customers.

Always check in with your customers to see if there are areas you can improve, enhance, or even add! Your customers will (hopefully) give you honest feedback. Entice them for this information with a reward for a higher chance of engagement. Just be careful of Facebook’s updated Engagement Rules if you use a post on Facebook to do this.

 

Go LIVE!

Take advantage of the growth of video and go LIVE! Host a Q&A, broadcast from events, give a sneak peek of an upcoming product, or just take people behind the scenes of the business. Businesses are jumping on this – and 2017 saw a huge growth in this area so there are a lot of ideas out there! This is something that can be done on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

 

 

See? Any of these nine can be done no matter your level of marketing expertise 😉

 

No matter what you decide to do this year, challenge yourself to be creative and go outside the box. Forget about the competition and just do you. Focus on your customers and provide the absolute best you can! And if you need help, we’re here anytime!

 

Which of these nine are you going to try?

Does Your Business Have an Exit Strategy?

Does Your Business Have an Exit Strategy?

Why would I ever need an exit strategy? You may be asking yourself that after seeing the title of this post.

 

In the past six weeks I have been asked that by three separate potential clients while we were meeting. Of course they prefaced it with, “we don’t expect it, but just in case.”

 

They all had a great point. You never know what is going to happen. People move. People die. Not all businesses live forever.

 

For me, with the work ethic I inherited from my dad, I could do this until I am old and gray (ha!), but most likely not. Whether your plan is to have your business for 10 years, 20 years, or build it to where you can merge with another, you need to know what the plan is when that days comes.

 

Having an exit strategy in mind will help you run your business better. After thinking about it, I did a little research and found some great insight into this.

 

Having an exit strategy will make you document everything – including your processes.

 

Imagine trying to explain 10 years of doing things to a person in a week. Without having anything written down. Documenting what you do and how will help in the end – it will also help if you hire people and delegate or if you have to step out of your role short-term.

 

Having an exit strategy will help you know how to value your business in the event someone does make an offer to buy your business.

 

Even if you have zero plans of selling your business, you never know who is watching you. I’ve had a few people over the past six years casually mention the word ‘partnership’ to me, but that isn’t something I am personally in it. I would love to buy another marketing agency and merge into that if the stars aligned (major long-term goal here). THAT would require an exit strategy.

 

Having an exit strategy takes some of the stress off of you, the business owner.

 

I am a plan-for-the-worst type. I like to have all bases covered, just in case. So knowing what my exit strategy is takes some stress off of me because I know what will happen and how things will go. Now, I do not plan for that to happen for MANY, MANY years (my husband has to retire first!) but it’s there… just in case.

 

All that being said, hopefully it’s given you something to think about. So, what is your business’ exit strategy?

 

 

References:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249065

http://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/business-planning/5-reasons-why-you-should-start-with-your-exit-in-mind/

5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner

5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner

I want to be successful because I like to win. I’m not being arrogant, those who know me best know just how competitive I am. That competitiveness drives me to aim for success in whatever it is I’m doing.

 

Success, for you, could mean an important job title or it could mean a lot of zeros on a paycheck. Success could be staying with the same company for 10+ years or it could be simply doing something that makes you happy. It could even mean getting to a point in your life where you can just walk away from it all.

 

Regardless of what kind of success you are working towards, it doesn’t come easy. It requires blood (sometimes literally), sweat, and tears. It means staying up all night to finish a project. Missing some of your children’s activities. Putting off a large purchase. To modify a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, success comes at a price.  YOU determine the price by how YOU define success. It doesn’t always mean $$$.

 

I’ve owned this company for six years and have been successful with it. However, there is always something to learn and people to learn from. As business owners, we need to continually seek out ways to grow, both personally and professionally, draw from the experience of others – and learn from them.

 

Take a look at these statistics from Small Business Trends, published in November 2016, on the success of small businesses in America –

 

  • A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years.
  • In fact, of all small businesses started in 2011 (when ME Marketing Services started):
    • 4 percent made it to the second year
    • 3 percent made it to the third year
    • 9 percent made it to the fourth year
    • 3 percent made it to the fifth year
  • Leading causes of small business failure:
    • Incompetence: 46 percent;
    • Unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience: 30 percent;
    • Catchall category (includes neglect, fraud, and disaster): 13 percent; and
    • Lack of experiences in line of goods or services: 11 percent.

 

Success is a hard-fought battle that not everyone wins. Sometimes the success is just that you fought. Here are five brilliant observations I have learned from other business owners over the past few years that has helped me, and hopefully they will help you too.

 

5 Elements to Being a Successful Business Owner

 

1. You have to know your definition of success.

 

Like I mentioned above, success doesn’t always equal zeros on a paycheck. How successful you will be depends on how you define it. Here are some examples…

 

  • More time with your family
  • Being able to purchase a home (or even a second home at the beach)
  • Industry recognition or awards
  • Speaking engagements

 

Know your definition of success before you do anything else. This will also help you set your personal and professional goals in life.

 

2. What are 1 or 2 things you can do differently to set yourself apart?

 

It’s been said birds of a feather flock together. If that’s your case, how will be people know who you are? In a competitive business world, to be noticed you have to stand out. It could be from your hard work, your job title, or who you know.

 

Ask yourself – what is your “it” factor? You aren’t born with “it”, you have to develop it. What sets you apart from the other ‘birds’? To steal a line from a graphic floating around, be a Jackie Kennedy in a world of Kardashians.

 

3. Find a mentor and build a support system around yourself.

 

All successful people surround themselves with a good support system. Having a business coach or mentor is the first place to start. Surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed, not hold you back. This could be a spouse or partner, friends, family, co-workers. Whoever it is, be very selective in who you choose. They need to help set you up for success, not failure.

 

This person should also be someone who can give you honest, constructive feedback on what you may not be doing right. Surrounding yourself with “yes” men and women will not help you grow.

 

4. Set boundaries.

 

Knowing what you will and won’t do will help to define who you are and what your success is. Boundaries are important because not only will they help you stay focused, it will keep others from tempting you with things you have no business doing. This could range from business ethics to simply saying “no” to helping out at an event.

 

This is something to keep in mind every time a friend calls and says, “can I pick your brain about <enter your profession>.” Your time is money, don’t give it away for free.

 

5. Remember the Golden Rule.

 

I cannot stress how important this is. How you treat others says a lot about your character. Go into everything treating other people how you would want them to treat you. It may not work all the time, but you’ll be able to sleep at night. Being the competitive person I am, I will be the first to admit I struggle with this. I want to win every pitch I make. I want to win every project I bid. This includes being respectful of your competition as well.

 

One thing to ask is how can you serve others? By serving others, you’ll see your generosity come back to you. This can range from giving a college student an hour of your time to mentor them. It could help with your organization’s fundraiser. This could simply be showing compassion. Serving is a big part of my business – we donate money and time to many worthy causes in our area. It’s one of our cornerstones. We’ve been blessed over the years and it’s only right to pay it forward.

 

 

One of my favorite quotes on this topic is from Sir Winston Churchill – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Success can be fleeting, so enjoy it while it lasts, and hopefully it will last a long time.

 

Do you think you have what it takes to be successful? What attributes do you think a successful person needs?

 

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