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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 3

Welcome back to the third week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

What is my mission?

what is my mission

Once you’ve assessed and confirmed your need to rebrand your business and reevaluated your current target customer base, it’s time to determine your new mission.

While your mission will most obviously be described by your mission statement and placed on marketing materials such as your website, social media profiles and brochures, it must also be something you and your employees live and breathe every day. Most importantly, your mission must be demonstrated by your actions and it must also align with your vision for the future of your business. Yes, this will require a little critical thinking/soul searching, but is an important part of the rebranding process that many people overlook.

Mainly, I believe most people avoid updating their mission during the rebranding process because it can be a daunting task to fit everything your business stands for in a succinct sentence or two. But this exercise alone demonstrates your innate understanding of your business and its purpose. It’s not always fun, but it’s necessary – ah, such is life!

To help you get started with honing in on your new mission as part of your new brand, let’s think through these three questions together.

What benefit do you provide to your customers?

Whether you sell a product or a service, you should be ultimately selling a “benefit” to your customers. Common examples are expertise, efficiency, peace of mind, enjoyment, quality and comfort. Focus on your one or two most prevalent benefits and identify the key parts of your business that affect your ability to provide these benefits. For example, a restaurant that provides enjoyment and quality to its customers relies heavily upon its cooks and wait staff to produce these benefits. These should then be a main focus of your mission statement.

What makes it more desirable to work with you than a competitor (or no one at all)?

Let’s consider that restaurant example again. It provides enjoyment and quality to its customers – just as any other restaurant aims to do. Why should people patronize your establishment over the countless others nearby? This point of differentiation will become a very important part of your mission statement, so take note as to how you personally answer it! Price, atmosphere, convenience and professionalism are some good examples as to how you might fill in this blank.

What gets you out of bed and into the office every morning?

Finally, dig deep and honestly answer what gets you out of bed and into the office (or in front of your computer) each morning. Not only will this shed light on an important part of your mission, it will also identify any internal issues you might have with your business that need worked out with the rebranding process.

For example, if it’s only the thought of cash that gets you to work, that is a red flag that you may also need to focus some time on finding a passion for your business that isn’t solely financially focused. Rather, if it is the passion for helping people, collaborating with your employees, solving problems or telling someone’s story that “drives” you to work, you now know one more very important piece of your current mission!

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Part 2: Who are my customers?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 2

Welcome back to the second week of our 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Each week we will cover a unique and important aspect of the rebranding process. Be sure and catch up on the previous weeks’ posts if you’re just joining us! And now for this week’s critical question…

Who are my customers?

who are my customers

When you first start a business, you have to take an educated guess as to who is most likely to be your core customer base. But after several years in business, your sales may suggest that who you’re targeting is not who is actually buying. It’s important to monitor this data and regularly evaluate whether your current brand is still appealing to your target market.

If you should find, for example, that your brand is designed to appeal to men, but most of your sales are to women, this is one indicator that rebranding your business may be a smart move. So how do you begin to identify such trends and changes in your customer base? Here are several ways to pinpoint who your customers really are.

Who is most engaged on social media?

What people are saying about your business is just as important as who is saying it. Take a look at your business’s Facebook page, Twitter accounts and Instagram followers. Who is tagging you in posts, leaving comments and liking your updates? It shouldn’t take too much digging to uncover the demographics that describe your most engaged social media connections. Their names will give you an indication of their gender, their photos will give you an estimate of their age, their profile will tell you where they live and their updates will help to understand their passions and hobbies. The is a powerful way to begin understanding who your target audience really is, but first understanding who is currently engaged with your business.

Who is making the purchase?

Next, you should look at who is paying your bills. While social media provides some great information about your fans and followers, there are many people who will sing praises of your business, but have never made a single purchase with you. Sure, they might be potential customers down the road but the only thing they are paying you right now is lip service. Look through your client accounts and identify the gender, location and any other pieces of personal information you collect to identify who is giving you money. This will tell you who you should continue to target because they are people who have already moved to the “action” step and will likely do so again.

Who are your loyal customers?

Finally, identify those customers who have made large and/or multiple purchases with you. Who keeps coming back for more? Try and find what they have in common. Are they of a similar age, geographic location or income level? Create a profile of what this “superstar customer” looks like and use it for the next and most important step. Which is….

Evaluate how well your current brand connects with your core customer base?

So you have all this great information about your most engaged and loyal customers, now it’s time to evaluate your brand against what appeals to them. Ideally, you will form a small focus group with people who fit this customer profile. If your resources are limited, hold an internal brainstorming session with your team and play the role of this customer. Critically look at all aspects of your brand – logo, slogan, colors, website, social media, marketing materials and outreach. The ultimate question to answer is “Do our efforts align with the brand that is most likely to attract our best customers?”

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the previous posts from this 5-part series:

Part 1: Do I need to rebrand?

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Rebrand Your Business: Part 1

You are joining us at the perfect time! We’re just beginning a 5-part series on how to rebrand your business. Whether rebranding is the right answer for your business or not, this is a smart question to ask yourself every so often to ensure you’re managing a healthy brand and taking advantage of every opportunity to improve your business’s image. Let’s get started by asking the most critical question…

Do I need to rebrand?

do i need to rebrand

The answer to this question isn’t always yes. For as many rebranding success stories you’ll find, you can also compare them against the many rebranding fails (take a look at these). Rebranding requires a lot of work and can be a risky move. When you think your business is in need of a complete branding overhaul, carefully weigh the pros against the cons.

People often forget that true branding is not just your logo. It’s the public perception and emotional attachment to your business that are years in the making. When you think of it this way, you’ll better understand why beginning the journey of rebranding is a big – and powerful – step.

For businesses who have experienced success as a result of rebranding, they could justify this decision because at least of the following sentences was personally true for. Let’s take a look at what these are and I urge you to carefully consider whether any of these sentences ring true for you as well.

  1. My brand lacks clarity.

When people see your logo, website and marketing materials, are they able to easily identify what service or product you provide? Your brand needs to quickly and clearly communicate what you do. Brand clarity also applies to communicating why people should want to do business with you (i.e. how you’re different from the competition or the value and quality of service you offer). If you hand someone your business card and they still have to ask you what it is you do, this sentence is likely true of your brand.

  1. My brand does not appeal to my target audience.

Your brand needs to speak to the people who are actually going to spend money with you. While it may be cool to have a trendy, abstract logo with slang in your tagline, if your core customer base is age 65+, you are not going to appeal to them. Hopefully you’ve nailed down the demographics of your target audience (if not, definitely stay tuned for next week’s blog!). Does your brand reflect this research? If not, this sentence is likely a true statement of your brand.

  1. My brand does not align with my current mission and/or future vision of my company.

Your business should be constantly evolving. You should be honing in on the products or services that make you money and narrowing down your target audience so that marketing to them is a science. Because of this evolution, it’s understandable that your brand may need to be altered as well to keep up with these changes. Whether you’re going through something as drastic as a merger or acquisition or you simply discovered your target audience has proven to be different than who you thought they would be 5+ years ago, this sentence may be true for your brand.

  1. My employees don’t feel connected to or accurately represented by our brand.

Just as your brand is the public’s perception and emotional connection to your business, it is also you and your employees’ perception and emotional connection to the business. You should be excited to hand out your business card, visit your website or review your marketing materials. If you’ve found that your staff have become apathetic or embarrassed by your brand, this is likely because they can no longer relate to it. If this is the case, rebranding may help you pump excitement back into your business.

When you said these sentences, were any true of your brand right now? Then you’ll definitely want to stay tuned for next week’s post as we continue our 5-part rebranding series with expert advice on how to reevaluate your customer base.

And remember…rebranding alone won’t fix a poorly run business or a broken process any more than a bandage will fix a gaping wound. When venturing down the road to rebranding, be sure to reevaluate all aspects of your business to identify weak spots!

Join in the conversation by commenting below!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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How to Be Prepared for Absolutely Anything in Life

Be prepared like Noah

This quote is a great reminder that preparation is never a waste of time or energy.

I have one very distinctive personality trait that I can remember possessing as far back as grade school, throughout college and I still exhibit it to this day. It’s that I love to be over prepared. So much so, that I sometimes plan for extreme scenarios (coming down with pneumonia, driving off with my laptop on the hood of my car, sustaining a small house fire) and get my ducks in a row early and often so that I wouldn’t miss a beat, personally and professionally, should any of this happen.

In school, I would begin and often complete a semester-long project during the first 2 months. I would spend the rest of that time working ahead on other coursework – or as I did my senior year – starting my own PR consulting business. I often had fellow classmates or roommates ask me why I would work ahead when I didn’t have to. My response was always something along the lines of “I’d rather know I have it done now than risk something coming up later and not being able to finish it in time.” Yes, I sounded like a nerd then (and I still sort of am), but this personality trait proved to be a very strategic time management technique that has served me well throughout my life.

For all those times that I prepared and worked ahead on something and never got sick, injured or had technology malfunction on me, I was rewarded with free time to use however I wished. Sometimes I would work on other projects and sometimes I would simply relax. I also graduated college in the top 2 percent of my class without ever having to pull and all-nighter (where’s my plaque for that?).

I still plan in advance and have developed quite a few time-saving hacks that allow me to set my own schedule, take unlimited vacation days and travel throughout the year. When I’m in the groove, I work hard. For example, I’m actually writing this blog on January 2nd – Happy New Year! And this published live while I was playing with my son.

Being prepared has helped me to look like a professional and serve my clients well. It’s one of the things I am most complimented on and I take it very seriously. So how do I manage to stay ahead of the curve balls life so often throws our way? Here are 4 tips I personally use to be prepared for absolutely anything in life.

  1. Train in all areas of life

During “crunch time” when I have many projects that all seem to need to be delivered on the exact same day, I’ve found mental toughness to be a great asset. A daunting to-do list can be paralyzing, but if you can push through this mental barrier and just start somewhere, anywhere, that is 80 percent of the battle. I’ve found my own mental toughness to be closely linked to my physical strength. This is why, in addition to being a passionate entrepreneur, I remain a dedicated athlete. Physical activity is a part of my daily routine and I prioritize it.

I’ve had people ask me, “What are you training for?” My response is always, “Life.” It’s true. I am always training for life and that includes physically, mentally and spiritually. If you are equally strong in all three of these areas, you will be better equipped to handle whatever life throws your way.

  1. Clear your bandwidth daily

I refer to my workload capacity as my “bandwidth” and I have found that I can accommodate far more tasks than I ever thought possible if I make a conscious effort to clear this bandwidth daily. I try and zero-out my task list each night so that I can start each day with a clean slate and a narrowed down list of true priorities. If I can do it now, I do. This technique has allowed me to jump on spur of the moment projects and other work opportunities that I would have had to pass up had I not had the clear bandwidth. It also greatly reduces the stress that comes with a full day’s work combined with emergency projects or unexpected setbacks like a sick kid.

  1. Be productive not “busy”

There is a difference between being productive and being busy. I’m sure you can think of at least one person you know who always gripes about being so “busy” yet you know there isn’t that much on their to-do list or that they waste time in various ways. Productive people accomplish just as much (often more) than a busy person in far less time. It’s the concept of working smarter, not harder.

When I get in the zone on a work project, I shut out all other distractions (no TV, muted phone, no social media, no other windows open on my computer) and accomplish the task in half the time it would take me if I was multitasking. Aim to be productive, not busy and you will be far more resilient when reacting to life’s curve balls.

  1. Celebrate when everything goes as planned!

Finally and most importantly, stop and enjoy the free time you’ve earned by being prepared. As I mentioned, I often use this time to work ahead on pet projects or relax with “me time.” It all depends upon my mood. Planning ahead is not meant to be a trap where you continue working endlessly, rather it’s about working efficiently and using the time this hard work has earned you to do other things you love!

Do you feel prepared for the obstacles that life throws at you or are you often blind-sided and left scrambling to pick up the pieces? Tell me how you prepare (or want to better prepare) yourself to handle life’s curve balls by commenting below!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Life Lesson: Above the Clouds the Sun is Still Shining

The sky above the clouds in Philadelphia on December 12, 2014.

The sky above the clouds in Philadelphia on December 12, 2014.

Last month, I was flying from Orlando to Philadelphia after ending a weeklong “workcation.” As if it wasn’t hard enough coming back home after some relaxing time away, we also had to trade in the sunny skies of Florida for the thick layer of icy clouds above Philadelphia.

I looked out the airplane window as we began our descent and saw what looked like a flat arctic tundra as far as the eye could see. Without the plane’s wing in view, anyone might believe that the photo (to the left) was taken near the North Pole.

The whole scene felt surreal, like what might exist outside the gates of heaven. No, not because of the clouds, but because of the bright blue skies that shined above the clouds. Regardless of actual temperature, the view looked warm, calm and peaceful – and it helped teach me a very valuable lesson that couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life.

Above the clouds, the sun is still shining.

That week away was my first real period of extended relaxation since becoming a mother (family vacations just aren’t quite as relaxing with a toddler). I had been looking forward to it for months and coming home – especially to Pennsylvania in December – was the harsh reality that I would have to get back to my less than glamorous responsibilities as an entrepreneur and mom with no reprieve for the foreseeable future. To add to this dismal outlook, my husband was headed straight into his busy season of travel, taking him away from us on average half of the days each month through the end of January.

I wasn’t looking forward to that plane’s descent, the one that would take me not only under the clouds and away from the sun, but back to project deadlines, toddler tantrums, holiday stress and playing the role of two parents. But that final glimpse of blue skies was the hope I needed to remind me that the sun will always be there – even throughout my gloomier days.

Weeks later, this Pennsylvania winter is only getting started and it’s been days (maybe weeks) since I’ve really felt the sun on my skin. It’s tempting to give in to the weight of the clouds and lose sight of the joy that exists just a layer above.

That’s the broader life lesson I think we can all take away from this snapshot.

The clouds you are under right now are likely far more than just the weather. Maybe it’s post-holiday financial stress, work, relationship issues or simply the winter blues. No matter what “clouds” you have hanging above your head right now, be encouraged by the sun that is shining not too far away on the other side.

Just as the sun will eventually burn away these winter clouds and bring us back to the summer sun, our own internal burning determination to melt away the hypothetical clouds in our lives also has the power to bring us back to blue skies and happier times.

Were you inspired by this post? Share your own life lesson that you have recently learned!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Life

 

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Twas the Week of Christmas…

Twas the Week of Christmas

(It’s become an annual blog tradition…a fun twist on a familiar favorite!)

Twas the week of Christmas, when all through the house
not a computer was turned on, not even a mouse.
Their cords were wrapped up in the corner with care,
in hopes that I had strength to leave them there.

Miss Pinot was nestled all snug in her bed,
while visions of toy mice danced in her head.
For once taking a cue from my sleepy, gray cat,
I settled my brain for a short winter’s nap.

Is it possible to tune out all of the clatter,
to focus on Christmas and what truly matters?
No doubt it would feel different to completely unwind,
what’s the worst that could happen, we’d have a good time?

So from now until next week, the blog posts can wait
there are loved ones to hug and cookies to bake.
This short disconnect will help creativity to soar
and inspire me to write even better than before!

Until then, don’t worry what to do with your time,
make your own holidays as relaxing as mine.
Here’s my final wish before the exit I make,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a short break!”

happy holidays

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Life

 

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One Habit of Highly Effective People I Follow (Almost) Everyday

cat nap

As a busy entrepreneur who is also the mother of an even busier toddler, you might imagine my days are scheduled by the minute and packed tight with meetings, conference calls, walks to the park and library classes – and they are. But I want to confess one habit I keep almost daily that will completely contradict your vision of a fast-paced, work-from-home mom.

I nap.

Yes, picture that! I prioritize about one hour of every afternoon during which I close my laptop, turn off my phone and snooze. I’m highly protective of this time and avoid scheduling meetings, calls or work projects if I can help it in any way. What I’ve found is something quite remarkable, that the days I go off the grid to re-energize, I actually accomplish more in less time than the days I forego my midday slumber.

There have been days when my to-do list was just far too long to justify a nap and I found that my creativity, efficiency and passion for my work substantial declined to the point where had I just stopped to rest, I would have accomplished the same amount of work in that time and likely would have done a better job. Now these are simply my own findings, but it got me thinking if this whole “nap habit” was something anyone else had caught on to or if it was my own justification for shutting down as soon as I got the least bit fatigued. I discovered I am in very good company.

According to this article, some pretty incredible people were habitual nappers. I’m talking Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to name a few. Now, I’m not saying this was the only thing that led to their world-changing successes, but I do find it intriguing that this is one aspect of their lifestyles that they had in common.

The Benefits of Napping

Simply google the phrase “benefits of napping” and you will have more than enough material to convince you thoroughly. I highly suggest trying it out to experience these benefits first-hand. This article does a great job of highlighting some of the best ones. To summarize:

  • Boosts alertness – Even just 20 minutes has been shown to drastically increase alertness once you fully wake up
  • Improves learning and memory – Brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don’t take a rest
  • Increases creativity – A nap is like an intensified way of walking away from a problem to find a solution. It’s amazing how you can come back to that issue that had stumped you before and come up with several new ways to solve it in minutes.
  • Boosts productivity – Studies have shown that a nap is more powerful than a cup of coffee to get you going again.
  • Puts you in a good mood – Here’s a simple example, have you ever been around a toddler pre-nap and post-nap? I “rest” my case.
  • Zaps stress – Even if it’s only for a short period (say 10 minutes), the sheer luxury of escaping for a nap can be a great stress-reliever.

How to Prioritize Your Nap

  1. Make it the same time every day

First, pick a time of day that general works best for you. When do you not have any other standing obligations? When do you normally feel most fatigued or distracted? When can you go “off-line” without anyone really missing you? Once you determine your nap time, respect it as part of your schedule just as you would any other commitment.

  1. Shut down all other distractions

Next, make the most of the precious time you carve out for your nap by turning off your phone and removing your computer from eye-sight. Don’t turn on the TV or read a book, rather lay down, close your eyes and let your mind rest.

  1. Set your alarm

To ensure you don’t get carried away with your nap (which can negatively impact the rest of your day by creeping into the time allotted for other tasks or making it hard to fall asleep at night), set your alarm. I have napping down to an art where I am asleep within a minute or two of closing my eyes and as soon as I hear my alarm, I spring back into action. You may need to experiment to find the perfect nap length that rejuvenates you without making you groggy, but once you find this sweet spot it is totally worth it!

  1. Napping is a priority, but also a privilege

Finally, remember that while napping is a healthy habit, you have to earn your nap each and every day by working hard when you are awake and being efficient with your time. For me, I know if I want that afternoon rest, I need to stay focused all other hours of the day, plan ahead and prioritize.

I’ll close with this final thought. Why do we believe that napping is something we must grow out of at a certain age? Just as it’s a healthy and necessary habit for my toddler to take his daily nap, I believe it’s just as healthy and necessary for us adults. Our daily activities may be different than a 1-year-old’s, but they are just as stimulating and demanding in their own way. Many cultures embrace an afternoon nap as a time to reset, allowing you to return to your duties with a fresh mind.

For as long as I continue to benefit from it, I will embrace the lifestyle of a habitual napper. While there are many more ways in which I could urge you to do the same, I’d rather end this article here so I can settle down for my nap.

Do you believe that daily napping could make you more effective at your job? Share why or why not by commenting below!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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