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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!

 
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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!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Business & Success, 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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How to “Winterize” Your Business for a Slow Season

thermostat

Your slow season may require “turning down the heat” on your business but you can still remain comfortable and cozy with these 6 tips!

If you spent enough time with any business, you would be able to pick up on the regular ebb and flow of its seasons. I’m not talking about spring, summer, fall and winter, rather I’m talking about the natural cycle of busy and non-busy seasons that usually come at regular intervals from year to year.

For many businesses, this depends upon their industry. Some are seasonal for obvious reasons because they cater to a particular holiday or type of weather. But even businesses that offer the same services year-round will still experience periods of slower sales.

A slow season can be just as beneficial to your business as a busy season depending upon how you use your time and how proactive you are about preparing yourself to handle the difference in workload. Here are 6 ways to “winterize” your business for its slow season so that this drop in income won’t leave you out in the cold!

  1. Minimize overhead expenses

When you know your business is about to slow down for a few weeks or months, the first thing you should do is take a close look at where you’re spending money. There’s a good chance that during this slow season, you can also slow down some of your business expenses. For example, if you have freelance or contract employees, let them know that there may not be work for them in the coming months. Using contractors is a great way to remain flexible to the seasons of your business because you’re not responsible for consistent payroll like you are with employees.

Additionally, you should also cancel any subscriptions or accounts that you may not be using on the regular and are not locked into an annual contract. This could include email marketing or social media monitoring services you use for your clients among other things. One note of caution: if you also use these services for your own business development, you may want to hang on to the subscription and use it to build your business during this slow period. Dropping your account down to a lower level may also be an option.

  1. Be flexible with pricing

As a business owner, don’t ever forget the simple but essential law of supply and demand. To remain resilient during slow seasons, you need to remain flexible with the pricing of your services. For example, during your peak season you may be able to charge $125 per hour, but during your slow season when your time is not in as high of a demand, it makes sense to take on projects for a lesser hourly rate.

These discounted projects will still add up and help keep you in the black. Be sure and negotiate these rates for a limited period of time so that clients are aware that the prices will raise when you enter back into your busy season. Or try and scope these discounted projects so they wrap up prior to the end of your slow season.

  1. Focus on building your pipeline

Your business’s slow season is a valuable time to focus your attention back on building your pipeline of prospective clients. This may not earn you income immediately, but it will help set you up for future success. Make phone calls, send emails and put together proposals. Now is the time to invest in business development!

  1. Create a referral program

Since we’re talking about business development, your slow season is a great time to also launch a referral program to incentivize current clients and contacts to bring you warm leads. Your referral program can include a discount on your services to the person who referred you or a cut of the contract you sign into with their referral – maybe even a blend of both. Think about what makes the most sense for your business structure and then be sure to promote it to your networks!

  1. Tackle those business projects you put on the back burner

“Winterizing” your business is also a great opportunity to really dig into those corners and tackle business projects you’ve been putting off because you simply haven’t had the time. Now you do! This could include revamping your website and promotional materials, developing a better social media strategy or starting a blog. If business has really died down, make yourself your own client and focus on sprucing up all those odds and ends that have gone by the wayside when you’re swamped with work.

  1. Take advantage of the extra time to relax and rejuvenate!

If nothing else, your slow season is the ideal time to take a deep breath and focus on your own mental health. Maybe you take a vacation or simply enjoy more downtime at home. However you choose to spend your hours outside the office is up to you, but this could be a valuable opportunity to rebalance your personal and professional responsibilities. Most importantly, use this time to get fully recharged so that when your busy season hits again (and it will) you are ready and raring to go!

When does your business tend to hit a slow season? Share some of the ways in which you “winterize” your business to minimize overhead and focus on client building during these times.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Business & Success

 

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Why We Need Rainy Days

cat looking at rainy window

It has been a gorgeous summer in Pennsylvania. After a long and cold winter, we have earned these warm and sunny days – and there have been many! A couple of weeks ago I had some (rare) free time during a Sunday afternoon. My first instinct was to find something to do outside that would allow me to enjoy the day; however, the skies were ominous with a pending thundershower. As I stood by the window, I took a deep breath and felt a wave of relief wash over me. What an odd reaction to have to a dismal day? No, I didn’t feel sad, depressed, frustrated or annoyed. I felt relieved.

Reflecting on this feeling and the circumstances of the day made me realize something quite important. We all need rainy days in our life. Obviously the rain nourishes and revitalizes the earth, but it does the same for us.

My relief came from not feeling like I had to find something to do make the most of the nice weather. I had an excuse to be inside – and to just slow down for a little bit. On this particular afternoon, I watched a movie from start to finish (a nearly impossible feat for a mother of a toddler). That’s it. That’s all I accomplished and had nothing to show for it. Or did I? I felt focused, rested and happy. It’s the first time in a long time that I turned off all other distractions and was fully present in the moment. I can’t remember the last time I did this, can you?

On a sunny day, I feel like I need to be outside walking, running or at the park with Holden. I feel guilty making him play inside when I know all too soon winter weather will come rolling in and we’ll be locked up for months. Even when we’re inside during naptime, the blue skies inspire me to tackle work projects and chores at a dizzying pace. In the afternoon we’re on the go again, running errands or back to the park. And after dinner? You guessed it; we get outside as a family! I’m proud of my active lifestyle that has allowed me to accomplish all that I have, but even hybrid moms need to idle every so often.

On a rainy day, we move slower. There’s no rush to get to the park; it’s not even an option. Naps seem to last a little longer and watching more television than usual is completely acceptable. If errands can wait, they do. Getting toddler in and out of a car seat is even more of a miserable chore when rain is pounding on your back. Maybe best of all, without the sun shining through the windows, I don’t notice the little finger prints that should be cleaned off as well as every other surface you can imagine. It all waits and we rest.

I don’t take for granted that the “sunny” days, when I feel energized and productive, will always be around – so I make the most of them! But I no longer dread the “rainy” days that serve an equally important purpose. These days revitalize my soul and force me to slow down long enough to appreciate the need for balance. The weather is a funny thing; somehow it knows exactly what we need even when we do not.

What purpose do rainy days serve for you? Share how you have found balance in your daily life!

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Life

 

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Twas Two Days Before Christmas…

Twas Two Days Before Christmas

(A fun twist on a familiar favorite)

Twas two days before 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 New Years, 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 better than ever before!

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

whimsical christmas tree

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Life

 

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