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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!

 
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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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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!

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Life

 

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How to Craft a Killer Mission Statement

on mission

As a business owner, you’ve likely been told at least once (or countless times) that you need a solid mission statement to communicate what it is you do. I agree that this is good advice, but so often the person giving it doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what makes a mission statement good or why you really need one to begin with.

I’ll admit that I didn’t know either until I re-educated myself on the topic. What I found was a lot different than what I remember being taught in my Public Relations classes in college. Here’s a look at the modern makings of a solid mission statement, starting with basics.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement serves both an internal and external purpose for your business. It shares a message with your employees as much as it shares a message with your customers. Internally, your mission statement creates focus, provides purpose and builds a solid foundation for making important business decisions. Externally, your mission statement defines who you are (especially points of differentiation) and it communicates how your work is making a difference in the world.

A good mission statement does 2 things:

  1. It tells the world why what you are doing matters. No matter your business or industry, the services you provide help people in some way (why else would they pay you for them?). Express this in your mission statement to demonstrate why the talents you bring to your customers matter – they help make their life easier, more enjoyable or fun.
  2. It leads your organization to do what matters. As I mentioned about the internal influence of your mission statement, a well-crafted one will inspire your employees to exemplify these core values every day. How they choose to interact with customers, their decision to go the extra mile and their commitment to you can all be influenced by your mission statement.

Now let’s get into the meat of things. Hopefully you are inspired to revamp your own mission statement and here’s the best way to get started. Ask yourself these two questions and immediately write down the various answers that come to mind. How you respond will help shine a spotlight on what you should include in your mission statement.

How are you different from competitors or industry stereotypes?

This question is critical for not only informing your customers, but reminding your employees of the qualities that make your business stand out. These are qualities that you should hold near and dear and promote as often as possible. Your mission statement is one big megaphone that will do just that.

What factors affect your pricing and quality of service?

This question may seem a bit more abstract, but believe me, it’s relevant. As a business owner, you need to have an intimate understanding of the factors that affect your pricing and quality of service – and select these strategically. Factors like the education or experience of your employees, commitment to innovation or attention to detail and customer service may mean you aren’t the cheapest business out there. And that’s okay! Be sure to call out these factors – that are really benefits – to your customers to ensure they understand that your mission is to compete on quality, not price.

If you get writer’s block, remember these 5 things:

  1. Don’t stress over word choice. This is the easiest part to nit-pick later on and the least important for initially developing your statement. Focus on the overall direction/meaning.
  2. Keep it short! The best mission statements are two sentences or less.
  3. Keep it simple! Too many organizations have long, flowery mission statements that make it difficult for the reader to comprehend what you’re really trying to say.
  4. Say it out loud. Does it sound awkward? Memorable? Catchy? Human? It should reflect you and your brand. Make sure that it sounds like something you would say.
  5. The “Disagreement Test.” Essentially this is if no one would disagree with your statement (because you say things like “make the world better” or “act with integrity”) then your statement is too generic. Don’t hide behind clichés! …Or at least save those for your vision statement.

How to Use Your Mission Statement:

Once you’ve put the time and effort into crafting a new mission statement, get the most use out of it that you can! Place it on your website (the Homepage and About page are two logical choices). Incorporate it into your social media profiles (Facebook has its own category for mission statements on its business pages). Carry it across all of your promotional materials and press releases. And finally, incorporate elements of your mission statement into the personal introduction you use at networking events and other business functions.

And because we’re on the topic of mission statements, I would be remiss to not share my own as an example:

At Bennis Public Relations, it is our mission to be your strategic partner that creates innovative and effective communication solutions that help your business grow a powerful and consistent brand.

What do you think? Share your own questions and insights about crafting a killer mission statement by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Want to Start a Blog in 2015? Read This First!

starting a new blog

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to dive into that bucket list and try new things. Among them might be starting your own blog. Whether this has been a postponed goal or something you just thought of this year, I encourage you to give it a shot! For me personally, it has had some incredible benefits and I’m proud of my commitment to keeping up with it every Monday.

Is it scary putting your personal thoughts out there? Absolutely. Is there the fear of criticism or apathy? Of course. But these hang-ups pale in comparison to the satisfaction and pride I get from publishing something that’s been seen by nearly 70,000 people to date. And you can too! Here are 6 expert tips for creating a successful blog in 2015…and beyond!

  1. Allow time to define the direction of your blog. When I first started my blog, I remember feeling the need to immediately define the topics/theme/niche it would center on. Ultimately, I realized I couldn’t make this decision just yet. Instead of letting it be an excuse to not move forward, I simply started writing about what was relevant and on my mind. It didn’t take long before I found a natural rhythm with the different topics I enjoyed writing about most often. Had I forced myself into a pigeon hole on day 1, I would have denied myself the freedom to write about topics beyond simply business and public relations.
  1. Do it well or don’t do it at all.

Yes, getting started is one major obstacle to overcome, but keeping your blog consistently fueled with quality content is arguably even more important. Before you start your blog, think about whether you can reasonably commit to it and at what frequency. You certainly don’t need to blog daily or even weekly, but I would suggest supplying fresh content at least on a monthly basis. Why? Because there are far too many abandoned blogs out there and we don’t need any more. What we do need is committed bloggers to join us with making the blogosphere a better (and more interesting place).  One of my favorite sayings is “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.” Don’t bother investing any amount of time into something you can’t stick with.

  1. Don’t stop at hitting “publish.”

Okay, so you’ve vowed to publish a new post to your blog at least monthly. This takes time, energy and creativity – valuable resources that could certainly be applied elsewhere. Don’t sell yourself short by merely hitting the “publish” button and hoping that someone stumbles upon your content. Share your blog on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin (here’s a great guide). Reference it in relevant discussions and link back to past blogs in new posts. If you want to grow your readership, you have to actively pursue them and make your content easily accessible on a multitude of different platforms. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities you will likely be frustrated with how long it takes to gain momentum which could discourage you from keeping up with your blog.

  1. Be an active member of the community.

Starting a blog comes with the responsibility of being an active member of the blogging community. No matter the blogging platform you use, it’s important to visit other users’ blogs, leave meaningful comments and respond to comments that people make on your posts. It’s what makes the blogosphere go ‘round! From the beginning of my own blog, I made the commitment to comment on 5 other blogs every weekday morning. It quickly became a part of my morning routine that continues to drive a good amount of traffic back to my blog, not to mention the friends and followers I have made as a result of this simple gesture.

  1. Regularly evaluate your blog’s mission.

Just as over time you may decide that your blog’s theme or niche has taken a different path than what you originally thought, you must also anticipate your blog’s mission changing with time. This is why it’s critical to regularly evaluate your blog’s mission and how it aligns with its topics, readership and your business or personal mission. Be flexible and willing to change should it make sense to alter your mission to make it more relevant to your audience and goals.

  1. Be genuine.

Finally and most importantly, make sure your blog remains true to who you are and what you’re passionate writing about. One sure way to make your blog feel like work is to stray from what represents you. Yes, you want to write to capture an audience, but your ideal audience will appreciate posts that are genuine and personal. Make sure your blog pleases you first…and everyone else second.

Do you have other questions about starting your blog or have your own secrets for success? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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