These Two Things are the Keys to a Successful Business

The physical and emotional abuse began when she was five years old.

By the time she was 13, she was homeless and relying on the kindness of strangers to feed and house her. At 14, she gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Shortly afterward, she was sent to live with an uncle in whom she later referred to as her “father.” Even though this teenager had suffered years of poverty and abuse, something fierce and fiery within her would not give up. She attended a Milwaukee high school and earned grades good enough to get her into the Upward Bound program, a federally funded program to help gifted students achieve academic success.

This determined, courageous young woman was later transferred to a suburban high school where she was picked on by her more affluent peers. After being caught stealing money to keep up with the lifestyle of her peers, she was once again sent to live with another relative in Nashville, TN. Here, she became an honors student and joined a speech/debate team that eventually took second place in a nation-wide dramatic interpretation contest.

After winning a college scholarship, working as a news reporter, and ultimately, landing her own TV show, Oprah Winfrey is now one of the world’s most famous, most beloved, and most successful women in history.

Attitude is Motivation and Motivation is Attitude

Imagine you are the owner of a bakery that was handed down to you by your parents and grandparents.

One of the traditions you continue to keep as the owner is wearing a large pin on your uniform that says “Business is Awesome!” While all business have down times, the idea behind the pin is that, no matter how the business is doing, your attitude remains the same.

What do you tell customers who ask you what’s so great about business? In most cases, people asking you this question are going through a rough time in their lives or may be coping with business problems themselves. You might tell them business is awesome because you love meeting new people every day or that business is great because you can work in an environment where everybody gets along and enjoys each other’s company.

At the heart of this story lies the power of embracing a positive attitude. When you anticipate the good things and refuse to become a victim of negative thinking, the motivation to continue naturally emerges, sustained by your sense of renewal, hope and expectations.

Falling Down 10 Times Means You Have to Get Up 10 Times

“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. Many times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I am not afraid to say that I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

You have to keep “getting up” (as Oprah Winfrey did) to take those next steps toward meeting or exceeding your goals.

The motivation for getting up and getting back on track is more powerful and rewarding if it is for personal rather than material gain. Keep reminding yourself that the most significant accomplishments in world history all started because someone fell down and got right back up again without even giving it a second thought.

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Wrangling Your Week: Time Management Success Techniques That Will Give You Hope

It’s painfully true that there are never enough hours in the day. If “normal humans” are having this kind of trouble, how are CEOs and leaders of major businesses able to run the massive scale of their days? As long as you consider that they haven’t discovered time travel, there’s got to be some tips and tricks that can be learned from their exceptional talents.

These time management success stories will give you hope that you can wrangle your week more effectively. You might be surprised to learn that many of these individuals found adequate time for sleep and budgeting part of their day for meditation or downtime.

Leave Time for Relaxation

Most famous for his theory of evolution in his book The Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin spent a great deal of his day in solitary study. His schedule also included walking his fox terrier pup and reading. Most interesting was the two hours each day that he devoted to lying awake in bed solving problems before starting his day. Victor Hugo, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Charles Dickens also devoted many hours a day to walking and personal study. Today, Arianna Huffington is one of the business leaders who believe that spending time with colleagues or eating lunch away from your desk makes you more productive — not less.

Focus on Calendar Management

Focusing only on what is most important each day is one of the time management tricks that Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., swears by. Her busy day is most productive when she spends time prioritizing short- and long-term deliverables instead of reacting to new items that make it to her calendar by happenstance.

Sleep Soundly, Wake Early

People who are making an impact in their world are likely getting enough rest to be refreshed and ready to face their day, but those days often start quite early. Getting less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis can leave you mentally drained or fuzzy and make you less likely to be efficient in your work. The early morning hours are ideal for a quick workout, which not only helps the body stay fit but helps boost your brainpower for the day as well. Billionaire Richard Branson is famous for his 5:00 am ritual to kick off his busy day.

Stop the Multitasking

Sure, we all love to pretend that we’re getting three things done at once, but is anything being accomplished in these sprints? Successful professionals know when it’s time to turn off the electronics and stick to one task at a time. Koel Thomae, co-founder of Noosa Yoghurt, notes how easy it is to be distracted by your inbox and your phone. Add in some music and you’re ready to take on the world!

Just Say “No”

“No,” or “next” are some of the most powerful words in the English language — allowing people to free their time from mundane activities and target those which are moving them forward. There may be some tasks that feel like busywork, so delegate these whenever possible. Turn your attention only to items where you add personal and unique value, and you’ll soon find that it’s possible to be present in your day while experiencing less stress. This can include everything from hiring people who complement your skills and abilities (a famous Jack Welch-ism) to outsourcing tasks when it makes sense.

Not everyone is running an empire, finding the cure for cancer, or creating the next great musical masterpiece. However, we are all struggling with a limited number of hours in the day. There is a great deal of hope and comfort in knowing that these basic time management techniques have been practiced for generations — and are still helping some of the most successful people of our age be productive.

Getting Creative at Work May Be the Best Use of Your Time Today

Better. Faster. Cheaper.

Those are the siren calls of managers today — always on the lookout for ways to make their workers more productive.

What if you discovered that your teams would actually gain productivity by taking the time out of their day to be creative? While carving out time for creativity may feel like a waste of time upfront, you may be surprised to find that the results of making this space will be far-reaching. The daily grind and immediate needs of others don’t leave a lot of time for thinking outside the box, but you’ll see that scheduling time for creativity is a critical ingredient for high-performing individuals and teams.

Small Investment, Big Rewards

Getting creative doesn’t mean you need to pull out the fingerpaints and scissors in your common room.

It just means that you should offer your team members a variety of ways to choose their own path when it comes to specific tasks, brainstorm new ideas (and implement them!) or look for ways to help others. Taking as little as 90 minutes every week two weeks gives people the time and space to unleash their great ideas and helps them work smarter — not harder. This small investment can pay off with big rewards. Even if you don’t implement every idea, your team will be excited to get together and share their thoughts and suggestions and know that they’re being actively listened to.

Creativity Takes Many Forms

Brainstorming is an easy way to build camaraderie within a team and also generate some amazing ideas, but what are some other ways to bring creativity into the workplace?

These tips can help you get started on a productive time together.

  • Create effective work groups. It’s important to ensure that your teams are well-balanced when creativity is your goal. If you have one individual who tends to overpower the conversation, it can be tough for others to join in on the fun.
  • Make it challenging. Consider asking your teams to solve a unique challenge — maybe one that’s not even related to your current situation, but designed to help people come together around a common goal.
  • Give them space. Not physical space, mental space! If individuals are so concerned about daily tasks that they’re unable to devote the mental capacity to the project, you’re not going to reap the benefit you might expect.
  • Allow freedom to choose. If you’re offering a specific work opportunity that needs to be overcome, don’t get too tied down in the details of how it needs to happen. Ask that teams consider the “Blue Sky” approach, where there are no boundaries, no limitations (systems or individuals) and just go for it. The sky’s the limit!

Perhaps the most important thing to remind your teams going into a creative space is that all judgment should be suspended.

There are no bad ideas. Every individual deserves to have their idea or direction fully listened to. Don’t evaluate ideas before their time or you will interrupt the flow of information that is what brings true creativity to light. After a few sessions, you may be surprised to find that your teams are excited — and not reluctant — to join in on the fun.

With luck, this openness, creativity, and conversation will begin to flow throughout your teams on a more regular basis. As people come to realize that others will listen, they are more likely to share without fear. Let your creativity free and reap the rewards!

Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 2)

Have you hit a slow spot in your print or online marketing? Need a boost to garner fresh vision? In this three-part series, we’ll examine hands-on tools to enliven imagination. Today, we’ll focus on part two of this question: How do you write content that commands attention or sticks with people for months to come? Last week, we discussed “matching the media and the message.” Today we’ll consider two more simple strategies.

2. Saturate the Senses

One way to arouse interest is appealing to the senses. Strive to write content that paints a strong scene in your reader’s mind. Make your message easy to pull from memory by tying it to a taste, sight, smell, sound, story, or a triggering word association.

KIT KAT chocolate bars nailed this in 2007, celebrating the simple delights of candy and coffee. Known for its “break me off a piece of the KIT KAT bar” slogan, the company paired an image of coffee, a KIT KAT, and these words: “A break’s best friend.” Ad copy extolled the joy of life’s small rewards, so blending coffee and KIT KATs was like “getting two breaks in one.”

KIT KAT radio ads were perfectly timed during the listener’s morning commute or lunch breaks, and the word association of coffee breaks and chocolate made mouths water. After twelve months, KIT KAT experienced a double-digit sales growth and received national recognition for years to come.

McDonald’s awakened appetites through a short message paired with romantic, artful visuals. During summer months when nightlife blossoms, the company wanted to remind customers that late night is a great time for a snack, and McDonald’s was now open past midnight. Ads featured blurred, out-of-focus points of light, glowing together to depict a Big Mac, sundae, and crispy fries. Like a dreamy Eiffel Tower scene, the images reinforced two simple words: “Open Late.”

As you look to saturate their senses with your own hard-hitting content, here are some tips to consider:

  • Use words that show, don’t tell. Be as vivid and descriptive as possible, allowing them to vicariously experience your product or its benefits, rather than just “hearing” about these advantages.
  • Paint a picture. Use adjectives that include savory details of sights, smells, and sounds to draw them in.
  • Give specific, concrete advice. Move from vague concepts to helpful takeaways.
  • Wrap any message you can in an upbeat, moving, or suspenseful story.
  1. Coin a Contagious Catchphrase

“Just do it.”

“Breakfast of champions.”

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

“Finger-lickin’ good.”

Like that jingle that rattles around your brain for months, a sticky slogan is a powerful way to influence customers. Why do great slogans matter? Because taglines are memorable, they differentiate the brand, and they stay relevant over a long period of time. Slogans offer a concise phrase or idea people will immediately associate with your product.

As you shape your own contagious catchphrase, consider questions like this:

  • What is your product about?
  • Can you encapsulate your message into a memorable phrase or title?
  • What unique perspective or technique does your brand offer?
  • What need or concern can you address? What real-life problem can your product solve?
  • Is there a “Eureka” factor you can highlight? What hard-hitting verbs, colorful adjectives, or real-life situations best capture these “Aha!” insights?

Once you’ve settled on a memorable phrase, feature it prominently, consistently, and with fantastic visuals to bring it to life!

Looking for more motivation to keep your copy fresh? Join us again soon as we discuss tips and tricks for producing content that counts.

4 Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 1)

In the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But where would vibrant graphics or sensational social media campaigns be without dynamic copy? Nowhere! Like Batman without Robin, like brawn with no brains, hard copy is fundamental to your success.

So, how do you write content that commands attention? How do you write copy that moves a reader and compels them to action? In this three-part series, you’ll discover four practical strategies for writing fun, dynamic, and memorable content.

1. Matching the Media and the Message

L.L. Bean is an outdoor clothing and recreational equipment retailer with this brand message: the outside is in everything we make. L.L. Bean believes the more time spent outside together the better, and they design products to enhance that experience. In one of 2017’s most intriguing print campaigns, L.L. Bean brought its “Outsider” concept to life with a print ad that could only be read outdoors. The copy, if read indoors, appeared almost blank except for these words sprinkled across the page: “Just bring this outside.” Readers who complied saw the full text emerge (thanks to photochromic ink, which changes color after exposure to sunlight) to reveal a full ad looking something like this:

“Welcome to the outside

Where there are no strangers

Where days have names like beach, snow, and bluebird

Where the smell of the campfire means you’re in the right place

You don’t need a passport to come here, an invitation to play here, or a membership to belong here

Just step outside your door and you’ve arrived . . .

It doesn’t matter where you come from

Only that you come here often

Wherever you are, join us

Because on the inside, we’re all outsiders

And if it’s outside, we’re in.”

The text concluded with an L.L. Bean logo emblazoned across the bottom, and the “Outside” brand experience was one a reader could never forget!

Another memorable media and message combo was produced by Kentucky for Kentucky, the organization that unofficially promotes the state of Kentucky. This group placed a hilarious full-page ad in Oxford American with a brazen typo at the top:

“We speak you’re language.”

The accompanying copy explained: “We know. It’s ‘your’ not ‘you’re.’ We just figured that a typo would be the best way for our ad to stand out in a fine publication like Oxford American magazine. But nice catch anyway, William Faulkner.”

Oxford American, a quarterly literary magazine dedicated to featuring the best of Southern writing, was an iconic medium for this downhome message. Kentucky for Kentucky’s brand identity (irreverence and a commitment to upending traditional Kentucky stereotypes) preached volumes through this boorish grammar breach, drawing attention like a straight-up ad never would. Kentucky for Kentucky partner Whit Hiler was pleased with the result: “I think typos can be a good thing . . . It’s so perfect for that particular magazine.”

Looking for more inspiration to up your creativity quotient? Join us again soon for examples, tricks, and tips to kick your content into high gear.

Printed Reminders Keep Sales on Track

Remembering to go to the doctor or dentist’s office was much simpler back in the day when nearly everyone had a printed calendar. You would go home after a visit and immediately add your next visit to your calendar. The complexities of life today means that it can be tough to keep track of everything, even if you’re putting follow-up visits in your smartphone. The cost of a missed office visit can really add up over time, causing professionals to lose thousands of dollars per year. The tiny cost of creating a simple printed reminder that can be saved to your patients’ fridge provides an extra touch point for busy individuals.

Improved Experiences

Improving the experience of patients in today’s competitive environment may mean the difference between a growing and robust practice and one that dwindles away over the years. One physician’s office saw the benefits firsthand when Dr. Marcus L. decided to implement small printed reminders for his patients. As a family health practitioner, Dr. Marcus would often require follow-up visits with patients after their blood work was returned to review their results. Many patients would forget about this check-point, costing his staff time and money due to blank spots in their schedules with no billable time.

Boosting Revenue

Dr. Marcus was already working with a local print shop on some flyers for an upcoming health fair, and his account manager heard his woes and recommended a short-term test of some printed reminders. Dr. Marcus agreed and printed up a 3 month supply of the small reminders for his staff to pass out to patients. What he discovered after that test period was quite surprising! His staff helped track the number of empty slots. He discovered that there were 25% fewer empty slots on his schedule due to the reminders!

Printed reminders help keep patients and staff on track with follow-up visits for doctors and dentists — and could benefit many other professional offices as well! Think hairdressers, aestheticians . . . the list is endless!

Coupons that Count

Persuasive Promotions Can Transform Browsers to Buyers

Are you the child of a parent who meticulously clipped coupons to pinch pennies?

As the pace of life has accelerated, the frequency of in-store couponing has decreased, in part because online coupon codes and apps have blossomed.

But coupon promotions are not a thing of the past!

According to the 2017 Holiday Shopper Report, 92 percent of consumers say promotions influence their holiday purchasing decisions. And coupons can be the catalyst that converts people from browsing to buying.

So which types of promotions do your clients want, and how can you use them most effectively? Here are a few tips to sharpen your focus.

Keep it Simple and Straightforward

Have you ever tried to use a coupon only to find the fine print disqualifies almost every purchase? This “fake sale” frustration can turn off clients from your company for good. Keep your coupons and discounts simple – avoid the fine print and honor the effort consumers have made to connect with your business. The same goes for referral campaigns – if a customer provides a valuable referral, honor their effort with a quick, valuable, and personal token of thanks.

Try to keep things simple with your product presentation as well. Remember, an overload of options can lead to “analysis paralysis,” or situations where a customer finds it too difficult to decide which product or promotion is best. When it comes to numbers and features, promotions should be clear and compelling enough to comprehend at a glance.

Push the Freebies

Shoppers often value freebies more than they value discounts.

Whether you offer a “buy one, get one free” or you include a complimentary gift with a particular purchase, often a free item is more psychologically compelling than a percent discount that actually brings greater savings. Free stuff also warms the heart and builds goodwill with loyal customers. If a free product is too great a stretch, consider offering limited time offers for free shipping, gift wrapping, refills, or deliveries.

Price it Right

In his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, marketing professor Jonah Berger explains how our perception of numbers affects how we understand a discount price.

He called this theory, “The Rule of 100.” Berger’s research highlights two pricing cues:

  • A percentage discount off an item under $100 off will always look larger than the dollar discount. For example, 25% off of $75 appears larger than $18.75 off of $75.
  • A dollar discount on an item over $100 dollars will always look larger than a percentage discount. For example, $93.75 off of $375 appears larger than 25% off of $375.

Offer Tipping Points to Incite Action

A tipping point can be anything that creates urgency or builds customer confidence to the point they’re willing to pull the trigger.

As you craft coupons or print promotions, remember to highlight time-bound flash sales, limited product quantities, or how your promotion is most relevant to your customer’s calendar or budget cycle.

Alternatively, the right emphasis on product quality can also move prospects to bite because your item is “worth it” or because they “deserve it.” Discounts are great, but sometimes value is even better!

Make Your Move

Ready to transform your browsers to buyers? Printed inserts and coupons are a great way to make your offers leap off the page! We’ll help you craft clear, compelling, visually stimulating promotions that reel in prospects and keep your loyal customers coming back again and again!

 

 

The Courage to Connect

The Courage to Connect

When research professor Brené Brown opened up to a TedxHouston audience about shame, vulnerability, and courage, she had no idea her message would become one of the most wildly popular TEDx talks of all time (with over 24 million views). Brown has spent the last ten years studying the power of authenticity and empathy, and poses wonderful questions like these:

  • How do we embrace vulnerabilities and imperfections so we can live from a place of authenticity and worthiness?
  • How can we engage people in a way that makes them feel worthwhile, brave, and willing to commit to something bigger than just a project or deadline?
  • How can we choose courage over comfort, stretching our team to connect in ways that powerfully motivate everyone?

Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen

Brown’s work hits home in the hearts of many who long for authentic relationships and want to see this come alive in their workplace. While there are many hindrances to open communication, one of the greatest barriers is simply our personality differences. Over half the population are considered introverts, but research shows that introverts make up only two percent of senior executives. Which gives extroverts a great opportunity to do lots of talking. But studies show that business leaders who prioritize listening are perceived as considerably more effective than those who dominate the conversation.

Invite Them to Engage

We all have room to grow, and great interactions begin with intentional listening. Here are three ways to quiet your mouth and open your ears as you seek to engage others in meaningful ways:

  1. Start every meeting with a question.

Imagine yourself standing before your team with an invitation instead of a megaphone.

Seek to motivate conversation rather than charging into a meeting with a tight-fisted agenda. Opening your gatherings with dialogue can shake out the nerves and cobwebs of the entire team, sparking creativity and building interpersonal collateral. Increasing dialogue can catalyze more “green light” brainstorming and bring a fresh, life-giving dynamic to your entire company. When you formulate meeting agendas, push yourself to start with a prompt and to leave more tangible space for discussion.

 

  1. Listen with action.

How can you show your teammates their insights really matter?

Often people are tentative about sharing constructive criticism, fearing negative repercussions or believing “nothing will really change.” Great leaders surround themselves with those who will give honest feedback, and they intentionally close the “listening loop” by following up with some sort of action. Close a meeting by thanking your team for their honesty, or sending personal e-mails telling them you valued their input. Make a list of things to look into, review, or change, and add timelines to these goals so your ideas aren’t lost in the weekly grind. Even if you can’t implement suggestions, make a point to tell people they are valuable and you have actually heard what they are saying.

  1. Embrace vulnerability as a step toward courageous communication.

What do you do when someone asks you a question you can’t answer? Saying, ‘I don’t know” can be the most significant reply of all.

When you acknowledge your limitations, it opens the door for your teammates to step in and shine or to admit their own uncertainties or frustrations. Vulnerability can grow powerful partnerships and prompt growth in areas you hadn’t previously targeted. Ultimately, vulnerability builds engagement, which grows teams and enriches the atmosphere. Push yourself toward bold, transparent communication, and you may be surprised at the results. Brene Brown says it like this:

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s the most accurate measurement of courage.”

Ready to open a new pipeline of thoughtful teamwork and open communication? Be brave, be intentional, and sometimes . . . just be quiet.

 

 

5 Ways to Find the Strength to Try One More Time

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, a NASA astronaut, or a leader in a major organization?

The one trait that all of these individuals likely possess is persistence: the ability to get back up, dust themselves off after a fall, and keep trying. No matter your talent, regardless of your genius and irrespective of your education, persistence is often the trait that sets people apart from their peers in terms of their level of success.

Succeeding at anything in life requires a great deal of effort over a period of time — very few people simply decide to be the best at their craft and are able to do it without a battle. How do these individuals find the strength to try one more time . . . repeatedly?

1. Be Prepared

Planning for success helps you think through all of the reasons why someone would disagree with your ideas, and also gives you the bulletproof mentality that you’re prepared for any question that comes your way. Think of all the reasons why something won’t be successful, and then consider arguments against that point. Become your own devil’s advocate, and it will be that much easier to find a positive response and an open door for your next request.

2. Be Adaptable

Being adaptable provides you with the mental agility to not hide in a corner when you’re kicked to the curb. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation states:

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”  

You have to be willing to adapt your thinking and your processes and find a way to create change while not straying from your core ideas. You can’t listen to every naysayer, but you can look for the nuggets of wisdom that they share and use that information to your advantage the next time you try to move forward.

3. Be Confident

You may be surprised that confidence is not the first attribute we consider, but the reality is, you need to have a plan in place that you can trust and support before confidence will help you through to success. Confidence in yourself, your family, and your ideas — as well as a burning passion to make a change in the world — are what can help you continue on even when it feels as though there’s no path forward.

4. Do the Work

Unfortunately, there are few things in life that can replace hard work. Whether that hard work is from an athlete completing the same moves repeatedly for months or even years or a business leader who is told “No” more times than they can count, the ability to simply buckle down and execute on your vision is critical to long-term success.

5. Inspire Others

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do with your life is to inspire others to be their best. Take the time throughout your life to inspire others. When you realize how many people you have impacted and how many are watching your success, it’s a lot easier to find the strength to try again in difficult times.

Finally, in the words of Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Shouldn’t you give it one more shot?

Print Marketing Is About Selling Value, Not Services

There’s a common misconception that far too many marketers have that needs to be put to rest once and for all.

A lot of people still seem to think that if you’re really going to carve out a stronger competitive advantage for yourself in an increasingly crowded marketplace, you need to make your services appear objectively better than everyone else’s. You need to talk about how your products are better, stronger, faster, longer-lasting, more cost-efficient, etc. All this to steal as much attention away from your competition as you can.

In truth, that is a myth. You shouldn’t be selling services at all. You should be selling the value that those services provide. In other words, the thesis at the heart of your print marketing campaign shouldn’t be “here’s what I can do that nobody else can,” but rather “here’s what I can do for you.” Mastering this approach requires you to keep a few key things in mind.

Everything Begins and Ends With Your Customer

The art of selling value instead of services is one of those situations where buyer personas come in handy.

When you begin to come up with a buyer persona for your ideal customer, you try to add as much information about that person as possible. But once your persona has been completed, you shouldn’t be asking yourself, “Okay, what do I need to tell this person in order to convince them to give me money?” Instead, you need to get answers to questions like:

  • What problem does this customer have and how do my services solve it for them?
  • In what ways will that person’s life be easier after their purchase than it was before?
  • What does that person want to accomplish, and how can I help make that happen?

Then, you work your way back to the products and services that you’re trying to sell, thinking about the problem and positioning yourself as the solution.

A Whole New Approach

This is one of those areas where specificity will carry you far. Think about the individual portions of your sales funnel and what someone needs to hear at each one to move from one end to the other. Use this “value-centric” approach not to convince someone that the time is right to make a purchase, but to give them the actionable information they need to arrive at that conclusion on their own.

In the end, there are probably a lot of other companies in your industry who do what you do – but nobody does it in quite the same way. That key thing that differentiates you from so many others is the value that only you can offer and what should be at the heart of all of your marketing messages.