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Monthly Archives: April 2019

How to Celebrate Entrepreneurs with National Small Business Week

National Small Business Week is a national recognition event to honor the United States' top entrepreneurs each year. Since 1963, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has sponsored National Small Business Week to recognize the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners from across the nation.

This year get involved in national, local and online events. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur or run a small business, share your story, partner with other businesses and invest in your business through educational workshops and seminars.

Small business by the numbers

There are over 28 million small businesses in the United States alone. This translates to over 120 million individuals employed by small businesses. The United State’s small business community contributes approximately $8.5 trillion to the economy, roughly half of the total $17 trillion GDP. Furthermore, Entrepreneurship has always been a gateway for underrepresented populations, especially minorities, women, and LGBTQ communities.

As an example of how small businesses pack a big economic punch, let’s look at the numbers in my local Portland/Vancouver metro area. According to Venture Portland, 98% of Portland’s 19,200 neighborhood businesses have 5 or fewer employees but provide more than 270,000 jobs in total. That is to say, small businesses contribute more than $100 million in taxes annually, helping to fund essential city services like firefighters and parks.

In short, show your support by joining the celebration. Download and display a ‘Portland Celebrates Small’ sign in your window, take some photos and tell us all about it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Here are their recommendations on Five Things to Do for National Small Business Week.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS TO CELEBRATE ENTREPRENEURS

May 2, 2019

SCORE, SBA’s resource partner and NSBW fiscal agent, will host a NSBW Twitter Chat on Tuesday, May 2nd from 12:30-1:30 pm ET. SCORE’s handle is @SCOREMentors and the chat hashtag is #SmallBusinessWeek. Additional information and chat questions will be provided next week.

May 2, 2019

2019 Small Business Week Luncheon at the Portland Art Museum

Sponsored by the by U.S. Small Business Administration Portland District Office.

This year the Portland District will host a great luncheon event for approximately 200 active partners in growing small business. Attendees will include small and medium-size businesses, lenders, SCORE and WBC advisors, members of the network of Small Business Development Centers, community members, elected officials, and SBA leadership. 

Link to Tickets

May 3, 2019

SBA and GBYO Partner for Webinar

The SBA is partnering with the US Small Business Administration to host a free webinar session on Wednesday, May 3rd, hosted by Anastasia Kudrez, speaker for Google’s ‘Get Your Business Online’ program.

April 28-May 10, 2019

National Small Business Week: Celebrate at the Microsoft Store-Pioneer Place

Come to your local Microsoft Store in May for complimentary workshops tailored to small businesses of all sizes. Learn high-level fundamentals, obtain licenses and permits, and build your brand. Plus, master the little things that make a big difference, like how to create a compelling PowerPoint presentation, set an air-tight budget in Excel, or promote your business on LinkedIn.

See a full list and register today at www.microsoft.com/pioneerplace

May 7-May 8, 2019

National Small Business Week 2-Day Virtual Conference

Hosted by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE Association

Event Time: 11:00 AM – 5:30 PM Eastern / 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM Pacific

The U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE Association will host a free, 2-Day Virtual Conference during National Small Business Week. The conference will take place Tuesday, May 7 – Wednesday, May 8.

 

Registration is free to the public. Participate in all the webinars or pick and choose the topics you like. You will also have the opportunity to meet other business owners and chat with industry experts. The Virtual Conference offers all the best parts of an in-person conference, but without the hassle of traveling.

Register here.

How to Build a Bullet-proof Brand: Part 3

Information overload

Why bother with branding?

First, let’s talk about the bad news, and how to address the mess. Next week we will tackle the good news.  

1. Attention is the new value in our economy. It is a very scarce resource.

Research shows that humans are totally incapable of seeing what is right in front of them, if they are completely focused on something else. This phenomenon is called Inattentional blindness. It is the inability of the human mind to process anything that is not the specific and direct focus of attention at that moment. Magicians such as David Copperfield and Criss Angel use this to create their amazing magical feats.

This is also why we ignore banner ads, billboards, email subject lines and other advertising unless we are specifically interested in the subject. Once we have seen them and determined they are not of interest, they literally become invisible to us. In his book, The Buying Brain, A.K. Pradeep mentions that the brain is frustrated by clutter and messages that distract us or don't apply. It will ignore anything and everything it can, that is irrelevant to us.

Combat this phenomenon by making sure that you are speaking directly to your customer’s deepest wants, needs and fears. Craft your content and visuals to appeal directly to what they desire.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

2. You are now competing in a global marketplace for attention.

Research shows that as of 2018, businesses send and receive 124.5 billion business emails each day, while consumers send and receive about 111.1 billion consumer emails each day. And that’s just emails flying around the world. People spend time watching almost 5 billion videos on Youtube every single day.

The cure: Provide value and interesting content. People are attracted to stories, visuals, videos and meaningful information. Use your content and branding to build meaningful, long-term relationships instead of gunning for the quick sale.

money jars and coins

3. You have limited resources and capacity.

If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner who does it all, "tag, you’re it." As in, you get to do everything, unless you have a fairy godmother on your side or an unlimited back account. We are all limited by our access to resources and capacity to get stuff done, regardless of the business size. We have only 24 hours in every day, and 365 days in a year.

This may feel contradictory, but this actually helps us. Limitations force us to prioritize our efforts and energy on what is most important. The old saying goes, “if you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.” The consequence of standing for everything is that you end up watering down your brand and wasting your efforts.

I tell my clients to focus on being the best possible version of you instead of attempting to be someone else or a generic everybody—what is it that only you can provide? Be laser-focused on delivering this brand promise to your ideal audience. Make sure that your brand reflects your specific uniqueness. Limitations also mean choosing our marketing tactics and communications carefully and purposefully, to ensure that we are getting the brand impact that we want.

large crowd of people

4. You often have multiple markets, audiences, products and services that require a complex, multi-dimensional message.

Most businesses have more than one group of customers or target audiences. Product-based companies can have multiple brands with hundreds of products. That being said, your business should have only one thing that your stand for. Otherwise you will confuse the heck out of everyone.

The world’s greatest brands have known this for generations, and standing for one thing is baked into their brand DNA. You may see campaigns or sub-branding that promote slightly different value propositions depending on the audience, market, product or service offerings, but they always link back to the main brand essence. A great brand flexes and bends when needed, but always stays strong at the core. The core never changes.

Marco Rangel, left, and his daughter Montserrat Rangel load up on cookware during Walmart's Black Friday events on November 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Walmart is offering deep discounts on items across multiple categories in stores and online though Cyber Monday. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)

THE BOTTOM LINE: You already have a brand.

Whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of it or not, you already have a brand. Your brand is the feeling, interactions, images and other intangible attributes that others associate with you and your business.

As an example, let’s pick on Wal-Mart. When I say, “Wal-Mart” to you, and if you are familiar with this brand, you will immediately have a mental and emotional response based on your perceptions of the Wal-Mart Brand.

Branding changes are not always better for the brand

In 2007, Wal-Mart dumped their old tagline “Always low prices” to “Save Money. Live Better" to combat the brand perception that they’re cheap, cheap, cheap. I get the business rationale behind wanting to change the tagline. If they wanted to shift to selling more upscale goods to compete with Costco and Target, the consequence is that they can’t always offer the lowest prices on everything. This strategy change ended up creating a huge consumer disconnect with their brand—they can’t be both the cheapest and the best at the same time.

As a result of the shift, the shiny new tagline and ad campaigns didn’t fix their brand image problem of being the cheapest on the block. The new warm and fuzzy advertising campaign created confusion with audiences who didn’t experience warm and fuzzy with their in-store experiences. It was same old-same old Wal-Mart. Nothing had changed except for a branding band-aid.

Brands should encourage customers to remain loyal, not push them away

Branding expert Rob Frankel said outright, "This campaign is a 100% guaranteed failure. It's not a brand strategy, it's a price claim. It doesn't do anything to encourage you to be loyal, and it's even insulting—people don't need to be told that it's a good idea to save money."

In fact, he said, emphasizing price adds to Wal-Mart's image problem. "To shop at Wal-Mart is almost the same as admitting you are poor. As soon as people can figure out a way not to shop at Wal-Mart, they do." As a result of their 19-year branding strategy, Wal-Mart is now finding itself locked into a brand perception of dirt-cheap, shoddy goods and service at the bottom of the barrel. Wal-Mart has a tough time competing with Target and Costco with that kind of brand baggage dragging it down. Especially if their new tagline loos suspiciously like the Target tagline which is “Expect more. Pay less.”

The irony is that Target once had a similar brand image to Wal-Mart in its early beginnings, but the company consciously chose to evolve into a more upscale, trendy yet affordable brand. I’ll save that brand evolution story for a future post.

In conclusion, if you don’t know what you do and can’t communicate it well, neither do your customers and prospects. You need to proactively manage your brand. Don’t become a Wal-Mart branding disaster.

Resources:

Next week: Part 4. After this week’s brutal reality about branding, we could all use some good news. I’ll talk about how to leverage what you already own to make your brand a brand worth getting to know.

Until then, feel free to do your homework. Download the presentation now!

About the “Build a Bullet-proof Brand” series

This series of blog posts is based on a branding masterclass workshop from last fall. The topic is evergreen, based on the number of brand-related questions my partner Robynne Davis and I field every week in our marketing meetups. This series is designed to bring all of these important elements into alignment with your authentic brand:

  • Your true brand essence
  • The visual experience behind logos, fonts and color
  • The emotional connections with feeling that happen with images and videos
  • The power of words to convey your brand promise and your brand essence
  • How you appear in the many worlds of social media – consistently and meaningfully.

8 Tips for Insanely Productive Networking

Penguins with nametags

True confession time: I HATE networking. Almost as much as I hate telephones. Just ask my family and business colleagues. I resist the idea of networking, mostly because it feels really contrived and pointless. I go to an event, and come home exhausted and cranky afterwards, because of deafening noise levels, resisting tempting food I can’t eat because of my food sensitivities, and having to pay for expensive parking (or a long commute via public transportation).

What do you think of when you hear the word networking? 

I envision being stuck in some windowless meeting room with a bunch of people I don’t know, milling around. Furthermore, I’ve got a “Hello, My Name Is…” sticker that no one can read stuck to my boob, er, jacket lapel. Painful – I would rather go get my teeth cleaned. At least my dental hygienist is genuine and cares about me and my teeth. She even remembers my dog’s name, and asks how my family is doing, and sincerely means it.

That’s the dark, unfriendly perception of networking, especially for us introverts. However, networking shouldn’t be a painful event to be endured. Most importantly, it should an ongoing, organic process of building relationships with people you actually might like and appreciate. Look at it this way—you want to make this a lifelong practice of meeting new friends who you can contribute to.

Here are 8 simple yet useful tips (especially for you introverts) to networking that will help you feel more comfortable and natural instead of fake:

  1. Focus on giving instead of getting. How can you serve or help someone out? Do you know someone that the person you are talking to should meet? Help make a connection! Share a great book or blog recommendation. This suggestion doesn’t have to relate to your business, and you don’t have to be an expert—just focus on give, give, give. Volunteer at an event or make a point of just meeting one new person and learning about them enough to share what you know or help them make a connection.
  2. Be present. You’ve seen a lot of people looking around when they are talking to the person right in front of them. We’ve all done this, don’t deny it—how does this make the other person feel about us? We don’t care, right? Be aware and stay present. For example, here’s a tip I got from a tip from a CIA agent about body language and the other person being present—look at the feet of the person you are talking to. Or your own feet. Are the other person’s feet pointed towards you, or away? Feet don’t lie. If we aren’t interested, and don’t want to be there, the feet will be pointed away towards where we want to be.
  3. Listen more than you talk. The most interesting people to talk to are the ones that really want to know about us.
  4. Think long term vs. short term. When you meet someone new who might be able to help you, don’t jump in with an immediate request for yourself. In other words, ask questions that will open up a genuine dialog. Maybe you will learn something that will help you to help them out—going back to #1—focus on giving.
  5. Do not overcommit or feel guilty. If you start going to a lot of conferences and networking events, you will meet a lot of people. It’s fine not to stay in touch with everybody. It’s ok to meet people and say hi and all that jazz, but you do not have to make a commitment to speak to them again or stay in touch. For instance, I make a goal of meeting only one or two new people at a networking event. First, I focus on quality rather than quantity. Secondly, by setting a reasonable goal, I can give myself permission to relax and have some fun instead of feeling overwhelmed by being in a mob of people.
  6. Be honest. Don’t make false promises or agree to do things just to be “nice” because you’re there with someone in person. For instance, if someone wants to go to coffee with you and you don’t want to do it, don’t say, “Oh sure, we should do that sometime.” Here’s what you say instead. “I really appreciate the offer, but my work schedule is full, and I don’t want to promise anything that’s not going to happen.” Kind, but truthful.
  7. Take action immediately. If you do agree to do something for some, take action immediately. If you’re going to make an email intro to someone, just whip out your smartphone and get it over with instead of waiting until you get home. Taking action right away is an awesome habit to build PLUS you won’t just pile up work to do when you get home or back to your office. I love using my CamCard app to snap pictures of business cards on the spot.
  8. Only go to things that excite you. Whether it’s parties, conferences, coffee dates, networking events – only say yes to the things that you really want to do. Your networking goal is to meet and bond with other like-minded people. I am getting really good at saying “no” if my heart and my gut tell me that the opportunity is not a good fit for me. Trust your inner radar!

There are many reasons to attend networking events. Above all, my reasons include meeting potential new customers, finding networking or referral partners and project collaborators. Most importantly—showing up and being visible in my community. Meanwhile, by focusing on these simple rules, I have found that more often than not, I can connect and help someone, and often experience getting useful help in return. It’s amazing how the universe works to support me and the work I do once I get out of my itty-bitty comfort zone.

P.s.—Still not convinced networking is worth all the time and agony? Read these books to help prep for networking marathons:

How to Build a Bullet-proof Brand: Part 2

Generic tomato sauce

Why is it important to build strong brand differentiation?

Your brand is about intangible perceptions—how people feel about your products, services or business. Similarly, what people experience when they interact with your brand. Most importantly, you want to create powerful brand differentiation that helps you stand out from the pack. 

For instance, you can use the power of brand differentiation build a strong, bullet-proof brand. As a result, you prevent your brand from becoming a generic commodity such as kitty litter, cornflakes or catsup. 

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”

    ⏤ Jeff Bezos

“A brand is not a product or a premise. It’s the sum of all the experiences you have with a company.”

    ⏤ Amir Kassaei

What happens when people don't see any perceived value in your brand?

Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Some see them, some don’t. However, when people don’t perceive any intangible value, it’s a commodity to them. You're as good as generic kitty litter or catsup in their eyes. 

A commodity is a product, service, cause or organization with NO perceived intangible benefits or attributes. On Wall Street, commodities of the same type are interchangeable with each other. Therefore, If you are a commodity, you are stuck in a no-win price competition.

A brand differentiation lesson from tomatoes and catsup (ketchup)

Catsup (ketchup) is catsup, right? The stuff you squirt on hamburgers, hotdogs and French fries. You say "toe-may-toe," I say "toe-mah-toe." you make catsup by smashing tomatoes up into a tangy sauce and put into a bottle. Brands range from the generic to exotic. People who don't care about their tomato catsup (ketchup) brand will buy the generic, cheap stuff found on the big food chain shelves. 

In contrast, catsup (ketchup) connoisseurs (aka "food snobs") will go out of their way to discover exotic flavors and brands, including Harry and David and classic Sir Kensington. As a result, in the minds of the buyers of these prized gourmet brands, they are most certainly not interchangeable commodities. This is a vastly different mindset from the regular folks who buy generic brands.

All these brands have their place in the market. Who do you think is able to charge more for their product? Who gets more social media buzz and loyal customers? 

"Almost as American as apple pie"

Market Pantry™ promises freshness and quality always at a great value. The essential condiment for barbecues and picnics.

"America's Favorite Ketchup"

Heinz updates its classic with organic tomatoes, no high-fructose corn syrup for a well-balanced version that appeals to the organic food crowd.

"Share more"

Harry & David appeal to people looking for thoughtful, gourmet food gifts that reflect well on the giver.

"Quirky sensibility"

Sir Kensington's was designed to appeal to people who wanted a tasty, non-GMO ketchup on their grass-fed burger with their farm-to-table side.

1. BRANDS COMPETE ON THEIR INTANGIBLE ATTRIBUTES.

2. COMMODITIES COMPETE ON PRICE OR CONVENIENCE.

3. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE VIEWED AS AN EASILY REPLACEABLE COMMODITY.

Keep these three rules in mind as you work on creating your branding.

In conclusion, all these brands have a legitimate place and purpose in the condiment market. The lesson here is that if you do not want to be viewed as a generic, commodity product or service who can only compete on pricing, you need to build strong brand differentiation to survive. Take a cue from Sir Kensington and figure out what's in your "secret sauce" that will make you irresistible to your customers and prospects!

For those of you who are into the classic red stuff and love a good food fight,  read the Epicurious "tell all" blog post for the insider scoop on which brand makes the best catsup (ketchup). 

Next week: Part 3. Guess what? You already have a brand, whether you know it or not! I will show you how to identify your brand essence and start to put your secret sauce to work.

Until then, feel free to do your homework. Download the presentation now!

About the “Build a Bullet-proof Brand” series

This series of blog posts is based on a branding masterclass workshop from last fall. The topic is evergreen, based on the number of brand-related questions my partner Robynne Davis and I field every week in our marketing meetups. This series is designed to bring all of these important elements into alignment with your authentic brand:

  • Your true brand essence
  • The visual experience behind logos, fonts and color
  • The emotional connections with feeling that happen with images and videos
  • The power of words to convey your brand promise and your brand essence
  • How you appear in the many worlds of social media – consistently and meaningfully.

Quick and Easy Hashtag Hacks

Make yourself visible with hashtags

In this week’s edition of “Tuesday Tips & Tricks,” I’m going to show you how to use hashtags to help boost your content visibility online. Think of a hashtag as a quick and easy way for people to sort social media posts by topic or theme. In other words, hashtags are similar to keywords, in that users will search on a hashtag in Twitter and other platforms to see what other people are saying about the topic.

Because of this, I have created a very practical set of guidelines collected form HubSpot and other social media resources to make it easier for you to start using hashtags.

Here’s an example of the hashtags I used in a recent Twitter post to promote a blog post on my website. I have the #Go4Broke hashtag that relates to the national day theme and my business hashtag #HCPDX. However, I should have added my #MarketingMeyvn hashtag!

Maja twitter post with hashtags

First, let’s start with what is a hashtag.

  • Simply put, a hashtag is an easy way for people to categorize, find and join conversations on a particular topic.
  • The hashtag is used to highlight keywords or topics within a Tweet and can be placed anywhere within a post.
  • The hash mark, or pound symbol, (#) is now known by social media users as a "hashtag" or "hash tag." Posts that have the same keywords prefixed with the # symbol are grouped together in user searches, making it easy for people to search by a specific topic that interests them. According to HubSpot and other social media experts, individuals can see 100% increase in engagement by using hashtags, while brands can see 50% increase.

After that, learn how to hashtag like a pro:

  1. Create your hashtag using only one word or phrase without spaces.
  2. Do not use or add punctuation.
  3. Include the hashtag within or after your message.
popular hashtags

How to find popular hashtags to use in your social media posts

Search on Twitter or other hashtag sites such as https://www.hashtags.org/ to find relevant hashtags for your posts. I recommend that you double-check the hashtag to make sure that you are not launching into something that is not appropriate fit for you, especially if you are using the hashtag for business postings. Above all, test, test and test! (See my general guidelines at the end of the post.)

For example, hashtags are often used to unite conversations around things like:

  • Events or conferences, like #TED2019 or #CES2019
  • Disasters or emergencies like #PrayForNice or #NotreDameFire
  • Holidays or celebrations, like #WorldNutellaDay or #NationalCatDay
  • Popular culture topics, like #GameOfThrones or #BostonMarathon
  • General interest topics, like #ChocolateLovers or #TaxDay
  • Popular hashtags, like #tbt or #MotivationMonday
Game of Throne Tweet

Recommendations on how to use hashtags

After you have created your hashtags, remember to use them sparingly. Too many hashtags on Facebook leads to fewer interactions. FaceBook posts without a lot of hashtags generally outperform those with lots of hashtags.

Hashtags on Twitter

A Twitter hashtag ties the conversations of different users into one stream. If Twitter users who aren't otherwise connected to one another talk about the same topic using a specific hashtag, their tweets will appear in the same stream. As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your tweet.

Along with hashtags for events, campaigns, and promotions, there are these unique things on Twitter called Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are live Q&A sessions organized around a hashtag—either on the fly, or at a pre-arranged time.

HashTags on FaceBook

To use a hashtag on Facebook, all you have to do is publish a Facebook post to your Page or timeline that includes the hashtag.

Steps & Guidelines for creating a great hashtag

In conclusion, here are the steps and guidelines you should follow to create a great hashtag:

  • Hashtags should be distinctive and simple for followers to remember. Make your hashtags memorable, unique and relevant to your campaign.
  • Find a balance between generic and specific. Generic hashtags, like #food, are too broad and too hard to track.
  • Create at least 2 hashtags around your brand or business. Use your brand's name in one of them.
  • Look to your fans and your audience’s influencers to inspire and create new hashtags or use what they are using.
  • Steer clear of slang. Double check to make sure your hashtag isn’t being used elsewhere in an entirely different context.
  • Proofread and proofread again. If you are using capitalization, make sure the words in your hashtag do not create other words or messages if the capitalization is removed.
  • Test before you use! Check what your competition uses, what your industry influencers use, and how your followers react.
Resources:

How to Build a Bullet-proof Brand: Part 1

BMW sedan

If you search online for the definition of “what is a brand” you will likely be very confused by your search results. Definitions such as “a type of product or service produced by a particular company under a particular name.” Nope. “It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers.” Close, but no cigars. Business blogger Allan Dibb’s definition of brand was short and to the point, a brand is the personality of a business.” I like this explanation a lot.

What is a brand?

Your brand is NOT just your name, trademark, logo, package or product.

Your brand is a collection of people’s thoughts + feelings about their experience with your brand. The ultimate goal of branding is loyalty.

Thoughts and feelings are intangibles.

As compared to tangibles…

Which you can see hear feel 

smell & touch

Intangibles you just…feel

Your brand represents who you are in the mind of your audience. It’s the sum total of how people think and feel about you. Your name, logo, trademark, packaging or products are a reflection of various aspects of your brand. They all need to be in alignment and harmony with your core values, mission and business purpose.

If there is no connection, you will fail miserably to attract the loyalty of customers, partners and community advocates you need to succeed. Remember that your brand’s function is to link your brand principles with what you do. When your brand acts out of character, then your brand’s very essence is corrupted and such damage takes time to repair.

BMW sedan

Porsche launches new luxury sports sedan

Mercedes adds performance to their luxury brand essence. Take that, Porsche and BMW.

Audi moves into the luxury  electric vehicle space. Watch out, Tesla. 

MINI Countryman

MINI moves into Jeep's traditional branding territory with fun and adventure as a key part of their brand essence. 

BMW is a perfect example of how you should manage the essence of your brand. Their brand stands for "pleasure." Their slogan "Sheer Driving Pleasure" integrates this with their other key values: power, performance, innovative, aesthetic and dynamic. This manufacturer does not stand for "technology" (which is Audi’s brand essence), or for "longevity" (Mercedes), "sportiness" (Porsche), or "fun" (MINI Countryman). For giggles and grins, google each of these brands to see their brand essence pop up the search results.

Here’s how BMW describes their brand:

“What you make people feel is just as important as what you make.” 

Well said, BMW. An excellent example of a great branding philosophy demonstrated in practical, real-world application. It's spring, the weather is amazing, and BMW makes me want to own a luxury sports car so I can go out for a leisurely drive in the Cascades with my beloved. 'Nuf said.

Next week: Part 2 digs deeper into what is a brand. I will talk about how good branding keeps your brand from being viewed as generic kitty litter. eewwww...

Until then, feel free to do your homework. Download the presentation now!

About the “Build a Bullet-proof Brand” series

This series of blog posts is based on a branding masterclass workshop from last fall. The topic is evergreen, based on the number of brand-related questions my partner Robynne Davis and I field every week in our marketing meetups. This series is designed to bring all of these important elements into alignment with your authentic brand:

  • Your true brand essence
  • The visual experience behind logos, fonts and color
  • The emotional connections with feeling that happen with images and videos
  • The power of words to convey your brand promise and your brand essence
  • How you appear in the many worlds of social media – consistently and meaningfully.

Celebrate National Go for Broke Day

How to go the distance when the going gets tough

Got motivation? Sometimes when the going gets really tough, it is really hard for me to stay focused and keep taking those wretchedly hard baby steps to move forward. I know I need to, but there are so many fun, easy distractions out there. What I call the “ooh, shiny” syndrome—especially on those days where I’m tired from busting my ass and I’d rather be watching funny cat videos. Sometimes the difficulty and resistance come from my being stuck in fear, and not admitting that I don’t want to deal with it.

Here are some of my favorite tactics I learned from masters of motivation that really do work.
Tactic #1. 
Tackle the really big rocks first. And then reward yourself handsomely for taking care of them.

This one I learned from T. Harv Ecker’s seminars where he tells people to put a pile of rocks, smaller stones and sand into a container. All of it. Everyone takes a shot at filling the container, with hilariously messy results. The secret? Put the big rocks in first. Then add the smaller rocks to fill the gaps around the big rocks. And finally add the sand to fill in all the remaining cracks. Presto, a nicely filled container with no messy overflow.

Harv’s lesson? Each week, pick your top 3 big rocks, and work your butt off to get them done and crossed off your to-do list. I now have a monthly calendar whiteboard in my office that lists my 3 big rocks that I want to take care of, and the rewards for knocking them off the list.

This week my biggest priorities are finishing a marketing plan for a high-profile community project, nailing my new opt-in offers (my current module from Marie Forleo’s B-School program) and getting my newsletter out on time. ARGGGGH. I have a great list of ideas on how to use content I already developed. Now I get to actually do the work of repurposing the content. Not so much fun, and I am going to need some really fun carrots to bust through this rock. NO - make that lots of dark, rich chocolate.

Tip: find an accountability buddy to help you stay on track, provide lots of “atta boys,” “atta girls,” "atta theys" or "atta whatevers." I have two business partners-in-crime that are tough mothers, and a great FaceBook support group for Marie’s program. It’s like having kick-ass fitness workout partners for my business.

Tactic #2.
Fear busting.

Ask yourself honestly what’s holding you back. Lots of times I have big, hairy goals that I set for myself, and I scare myself to death just thinking about them. Smack the little voices inside your head that aren’t helping you move forward. These little voices are fear-based, and they are not interested in the least to help you become happy and living in positive energy. I have a friend who has even named all of her inner critics. I think I have twins for some of hers. “Negative Nellie.” “Numbing Norma.” “Good-enough Gertie.” “Judgmental Judy.” Whenever these diabolical hooligans start popping up and attempt to derail me, I know it’s time to “patronus.”

As in Professor Lupin’s training on how to summon my own protective, good energy to disperse my negative thoughts and get me back into the positive zone. These gremlins especially like to attack after setbacks, snafus and receiving negative feedback or criticism. Sometimes it’s hard being a human being. Use whatever weapons you have at hand to fend them off. Some of my favorite tactics include:

  • meditation for energy clearing and grounding
  • reviewing my big hairy, audacious goals to get me pumped up again (creative idea time with my vision or dream board is especially happy)
  • taking a time-out break with a favorite friend or family loved one at my beloved Umbria Café in the Pearl District. Bella vita!
  • going for a walk in a favorite park or working in my garden. My reward this Sunday is to visit Portland’s Japanese gardens now that the cherry trees are in bloom.
  • when all else fails, I take a bubble bath with a favorite book. No interruptions until my batteries are fully recharged.

Then get back up on your feet and keep going. Don’t waste your time on the nay-sayers. As my Kung Fu master always said, “Fall down 7 times. Get up 8.”

Tactic #3. 
Focus on what you really want.

This is the bigger picture for tactic #2. I recently completed an exercise from Marie’s B-School program that was a real eye-opener. The assignment was to come up with a comprehensive list of all the products and services that I could offer to help people. I had to account for potential revenue generation and the amount of my time and energy it would take to do. Standard Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) kind of stuff. No big deal—standard MBA school assignment.

However, Marie added two catches to the assignment—ones that no business school even thinks about addressing.

  1. I had to rate each and every item in my spreadsheet on a scale of 1 to 10 for how much joy it would generate in my life.
  2. I had to evaluate where each and every item fit in my long-term plan.

WOW. I suggest that you look at your goals and to-do list with the same mindset as Marie’s. Once I completed these two steps, I had a completely different perspective on what opportunities would be the best fit for me. I am going to revisit these on a regular basis, just to make sure that I am fired up about what I am taking on, and giving myself permission to let go of the things that are no longer serving me.

P.s. – For more help with gremlin-wrangling, check out Rick Carson’s book Taming Your Gremlin.

Other great resources:

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