Do You Want More?

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards… – Steve Jobs

 

Do you have synergy with your business or organization? Or even if you are an employee… do you naturally approach your projects with a perspective of synergy and connecting the dots?

Synergy is when the sum is equal to more than the two parts. Yes, the connection and energy of ideas meeting each other and creating something MORE. Do you want MORE for your business or organization?

When I meet with a new client, I am always looking for synergy or ways to connect theIMG_0169 dots. Below are the four ways I approach connecting the dots when working on a project or with a client.

1.) What do you value? Every company, organization or brand has something that it values. Event if you don’t notice it right away, there is something happening

2.) What are you really selling: Not your service or product. But what are you really providing and giving to your clients? Why do they choose YOU? Know this.. and the world opens up.

3.) Know Your History: Steve Jobs put is wonderfully with the above quote. You have to look back at all your dots, history and connections. With clients, I’m always looking for the foundation, how it started. What was the sentence, the experience, the event that started the ball rolling. Don’t ignore your history.

4.) Maximum effect: In addition to looking at all the above-mentioned, I also review how each action can have maximum effect. Every action or initiative that we do should have multiple purposes and functions. If one of your actions will only affect on thing, its time to either rethink the action or connect the dots. For example, if you speak at a conference, that speech or preparation should be repurposed to do something else for your brand. How can it have maximum effect?

Synergy.

Connecting the Dots.

Marketing Challenges for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, we can get pulled in so many different directions. There are challenges that will distract you on this entrepreneurial journey.  In this article, I will highlight just a few marketing challenges for entrepreneurs and new business owners.

  1. Not knowing your audience: So many people start businesses based on their watts marketing challengespassions and strengths.  This is excellent!  However, we often are so focused on starting the business that we forget to pay attention to who we are selling to, including their needs, desires and burdens.  We sometimes stop at just describing the demographics of our target audience.  However, there is more to knowing your audience than their age or demographics.  How do they purchase?  What keeps them up at night?  Where do they consume information? What do they follow and like on social media? It is critically important to know your audience.
  2. The wrong marketing platforms:  Many new businesses have the wrong marketing platforms.  They hear about so many social media platforms or new apps or programs and they want to start all of them.  There is not careful consideration of which platforms work for your business, target audience or which of them “speak” or sync with each other.  It is important to do an audit of your programs and make sure they work for your business and marketing strategy.
  3. Inconsistency & Lack of Clarity:  One of the keys to branding is creating a consistent story and selling that narrative to your audience.  This requires managing a lot of moving pieces and being able to stand back from your company and brand and decide on a consistent message.  This can be challenging. Often, this is the importance of having a marketing or branding consultant, to have an objective eye to look at your messaging and challenge you on your strategy.  Inconsistent messaging can cause distrust and ultimately hurt your brand and selling opportunities.
  4. Not Knowing Your USP:  Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition is key to marketing and branding.  You must know what value you bring to the table.  What is your differentiator?  Why should your clients and customers purchase from you? When businesses are unclear on this, they stumble through their messaging and how to sell and package their products and services for their clients.  Know your value.
  5. Underestimating Content Marketing:  Most small businesses don’t have the time or staff to work on content for their social media, blogs or website.  However, content marketing is key to establishing your brand and identity.  It is what will set you apart as a thought leader in your industry. No matter what you are selling, work on establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.

All these issues can be overwhelming, however, every business owner faces marketing challenges.  For assistance with any of these marketing challenges, feel free to contact me. 

 

 

Are You Mentally Tough?

Happy Spring! I hope that you all have have been enjoying the first glimpses of Spring. Some of you are still experiencing some cold weather. 
During my busy time, my head has been swirling with so many marketing and brandingsmall steps.jpg topics and issues. However, this month, I want to focus more on a leadership issue.  Since starting this business, I am amazed at how much mental tenacity it takes to launch and continue a business or any initiative. Yes, I’ve had other businesses and projects that I’ve started in the past, but I was fortunate to have a partner or groups of people to help me stay encouraged.  Being an entrepreneur is a lonely place.  When you have those moments when you are choosing between sleep and work, paying a bill or investing in a client or your business, quitting the gig or keep trucking along. It is a constant mental game to just stay in the game.  I’m sure I will eventually get to a level where I coast along, but right now, I am relying on the five things below to help me stay focused and mentally strong during these tough days.  If you are in a similar struggle, I hope these points will also help you.
Remember Your Why:  We have heard this many times, but it can’t be stressed enough. When things get complicated, tough and overwhelming, your why should keep you motivated.
Seek Balance: I recently read a quote that is slowly changing my life and giving me life: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” (Vince Lombardi). When we are exhausted, we give in to our fears and anxiety.  Get proper rest so that you can make good decision and have the mental strength to deal with issues that my come your way.

Expect Failure:  Wait, what?  Yes.  Not every decision will be a great decision.  Not every risk will be a smart one.  The more you fail, the more it shows your willingness to keep trying and taking risks.  Would we like to avoid failure at all costs?  Sure.  But that would mean you are playing it pretty safe.

Celebrate the Successes:
  Every single one of them.  It may be small successes for you, but its important to acknowledge your progress, no matter how small or slow it may be.

Let it Go:
  I suffer from wanting to control things that are completely out of my control.  As a leader and entrepreneur, you have to let things go.  If not, you will spend precious time, energy and mental strength on things that cannot be changed.  Let it go.

I hope this has helped you!  Please let me know if you have other tips or advice for the mental state needed for entrepreneurs.

Recharge Your Marketing at the End of the Year

I absolutely love celebrating the new year!  It is a great time to refocus andPlanning2 recharge, both professionally and personally. However, depending on your business or industry, marketing at the end of the year can be challenging. Below are a few suggestions for year-end marketing and how to get a jump on your new year.
Plan, plan, plan –  This is a great time to plan (and dream) for 2016.  Find time to get away by yourself or with your team and brainstorm on what you want to accomplish next year and begin planning it. There are a variety of marketing strategies and items you can be planning, ranging from content to advertising to social media.  For example, if you have a blog or podcast, now is a great time to plan out your content for at least the first half of 2016.
Trends – What are the top trends for 2016 in your industry?  As you are planning, think of how you can maximize that knowledge.  Perhaps as an article that you pitch to the media or as a blog on your website.  Establishing yourself as a thought leader by discussing trends is a great marketing and client development tactic.
Lessons – The end of the year is also a great time to review the year and highlight the lessons learned in various industries.  Not only can you discuss the future and what is to come, it is also a great time to review what happened and the lessons learned.
Recycle content that works – Highlight your top ten posts, blogs, videos or quotes.  Often people are busy and tired at the end of the year, so this is a great way to still promote and market. Take a step back during the last few months of the year and re-evaluate your top-performing pieces of content. Recycling content or repackaging it in a new way can be a great way to get more out of what you’ve already produced. 
Surveys – Do you know what your audience is thinking about?  Were they pleased with your company or organization?  What are THEIR goals for the new year?  What disappointed them in 2015?  Take this time to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE – a critical piece to any marketing or client development plan.
New Year Gifts – If you missed getting cards or client gifts out for Christmas, you can also reach out for the New Year.  This is a great time to reconnect with clients and find out what they are working on for the new year.
Remember… the end of year and the new year are excellent times to refocus and market your brand, your organization or company. If you need assistance with your marketing strategy for 2016, please contact me at lee@ashbyandwatts.com

Five Essentials for Building a Brand

When speaking to someone interested in starting a business, writing a book or leading an organization, inevitably the aspect of branding is discussed. Branding is one of my favorite marketing topics because branding is truly about emotion and connection. The strategies we use to create a brand should focus on creating a strong connection and relationship between the product/person/company and the customer or guest. More importantly, this strong connection creates customer loyalty.


To grow a business, brand or create loyal customers – a robust brand strategy is needed. This takes time and patience, however, it is absolutely necessary.

Below are essential keys needed for building any brand:

1.) Know the Strengths. Are you aware of your individual strengths or the strengths of your organization? If it is your individual brand, spend valuable time examining your strengths. Ask those closest to you about your strengths. The same holds true for your company. What are the strengths of the company? This may become clearer through surveys and focus groups, asking key customers, clients or guests key questions about the company or brand. If you are starting a company, find your target audience and discover what they value.

2.) Be Authentic. Authenticity is key in branding. This is knowing your strengths, as well as your weaknesses – but being perfectly okay with both. For example, Chick-fil-A does not try to make burgers or tacos. It has identified its strength, and probably its weaknesses, and they continually build on their strengths. They make really great chicken sandwiches with exceptional customer service. They don’t focus on making new sandwiches or twists on chicken sandwiches. As a result, they avoid their weaknesses and focus on the brand.

3.) Add Value. Whether it is an individual brand or company, be clear on the value you bring. Does your brand solve a problem or meet a need? Not only should the brand add value, but it should also differentiate you or your company from others. So many brands, organizations, services and products are competing for our attention. What will differentiate your brand from the others? It could the smallest thing that makes the difference. Discover “the thing” that will set your brand apart from others.

4.) Create an Emotion. What is the feeling you would like to invoke in your audience or clients? What emotion do you want your brand to feel? Dale Carnegie states: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” Brand strategy should focus on building an emotion.

5.) Consistency is key. It is critical to reinforce the value, skills and expertise your brand brings. This should be communicated through your various marketing platforms. Consistency will help your prospective clients and customers, as well as your current clients, quickly know how to describe your business or your service. Consistency is also important for your visuals. Eventually you want customers to see your logo, your colors, as well as your fonts and formatting and know instinctively that it is your company.

If you are interested in creating a brand strategy for your company, organization or building your individual brand, please contact ashby & watts. We can help you connect the dots.

The Myths of Marketing

If you ask ten people the definition of marketing, you are sure to get ten different responses.  Most people don’t quite understand it or assume that it is only “creating a logo” or “selling your service or a product.”  However, marketing encompasses a myriad of topics, ranging from strategy to establishing mission and vision statements, to client experience and service, to branding, to sales. Below are some common myths I frequently encounter when discussing marketing:

  • Myth:  People assume that if they have “enough” clients – they don’t need marketing.

Truth: A large part of marketing is uncovering needs, interests and the burdens of your current clients in order to get more work or purchases from them.  Being too comfortable with your current clients and not actively engaging them and growing them is dangerous to your business growth. What other needs do they have that you are not currently meeting? How can you add more value to your current audience, customers and clients? There is always more…great marketing will always uncover other needs of the client.

Businessman writing e-marketing terms

  • Myth: All my business comes from referrals, I don’t need marketing.

Truth: Yes, most business does come from referrals. Referrals are critical to growing and sustaining any business, which is why client service is very important as part of your marketing and growth plan. Do you have a plan on how to convert a happy customer into a referral?  We can’t assume that just because a client/customer likes your work does not mean they are telling others about your work or business.  Are you keeping track of your referrals during “down times” so that they will keep referring your business.  Don’t ignore your referral network.  They are valuable for your continued growth. A great marketing plan will include your referrals.

  • Myth: Social Media doesn’t affect my marketing.

Truth: Social media has the power to create or break a brand, depending on well or poorly your social media plan is executed.  Admittedly, social media may not always be the determining factor in landing your next customer or client, but it can validate or invalidate you or your company with a potential client who is still deciding whether to hire you. Developing a good social media plan is critical for any brand, organization or business and does not require a large budget, just focused intention and planning.

  • Myth: Marketing is simply advertising.

Truth:  Advertising is only a slither of what a marketing professional does or may only be a small part of a marketing plan or budget.  In fact, most marketing departments work with advertising professionals that are much more talented and focused on the dynamics of advertising.  Marketing creates a strategy on what to do with advertising and how to convert advertising into business.  Developing a good ad is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

  • Myth: I have a logo and a website. I’m done with marketing.

Truth:  I cringe when I hear someone narrow down their marketing efforts to simply a logo and a website, when actually a logo and website is just the beginning. Marketing is about consistently creating and promoting great content and images to engage your target customer.  It is creating a story with your logo and website. It is building a brand. This is done through a variety of channels. Is your website designed in a way to increase traffic and the customers you are seeking?  Does your logo convey the top 3 words of the brand you wish to create?

  • Myth: Marketing is sales.

Truth: Wrong!!  I kinda chuckle when I hear sales people assume they are marketers because they know how to sell or when marketers assume they know sales. Different strengths are required for each. It is important for marketing to do its job effectively so that the sales team can come in and close the deal.  If you are having a difficult time closing deals, it could be because of a lack of effective marketing.

These are just a few common marketing myths that I encounter regularly. Do you see or hear yourself in any of these myths or assumptions? If so, please contact me so that we can discuss your marketing and brand. I would love to help you “connect the dots.”

Why Content Is King!

Gone are the days when marketing was merely about a great logo and a catchy tagline.  Marketing has gotten smarter and more demanding.  It asks more questions and looks deeper into the strategy and process. Clients and customers want content. They want to know what can the company do and how can the company add value to their business.

Marketers are now challenged with a savvier way to offer and present content to its clients and prospective clients. There are definitely challenges with this, including the simple challenge of time. It takes time to create content, the right content, and present it your audience.  The following blog posts will focus on few key ways to create content:

Re-purpose a presentation.  Professionals are often asked to present or speak at conferences and seminars. Often when the conference is over, the presentation remains on the computer or folders. However, there are undoubtedly some key points that can be expanded to create a blog or article.

After every speaking engagement, the presenter should make it a point to spend 30 minutes writing a short article about some key points in the presentation.  This could be used on a blog, article, discussion post on LinkedIn and various other platforms.

The Connection: Never let a presentation rest. Make it your goal to use it at least 3 additional platforms.