Unless your color blind, colors influence your feelings, interest and responses in many situations. Whenever you begin a new brand development project make sure you’re clear on describing the person behind the brand and their values because it plays a key role in choosing the colors that will resonate best for the success of the brand. The best benefit of choosing the right color is that you convey a message to your customer non-verbally. This can be done in your absence, at a distance and in person.

A lot of research has been done on the emotional effect of color, and the results of the research prove very helpful in helping you to decide what colors your brand should use. Brand Strategy Insider recently published their findings and one interesting fact to note was that color improves brand recognition by 80% and readership by 40%! That means that whatever you put out there needs to be color-correct. Here are a few general guidelines to get you started:

Red: Passion, love, rebellion, power, excitement, bold
Yellow: Happiness, fun, alert, friendly, young, summer
Green: money, natural, abundance, environmental, safe
Blue: smart, progressive, trust, cold
White: open, clean, pure, sterile
Orange: inviting, retro, warm, energy
Purple: stylish, elegant, royal, decadent, luxurious, wise
Brown: stable, reliable, approachable, organic
Gray: Timeless, practical, intelligent, neutral
Black: authoritative, powerful, classic, sophisticated
Pink: romance, happiness, light-hearted, confident, passionate

Your assignment:

1) Take a sheet of paper and choose 3 colors from the list above that resonate most with what you want your brand to communicate

2) Grab a box of crayons, colored markers or colored paper (you can print the colors from your computer using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint) and lay the colors side by side

3) Ask a few friends/clients/strangers what they think of when they see the colors. What images are conjured up in their mind? What emotions?

4) Consider your feedback and revisit/example/change your primary or secondary brand colors based on the results you want.

How often do you Google your name and company name to see what’s out there? Once a month? Once a week? Everyday?

Recently one of my clients had his account hacked, and we spent two days trying to clear it up. Well, not really, the tech team spent two days clearing it up. It just so happens that the hacker accessed his website and added two files that were loaded with viruses. We think they were there for about a week before they were noticed. Fortunately, Google noticed it when they were indexing the site and they put one of those big, blaring red labels that says “WARNING, THIS SITE MAY LOAD YOUR COMPUTER WITH A VIRUS” – Not good for a brand, eh?

The site was down for a day while we investigated and identified the files that were added, and went through line-by-line for the code on the other pages, and removed the malicious content. His site is now up and running again (oh, and I didn’t charge him for that either, another BE lifetime perk …)

The entire situation made me think a bit more though about what’s out there and what we need to be mindful of with our brand reputation and how we each are very vulnerable to technology, even when we use it powerfully to serve others. There are many services that will monitor your computer, servers and other business assets remotely, but if you aren’t yet ready for that level of support name sure you hop over to Google as often as you can and see what’s out there with your name on it. If you see anything malicious, respond immediately!

Have a Brandtastic day!

softsoapToday’s article is contributed by Bonnie Halper at StartupOneStop.com

Back in the 1970s, liquid hand soap was sold by one guy: Robert Taylor, and his small company Minnetonka.  It was his invention, and he knew he was on to something big. Test audiences loved the product and, despite barely having enough resources to do so, Minnetonka decided to go all in and make a push to take the  product nationwide.

There was only one problem: Nothing he was selling could be patented. 

The concept of liquid soap wasn’t new, and simple pumps had been around since the dawn of civilization. As a result, Taylor knew several huge soap manufacturers were ready to happily steal his idea the very moment it looked like it could succeed on a large scale. Armed with superior resources and the ability to quickly R&D an imitation product, the industry giants were ready to crush tiny Minnetonka.

Taylor, however, was ready for this.

Before any other company had the chance, Taylor decided to go shopping one day and bought a few plastic pumps. And by a few we mean F**KING ALL OF THEM. There were only two companies nationwide manufacturing those little pumps, and Taylor ponied up $12 million — more than the total net worth of his company at the time — and ordered 100 million of them,  effectively buying every single pump these two companies would be able  to manufacture for the next year or two.

Anyway, without the part required to dispense the soap, there was nothing the major companies could do but sit and watch Taylor slowly own the entire market. His product would become known as SoftSoap, Two years after his little stunt, Colgate-Palmolive  would be forced to just buy SoftSoap from Taylor … for $61 million.”

Of course, this was pre-web, pre 3D printing, pre proliferation of patent trolls and pre China, who can knock off anything seemingly overnight.

The point is: this is a great example of entrepreneurship at its best – the convergence of innovation and thinking outside the box. Pun very much intended: when faced with seemingly overwhelming challenges, raise the bar.

Onward and forward.

 

Pink TelephoneHow many online friends have you made a real life connection with? This weekend I attended an event where I finally met face-to-face with a friend, Julie, who I met a couple of years ago through an online community. We both had a lot in common and though we hadn’t met yet, connected online and eventually offline, building a relationship that crossed the boundaries of screens and logins.

Neither of us knew the other was attending the event this weekend, but when if you’d seen us greet each other you would have thought that we were old childhood friends. Our friendship had a strong bond because we activated old and new modes of connection. It’s something we did naturally, for personal reasons, but a routine that works very effectively in business as well. Especially in the current cluttered online climate.

Whether it’s attracting new clients, doing field research or promoting new products if you don’t pick up the phone you will have a hard time achieving your results. Smart phones, tablets and technology have become so commonplace that it’s hard for your message to get through effectively.

Increasingly business owners are seeing the numbers of client conversions, event registrations and product sales decline because there are more options and less connections than before. If you business model was built on a marketing model that hasn’t been updated in the past year, chances are you’re finding it more difficult to achieve the results you once did. Here are some tips to push get you over the hump:

1) Take a look at your engagement. Who’s opening and clicking through your email? These community members are your best targets and your first stop for developing a follow up plan. 

2) Aggregate all of your client data in one place. Do you have names, email addresses and telephone numbers? You should. If you don’t, reach out to your warmest leads and request that they update (add to) their contact profiles.

3) Start making phone calls. Whenever you add a new type of connection to someone you deepen the relationship and extend it. Julie and I had two points of connection, online and voice. Now that we’ve met we have a added a third layer. We now have a stronger bond and inner circle between ourselves.

4) Extend your offer, or a referral, in a spirit of service. When you’re able to have a real conversation with someone and vet their needs the best “next step”  is to give them a solution that you truly know will solve a need. If it’s you, great, but if it’s not, and you have a resource, extend it to them in the spirit of service.

To cut through the clutter these days you need to build real connection, and step forward from your brand with a focus on your core values. It will endear others to you and increase your results exponentially. To get strategy, analysis and management for your brand, set up a brand strategy session. If you have a solid system in place, share  some of your best tips, or recent results, below.

Thanks,

Beatrice

Yesterday’s post about multiple touch points received a lot of attention from you. I’m happy that it was a popular and revisited post so today I want to outline just a few keys ways to use it. Ultimately, having multiple ways to contact your community helps you to convert your ideal person into a client. I like to say it gives me the ability to chase a potential client without losing my breath.

I thought it might be helpful if I outline how I do this. Since they say it takes “at least” 5 points of engagement to convert someone, it’s important that you stay in touch and not consider yourself a nag. By showing you my way of using these I hope to give you a little snapshot of how the process works holistically, and you can tweak and tailor it for your own use. Here’s mine. I’m going to base this pipeline on getting a lead online, such as when someone requests a free report or download on my website. I call these warm leads:

Contact #1 – The user has filled out the form on my website requesting a free CD. In that form I have a field for “telephone number.” When the telephone number is provided I make it a point to call that person the same day or the next day. When I speak with them I try to find out how they found us (usually by referral, or on Google) and  ask them if there were any resources they were looking for in particular that I might be able to send over… often a reader was looking for one piece of nugget, and I can send a worksheet or article about it. Otherwise, I tell them their CD will be shipped on XYZ day and to let us know if they have any questions

Contact #2 – I drop an email to them asking if they’re received the CD, if they’d like a transcript (I don’t have them receive the transcript automatically, they only get it by responding to my email) and if there was anything there that needed further clarification. I also ask them if I can add their birthday to my contact system. I log their birthday into Hallmark.com so that Hallmark will notify me when it’s time to send a card

Contact #3 – I have a weekly electronic newsletter that goes out every Sunday. I’ve also started to send a monthly paper newsletter to everyone I have a mailing address from. This person starts to get that newsletter. It’s just one page front and back. Now they get another tangible thing from me that adds value and doesn’t cost them anything

Contact #4 – I check in on the person through social media (if I’ve been able to find them through their email address” and share a resource or just comment and begin a discussion. For those that I don’t have social media connections with I drop a line and ask they if they’re on social media. I say “I’d love to connect. Are you on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin? – for those  that are social media shy, LinkedIn is usually the way to go. I make a connection for them or do an introduction to someone in their industry, or served by their industry

Contact #5 – I invite them to a live event, webinar or one-on-one strategy session. When they’re local they almost ALWAYS try to make it out to a live event. When they’re not, they go for the webinar or a one-on-one strategy session. My conversion rate from these is about 30%.

So, that’s my pipeline. I won’t pretend it’s perfect. Sometimes I fall off. There are weeks where I realize I’m behind and then I spend a whole day making calls and sending emails, and that takes the fun out of it. What I’ve found though is that if you combine online connection with off-line, tangible relationship, you build a stronger response and conversion.

That’s what I’ve got. Do you have any advice or insights you can share with me about this? I’d love to hear it. Comment below… and share it on social media for me, ok?


Sometimes I feel that as a business owner I’m called to be super human. There’s often so much to do, and so little time to do it that setting a list of priorities is the only way to survive. I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to recognize when something needs to shift, when something is a priority, an opportunity, and a distraction and I’ve seen many business owners struggle and suffer by NOT knowing the difference.checklist

The good news is, it can all be solved with a calendar and schedule. I know that seems overly simplistic and possibly not even real, but stick with me, I’ll explain exactly how this concept can change your life.

Let’s face it, building and managing a brand (i.e., your business) requires a lot of energy. The more energy  you have, the more you can do. The less energy you have, the less you can do (or the worse you are at it!). I try to keep my energy at a high by eating well (I’m vegan and sugar free) and making sure I get at least some moderate amount of exercise, but that’s not enough.

When there’s a deadline, an issue comes up, or I catch a case of “the blahs” I rely on my calendar to get me through successfully. Throw a husband, children or family in the mix and things get dicey. My husband Darren fought against the concept of us “making an appointment” with each other for a long time. Until he realized that having me as a calm, focused and happy wife was a better thing than the alternative.

Time blocking is a process of grouping the tasks that you have to do together in a set of blocks. The length of the blocks are totally up to you. For instance, there will be the “time with family” block, the “sleeping” block, the “cleaning” block, the “speaking to clients” block, the “reviewing financials” block etc.

Time blocking works best when you stick to the schedule consistently. For me, that means I do seasonal blocks. My time blocks change when it’s warmer outside, or when it’s colder. I’m on the East Coast so I inherently have less energy in the winter, so I change my schedule accordingly. If you’re on the West Coast you may not have that challenge.

Here’s how I organize mine:

1) Start with a full 24/7 weekly calendar. Each day of the week, and each hour of the day. It’s easiest to just print every day of the week on 1 sheet of paper.

2) Brain dump the categories you want to block. Here are some to get you started: sleeping, eating, preparing food, bathing and dressing, travel to work, travel from work, work, free time, entertainment, family time, chores, walking the dog, etc.

3) Now look at your categories to see which you can break down further. For instance, with work you can break it down to staff meetings, client calls, administrative work, production work, lunch break, free time (in case of emergencies), marketing, follow up,  etc.

4) Now, in order of priorities, start to allocate how much time you wish to give to each of these categories and block your calendar. I like 9 hours sleep each day, so my calendar is blocked from 10:30 pm – 7:30 am for sleep each day. My next big priority is time with family, which happens (don’t judge me) for 1.5 hours each evening, and most of my weekend. This may seem low, but it’s realistic for me, I have no guilt around it, and it works.

5) Once all of your blocks are in, edit and adjust to make sure they are logical and actually work. Do you spend more time talking to clients than being productive? That means you’ll want to group your client calls, and limit them to a minimal time that gets the job done.

Now that you have the gist of it download my time block calendar, which includes a blank template, and work on  yours today. You can get really creative with it. use colored highlighters to identify certain categories. Do it in Google Calendar and code it and print it (just create a second calendar in your settings). I bet if you do this for just 2 weeks you’ll be energized and charged more than you are today and you’ll (hopefully) call me and thank me for it.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the process and use it to build an exciting life! As you work on it come back here to post any questions if you get stuck, or just let me know how it’s going.

BeaSignature

 

Silver_Linings_Playbook_PosterYesterday I rented the DVD Silver Linings Playbook and cuddled up with my dog Samantha for a few hours to some chocolate coffee and cake to spoil myself with a little me time. I didn’t know much about the movie before I rented it, but had received some good recommendations from a few friends at my office. I knew a few things:

1) I knew it had won awards

2) I knew it exceeded the producer’s expectations for it

3) I knew it was over a year old

So, I hopped online and looked at Netflix, but the movie wasn’t there. Then I hopped over to Amazon to see if they had it, and they did, but even though I was a Prime member it would still cost me $12.99 (yes, even 18 months after this movie was released that’s the price they were looking to charge), so I put it in my queue but before I pressed purchase I hopped on the Redbox website to see if one of the boxes near my house had it in stock.

Bingo! They did.

So I reserved the movie online, hopped in the car, retrieved the movie from the kiosk on my way to pick up Samantha and then settled back home for some fun and laughter.

That might seem like too much information for where this story is going, but stick with me… it has a point.

It was really a fun and touching movie. If I had seen it with someone I’m sure I would have had a lot to say in a discussion afterwards, but I watched it alone (I could have gotten into a discussion with my dog Samantha, but that might be weird.)

A few hours later I watched the DELETED scenes, and what a great lesson I learned from doing so.

There were about 8 deleted scenes which varied in length from 30 seconds to several minutes. I STRUGGLED to watch the deleted scenes because they were so boring. They didn’t add anything to the movie. It was an enlightening experience and made me think… How often do we put stuff out into the world without fully vetting it and making it the most polished, perfected, exciting thing?

The Art of the Edit is something we need to take note of and incorporate into our process more fully. If you’ve ever worked with a writer you already know that even when you think you’ve written the perfect content, there is something to be deleted, something to be clarified and something to be corrected.

After watching the deleted scenes of Silver Linings Playbook I could see why they chose to delete those scenes and believe that if they had kept them in, the movie would not have reached the award winning caliber that it did. This movie was so successful that even 18 months later I would have to pay $12.99 to watch it online, and it was still listed in the local kiosk for Redbox. That’s a noteworthy success metric.

So how do we implement this new way of thinking/doing in our business?

1) Always get a second opinion. It’s so important to step out of your box and get the input of others to make your service or product better. Production houses do this with focus groups, and so can you. Get a team of reviewers that are willing to review and test your ideas, concepts and protocols to see if they need adjusting.

2) Expand your network. It may seem easy for a blockbuster movie to get coverage everywhere, but it’s not as easy as you’d think. As the movie gained interest the distribution reps had to work hard to get it to the people while the window of opportunity would close. That hustle would be the make or break difference between an OK film and millions of potential dollars

3) Keep that good thing going. I went to the website for Silver Linings Playbook, and even visited their Facebook and Twitter page, and it’s all still active. The mistake some business owners make is to let the activities around their promotions fade and become dated. This movie is obviously still pulling in viewers because they haven’t let that happen.

So what are you working on that needs the art of the edit? Pull out what you can, add what you need and get someone else to weigh in. It just might take your latest creation to award winning status. Share what you’re working on in the comments below.

innovationdefineIf there’s one thing that keeps a business in the black (profit) it’s innovation. It seems counter-productive to do something different but the reality is that there can only be a few successful copy cats out there and their life span is very limited. My experience shopping in New York is a great example of this.

Do you remember bootleg CDs and DVDs, or knock-off purses and watches? When I first moved to New York you could find “good looking” fakes everywhere. I always thought the real thing was better than the imitation, but there was enough of a market to keep the imitators in business… until there wasn’t.

Is the greatest form of flattery imitation, or is it the kiss of death? What got me thinking about this so much lately is the increasing number of copy cats I’m seeing on the market. There are two distinct ways I’ve been seeing this: At events and in marketing.

Now, obviously there are some fundamentals that need to be done in every business operation. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Today I’m specifically talking about the copy cat formula that is being washed, rinsed and repeated without any adjustment or alteration for the user.

Rather than give you a laundry list of what everyone is copying and how stale and boring it has become I’d like to give you inspiration. You see, I believe the greatest form of flattery is INSPIRATION, not imitation. Here are 2 examples I’ve experienced recently that point to how successful innovation can be, and how refreshing and exciting it is to deliver something unexpected and out of the ordinary.

1) Total absorption: Let’s discuss House of Cards. Netflix released House of Cards in February 2013 and released all 13 episodes at once. In addition to it being a web-only series, it was also the first time all episodes of a show were available at once. It was a gamble. It was risky. And people loved it. They closed their doors for the weekend, cancelled dinner dates and lost sleep to absorb every episode one after the other.

How to use this: Do you have ideas about a product or service that defies the usual distribution rules? Take the time to do your research, see if a market is there and outline a new vision for your success. It’s a gamble, but one that can pay off ten fold.

2) Collaborate, don’t compete: Back in January I attended a livestream event by a woman named Sage Lavine. It was called Unite 2014 and what I loved about this virtual event was that she broke the formula. Instead of having her colleagues to hop on a call or webcast with her to deliver new year inspiration insights she had them hop on a plane! From one room viewers from across the globe were able to watch 6 powerful women in business share their struggles, triumphs, tactics and vision with the rest of us.

How to use this: If time and space were bent for you, what outrageous action would you take? What have you envisioned to do that hasn’t been done before? Now, how can you partner with others to make the vision a reality?

With the two examples above are you juices flowing? What ideas come to you as you think of simple ways that you can innovate in your own business? Share them with a comment below.

BeaSignature

spokespersonHave you noticed how inundated your inbox and banner ads have been with Marie Forleo’s B-School lately? If you’ve been in business and marketing online for more than a year chances are you’re in the midst of a B-School blitz, and love it or not, it paints the picture of how powerful it can be for your income and your brand when you use the enthusiasm and support of others.

I haven’t been through B-School myself, but for the past few weeks I’ve received promotions, offers and insights for it on a daily basis. It’s fun to see and it’s a powerful tool that you can use in your business as well, no matter where you’re starting out at.

Whether your business sells products or services, online or brick-and mortar you have options to leverage ambassadors to grow your business too. Sales make business work, and the more sales you have, the stronger your brand becomes.

So what is a brand ambassador? Simply put, they are people who are already fans and supporters of the products you sell and the work you do. They can be friends, family or former clients but the best ones are those who intimately know your capabilities inside and out. They can speak from first hand experience, due to proximity, about your value and increase the likelihood of a purchase by 400%. (now I’ve got your attention, eh?)

Ambassadorship can show up in many ways. Here are a few to help you activate it in your business:

1) Enlist current and former clients to share their experience: Every time you have a client say “I love the work you did” or “this was fabulous” it’s time to get a great testimonial and offer them the opportunity to be in your ambassador program. When a client is excited and fulfilled, they naturally want to share their experience and give back. It’s a win-win for you both.

2) Develop an affiliate program: One of the most effective ways to build a network of ambassadors from clients, friends and strangers as well is to develop an affiliate program. By offering commission incentives you get the benefit of their effort and network at a cost much less than market rate for acquiring new clients. Be sure to outline the details and opportunity for the program clearly so that you make it an easy decision for them.

3) Start an advisory board: A common tactic for non-profits and institutions is to develop an advisory board. The advisers serve to help guide decisions that are in alignment with current trends and needs, and also are expected to promote and petition the business on their behalf. It’s a smart tactic that has worked well across the board for all types of industries.

4) Appoint a spokesperson: Like the reference to Matt Damon above, one way to garner massive visibility for your business is to appoint a spokesperson. They can be paid or unpaid, but must be a true believer in your service and core values. As the spokesperson for your brand they become “one of the faces” of your brand and bring with them the power of their personal brand. Be mindful when you appoint a spokesperson, their lifestyle on and off duty will greatly impact your brand’s reputation.

5) Create a community.

Pink TelephoneHow many online friends have you made a real life connection with? This weekend I attended an event where I finally met face-to-face with a friend, Julie, who I met a couple of years ago through an online community. We both had a lot in common and though we hadn’t met yet, connected online and eventually offline, building a relationship that crossed the boundaries of screens and logins.

Neither of us knew the other was attending the event this weekend, but when if you’d seen us greet each other you would have thought that we were old childhood friends. Our friendship had a strong bond because we activated old and new modes of connection. It’s something we did naturally, for personal reasons, but a routine that works very effectively in business as well. Especially in the current cluttered online climate.

Whether it’s attracting new clients, doing field research or promoting new products if you don’t pick up the phone you will have a hard time achieving your results. Smart phones, tablets and technology have become so commonplace that it’s hard for your message to get through effectively.

Increasingly business owners are seeing the numbers of client conversions, event registrations and product sales decline because there are more options and less connections than before. If you business model was built on a marketing model that hasn’t been updated in the past year, chances are you’re finding it more difficult to achieve the results you once did. Here are some tips to push get you over the hump:

1) Take a look at your engagement. Who’s opening and clicking through your email? These community members are your best targets and your first stop for developing a follow up plan. 

2) Aggregate all of your client data in one place. Do you have names, email addresses and telephone numbers? You should. If you don’t, reach out to your warmest leads and request that they update (add to) their contact profiles.

3) Start making phone calls. Whenever you add a new type of connection to someone you deepen the relationship and extend it. Julie and I had two points of connection, online and voice. Now that we’ve met we have a added a third layer. We now have a stronger bond and inner circle between ourselves.

4) Extend your offer, or a referral, in a spirit of service. When you’re able to have a real conversation with someone and vet their needs the best “next step”  is to give them a solution that you truly know will solve a need. If it’s you, great, but if it’s not, and you have a resource, extend it to them in the spirit of service.

To cut through the clutter these days you need to build real connection, and step forward from your brand with a focus on your core values. It will endear others to you and increase your results exponentially. To get strategy, analysis and management for your brand, set up a brand strategy session. If you have a solid system in place, share  some of your best tips, or recent results, below.

Thanks,

Beatrice

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