Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Never Underestimate the Value of Good Relationships

Tattly was started almost on accident. Design blogger Tina Roth-Eisenberg was looking at the temporary tattoos her daughter received at a birthday party, and was disappointed by the uninspiring fake tattoo designs available. She had many talented artist friends due to an artistic coworking space she'd recently founded. Bringing these folks together to create a new product seemed a natural fit.


Soon after, she had a range of high-quality temporary tattoo designs that she was offering for $5 a piece. In addition to artists from the coworking space, she solicited work from artists who she knew online through her popular design blog. 


Two months after beginning work, Tattly launched with 16 designs. The company has grown quickly, with their designs showing up everywhere from high-end retailers like Macy's to the Tate Museum and the gift bags at the annual White House egg hunt. Over 8,000 retailers now carry Tattly temporary tattoos. Roth-Eisenberg's success is due as much to successfully leveraging her relationships as it is to her innovative ideas. A few of the ways she made her relationships count:


Look for new ways to leverage relationships.


Like most bootstrapped companies, Tattly was running on a very small margin. Roth-Eisenberg provided the first $15,000 in funding from her own pocket. However, she ran into issues when she realized that she was out of cash to actually print the tattoos.


To solve her cash flow problem, Roth-Eisenberg reached out to a contact and asked if they'd like to sponsor the first "bonus" Tattly, a free temporary tattoo that would ship with every sale. Her partner was enthusiastic about the opportunity. With the advance, Roth-Eisenberg was able to pay for the first printing of her tattoos. 


When you are considering a new direction, always remember what your current contacts do besides the business they do with you. You may have opportunities that you never thought of. 


Show support to the ones who support you.


Too many platforms and businesses undervalue the creative talent that helps them find their success. Tattly has formed strong and loyal relationships with artists from all over by providing a healthy commission on every one of the tattoo designs shown. At the time of this writing, the company has paid out over $1 million in royalties to artists. Because of this, Tattly has attracted over 120 talented designers. 


Let your fans be your ambassadors.


When Tattly started, the company did not have a budget for promotion. However, Eisenberg's existing following from her design blog provided a huge boost. Her social media following worked like a built-in PR and marketing engine. Tattly's influence only grew as proud followers shared the eye-catching designs. This was enough to quickly draw the attention of wholesalers who were happy to carry the bright and fun pieces of art. 


Have confidence in your relationships and provide as much value as you seek. Through this and some creative thinking, you can make opportunities not just for your business, but for all of your potential collaborators. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Brochures: An Incredibly Effective Marketing Tool

Sometimes things become trends for a reason. Case in point: brochures. Brochures are still incredibly effective marketing tools. Why? 


Because Brochures Have Versatility to Spare


Brochures are the perfect supplementary tool to give to someone to clue them into more information about your product or service WITHOUT having to rely on the internet. Did you just come across someone at a trade show or other event? Give them a brochure. Did you just have a walk-in that you weren't expecting but don't have time to dive into the deep details you need to make a sale? Give them a brochure.


Any good salesperson can tell you that the number one rule of marketing is "always be prepared," and a brochure allows you to do precisely that.


Because It's A Marketing Tool in More Ways Than One


Another one of the most important reasons why brochures are still incredibly effective comes down to the many ways in which they can be used beyond straight selling. Yes, this is a great way to give someone a big portion of information about your products or services... but a brochure also makes your contact information readily available. It works a lot like a business card that way, only going above and beyond what a business card can do on its own.


Because of The Power of the Hard Copy


Finally and perhaps most importantly, brochures are effective marketing tools for one reason above all others: they exist in the real world. They're physical. People can hold them in their hands, or give them to friends and family members. 


Customers prefer having something that they can hold rather than reading information from a company website. Some people even so far as to print the information they want from your website so that they can digest it at their own pace (at the cost of their printer ink). 


Nobody is saying that gorgeously designed websites aren't exactly that - but a brochure is a perfect way to take all that information you already have and bring it into the realm of the physical. Not only that, but brochures and other types of print marketing will immediately allow you to stand out from competitors who have switched to primarily digital materials - another benefit that is too powerful to overlook.


These are just a few of the many reasons why brochures aren't going away anytime soon. If you didn't get to create as many brochures as you wanted to during the last year, 2018 would be an excellent time to start. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Keeping Employees Engaged During the Dreaded Month of January

Returning to work after the fun and exciting Christmas season can feel like an uphill battle. If you really want to keep your employees happy, healthy, and engaged during the dreaded month of January, there are a number of essential things to keep in mind.


Encourage Your Employees to Spend Time Outside


Part of the reason why January is so terrible for so many people comes down to SAD, or "Seasonal Affective Disorder." It's a very specific type of depression that relates to changes in the seasons and is often brought about by how cold and dreary January has a tendency to be.


The key to combating this is, thankfully, a simple one - encourage your employees to get outdoors as much as possible. Take them out for lunch at that great new restaurant down the block and insist that you all walk there. Get as much natural light into your workplace as possible. Even getting just fifteen minutes of quality sunlight exposure every day can have a big impact on their mood and their productivity.


Along these same lines, consider starting an exercise program at your office in the new year. Not only will this play an important long-term role in keeping your workforce as healthy as possible, but this type of physical activity will also go a long way towards combating SAD head-on.


Encourage Frequent Breaks


It's important to take an active role in the work/life balance of your employees during the Christmas season, particularly when their attention is being pulled in so many different directions at once. Guess what? This idea doesn't stop being any more important just because the calendar now says "January 1."


Look for any opportunity that you can find to give people a bit of a break from the important tasks at hand. People always need to recharge, but this will become especially important during January and the rest of the cold winter months of the year. Make sure that people are getting out of the office and home at a decent hour, too. Once again, you may think that pulling long hours will help productivity in the long run, but all you're doing is compromising the quality of the work that people can provide you.


While it's true that nobody (yourself likely included) likes to return to work after the fun of the Christmas and New Year season, it isn't as bad as you probably think it is. Indeed, so much of keeping employees engaged during January comes down to a matter of perspective - one that you can fully control just by remembering tips and tricks like those outlined above.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Motivation Matters

Motivation matters. Why? Because without it we fail to thrive. Lack of motivation is linked to lethargy, depression, and higher employee turnover. In contrast, studies show goal setting (even goals WITHOUT attached financial incentives) improved worker performance by 12 to 15%. How well you can motivate yourself or others can have a substantial effect on the pleasure and profit you experience.



Drive and Thrive: Kicking Motivation into High Gear



How do you increase motivation, especially for tasks that aren't always fun? Dan Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, says recognizing what types of motivation work in varying situations can be helpful. For example, while simple extrinsic motivators (bonuses, team incentives, public recognition) are often helpful for linear, task-oriented projects, these "carrot and stick," conditions are not always best:




"The trouble is . . . that for work that is non-routine, for work that isn't algorithmic but is more conceptual, that requires big-picture thinking, that requires a greater degree of creativity, that requires solving more complicated, complex challenges, the if-then motivators don't work very well at all. And that's not even a close call in the science. The behavioral science is very, very clear that- give people those kinds of motivators for creative, conceptual, complex tasks, and they will often underperform."




Pink says it is an intrinsic motivation that prompts people to do a creative activity, working not for incentives but because something is interesting and worthwhile. In the long run, intrinsic inspiration produces greater positivity and more imaginative, enduring results. Researchers identify three keys for building intrinsic motivation:




  1. Autonomy. Autonomy is a sense of authority over our projects or time management. It may involve options like working remotely, flex scheduling, or creative workspaces. While autonomy allows greater independence, it can be guided in an accountable manner. For example, people are more successful in self-managing when they have goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relative, and time-bound).


  2. Mastery. We all desire to improve, and mastery equips people for continual development. Whether it's on-going education, professional networking, or increased responsibility, we are typically happier when we are growing. How can we equip our team with fresh training or more challenging responsibilities? Is increased mastery giving way to bigger projects or the chance to teach others?


  3. Purpose. Often productivity stems from personal satisfaction; we work from the heart when we're connected to a sense of community, impact, or big picture vision. While not all mundane tasks can infuse passion, typically we underestimate the power of celebrating small wins each day. Teresa Amabile, Harvard Business School professor and author of The Progress Principle, found that the biggest motivator at work was the sense of measurable progress.3 When we believe we're making a considerable contribution, it's almost impossible NOT to be motivated.



What can you do to grow a sense of autonomy or mastery in your workplace? How can your public recognition or team incentives create a greater sense of passion at work? We have many creative ideas and visible tracking options to help you recognize, celebrate, and help your team stay on a path toward motivating fruitful progress. Give us a call to talk more!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Family Support is Key for Succession in a Family Business

Running a successful family business inevitably comes to a critical decision - how to continue the business when the current business owner decides it is time to retire and step away? Some decide to shut the business down. Others sell it to an outsider. Still, others decide to groom a family member to take over, but this can be fraught with risk if the young person turns out to not be interested, prepared, or the right fit.



Ready for a Change



Virenda Gupta found himself in a critical decision place when he was ready to enjoy the rewards of his own hard work building his property tax consultancy. Founded in 1986, RETC was a well-run operation that had taken years and years of dedication, especially in the highly technical accounting world of tax advising. But it was time for Virenda to travel, see family, go back to his historical home in India for visits, and reap some rewards for a change. However, RETC needed to still be managed and directed.



Positioning for Success



Virenda's son, Amish, had initially brought up the hard topic, but both men were engaged and ready to really address the matter on all the key topics of compensation, authority, and ownership. Because they were willing to take it seriously, Virenda and Amish were able to craft a functional and working succession plan, ensuring RETC was positioned to continue for decades to come. And this was a key shift that is essential for family transition; if the current owner cannot envision handing over the reins, the succession discussion with a family member almost always ends in frustration.



Virenda's willingness to work towards succession is not common. In fact, only one out of three family businesses make it to a second owner generation, and only a little more than one out of ten make it to a third family generation. Beyond that, the figure gets down to a single percentage digit below 5 percent. However, some of the greatest resistance is manageable; owners have to get past their role of making all the decisions leading to success and let someone else step forward. And that includes making mistakes. Planning is a key aspect, and smart owners start well ahead of a succession date, grooming potential family replacements years before. There is no 24-hour decision-making in this approach.



Proof Beyond Just Being Family



Virenda is lucky; his son wants the leadership role and is qualified. In almost one out of two cases a non-family member is more qualified to take the leadership role instead. Virenda made a key step to ensure his family was prepared. He chose his son as a potential successor after Amish had proven himself capable doing the work. He then let Amish work elsewhere and earn his stripes versus being protected internally due to just being family. Virenda then had to convince Amish to come back and take the role versus staying on the lucrative path he was already on with big corporations. That meant providing a real path and share for Amish instead of just a figurehead position.



How to Do it Right



Experts are in agreement on the key points of family success:



  • Don't pressure kids to take on a role they are not prepared for.

  • Take on the tough conversation of succession and embrace it honestly with every detail.

  • Get children involved early, foster their interest and love for the business, and then make sure they have all the training needed.

  • Work as a team with everyone having a vested interested in the business' success. Ownership is personal and drives people to commit.

Virenda is now enjoying travel and time to relax in his retirement, and Amish is fully-engaged in his role as RETC's leader. Their story is both a case study of what's done right in a family business succession as well what it takes to prepare for that moment.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Understanding Intent versus Impact in the World of Marketing

It is essential to understand as much about your audience as possible, especially the differences between "intent" and "impact" in the world of marketing. Intent is something that you have total control over - it's what every font selection, every color choice, every turn of phrase and every piece of collateral is ultimately building towards. Impact, on the other hand, is something else entirely. Making an effort to understand the difference between these two concepts is the key to maximum success moving forward.



It All Comes Down to Perspective



The major difference between intent and impact ultimately comes down to a matter of perspective, or an acknowledgment that sometimes a statement (or in this case, a marketing message) isn't necessarily as "black and white" as you may have thought it was. In addition to knowing who the people you're marketing to actually are, it's important to understand as much as you can about the way they think.



Before you send any marketing message out into the world, there are a few key questions you need to ask yourself:



  • How will this message play in different regions of the country? Are there certain terms that are used one way on the coasts and another way in middle America? What difference does that make, if any, in terms of how that message would be received?


  • How do pain points differ based on audience? Is a very specific problem that one portion of your audience has not an issue at all to others? How does something like economic status play into how a particular message might be received?


  • How will the culture change the way the impact of a message varies when compared to the original intent? Even if you're not a global company, think about things from that perspective. You would probably have to make some adjustments to your messaging when marketing to customers in Europe versus those in the United States as you're talking about two totally different cultures with different norms and taboos. Are there any cultural implications that might adjust the impact of your message in a way you're unprepared for?

This approach will help give you as much insight as possible into the various perspectives of the people you're trying to reach, which can not only make campaigns resonate more but it can also help avoid sticky issues like this one at the same time.



At the end of the day, the difference between intent and impact in the world of marketing can be summarized like this. "Intent" is the thing that you were trying to do - the message you were trying to convey or the goal you were trying to accomplish. "Impact" is what you actually did, which itself is influenced by a wide array of different factors. Sometimes a message that you had complete confidence in is received in a way that you could never have predicted and these are the types of moments you need to be ready for.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Royal Road to the Heart

A Royal Road to the Heart

"The royal road to a man's heart is to talk to him about the thing he treasures most."



Relationships are the backbone of everything we do, especially in business. Whether you intentionally network or avoid small talk like the plague, relationships are something you can't afford to ignore. A Harvard University study showed that only 15% of the reason a person gets, keeps, or advances in a job is related to technical expertise, but a crushing 85% has to do with our interpersonal skills!



Networking is a Lifestyle


Here's the good news: the best networking is what naturally occurs in authentic, real-life relationships. Networking isn't just something you do at professional mixers or conventions, rather, connections that leverage results are the ones we build every day. Networking is not an event, it's a lifestyle! However, daily networking means you may need to stretch yourself socially, which can be a challenge for Americans. The APA defines Social Phobia as an (irrational) fear of looking stupid, and social phobia is especially common in the United States. Social phobia can be healthy, acting as a "social glue" in relationships and protecting our reputation. But is there a down side? Does social phobia keep us from advancing? Maybe more than we think!



Conversations: The Critical Link to Success


"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."



Conversations are a critical link in the chain of relationships that lead to success, so if you want to grow professionally you need to get over your nerves and genuinely enjoy people. Sweaty palms? That's ok! The best way to conquer fear is to go out and get busy! Here is a wonderful visual memory "stack" to move conversations forward and empower you for more proactive, inspiring conversations.



The Conversational Stack



Visual #1: A huge brass nameplate.
Introductions start with names, and people love talking about themselves! Use names early and often.



Visual #2: Atop the nameplate sits a large white house.
Ask where someone lives or where they grew up. When people talk about their hometown they loosen up and you find many common connections.



Visual #3: Inside the house is a family playing board games by the fire.
Ask about family and important relationships!



Visual #4: On the fireplace is a large work glove and a clock.
Work and daily tasks are a huge part of identity. Chat about work, school, or how they spend their TIME.



Visual #5: The work glove holds the tail of an airplane.
Many people adore traveling and talk for hours about their adventures.



Visual #6: The propeller of the airplane is a tennis racket.
Ask people about leisure, hobbies, and what brings them joy.



Visual #7: The airplane propeller is attached by a lightbulb.
People love to discuss books they've read or concepts of interest. People think cool thoughts; encourage them to SHARE!



Visual #8: On the lightbulb stands a Private First-Class soldier.
If you want to genuinely connect, never forget to ask about Problems, Frustrations, and Concerns.



Visual #9: The soldier holds a football goal post and a trophy.
If you want to inspire, be sure to ask about goals, dreams, and accomplishments. Affirm and encourage people too!



A Guaranteed Return on Investment


Why make conversation? Because success stems from relationships, and great conversations always bring a 100% return. So, go enjoy people, and stop in to see us soon. We look forward to more wonderful conversations with you this year!