marketing

How Do You Communicate Your Business Culture?

I am in the process of opening a second business location (it’s in the works; we’ll announce it when we have things like an opening date!) and, as Grant Cardone would say, the whole thing is giving me better problems.

We can’t escape problems entirely ever, but I think most of us would rather deal with the problems of having 10 million dollars than the problems of having 10,000 dollars! Life is not really about getting rid of our problems, but instead about putting ourselves in a position to face better problems.

One of our ‘better’ problems is this second business location thing communicating company culture. I can’t be more than one place at once so we have to set the tone of Anchorspace’s culture at two geographically different locations without me having to defy relativity by being at both.

I think a big part of why most companies make their employees go in a location and sit on their butts in a chair for X hours a day (even if location isn’t important to the job) is because they are either:
a) too lazy to communicate the company’s culture or
b) they have no idea what their culture even is.

How do I communicate our Anchorspace culture across two locations so we attract the right kind of customers and create a really amazing environment for everyone? How does anyone do that?

Option 1: Staff/Board Training

One way to communicate corporate culture is to make sure everyone is working from the same knowledge base. When you ask someone to ‘greet the customer,’ what should this person ask or tell the customer? At Anchorspace we made a ‘member wall’ in our main office with everyone’s name and face. So when a member walks in, we can greet them in a different way than someone new. We may ask a member if we should make another pot of coffee whereas a new person would be offered a tour.

Clearly this option takes more time because it involves working with people one on one or in a group setting but I like that it gives people input. If people are remote, I don’t see how this couldn’t be done with video trainings coupled with regular check-ins during which there is a clear agenda.

I know for our marketing company, our yearly retreat is super helpful in getting everyone reinvigorated and on the same page. Here’s our process and a sample agenda if you are interested in running a retreat with your small team.



Option 2: Reinventing The Employee Handbook

If you want something a bit less hands on or time intensive, why not revisit that stale employee handbook you have? (I haven’t looked at ours in a year and I’m not even sure Jane and Nate have seen it!)

A handbook not only gives your new hire the information they need and covers your butt as the employer, but it can also communicate work culture. Here are some non-stuffy examples (one involves an interactive website; another finger puppets): https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-news/pages/unique-employee-handbooks.aspx

Think of your employee handbook reboot as a way to address corporate culture in a fun and memorable way.

Check out the amazing corporate culture of Zingerman’s; even their ‘thanks for applying’ page has personality: http://blog.nus.edu.sg/audreyc/2014/02/26/creating-and-sustaining-culture-the-case-of-the-smallest-cool-company-in-america-zingerman/

Option 3: Clear marketing messaging, online and off.

Do you refer to people as customers or clients? Or maybe you say community members or partners or cowpokes?
I know it seems pretty basic, but picking a word for the people who spend money with you definitely is making a decision… And with your business you’ll make seemingly endless, little decisions that all add up to a culture.

What kinds of adjectives you use? Fonts and graphics? Descriptors? Sotheby’s International Realty are the most detailed marketing guidelines I’ve seen, from acceptable email signature formats to how headshots need to be taken but it does explain their consistency across their international range of markets!

A lot of people refer to these as ‘branding guidelines’ but for most people, that’s things like logo treatments, acceptable fonts and colors, and other design elements. But being comprehensive and making sure you use similar tone of voice and more subtle forms of branding will definitely set the tone for your company culture.

Are you like me and just haven’t necessarily given a ton of thought to this? I know I didn’t think I was very particular… until someone else was doing the work, then suddenly I had all kinds of opinions.

In other words, having a company culture and communicating it not only attracts the right customers to you but also prevents you from becoming a controlling jerkface kind of a boss, which makes everyone happier. Win-win-win.

So give a thought to your company culture because as you scale up or even change course, it’ll give you a lot of direction. And if you want to geek out, this is an article I’ve bookmarked for detailed future reading:  https://emplify.com/blog/company-culture-examples/

Vivre your corporate culture!



My Attempt at Giving Up Online Shopping

This winter, I thought I’d try to give up online shopping for 40 days. I don’t think I spend too much money online, most of what I get is stuff I need- and I’m actually part of the 8 out of 10 Americans that participates in ecommerce (source). I even started writing this post about the experience 2 weeks in. I had to change the title of the post, though, because…well, I didn’t make it through the whole 40 days. Instead of writing about my successful endeavor, I get to write about how and why this experiment was a glorious failure.

Convenience

Perhaps the biggest hurdle going into this experiment was the knowledge that everything I needed/wanted wasn’t exactly right at my fingertips for 40 days. Instead, I’d have to be a little more thoughtful about upcoming purchases (especially since we live in a place where geographically you might have to drive a bit for certain things). This isn’t impossible, just inconvenient at times.



Mindful Internet Browsing

The thing that was surprisingly hard was how much more of a conscious effort I had to make whenever I was online. It was actually a bit jarring to realize how complacent I’ve become in my internet browsing. For instance, I’d go on Facebook and an ad for a dress or something baby related would appear in my newsfeed, so I’d usually just click on it and see what there was to see, whether or not I was planning on making a purchase. During this experiment, “window shopping” also wasn’t allowed (meaning I couldn’t just go to Amazon and put stuff in my cart to save for later)- which made things a little trickier.

Scarcity Mindset

Another thing I had to battle was a scarcity mindset. When I got emails with subject lines like “You’ll never see deals like these again,” a very small part of me almost went into panic mode. It was like hitting a tripwire in my brain and suddenly I was like, “Wait, I should probably check and see, just to be sure.” The rational part of my brain knows that next month, I’ll still be getting emails from the same companies with the same message. The irrational part of my brain desperately wanted to see what these deals were, just in case. It doesn’t sound like it should be that hard, but I was fighting against some brain wiring.



Exclusivity

The other thing that was hard to work around was making purchases on registries. Around the one-month mark for this experiment, my cousin shared her Amazon Baby Registry with the family for her upcoming baby shower. Then, we got the registry information for my brother and future SIL’s registry for their wedding this fall.  Sure, worst case I could’ve waited until the last minute to buy something, or just gone rogue and purchased some things off-registry, but as someone who just went through the whole birth thing, I understand that registry stuff can be based on needs so I try to be sensitive to that. Point is, there are a lot of things that you can only find online (some stores will even have certain products listed as “online only,” for instance).

Overall, this was a pretty interesting learning experience, even if I ultimately failed.

  1. I’m not as impervious to marketing messages as I thought. And it turns out, 71% of people believe they’ll find a better deal online than in stores (source), and it might have something to do with really good marketing.
  2. I’ve gotten used to the convenience of online shopping. It’s so easy to “just order it online” when I’m getting low on something…and it’ll just come right to wherever I am, no driving or having to deal with crowds (ok, that part isn’t as much of a concern).
  3. It might actually be really hard for me to give up online shopping. Not in a way that I think I’m overspending or anything like that, but in the case of online registries, it’s a part of the lifestyle I’m used to having. I remember the days when you would have to go into a store (like Filene’s) and find someone’s registry. It’s a lot of effort compared to what you can just do from your couch these days.

I do recommend this experiment to anyone who might want to get control of their budget or anyone who wants to understand what kinds of online marketing they are most susceptible too. It’s one thing to buy things because you like them but knowing why could help you find awareness, discipline, and intention in other parts of your life, too. In the meantime, if you have a business, think about what kind of business you could be doing online (our course might help). 

Now please excuse me while I run three errands at once from my web browser.



You’re The BLANK Guy

I was meeting with a client and the discussion was getting off course.

And it’s easy for that to happen. We all have multiple passions and he kept bringing all the different things he wanted his company to do into the discussion.

I looked at him and said. “OK, so if someone is referring to you. You are John the _____ guy. What’s in that blank?”

I think this is a good question to ask ourselves.

So if I’m “the marketing gal, that directs my course.”

But it doesn’t limit me. I can talk about business, about writing, about politics, about dogs… it’ll just tie back to marketing if it’s on this blog or has to do with this business.

You are “NAME, the ____________ person.”

Think about how those fill out, and how you’re spending your time, your money, your energy to get there.



Sometimes, other people might perceive you as something that you don’t necessarily want to be.

For example, I internally cringe when someone says “Oh you’re Nicole, the Facebook girl.”  I mean, I like Facebook and all but I don’t want to be a one trick pony. So how can you overcome a blank people have filled in on your behalf that doesn’t feel quite like you? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Pull back on your marketing related to “the thing you are already known for” and plug other stuff.
  2. Hold an event about the thing you *want* people to know you for.
  3. Ask your best customers who you’ve done other work for to write reviews about that other work on Facebook, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, etc.
  4. Offer a bundle/package, putting your popular offering with a less popular offering.
  5. Create a separate company/website that does the different thing you want to be known for, and do both things in a separate kind of way (this is called the ‘can’t fight city hall’ option).

For my own efforts, I’ve done an SEO online course that I’ve been promoting the crap out of. I have been actively asking people who I Wordpress Coach and provide other services for if we can use them as case studies. We built a separate ecommerce business to showcase our abilities related to content marketing and web development.

While I still get “Facebook girl” every once in awhile, actively diversifying (and probably growing out my natural graying hair color) has gotten people to see me as other things, like “the SEO lady” and “the GiftMDI lady.”

So remember, you’re a multipassionate entreprenneur/jack of all trades/complex person, but make sure how people know you is deceptively simple. And with a time and effort, you can change your reputation, at least for some of the people you run into.



Marketing Super Niche Services With Carla Tanguay

What if your customers were both individuals and companies?
What if your service was something not a lot of people understood, let alone realized they needed?
What if you were one of seven people in your whole state who did what you did-so basically any and all local awareness about your profession was up to you?

We talked to Carla Tanguay of Modulations Therapies, a music therapist who makes her home in Bar Harbor, about her industry, how she established credibility, and why, despite the fact she’s been only doing this for a couple years on her own, Nicole kept hearing her name everywhere.

She also dispels some music therapy myths (ex: it is prohibitively expensive, it is only for sick or old people, etc.)

To learn more about Carla and her work:
https://www.modulationstherapies.com
https://www.modulationstherapies.com/blog
www.facebook.com/modulationstherapies
www.twitter.com/ModulationsMT

Marketing a Piece of Cake

I have always had a bit of a sweet tooth. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of my adult teeth are actually “sweet.” Unfortunately it’s not possible for me to physically be at all the bakeries I’d like to (and there are so many to choose from around here), so that’s why I follow them all on social media.

The benefit is that I get to see delicious cupcakes and other goodies on a daily basis, even if I can’t physically make it into the store. Another benefit, which we’ll get into more in a bit, is that I’ll sometimes make a special trip to a bakery if I know in advance that they’re going to have a certain goodie there.

Based on some of the bakeries I’ve seen online, I’ve noticed a few things that bakeries do in their marketing to get people in the door.



Online Order or Inquiry Forms. One simple thing bakeries can do is set up a form on their website to take orders. For instance, if you get a lot of pie orders around Thanksgiving, you can create a simple form to let people know what your flavor options are. You can also use it as a way to filter out what you do and don’t offer (i.e. you only do chocolate, vanilla, and carrot cakes and nothing else) as a way to cut down on inquiries. Obviously, for those that do custom ordering, it’s difficult to implement a form to cover the infinite options, so instead you could do a general, initial contact form so that you know the person is looking for a marble cake for their cat’s 5th birthday. Sweet Sensations Bakery/3 Dogs Café  has a good system on their Specialty Cakes Page.

Galleries/Albums. I remember going to Hannaford and flipping through their birthday cake album that they had on the stand by the bakery and planning pretend birthday parties (…for myself). While it’s a little trickier if you do a lot of custom work, you can offer galleries of your past work to showcase what you’re capable of doing so potential customers can get an idea. For instance, Cakes Downeast showcases cakes after they’re made on her Facebook page.

Price Points & Offerings. Another idea for offering people as much information as possible before they contact you is to create a page of price points and offerings on your website. 3 Dogs Café is a great example of this on their website. For instance, on their bakery page they have a table of cake flavors, sizes, and the prices (with information about how many each size typically feeds).

Marketing Scarcity… “Limited supply” is one way to make people flock through the door FAST, especially when it comes to cookies. One thing that I’ve seen bakeries do (that totally works on me) is announcing when they’ve made something that they don’t usually make, AND letting people know that there is a limited supply (i.e. one batch/one cake etc). It also works as a way to test a new product. For instance, after seeing this cake, I considered driving to Bangor to grab a slice (tragically my schedule didn’t allow it).

…And Regularity. Most places have at least a few staple products that are always available, like coffee, bagels, etc. While getting people in the door for goodies you make occasionally is a good tactic, it also helps to let people know what they can expect on a daily basis. Of course it can be hard to keep up with posting social media while you’re also trying to run a business. A Slice of Eden in Bar Harbor has an interesting solution-by posting their soup and bagel of the week, and anything else to expect.

Speaking of regularity, making sure business hours are up to date on social media is key. Many bakeries are early to open/close, and people are more likely to stop in on their way to work if they know you’ll be open during their commute.

And whatever you do, remember to have fun, like our friends at Mount Dessert Bakery!

Whether you run a bakery (or just stalk them online like I do), here’s hoping this post gave you some ideas… and maybe an excuse to get your favorite carb at your favorite local bakery.

Note: If you are on or near us, Gift MDI has a very useful blog post about the best $5 carbohydrate you can get at every local bakery.



“Go for No,” Boundaries and Putting Your Work Out There

I recently realized how lucky I am. Although my baby is 100% dependent on me for all things, she can’t do crazy things like move or talk back to me. But there will come a day when I have to tell her “No.” It’s not because she’s bad or prone to getting into trouble- she just doesn’t understand that the world has boundaries.

As an adult, that’s a blessing and a curse.

There’s an obvious argument for boundaries, like personal space and not taking things that don’t belong to you. But when it comes to being innovative and entrepreneurial, there are some boundaries that inhibit rather than protect.

Last winter as an interesting personal/professional development exercise, I read “Go for No” by Richard Fenton. I don’t wantd to “spoil” it, but the basic premise is that successful sales-people are the ones who keep going beyond where they’re comfortable or successful. Say for instance your goal was to sell 5 books in a month. Once you hit that goal, do you stop or keep going? Well, according to Fenton, you keep going (until you hit “no”).



The idea is that most people set goals that are squarely within their comfort zones. I’m no exception- for two years my “goal time” for a marathon was to finish- even though I’d done them before. Instead, as the book explains, we should be pushing for “failure,” or what we’ve been taught to perceive as failure, and that’s what will help us grow. Staying stagnant doesn’t cut it. (Sidenote: I saw something on Instagram the other day that said “FAIL = First Attempt In Learning”).

But I don’t think my mind was the only one that was boggled by the whole “No is good” concept, because 10 years after the book was written, people are still using it as a reference for sales, and they have a new book called “Go for No Network Marketing” which is a little longer than its prequel. The “Go for No” website and social media channels are also continuously updated still, promoting the work (and you can book the authors to come speak at your next professional development/teambuilding event).

With catchphrases like “eat NO for breakfast” and “stop striving, start arriving,” I am starting to understand the buy-in a little more. Most of all, the book really got me to question something- have I been adverse to sales/self-promotion because it’s actually part of my personality (shyness/introversion) OR because I’ve been taught to stay within a comfort zone?

I guess that’s an answer only I can provide, but if you’re interested in exploring/expanding your potential, whether in a “sales” sense or other professional development sense, “Go for No” is an interesting read that will make you ask some questions only you can answer.

Get a copy of “Go For No” on Amazon (Note: this is an affiliate link)



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24