The Benefits of Giving Back

The Benefits of Giving Back

Supporting your community not only helps those in need; it also boosts your business. Here are some tips to make a strategic community giving work for your business.

Choose Causes that Align with Your Business

When deciding which causes, groups, or organizations to support, look for ones that align with your company’s values and mission. Supporting causes your customers also care about enhances your reputation and fosters relationships. When your community giving is authentic, customers take notice.

Look for Ongoing Partnerships 

While one-off donations or events have value and are important to charitable groups and causes, establishing ongoing partnerships lead to deeper community impact and engagement. Sustained support shows true commitment and identifies your business with a worthwhile cause.

Get Creative with Support

Financial donations are just one way to help. Get your employees involved by letting them volunteer on company time. Promote your charitable partner’s news and events through social media, email, events and sales promotions. Offer your products, services or expertise pro-bono to the organization. By giving your time and talent, you show community dedication beyond just writing a check. 

The Bottom Line

A culture of giving back inspires staff and makes your business more attractive to like-minded customers and future employees. It’s a win-win situation.

If you would like to discuss strategies to grow your business, let’s talk:

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Driving Change in Your Business by Influencing Behavior Change

Driving Change in Your Business by Influencing Behavior Change

Influencing behavior is one key to growing your company and building a strong culture. Whether you’re trying to attract new customers, drive repeat business, or cultivate a collaborative team mindset among employees, a strategy that inspires people to change their actions to achieve your desired outcome is critical. 

That’s why I want to introduce you to the Four Laws of Behavior Change from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, which was on the bestseller list for nine months. While most think of these principles as applying to personal growth, they also provide actionable ways to shape behaviors across your business.

1) Cue: Make It Obvious

Often, people don’t do what you want because it’s not clear what you expect or how it benefits them. 

For customers, make sure your marketing clearly communicates what you offer and how it improves their lives. Your storefront, website, and promotions should signal your core brand promise. Be sure the language is clear, and photos or videos support your written words. 

Also clearly communicate how customers can engage with you and your business, whether it’s email, phone, directly through your website or in person at your place of business. 

For employees, make sure everyone understands desired outcomes and how their roles contribute. Avoid unclear language and make it easy to find written statements about policies.

2) Craving: Make It Attractive 

According to the second law, you must make the behavior or outcome appealing. People are drawn to things that provide pleasure, enjoyment, or value.

For customers, offer enticing deals, quality products, excellent service, and a welcoming environment.

Foster an engaging, supportive work culture to attract and retain good employees. Make the most of team celebrations by taking photos and sharing them at meetings or on an office bulletin board.

3) Response: Make It Easy

The third law says you need to make the desired behavior easy to perform. Reduce friction, obstacles, and effort as much as possible.

Offer convenience through online ordering, curbside or home delivery, self-checkout and  extended hours. Automate and simplify as much as you can for customers.

Standardize routines for employees to make tasks easier. Use templates where possible for communications. Provide ongoing training and resources.  

4) Reward: Make It Satisfying

Finally, you must make the behavior satisfying, according to the fourth law. People are motivated by recognition and rewards.  

Surprise and delight customers with free gifts, random upgrades, or special treatment. Customers particularly value a personalized loyalty program that gives them choice.

Offer praise and incentives for employees, and celebrate their birthdays and work achievements. Provide development and training opportunities for personal and professional growth.

For employees, consider introducing these four principles in a workshop and together identify cues, cravings, responses, and rewards relevant to your business. I’m confident you and your team will see results with a commitment to transforming behaviors for business growth. 

Low-cost, Creative Strategies to Build a Strong Brand

Low-cost, Creative Strategies to Build a Strong Brand

Having a strong brand is crucial to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Your brand is more than just your logo or tagline. It encompasses your entire identity — your mission, values, personality, visual aesthetic, the emotions you evoke in your customers — and even your shipping boxes.

Having a clear, recognizable brand allows customers to connect with you on a deeper level, laying the foundation for a strong relationship. It builds trust, loyalty, and an emotional attachment to your business. This gives your company an advantage over generic competitors. 

Investing in branding boosts awareness of your business, helps attract your ideal customers, and allows you to command higher prices. But reinforcing your brand doesn’t have to require a huge budget. With some creativity and strategy, you can build a strong brand that resonates with your customers.

Learn how to use free design tools

You don’t have to be a graphics designer to create professional-looking marketing materials with your brand identity. Check out Canva; there’s a free version that you can use to make designs for social media posts, business documents, and print marketing pieces.

Get known on social media

One of the most affordable yet powerful ways to build your brand is through social media. Experiment with different themes to find a style that stands out,  attracts engagement and make it your brand. Some fun examples are wearing a different hat in every post and showing your product in different geographic locations. While this approach works well with humor, you can also use it with a more informative tone. Repetition with variation has always been a winning formula for engaging media campaigns. Borrow this classic approach from the pros!

Host experiential events 

Experiential events like classes, workshops or community or professional group speaking engagements let customers interact with your brand in real life and position you as an expert authority. These events build buzz, attract media attention — and you benefit from the event host’s marketing reach.

Use your packaging creatively

Amazon is one of the top 5 most recognizable brands in the country and a big reason for that is their recognizable package.

Packaging that aligns with your brand identity makes an impression and creates a lasting branded experience. Get creative with packaging design, materials and messaging to turn your product packaging into a branding opportunity. Include a brand story or QR code on packaging to share more about your brand with customers.  Work with a student graphics designer to come up with something that people will notice and remember.

Eye-catching window displays

If you have a storefront, be sure to make the maximum use of that space to promote your brand. Exterior signage should also be consistent with your branding.

Choose a partner

Look for opportunities where you can save on marketing fees by splitting them with a partner. For example, a financial consultant might partner with a provider of related but not competitive services to share the cost of renting a venue to offer a free public seminar. Target to a niche market to attract potential customers already interested in what you both offer. Here are some examples of good partners for an event: financial advisors and private college admissions coaches; financial planners and senior care service providers; financial advisors and wedding planners.

Building your brand doesn’t require a big budget when you get creative. Focus on telling your brand’s story, making connections and providing value for customers in memorable ways.

Roll Up Your Sleeves: 3 Tips to Help Your Team Shine

Roll Up Your Sleeves: 3 Tips to Help Your Team Shine

Want your employees to thrive?  Try these easy tips for fast results.

Tip #1: Set Clear Goals and Expectations

The key to productivity is making sure your employees understand what is expected of them. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals with realistic deadlines. Outline responsibilities and workflows clearly. Have regular one-on-one meetings to align on objectives and provide feedback.

Tip #2: Encourage Collaboration and Communication  

Foster a collaborative environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions and working together. Effective communication improves efficiency by reducing mistakes and duplication of efforts. Recognize employees who support their colleagues. Invite experienced employees to lead a lunch and learn about some aspects of the job, so that everyone on the team understands what other team members do.

Tip #3: Allow Flexibility and Autonomy 

Give employees flexibility in how, when and where they work. Autonomy over their own workflow boosts motivation and ownership. Offer options like remote work, compressed schedules or flexible hours. Trust your team to manage their time. Check in on progress without micromanaging. 

Bonus Tip: Use the Carrot not the Stick

Use the carrot, not the stick. Rather than punishing employees for missing targets, incentivize them to succeed. Make productivity about inspiring and empowering your team, not punishing underperformance. A little encouragement goes a long way. Appeal to your team’s desire to learn, grow and contribute. With this positive approach, they’ll respond better and your business will reap the benefits of higher productivity.

The Secret to Scaling Your Business

The Secret to Scaling Your Business

Running a small business is no easy feat, but seeing your vision become a reality is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. One of the challenges is that small business owners must wear so many different hats — you’re the boss, the visionary, the bookkeeper, the salesperson, the customer service rep — the list goes on and on. 

This is where working with me can make all the difference. As a business coach with a broad range of experience coaching other entrepreneurs across a range of sectors, I can help you navigate the murky waters of operating your business and planning for growth. I can ask the tough questions you may have been avoiding, provide accountability, give you tailored advice and build your confidence. Working together, we will focus solely on developing and applying the best solutions for you and your business. This could include establishing hiring practices, goal setting, mastering business finances, creating marketing and sales strategies, or creating a thriving company culture. 

One of the most important benefits I can provide is an outside perspective and unbiased feedback. When you are entrenched in the day-to-day operations of your business, it can be challenging to see things from an objective point of view. I may see areas for improvement that you’ve overlooked and I may suggest new solutions and strategies that you haven’t considered before. By working with someone who has seen and coached other successful businesses, you get the benefit of a wealth of knowledge and experience with small businesses.

So, if you’re feeling stuck or unsure of your next move, I urge you to consider scheduling a complimentary consultation. Don’t let obstacles hold you back from realizing your dreams.

If you would like to discuss strategies to grow your business, let’s talk:

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Harness the Power of Customer Feedback

Harness the Power of Customer Feedback

Your existing customers hold the key to growing your business. Their insights and opinions provide priceless information to help market your business, improve your offerings, enhance the buying experience, and drive loyalty. Acting on the information you gather directly translates to higher customer satisfaction and retention.

But you can’t just guess what customers think. You need to actively collect feedback by:

  • Asking for feedback at the time of purchase
  • Sending periodic customer satisfaction surveys
  • Asking for online reviews
  • Following up with customers who return products or discontinue services

You can elicit feedback in casual conversations with your customers during the sales interaction, but the value of a more formal, structured feedback process is that you can generate data and form insights from the cumulative results.

Why Feedback Matters

Asking for feedback shows customers you value their business and makes them feel appreciated, which drives customer retention. Your interest in their opinions lets them know you are committed to giving them the best possible experience in return for their business. 

The information you collect from customer feedback will help you grow your business. Simply asking “How did you hear about us?” will identify the most effective channels for acquiring new customers. Asking why you choose our business for your purchase will reveal factors that influence purchasing decisions. Soliciting suggestions on how you can improve products/services or add new offerings will help you stay relevant. 

Offer Incentives

Make it a habit to request feedback from every customer. Not everyone wants to participate in providing feedback, and that’s okay. Offering incentives for their time and feedback will make your request more appealing. A discount code or gift as thanks for completing a survey or leaving an online review is hard to resist. 

Make it easy 

Be respectful of your customers’ time. Ask straightforward questions and keep them to a minimum. Do the survey yourself to test how long it takes to complete it.  For those customers who want to elaborate, your form can have an open field for comments or if the feedback is verbal, ask if there’s anything else they would like to add.

If your survey is online, test the links and make sure the survey loads properly.  If you want a customer to fill out a feedback form in a retail space, give them the paper while you ring up the sale. 

by sending a review request email after a purchase. 

Be responsive

Once you’ve asked for feedback, be prepared to deal with problems. Follow up legitimate issues to see if you can make things right for the customer.

Keeping open communication with customers provides invaluable insight into how to improve and grow your business. By consistently requesting feedback and showing customers you value their opinions, you’ll retain and attract more customers over time. 

If you would like to discuss strategies to grow your business, let’s talk:

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Improving Your Sales Pitch and Perfecting Your Pitching Skills

Improving Your Sales Pitch and Perfecting Your Pitching Skills

Whether you’re speaking to potential clients/customers, investors, or partners, having a polished and persuasive sales pitch makes the difference between achieving your goal or not. In this post, we’ll explore tips and techniques to take your pitch from mediocre to masterful.

Types of sales pitches

Not all pitches are the same. Before you create or refine your pitch, identify your objective and what kind of outcome you want to achieve. Here are a few common types of sales pitches to be aware of:

  • Elevator pitch: A quick 30-60 second pitch explaining your business. Have this fully memorized for any situation.
  • Product/service pitch: A 2-3 minute overview of a specific product or service you offer. Describe the problem your product/service will solve, differentiate your offering from competition, and explain the positive impact your product/service will have.
  • Fundraising pitch: A 5-10 minute presentation asking for investment. Focus on your track record, profit potential, and what sets you apart.
  • Partnership pitch: A 3-5 minute pitch proposing a strategic alliance. Emphasize shared goals and mutual benefits.

Shaping your pitch

These guidelines can be adapted to developing any type of pitch.

  • Address pain points.
  • Use data if available to support your key points.
  • Start describing your offering with the most important point.
  • State your ask in clear, simple terms. If you don’t have a clear ask, your pitch will create confusion.
  • Be concise. Respect your prospect’s time by highlighting only the key points. You can dive into relevant details once you’ve engaged the prospect’s interest.
  • Open strong. Consider how you might weave an engaging story around a critical problem you propose solving for the prospect.
  • Customize your pitch. Before you deliver a pitch, research your audience and focus on points that matter most to them. Leave out items that are irrelevant for a specific audience.
  • Use visuals. Choose from a range of options to support your claims and make your pitch more memorable: slides, video, print collateral, or samples.

Honing your pitching skills 

With practice, anyone can become a better pitcher. Here are some skills to develop:

  • Vocal variety. Use changes in tone, speed, and volume to add color.
  • Body language. Use confident, open posture and gestures. Avoid nervous tics.
  • Active listening. Pause to ask questions of your audience and really listen to their replies instead of thinking about what you will say next.
  • Improvisation. Think on your feet to handle questions and reactions smoothly.
  • Storytelling. Craft compelling narratives that capture interest.
  • Memorize your pitch and practice it before you deliver it. If you have to read it, you’re not making eye contact and you diminish your credibility as an expert if you can’t present without notes.
  • Convey your enthusiasm for your offering and what you do.  

With practice and preparation, giving your sales pitch will feel as natural as having a conversation with an old friend. When you’re in your comfort zone, you feel enthusiastic about opportunities to pitch and confident you’ll win the business.

If you would like to discuss strategies to grow your business, let’s talk:

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Take Control Of Your Notes For Next-Level Productivity

Take Control Of Your Notes For Next-Level Productivity

With the multitude of devices we use daily, not to mention long-held habits of writing things down on paper, notes can easily become scattered and disorganized. Good note-taking practices are even more important when you want to share your notes with your team. Over time, a personal note-taking system that simplifies your process and makes your notes more useful will elevate your productivity.

Write notes that will be meaningful in the future

  • Give every note a title so you know what the note is about
  • Date the note in the year-month-day format
  • If relevant, note importance level
  • Use bullet points rather than full sentences
  • For multiple topics on a single note, break each topic into separate sections with subheads
  • Make a list of next steps with due dates at the end of the note

Leveraging digital apps

Leveraging digital note apps allows you to take notes on whichever device is most convenient at the time, while syncing everything to a central platform accessible across all devices. Popular options like Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep make it seamless to type, dictate, clip web content, and snap photos of handwritten notes, no matter which device you’re using at the moment. 

These apps have various functions to streamline your work process. You can add a due date and reminders to a note, and you may be able to integrate your notes with your calendar. They also offer multiple options to share your notes with others through emails and texts, so you can take the note and share it all from one place. The more you can integrate a note with other parts of your workflow, the more useful the note will be.

Choose one app that works for you and stick with it. Using multiple note platforms will result in creating more work and inefficiency because you’ll have to search two places to find pat notes.

Take advantage of note templates

Most digital apps will allow you to create a template so you have a ready framework whenever you start a new note. Consider which categories you always need, such as title, date, time, and next steps, and use them in a template. These labels will serve as prompts to ensure your notes are in a consistent format and you have included all relevant information.

Avoid note chaos

While digital apps make it easy to capture information, it’s still up to you to create a system to organize your notes into folders and, if desired, add tags to increase your ability to find specific notes later. 

Scheduling time regularly to maintain your note system will help you keep the system organized. Weed out notes that are no longer relevant, if you don’t need the documentation. If you have notes on paper that you’ll need over time, transfer them to your digital app. 

A new habit for a new year

If you take notes on a regular basis, taking your process to the next level of organization by using a digital note platform will not only make a difference in your overall productivity, but you will feel confident that you’ll never overlook an important item.

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you grow your business, let’s talk:

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Looking Back to Move Forward

Looking Back to Move Forward

These last days of December are the perfect time to step back and take stock of your personal and professional accomplishments. While you may remember most of the hits and misses, intentionally conducting an end-of-year personal annual review will surface insights to give your clearer understanding and direction in the year ahead.

The Value of Looking Back to Move Forward

As a business owner, it’s your job to constantly look ahead and anticipate what will happen next. But it’s an invaluable exercise to reflect on the past 12 months. Celebrate your wins, process the losses, and sharpen your vision moving into the new year.

Reflect on Progress Made

You’ll get the most out of this exercise by drilling down into the details. When you respond to the prompts, reference specific numbers, achievements, and people. 

Insights for the Future 

Identifying patterns in what worked well this year gives you the recipe for repeating your successes. Reviewing mistakes tells you what to change or avoid. Here are some prompts to consider in an end-of-year personal annual review:  

1. Greatest Hits

  • Think of three things that went exceptionally well this year. 
  • What factors contributed to the wins? 
  • Are there next steps to build on these successes?

2. Biggest Misses

  • What were the top three biggest obstacles or failures you experienced in the past year? 
  • What held you back or got in your way of success? 
  • What can you change that would lead to a different result in the future?

3. Key Skills Learned

  • What new abilities, knowledge, or lessons did you learn in the past year? 
  • What was the most useful? 
  • What do you want to learn more about?

4. Connections to Cultivate

  • Think about how you have expanded your network this past year.
  • Did you join a new group? 
  • How many meetings did you schedule with new contacts?
  • Which of those contacts will you continue to nurture in the coming year?

5. New Opportunities 

  • What new business opportunities did you discover this past year?
  • Did you introduce a new product or service? 
  • Did you partner with another business in your industry or community?
  • Did you participate in any events, such as business conferences and seminars?

6. Marketing Communications

  • What marketing channels were most effective for you this year?
  • What didn’t work? 
  • Did you try a new marketing strategy? 
  • Did you update any of your marketing materials or your digital messaging?
  • Were you involved in your community?

How did you do? If you’re pleased with the results, that’s great and keep growing! If you’re not satisfied, select the areas you want to improve in the new year. Reach out if you’d like guidance in shaping a growth plan for your business.

If you would like to discuss strategies to grow your business, let’s talk:

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Speak Up: Mastering Public Speaking for Business Success

Speak Up: Mastering Public Speaking for Business Success

Don’t underestimate the importance of public speaking to your overall business success. A good speaker exudes confidence and invites interaction. Being able to clearly communicate your ideas and passion to an audience — whether it’s just one person or a crowd — is a crucial skill for any entrepreneur. Whether you’re selling to a customer, pitching investors, delivering a company presentation, or speaking at an industry event, strong public speaking abilities can help you connect with people, influence them, and get results.

The Power of Persuasion  

A powerful public speaker commands the undivided attention of the audience through positive body language, meaningful eye contact, vocal variety and crisp articulation. When audiences are fully engaged, they are more receptive to the speaker’s central message and ideas.

Relate to Your Audience

Great communicators tailor their speech to resonate. Understand your audience’s pain points, goals and values. Use relevant examples, data and real-life, personal stories to illustrate how your product or company serves their needs. This relevance strengthens your bond and authority with listeners. You can connect by demonstrating your understanding of their  hopes and challenges.

Avoid giving too much data or overly technical information in an oral presentation that might bore or confuse the audience. Save the data for a follow-up email, a social media or blog post, or a physical handout if you are meeting in person. 

Improving Your Skills 

Fortunately, the more you practice public speaking, the more your skills increase. Practice presentations aloud and with mirrors to develop self-assurance. Record yourself to spot areas needing polish. Try to memorize all or parts of your talk or pitch. Join a group like Toastmasters to workshop speeches and techniques. And watch videos of powerful speakers for inspiration. With time and dedication, you can gain the skills to captivate audiences of any size.

The best way to improve you skills is to “just do it.” Look for opportunities to speak about your business in public; for example, a chamber meeting, your local library, a career day at a high school or a professional association event. The more compellingly you communicate, the more you can inspire your audience to share your vision and influence their decision-making process to support your business.

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you grow your business, let’s talk:

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