Don’t Wait until Thanksgiving to Thank Your Employees

Thanking your employees near or over Thanksgiving week is at best a cliché, and at worst hollow and counterproductive, and will more likely be seen for the marketing ploy it is. Thanksgiving isn’t a day. It isn’t an email to employees. It isn’t a pre-written message from the CEO.

Companies that treat their employees well all year and regularly express thanks for their work and loyalty are reaping the rewards of greater employee retention, positive brand awareness and word-of-mouth. 

So how do you make thanking employees and other key constituents a habit year-round?  Here are a four recommendations that can become part of your regular communication rhythm:

1. Thank you notes
Hand-written and/or email. A simple word or two of recognition goes a long way, every day of the year with your employees and partners.

2. Surprise extras
Bring your team coffee sometime. Pick up the tab for your booth staffers the next time you’re at a trade show. These little extras go a long, long way towards gratitude, appreciation and loyalty.

3. Random calls from executives
Give your leadership team a short list of employees and partners to call each week. The impact that has on employees and partners who may have little to no direct interaction with these high-visibility people is huge.        

4. Like and favorite their content on social
The split-second it takes you to click that Like or Favorite button on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook pales in comparison to the value you get from that individual for having taken the time to do so.   

 Article Excerpted from piece written by Matt Heinz, the President of Heinz Marketing. 

Thought-Provoking Quotes About Work-Life Balance

No matter how good you are at your job, you probably often think: I could be doing more. Call it work-life balance, work-life coexistence, or simply life, but balancing responsibilities can be stressful in an always-on world.

Here are some snippets of profound quotes from a few top business execs to help you get your own Work-Life Balance on… (full story and quotes here)

#1 Understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it it will bounce back.  but the other four balls  – family, health, friends, and spirit are made of glass. They will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” – Brian Dyson, Former COO of Coca-Cola

#2 “You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful.

#3 “You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”

#4 You can’t have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

#5 “Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.”

Read the whole piece and Find out who said which quote here

Excerpt courtesy of Salesforce.com‘s contributing writer Heike Young 

The Fine Line Between a Logo and a Brand

The phone rings at 95 North headquarters from a business owner who says “I’m starting a business and I need a logo”.  Our response is, “Congratulations, but do you  “just need a LOGO” or are you trying to establish a BRAND?”

Most people make the mistake of using the words logos and brand interchangeably.  A logo is just one small part of a brand, and the brand-not the logo-is actually what customers will interact with and fall in love with.

Here’s a quick way to think about it:

A logo is the mark that makes a company identifiable, much as names give people a place in the world.

A brand is a company’s purpose, visualized; it is the heart and soul of the business, capturing and promoting its mission in a desirable way.

A brand identity is the expression of a business and can be flexible, changing as the company grows.

Click here to read about businesses that have used design to go beyond a great LOGO to create truly robust BRANDS.

Or go straight to a few websites with great brands – included below are a Restaurant, a Co-op, a Supermarket, and a Chocolate Maker.

The Peoples Supermarket
Makers & Merchants
The Girl + The Bull
Mast Brothers Chocolate

The strongest brands are built by owners who see beyond the logo; and they utilize the full breadth of design thinking to add flesh to a business, transforming it into something that comes to life.

Courtesy of and Adapted from the April 2015 issue of Entrepreneur 

“Never Offline” is NOT Good for Business – or Life for that matter

Time Magazine did a piece entitled NEVER OFF LINE which addressed the fact that too many professionals never put down the gadgets, and it’s only going to get worse as technology evolves into Apple Watches and more.   

But Erica Ariel Fox argues that professionals who are “never offline” spend far too much time reacting and far too little time leading or solving problems. They get seduced by the tactical, forgetting to put the gadgets away in order to think deeply about strategic issues. They start to accept relating to other people in the “virtual” world, neglecting the intimacy that personal relationships require to thrive – the kind you create face-to-face. They make decisions in a frenzied, buzzing state of mind, underestimating the impact that constant connectivity has on the functionality of the brain.

If you’re interested in being OFF LINE MORE – here are three places to get started.

1. Set aside no-technology zones. The dinner table. The bedroom. Even the bathroom. No place seems safe from the intrusion of the gadgets. Start small by carving out a space or two where no technology is allowed. You can also carve out no-technology zones in time. Sunday mornings before noon. Evenings after ten pm. Notice what’s different in those places or times after you protect these zones for a while.

2. Actually talk to your colleagues. Each day, reclaim some time for real human connection. If you’ve developed the habit of texting or instant messaging a colleague who sits down the hall, stand up and go visit her desk for a quick conversation instead of holding a virtual exchange. If you’re stuck on an endless thread of messages about a project, ask the people in the office to get off email and meet in the conference room. Yes, the people you work with aren’t necessarily nearby. But that’s no excuse to stop relating in person with the people who are physically located in your building.

3. Eat meals without your Smartphone (or soon to be Smart Watch) nearby. Your heart and mind get overstimulated by constant incoming information. This disturbs the needed rest or “recovery” time you need between bursts of productive focus. When you sit down for lunch, whether you’re alone or with other people, turn the screens off and let yourself settle down. Instead of jumping from one hyperlink to another, see how you feel as your breathing slows down, your thoughts come a bit more slowly, and you reflect on things instead of taking in something new.

Piece excerpted from / and special thanks to Erica Ariel Fox’s Blog.

More on Erica can be found here:   http://www.ericaarielfox.com/

 

8 ideas to use for your business, courtesy of Jerry and the Boys

Love or hate the music of The Grateful Dead, you should know that they were cutting-edge marketers, as detailed in a book called Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.

Create a new category of business that works for YOU
Most bands of the period focused on selling albums to make their money. The Dead went the opposite way. They decided to make their money on their live show and toured almost all year round. Go against the norm -Carve out your own niche market.    

Cut out your middleman
Rather than selling tickets through Ticketmaster, they simply sold the tickets directly to their fans. Deal direct with your customers.  

Let your customers spread your brand (much easier now using social media)
Decades before Napster, the Dead grasped the value of peer to peer sharing. Unlike other bands at the time, the Dead didn’t try and stop people from bootlegging their live shows. Microphone stands were a regular sight at their concerts.  Encourage your customers to spread your name, and your content.

 Get a cool brand name
The band decided to get away from its original generic name The Warlocks – and renamed themselves the Grateful Dead to be unique and memorable. When you select an uncommon name, it’s unlikely that consumer will confuse your product with something similar. They will remember you. (I bet Jerry would think 95 North is a cool name for a marketing company….don’t you? )

Become a “platform” for other businesses
If you have a very successful product like the Grateful Dead had, it’s easy to open it up to others to build off your success. Case in point, the parking lots at Dead shows became a traveling ecosystem of businesses – from veggie burritos to handmade jewelry to magic mushrooms. Don’t be afraid to partner with businesses and allow them to grow WITH your brand and products. 

Communicate directly with your customers
The Dead were one of the first to have their own nationwide mailing list that connected them directly with their fans. Decades later, they were one of the early adopters of email.  It’s now easier than ever to communicate with customers – so start doing it today!   

Use technology to gain an edge
Rather than rely on what was available, the band built their own concert rig which traveled with them wherever they went. No explanation needed.  

Hire a “community” manager to make your customers love you
In 1968 the Dead hired a fan, Scott Brown, to help them manage their community. Way before Facebook and Twitter, the manager shared small, personal details with their Fan Club. The band also responded directly to personal messages and shared user generated content like artwork with the larger community through their mailing list. Hire social media “fire-starter” or groom an enthusiastic salesperson to spread your company name.  

Almost 50 years after their start, The Dead is still proving that being unique and doing what comes naturally is the best way to build a following for your business. 

Excerpt adapted from article in Business Insider  

Buy the book: Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead:
by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan

Perfect Your 3-Minute Pitch

A solid three-minute pitch can help you attract vendors and suppliers, recruit employees, and more. These 3 steps will help you perfect your pitch.

Get their attention…
….with a short opener that tells what your company does, why it’s unique and how it serves your customers. Your goal is to encourage your audience to want to hear more. And organize it into three parts: an opener, an explanation of what your company does, and a very short story or technical detail designed specifically to invite your audience to pick up the conversational ball.

Tell them the right story
Make sure your story is tailored to a specific audience – not same pitch to all audiences. Develop several two-sentence examples of client experiences for different audiences. The first sentence explains what you did for the client; the second provides just one fact about the results the project delivered.

Keep ’em on the hook
Whether you are presenting to investors via a PowerPoint presentation or introducing yourself at a networking event, your goal is to start a relationship. Make the pitch more about the audience and less about you. You have to quickly figure out how your business is relevant to that exact person you are speaking  – It’s not about sharing what’s interesting to you about the company, but what’s interesting to them about it.

Read the full story here:  Entrepreneur Magazine

10 Things Every Small Business Website Needs

The web is full of some lame websites. (If you cringe when you refer prospects to your current site – then this means you)

And it’s not always just about design – there are many other elements besides how your web­site looks that go into making it customer and prospect friendly – not to mention a site that inspires a person to actually do business with you.

Below are the essentials that every small business website should have – and all can be had for under $2500.00

  1. A clear description of who you are
  2. A simple, sensible Web address
  3. An easy-to-navigate site map
  4. Easy-to-find contact information
  5. Customer testimonials
  6. An obvious call to action
  7. SEO basics
  8. Fresh, quality content
  9. A secure hosting platform
  10. A design and style that’s friendly to online and mobile readers.

Contact 95 North for a quote on a refresh of your current site or for us to build you a brand new site.

Courtesy of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Instant Start Up Guide (3/15)

Quick tips to help strike up a conversation at your next networking event

Become a storyteller:  Captivate strangers through compelling tales. Your story makes you human and reveals your personal truth.

Show genuine interest:  Ask the right questions and give new acquaintances time to open up.

Be yourself:  Don’t pretend to be some one you are not (or worse don’t try to speak in a way that you normally don’t speak) Express your real personality and share your struggles as well as your achievements.

Show gratitude: When someone does you a favor or goes out of their way to help you, thank them in person. Send them a hand written note, take them to lunch or treat them to a cup of coffee.

Never stop learning: The best way to ensure interesting conversations is to know a little about a lot. Stay up-to-date on current events and industry news.

To read entire piece and discover 4 more ways follow this link and enjoy!    

Pieces of this story courtesy of Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin’s Press, 2005).

5 Tips to Boost Your Small Business Clients

Yes this is post basically an infomercial for Constant Contact – but it’s valid, accurate and timely info that all small businesses who need to market themselves can employ – no matter what email marketing platform you use.  (Mail Chimp, Ad mail,  or Constant Contact ) – Email marketing is truly the easiest way to attract, engage, and retain customers.  

This easy five-step process contains everything you need to be successful.

1. Ask for permission  – If you let them know the benefits of subscribing they’re more likely to sign up and look forward to hearing from you.

2. Be where your customers are- Identify the two social media channels where your customers are most active and tailor your marketing efforts to those channels

3. Provide valuable content – Your passion for what they do. Your enthusiasm is contagious- pass it on!

4. Engage your customers – Engage customers using genuine dialog, don’t sell or push product

5. Track your progress – The more you understand about your audience and your progress, the stronger your marketing results will be.

Full Story courtesy:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/native/n?prx_t=Sq0BAx10CAyJ8BA

5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Unlike a business plan, a marketing plan focuses on winning and keeping customers;  It includes numbers, facts and objectives. A good marketing plan spells out all the tools and tactics you’ll use to achieve your sales goals – thinking printed pieces, emails blasts, social media and more.160910423-1

It also spells out your plan of action—what you’ll sell, who’ll want to buy it and the tactics you’ll use to generate leads that result in sales. And it doesn’t have to be a 60 page thesis or beautifully written – just has to give you a road map and establish a team to get you there.   Here are the steps.    Get the full story here:

Step 1: Begin with a snapshot of your company’s current situation, called a “situation analysis.”

Step 2: Describe your target audience.

Step 3: List your marketing goals.

Step 4: Develop the marketing communications strategies and tactics you’ll use.

Step 5: Set your marketing budget.

Excerpt from the book Start Your Own Business, written by the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc.