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Do Life DifferentDo Life Different
Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerstand outCorporations spend tens of thousands of dollars on branding. Think about the “big guys” out there—the Targets and Visas and Starbucks, to name a few. They jealously guard their images. They trademark their logos and slogans. And they go after violators with a vengeance.

They know that their branding is their most important asset.

So why should you, as a work-at-home business owner, think any less?

Unfortunately, many small business owners gravitate to logos and branding that is cheap and free. In fact, some business owners don’t even know what branding is!

A good brand is more than finding a pretty or cool logo. Or going to a cheap and free resource that will give you templates and all you do is plug in your information.

The problem with these resources is it is not tailor-made to your unique business. It is not customized so that your prospects will easily recognize you.

It’s kind of like being lost in a sea of “cookie cutter” homes. Where I live, there are plenty of them! Every time I go in one of these neighborhoods, I get lost because I can’t tell the difference between one house and the next.

It’s the same with your logo and branding. If your logo looks the same as your competition, your prospect will be lost. There’s nothing to distinguish you from the crowd. This is especially problematic with the Internet.

But when you base a logo on strategic analysis, on your Unique Selling Point, your mission, target market, and other factors, you will be building a brand that brings value. This will mean an increase in your bottom line!

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As the owner of a business, you know that keeping your customers happy can make or break your bottom line. The importance of customer satisfaction cannot be overstated, especially when recent surveys suggest that by the year 2020 customer experience will surpass price and product as the main element that sets your brand apart from competitors.

While we know customer experience is vital in growing a successful business – what steps do businesses need to take to ensure customers stay satisfied? Here are a few key ways you can nurture your customer relations and keep a smile on their faces:

Listen to What Your Target Market Wants

We’ve all heard the adage, “talk less, listen more.” There’s a reason this phrase continues to be used in everything from sales training to customer relations because it’s true and it’s the first key to keeping your audience happy. Customer feedback can come in many forms such as social media comments, observation, surveys or email and web forms. Make sure you are having a two-way dialogue, not just spouting off about how great your product or company is. Really listen to what customers are asking for and make the necessary changes. Taking the time to listen to your customers and following through on their requests is a great way to build brand loyalty.

Provide a Secure Platform

If you’re working in an e-commerce business, data security is critical to building customers’ trust. You must provide your clients with a secure website and payment platforms or risk a data breach and the possibility of irreparable damage to your business relationships.

Using an identity theft protection service as part of your employee benefits plan is a great place to start. Employees are often targeted by hackers to access proprietary information about your company’s systems which can lead to corporate identity theft. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Do Boy with Choresyou have children over the age of four? Then you have children old enough to do chores. Children need play time, trust me they will find the time to play, but chores are necessary for them and for you. Remember one of our jobs as parents is to raise children up to be adults that are an asset to society, not a debt. Teaching responsibility is one of the most important parenting functions. How do you teach responsibility? By putting your children in charge of cleaning up after themselves and others. Teach them young, so they will understand they will need to clean more than just their messes. When they become parents, if not sooner, they will be cleaning up after children and their spouse.

Here is a list of age appropriate chores children should be doing. They live under your roof, do not teach them their room and board are free, or they will expect life to be free.

0-1 year – Not a whole lot you can do at this age for chores. Let them learn to use their bodies, chores later.

2-3 years – This is the magical age where children want to use their new-found abilities to help so they can be a big kid and are capable of the biggest messes. Hand them a few plates to put by the sink, let them help unload unbreakable dishes. Let them retrieve the condiments for dinner and put them on the table. Most importantly, teach them to pick up the stuff they pull out. Many kids this age will want to follow mom or dad around and help because it seems big and they want to be big. Promote the idea of being big.

4-5 years – This age can clean their room without help, not well, but they can. Expect to go in and help organize every once in a while, kids this young seem to not understand organizing, make sure they see your organizing and understand why you’re organizing. Other chores include:
Sweeping up the dust after you sweep with a handheld dustpan and broom.
Cleaning the toilets
Cleaning the counter tops in the kids bathroom
Clearing the table after dinner
Picking up shoes around the house and putting them away
Picking up toys and trash in the backyard
Dusting furniture
Emptying the bathroom trash

The possibilities are endless. Do not put them in charge of a whole chore, instead a portion of a chore. Expect to send them back several times to do the job right, do not forget this step. You remember the old saying, “Any job worth doing, is worth doing right.” While they may need several tries and your head may actually combust from the sock they still missed on the third go picking up the backyard, they really can find that sock. Tell them the sock has chocolate in it, then they will find it, trust me. Read More→

Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggercreatingthebestbrandimageA name is the foundation of your brand. Your name is the single-most important clue as to what your brand image will look like. Your name helps you connect with your prospects and customers. Obviously, your name is what gives you brand recognition.

So how do you create a good one? And what do you if you are a direct seller or representative for a company?

There are two basic kinds of names: persona or personal brand. A persona is a descriptive name that encapsulates the essence of who you are and what you do. A personal brand is your own name.

Now there is hot debate about which one is better, but it comes down to your personal preference and what works best for your business. What are you most excited about? To me, names based on a persona offer a lot of room for creativity when designing. Words are pictures and when you find a good word, you can turn it into a memorable graphic that will help distinguish you from above the crowd.

You can find clues for your business name in your own personality, in your mission statement, or Unique Selling Proposition. Just make sure it resonates with others and that it is memorable and not too hard to understand!

A persona name can also be based on keywords. I know for one business I helped start, we used this method. We had to do very little marketing to make our first sales because of this strategy. Our market found us!

Bloggers, coaches, writers, and artists often choose to have a personal name brand. They want people to be able to search their name to find them on the Internet. Of course, for this strategy you have to do a lot of brand building so your audience recognizes your name and knows what you do.

A combination of the two works very well in this Internet age. The great advantage we have as small business owners is that we can come out from behind the curtain. We don’t have to be faceless corporations that are impersonal and dehumanizing. Because people want to do business with people whom they like, know, and trust. So when you add your name and photograph to your mediums you are going to be building that trust and like ability. Read More→

jill-new14According to the National Center for Policy Analysis there are nearly 17 million home-based businesses in the U.S. today. As the number of business rise, it becomes increasingly more difficult to effectively market a small business. And when the small business is run by mom with a minuscule advertising the budget, the challenge becomes even tougher. As moms trying to make our way in this billion dollar industry, how do we best focus our marketing efforts?

Do Your Homework
The best way to get good results from your marketing efforts is to research the sites you’re considering. Look for websites that are aimed at your target market, that have premium ad placements and that are willing to share their traffic statistics, number of subscribers, etc.

Be Bold
Statistics show that the bigger the ad, the higher the response. Double Click, a digital marketing firm, did a study in 2006 that showed a “strong correlation between the size of ads and their clickthrough performance.” So, whenever possible, choose a banner size larger than the standard 468 x 60. It may be pricier, but the results should be worth the extra expense.

Think Fresh
Try to find innovative ways to reach your market. Consider trying a rich media campaign that includes a video advertisement, banners formatted in Flash, and other interactive ads. By finding new ways to present your business or product, you’ll catch the eye of viewers who might not normally have noticed your advertisement.

Be Personal
The potential customers who view your ads want you to connect with them. They want to know how your product or service will make a difference in their lives. Write your ad copy in such a way that it brings the viewers need for your product to their attention.

Another way to make your advertising more personal is to use images – especially real-life photographs. You can find royalty free photos online on various websites.

Be Unique
Make your ad stand out by creating something different and unique – something that represents your company well. Diana Ennen, a publicist and president of VirtualWordPublishing.com states, “With so much competition out there today, it’s important to make your ad stand out and speak directly to your target audience. No one knows your business and clients better than you, so create the an ad that tells everyone why they should buy from you.”

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Jul
06

3 Common Logo Design Mistakes that Detract from Your Brand Image

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DanaIn stand outthis Internet age, it is more important than ever to stand out above the crowd. You can get literally lost in a sea of choices these days! So how can you get noticed?

One very important way is through having a professional brand image. Many home-­based business owners make common mistakes when it comes to their logos that detract from their brands. As a graphic designer and brand expert, I see these mistakes often. If you know what they are, you will have an edge up on your competition and you will get the attention you need for your business to thrive!

So here are the three common design mistakes:

1) Using Inch/Foot Marks

Now, you may be wondering, what in the world am I talking about? Foot marks and inch marks are symbols that stand for measuring length. They are straight up and down and they look UGLY. Due to the limitations of the Internet, these symbols have to be used for quotations and apostrophes. But you should not be using them in your brand images and marketing materials! Instead, use what’s called “smart quotes” or “curly quotes.”

Before the advent of desktop publishing, typesetters had the job of turning copy into columns of type. There were standards that were adhered to and widely known in the industry. Upon the introduction of computer layout software and image manipulation software, graphic designers became in effect typesetters. Professionals knew the standards.

But these computer programs became so widely used that amateurs had no idea about the difference between these marks. The typesetting aspect of design got lost.

Why does this matter? Because the image created with smart quotes looks professional and the foot/inch marks look amateurish. A professional image sets your business apart from the competition. That means you will be noticed if you follow these standards.

So how do you use smart quotes? Most software programs have a toggle switch in the preferences window that allows you to turn on smart quotes. There are also keyboard shortcuts, but they are different between PC and Mac. It’s not too hard to find out just by doing a little research.

2) Lack of Aesthetic Design

Making a brand image, a logo, is graphic design. This is an art unto itself and there’s a lot involved in it. Experienced graphic designers understand the elements that go into creating a logo. Basically, these elements are the same principles used in fine art. These range from color balance to aligning of objects, which is a very important standard in graphic design. Images need to be grounded, not floating on a space. There needs to be proportion and evenness.

Understand the elements of design and your brand image will be professional and that will mean it will get noticed!

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Jul
04

Happy 4th of July from CWAHM!

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Happy 4th of July from all of us here at CWAHM!

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