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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 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→

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!

Read More→

Jun
29

What Does It Really Mean to Be “Authentic” with Your Brand?

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Dana“Authentic” is another buzz word heard a lot when talking about branding. I use it myself in my branding courses. It’s core to what I do and how I help my clients.

But what does it mean? And how do you be authentic?

Authentic is being real. It is being you, not a carbon copy of someone else. It is not fake. It does not promise one thing and not deliver.

Finding your authentic identity involves a thorough analysis of your talents, gifts, callings, vision, dreams, weaknesses, personality, strengths, and more. When you fully understand who you are and why you are in business, you can build a brand based on you and your uniqueness. It will truly be customized.

It’s kind of like this: Have you ever driven into a developer neighborhood and gotten lost? I certainly have! Cookie cutter neighborhoods look all alike. I cannot find my destination by memory. I have to work extra hard to know the address.

But when you go to a custom house, do you not remember it? If it is really well designed, is it not worth more?

It’s the same with a brand. When your look is cookie cutter (like from one of those cheap business card templates you can get from the Internet), you will lose customers. You will not be easy for your customer to find because you will not be memorable. There is nothing to distinguish you from your competition.

But when you customize your brand you are adding value to your business. That in the end means increased revenue.

That is why building a brand based on your authentic identity is so important. It has be to be who you are, who your business is, at the core. And part of that authenticity is delivering on your promises.

Read More→

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Jun
15

4 Tips to Overcoming Procrastination in Your Business

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DananapProcrastination. Really, quite honestly it is one of my biggest weaknesses. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in Facebook or checking my email a hundred times per day or wasting my time just “putsing” around. It holds me back from accomplishing everything I need to accomplish and it definitely could hurt my brand if I let it continue.

In fact, if clients rely on you, procrastination can be a brand killer!

So how can we overcome procrastination? Perhaps these ideas will help us:

1) Take things in bite­size chunks.

It’s really easy for me to get overwhelmed with everything I need to do. I feel pulled in a million different directions. When that happens, I just want to chuck it all and do nothing or waste my time doing trivial things like spending excess time in Facebook.

The trick is to break projects down into small steps. Don’t overwhelm your “to­do” list with hundreds of items. That will only burden you down. This drag leads to avoidance behavior. Believe me, I am speaking from experience!

It’s so much better to concentrate on the three or four strategic things you need to do for your business rather than 20 things you think you have to do in a day. Be committed to get those few things done and then you can go on with a feeling of success. This will give you strength to tackle more.

Once you accomplish a few things, be sure to give yourself little rewards to keep yourself motivated. You might think of a huge reward when you finish a big project. Read More→

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Jun
08

3 Print Promotional Ideas to Skyrocket Your Marketing and Sales!

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DanaIn mJb165Ithese days of Internet marketing, it is easy to forget about old-­fashioned methods. No, they are not dead!

In fact, think about this: what do you receive in your mailbox? Junk and bills, right? So perhaps you can stand out above the crowd through some direct mail campaigns targeted to your audience. May these ideas get you started!

1) Postcards

Postcards are an extremely effective way to introduce yourself to prospects, especially in a localized area. Relatively inexpensive, they also offer a lower rate when it comes to mailing services.

Want to introduce your products or services? Then this is a perfect way to give a shout out to local businesses or individuals that you exist. Don’t know where to start? Check with your library! They usually have databases that you can use to help you target a list. Then you can follow up with a phone call a few days after the postcard is received. And that will mean you won’t be strictly cold calling, which will be more effective in the long run.

2) Notecards

Sending notecards is a more personalized method of promoting your products or services. This is especially helpful for current customers. After all, they are your best customers.

Using notecards is the first major marketing campaign my husband will employ in his new endeavor as a full time self­employed architect (yes, he now works at home!). I designed special notecards that included his branding and one of his best drawings on the cover.  He will write personal notes (with my help) to construction and engineering firms around the state to announce that he is open for business. He will then follow up with a phone call or email or both. Read More→

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Jun
01

Social Media is About Networking and Branding is Key!

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DanaRecently, laughinglwhile a guest on a local radio show, I got to meet a top social media marketer named Kevin Knebl. He wrote a book called, “The Social Media Sales Revolution” and he is in high demand as a speaker all over the world.

As I listened to him being interviewed, what he said resonated with me. The host asked a very interesting question about LinkedIn. She mentioned that direct sellers would frequently set up a meeting, having contacted her her through LinkedIn, and then try to get her to join their downline. This would make her feel very uncomfortable,  especially if others were brought into the meeting.

She felt like they were leading her on as their intent was never shared ahead of time. Busy with her radio show and job as a branding consultant with a radio conglomerate, she has no interest in joining an opportunity, although she’s very supportive of small businesses and will become a customer if she really likes the product or service.

Kevin’s thoughts on this subject were so true, something I’ve seen happen over and over again. The direct sellers who do this kind of thing are not using social media effectively. It’s not for spamming. Social media is for networking, for building relationships.

And that’s the key to successful sales, and to successful branding. It’s about relationship building.

Kevin also pointed out that if this were done in the 90s, they would have used their cell phones. Really, if a person is bad at networking, then they will approach social media in the same way. The opposite is true. If a person is good at networking, their social media efforts will be effective.

The important factor is knowing how to network and doing it effectively. What’s one of the best resources out there? Kevin suggests Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Because the truth is, business success is based on timeless principles. Too often in this Internet age, we seek for this next big shiny object that will solve all our problems instantly. But the foundations of marketing, sales, and business building do not change over time.

Because people do business with people they like, know, and trust. That will always be the case. Social media is a great way to accomplish this and is in fact a gold mine!

However, it takes wisdom on how to use these tools. For instance, do you remember the saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it?” Well, social media is much the same way. It’s not the place for gossip, excessive ranting, or continual spamming.

Read More→

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May
25

Why a Tagline is So Important … and How to Write One

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As a home­based business owner, a tagline or slogan is extremely important.

Why? Because it clarifies why you are in business and what you do. As the saying goes, brevity is the soul of wit. As a society, we are used to sound bites. You need to make a sound bite for yourself!

This is especially important in networking. In the networking group I belong to, introducing myself, my business, and my tagline is a prime way for me to stand out.

A slogan helps your prospects understand better what product or service you provide and if the tagline is memorable, will keep your business top of mind. This means when they have a need for your particular product or service, they will think of you and be more likely to contact you.

So how do you write a tagline?

Think through the question most often asked in social circles, “What do you do?” What is your 60 second response? This is often called an elevator speech. Now cut that speech in half. Then cut it to 10 seconds. Can you get your message across in that amount of time and is it memorable?

Alliteration is a useful tool when it comes to writing slogans and taglines. So is humor, as long as it is tasteful and fits with your business. In our networking group, a couple of the ladies share some funny taglines that make people laugh. Often they rhyme. These are memorable for sure!

Using keyword research can really help you also. After all, you want to make sure people online find you! This was the main method that my husband and I used when creating his tagline, “Safeguarding lives through strong and robust building design.” Building design was our main keyword. We also wanted to make sure his personality came through when writing the tagline. Because it shows what makes him different from other architects. Read More→

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May
18

Push Past the Fear and Do It Anyway!

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Dana

Thefear statistics for business failure, quite frankly, is grim. I think you know what I’m talking about. So what is one of the main reasons most businesses fail?

A lack of confidence. This lack of confidence can manifest itself in paralyzing fears. These fears can stop you from truly achieving your dreams and goals. They can be detrimental to you and your home business.

What do I know about these fears? Well, quite a lot, actually, because there are many times that I have been negatively affected by fears.

For me, that fear is a fear of rejection. I’m afraid that no one will notice me, that what I have to offer doesn’t matter, that I don’t matter. I recognized that these fears stemmed from childhood, that my whole life I had been marginalizing myself. That I was putting myself down, which resulted in a lack of opportunity and lack of growth in my business.

Fear of business failure was also a huge burden to me. What if I don’t make enough sales after doing all this work and then I have to close down the business? What if it never gets better? What if, what if? That would run through my mind over and over again.

Early on in my business, I lost many opportunities due to this fear. Some amazing possibility would open up, and I would sabotage it because I was afraid. My fear ranged from fear of speaking in public to an all out fear of success. Yes, you can be afraid of success! I was because I thought I was not worthy of it!

What I realized after much failure and disappointment is yes, I am NOT worthy. I am nobody and nothing without Jesus. He gave me this business. He is my boss. He will make it a success, DESPITE me! I don’t need to be a success for him to accept me.

This change of thinking got me to a point where I could take risks and step out of my comfort zone. Read More→

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May
11

7 Essentials Your Logo Must Have to Stand Out Above the Crowd

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DanaInchecklist my line of work as a graphic designer, I often see ads promising the moon when it comes to creating logos and of course for very, very cheap. One that especially stands out that I saw recently promised “your logo designed in one hour live!”

But what these companies do not tell you is that a logo is more than the graphic. There is a science behind creating that graphic. It’s called branding. And there are graphic design standards that set an amateur logo apart from a professional one.

After all, if you don’t take your work at home business seriously and you put a cheap logo up, how are your customers going to perceive you? How do you know your logo even hits the mark? How do you know that it’s communicating a marketing message that describes your Unique Selling Proposition?

Here is a checklist to help guide you in this process. Because when you create (or have created for you) a logo that reflects your brand personality, you will stand out above the crowd.

1. Does your image reflect accurately the essence of who you are?

2. Did you use professional graphic design standards in your logo?

3. Does it communicate the message you intended immediately?

4. Is your logo the correct resolution for the particular medium you are using?

5. Is it appealing to your target audience? Read More→

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May
04

Closing Sales­­ – How It’s Really About Listening, NOT Pushing

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DanaSales. listenIt’s something we’ve got to do as business owners in order to thrive. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Increasingly, consumers are wary of outright sales messages. The same tactics used in days gone by may not work in these times.

I think of telemarketing. Awhile ago, I received a phone call from a company in California.  This woman proceeded to give me her usual sales pitch, which included lots of flattery. Then, of course, she asked me to sign up for her service right away, after 20 minutes of talking to her. When I balked, she started berating me.

How stupid did she truly think I was? Of course, when she was talking nonstop, I was Googling the business, and what I found was not flattering to her. In fact, several past customers regretted their purchases and felt it was a scam.

So after her not taking no for an answer and my continual refusals, she rudely hung up on me. Twenty minutes of my time wasted!

Here is another scenario I experienced: long ago my husband and I had an insurance agent come give his presentation to us. So he goes through his spiel and explained everything to us. When we said we wanted to think about it (we have a policy that we do not make decisions on the spot but think through it and talk about it beforehand), he gathered up his stuff and walked out the door, never saying a word. My husband and I were shocked!

Now, a third scenario also comes to mind. I once had an online connection ask if she could share something with me that she was involved in. You know, I want to be helpful. But she never once checked to see if I had a burning interest in her product. She just assumed that of course I would have to love it. I didn’t, and I had to turn her down gently. So if these sales gimmicks or approaches don’t work, what does?

I would suggest LISTENING to your prospects and customers! This is a huge lesson I am learning. You see, I am not a sales person. There is nothing slick about me. I am down to earth and really, I don’t want to pester people. But obviously if I don’t make sales, my business will fail. What was I going to do?

I learned a different approach to selling. I learned how to connect with people and understand their needs, to ask what they are looking for. I learned how to handle objections, like not enough money and time.

Read More→

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