Launches. They seem to be all the rage in Internet circles. Launches of a product or service can potentially create excitement for your brand and help you build trust, credibility, and visibility with your target market.
Recently, I took a dive and went completely whole hog with a launch. I read at least three books on the subject, surfed the Net for some Infographics, and watched Jeff Walker’s intro video course regarding launches.
Having published a devotional book last Christmas, I had never officially “launched” it or made much of a big deal about it at all. I decided, very last-minute I might add, that now was the time.
First I put together a launch plan. The launch would be a total of 10 days with a follow-up challenge group for 30 days.
I wrote out exactly what each email would contain, which also was the content for social media posts. The first few days contained video where I led with value.
In the first video, I explained why I wrote my devotional, 31-Day Blessings Journey. I told the story of what led me to publish the book. I challenged my viewers to use the holidays as a time to embrace a blessings lifestyle rather than letting stress and the hurry scurry of Christmas drown their joy. I gave them a vision of what their Thanksgiving, Christmas, and beyond could be like if they applied the truth of Scripture into their lives. Then I whetted their appetite by briefly describing the sales and new products I would be rolling out in time for Black Friday and beyond. I asked in the video, in the email, and on social media posts for feedback. “What is stressing you out?” I asked. I used this feedback in later emails, posts, and videos.
In the second video, I did an actual devotional. I talked about the journey of living according to the Scriptures and how it can transform stress into blessings. I painted for them the transformation that could take place by studying and applying the Bible studies found in the devotional. I gave further details of the sales and events, including a contest that would be at the very end. I had a call to action–to sign up for a free devotional that I had created as a lead magnet. I asked for feedback in the video, as well as in my email and social media posts. I asked, “What do you want out of life?” And I used the answers I received in other communications.
In the third video, I read aloud an excerpt of my book as well as testimonials from readers. I described what my life was like after I had done my Bible study that the devotional is based on. I emphasized what it’s like to have this change. My call to action was a 30 Day Challenge through email, which would be another way for me to highlight the features of my book and most importantly, to give value. I reminded my viewers of my upcoming sales culminating in a contest. I talked about bonuses that I would be giving for those who purchased my book. I asked again for feedback: “What could make life easier when it comes to stress?” I used this feedback in subsequent communications.
So the rest of the days I announced my various sales and product releases, including a free offer of the Kindle version that I had just published. Each email and many of the posts included helpful information on how to transform stress into blessings, especially during the holidays. My last email and social media posts regarding the launch was announcing the winner of the contest– a product I had created that further carried the theme of my 31-Day Blessings Journey devotional and was something of useful, appealing value.
So what I have described was quite the lengthy process. I was exhausted after it was all said and done! Looking back, let me tell you some of the good, bad, and ugly about this launch:
1) I think on the whole the outline of what I said in the videos was on target. I gleaned that information from all the reading I had done on launches. Tim Grahl, who wrote “Book Launch Blueprint: The Step-by-Step Guide to a Bestselling Launch,” encourages authors to be “relentlessly helpful.” I think coming to the table first with value for your reader is extremely important. After all, it’s not about your product or service. It’s about how your product or service can BENEFIT your potential customer!
2) Of course I didn’t have enough time to plan. A launch to this extent needs at least 30 days before it begins. In the future, it would be good to have a launch team who could review my book and agree to help me get the word out. Also, I created many new products as I was executing the launch, which meant I put in a lot of long hours and had to adjust my plan accordingly when some of the products didn’t get finished on my original timetable. Read More→
Your best customer is your current customer. After all, how much time and money did it take you to acquire each customer? That’s why customer retention is so important. You want your customers to turn into raving fans who will come to you again and again for your product or service and who will shout it from the rooftops how you have helped them.
So showing appreciation to current customers is how you retain these customers and make these fans! And Christmas is the perfect time to do this!
How? Let me describe a few ideas to get you started. While this Christmas may be too late to implement these methods, you can have it in your plan for next year!
1) Create your own custom Christmas or holiday card.
A simple card is a great way to show your customer appreciation. It’s even better if your card is custom imprinted with your logo. And even better yet, if you are an artist, your artwork can be featured on the cover!
I’ve done this for an artist for over 10 years. She creates a Christmas painting and I produce a special Christmas card for her mailing list. Every season this is highly anticipated from her!
I’ve been wanting my husband, who is an architect, to do something similar. My vision features a drawing he will create of a Victorian Christmas house. Then I will make it into a Christmas card with his logo on the back to send to his current and past clients. It may not happen this year, but next year for sure!
2) Give a gift basket.
I remember these were very popular when I worked in an office of a large Christian organization. Our vendors treated us well and every Christmas we would have some yummy foods to snack on. Sending a gift basket of food or other memorable items is a great way to help your customers keep you first and foremost in their minds! Read More→
The best customer you have is your current customer. Think about it this way: How much did it cost you to acquire that customer? You need to make sure you get a return on your investment and get your customers coming back to you. So here are some ideas on how to do that and increase your brand visibility at the same time.
1) Send them a gift basket. This is a wonderful gesture of gratitude.
This time of year is especially abundant with these kinds of companies.
If you really want to stand out to your customers, assemble your own gift
basket. Be sure to send them a customer appreciation card with your brand printed on the back!
You might also, if applicable, send them sample packets for your business. For example, if you promote essential oils include a sample of one of your products. Don’t forget to include your business cards!
2) Give them a promotional branded product. The range of ideas is limitless. You can give out pens, mugs, USB drives, T-shirts, key chains… there are too many products to list!
I’ll never forget when years ago a mobile dog groomer gave me a key chain after the first time I hired her. For some reason, I stored it in my kitchen drawer. Before I knew it, a year had gone by and I desperately needed her services for my big furry dog. I remembered where the key chain was and gave her a call. Problem solved!
A print on demand company like CafePress is also another way to give your customers branded products. This Christmas season, I am thinking of offering a special calendar to promote one of my books. A calendar is a very popular item and will aid in your customer keeping your business “top of mind,” especially if you have custom messages or images as part of the layout. Read More→
One of the wonderful perks of both my husband and I working from home is attending a monthly networking breakfast that’s primary focus is encouraging us to live out our faith in our businesses.
At the November meeting, we heard a landscape architect, John McCay, who is involved in the local board of Christian businessman’s committee, speak about the four myths of work.
What he said was very inspirational and thought-provoking, so I hope you find these ideas helpful:
1) Myth #1: We should separate our faith from the market place.
Perhaps, McCay suggested, this idea started with our nation’s idea of separation of church and state. But the truth is, faith and business are inextricably linked.
We think that we have to impose our values on the culture and change it. But our focus should be on the individual.
Because our mission is:
- Work. And work is good. There is a purpose in work. It has meaning. Think about how God created Adam and Eve to work the garden. This was good and was established before the Fall.
- Believer to believer and believer to non-believer. Our purpose is either to edify or to evangelize. As McCay called it, E squared!
- Be the priesthood. Each of us has access through Jesus. “The priesthood of the believer.”
2) Myth #2: We should take pride in our work.
In our culture, our identity is based on what we do. How often are we asked that question?
God says our identity is from Him. Our activities are a byproduct of what God calls us to do. All jobs have meaning and purpose in God’s economies, whether a janitor or CEO!
After all, God reached through the mire and gave us a higher calling. It’s about Him, not us. Our responsibility is to do the best job we can because it is an opportunity to be a testimony.
And, I would add, He says in Colossians to do everything for His glory with all our might! I have found that the only person I am to please when performing any kind of job or activity is God Himself! I get off track when I think about pleasing others or how the performance makes me look to others.
Myth #3: I am in control.
Oh, this is a big one, and one I’ve experienced over and over again! We think we are in control, but nothing is further from the truth!
We are constantly reminded of this. I am sure you know what I’m talking about! Read More→
As I write this article, I need to make a confession. Sometimes I lack confidence in myself to be a Christian work at home mom. I get caught up in the “toos” or the “justs” or “what ifs.”
“I’m just a housewife,” I think to myself. Or, “I’m too fat.”
And then there’s these–“I’m just tired of rejection. I’m too scared to face it. What if nobody signs up for my program after I put all this hard work into it?”
So the pity party continues. Even writing these blogs, sometimes I find myself procrastinating. Because, well, starting is the hardest part and I’m playing the tapes in my head.
What does this have to do with business? Consider this: According to Napolean Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, lack of self-confidence is the primary reason businesses fail.
For awhile now, I have known that I struggle with lack of self confidence. I’ve come to realize that perhaps I will always struggle with that to some degree. But that’s not important. What I really need is GOD confidence.
It all comes down to faith. Not faith in myself, but faith in God.
He gave me these dreams. He called me to these tasks. Yes, even blogging! It’s so easy to run from these callings. I see others run from their callings to varying degrees. They have run for years and some of them are broke, physically ill, and very discouraged.
I don’t want to go down that road. I don’t want to run anymore! I want to be who God called me to be! And I want to help others who run from their callings so they, too, can experience the peace that comes with walking in God’s will.
And so this last month, I have been letting God in to these dark places and He’s been shining His light. Doing surgery, as it were. He led me to His grace. I’ve been caught on the performance treadmill for so long. It’s a hard habit to break!
I know that I know that I know that my worth has nothing to do with outward appearances such as how much money I make or how much I weigh. But it is so hard to remember that sometimes! As they say, the struggle is real!
So I have been leaning into His grace. I’ve been asking for His anointing. I’ve been praying in earnest that God’s oil will pour over everything I do, including my business.
But even that is hard to remember to do all the time. Tonight I found myself procrastinating again, and then it hit me. I have not asked for His oil! And so I stopped my avoidance behavior (Okay, it’s usually Facebook that I tend to waste my time), prayed for His grace and for Him to pour His oil over this writing. Then I stepped out in obedience and started to write!
God’s been nudging me about this in other areas of my business, too. I have been putting off developing a course for months. I’ve been running. I always find something else to do. And believe me, I have plenty to keep me busy. But He kept whispering to me that I have to step out in faith and develop my online course on kingdom entrepreneurship.
So I started to listen. And even in that, it’s so easy to get caught up in perfectionism and get so confused on how to start. Sure, I have 24 lessons pretty much written that will need some revisions. I will need to produce videos and everything that goes with an online course. And I keep finding more and more information about creating online courses, and listening and listening and listening to various trainings.
But God said enough! JUST DO IT! So I began making the solid plans today, which included the title I’ve had for over a year. I added a subtitle and I must have rocked it, because after I shared about it on my Facebook group for Christian Homeschool Family Entrepreneurs, I got lots of positive responses and people were wanting to sign up for the course now!
Grace and God confidence. It’s vital for your brand. Because grace and confidence are the oils that grease your engine. Without it, you can be dry, weary, stuck, and burnt out. The more you run from your callings, the more sick, broke, and unhappy you may become.
Instead, live in His callings for your life. Be where He wants you to be. Lean into His grace, have God confidence, and you will have branding success!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dana Susan Beasley, the creator of an online training program called Brand Identity Quest, helps Christian families create sizzling brands so they can build dazzling futures. A graphic artist, writer, and homeschooling mom to a special needs son, she is the owner of AngelArts, an arts agency and publishing house. It’s purpose is to inspire audiences to reach for new heights in their lives and beyond through excellently-designed publications and products using original art and literature. To take her free mini-course, 5 Steps to a Wildly Successful Home Business, click here to start now
Time. It’s a bitter word in my family. My husband, who is an architect who works from home, never thinks that there is enough of it. And I’m pretty good at wasting it. He loses track of time and I sometimes get caught up in avoidance behaviors and don’t use it wisely.
But in the Psalms, the Bible says to number our days. We all are given 24 hours in a day and seven days a week. How can we make the most of it?
Here’s some tips and tricks that have helped me that could help you:
Pomodoro is a system of earning “tomatoes.” In this system, you set a timer for 20 minutes, then take a five minute break. You do this three more times, then you take a 15 minute break. After that, you start all over. It’s a system to be followed throughout the work day and helps you to focus completely on a task yet give you the breaks you need.
Pomodoro accessories include a timer shaped like a tomato and yes, there’s also an App for that! I have it on my iPhone, and when I find myself not able to focus I open the App and start clocking my time. I also do this for my son to help him focus on his homeschooling.
I love the App because you actually earn “tomatoes” for every 20 minute session you complete. Just think of the rewards you can give yourself! It’s better than getting stickers!
2) Listening to Music While Working
This has got to be my favorite productivity hack. Even now, I am listening to “The Hobbit” soundtrack. I find movie soundtracks particularly inspiring. I have listened to Jonsi’s “We Bought a Zoo,” “Chronicles of Narnia,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Glory,” and more.
When you really need to think, (writing, for instance), listening to orchestral music without words seems to be the most inspiring and helps me to focus. Music with lyrics is not as helpful to me because the words get distracting.
So crank up the stereo or plug in your iPod and get to listening! There’s something about music that helps tremendously with productivity! Read More→
In this Internet age, it’s easy to forget about print advertising and identity collateral. But it is just as important today as ever.
So what three printed materials should you focus on?
1) Business card
Yes, you still need a business card. I know some will disagree and go for the digital alternatives, but there is nothing quite like the convenience of that little card that you can hand to anyone, anytime.
But I’m not talking about just any card. Really, you need to forget about VistaPrint or some other template-based service. Oh, I know that they are cheap and sometimes even free, but this will only hurt your business in the long run.
Think of it like this: On the East side of Colorado Springs, we have a lot of “cookie cutter” development homes. I get lost in these developments. Each house looks like the house next door. There is nothing to distinguish one house from another.
It’s the same premise when it comes to a business card. A template-based card will not have a brand that will make you stand out. You will be using an image that millions of others have on their cards. The ultimate destination of these business cards will be the trash can. And that’s where all your money and time will go, too!
Instead, you need customized business cards based on a brand identity that makes you stand out. This includes a logo specifically tailored to your business and fonts that give you brand consistency.
Yes, I know it’s more expensive. Especially if you don’t have a brand in the first place. But you won’t regret it. When you hand out your business card, you will create a positive impression. You will be remembered.
So where can you hand business cards out? Pretty much everywhere you go! Many coffee shops will let you hang them up on bulletin boards, too. And of course they are vital in networking meetings.
A flyer or a white paper is a tremendously affordable way to get the word out about your business. It’s much cheaper than a brochure.
Remember, in advertising less is more. We tend to want to put everything on a letter-sized page that we think our prospect wants to know, but the job of the flyer is to create action. This takes a certain amount of psychology awareness. Read More→
Brand identity. It sounds like such a technical word. But what does it really mean, why do you need it and how do you find it?
A brand identity is the personality of your business. It is what you stand for. It is the values behind what you do. A brand identity encompasses so much more than a logo–it is your business name, it is the reason why your brand exists in the first place, and it is a trusted relationship that you have with your prospects and customers.
So why do you need it? Because people don’t do business with businesses. They do business with people they like, know, and trust. A brand identity’s function is to communicate the essence of your business to your prospects, in order to build a relationship. So that the next time they find themselves wanting what you provide, you will be “top of mind” and call you first.
Wouldn’t that be powerful, for customers to be attracted to you rather than you chasing customers? What would that do for your business? For your life?
So how do you get this brand identity?
It requires going on a quest. Finding your brand identity is a journey. It’s not something you can find in five minutes.
There are steps to this journey. One of the first steps is to do some extensive planning. To ask yourself some vital questions, like:
What is my vision for my business?
Who are my ideal clients?
What makes me different from my competition?
What are my skills, talents, and gifts?
What do my clients get out of working for me?
What is my personality?
You can do this through a step by step process that includes creating or revising your business name, writing a slogan, and visualizing your brand in logo form.
My husband, Travis, did this (and many other Moms around the country) through my Brand Identity Quest program. When he started, he only knew that his business would be architectural in nature.
As he went through the assessments and assignments I provided, he discovered his values, what distinguishes him from his competition, and what graphics best supported his vision. He came up with the name “Essential Pillar Architecture” and created a pillar graphic that perfectly encapsulated his value of creating lasting buildings. Read More→
Confession time. Sometimes i am ruled by the fear of failure. Just last month, I was presented with a tremendous opportunity. Some ministry leaders started talking to me about how I could help them get their curriculum online as a digital product. I have the knowledge and experience. I am now a certified digital marketing professional! (I earned the designation last summer) I can certainly help them!
So why was this little fear creeping up in me as I was talking to these gentlemen, eager for my advice?
It reminds me of Napolean Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich.” In this classic book, he lays out the case that the number one reason business owners fail is because of lack of self confidence.
In my experience as an entrepreneur over the course of 12 years is that I need more than self confidence. I need God confidence.
So how can we beat the fear of failure?
1) Remember why you are in business in the first place. Is it just for you to make a living or is there something bigger at stake? After all, are we not Christ’s disciples who long to be “fishers of men?” Are we not compelled by the Great Commission in Matthew 28? Your business is not just a business. Really, it is a ministry.
This was brought home to me recently as my husband and I attended a Navigator business networking meeting. The leader, a pastor of one of our local churches, talked about the importance of the Great Commission in our businesses. He laid out a vision for our group that included living out the gospel in our everyday lives, especially in our businesses.
One of the participants commented that this was very encouraging to her. As the owner of a promotional products company, she works with employees who are unbelievers. How could she make a difference in their lives?
The pastor pointed out that she has more influence on these employees than he as a pastor ever could. She is building an everyday relationship with them and as such has far greater opportunities to share God’s love than he does as a pastor. After all, when a person finds out that he is a pastor, often times that person becomes closed and resistant.
2) Remember who your boss is and what He can do. When I find myself doubting my abilities, this is what I turn to over and over again. He made me. He gave me these talents. He gave me the experiences I have had. But beyond that, He is far more capable than I am. He knows way more about business than I could ever hope to gain.
After all, He owns a thousand cattle on a hill! He paid taxes by delegating a fishing expedition to Peter, who found the exact amount of money needed with his catch! Read More→
A brand, ultimately, is a unique reflection of you and your business. And your logo is a visual way to represent that brand.
So your logo should distinguish you from your competition.
But how can you make sure it stands out?
By being creative.
Creativity is the edge you need to be different, to be appealing, to draw customers to you.
So how can you be creative when developing your brand? Here are three ideas:
1) Enjoy nature. Many times when I am tasked with coming up with a new concept for a brand, I will take some time to enjoy nature. I will go on a hike, sit on a rock and revel in the beauty around me, or inspire a sunset with its soft hues of peach and light blue.
In each of these scenarios I described above, I came away with new ideas. Either fresh thoughts that I could apply in different ways or in discovering a pleasing color combination that fit perfectly.
I remember one time when I was creating a conference brand, I spent some time surrounded by the beauty of Garden of the Gods. Just this refreshing time gave me the space in my head, so to speak, that I needed to come up with a unique concept.
Another time a particularly beautiful sunset gave me an idea for a color combination that was perfect for one of my projects. When I was working on a project about the Caribbean, my imagination of the colors of the sea gave me inspiration.
2) Feed your brain with visual ideas. Go on a hunt. Find out what your competitors do. Are their logos mostly rectangle? Perhaps a circle shape will make you stand out! What looks do you like? What font combinations? What graphics? Start a “swipe” file of graphics you like or even ones you don’t like. It’s not that you will copy these. Your swipe file is a jump off point to help give you new ideas. Read More→