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Archive for Branding for Success

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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Apr
27

5 Ways to Promote Yourself When You Have No Advertising Budget

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DanaSo let’s face it. Owning a work at home business sometimes means we have no extra money for advertising. But this could mean the death of our endeavors! How can we overcome this challenge?

Let me share five ways you can promote your business with no budget. These are methods I have used or will use in the future.

Bear in mind, these methods take a little more sweat equity and they take more time. But when cash is hard to come by, especially in the beginning of building your business, it will be worth it!

1) Guest blogging

Sharing your expertise online will increase your traffic, your leads, and eventually your sales. Many established blogs need guest writers. Fresh content is very important to marketing for websites. So you may just have a different perspective a website owner is looking for!

After all, this is what I am doing on the CWAHM site. I am honored to be a part of the writing team! It increases my credibility and leads and sales, yes. It all goes together. I also am a guest writer for a micro blog. Each week, I write a marketing tip for a Facebook marketing group I belong to.

Soon I will be coordinating a blog for my homeschooling group. This will give me additional leads as homeschooling families are my primary target market. By writing a blog strictly on homeschooling, I will be increasing my credibility and website traffic.

2) Creating a Facebook community

One of the most effective marketing strategies I have ever used is creating a Facebook group. Most of my clients have come from this tactic. It’s all about creating a safe environment to share common experiences. It started because I was dialoguing on a Facebook page and saw the need. Now every time I see certain questions in pages or groups, I offer this Facebook group as a place for people to learn and help with their particular challenges. It has grown tremendously over the last year. Today I added 12 new people just by offering people this simple solution in another Facebook group I belong to! The Facebook group I facilitate gives me a tremendous free platform to get the word out about my products and services.

And what’s phenomenal is my clients share testimonials in the group, often unprompted.

It all brims from an attitude that I am there to serve and to help others grow.

3) Partnerships

Partnerships are an extremely powerful way to create awareness about your brand. If you can find a business that compliments­­not competes­­what you have to offer, than you will reach more people and find creative ways to advertise. For example, I am in the process of negotiating creating a small course for a homeschooling site in exchange for advertising. This means I will reach more people in my target market and gain credibility. It is an amazing opportunity for me. How did I get this? By listening and engaging on Facebook. I have developed key relationships over the years, so when an opportunity is expressed that fits with my goals, I seize upon it!

Read More→

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Apr
20

Moses and Jethro—A Lesson in Branding

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Moses. A busy general of a brand-new nation numbering a million people. You think he was slightly busy? Oh yeah! He was the one man at that time that had a face-to-face relationship with God. Important, definitely.

But in Exodus 18, we learn some key lessons that I believe can be applied to our businesses and branding.

Here’s the background. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit from Midian. Jethro observes Moses engaged in judging disputes all day long and realizes that what Moses was doing was not wise. Jethro suggests another way, Moses listens, and the advice is effective. Jethro goes back to Midian.

Here are the various lessons learned from this passage:

1) Be humble enough to listen to advice from an unlikely or unexpected source. Do you have the humility to realize you need help and counsel or do you think you can “go it on your own?” Moses respected his father-in-law and immediately saw the wisdom that was presented to him.

Remember that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” We always have something to learn, whether we are 15 or 85! Learning is a lifelong process and never ends! And there is wisdom and safety in many counselors.

2) Doing things all on your own is going to cause burnout. This is what was happening to Moses. Jethro anticipated what was going to happen if Moses didn’t change his approach.

I was caught up in this myself for years. I thought that I could do everything. We stay at home moms seem especially prone to this. We think we have to do and be it all. I’m telling you, it is not possible! We are not islands unto ourselves! God created us for relationship and we need each other!

3) Delegate! Moses had to let go of some of his work and authorize others to do what was simple. Read More→

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