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Replace Your Expectations With Appreciation For A Better 2021

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It’s not that easy to plan for your life or business when the world is this uncertain. You can’t organise that trip away or family gathering or even your next meal out. You’re making targets and forecasts, but they’re based on prayers and hopes instead of a solid base, leading you into a false sense of security. You revisit, reassess and revise them accordingly, but checkpoint after checkpoint, you’re still falling short. It’s a frustrating loop to be caught in.
Your expectations might be continually not being met. So what can you do?

Replace your expectations with appreciation for a better 2021
Unsplash Amadeo Valar
Let go of certainty
Get comfortable with the feeling of not knowing what might happen. Let go of the need to control the future and resist the urge to make those plans. Fans of defined goals, concrete plans and schedules can hold off writing them, just for a while. Quit the expectations, the agendas and the hoping of a solid foundation.
It’s easy to focus your thoughts and conversations on what might have been. Where your business would be if it wasn’t for this year. What you’d be doing, who you’d be seeing, where you’d be traveling. I could tell you about 2020 in terms of cancelations and postponements and everything I couldn’t do; but what would be the point?

Recognise that expectations probably didn’t serve you during 2020. The playing field changed and the goalposts moved and it was less about expectations based on 2019’s metrics and more about finding our new feet and going from there. The past only existed to bring you here. The future is uncertain, now more than ever. Focus on being present. Stringing together good days and working with only what is right in front of you.
Goats that live on the side of mountains learn to balance on their sloping banks. Seafarers soon get their sea legs. Cats can sleep in any spot. Bands make their touring buses their home and the most committed of writers can write from any location.

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Create “if this then that” maps of the future, but don’t hang your hopes on one outcome and keep your eggs in separate baskets. Let go of the need for a solid foundation that doesn’t exist. Let go of the need to be sure. Find the undeniable truth in any uncertainty. Don’t look for the stability; be it.

Replace your expectations with appreciation for a better 2021
Unsplash Gabrielle Henderson
Appreciate more
Instead of setting expectations that might not be met, focus on appreciation. What do you have now that you didn’t before? What do you value that you once took for granted? What has been the silver lining of the dark clouds and how have you thrived in this crisis?
If you’re reading this; you are alive with the ability to think. You can choose how you spend your time. You have a voice that you can use. Maybe your business has disappeared and your income has taken a hit and you miss your friends, but digging deep enough gives rise to an appreciation of what you do have.
Write down your appreciation for the things you’ve gained and the things you haven’t lost. The connections you’ve made, the relationships you’ve nurtured. The plans you’ve cancelled that have created space. The obligations you’re now free from that you didn’t want in the first place. Anchor yourself to your gratitude rather than anything material.
At some point in the future, you’ll be back to rushing and pushing and not having room to think. You’ll crave the space for self-awareness and you’ll want it back.
Frame your situation better
We’re not all in the same boat, but we’re in the same storm. What if you saw 2020 as a test? Of your resilience, your resourcefulness and your patience? An (anti)social experiment. Where you were thrown in at the deep end and assessed on how well you swam.
Appreciate the challenge. Appreciate the unknown. Appreciate that everything has changed and it might never be the same. Appreciate that you’re part of a landmark year that will shape every future one. The end is in sight, but it might be your beginning. Appreciate every lesson and prepare for your comeback.

Why Building A Rock Solid Brand Should Be Your First Priority

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There are many schools of thought with what should come first when building a company. Some business mentors will tell you to first and foremost focus on selling. Others will encourage a longer, slower growth – one that’s built upon trust with the consumer and making a name for the company within an industry. Sometimes, it may seem futile to double down on aspects of a company like branding when it hasn’t been up and running yet. Contrary to popular belief, branding is not just about choosing the right color palette and voice of your company. It’s not the extra fluff that’s added on afterwards to make it fun. A company’s brand is how it connects with consumers, establishes trust with them, and markets efficiently. 
This has been verified time and time again in marketing statistics. According to a 2019 study by Lucidpress, the consistent presentation of a brand can lead to revenue growth by up to 33%. Even the colors you choose for your company brand matter – a 2018 study by Reboot found that using a signature color can boost brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Instead of building out a robust sales strategy, start first with creating an ironclad brand that can attract consumers by virtue of its quirks. What does your company stand for? What are the traits and characteristics of your company? 

Why Building A Rock Solid Brand Should Be Your First Priority | Stephanie Burns
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Using Branding To Introduce Your Company 
Think about the first time that you learned about a company that you’re now a big fan of. Perhaps it was Rent the Runway, when you heard the founders on a podcast about supporting women in business. Perhaps it was Glossier, when you saw a social media post about their packaging. Perhaps it was Newman’s Own, when you learned 100 percent of their profits go to charity. In these cases, the brand preceded your decision to purchase. Think through how you can apply this to your own startup. 

According to Haley Marketing, “branding is the ultimate positioning,” in an article aptly titled, ‘Stop Selling. Start Branding.’ But further, “branding takes positioning one step further,” the article wrote. “The idea is to create demand, not just for your product or service, but for your specific brand. Proctor and Gamble developed this idea years ago. They had considerable success creating new products and markets, but made things too easy for their competitors. P&G incurred all the expenses to launch new products, while others would ride on their coat-tails and produce identical products cheaper. From this, P&G realized they needed to create demand for their brands, not just their products.” 
When there’s a demand for your brand, competitors fade away. There’s a reason some brands are perpetually sold out. They have an extra sparkle to their product selection because of factors such as their mission statement, how they advertise, and what their ‘personality’ is. This makes a foaming face wash so much more than a face wash, or a new pair of running shoes so much more than shoes. 

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Use this branding for targeted advertising
Once you’ve zeroed in on a branding strategy, this can be applied for advertising campaigns. Mitchell Conquer, the co-founder of Investor Social, has helped many real estate professionals begin to forge connections and sell homes by nailing down on branding first, and lead generation second. 
“After the brand is rock solid, we create a targeted advertising or unique marketing campaign,” explained Conquer. “We found that this reverse engineered the process. While other digital marketing firms seek first to create a strong selling strategy, we recognized how crowded the online space is right now, and started experimenting with branding first. It’s a little more creative work upfront, but makes for explosive results.” 
Brand can be expressed in targeted advertising campaigns via quirky copywriting, compelling images, and general tone. Think about the most classic slogans of our time. 
“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” immediately creates an air of friendliness and trust for State Farm insurance (emotions you certainly want to experience from an insurance company). “Betcha can’t eat just one” has a playful, taunting tone from Lay’s chips. “Eat more Chikin” from Chick-Fil-A, in tandem with personifying cows, gives a humorous and inviting air to the fast food restaurant. These are reasons that consumers buy in the first place. And, you need them to buy sooner rather than later to verify the quality of your product or service. 
Align on brand first 
Ultimately, everything within a company’s brand should extend outwards, affecting every facet of the advertising campaigns, social pages, and the website. If for nothing else, this is why a brand should be decided upon first. When in the planning stages of a company, while writing the business plan, ensure that a branding kit is created. The more that this brand can stand out from the competition and become infused in every component of selling, the better. Eventually, the brand may just sell for you.