7 tips on how to create powerful joint ventures

Today’s guest post comes from Nancy Juetten, PR strategist, speaker and creator of Bye Bye Boring Business Bio – a great resource if you want to get known and be seen as an expert in your field. She’s built a successful business by creating lucrative partnerships and affiliate relationships. Today she shares her tips on how to foster these joint ventures so that you are exponentially seen, heard and celebrated – by clients and media alike.

Having worked as a publicist for experts and entrepreneurs for many years, advocating for others is a well-honed skill. Earning publicity is all about positioning experts and information in a timely, newsworthy and relevant way so even more people can learn about the top priority that is trend-worthy and useful at the moment.

Getting seen, heard, and celebrated via the media that matter for your message can make big noise and invite more of the right opportunities to connect with ideal clients and others who need to know about whatever it is that is YOUR priority. Media coverage gets people talking, sharing, and taking action. That is powerful for building brand, reputation, and buzz. And, when more people know about what you have to offer, you are more easily found, referred, and hired, and those are outcomes that give business owners everywhere reasons to cheer.

When I first learned about the value of joint ventures for expert positioning and getting the word out, the parallels to the power of publicity were clear to me and also aligned with my skill set. During a joint venture with a strategic partner, colleagues share information that is timely, newsworthy and relevant with their carefully nurtured tribes of fans to build know-like-trust and inspire action. Sometimes, the communication is about sharing a useful report that solves a specific problem. Other times, the communication is about inviting a specific buying action. Either way, the common thread is that the information or offer being extended is relevant, of service, and intended to make a positive impact. The audience for the message is well served, and everyone wins.

So, when I got started with joint venture partnerships in 2006, I started by doing my homework. What steps did I take?

And more to the point, what steps might you take now that your desire to make joint ventures part of your get known to get paid strategy has become crystal clear to you?  Here are suggestions, based on my path so far.

  1. Identify a product or service that your tribe needs, wants, and is likely to invest into to get the benefit or the relief.
  2. Investigate the best-of-breed service providers who offer that solution and start a relationship.  Not a transaction. A relationship.
  3. Learn about and use the product or service to know that it truly is the best available so as to be in a solid position to provide meaningful and credible advocacy.
  4. Invite opportunities to promote the work of high quality partners in the spirit of service to your own tribe.
  5. Deliver on every promise  made, and go the extra mile to deliver results as measured by opt ins and referred sales.
  6. Invite conversations with partners for reciprocal promotions or other creative ways to collaborate for great results, once and all.
  7. Nurture the relationships over time.  By making powerful introductions to other people of influence, being available to mastermind or brainstorm to solve problems, going the extra mile whenever possible, and showing up as a great colleague, co-collaborator, and friend, you can develop lasting and rewarding relationships with your partners.  In doing so, everyone is in great position to serve more of the perfect clients we are here to serve and make a bigger impact through our work.

If you are new to the world of publicity or joint ventures, consider today a NEW day to approach both arenas as students who are serious about learning best practices.  Take action on what you learn.  Keep track of your results.  And keep advancing along the path to mastery.

We all bloom where we are planted and grow from there. In the spirit of authentic visibility, it  gets a bit intimidating at times to see how big some partners play, how well they use technology to their advantage, and how elaborate some of their promotions are.

As much as I’ve learned since starting down this path, there is still so much more to learn and do, and I’ll keep moving forward in a step by step and sometimes leaps and bounds kind of way.

I will also say that it is a privilege to learn from those who are playing big and take the best of what they do and apply it in my own best way to make my own impact with clients and the marketplace.

What I know based on my own experience is that when your advocacy puts your name on the top of a leader board for a joint venture in which many of your industry’s most influential players are participating, that means that people with names you likely recognize will soon be calling your name. And that just might be the most intoxicating benefit of all.

You can listen to a webinar replay I gave about Joint Ventures and gain access to two relevant gifts to guide you forward,

About Guest Blogger Nancy Juetten:

Since 2009, Business Bio Expert and Get Known to Get Paid Mentor Nancy Juetten has earned a reputation as the “go to” expert for helping aspiring experts transform their boring business bios from wallpaper to wow to attract clients now. Access your “Heal Your Boring Business Bio to Attract Clients and Cash Now” gift booklet today, and invite your friends to do the same.

Are joint ventures and affiliate programs part of your business and marketing model? What have you achieved and which people are doing cool things in this area? Please share in the Comments below and get the conversation going!

Are you a solopreneur? 3 perks and 3 downsides you can easily combat

Going solo in your business is either a launch strategy or a deliberate business model choice. Sometimes you are just getting off the ground and you’re a party of One, doing everything from accounting to marketing to product development. Other times, though, you are intentionally creating a lifestyle business and don’t want extra complication from staff, tax requirements or overhead.

I’ve deliberately chosen a “solopreneur” model for my business and have no plans to build an agency. I like being in control, not managing people and being able to handle the ebbs and flows that writing and consulting bring. Plus, I find it’s easy to keep overhead low and ramp up or pare down by partnering with others as needed.

Being a solopreneur both rocks and sucks – but you can combat the latter (Tweet this!). Perhaps you can relate?

Three perks to being a solopreneur business:

  • Control: You maintain control over all business and marketing decisions. There are no politics to deal with or egos to soothe. After my long stint in corporate America, this is a godsend for my stress level.
  • Creativity: You can get crazy creative on marketing ideas, promotional pushes and even which projects you take on.
  • Speed: When you make a decision, you’re done and off to the races. No internal selling, pleading or persuasion required. I have decided on marketing efforts in the morning and implemented them by that afternoon, easy peasy. I can take advantage of last-minute opportunities and react fast.

OK, couldn’t resist a 4th bonus perk:

  • Selectivity: You can work with who you like, when you like. And if it doesn’t work out, you never have to sub-contract that person or continue with that client or customer ever again if you don’t want to.

With upside, comes downside, though.

Three challenges of being a solopreneur – and steps you can take to alleviate the pain:

  • Lack of collaboration: If you’re extroverted like me, one of the joys of working on a team is a meeting where you’re all hashing out ideas on a whiteboard. You can get out of your own head and vet ideas with other smart people. Working solo, you miss out on that sanity check from others and potentially limit your thinking, creativity or perspective. Those voices in your head may be leading you astray and you might never know it.

COMBAT THIS! Pull together your own makeshift Board of Directors or accountability group of other solopreneurs. Choose people you respect but who also come at things from a different point of view. I collaborate with a few key partners and often ask to bounce ideas off of them or seek their advice when making a major decision. Another colleague of mine often will email a close group of trusted partners to get a consensus or conversation going when she needs to make a quick decision. Your collaborative team won’t be handed to you when you work alone, spout one together yourself – and offer to play that role for others if they need it.

  • Loneliness: If you’re an extrovert like me, this is kind of related to the one above, but it’s more than that. I miss shared office moments, blowing off steam with others, lunch dates, heck even water cooler gossip. I even go in to my husband’s office or a coffee shop every now and then to work just to be around other people. Talking to the dog only gets me so far, and even gets bored with my running commentary and retreats to the other room every now and then.

COMBAT THIS! Get social on your own. Make time for coffee dates to form relationships with other freelancer colleagues. Join local groups and associations. Participate in online forums. Attend conferences. Force yourself out of your office at least 2-3 times per week just to be social. Or arrange phone  or Skype meetings with other solopreneurs where you can each just unwind for 30 minutes, laugh, share, vent and support each other.

  • Lack of resources: It’s all you, baby! You are chief cook, bottle washer and accountant. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Your  to-do list is never complete and there are always way more ideas than hours in the day or mental energy that you can expend. It can be hard to unplug when you are all you’ve got. And this can lead to stress, headaches, poor health and damaged relationships.

COMBAT THIS: Ask for help. You are not supposed to be an expert at everything. Why do you think companies and org charts exist? If you are not technical, outsource your website maintenance and design. If you hate writing, hire a part-time writer to put together your materials or blog posts. If you know something will never get done if it stays on your To-Do list, hire someone else to do it for you! The flip side is that this scarcity mentality helps you pare down to the most important tasks in your business right now. Save the stuff you love to do, or the tasks only you can do for your precious time and attention: everything else? Get help. Hire a virtual assistant. Send your receipts to a bookkeeper. One big caveat here: don’t barter for everything. You simply exchange one set of tasks taking up your time for another. If you want to really free up time, make the investment in paying someone else to do it.

Photo credit: 55Laney69 on Flickr

Your turn: Are you a solopreneur? What do you love best? What do you love least and how do you deal with it? Are you temporarily a solopreneur or do you have plans to stay that way? We want to know so please share below in the Comments!


8 unexpected places to find your next client or customer

It’s simple.

If you solve a pressing problem or have a story to share that moves, ignites, provokes, heals or amuses people, you can find your tribe. The first step is that you have to really believe in what you’re selling. In fact, don’t think of it as selling. What is the mission behind what you do? I don’t care if you’re writing a book, offering massage services or developing enterprise software. Why do you do what you do? What will others gain from it?

That’s what is interesting. That’s what gets people hooked.

Now, take that mission, that story, and bring it to these 8 unexpected places to capture your next client or customer. Or better yet, think of it as “to capture your next client or customer’s imagination.”

  1. The elevator: Not just the networking luncheon or conference itself, but the elevator. Classic place to engage one on one. Often, people are feeling a bit of trepidation going into a big conference hall or luncheon alone. So start the conversation with one person while you’re both trapped in this big metal box.  This is how I met one of my favorite colleagues with whom I exchange business referrals. In the span of one minute, she and I connected based on our passions and missions – and even found out we both had written books.
  2. LinkedIn groups: I posted a comment in an Indiana University alumni group once and a week later got an email from someone, saying he liked what I’d written and asking to chat about his company’s current project. Really. It was that simple. Same thing with another group recently, where someone contacted me after I posted a helpful comment. Of course, make sure your comment is insightful, adds value without asking for anything in return and related to what you do. That helps.
  3. Guest blogs: Reach out and share your expertise with others in related fields. Who really resonates with your brand? Who rocks your world? For whom do you think you can be a missing puzzle piece and add value to their community? Make an effort to guest blog at least once a month and this will open you up to so many more potential clients or customers.
  4. Your butcher, baker, candlestick maker: So often, we tend to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. For the longest time, I didn’t reveal to anyone outside of “work situations” that I had written a book about how to create a brand strategy. I thought they might not “get it” or wouldn’t care out of context. Why? That’s just stupid. Why not tell your massage therapist, your Crossfit buddies or your local UPS Store owner what you do for a living? You’d be surprised at how often people whom you think would never be interested in your business actually know someone who needs what you’ve got. Margit Crane, ADHD Coach and co-founder of Good Enough Parenting threw a fit with a restaurant and the owner called to apologize. After talking a bit, he hired her to be an ADHD Coach for his family
  5. Personal business transactions: Selling your house. Buying a car. Renting event space for your teen’s graduation party. Why not talk up your business to someone with whom you are already engaging in contracts? @ywpresidente, CEO of social networking start-up hub site, YourWorld.me  tweeted me that he turned the guy across the closing table for his house into one of his best clients.
  6. Vacation: While we often let our hair down on vacation and try to do as much as we can to unplug from our work, there are times when an unexpected opening may present itself. Be prepared – and make sure you are always keeping your personal brand in mind, even when “off the clock.” Kelsey Foster, a dating coach and author, found a new client while dancing with her cousin and a Michael Jackson impersonator in Vegas at 4 a.m.  Some people came over the chat with her and – boom – she gained a new client.
  7. Random bump-in: Publicity expert Nancy Juetten had a chance meeting with someone she had worked with before at a natural foods market.  After catching up, she said, “Call me next week to chat about a project” and offered her card. Nancy followed up, and they worked together for several years. ALWAYS remember to follow up!
  8. Volunteer committees: Writer Tina Christiansen worked on a convention committee for a car club. The committee chair was also president of a company and, after getting to know each other, they hired Tina and became her very first client.

If you believe in what you do and why you do it, client/customer opportunities are everywhere. Be prepared! (Tweet!)

Where have you unexpectedly met a future partner, client or customer? Got a crazy story to share about how this came about? Please share in the Comments!

12 things you will never regret saying in business

We all have had that moment when our mouth moves 3 milliseconds faster than our brain. Often, the heart has bypassed the brain’s filter completely and as you say something, you can almost literally see the words flying out of your mouth in slow motion but can’t stop them and stuff them back in.

As a fiesty redhead, this has happened to me way more times than I care to admit. With age and experience, I can honestly say it’s getting better. But tell that to the sassy 8 year-old who walked out of a TV commercial audition for a new snack cracker only to exclaim loudly to my brother, “God, those were soooooooooo gross!” – with the casting agent and client walking right behind me sporting  nervous smiles and shocked expressions. Yeah, not one of my finer. more tactful moments.

But I came to a realization in recent years that there are just some things you will never regret saying in business. You will never want to take them back and, however uncomfortable it may feel at the time to say some of these things, the regret would be in not saying them:

  1. You’re right. This seems like a great idea and offer. Let me think it over before giving you my answer, ok?
  2. I adore working with you, too! Let’s just make this official and put it in writing, so I’m sure I can deliver exactly what you’re expecting and we’re on the same page.  Protects you and me.
  3. I’m sorry. How can I make it right?
  4. That’s a really good way for us to go. Or, another option we may want to consider is….
  5. It would help me serve you better and ensure I’m delivering on my end if you overcommunicate rather than undercommunicate. I don’t mind multiple emails or calls if it means we can be successful.
  6. Let’s set up a weekly status call for this project. Sometimes, voice is easier than going back and forth on email.
  7. I would love to help you with this project but I am just too overcommitted right now and would not be able to give it the attention and care it deserves. Here are 3 other people who may be able to help you out.
  8. Please
  9. Thank you
  10. You’re welcome
  11. How can I support you in your efforts?
  12. Great job!

Photo credit: dno1967b on Flickr

Want even less regrets? If you’re in Seattle on April 23, please join me for a special workshop with the Puget Sound Business Journal: Building a Buzz-worthy Brand on Any Budget, 9-11 am. Click here for details (hurry, space is limited!)

Your turn: I know you’re dying to share your own bit of hard-earned wisdom with us, so please tell us below what phrase you have never regretted saying when doing business.  Or is there a deadly phrase you have regretted saying that led to bad consequences? Please share in the Comments below!

The Art of the Deal

Negotiation. Partnership. Bartering. Often, it’s the “people management” part of business that causes the most anxiety and challenges. Last week, I was honored to moderate a CRAVESeattle panel for women entrepreneurs titled The Art of The Deal. We tackled these issues and I wanted to share some key takeaways with you.

Forging Effective Partnerships

When you’re partnering on a project or marketing activity, there are various landmines to avoid. First and foremost, clear communication is key. Discuss up front the roles and responsibilities of each party. Outline who is responsible for what.

In my view, there are 3 areas you need to ensure you map out clearly before getting into bed with each other:

  • Marketing: Who is promoting what to whom? Are we using our email lists, placing ads, posting on social media? Map out how you’re splitting this so there’s no, “I thought you were the one doing that” conversations after the fact. And clearly discuss how you split all costs and expenses so there is no ill will. Attached to this, how will you follow up and split leads after the event or activity? Make sure you are both aligned or your prospects will be left confused and caught in the middle.
  • Operations: Who’s responsible for booking the room, ordering the food or writing the copy? Who is developing the sales page and processing payments? Who’s project managing? Work out all the details before hand, list the tasks and assign an owner.
  • Financials: Money issues can turn a partnership sour faster than anything. Clearly establish your joint budget and how you will split both expenses and incoming revenue. Sometimes 50/50 may not make sense if you’re leveraging one person’s larger mailing list or brand recognition. Have the conversation upfront – trust me, it will be even more painful and awkward later if you don’t.

To Pay or Barter?

Collaboration can take many forms and two ways of bootstrapping your growing business can be either to pay for services rendered or barter. How do you decide? It depends on your budget and what you need. Only barter for things your business really needs. Otherwise, it’s not a good deal and you end up giving away products or services that could be earning you money for something you never needed anyway. Finally, be sure your expectations are clear. When you’re not paying someone for something, that means you fall to the bottom of their priority list. Are you okay with that? Is your timing flexible? If not, it may pay to pay instead.

When you’re on the other end of the barter, you also need to ensure you can commit to giving away your time. Don’t do it if you are crazy busy and it will just leave a bad taste in your mouth. You owe it to the other person to be honest and to only take on work to which you can give your very best – and give it in a way that doesn’t make you bitter or resentful.

Overall, be selective about your chosen collaborators and partners. Make sure you’re both committed to delivering on time and ensure that aligning with this business is not going to impact your brand in a negative way.

Have you effectively partnered, collaborated or bartered with someone? What words of wisdom can you share? Please share below in the Comments!

4 ways to jumpstart your business after a break

New baby. Extended sabbatical. Major health crisis. Six months abroad…heck, years abroad.

People ebb and flow out of big businesses without a peep. But when you’re a business of one – or even five – who’s left steering the brand awareness ship while you go island hopping?

I had my major health crisis just 6 months after launching my own consulting business. You know what happened? Well, for one thing, time did not implode upon itself – everything that seemed urgent faded away, as it should. While I did miss a conference call the day after my brain aneurysm ruptured (I bet the client never thought they’d hear that excuse from my husband), the world did not end. But practically speaking, the blog went cold, the networking ceased and the cacophony of market noise enveloped my absence like a black hole. In the blink of an eye, my business profile faded.

So how is it that 4+ years later, my business is thriving more than it ever has? How is it that I had the best business year financially not long after I fell into the void?

If you have to take a voluntary – or unexpected – break from your business, here are four tips that served me well in cranking up the brand awareness engine again. These are also useful if you simply need to revive your personal brand after a long absence:

  1. Rev up your blogging: When you emerge from your cocoon, one of the few things you have in your control is the ability to add useful content to the world again. And besides, perhaps your client work is dried up for now so what else have you got to do? Build out a new editorial calendar and maybe amp up your blogging for the time being. Maybe you normally blog once a week, so increase that to twice. Make your content super useful, super sexy and super keyword-rich so you can back on the web radar again. Combine this with sending out a few Tweets and Facebook updates about your latest post and you can boost your exposure efforts.
  2. Jump into the online conversation: Again, you can control your content output, so leverage all those great new blog posts in online forums or communities like Biznik, Bzzhive or Focus – or whatever industry-specific places reign supreme for you. Start commenting on relevant blogs or articles on a consistent basis to raise your profile again. Just target 3 per day at about 30 minutes each day.  Or maybe pitch a few contributed articles to media outlets like American Express Open Forum or Entrepreneur.com for even more exposure and street cred.
  3. Invite key people to your welcome back party: When I returned from my hiatus, I reached out to several colleagues with phone calls or personalized emails letting them know where I’d been and that I was up to my old tricks again and ready for action. You may think people know what’s going on with you but really, they don’t. They are too busy. Reach out individually to trusted contacts via email or Linked In and take them out for coffee to let them know what business or clients you are looking for and kindly ask if they can spread the word for you. Don’t be afraid to ask “competitors” as well – they might be so busy that they are turning folks away so you can help them out, and maybe give them a referral fee in exchange. And always ask how you can help them in return. People are kinder than you think – and it’s a great way to reconnect.
  4. Get out there live and in person: Pick 2-3 key networking groups or clubs and start amping up your face time again. Attend lunches, happy hours, book signings. When I was returning to work after my health issues, this was quite a challenge for me as I was still recovering and suffering from massive fatigue – plus I could drive at the time. But I forced myself to try to go to one live event per week. And I asked gracious friends to drive me. They were only too happy to help, since they didn’t want to go alone either!

There are some people on the periphery of my professional circle who did not even realize I had been out of commission for six months – not sure if that’s good or bad! But it tells me I did a good job of trying to stay connected and present as much as I could.

When it is time to get back into things, have a plan, take action and you’ll rev things up in no time!

How to spring clean your brand, business (& life)

It’s that time of year again, when the trees bud, the air warms (at least if you’re not in Seattle) and we start to shed our winter cloaks in lieu of open-toed shoes and lighter fabrics. Freeing ourselves from the unwanted weight of heavy parkas and wool mittens feels pretty darn good.
And with that, we also crave shedding some of the crap in our lives with a healthy dose of spring cleaning.

Removing the clutter and streamlining our lives applies equally to our businesses and brands. When we’re lighter and unencumbered, we can better focus and stop clogging our time, brains and business with the things that don’t matter. So here’s a handy guide to how to perform such much needed spring cleaning on your business – but these can equally apply to your life:

Conduct an Audit
What really needs to stay or go? Has your menu of offerings turned into an endless buffet that only serves to confuse customers and distract your focus? Review your current business offerings and keep the ones making you money, while removing the deadwood of those that don’t. Why waste your time and your prospects’ attention on products or offerings that just take up space?

This audit can also apply to your brand. Which messages no longer serve your or your customer’s purpose? Does your website look stale and dated? Has your brand evolved beyond what your materials are currently saying about it? Set aside time and review everything your customers see with a keen eye, and get objective advice on how to clarify, update or tighten up your brand look, feel, message and differentiation.

Review your Partnerships
Sometimes we form business partnerships when it makes perfect sense but things change. Review your best referral sources, from where website traffic comes and perhaps even your affiliate partners. Run the numbers and the time spent and see if you’re getting the most out of these relationships. If there are relationships worth keeping, spend more attention making them really work for you. If they are not fruitful, release the deadwood and clear your mind, budget and schedule. You want to focus on fewer, more meaningful and higher quality partnerships that build you up, instead of sap your strength. PS: This exercise applies to networking groups and social media networks as well.

Clear the Clutter
Is your file system a disaster? Does your inbox overflow? Do you still have digital files from years ago that serve no purpose but to eat up storage space? Take a day to streamline and organize your systems to help make you more efficient in running your business. Consult with a personal organizer if you have trouble letting go. And speaking of systems, take a look at your business procedures and see where you can increase efficiency. Does billing clients take way too long? Do you spend too much time creating that monthly newsletter or managing your calendar? Document the tasks that are not a good use of your time and hire a virtual assistant or consult with an operations expert on how to manage your business better so you can spend more time being brilliant.

What “deadwood” is your business carrying around? What one thing will you do this spring to make your brand clearer, your load lighter and your business more efficient? Please share in the Comments.

Two to tango or tussle? How to build better business relationships

Any business relies on relationships, no matter what you sell.  Whether with customers, suppliers or your business partner – maybe you’re co-authoring a book with someone – your relationships are a key business asset and can make or break your brand…and your success. How do you make a business “marriage” work?

Enter Kathy Clayton: Personal and partnership coach, “radiant guide and dog-on-a-bone
relationship advocate.” She is passionate about making the world a better place by teaching, guiding and sometimes cajoling her clients on how to be self-aware and conscious in their life, work and relationships so they can transform the world with their unique genius.

Kathy’s work with couples and especially business partners really sparked my interest so I invited her to the Slice of Brilliance column to share her wisdom about common relationship pitfalls, how to maintain a healthy work partnership and how to be more self-aware of our actions.

RS: Welcome! Kathy, your specialty seems to be working with a couple or business partnership when people get stuck and can’t move forward. When your clients need to rely on a relationship with another person for success but have obstacles, are there common issues you see time and again?

KC: What I see most often is the need to be right. As soon as one person takes this position, communication grinds to a halt because, well, they’re right and they aren’t particularly interested in the other person’s point of view.  The question you have to ask, “Is it more important to be right or to be happy?”  Too often folks are so invested in their position they lose sight of what really matters: the relationship.

Another trap:  listening to respond vs. listening to understandThink how often you have the perfect response and you’re just lying in wait until they stop talking so you can get ‘em with your brilliant, likely stinging retort.  If what you want is to keep this ‘me vs. you’ dynamic going, stay the course.  On the other hand, if what you want is to be on the same team again, get quiet, check your intentions and be honest with yourself and your partner.  You actually have a tremendous amount of power to change the dynamic by simply using these two tools.

RS: Business partnerships especially can be tricky with different personality types, expectations and work styles. What is a good first step that readers in this situation could take to start moving forward when they hit an impasse?

KC: Know thyself and know thy expectations! The first piece, knowing yourself, is essential for success in any relationship.  We are all wired differently and it’s folly to think you’ll be on the same page with your partner all the time.  Investing in self-development pays off so quickly and in so many arenas – you will see positive results immediately.  More importantly, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively.

As for expectations, we all have them.  Usually we’re too scared or worried about what our partner will think that we don’t speak up.  I advocate transparency.  The very first conversation I have with new clients is about expectations.  I have them, you have them: let’s get them out in the open so when inevitably one of us doesn’t meet those expectations, we can talk about it.  This lets us find solutions and strategies to stay focused, keep moving in the desired direction and get the results you say are most important.

RS: You talk about self-awareness as a prerequisite to healthy relationships. My husband complains often about people who seem to have none: the person who talks too loud in a restaurant, the one who pulls out of a parking space without looking, the one who cuts right in front of you in line. What is your take? What tips can we put into practice to ensure we’re appropriately self-aware? 

KC: I believe every person is trying to do their very best given their life and experience, and like your husband, I get irritated when folks go unconscious, too. The remedy?  Pick one area of your life where you want a different result or experience and practice, practice, practice compassionate honestyThe ability to tell yourself the truth about who and how you really are is the first step toward self-awareness.   Why compassionately?  Because all of us have an amazing array of torturous, insidious tools and methods for beating ourselves up for being, well, who we are. Never in a million years would we talk to others the way we talk to ourselves. Changing your internal dialogue – be kind to and with yourself! – opens you up to seeing yourself and the world through a new lens.  This new perspective changes how you engage with others, which leads to greater self-awareness.

More about Kathy Clayton: Over the past 20 years, Kathy Clayton has capitalized on her insatiable belly-button gazing by creating tangible, practical, effective strategies and tools that transform how people relate to themselves and their partners (business and personal).  Using the living laboratory that is her marriage (thank you, Michael!), Kathy commits daily to walking her talk and being in service to all who say “Enough!” to the status quo and seek authentic connection and expression with themselves and their partners. Visit her website, reach out to her on Twitter or Facebook

What is your biggest relationship challenge with a business partner, colleague or client/customer? Please share in the Comments and tell us how you deal with it.

You love PR: Do your employees know how important it is?

Had to share this gem with full credit to Steve Harrison at Reporter Connection. If you don’t subscribe to it, sign up today – it’s free press queries delivered right to your inbox so you can pitch the media and get your story heard. Here was his juicy advice:

Here’s another PR don’t from a journalist friend of mine. Researching a story for a major magazine, she called a store and asked to speak to the owner. The person who answered told the journalist that the owner was out of the store. The journalist asked to leave a message. After a big sigh, the employee said, "Can you just call back tomorrow?" Not surprisingly, the journalist never called that store again. Think about that. Who answers your phone? Have you told them that if a journalist calls, they should not only take a message, but make sure that they get that message to you immediately? If you haven’t told your employees how to handle media calls, do so today.

YOU may care about your brand and your marketing goals – but do your employees or partners know what most matters to you? Don’t assume they do….communicate with them often so everything is going in the right direction.

10 Signs Your Brand is Failing

Last week, I posted about 5 signs of a Power Brand. This week, I’d love to share this great list from Derek Daye and Brad Van Auken of  BrandStrategyInsider.com, a super blog about all things branding. I’m adding their blog to my list of regular reading. With full credit to their powerful thinking, here are the 10 signs they say indicates a brand is failing. The list itself is to their credit; the “color” and examples are from Red Slice.


1. Your brand is mentioned to customers and potential customers, and there is strong negativity in their response: At workshops I give, people cringe when I ask them to tell me what words and attributes come to mind when I say “Walmart.” Usually it has to do with unfair labor practices and destruction of small local businesses.

2. Your brand’s external messages do not “ring true” with all employees: This is the most common one. A company says they are dedicated to friendly customer service, and you are met with a surly teen at the checkout counter who spends more time yakking to her co-worker than serving you.

3. Employees are not enthusiastic or consistent in recounting what makes their brand special: If you ask 5 employees what the company stand for and what benefits it offer and get 5 different elevator pitches, you have a brand consistency problem – and a confused workforce. Your employees are your #1 brand weapon. If they don’t live out the brand promise, you’re toast.

4. The brand’s market share is decreasing: Sales go down. Enough said. Doesn’t matter if you have the slickest ads or coolest viral marketing campaigns. Effective branding should lead to increased sales.

5. Competitors never mention your brand as a point of reference: If your brand is not stand-out enough for competitors to even be talking about why they are a better option than you are, that means you are not making a dent.

6. The press does not write about your brand: As mentioned in the Power Brand post, your brand should transcend what you sell and you should be seen as a thought leader in your category.

7. Your CEO does not have a strong vision for the organization and its brand. He or she talks more about financial targets than the vision: Vision matters. Mission matters. If your employees don’t know why they come to work every day, then that’s like a General failing to tell his troops the endgame of the mission. Everyone needs to be aligned around delivering the same value – and not dollar value, but customer value. I’ve seen start-ups fold because all they were about was chasing quarterly profits. They never stood for something bigger and more inspirational.

8. Your organization’s leaders never seem to “talk the brand” and “walk the brand talk.” Put your money where your mouth is. People are not stupid. Don’t write brand checks your company can’t cash. Everyone wants to be Apple, but if you deliver ugly, inferior, outdated products, then I’m sorry, you can’t claim to be like Apple. Walk. Your. Talk. Only promise what you are actually set up to deliver. Or, promise what you want, but then you’d better make sure you shift operations, policies and marketing to back it up.

9. Your organization fails to attract and retain high quality employees: When we talked about a Power Brand, we mentioned that customers and employees are proud to work with you. The opposite holds true as well. Good brand attract good talent. Failing brands do not.

10. Your brand fails to build customer loyalty: If your customers fall prey to discounted prices elsewhere or won’t drive the extra mile to your shop when there is a competitor closer, you have failed to build an emotional and connective brand. People go out of their way for brands they admire. Trying to rig the system with temporary discounts just to drive sales is a short-term solution that won’t have any lasting effects. That just means they are loyal to the price you are giving them at that time, not to you.


Any other signs you see when a brand is failing? Please share in the comments.