Posts in creating change
Here are my top 3 tips for turning your side hustle into your full-time gig

This year is huge for all the people side hustling and turning it into a full time business. First of all:

Congratulations on taking the leap!

And it is a leap. It can be hard to start committing to something full time, especially after it being relegated to an "after work" activity or on the back burner. Bringing your focus to your side hustle, especially enough to turn it full time, is amazing.

Bu the hard work is just starting.

Unfortunately, the hard work is just beginning. I'm sure you're feeling it now: the pressure to MAKE IT ALL WORK. The feeling that turning your hobby into a full time activity means you're doing a bunch of things you may not want to be doing, but that comes with the business owning territory.

Your new year is full of new and exciting things like:

  • Bookkeeping and keeping track of income

  • Managing a client pipeline and schedule

  • Creating unique messaging and reaching new people online and in person

While some of this is what gets you excited, sometimes you feel like there's just too many things going on. Suddenly, you're always busy. There doesn't seem to be any time for the work you actually want to be doing (your side hustle) or you're having a hard time actually DOING THE WORK instead of WORKING THE BUSINESS.

Based on my own experience, here are my top three tips for taking your side hustle to full time.

Cultivate focus.

Turning your side hustle into full time is just one way you've started doing this. However, now you need to be extra mindful of how you're spending your time and money. You need to focus on what is "worth it" for your business, which should be where you're generating your revenue.

Create a vision.

Understand where you want your full time business to go and what you want to spend your time doing. Have an idea of how many clients that means you need, or how many t-shirts you need to sell. Have a vision for what your work includes and meaningful goals that you're working towards.

Remember it's all going to come together.

If you're working toward your goals, seeing progress, and still freaking out and feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under you - tell yourself, "It's all going to come together." It may not be today, or tomorrow. But you never know when your next tactic or meeting brings it all together for you and your business!

Find Your Focus Worksheet.jpg
Starting a business? Here's how you can beat stress and overwhelm

Something they didn't tell you: starting a business is hard. It can look easy from the outside when you hear about the "overnight success" and "$100,000 program launch." Unfortunately, sometimes these "overnight successes" are 10 years in the making.

People slogged for a lot of years to make their businesses happen. They worked through kids play dates. They spent the weekend building out their first prototype. They took a day off of work to go pitch someone their idea or land a new client.

Starting a business and feeling overwhelmed?

All business pursuits require a lot of thought, time, and effort. But can be hindered by overwhelm and stress.

However, I'm sure you're feeling the overwhelm in the background (and a lot in the forefront of their mind). I know I was thinking and feeling things like:

  • What if I should pursue my other idea instead?
  • What if my customers aren't interested?
  • What if I can't make any money at this?

You can find yourself stuck - mired in self-doubt and overthinking your options. You spend all of your time thinking about what color a button should be instead of doing what is going to make their business succeed.

You might find yourself:

  • Not returning client phone calls
  • Filling orders late
  • Sitting and thinking about what you business could be, but not selling it to people

Why does this happen? Sometimes you don't really know what to do next. You have an amazing idea and then marvel at it. You're not sure how to tie the beast down and ride it to success.

When you're feeling overwhelmed, aren't sure what to do moving forward, and feel the frazzle building up around you, there's one thing you need to remember. Do you know what that one thing is?

 
 

Focus.

In order for entrepreneurs to put in their time, thought, and effort they know what they need to do and work toward. Having a goal in sight or in mind is what helps entrepreneurs create the company and product they've been dreaming of.

With focus, you can:

  • Calmly meet your goals because you've been preparing for them.
  • Hustle toward your goals because you know what you're striving for.
  • Prioritize your ideas because you know what is important for you to accomplish.

Looking to find more focus in your business because your fighting the frazzle and stress of overwhelm? Check out the worksheet I've put together.

Find Your Focus Worksheet.jpg

Need a hand with finding and honing your focus for 2018? Check out my course here.

Marketing podcasts for your summer jam

I was never one for listening to podcasts, I really never understood the appeal. And then I found Being Boss and I have started upping my podcast game.

For marketers out there who need a place to start learning more about marketing, entrepreneurship, and business, I would subscribe to some of these podcasts!

 
 

1. Being Boss Podcast

This is the podcast I wait patiently for every Tuesday. This is what got me listening to podcasts. I innocently stumbled across it, went back and listened to every episode, and now enjoy their weekly episodes! I was surprised that someone was discussing the things I wasn't sure about: money, creative business, and how to be your own boss.

Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson host this weekly podcast describing habits and tactics for bosses. Their guest roster includes Brene Brown, Marie Forleo, Tara Gentile, and more! Subscribe and learn every week about how you can "be boss."

iTunes

2. Profit. Power. Pursuit. A CreativeLive Podcast with Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile hosts this podcast that features interviews with business owners and people in business. It explores how creative people have "made it" by taking control of their finances, business, and purpose.

Tara Gentile asks great questions and features guests that have incredibly diverse stories, like the founders of Warby Parker. She builds an engaging episode and helps you understand what each person went through as they grew in their business.

iTunes

3. How I Built This: NPR

Guy Raz has some excellent guests on his podcast, including Kate Spade, Jenn Hyman, and Jonah Peretti. The talks involve the beginnings and inspiration for business to how their business models are succeeding today.

I loved the talk with Jonah Peretti who spoke about starting Buzzfeed. Originally just a little experiment about how things "go viral," it's now a huge content engine.

iTunes

4. Inc. Uncensored

A topical and insightful look into business trends. As part of the overall Inc. brand, the podcast has rich investigative content. I recommend for anyone who needs to stay abreast of new marketing and business stories.

iTunes

5. Invisibilia: NPR

A look into psychology and connecting stories in an unexpected way. Invisibilia doesn't talk about marketing, but it's a great example of creating a unique product with unusual interviews and mental links.

It looks into human behavior and the "invisible" influences like beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. A captivating listen for marketers beholden to consumer behaviors.

iTunes

6. Invisible Office Hours

While I haven't given much of a listen, it's created for people who "Aren't confined by conventional thinking." Enter: marketers, creatives, and entreprenuers. Jason Zook and Paul Jarvis host this podcast every Tuesday. 

From the descriptions of the episodes, like podcasts about "Paul's epic killer whale photo" and putting on nerd goggles" mean that I will be listening to more from these gues shortly.

iTunes

Some podcasts that came recommended:

There haven't been any new episodes, but if you want to go back and give their seasons a listen, I have heard good things about these podcasts.

BONUS Podcasts

1. Finely Crafted

Learn about branding and story telling from entrepreneurs. I only listened to their last episode, released 2 years ago, but it's titled, "Where Was R. Kelly?" So you know you're missing out.

2. You University | The Personal Branding Podcast

Hosted by Michael Peggs, this podcast is all about personal branding and building profit. The last episode was two years ago, but I'm sure you can get through their 90 or so episodes before summer end.

iTunes

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Required summer reading: [marketing] Back-to-work books

The days might have passed to where you're no longer in school, but that doesn't mean you can stop learning! Summer reading was a necessary, but not always fun, portion of the school year. To continue in the tradition of previous summers, I wanted to give some book recommendations to liven up your book pile this summer.

 
 

While I am definitely someone who enjoys a beach read, these are a few of my favorite marketing beach reads.

Beach Reads for your Business

Rework by 37signals

I just finished this book the other day - it was incredibly quick read and very insightful into how you can avoid pitfalls in building your business. If you need a quick jolt about how you can change and run your business, this is a perfect under 2-hour read.

I loved the visuals, the authors' style, and the clearness of what they had to say. It was easy to follow and I really enjoyed learning more about the founders' journey in business.

You can do it your own way. Businesses don't need to be layers and layers of processes or shoot for staggering growth. Right-size your business instead of shooting for what is expected (growing employees, Public IPO, etc)

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

These brothers come together and create a book to help explain the decisions that consumers make. They go into case studies and examples of just how irrational consumers are, and the small tweaks that can be made to drive action and change.

Understand how your consumers are irrational so you can use the underlying psychological principles behind your marketing tactics.

Advertising Life

The Art of Client Service by Robert Solomon

Clients got you down? Listen to how this account executive worked through the ad business and created value for his clients. More than just a glorified scheduler, Robert turned client service in a way to build client longevity for your business.

The stories are interesting and provide a slice of life for an account executive in an advertising agency. A read that offers 58 tips for marketing professionals.

Always create value. By being more, you create a better environment for your agency and coworkers. You do this in how you interact with others and creating a more effective relationship with clients. 

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! by Luke Sullivan and Edward Boches

A comprehensive guide to great and classic advertising, this book is a must-read for anyone in advertising. Learning the craft means understanding how and why great ads work, something the authors showcase in every chapter.

Simplify, simplify! Don't get too caught up in a concept or an idea. Think about something in the simplest terms and convey a singular message.

Virality of Ideas

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Remember all those fun email forwards that are now replaced by Instagram posts? Learn why each of those types of social shares went viral. Jonah Berger explains how things go "catch on" with his six principles.

Tell an interesting story. Every product has a story - even blenders - that can be used to grab and keep attention.

Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Another brotherly dup deliver a book explaining why you remember some things, while forgetting others. Why do some ideas stick around and others fade? They found six commonalities among stories that kept them "sticky" over time.

Connect to people with emotion. Emotion will humanize stories, brands, and products so that people can connect to what you are trying to convey.

Personal Growth

Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler sheds light on her career, trials and tribulations on her way to success, and the comedic pals she made along the way. The SNL crew, like Seth Myers and Tina Fey, make an appearance and she delivers an homage to her Parks and Rec cast.

Hilarious and literally having me chortling at the airport, Amy packs insight and humor into the package. You knew she was funny, but get to know her even better in Yes, Please!

When you're ready to complain or be frustrated, just say, "Yes, please." Welcome new experiences and changes that come your way with openness and grit.

 
 

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Get into the arena and put yourself out there! Brene Brown did just that with her first TED Talk that went viral. Seeing the interest in her research on vulnerability and shame, she wrote a book dedicated to her many years of research.

Be open to being vulnerable. The best and the worst moments in life happen in that space. Without spending time feeling the negative or trying times, you won't be able to enjoy the good.

Now reading

Predictably Irrational

To be started soon, I'm excited to learn more about psychology (my original major) and human behavior.

What are you reading?

Humanize your brand with campaigns

A campaign is a chance to further humanize your brand and what it stands for. It can reach outside your traditional channels of communication to show your ideal audience exactly what you stand for.

The Nature Conservancy of Brazil's "Products of Tomorrow"

Their mission to to conserve natural resources. Their campaign gets at their core mission and is informed by their purpose, but their goal is to raise awareness about the effects of climate change and make it more tangible for people.

With this goal in mind, they opened up a fictional store selling the "products of tomorrow" to give a very scary picture about what the planet might look like. The tactics were clever and highlighted their important mission:

Finding Nature’s solutions to climate change is a global priority for the Conservancy, and in Brazil, we are already working on several projects to ensure we have a plan. It’s important that society understands how pressing the problem is, and do its part, too.
— Grazielle Dib, marketing manager at the Conservancy in Brazil.

A campaign helps to humanize your brand by showing it in a variety of situations. It gives it a chance to flex its voice when it communicates to its ideal customer. It gives a chance to flesh out the promise that a brand creates. It reaches your audience in a new and creative way, to convey your message in a way they can understand.

A campaign is:

  • Not a single promotion. One promotion does not constitute a full campaign. You will have general messaging and one coupon, price reduction, or advertisement is just part of the overall campaign.
  • It's a compilation of multiple tactics. Your campaign is meant to guide your target market to an action. It's not just one billboard, it's a series of billboards, online advertisements, or any media with messaging that you think will convince your ideal customers.
  • It's informed by your brand, but is not always just your brand. Some companies live off of brand awareness by trying to gain a greater share of mind. For smaller and newer companies, awareness needs to be combined with more direct messaging.

How does a brand inform your campaign?

It's guidelines are ones you follow in messaging and design (aka branding) for an advertisement. All campaigns from the same brand look similar - they should all represent your brand even if they talk about a new or different product.

A brand serves as the architecture for all campaigns. All campaigns are branches on the tree of your brand. A strong brand serves as the foundation, and each campaign adds a new branch.

The Nature Conservancy of Brazil humanizes the grand scale issue of climate change by bringing it directly to consumers.

How can you humanize your brand with campaigns?

3 ways to stay accountable to your business goals

What's one of the largest things that is going to drive your business forward?

Accountability.

You are accountable to your customers, partners in crime, and yourself. If you are trying to launch or get your business out the door, staying accountable for the work that needs to happen is critical to getting your hustle off the ground.

Wish you had more focus in your business?
Check out my Being Bold Bootcamp to find, set, and meet your goals!

While not everyone can immediately jump from a 9-5 to self employment, making the leap requires the accountability to keep going even when it's not so glamorous. Even when you're working poolside on your laptop because you want to go outside. Even when you're looking forward to your next break but nothing has come in yet.

I talked about goal setting in business, but adhering to those goals means developing a schedule and system that allows you to work in the best possible way for you.

 
 

Scheduling

Find what type of scheduling method works best for you! Set time in your calendar for the things you really need to get done. Bonus points for color coding the types of work coming your way.

I love Google Calendars as something easy, free, and syncs to my phone. It keeps me on top of when I need to be somewhere or work on a particular task. By putting it on my calendar, I am reserving that time for that action so it holds me to completing it (it works wonders for hitting up the gym).

Calendly is a pretty cool tool that allows people to schedule time to speak with you. I set it up on my site, didn't really have a lot of interest and realized I couldn't dedicate a given time every day to speak with people. So I decided to stop using it. But the trial process helped me figure out this out.

Tip: Don't over schedule yourself. If you need to, block out free time to ensure you're getting the balance you need to be your most productive.

Lead management

Find your best way to follow up with inquiries. This could be as simple as emailing back a quick snippet and attaching your capabilities or information. This could be managing your subscription list. Your leads are people interested enough to let you in their inbox - don't disappoint them with late responses or emails that never come!

Automate what you can. There's no need to send the same follow up email every time! Keep a template on hand for quick responses or create an automated response to make sure you are taking the work out of emailing.

Tip: Assigning tasks will increase the amount that gets done. Don't leave any confusion around who needs to do what and by when - set due dates with your task assignments.

Project management

Invest in list keeping and task management. It will keep the small things like lead management and updating invoices from falling through the cracks. There are plenty of tools out there for this type of thing: I've tried FreedCampAsana, and Basecamp.

I keep a planner with my daily to-do list. It's great for me to see everything I need to accomplish in a day and keeps in in touch with my schedule. I can check things off as I go and see how all my work is adding up through tracking my progress.

Tip: Reserve time to try out new tools for your business at least once a month.

 
 

How else do you keep yourself accountable to your goals?

Wish you were able to follow through on your business goals?
Check out my Being Bold Bootcamp to find set and meet your goals!

Moving forward in life and business: Prioritizing and goal setting

So, you've got a bunch of new ideas and are not sure what you can do first. As someone new to business, you want to get everything up and running but are confused about where to start.

Avoid the analysis paralysis

Stop thinking, and start doing! Thinking about all the options is great for brainstorming or moving in different business directions, but it won't help to actually MOVE things forward. Consider your options, but don't forget to actually act.

Prioritize when you have too many ideas

More often than not, we have too many ideas about what we want to do. Rather than pursuing them all, it helps to make a prioritized list of to-dos and then start checking them off. You'll feel accomplished and ready to move on to the next thing, rather than feeling overwhelmed.

Have too many ideas and need help prioritizing?
Check out my Being Bold Bootcamp to find your business focus!

 
 

Step 1: Make a list

I know this doesn't work for everyone, some people would rather have a general idea of what their tasks are rather than see a huge list of them. Don't worry, this list will get shorter once you prioritize, cut anything that isn't serving you, and get things done.

Step 2: What is your biggest goal?

Is it to launch your business? Get a new product out there? Get more email subscriptions. Select your biggest, push goal. It may be for the month or for the year, since there can be plenty of smaller goals.

Step 3: Which tasks help you reach your biggest goal? Which do not?

If a task isn't helping you move closer to your big goal (BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal - if you want) then move it over into a column that means it can rest for now. It's not as large of a priority as some of the other tasks.

Step 4: Identify steps toward your goal.

If you want 5000 subscribers, then identify the steps that get your there. It might be building your email list, increasing your visibility, or driving traffic to your site.

Step 5: Align your tasks with the steps that help you reach your goal.

Place the tasks underneath each step, and then walk to your BHAG knowing that everything you need to do will be accomplished.

What about concurrent priorities?

I deal with priorities that are ongoing or long-term by breaking my goals into months. For example, I am going to focus on personal branding, training for Tough Mudder, writing, and gaining traction in my business for June.

These might be a lot of things, but they are not all business related and each one helps me move forward personally or professionally. As my monthly goals, they are walking me toward my yearly goal of growing my business, writing a book & launching an e-book, and completing Tough Mudder.

What about business goals and personal goals?

These can be totally separate, or together, based on where you are in your business. If your side hustle is now a 9-5, then you may have time to have a separate set of goals. For me, my top 4 monthly goals are all outside of work activities, so I cannot have too many. 4 goals seems like it has been the most I can try to work toward so I don't get too scattered.

 
 

My criteria to prioritize tasks:

  • Will this help me make money? Whether it's investing in my skills or taking time to build my voice through blogging, these goals and steps will help me become more financially happy.
  • Is this building the skills I need to make my business successful? I rely on my writing and analysis skills to make myself more successful in side hustling. A lot of the things I enjoy doing build those skills, so that I am not throwing myself in too many directions.
  • Do I enjoy this? Not all side hustle activities are going to be fun, but the end goal should be. I don't want to work toward a goal that I don't enjoy.
  • Is it a quick win? If I can finish something quickly, I will complete it in the morning so that I feel productive for the rest of my day. Quick wins might be writing, writing a tough email, working out, or eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Am I building healthy habits that lead to success? By training almost every day, and meal prepping for my week, I am building healthy habits that contribute to my ability to focus on my business and work harder to better myself. I knock out the most important things - like my personal health - to make sure I am mentally and physically in the right place to contribute to others.

Have too many ideas and need help prioritizing?
Check out my Being Bold Bootcamp to find your business focus!

How do I remain wholehearted despite failures?

Brene Brown talks about how people who are wholehearted approach life and failing. She goes in depth about her research and what she's found people who are wholehearted do. From here, entrepreneurs and freelancers can take further inspiration about building the blocks of their business.

What can you learn from dealing with failures and remaining wholehearted?

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
— Winston Churchill

Go after what you want.

Stop making excuses and start tracking what you want to accomplish. See how the numbers add up or how many rejections stack up. 

  • Track what you want to accomplish. By bringing tracking to your dream or goal, you can see your progress which will help motivate you to keep moving forward.
  • Keep moving toward what you want despite rejection. People will tell you no. You are the ultimate salesman for your life: it's your job to show people why they should say "Yes."
  • Don't be afraid to say "No." If you end up with an opportunity that gives you a bad feeling, is not financially viable, or is not a step in the right direction, don't be afraid to say no. Saying "No" to an opportunity that's not right will leave room for the one that is.

Say yes to yourself.

While you're going to experience failure, remember the only person that's going to give yourself permission to succeed is yourself. Don't hold yourself back by refusing to give yourself permission to apply to the big job, say "Yes" to the next challenge, or quit to start your own business. Only you can tell yourself that:

  • You're worth it.
  • You'll make it.
  • Your dream is worth pursuing.

Let your fear motivate you.

Dreams can be motivating, but so can your fears. Without letting your fear control you, let it motivate you to get that new car or apply to that dream company. Let it be an extra tool in your toolbox, it will help you remember why you started.

Remember why you started.

Don't forget what put you down the path of freelancing or starting your own business. In marketing or any other profession, remember why you started to help you retain and grow your passion for the work you're doing. Tangible reminders of where you started can include:

  • Something to remind you of home. I like to use some coffee mugs I took from my parents house to remind me of how far I've come.
  • A rejection. Take pride in being rejected because it won't happen forever. Stephen King posted all of his rejections on the wall:
By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.
— Stephen King
  • Your first dollar. The first dollar you've ever earned as a business can be a powerful reminder to keep moving forward.

Stay grateful.

Wake up and be grateful for what you have and have achieved. Even if those successes seem far away or you're upset about where you are now, there is still time to reflect and be grateful. Being happy that you have your family, friends, fur-babies, home, or health, can go a long way to assuage the feelings of failure. Big and small achievements can be recorded so you don't forget what you've achieved.

  • Write down your successes. Small achievements in your career, exercise, or personal life all count. Write them down in a place you see every day.
  • Start a "Thank You" jar. Physically writing down what you're grateful for every day and placing it in the jar will let you see how much you have to be thankful for.
  • Start the day with meditation. Sounds a little hokey, but it works. Think about and visualize all the people or actions you are grateful for first thing in the morning to get your mind ready for all of the great things coming.

Don't forget to take care of yourself.

While you're out achieving your dreams and hustling, take care of yourself. A good nights sleep and exercise can go a long way to keeping you in the right frame of mind to succeed. Taking care of yourself isn't limited to sleep and exercise either, it can include your food or anything else you do to recover (like binge watching Netflix). When you're pushing yourself harder, especially on top of another job, remember:

  • If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.
  • Help yourself to be at the top of your game. Neglecting yourself when you need to be ready for the next challenge is not setting yourself up for success.
  • Why go into business for yourself if you're going to treat your top employee poorly? You are the number one employee in  your own business. When trying to expand or just get your next client, people want to see you can take care of the #1 employee (heard a variation of this advice from Being Boss and wanted to share).

Keep learning from every failure.

No matter how many times it feels like you've failed, keep learning and moving forward. Much progress is made just from plodding forward, one foot after another, until you look up and realize you've made it to your destination. Every journey is made up of single steps, and to give up means you'll never arrive. So what other choice is there but to keep moving forward and gaining life lessons from every stumble and fall?

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Predict and shape demand with consumer data

Consumers have a much greater say than they used to in terms of the products created and how they are marketed to. The push method of selling, telling someone why they need to buy your product, seems to be slowly falling out of favor as companies strive to create demand for their products by developing what customers actually want.

Companies that actually find ways to read customer demand and meet their needs are succeeding in this time of flux from push to pull selling methods. Netflix and Amazon come to mind as two great companies using insights to understand what consumers want to see. They collect data, find insights, and listen to consumers directly through social media.

Predict consumer demands with data

Netflix features new and original content, they say derived from their unique insight into consumer viewing habits. Their data is much more comprehensive than Nielsen reviews and the way Nielsen collects data (with selected people journaling their encounters with content).

Netflix's investment in developing original content has paid off for them, to the tune of an extra $2.48 billion. They even claim that popular hits like House of Cards was derived from big data on consumers.

Make the online experience easier with big data

Amazon is another company using their large pool of data to determine a greater insight into what consumers are looking for with their recommended products and other innovations. The company was built on the principle that the "customer is always right" and they offer a low touch service comparable in value to high touch customer service organizations.

For Bezos a data-driven customer focus lets him take risks to innovate, secure in the belief that he’s doing the right thing. “We are comfortable planting seeds and waiting for them to grow into trees,” says Bezos. “We don’t focus on the optics of the next quarter; we focus on what is going to be good for customers. I think this aspect of our culture is rare.”
— George Anders, Forbes

With this focus, they are beating out companies that tout customer service. With data equaling power, Amazon is set up for success with "200 million customer accounts hosting their 1,000,000,000 GB of data on more than 1,400,000 servers."

Listen to consumers with social media

Netflix, and companies utilizing social media, can also derive insights into consumers by interacting with them directly. Social media is an unprecedented opportunity to learn directly from consumers what they want and then develop new products, more effective interfaces, and additional competencies to create the pull demand.

One tweet and Tumblr post led to a new Netflix movie deal. This type of interaction with customers, and even between actresses, can help shape the new way products are developed with a consumer taking a more active role. Instead of focus groups in a controlled setting, customers can now let companies know exactly what they want.

Recommendations for marketers

  • Learn what data you have and how you can use it. Some systems don't integrate together or don't collect the exact data you would like or need. How can you help existing structures work better together?
  • When designing a new service, remember what you want to learn. If you're trying to gain customer leads, patterns, or opinions make sure you create your collection system before launching rather than after. It's much easier to set yourself up ready to collect at the beginning of an exercise than in the middle.
  • Keep listening posts on social media. Monitor your handles on social media and reach out to consumers interacting with your company and brands. By responding to customers directly, they have an additional positive experience with the company. Not just responding to negative comments, but to positive ones as well, can drive a greater brand equity.

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Empowering consumers is the future of branding

Empowering individuals, instead of scaring or belittling them into needing a product, is the future of building a lasting brand image.

Both men and women are bombarded by stereotypes in the media and advertising about what they should look like, smell like, or be like. By taking a step forward in developing a more positive brand image, brands can capitalize on consumers's drive to be a strong individual.

Great brands build an image that stands for something, like empowering consumers.

Great brands build an image that stands for something, like empowering consumers.

Brands need to stand by female empowerment

Brands are starting to learn that women appreciate female empowerment advertisements. According to Google:

Women ages 18-34 are twice as likely to think highly of a brand that made an empowering ad.

Female empowerment as part of the brand's identity cannot come and go. The stance needs to be maintained over time for it to be seen as genuine. A brand is a series of perceptions made over time, so by leaving a piece of the brand behind, or hopping on a new trend, will not necessarily benefit your brand.

Nike and Dove, across multiple years and campaigns, have done an amazing job maintaining their positive image of women.

Build brands with empowering content by showcasing greatness

Brands can take a step away from advertisements and generate engaging content like below in order to help build their empowerment image. Crossfit took a leap and took some ballet with professional ballerina Isabella Boylston. Videos like these help showcase the strengths of Isabella's profession, which helps to empower her brand and other females that identify with her.

Empowerment is not just for female consumers

If a brand is willing to take steps forward and change their image with the times, they need to be willing to commit to that change. 72andSunny Amsterdam is helping Axe move forward with their new, positive brand image. Axe is trying to move their brand's womanizing stereotype forward by empowering men to find something that makes them unique in "Find Your Magic."

Marketing director Matthew McCarthy says:

Perhaps in the past, the idea that a guy needs to project a certain outward appearance as being most important, the seismic change lies in the individuality of personal style as key to a guy feeling attractive. I think that attractiveness and confidence is still a lot of what this brand is all about, but now what makes this exciting is basically we’re relaunching the brand around this idea of individuality. That’s how we distill the idea and optimism of the brand, the freedom that guys now feel, and want to step into more than ever.

What can you give your own brand to help consumers identify with it?

Through advertising or content, consumers want to identify and support a brand. Think about how your own brand can drive a more positive self-image for its consumers and help them empower their own lives.

Voice search: Creepy or helpful?

Voice search is becoming a greater part of how consumers decide to interact with search engines. Even with just Siri, voice search is becoming a more popular tool. Then came Google Home and Amazon Echo to expand the market for voice search devices.

Voice search marketplace

According to Digiday, Amazon's cheaper Echo option is dominating the voice search field. There is plenty of competition of the field of apps already on these platforms, and it's hard to keep users interacting. They may be using it for tasks like answering questions, searching, texting or listening to music, but they don't seem to be sticking around.

Personally, I find voice search on the phone doesn't really catch what I'm saying especially if it's a complex word. I almost never use voice search for this reason: by the time Siri understands what I am saying, I could have typed a response myself. While it might be useful in situations when people shouldn't be using their phone (like driving), I have never found myself to use it in another situation.

Growing voice search trend

Despite my own proclivity, voice search is a growing trend that marketers should look into capitalizing on. According to Search Engine Land, voice search will change how people search and interact with technology.

Google announced at I/O that 20 percent of all searches have voice intent... ComScore even estimates that by 2020, a full 50 percent of all searches will be by voice.
— Search Engine Land

Forbes agrees that voice search will be one of the top trends for 2017.

Questions of privacy, data security, and accuracy

There continues to be the question of privacy and data security with voice search devices. For home search devices with a voice assistant (i.e. Alexa), I find them a little intrusive. Every command ever issued to Alexa is stored on Amazon servers because it is listening all the time.

Voice search also isn't perfect, there have been issues with people of a similar name or it ordering items without owner's permission.

While I enjoy using a friend's voice search for playing music at a party or to help text something simple, for me at least as a consumer, I won't be using it personally in the near future. As a marketer, I'm excited to see how companies like Amazon address privacy issues and how other businesses can keep innovating (or trying to innovate) in this space.

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Reaching millennials should be a priority for employers

Millennials are the generation born from 1982 to 2004 who are slowly coming up in the workforce. Older generations complain Millennials are a variation of "slow, lazy, and entitled." It's nothing new when it comes to the workforce cycle.

However, that doesn't make the assertions that I am lazy, self-entitled, and accustomed to being rewarded (i.e. trophy kid) for being a "special snowflake" any less tiresome. I'm tired of seeing articles like this describing how to connect with the younger generation followed by comments deriding the writer.

After all, there is a large disconnect in the way that employees want to be treated and what they are experiencing from companies. Only 32% of employees are actively engaged, the majority are disengaged (52%) or actively disengaged (18%) at work according to the 2015 Gallup poll

Millennials and older generations are not that different

According to a Gallup poll, each generation is fairly similar in what they want from employers. The most notable differences in opportunities to grow and learn and opportunities for advancement; millennials are more concerned about this when applying to jobs then the previous generations. However, this may be due to student debt rates and up and coming employees looking for ways to demonstrate their worth and grow with the company.

According to Deloitte, Millenials want work/life balance, opportunities to progress, and flexibility from their employer. Deloitte even offers suggestions for employers like mentorship to help keep younger employees engaged in the workforce.

Millennials make up the majority of the workforce

Millennials are already the majority of the workforce, according to WIRED. They will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030.

We may be more tech savvy, value open communication, and are looking for a strong sense of purpose. But our energy and the fact that we care about what a business stands for should help businesses appeal to younger generations, as well as remain innovative and competitive, while the spending power of Millennials increases.

Companies are capitalizing on Millennial spend

Millennials represent a $2.45 trillion spending power which means that responding to millennial requests shouldn't be an opportunity to mock or belittle. As consumers, we will even spend more with a brand that we believe in and that insight has companies like Whole Foods moving to capitalize on this opportunity.

Especially after reading articles saying about how millennials should stop buying avocado toast if they want to save for buying a house (when in reality there is plenty of student debt on top of a recession when students were graduating from school), I think that organizations should take a moment to think about how they are appealing to the new spending powerhouse that makes up the majority of the workforce.

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