Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tiny Biz Tuesday: What Small Businesses Can Learn from Big Advertising Campaigns

Our Tiny Biz Hustle group is talking a bit about the mechanics of a large scale advertising campaign this week. I found this great post about the "10 best ads of all time," and I gotta say, this one is right on the money. I might add the original Apple Mac advertisement, but otherwise, I'd say yes, those are some of the most iconic, memorable, and best executed campaigns in history.

One more I'd add though is Mastercard's "Priceless" campaign. I know you know it. It launched in 1997, and it's been in use for 18 years. The formula is this (and I'm totally making this example up using a gratuitous shot of my own son, Zoom):

 Airfare to LAX: $300
Entrance to the Happiest Place on Earth for a 2 year old: $0
Iconic mouse ears: $15
Seeing your child's sheer joy of riding the teacups for the first time: Priceless

You get it. You know it. You might have even written your own version of this ad at some point.

So why does the Mastercard ad work so well, and why would I argue it's one of the best campaigns to date?

1. It follows a Simple Formula

It's a formula (3 things that you pay for, ending with an experiential moment that is labeled as "priceless.") that works for a lot of different situations and demographics. It sets up a simple story that we can understand, and the word priceless offers a satisfying resolution for the reader. We've come to expect and anticipate the priceless tag. It's satisfying.

What's also impressive about this formula is that it can be used with various situations; it can be serious, humorous, informational, and apply across a myriad of topics from family events, sports, cooking, vacations ... it has endless applications.

2.  It has a a Simple Message

In essence, Mastercard is telling us that while money is the means to get to our dreams, it is not the most important thing. It's the "priceless" event, memory, or situation that matters. And, by offering the message, they are insinuating that Mastercard can help pay for these special events.

3. It's Aspirational

A credit card has the challenge of not selling an actual product, but offering a service. So, unlike a shoe company that can show images of their sneakers, they have to find something else to focus on. They can show images of the card itself, but that can have limited applications in advertising (there's only so many static images of credit cards that people want to see).

And, in essence, they make their money by getting people to sign up for a card, or by having people use their card more.

The great way to get people to sign up for a new card or use the card? Show amazing scenarios of people "like you" that are enjoyed "priceless" moments that were brought to them because they were able to fund some of the experience with a credit card. They've tapped into an emotion, one that runs deep, and makes us want to experience that thing, too.

4. It's Ownable and Recognizeable for the Mastercard Brand

Perhaps its because of the fun, puzzle like nature of the campaign, people took to "priceless" quickly, and it led to it taking on a life of its own. As Avi Dan observes in his Forbes article, "In a sense “Priceless” became a viral, social campaign years before there was a social media."

Much like the campaigns of "Got Milk," and "I'm Lovin it," Mastercard had tapped into something that became a phenomenon on its own. As a campaign, "Priceless" stands on it's own, and has inspired many spinoffs (both serious and satirical).

The cool thing is that spinoffs only help to solidify the validity of the campaign, because each time someone presents the formula in a spinoff, or just the tagline of "Priceless," they are spending time with the Mastercard brand (myself included). And, subtly reminding those who see the spinoff of the original brand as well.

So what in the world does this have to do with a small business? Why spend so much time with these big campaigns?

I love the Mastercard example because it really does highlight what a good advertising campaign does, and these lessons can inform what a Small or Tiny Business should look to do with both their business plans and marketing plans. Let's break this down.

1. Big campaigns are clear on their objectives.

These big companies do a lot of work to come up with very clear objectives around a campaign. For many, it's to raise awareness about the brand itself. If we're looking at what a Tiny Biz is trying to do, the lesson here is to be clear on what you want to achieve. You can only go after success if you have defined what it looks like.

2. Successful campaigns present "brand attributes" that resonate with potential customers.

If you're running a Tiny Biz, it's good to think about what image you want to put out into the world. What are your brand attributes? Are you or your brand aspirational? Serious? Funny? Pick three attributes and use them. As we see with Nike and McDonalds, present an image, a feeling that you want your potential customers to feel when they think of your brand. Picking some attributes will help people identify with you.

For example, Ellen DeGeneres is humorous, inclusive, generous, and contemporary. I like this, and to put this into ad agency speak, I like that she "executes" on those "brand attributes." She's pretty upfront about WHO she is and WHAT her brand stands for, and so if you were to tune in to her show for the first time, you'd know pretty quickly what to expect.

Think about how you can use this for your own brand, or for that of our business. What attributes define you? You need to get specific about this and then start using them to inform how you present yourself to the public.

3. Sticking with a successful campaign over the long haul creates consistency in the mind of the customer.

The other reason people return back to Ellen, or to Nike, is because they know what to expect. I know what Ellen stands for, and it resonates with me. And in turn, she creates a daily show that is consistent to what each of us has come to expect of her. If she changed that formula drastically or suddenly, or didn't stick with a consistent kind of content, her audience would not know what to expect.

If you're a Small or Tiny Business owner, consistency is important.
From a customer standpoint, it's hard to remain loyal to something that doesn't have a consistent message or product or offering or theme.

Additionally, customers may take awhile to "get to know" your brand. If you're offering a service, they might need a while to understand what you're offering, and if you're a coach or consultant, it may take a while to gain the trust of those customers. Offering a consistent brand image, and aligning your brand with specific attributes, emotions, and topics can help potential customers become more comfortable with an eventual purchase.

Phew. So that's my take on what small businesses can learn from big campaigns. What do you think? Any favorite campaigns? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! :)

*this post is not an advertisement nor an endorsement for any brand mentioned here, nor am I getting any compensation for this post. The views are my own, and based on 15 years of working in advertising on a major credit card brand.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Free E-Course to Help You Find Balance in Your Life

Edited as of May 2015: This ecourse has been reworked, and will be available in the upcoming Multipassionate Must Haves bundle. Over the past couple of months, I've been working on something I'm pretty passionate about. It's a free five day e-course, focused on helping you identify your priorities, and then defining balance in your own life.

This course came out of the work we led on our October retreat. We spent a whole day going through exercises that helped our participants narrow down a list of what's most important to them. In turn, that list got reworked in a couple of different ways, allowing each person to identify the things they want to keep in their life, and ultimately helped them to define the top things for them to keep doing.

Along the way, we talked about things we might let go of, or say no to. Saying "no" to things is an important step in finding and maintaining balance.

I'll say upfront that this is not easy work. It takes making time for reflection, for digging deep, and for getting honest about what YOU want for your life, and what you want and need to keep in your life.

That said, there's also no better time to tackle these things.

What you'll get from signing up:
- an email every day for five days
- a link each day to a new, thought provoking worksheet for you to download and keep that I created just for this course
- opportunities to join in a larger community conversation as you go
- prompts to journal and brainstorm on your own

Here's a peek at why my own first brain dump looked like the day of the retreat. I wrote this list out in front of our participants as an example of everything that was stuck in my brain that day, on my never-ending mental to-do list. It's not fancy, and I didn't use a filter on what I put on the list. As it hit my brain, I wrotie it.

This is where you'll start, with a brain dump of ALL the things are you're balancing.

As a side note, I've already done the thank you notes from our wedding, and gotten my windshield wipers changed. I've started writing and blogging more. Even just getting the first step done offered me more brain space and the ability to take a look at a few of the things that I need to tackle.

I encourage you to start, right now! We got such great feedback that day that I knew I HAD to share these exercises with you.

"Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life."

Oh, and P.S. "Nose" is the name of our fish. Just in case that line made you do a doubletake. Zoom named him.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 is The Year of 'No Toggle'

"No Toggle" is a phrase I first heard in a Jess Lively's podcast, during her interview with Kris Carter.

In a nutshell, Kris is striving to live his life as authentically and intentionally true to his purpose as possible. It means that he strives to be the same person at home as he is at work, with his friends as he is with his family. He's giving every aspect of his life his all, and all of his TRUE SELF.

And from the moment that I heard that I knew that it was what I had to do. I wrote out the words "no toggle" on a post it note and put it on my desk at work.

You see, for a long time I have embraced what is likely the opposite of this idea. That my life has partitions, distinct sections, for work, for home. For retreat leading. For blogging. For working in advertising. But something in my own head has always stopped me from intermingling most of these parts. I hide away aspects of my spiritual self from my work life.

To be honest, I can not figure out why I have created this artificial distinction.
In college I was a religious studies major and in a sorority. 
I was often asked if I wanted to be a nun, to which I would answer, "no," but I know part of me wanted to consider ministry of some sort.

I went to Yale Divinity School but was so careful to announce to everyone who would listen that it was "an academic pursuit." Even when they did not ask.

And yet there was that time that I called my Pastor and asked what it took to become a Lutheran minister.

At Divinity School I fell in love with classes like "Performance of Biblical Text" because when I acted out the gospel of Mark those moments in Jesus' life came alive and were so real.

And now, when I lead a retreat, I get lost in the preparation, the ideas, the heady discussions with people at the retreat about what it means to be alive here and now, in this crazy digital age. I love how the stories of the Bible intertwine with our lives to provide depth and insights, that these stories are still so timely, impactful, and remain so contemporary.

"Do More of What Makes You Happy"

I can see now that the path that has led me to this point in my life was no accident. I can also sense that 2015 is my year to figure out what it means to live in a "no toggle" state. I'm excited for this, I welcome it, but it means stepping outside of my comfort zone.

I know that I want to be a life coach and a retreat leader, and maybe a small business digital media coach to help other people. I want them to know that they are good enough, that they are more than the messages they hear in advertising. And that they have a divine purpose that they are here to fulfill. Something that was planted in them before they arrived here, that they are being nudged towards, even if they have heard themselves deny it out-loud. Or followed a different path for awhile because it seemed pretty or like what they should do, or like what other people wanted them to do.

Because somewhere, in their heart, in the depths of their soul, they resonate with a calling. With a desire to be, to be something, do something, bigger than what they are right now. I know, because I feel it, too.

I know because this year I will be following it. And I sure hope you all come along for the ride.

Shared on: The Sunday Showcase

Tiny Biz Tuesday: A 2015 Calendar with Marketing Topics

Happy 2015! One of my big goals this year is to post once a week about how to apply marketing to your tiny or small business. And, in the spirit of tapping in to my project management background (and my same 15 years of marketing), I knew that I needed to map out content for the 12 months of the year. So, without further adieu, here's my plan for the next twelve months.

The idea is this: Each month my Tiny Biz Hustle friends and I will tackle a big topic. We'll chat about it on our Facebook group (want to join us? It's still an open group!) and keep each other on task and motivated. And each week there will be a "mission" for "just one thing" that will help us take steps in furthering our small business or blog.

It's gonna be a ton of work, but I'm super excited about taking this step to share my expertise in the digital marketing field.

It's time to rock 2015. And you've totally got this!

If you're interested in learning more, and getting updates via email, please sign up for the Tiny Biz Hustle email list too:

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Simplifying my Wardrobe, Grocery Shopping, and Getting a Toddler Ready in the Morning

For the past couple of months, I have been focused on making some changes because there were a few things that were bugging me. Getting out of the house in the morning with a four year old was painful. Picking out my own clothes wasn't fun. I didn't like that I was feeling run ragged by the end of the day. Or feeling like my mind was constantly somewhere else, not in the present moment, not able to focus on whatever was in front of me because of the constant, running to do list.

And so I embarked on looking for answers, or looking for ideas on new ways of doing things. I'm already seeing some positive changes. Just the other night, I had this very sweet moment when I was playing a memory card game with my son. I realized I was just playing, enjoying time with him, and that I wasn't feeling torn or distracted, or like I should go fold the laundry.

I'm surprised that this moment happened four days before Christmas because that's usually when things feel the craziest.

So what have I started doing differently?

1. I started a capsule wardrobe. I picked out 9 pairs of pants, 15 tops, 2 dresses, 2 jackets, and 9ish pairs of shoes. It's all I'm wearing until March.

Why this simplifies things:
I know what I have to wear, and I know that it fits. I picked each thing because I like the way it looked on me. (you can see my trial runs on Instagram). I know that if I do my laundry every week and hang up my clothes, I have enough to last through the work week and I don't have to think about it. I don't really think about shopping for clothes because I've already agreed with myself that I'm not buying anything until February. And, it no longer means that I do that thing where I try on 20 things in the morning and feel defeated and crazy because I "haven't got a stitch to wear."

2. We changed how we approach grocery shopping and meal planning. We've started having our groceries delivered, and I now am exploring a new slow cooker meal each week. (you can follow my choices on my "Adventures of Gluten Free Slow Cooking" Board on Pinterest).

Why this simplifies things:
We spent A LOT of time running to the store each week because we didn't plan out meals and shopped day to day. Now my husband and I talk about our menu for the week, load up our cart on Safeway.com, and we place an order to be delivered on Monday evening. It means we don't spend the time in the stores, and we don't spend extra money during those daily trips. It also means we can stand in the kitchen, check if we have something, and if we don't, we just add it to the cart. This also results in fewer trips.

My one slow cooker meal a week trial has had great results. It means we spend less time making the meal that night, and we have left overs to cover us for another meal that week (and sometimes enough to freeze for a following week!). We free up time we can spend with the family.

3. I created a morning routine for my son and I. I'm trying to wake up earlier, but we now have a set routine that we follow every morning.

Why this simplifies things:
My son is 4. He doesn't listen, he has ideas, and he likes to do his own thing. This meant that he often derailed our morning because he was honestly just doing what toddlers do. That's when I put this checklist on our refrigerator, with little magnets for him to use to check each thing off. Now that he can see what needs to happen, he's actually doing the steps by himself. Instead of me yelling, or getting frustrated, I can say "let's go see what we have to do next" and then we move along naturally. It get us out the door faster and with a lot less frustration.

So, what have you been working on to simplify your days?