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Now Is the Perfect Time to Tell Your Business Story

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written By: Christina Metcalf

Telling your business story is a compelling way to get your audience more invested in you and to help build know, like, and trust. But your business story shouldn’t be a dry About Us page filled with dates you first opened and how many locations you’ve been through over the course of your business history.

Your business story is a lasso that draws people in and holds them there. But it can also be a feel-good moment in a sea of dread. With the pending recession and economic struggles most are enduring, now is the perfect time to cultivate and share your business story.

Creating Your Best Business Story

Your business story must be true. This is not a time to take liberties on the facts but as I always say, what you leave out of a story is as important as what you put in. Here are a few ways to create a stellar business story:

Grow Positivity

A story without friction is simply pretty words. You need a struggle to make a story. Having said that, your business story is not the place for a lot of negativity. Paint the picture of the struggle (yours or your customers’) and then move to positivity and solutions. Spend most of your business story talking about the positive. People really need that right now.

Use Words That Convey Emotion

With shorter attention spans, you don’t have the luxury of creating an epic business story. You must hook them fast. Use words that are laden with emotion—words like love, pride, joy, etc. When people hear these, they associate their own experiences with them. These words carry stories within them. When words are at a premium, you want to use those that already carry a certain message to your audience. Make each of them count. Don’t drone on with long lead ins.

Do Your Research

Telling a compelling business story means knowing your audience. Who are they? What are they looking for? How do they spend their free time? Knowing these things can help you make connections with your ideal customer and draw them in. An easy way to do this research is to look at your social media posts. Which ones get the most shares or likes? What do those posts have in common? How can you translate that knowledge into crafting a better business story?

Be Consistent

Usually, this advice would be given about the importance of posting or sharing consistently over social media, and that’s true. But when it comes to creating a successful business story, you need to ensure the story you tell is in alignment with everything else you post. You can hire a talented marketing writer to create a masterpiece of a business story but if you’re posting daily about things that contradict your story, a disconnect will occur and it will eat away at the trust your audience places in you. They will wonder which is the real you and they will most likely assume it’s the daily posts, rendering your beautiful business story a work of fiction.

A strong business story will connect you to your audience. Today, people are looking for positivity. They’re looking for someone who’s overcoming challenges. They want assurances. But this is not a time to brag about how wonderful you are. It’s the time to show how you are helping, what you’re doing for your customers, and how you’re all in it together. Show you understand the struggles but are optimistic about what can be done when you help one another. While there are many worries in the world these days, it’s those very worries (and the assuaging of them) that will help you make connections quicker and hold onto them longer.

It may seem strange if you’re struggling in your business to work on your story—especially if you’re not sure where your business will be in the future. But it’s for that reason that you should start telling it. Customers need a reason to buy from you—outside of a bargain. They’re longing for something to believe in and if you craft a strong business story, you might just become that for someone.

Is It Time to Join Forces with Another Business?

150 150 Lauren Finamore

 

Written by: Christina Metcalf

As a child of the 80s, I remember the excitement when the Wonder Twins would join forces and utter those magical words “Wonder Twin powers activate!” Sure, there were often comical results but both characters used their strengths to save the day. The same is happening with business these days. We’re seeing a lot of it among big brands, unlikely partnerships to sell additional products or services. Some of them are umbrella situations where the companies are owned by the same parent organization, but others are simply recognizing that to be competitive, they have to offer their customers more.

Just this week, I’ve received two promotions from big brands that are uniting and forming their own “Wonder Twin” combos for the delight of their customers. For instance, Walmart+ subscribers can receive a free subscription to Paramount’s streaming service. T-mobile is offering its small business customers free Canva Pro subscriptions through the end of 2022.

Are you considering a pairing of your own?

3 Kinds of Pairs That Could be Lucrative for Your Business

If you’re looking for new ways to entice your target market to buy, consider pairing with a business that serves a similar market. A successful pairing begins before you approach the other business. You want to understand your target audience and their needs. Once you’ve done that, consider their likes and desires. Besides your offerings, what do they enjoy? Where are they? How are they spending their time? What are their goals? What business pairing can bolster what you offer?

All pairings should benefit the two (or more) businesses involved and their customer bases. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. A pairing can help you enter a new market and do the same for your partner business. This is not to say you become permanent partners with this business. You can run a temporary pairing for the holidays or a summer challenge or any number of special campaigns.

Here are a few kinds of pairings you may consider:

Complementary Pairings

Complementary pairings are pairings that come to mind quickly, cookies and milk types of pairings. These pairings look for complementary services, things that naturally go together. For instance, if you run a gym, you might pair with a juice bar to give your members discounts when they show their card. Or you could partner with the juice bar to create a nutrition program or a challenge that you could market to both of your customer lists.

To be successful in this pairing, figure out what your audience is looking for—something you don’t offer or plan to offer—and look for businesses that offer that. Before you approach the business, do your research. Make sure they’re not offering something like what you’re proposing already. You don’t want them to feel like you are competing with them or unknowledgeable about their business. Then brainstorm ways you can work together to meet your customers’ needs.

Entertainment Pairings

Sometimes the pairing isn’t about two things that naturally go together but between two companies with audiences that enjoy similar things. For instance, a wine bar might pair with a local bookstore to host their writer’s group or book club. The wine bar may have a larger gathering space or be open longer than the bookstore is, offering the bookstore a spot for evening events. This type of pairing may also work well between a business and an association such as a writer’s professional association and a coffee shop. The group brings in new customers and the coffee shop gives them a spot to assemble, give readings, and maybe even sell merchandise.

To be successful in this pairing, do your market research and find out what your ideal demographic likes. Build relationships with other businesses or organizations based on that.

Marketing/Sponsored Pairings

Another strong pairing is when one business partners with another to amplify their own marketing or reputation. For instance, a new restaurant may cater a networking event at the chamber so it can get its name out there, allow people to sample the food, and build a reputation as a good business because it is affiliated with the chamber. (This makes people feel that the business is a larger part of the community.) The same can be done through a church or civic organization or even a nonprofit depending on the target market the business wants to reach.

To be successful in this sort of pairing, you want to ensure that people who come to the event are in your target market. Don’t sponsor a vegan health fair if you run a Brazilian Steakhouse, for instance.

Pairings are a great way to grow your customer base/audience and provide your customers with more value. Offering an opportunity to meet their needs in one stop versus several can be very appealing and may cause your audience to see you in a new light.

Wonder business powers activate!

Your Employees Are Likely Part of the Gig Economy and That’s a Good Thing

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

COVID forced many employees to work from home, whether they wanted to or not. As recovery continues employee and employers are deciding between their preferred work location. Many employees chose to remain at home even when their business called them back. Some employers, on the other hand, decided to trim costs and allow employees to stay home indefinitely. This battle between home and the office also created a third group–those who are leaving the traditional workforce to “do their own thing.”

As we have seen with recent rising costs like skyrocketing property and rent, increasing fuel charges, and groceries, the dollar just isn’t covering what it used to. Salaries aren’t keeping up with costs. The average increase in salaries since 2021 is 3.4%, while the average increase in costs (the inflation rate) is 8.5%. For this reason, it is becoming increasingly harder not only for business owners to make a sizeable profit, but for their employees to make what they need to cover running their households. 58% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and with inflation outpacing salary increases by more than double, financial troubles are getting worse.

What previously was an “either or” situation of working for someone or working on your own, has become yet another “hybrid model.” Many employees are now working for someone and on their own to make ends meet. It’s possible a good portion of your employees have a side hustle. Here’s why you should be happy about that:

Why You Should Support Your Employee’s Side Hustle

When some business owners hear their employees have a side hustle, they get concerned. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

  1. Side hustles help your employees learn new skills that they can use in your business. From marketing to presentation skills, graphic design to website building, when they own a business or have a side hustle, there are things they are learning that could help round out your business.
  2. It assists them in making ends meet, which means they are less likely to leave.
  3. A side hustle provides an extra challenge and may help them fulfill their passions while remaining in your employ. Happy employees are less likely to quit.
  4. A side hustle will inevitably build your employees’ sales skills (or it won’t work out for them). Their new sales techniques can help them sell more in your business—and these days everyone is in sales and service even if it’s not in their job description.
  5. It shows you provide good work/life balance. If an employee can work for you and work a side job, they have extra time outside of their position. If additionally, you show an interest in their side business (or even support it), you will create a loyal employee and that goes a long way to keeping your business running smoothly. Who knows? They may even provide a complementary service or product that you can find a way to use for mutual benefit.

Using Existing Facebook Groups to Grow Your Business

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

If your town is like most, there are several Facebook groups that have formed around living, working, and/or playing in your area. Some are private and you’ll need to request to join. Others are public. Some groups are loosely veiled business generators for community leaders or professionals (often real estate agents) who recognize how important it is to insert themselves into conversations about the community.

Facebook groups are an excellent way to grow your business. Here are a few ways to do this in an existing group.

Grow Your Business Through Existing Facebook Groups

Do Your Research

First, do your research. As mentioned previously some groups are owned by people with their own agenda. It’s important to know who’s behind the group you want to join. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent looking for more clients, it doesn’t do you any good to join a Facebook group started by another real estate agent. Chances are, if you offer your information in a salesy way, you’ll be kicked out of the group. Knowing the organizer behind the group is essential to your success. When it comes to local groups people start them for a host of different reasons.

Understand the Rules

Some groups let you post about your business 24/7. Other groups have a specific day designated for business posts. Finally, other groups have a no solicitation policy. If you want to be successful in your Facebook group of choice make sure you read and understand the group’s rules.

Update Your Bio

Before interacting on any Facebook group, you want to make sure that you’ve updated your bio on both your business page and your personal profile. It used to be that you could only join a group from your personal profile. That’s no longer the case. In some instances, you can join from your business page. If both are allowed, you’ll need to decide which one works best for you.

Since people do business with people they like there’s a benefit to joining from your personal profile. However, if you choose to do this, you need to make sure that your company is referenced on your personal profile’s bio. Otherwise, people won’t make the connection between you and your business.

One point to consider when deciding between joining from your personal profile or your business page is that if you share a lot of things on your personal profile that may get in the way of you doing business, don’t join this way. If on the other hand, you decide to join from your business page, make sure your business page is congenial and welcoming. Because if people find your posts helpful and they’re in need of your services or products, they can click on your response and go to your page directly. For maximum lead potential, your page must be ready to welcome potential customers.

Do Your Research (Again)

Spend some time reading over posts and get a better understanding of what people in the group are looking for. Pay close attention to the types of posts that get a lot of positive engagement. While you may be joining the group to increase sales for your business, if you find out that sunset posts, for instance, reign supreme from an engagement perspective, then start there. (How about a picture of the sun setting from your business?) Post what people love and as they get used to seeing your name they will make positive associations with your business.

Educate, Entertain, or Inspire but Never Sell

OK, never might be a little too heavy-handed, but most people aren’t on Facebook because they want to hear how amazing your business is. If someone specifically asks for the kind of products or services you offer, join the conversation, and explain what makes you unique. Or better yet have a local friend who is on the group provide a referral to your business.

But for most posts you’re going to want to refrain from speaking about your business. Instead, showcase your knowledge in a helpful way, point people in the right direction, refer people to other businesses in town that you enjoy, and do your best to be a part of the conversation.

In addition to refraining from being overly salesy, you also want to stay away from jumping on the bandwagon when someone puts another business down even if it’s your competitor. Especially then. Nothing good can come out of your name being associated with negativity about the community.

Finally, just have fun. Let people get to know you, share things about the community that you love, give positive reinforcement and suggestions, and show up on a regular basis. People get to know you that way and are more likely to do business with you in the future. Remember, social media is about relationship building. That takes time. You don’t want to join a group and immediately start talking about yourself, your business, and only the things you care about. You’re there to add to the conversation, not to appear with a megaphone announcing yourself. Consistent, helpful participation is the way to get interest in your business. And interest is the first step toward eventually landing the sale.

Are You Ready for These 3 Workplace Trends?

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

Workplace trends come and go like snack carts, but these trends may very well revolutionize the way we work because they are just so darn appealing to most employees.

But before we go into these workplace trends, know that they are not for everyone. Your business may not be able to function if you put them into operation. There are some businesses that simply require employees in seats, seats that are customer-facing in a central location. But if you do have the flexibility to adopt some of these, you may see very big changes in productivity and morale. These things may be what the employee of tomorrow is looking for.

Asynchronous Office Environments

Say good-bye to 8-5 or even shift work. Now, there’s something leaner. Asynchronous work environments don’t have set schedules. They allow employees to work an agreed upon number of hours a week but that work can be done whenever the employee wants to do it. That means Employee “A” could work 8-11 AM and then again 5-10 PM, while Employee “B” works her 32 hours in only three days out of the week.

Some asynchronous office environments have employees in different time zones, but some are in a central office that simply pays no heed to time, only product being moved/created or duties getting done. This is no different than how you might work with a freelancer. You know they’re doing the work and you know the deadline for deliverables. You’re just not in control of when it’s worked on.

Flattening the Pyramid: welcome Holacracy

Some companies adopted flat leadership environments (or Holacracy) when it was new to the scene in 2007 or shortly thereafter (including Zappos in 2014), but we’re starting to see a resurgence in it embraced by large companies like UBS bank, which got rid of all titles above managing director last year. A flat leadership environment tasks leaders of projects, not leaders of people. It does away with top-down managing and 1-2 people at the top of the company giving orders to everyone underneath them in pyramid formation.

Instead, Holacracy focuses on how leaders can lead from every level and gives younger people a way to lead on individual projects, not through titles. With younger people desiring leadership roles and contributing to a work environment from their first day on the job (they don’t feel the need to earn seniority before sharing suggestions), this idea could become the new trend in work.

Devout Work/life Balance

With more discussions about the importance of mental health and wellness, employers can expect to make changes based on employee expectations. Managers will start weighing the importance of productivity over “time in seat.” With work from home and hybrid work environments, we’re starting to see the time clock punching mentality lessen its hold on business. Employees are starting to notice that if the goals are being met, where employees are, and when they’re working, is less important.

As of this writing, businesses are trying to recover from the Great Exit, where employees left the workforce in droves. To reestablish trust again, employers are going to have to create environments that are as appealing as the freedom in working for oneself. That requires flexibility and good benefits.

The next decade will have a great impact on how/where we work and how that shapes the workplace. After all, efficiencies in manufacturing ushered in the industrial revolution. We might just be seeing an employee-led revolution leading into 2030.