Rent-A-Brain

Today I was asked if someone could “rent” my brain for an hour to learn more about the current self-publishing industry.

Most certainly! You betcha.

In today’s world of constantly-changing technology, it is hard to keep up with what works and doesn’t work. Confusion reigns supreme, so as a last resort, a lot of people select the “quicker, faster, cheaper” route — and even more people are willing to BE the “quickest, fastest, cheapest” provider, just to get your hard-earned dollars. No wonder everyone is confused.

“Quick, fast and cheap” is not always the best choice. Just in the last month alone, we have . . .

  • redrawn a logo someone purchased from an online freelancer site (rhymes with yellow) so it could now be used on a banner
  • talked at least two authors through the disappointment of realizing when someone says they want to “publish” your book, it may not be a “real” publisher
  • walked a client through the negotiation of the release of her logo “source files” which were being held hostage . . . which she paid for in-full, months ago
  • finally convinced an author it not only was in his best interest, but would actually be cheaper, to have his book read by a professional editor, versus their neighbor’s aunt who, I’m sure, happens to be a wonderful English teacher

People. Stop it. If you want it done right, stop cutting corners. Budgets are a great tool, but fly out the window when you have to hire a professional to re-do what you have already paid for once.

Slow down. Ask questions. If you do not know what questions to ask, look it up on Google or CALL ME. We not only help you Look Good and Get Noticed . . . we can help you stay on budget and do it right . . . the first time.

 

 

Must Trust

When I remember to TRUST, life just seems so much easier.

The topics of TRUST and INTEGRITY seems to be all around us  . . . from the national news reports to our neighborhood watch.

I’ve had several decades of learning to trust the process (AKA: my higher power) and listen to “that little voice” in the center of my soul. When it gives me a nudge, I’ve learned to LISTEN . . . otherwise, if I ignore it, it soon begins to SHOUT at me, leaving me with less time to dodge impending danger or disappointment.

As a small business owner, TRUST and INTEGRITY are a high priority for me when working with prospects, clients, vendors and affiliate partners.

The top three things which typically trigger my “caution button” when dealing with people:

  • lack of follow-through on commitments
  • more than a 72-hour response time to inquiries
  • ego-centric personas who thrive on attention

Any of the above willI cause me to take a step back and turn my attention elsewhere. I don’t have time for games in business or in my private life. I’d rather focus on the people who “play nice in the sand box”.

At Davis Creative, we recently updated our list of core client commitments . . . things we feel are important in supporting a relationship built on TRUST . . .

We believe in creating a positive RIPPLE:

  • RESPECT: We value diversity, unique perspectives and positive experiences.
  • INTEGRITY: We take responsibility and do the right thing.
  • PASSION: Positive Passion breeds success. We love working with people who are passionate about their business and about helping others.
  • PROMISE: We keep our word and make a commitment to support our clients’ best interests.
  • LEGACY: We give. We give back. We give our clients their brand advantage.
  • EXCELLENCE: We believe “Good Design is Good Business”, and good design encourages an atmosphere of excellence.
  • SHARING: A peaceful world starts with sharing a single smile.

When I take time to notice, I see daily
reminders to simply “trust the process”.

When I remember to TRUST,
life just seems so much easier!

SEMPLI-FI

So, let the games begin.

The “to-do” list says, “update website”. There’s nothing wrong with the old one, other than a need to look more current and up-to-date. According to our consultant, it needs to “SEMPLI-FI”.

When checking the meaning of the original Marine Corp motto, “Semper Fi”, it translates loosely into, “Always faithful”. That works for me.

So, how does one “SEMPLI-FI” a website?

  • stay true (faithful) to your brand
  • know your WHO, WHY, WHAT
  • be succinct; eliminate unnecessary verbiage
  • address your message to your prime target audience
  • create long-term relationships with targeted audiences

So, our first few steps were to  . . .

  1. reorganize and simplify the site map
  2. review and edit all existing copy
  3. create the “golden thread” of brand messaging throughout all pages

For additional help with the “SEMPLI-FI” process for your website, contact Cathy.

Positives always eliminate the negatives.

“At some point in my life I decided, rightly or wrongly,
that there are many situations in this
life I can’t do much about: acts of terrorism, feelings of nationalistic prejudice, cold war, etc. So, what I should do is concentrate on the situations that my energy CAN affect.” – Jim Henson (Kermit)

One mathematical “rule” I remember from grade school is, “positives always eliminate the negatives”. Although most of my family would pretty much confirm I’m not much of a mathematician, I do find this “rule” fascinating, as it rings true in all aspects of life – even for those of us known as “right-brain creatives”.

When life gets crazy – whether in our own lives or around the world – we sometimes find ourselves dropping into fear in reaction to happenings over which we have no control. Yet, if I follow the rule of “positives always eliminate the negatives”. . . I CAN control my little corner of the universe by . . .

  • choosing love and kindness instead of fear and hatred
  • redirecting my personal energy – into making positive choices in support of a loving community
  • associating with other like-minded people who are also working to make a positive impact

Many of our clients are already doing this – making a positive impact on their world. As small business owners, many are service professionals intent on creating a “happy, healthy, heart-filled planet” – be it the physical-, mental-, financial- or spiritual-health of people, businesses and/or communities. So how do we stay focused on the business of helping others and maintain a positive mindset in the midst of chaos and confusion?

R.E.A.C.H. Out

  • R = REVIEW and REALIGN your personal mission, your business vision and your brand messaging. Create positive RELATIONSHIPS by starting positive RIPPLES.
  • E = EXPRESS the REAL you. Be willing to take a positive stand; share your positive ENERGY. It’s important to let people know what you stand for as well as what you WON’T stand for.
  • A = ACT in ways to make your SELF (and your Mama) proud. Make someone’s day, be a drive-through ANGEL and buy that coffee for the person behind you. Be willing to take positive ACTION.
  • C = COMMUNICATE your brand message with a positive voice. CONNECT with positive people. CREATE the world you want to leave to your CHILDREN and grandchildren.
  • H = HELP with HEART. Extend a HELPING HAND (or voice, or afternoon) when needed. Speak Up, Step Up, Stand Up for those being victimized by louder, more negative, fear-based voices. Listen with your HEART and let love be your compass.

Because, when it comes down to it . . . the “positives ALWAYS eliminate the negatives”. I hear it’s a rule.

Be Bold. Unfold. March On.

Thousands? Millions? How many people does it take to create a movement?

I was born in 1956 (feel free to do the math) and it has taken me this long to “march” for a cause. My motivation originally came about by reaching what I call my “adamant negative” point. The “NOT-TY” responses spilling out of my mouth included:

  • NOT acceptable
  • NOT in my lifetime
  • NOT in my country
  • NOT in my city
  • NOT in my neighborhood
  • NOT in my house
  • NOT in my family (least-of-which NOT around MY grandchildren!)

So, I marched. Still unclear about why I was there, I knew I needed to be in this space to process all my “NOTs” and get clear on what I DID want – for ME and for the world we are leaving to our grandchildren. It also didn’t hurt that the temps rose to 70 degrees on January 21, 2017 in St. Louis, with a cloudless bright blue sky. Call me “Pollyanna”, but I took it as a sign of better times to come.

Save what matters. The news reported 12,000-plus came out to walk in St. Louis alone. Everyone was marching for their own reasons, and at least 50% of those people had signs. From the signs I could see, it seemed the common denominator was to save something they loved. It didn’t matter if they took a week to prepare their signs (you could easily spot the graphic designers), or if you grabbed a cardboard box and a black Sharpie as you ran out of the house that morning . . . the congruent message was clear . . . “save what matters”!

At one point in the march (it was much more like a slow “meander”, as the crowd was SO big), I find myself next to a small child carrying her hand-made sign, “Save the Animals”. Her Crayola rendition of the horse (maybe cow, maybe dog) was completely in her own hand, as were the letters in the words. By the time I grabbed my phone to take a photo, she had moved out of sight. I allowed myself to imagine her parents encouraging her to “pick something you love which you want to save” . . . and she DID! Her little sign told a BIG story and was truly symbolic of the peaceful, family event . . . overflowing with people wanting to SAVE WHAT MATTERS to them.

No more “NOT-TY” Mouth. My personal take-away from the march experience was to turn each of my “adamant negatives” into a “Positive YES!”.

I say “YES!” (in no particular order) to . . .

  • kindness
  • diversity
  • inclusion
  • passion
  • patience
  • choice
  • consent
  • respect
  • courage
  • hutzpah
  • audacity
  • hope
  • honesty
  • truth
  • values
  • safety

And I fully intend to keep adding to my YES list!

What word would YOU include on your YES list?

Intend. Attend. Suspend.

IntendAttendSuspend rgbSometimes the best idea is to simply set an intention.

Historically, we tend to see a slow-down in business over the winter holidays. It starts around mid-December, and usually picks back up early January.

Not this year.

We just closed out the biggest December we’ve had in 12 years of business. We squeezed in a couple of three- and four-day work weeks, and still signed two new clients the last week of December.

What changed in 2016? We learned three things:

INTEND. Intend to succeed. We set our intention to grow our business. We recognized about a year ago our business had “stalled” and made a conscious commitment to ramp-up to a new level. We asked experts for advice (and listened).

ATTEND. Attend to what matters. We turned our attention to those things and people who supported our business growth. We became hyper-focused on sharing our business vision, attracting new clients, and building high-quality relationships for referrals.

SUSPEND. Suspend all doubt (which can be tricky). We let go. We released expectations of outcome, gave more than expected, and trusted it would all work out.

What is YOUR 2017 intention?

Santa’s Brand: When a Logo is not a Brand

We can learn a lot from Santa when it comes to branding. He does a pretty darn good job when it comes to effectively delivering his brand promise. 

10 Reasons Santa’s brand is much more than a logo, and goes WAY beyond red and green!

  1. CREATES RELATIONSHIPS: Santa builds positive relationships across the globe; he attracts throngs of people who are willing to stand in line to meet and talk with him – if only for a few minutes.
  2. SERVES HIS COMMUNITY: Santa serves his “tribe” by offering a service unlike any other. He’s definitely not “in it” for the money, but more for the outcome – the feeling his followers receive when they interact with him. He has definitely earned the love and respect of customers AND his staff.
  3. BELIEVES IN HIS BUSINESS: Not only does Santa BELIEVE in his mission, but so do his followers. It’s all about offering a product or service which makes people happy – we are ALL attracted to people and things that make us happy. Santa consistently fulfills his positioning statement of Bringing Joy to the World.
  4. PLANS FOR SUCCESS: Nothing stops Santa – just remember Rudolph and the fog. Santa finds solutions. He’s a “can-do” kind of guy. The kind of guy you want at the reins of your business.
  5. BUILDS TRUST: Santa instills “trust” and “warm cozy feelings”.  If you can’t trust Santa who can you trust? You’ve been telling him your heartfelt wishes since you were a kid. Santa listens and follows through on his commitments. He doesn’t over-promise, and always has a back-up option – just in case (toy recall).
  6. CROSS PROMOTES: Santa is everywhere. He graciously offers his positive brand to movies, car dealer ads, non-profit causes and more – all in the hopes of spreading goodwill and good cheer across the globe.
  7. STAYS FOCUSED: You don’t see Santa expanding his line of offerings beyond the aspect of “giving”.  The downfall of such was creatively portrayed by Martin Short’s Jack Frost and Tim Allen’s Santa, in the “Santa Clause 3” movie, showing the negative impact of wandering off-target. Ultimately, “good” overcomes “evil” and the movie ends with the North Pole back to “normal” – back on target.
  8. SUSTAINS HIS IMAGE: Santa creates a positive response in the marketplace and emotes a distinct visual image which immediately comes to mind when his name is mentioned. Even with 100’s (if not 1000’s) of Santa likenesses seen around the world, we all have our favorite that comes to mind – white beard, red suit, and a wink of the eye.
  9. ADAPTS EASILY: It’s not everyone that can morph their body PLUS a 100-pound bag of toys small enough to fit down a chimney (and in some cultures through a keyhole). Knowing when and how to adapt to your customer’s needs – and a willingness to do so – always give you an edge with the competition.
  10. RISES ABOVE: Santa is basically one-of-a-kind, so rising above your competition is a piece of cake (or cookies and milk). Taking flight is easy when you keep your magic-sparkle flying dust handy. Markets change as often as the weather . . . being able to fly above a snowstorm or around lightning strikes allows Santa to deliver a solid brand – on time, on target and on budget.

How can we help YOU deliver a better brand?

The Balmy Elephant

I no longer recall in which book Wayne Dyer talks about his grade school teacher and the “Scurvy Elephant”, but the story has stayed with me all these years. At some point when he is very young, he is sent home with a note from the teacher. As he hands it to his mother, he apprehensively explains to his Mom how the teacher keeps calling him a “Scurvy Elephant” . . . but he doesn’t know what that means. As Wayne’s Mom reads the note, it all becomes quite clear when she reads the words, “disturbing element”.

A few years ago, a long-time client introduced me at a business event as (what I thought I heard her say) a “Balmy Elephant”. As my brain went into a double-take, I hear her explaining to the others how I have a calming effect and help her find her focus and direction. Refocusing my thoughts and catching up with the conversation, I realize she has just introduced me as a “calming element”!

As one who has always been drawn to warm climates (AKA: beaches), I rather like the “Balmy Elephant” title. Elephants are seen as a symbol of power, dignity, intelligence and peace.  They are also known to symbolize wisdom, loyalty, strength, fidelity and longevity. I’ll take that!

I treasure my “Balmy Elephant” introduction to this day, and although I may not always feel “calm, cool, collected,” I DO try to help our clients sort through the chaos and confusion of developing their succinct brand message.

Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand . . .

. . . and make this world a better place if you can.reachout

I awoke this morning with this song in my head. Most likely prompted by a new friend in Australia I met yesterday through Facebook — connected by a common-cause private chat-room. I found the YouTube video of Dianna Ross singing the song, as well as the lyrics . . . both of which gave me the goosebumps as I stepped back into time with such a timely message.

We are definitely living in a time of transformation . . . amazing, astounding and even astonishing things have been happening these past few weeks. As crazy as our world has become, I’ve noticed how people are actually reaching out to each other and forming greater connections. No matter where your opinion falls regarding politics or pipelines, I’m guessing you have sought out a few discussions with like-minded family and friends. Bonds are stronger and relationships have gotten closer. In order to gain our balance in an unsteady world, we reach out to our “tribe” looking for a sense of stability. Chaos in our outer world causes us to seek calm in our inner world.

Wayne Dyer called it the “Law of Dichotomy”. When we start noticing extreme opposites appearing in our lives, it’s a sure sign we are getting ready to be catapulted to a new level of understanding . . . with our individual self (the micro-level) as well as with our world (the macro-level). His advice was to “fasten your seat belts” and enjoy the ride . . . and it never hurts to reach out and touch somebody’s hand along the way!

Foggy Brands Breed Empty Bank Accounts

 

A Foggy Brand is the “silent sabotage”
for small business owners.
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Most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t realize how important brand clarity can be. If you are confused about WHY you are in business, WHO you are selling to, and WHAT you are selling . . . it comes across in everything you do.

It’s time to clear the fog, attract new clients and make more money.

KNOW YOUR WHY
We’ve all seen it . . . the Simon Sinek video on YouTube, “Start With Why,” where he explains our “WHY” as the purpose, cause, or belief which inspires us to do what we do. Getting clear on your WHY is the foundation of the Mission and Vision for your business. When you start with your WHY, it is much easier to grow your business.

IDENTIFY YOUR WHO
More than likely, you are familiar with Dr. Seuss’s, “Horton Hears a Who”. The entire book has Horton convinced his “WHO” is definitely out there — he just needs to find them. The first step in finding your WHO is to identify them. Where do they live? What do they believe? Who do they runaround with? What kind of relief are they needing? Once you identify your WHO, it is much easier to attract more of them.

REFRAME YOUR WHAT
Stop Selling Your Products and Services. Yep. That’s what I tell all our clients. Entrepreneurs and small business owners spend too much time selling their WHATs, and completely forget about their WHYs. People can buy “what” you do/offer just about anywhere, from anyone. But when you focus on selling WHY they want to buy it — the relief they get when they make a purchase — you automatically turn the focus on how you help THEM. It’s not about YOU or your products or services. It’s all about offering them relief (aka: the Grief-to-Relief ratio).

And . . . in case you need a reminder . .  we help brand-befuddled entrepreneurs and small business owners dispel their foggy brands, clarify their intent, attract more clients and make more money.

And we LOVE making that happen.