HOW TO USE VACATIONS TO INCREASE SALES

Getting out of town can do wonders for your business. There are several key types of trips I use to increase revenue. Though they may seem like just a lot of vacations, we actually seriously plan them and force ourselves to take them on a regular basis because of how much they positively affect our bottom line.

Seriously, if we didn’t make it a priority, we would probably never leave town because we love working on our business so much!

1. The Quick Trip

This is the most obvious one, a 4-7 day change of scenery that doesn’t necessarily require us to check out of our email. When you work for yourself this is relatively easy to do. A couple of laptops and some wifi and you can seamlessly continue to work without anyone knowing you’re gone.

Why it’s good: Moving locations stimulates the creative juices. Even if you’re still working during the work day, meals and weekends are an opportunity to dine in new places, and, if it’s winter, get some vitamin D sunshine. It’s easier to relax in a “vacation” environment, and the change of pace is a welcome respite, even if you love what you do.

Bonus tip: We rent out our apartment on airbnb whenever we go away. Actually, we always have it available and when someone requests it we decide whether that’s a good time for a quick trip out of town. The fee from the renter usually pays for most, if not all of, our trip (note: this might only work when you live in NYC!)

2. The Long Off-the-Grid Trip

As I mentioned in an article on Pregame, the idea for our business was born while we were living for 3 months on a farm in the British Virgin Islands without a computer, electricity or clock. It’s amazing the kind of ideas you can come up with when you only have books, conversation and the scenery for entertainment. That’s why we have tried to make a point of going away for at least a few weeks every year, and to stay “off the grid” for as much of it as possible.

 Steve picked me bananas while glamping in our eco-hut

Steve picked me bananas while glamping in our eco-hut

Bonus Tip: Disconnecting is crucial if you want to see the benefits. Sometimes it’s hard to turn the phone off, so we actually choose places where it’s not even an option. Last year we spent 3 weeks in Maui and much of that time we stayed in a eco-hut “glamping” without electricity and outside of cell phone range. The first week is usually the hardest, but after that the ideas start flowing. This is where we brainstormed our idea to build the Brandup Bootcamp, which is now allowing us even more freedom in our business.

3. The Instagrammable Work Retreat

The best way to increase your tax write off! When Ciara Pressler (of Pressler Collaborative) sent me an email saying she was going to be #WorkingFromMexico for a few weeks and was open to coworking houseguests, I went straight to Kayak and booked my flights.

Some might say it’s a little gratuitous to fly all the way to Mexico for four days, but from an investment standpoint it was a no-brainer. Tanning on the beach next to a dynamite marketing brain while sunning myself in the middle of winter both stimulated new ideas and gave me that business owner glow that only comes from working for yourself, and being able to pick up and go to Mexico on a whim.

(Note from Ciara: I invited Pia so I could get the benefits of her business brain while elevating my brand. I paid far less for the trip than I would to hire Pia for four days, so I’d call that an excellent investment, wouldn’t you? – Ciara)

Bonus Tip: Go with a business buddy for a mutually beneficial experience.

WHEN WE ALMOST CHANGED OUR COMPANY NAME

We are constantly preaching about how you must be different, and say "no" to business outside your niche, if you want a profitable business that attracts clients. We also talk about how this takes guts. And we know because we almost didn't have the guts to do it either!

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Clients may not come easy at first.

For the first 3 years of our business, I was constantly pounding the pavement, hoping I’d find new work in the rubble. I networked every day, so I met a lot of people. As a personable, amicable female, people wanted to refer me to their colleagues and bosses.

But many of them seemed to have the same problem:

I just can’t refer “Worstofall Design” to my boss.

What I didn't know then that I know now? They just weren't our clients.
 

Don’t Get Defensive

When I did get referrals, people often introduced my company with an immediate qualifier, like: “Worstofall Design is named after the creative director Steve Wasterval, but they’re actually really good!” C’mon! I did not need or want a defensive intro right out of the gate. That type of introduction lacked confidence, and it didn’t set my company up to knock it out of the park.

After hearing about people’s hesitance to refer us, I spoke to Steve. If we created another company called “WOA Design”--with a website that showed off only our corporate work--we could easily market our services to these BNI/networking clients. With a more corporate arm of our company, we could effectively appeal to the people who just didn’t get “Worstofall.”
 

Let Your Brand Speak for Itself

At first, Steve humored me. We put it on our to-do list, but that’s the furthest we got. As I recall, we became too busy to develop a new corporate brand--and, thankfully, the idea fizzled out. 

But what if it hadn’t? Had we built “WOA Design,” I’m not sure we ever would’ve developed into the Badass Brand we are today. We wouldn’t have given the brand the time and attention to get it there, because we would have had a trickle of corporate clients to placate us into settling for a generic brand that brought us just enough business (instead of a badass brand that brought us tons of business!)

Being different is scary, and we get it. It’s hard to put yourself out there, then hear people say they want to refer your business, but can’t. Most people would just change their business right then and there.
 

But what many don’t understand is that this is where the power lies:

having the guts to commit to what makes you different when some people tell you it’s wrong or that they don’t like it. If you build a brand that’s authentic and unique to you, and stick with it, you can establish a reputation that precedes you.

And that’s when you get to attract clients and charge more than your competitors.

To be loved by some, you must accept being disliked (or even misunderstood) by others.
 

So ask yourself:

What kind of business do you really want?

WHAT NOBODY'S TELLING YOU ABOUT BEING DIFFERENT

So you want to be different, huh? Yeah, we’ve heard that once or twice. We’ve also known clients that want their brands to be edgy, standout, truly badass

We all know "be different" is good advice. What nobody seems to be talking about is why getting to "different" is so damn hard to achieve.. and what you can do to get there.

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1. Because sometimes the world can seem like one long, bad, judge-y first date

Different isn’t difficult because you don’t have it. You’re different. Even if we don’t know you, we already know that. 

Different is difficult because it’s hard to stick your neck out, and risk being JUDGED.

At their core, badass brands are different, and that can feel scary.

People instinctively want to fit in, are driven to belong. It’s how we create the human connections we need to survive. Standing out from the crowd makes us vulnerable to being noticed, ostracized, and rejected.

That’s why being a Badass Brand requires guts. You have to be ready for some people to not like you, or even to actively dislike you--even while others proclaim their devotion! 

Because the only things that most people like is generic stuff, like Q-tips and famous paintings of pretty flowers (and even then, there are plenty of people who hate these things.)

Point is: there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you are about or what you have to say. So if you get really comfortable with that idea you can start to actually embrace something that your people will love. 

 

2. Because we are naturally prone to feeling like there is scarcity

Badass Brands understand the power of "no" (another scary word in business). Whether by rejecting less than ideal project, or pricing yourself out of a budget, or because the project isn't exciting to you, “no” commands respect. Most business owners can’t say no to a sale because they are in a mindset of constant desperation. But successful business owners know that “no” is their best friend.
Saying no is hard. 

 

3. Because when we say “I don’t care” what we really mean is I care A LOT

Badass Brands “give no fucks.”  I had a speaking coach who told me the best speakers “give no fucks” about audience judgement. You are up there for a reason, so deliver your speech with "no fucks given" and people will listen. Confidence is attractive, and confidence comes from being comfortable being yourself. But to give no fucks about what anyone else thinks about you, it's a skill that's hard to master.

(Even as I write this, I am somewhat uncomfortable with my jarring use of the word “fuck,” which even I agree is a little uncouth for a business article. The irony is not lost on me, hence I will continue to fucking write it, if only to illustrate the fucking point.)

Self doubt and fear of judgement are the main reasons most people will never have a badass brand. But having that doubt and doing it anyway? 

 

That’s called guts, and it's badass.

So, when you say you want to be different, what you really need to ask yourself is- do I have the balls to be different?

 

TIME TO BUILD YOUR BADASS MUSCLE. RIGHT. NOW.

Stash Wealth was terrified at first to charge for their Stash Plan. Nobody else in their industry did it, and therefore they thought it meant they couldn’t do it. But that’s exactly why they should have done it!

I want you to take a minute right now and think about all the value you give your clients before they even hire you. That’s all those free conversations where you’re giving them loads of information trying to get them to sign up to work with you.

Now come up with a way to package that so you can sell that time instead of just give it away for free.

Price it at whatever feels comfortable, honestly it doesn’t even matter at first. The point is you need to get used to charging for your information and telling people that it’s valuable.

Now I want you to call up a former lead, someone who was interested in working with you but didn’t sign on, and I want you to sell them this product. Price it so that it’s a no brainer. They were interested enough in working with you to speak with you, so they are already half way to the sale. This is a low cost way to pick your brain, so give it a try!

And don’t feel defeated if they don’t bite, just call someone else. Keep doing this until you sell one.

Here’s a recent email I got from someone who heard me speak about this method:

“I wanted you to know I implemented your “opening product” strategy 3 times and have had 2 people go for it. So that’s an additional $990 I can directly attribute to your advice!
Also, this was (2 hours of) work I used to do for free before sales calls so my life is much easier… With one move I’m added a new revenue stream, saved time, and can better scale my business = )
Here’s a big, heartfelt THANK YOU!”

I have had so many clients send me emails like that. IT WORKS! But badasses only- it’s not easy charging for something you’re used to doing for free.

See the article above on why that is.

Then stare it down and do it anyway.

HOW TO AVOID GENERIC FLUFF IN YOUR BRAND

"What's your mission? Why do you do this? What do you stand for?" wah wah....

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These are the questions that most branding companies will ask you when trying to get to the heart of the "why" about your company. Unfortunately, generic questions like that tend to produce generic answers. Want to avoid the generic fluff your competitors are pumping out in their brands? 

Instead, ask yourself: What do you stand against? 

What pisses you off about your industry? What do you hate about your industry that you want to improve?

What are others in your industry doing that YOU do better?

By finding out what you are against, you will get a much clearer picture of what separates you from the rest. It’s even better if you find you are against things your competitors are for. This means your message will resonate with clients who think similarly, and it can help potential clients make a clear distinction between you and your competitors. That’s the goal, right?

Identify a problem you care about

We worked with a speaking coach who just hated dull speakers who put their audiences to sleep. Her homepage now reads: “On a mission to rid the world of boredom, one speaker at a time.” This copy is fun and entertaining—not corporate and stodgy like her competitors’ sites. Once she realized she was against boring speeches, she embraced her spunky, entertaining side.

Another client of ours, Moderna Capital, came to us because they had a nice looking website and tons of experience in their field, but they couldn’t get clients. They were a boutique wealth management firm started by a pair of ex-Merrill Lynch advisors, and they wanted to give “young professionals” financial advice. 

When we Brandshrinked them, I asked them what pissed them off about their industry, and they got really heated. They told us they were fed up that Merrill Lynch only worked with people who had a minimum of $500,000 in liquid assets. They believed people who were still BUILDING their businesses and careers—people who might not have had that kind of money yet—should still have access to reliable, financial advisors and advice. 

They were against the big corporate Merrill Lynch way, yet they had built a brand that still looked a lot like Merrill Lynch. The copy was a little more hip, but it didn’t reflect the passion they expressed when they spoke about their disagreement with Merrill Lynch’ values.

Distinguish yourself through your passion

By truly understanding what they were AGAINST, we could build a brand that sounds and looks like it stands for something that’s actually different from Moderna Capital’s competitors. 

Rather than say they “break from the mold,” their brand now actually breaks from the Merrill Lynch mold through its fresh look, copy, and vibe. Their target market of young professionals wants bite-sized info—or “financial cliffnotes,” as we called them—and so we expanded their services to include fun seminars and products that are accessible for smaller budgets. Moderna Capital eventually gave in and renamed their company to “Stash Wealth” with our full support. They are now killing it as a highly coveted financial voice for the millennial generation.

Maybe you’re a therapist who hates the touchy-feely image that therapy has. Or a personal trainer who is so annoyed at all these quick-fix gimmicks like 5-minute abs. Or a marketing company that thinks it’s wasteful for small businesses to advertise to get new clients when they haven’t fully mined their current and past clients for more business, which are 70% cheaper to close.

Whatever the industry, most people go into business for themselves because they worked in a company and thought, “I could do it better.”

Take a few minutes to jot down the first things that come to mind when you ask yourself, “What am I against?” It’s a hack that helps cut through the crap of standing for generic fluff.

THE FIRST TIME I SAID NO

One of the most important words in business, and also the hardest.

Almost a year before our now-famous fall into debt—before we doubled our prices from $16,000 to $32,000—we were increasing our prices slowly with every client.

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Our strategy?

For every client, we went above and beyond, delivering more value than they’d anticipated. By doing this, we were breeding both happy clients and great referral sources, and building our own confidence.
 

Though difficult, we felt optimistic about our price increase every time.

At the moment of our first "no," we were definitely looking for clients. So, I did the only thing I knew to do to find work: I went networking. Luckily I met a potential client who needed a full rebrand with a logo and website, which is exactly what we were selling.

I poured my heart into a beautifully devised, long-ass proposal, rich with benefit statements and fancy design to make them go WOW.

It worked. They loved us. 

But they didn’t like the $16,000 price, so they asked us to bring it down.
 

Be realistic

Now, $16,000 is nothing to scoff at. And this was also the most we had ever charged at that stage of the game. But I also knew that for the amount of work we were doing, we needed at least $16,000. (This is before we had a tightened-up badass process—when we assumed this project was going to take 4-6 months and I had to pay my employees the whole time.)

I told them we could do it for the $13,000 they were asking for, but I’d have to drop a few things from the proposal. They couldn’t make that deal, they said. They needed everything.

We had a couple of phone calls, and they told me they were looking at other companies who were charging even less than $13,000, and they couldn’t justify paying $16,000. But they definitely wanted to use us and we were at the top of the list.

Perfect, that’s exactly where I like to be.
Top of the list and just a little too expensive, but the client wants it anyway.
 

Make the tough decisions

The knot in my stomach tightened, and I politely told them on the phone, “Look, this would be a great project. I know we would kill it for you, and I’d love to knock this baby out of the park. But if you want everything, it has to be $16,000. And if you need to pass and use someone else, I’ll totally understand.”

He said ok, that he was disappointed, and then he hung up.

And that was it. I told Steve what happened, and I just couldn’t go into a project like that. I couldn’t accept just taking a discount before the project even begins. 

I’ve been in this situation a few times, and that’s often the end of the conversation. It’s hard, but I always look at it as dodging a bullet. Though we needed work, it freed me up to find a client willing to pay what the work was worth.
 

Confidence pays off

In this instance, however, that same client called me up a week later. Surprise! He hired us for the full $16,000. I still get butterflies thinking about it. Victory!

Victory because I stuck to my guns. Victory because I knew what we were selling had value, and I wasn’t going to compromise.

Victory because now this project was going to be a breeze. They hired us—the most expensive company on their list—and shelled out way more than they wanted because they knew our work was the best.

And, as long as I maintained control of the situation, this project was going to go smoothly.

By hiring us in this manner, they were also saying that they understood we were experts in our field, and they trusted us. And so, they were wonderful clients every step of the way, and they got great work from us.

Especially because—for them, too—we purposely did way more than $16,000 worth of work. After that project, we doubled our rates. Then, with a few unexpected twists, our story really got going.

SICK OF BAD CLIENTS? HERE'S HOW TO ELIMINATE THEM

There are no bad clients. Or, more precisely put: all bad clients are your fault. Here are 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Taking on a Project:

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Here’s a typical scenario:

You’re a graphic designer.

A potential client reaches out and says they need a logo and website designed.

You write them a proposal.

They read your proposal.

Maybe they get back to you,

maybe they don’t.

Let’s say they do, but your quote is a little more than they had budgeted…


MISTAKE #1 - Just giving a discount

Can you do it for 10% less? You need the money, so you’re happy to give the discount. You start working and ask them what they want—color preferences, logo specifics, etc. They’re going to send over examples of what they like.

Why it’s a mistake: When you give a discount just because, you’re suggesting your original price was an arbitrary number, not based on any sort of value you put on your work. You can immediately lose the client’s trust this way.


MISTAKE #2 - Just asking what they want

The client sends over tons of information about their company, as well as examples of designs they like. Great! You see some patterns, and you get to work.

Why it’s a mistake: The first rule of creating a great client is developing a relationship of trust. They must trust you to do what you do best, that you know what you’re doing and that you’ll deliver. You are the expert, so you should lead the process. If you ask the client what they think the logo should be, you’ve created doubt around your status as a design expert. If the client were an expert, they would’ve made a logo themselves. And if you allow the client to lead the process, things can get messy…


MISTAKE #3 - Emailing work without explanation

You create dozens of logo designs, and you send your ten best in a PDF.

They call you up: “We liked logos 3, 4, and 9. We’d like to see #3 in a couple of different colors, #4 with the font from #5, and we like #9 but can you make the logo icon just a little more... modern?”

Why it’s a mistake:
You’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks. You don’t trust that you know what is good or right—you just hope the client will like something. Doesn’t sound like something an “expert” would do. It’s your job to educate your client so they can make an informed decision.

Sending tons of options makes it harder for clients to make that decision. Most clients are terrified of paying for a service and not getting what they want out of it. But again, you’ve put them in a difficult position—you’ve given a novice the job of making an expert judgment. This will result in requests to see more options because of uncertainty.


MISTAKE #4 - Doing whatever the client says

You get back to work. You make another PDF with all the edits, which ends up being another ten logos—all variations of their three favorites. You send it over.

They call you up again, with more revisions and requests. These communications go back and forth for days, maybe even weeks. The requests have (d)evolved from small and straightforward to frustrating and outlandish.

And now you have a shitty client. You haven’t even begun the website yet! AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

Why it’s a mistake: Well, this is what happens when you let your client drive the ship. You can become their whipping boy before the project even begins. By doing whatever the client says, you are not using your expertise. That’s what they’re paying you for!
 


This is why you must stay in control throughout the process. 

In the end, it’s not the client’s fault—it’s yours. You are responsible for leading your projects and your clients, for building trust and rapport. Make sure you listen to the client and then give them exactly what they need to achieve their desired results.

*Caveat: Some people just suck.
 

Do everything you can to avoid working with people like this. Have a screening process before you start projects with new clients. In these cases, $1 does not equal $1.

Even if you need the money, a shitty client will cost you time, energy, and sanity. This may, in turn, cost you money anyway—and it can keep you from finding the clients who love, respect, and pay you what you’re worth.

And they’re out there! We can proudly, unequivocally say that we have loved working with all of our Brandup clients for the last two years (and if any clients are reading this, that means you!)

WHY THE CUSTOMER IS NEVER RIGHT

Why the old wisdom of "The Customer is Always Right" is just that, old.

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I’ve been saying it for a long time... Sometimes it pisses people off because it goes against everything sacred from the golden age of Leave It to Beaver and whatever the term "good old days" refers to (also B.S.)
 

AGAIN, The customer is never right.

Many people believe the exact opposite, which explains why tons of small businesses are flailing—overworked, underpaid, and always desperately searching for clients. They bend over backwards because of this lame misconception, and then they still end up with clients who aren’t satisfied.

Here’s why.

When someone hires you for a service, they are not merely hiring you to perform said service. They are hiring you for your expertise in delivering said service. If they knew how to execute the service, they would save their money and do it themselves!

But they don’t.

Case in point:

Many boutique branding companies start their initial conversation asking a client what they want their website to look like.

You may have heard it before… "Show me websites you like. Tell me what pages you want on your site. Send me your web copy".

These web designers/developers are turning themselves into a commodity. They are merely technicians—the hands that execute your vision. But there’s a huge problem with that.

Your vision of the pages and content you want on your site… what is that based on? Are you a website expert? Do you think it’s appropriate to build a website to the specifications of your personal tastes and thoughts, rather than those of your target audience?

What if, instead, the web developer asked you what you are looking to do with your website? That conversation would go a bit differently… Why do you want a new website? What challenges are you currently facing that you think a new website could solve?
 

Now we’re cooking with gas!

You see, ultimately, when someone “needs a new website,” what they are usually saying is they need help with their business in some way, and they think a website is going to solve their problem. 

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But wouldn’t it be nice if the website development company—a company that supposedly knows a lot about websites—could help the client figure that out?

By asking the big questions, we might discover that a new website won’t help the client fix their problem. I suspect that’s one reason most companies don’t ask those questions. But you need to position yourself as an authority, as someone with valuable insight the client doesn’t have. That’s what they’re paying you for.

Steve and I have our “core values” prominently displayed on our wall. One of the values that stands out is #4: “Always be in control for the sake of the customer.”

It’s your job as the expert to lead the way. That outdated “customer is always right” mentality suggests that the customer knows more than you about the subject at hand. When that happens, all bets are off. 

This is why it is in your best interest to take the reigns of any and all conversations and projects. For the sake of your clients, get down to the root of their problems and offer up effective actions.

NIKE HAD IT WRONG

Why don't most people specialize even though they know that they should? 

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Because there is inevitably time in between creating a more focused business model, and actually achieving a healthy revenue stream.
 

Most people can't handle the fear. 

You see, there’s this dark, scary place you have to pass through first—turning down customers, and therefore, money.

How do you make this jump in a practical way?

You still need to make money, and many of your contacts may still recognize you as an all-things-to-all-people brand.So how should you market yourself during this crucial time period?
 

There's no easy way around it, you need to TRUST.

Trust that the fear you experience is the canyon between who you are now, and the invincible badass you will become, is worth it.

The side you’re on now is the Everything-to-Everyone Cliff. The other side, the Badass Brand Mountaintop. If you want to reach it, you’ll have to take the leap.
 

The truth is, there will be a lull, no question.

But the length of that lull depends on how much energy you put into educating people about your new niche. Passively hoping clients will find you is not productive. Go to a networking meeting every morning for a month and call everyone on your contact list to update them.

Hit the ground running with a clear target and message, and you will have success very quickly. But you, of course, have to notify everyone! When we decided to only do Brandups and say no to all other work, I called three old prospects to whom I’d submitted proposals for large projects. I told them our offers no longer stood—that we'd changed our model, and now we could do the same project but in two days and at a fraction of the cost. All three signed up. But it required some legwork on my part.

I often say with a badass brand you can attract clients instead of chasing them, and I mean it. You have to at least plant the seeds, though. It takes upfront work. But the work garners larger and better results when you have clarity about what you offer, and then every time you say NO, you further strengthen your brand's positioning in the world.

So what am I saying: pick a niche and never waver?

On the one hand, I think you should commit to your niche 100% for it to be successful.

But if someone comes along asking for something outside of your specialty, and you need the cash—if it's not too far outside, if it's not going to drain all your energy—who am I to say you can't? Sure you can, it's just going to prolong the good stuff because it's taking your focus away from your target. 
 

If you're desperate for money, do what you need to do. But the quickest way to get there is to stay the course.

Steve and I went into debt because we doubled our price from $16,000 to $32,000, and then didn't close a client for five months. But we knew if we worked at the lower price, we wouldn't profit anyway, so we'd just be spinning our wheels. That decision put us $40,000 in debt. 

But it eventually paid off. We brought in $100,000 worth of projects the next month when all those proposals finally closed! 

And this only happened because we stayed committed to the $32,000 projects. We ended up doing our first real Brandup with a client who desperately wanted to work with us but couldn't spend the money. We basically adjusted our existing Brandup offering to fit her needs. After doing a few more projects like that, it was like—lightbulb! Just do that!

I don’t believe we would’ve had this success if we hadn't said no to the clients with tighter budgets. We wouldn't have been in debt, but we would have been stuck in purgatory, not making any money.

When we were going into debt, we probably could have closed at least a couple of those clients by lowering our price. But those would have been nightmare clients, and working with them wouldn't have gotten us to where we are today.
 

Moral of the Story

The hardest part is actually committing and sticking to it. It works because it's hard, and most people can't do it, but this is your greatest opportunity. And if you make it? You will be handsomely rewarded.

ARE YOU A #BOSS?

It's not just about working for yourself...

There's a big different between working for yourself and being a #BOSS and a lot of it has to do with which direction the business flows in. Being a #BOSS means business flows to you, and it has very similar characteristics to what we define as a Badass Brand.

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It’s about elevating your service above the ceiling most businesses operate under, free of the usual constraints. 

Think about it like this: What’s the main reason people go into business for themselves? Freedom.

I don’t think I’ve ever met an entrepreneur who wasn’t looking for freedom. Freedom to express themselves. Freedom from a boss. Freedom from a salary that forces you to stay at a job you might not love. Freedom to spend time with your friends/family/kids when you want. Freedom to travel, eat at nice restaurants, buy things without feeling like you’re breaking the bank.

So when we say “badass brands,” what we really mean is being a badass in life. People who have control over their time and are not at the mercy of anyone else.

But why do we think badass brands create that kind of freedom? Well, these brands have two distinct characteristics.
 

First, they are able to charge a premium price.

This alone creates a ton of freedom. When you can charge a premium price, it means you take home more money than competitors for the same amount of time. So, you can either work less to make the same amount, or put in more time to make more.

In other words, you have the freedom (and luxury) to choose.

By making more than the average person doing a similar job, you are freeing yourself up in all kinds of ways! You are able to be selective about who you work with, because you don’t need nearly as many clients to make a living.

If you choose to free up time, you can use it to make your business and services even more valuable—by learning, reading, and brainstorming new ideas—or you can spend it doing something you love that is not business-related. Ideally, you do a little bit of both, continue to increase your pricing, AND enjoy your life in the meantime.

When you dedicate time to improving skills related to your craft, you will only increase the value of your offerings moving forward—in turn increasing your potential price point. You’re free to make more! YOU decide if you want to take on an extra client or two this month or next, and pocket the profit.
 

Second, badass brands attract clients.

They don’t have to sell (in the traditional sense), and marketing efforts are energizing rather than frustrating.

Badass brands know what they are selling, & they know how to talk about it in a way that immediately clicks with other people. Their message resonates. This means that every attempt to get the brand out there has supercharged results compared to what most companies get out of marketing.

Many brands are hard to understand and easy to forget. No wonder marketing is so draining! You’re spinning your wheels trying to get people to understand and remember something that is neither clear nor memorable! That’s why it’s so important to have a brand that sells on its own. People want it. It speaks to them, so you barely have to. Now that’s badass.

And that's how you go from working for yourself, so being a #BOSS. Your service must be clear, the benefits must be defined, the sales process must be easy, and you’ve got to position or package your stuff in a way that sets it apart from the competition. Do this an work will flow in your direction.

How do you do this? Check out our free upcoming training in badassery for tips you can act on immediately.

4 Shocking Mistakes Killing Your Brand

AND WHAT TO DO INSTEAD!

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If you’re still striving to create a badass brand, there’s undoubtedly something holding you back.

I’m willing to bet it’s some BS assumption based on what others have told you, or what you’ve read on the Internet. And it's definitely tying your hands behind your back as you work toward your goals.

Are you ready to let all of these misconceptions go?


MISTAKE #1 - Thinking everyone is doing better than you.

F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) is a real thing. It often manifests when you see someone’s pictures on Facebook, and imagine they’re having a great life. For business, it’s kind of similar. 

It may seem like your fellow small business owners are all killing it, but remember that social media posts are only a small, highly-edited version of the truth. Social media allows everyone to brag while hiding what’s really going on.

THE TRUTH - If it’s hard for you, it’s hard for them, too.

Nobody is going to post a selfie on Instagram if they’re having a bad day. Building your own business takes serious chops, so you are definitely not the only one struggling to get your business off the ground. YOU can do this if you get your head in the game and persevere.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Reroute your energy where it's needed most!

Don’t compare yourself to people who have been at it longer than you, it's a complete waste of time that is actually hurting your business. 

Instead, focus on building your knowledge and value. Trust that the more committed you are to building something that you can be proud of, the more real (and not just instagram-worthy) success you will experience. Ignore what you see online, 95% of success posts are aspirational. 


MISTAKE #2 - Thinking your brand is all about what you do.

The biggest mistake people make when building their brand is confusing their BRAND and what they ACTUALLY DO. They think everything they know is important, and they try to include all of it.

THE TRUTH - Your brand is only an outward expression of what you do.

Your brand is the ONE THING people remember. It should be specific and clear, evoking particular feelings when someone thinks or speaks about your company.

And that one thing is usually pretty different from what you actually do. The details of what you do—your expertise, your full process—influence your brand. But your brand should simplify it into one clean package, minus the fat.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Let go of trying to explain details- we don't care.

Focus on finding the main one or two points that really pop, and only talk about that. It will resonate better and leave listeners curious and wanting more. It will also position you as an expert. When business owners overwhelm you with details the underlying feeling is desperation and overcompensation, whether the customer realizes or not. (This will help)


MISTAKE #3 - Thinking that if you want a successful brand, you should copy Apple, Nike, & Starbucks

Ask yourself...

  • Are you spending millions of dollars on advertising each year?
  • Is one of your challenges to make sure your stores all look the same? 
  • Are you competing with Fortune 100 companies for market share?

THE TRUTH - It’s like comparing Apple... and oranges

No. Just no. Your goals are completely different from these companies, and the way you are going to operate your business and deliver your service is also totally different. So why would the strategy to launch be the same? It wouldn’t, and it’s not.

If you want to learn something from the big guys, read about how they got started—not what they are doing now. You’ll find they all have a badass brand story in their beginning.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Read books by business owners who started out a lot like you.

Take a hint from other small business owners selling services. Learn from successful peers. Hang out with business owners who are slightly ahead of you, and take note of what they do. Those lessons will take you way farther than anything you observe Nike doing.


MISTAKE #4 - Believing Badass Brands are created.

Being badass is not about creating a brand outside of yourself.

THE TRUTH - Badass Brands are discovered.

This process is about identifying what already exists in you and what you do that is badass, and then making your entire business about that. You’re not changing, you’re evolving. If you create an identity for your brand that doesn’t feel true to you, you will fail miserably. 

You can’t build a successful brand if you’re always listening to what others say. Sure, be open-minded and accept constructive criticism. But if you accept everything people say as fact, what are you going to do when somebody tells you that you’re going to fail? You’re going to prove them wrong.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Dig deep, the answer is within.

Sometimes your most badass opportunity might not look like one. I've always wanted to brand a business owner by embracing a typically "bad" quality, like a super anal-retentive accountant or something. Reminds me of the classic Seinfeld episode about the Soup Nazi- NO SOUP FOR YOU! Based on a true story about a phenomenal soup maker in NYC whose owner was kind of an a-hole, it actually added to the mystique of the product. BADASS!

 

Do you have the guts
to build a badass brand?

Take our free upcoming training in Badassery and find out.

BEWARE OF SILVER BULLETS

What would you do to hit your business goals this year? 

This is a public service announcement on buying Silver Bullet and Treasure Map Solutions. Whether you plan to go it alone, hire a team, or pay for a solution...whatever you do, proceed with caution.

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We live in a time where everyone is selling something.

You sell something. We sell something. Every day we see advertisements for people selling Silver Bullet Solutions and Treasure Maps. They exist in every market. So, what's the difference, what does it matter, and why to proceed with caution?

Let's start by unpacking Silver Bullet Solutions.
 

SILVER BULLET SOLUTIONS:

These zero-work-required fix-alls sell the dream of more followers, more customers, and more clout. Everything you want at a click of a button. 

But you know as well as we do that most of these Silver Bullets are scams. 

Buy more followers! Are you kidding?! Buy likes and engagement! To what end? 

And, to be clear, more customers isn’t always the solution. Often it’s a problem that causes operational and managerial headaches. Think about it for a second.

Suppose you charge your 10 customers $X for your service. Now, suppose you want to grow your business by 10-times this year. That means you are looking to take on 100 customers. Now that type of growth requires serious organizational overhauls. You cannot just scale to service 100 customers. What would you have to change in your organization to achieve that level of growth and survive?


OR There's an alternative.

At Worstofall Design, we'd rather you be charging 10-times your current rates. 

Can you figure out a way to create 10-times the value for each customer and charge them $10x each for your work? We understand that this might sound like just a silly thought experiment. But we’re being completely serious

  • What does your business need to look like to create 10x more value for your customer?
  • What about 2X value creation for your customers this year?
  • What about 2X growth this year without 2X the customers? 

While I can’t speak to your industry, yet, there’s one way that always works, it transcends industry. To create 2X-to-10X value, improve your brand’s prestige — or as we like to say — build a badass brand.

Now let’s discuss how to reach the buried treasure. Let's figure out how to get whatever you’re hoping to find when you reach the X (the one that marks the spot).

So let’s talk about treasure maps for a second. 

TREASURE MAPS:

First things first, there’s an inherent truth to all treasure maps: You’re not there yet! You going to need to work to get what you want.

To get from A to B, Start to Finish, or from this moment to your business goals this year (read, X or buried treasure) you have to do the work. You must take the journey, or start the voyage. For this reason, Treasure Maps are way more plausible than Silver Bullets. But there’s another issue with Treasure Maps.

22-year-old “lifestyle” entrepreneurs. They all write posts called: 
The exact way that I make $100,000 a month live on a beach and surf every day.” 

Aaaand our response is a written out emoji -(insert skeptical face here)

So, we find ourselves at a crossroads...

  • What to do?
  • How do we judge one Treasure Map from another?
  • How do you reach your goals? 
     

Our best advice is to do some deep thinking, vetting, and self-discovery.

Anyone who’s selling a zero-work, Silver Bullet Solution is worth a red flag and a caution light. If it smells too good to be true, it is. Treasure Maps are more plausible. Sure. But you still need to vet them.

For example, our Brandup Bootcamp is our version of a Treasure Map Solution.

With it, we promise to help your business move toward the 10x in value creation per customer. But let’s be clear, our treasure map solution demands work. In fact, it asks for 7 weeks of a concerted effort - for God's sake it's even called a Bootcamp!

In just seven weeks, we'll take you through the exact Brandshrink and Brandup process we put our clients through. But, unlike past clients, you won't pay the $20,000, or even $5,000, that our clients have paid over the last 2 years.

Those people paid as much as they did because the process works. It changes a business forever.(We'll tell you more about our process in future emails.)

The point is, it’s not easy to find a way to double your value proposition. It's harder yet to craft your message so it sells. It takes some hard work to build a Badass Brand… but it’s possible.

We do it for clients every week.

There's only one difference. Instead of two grueling 12-14 hour days, we stretch the process out over 7 weeks. And we're in the closed Facebook group to support you as you execute the Brandup Bootcamp work.

If this sounds interesting to you check out our upcoming online training in badassery to get your primer information on the Bootcamp and what Badass Brand Building is really like.

The Badass Your Brand training will wet your whistle. Do the activities in the training and you’re guaranteed to see a stronger business!


- Pia & Steve

AFFORDABLE BRANDING... Say WHAT?!

Your services company needs a brand to attract clients and set itself apart. But we all know a branding strategy is damn expensive. As a wannabe badass brand, where will you find the budget?

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Well, here’s an Online Training in Badassery

Back in the day, we were struggling to find clients, too. So yeah, we feel your pain.

You probably didn’t go into business to be a salesperson. But here you are—head of sales (and chief cook and bottle washer, too). Why? Because it’s a business—not a hobby.

But when it comes to selling, the key is to build a business that sells itself, which is a key characteristic of a badass brand. This is the thing most people don’t get (and a golden opportunity for smarty’s like you). Your brand is the perception of your business inside your customers’ minds.
 

Whoa, what the hell does that mean?

We told you upfront: branding ain’t easy. Unless you’ve experienced the power of a badass brand, you can only imagine how incredible it can be. You’re left making the amateur assumption that it all comes down to your logo and website. While crucial elements of it, these are not the same as your brand.

You could hire a rising star on craigslist, or the super-talented graphic designer right out of school. The problem: they lack branding strategy or business insight. They’ll create a logo or a website they think looks nice. Since your business is your baby, you’ll make them edit it until you think it looks nice. Eventually, both of you will lose sight of your branding strategy and how it will increase sales altogether.

Don’t get us wrong: your logo is important. So is the color scheme and design of your website. But your brand? That’s something much, much bigger—and much more important.
 

Why are you telling me all of this?

Believe it or not, we want to empower you. Building a brand isn’t a complicated process if you have the right tools—and we want to share ours.

As a branding company, we have a seasoned ability to create a brand just by asking our clients the right questions. Once we have a concept in place, we build it out into a logo and website with a strong, clear, and memorable message that does their marketing—and selling—for them.

This takes a lot of practice—and time we know you don’t have. All you really need to do is to understand your business and industry. (We’d hope at this point you do!)

Our upcoming training walks you through the first steps to build your brand from scratch. We ask questions: the same ones we ask all of our clients to find their special brand. Then, our Brandup Bootcamp shows you how to use the answers to find your brand yourself and then build your polished and professional new website and logo you’ve been drooling over.

Imagine having a business that people remember and praise after reading about it, hearing about it, checking out the website.

Now go out and get it. Take our upcoming FREE training in badassery here.

 

WHY BADASS BRANDS LIKE 'OSCAR' WIN

We just signed up for Oscar. And we're so excited about it!

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For the past year, we’ve seen their simple, easy ads plastered all over the NYC subways. I don’t know about you, but when I look at them, I assume I will get good customer service and my needs will be met.
 

Why do we feel like that? Because they have a Badass Brand, one that practices what it preaches. Their tagline doesn’t say they’re simple and easy; it is simple and easy: "Hi, we're Oscar.” In the healthcare world, a friendly face and a warm introduction are Badass. 

After Health Republic, our former health insurance company, told us they were shutting down at the end of November, we had to find a replacement. Oscar came to mind immediately because their messaging stuck out in the clutter of boring, corporate health insurance ads.
 

SIMPLICITY AT ITS BEST

Valued at about $1.5 billion, Oscar has almost tripled its New York market share in the past year. And what can they thank for that? Badass company branding. Oscar’s clean, uncomplicated pitch is music to millennial ears: a generation that lacks the attention span for anything longer than 140 characters.  

Oscar’s website continues their concise, clean experience. They promise simplicity—and they deliver. (Seriously, check it out. They almost make filling out a healthcare form fun.)

Have you ever called the NY State of Health before? It's worse than calling Verizon. I know, how could anything be worse than calling Verizon!? But it is.

But not Oscar. I've spoken to several people there who are polite, knowledgeable, and anxious to make my experience pleasant and simple. We signed up on the spot.
 

WHY ARE WE EXCITED ABOUT HEALTH INSURANCE?

As Maya Angelou said: People will forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. Similarly, Oscar’s ads make you feel taken care of; like things are going to be simple. Our actual experience with Oscar built on those feelings and backed up their promise. Customers get excited about brands who can pull that off.

Oscar is a Badass Brand in the health insurance world because it dares to be truly different—not just say it. What can you learn from them?


1. Don't say you’re different; BE different in your messaging

Oscar's tagline isn't "the simplest, easiest health insurance to deal with, with smart people answering the phone." They just say "Hi, We're Oscar" alongside simple imagery. You can feel their simplicity and smartness from their ads.


2. Back it up

If I called Oscar and got a Verizon-style employee on the other end, I'd be disappointed. In fact, I'd be more disappointed than if I called NY State of Health, because I expect Oscar to be different. They would actually fall farther from grace in my mind, because my expectations weren't met.


3. Make sure the pieces line up

If I went to Oscar’s website and it was tired and outdated, again the experience wouldn't match up to my expectations. If your brand is a smarter alternative to an older way of doing things, make sure your online presence matches up with a smart, clean look and feel.

Inspired as we are by Oscar? Sign up to get more tips like these in your inbox, or book a Brandshrink.

WHAT YOU SUSPECTED ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA IS TRUE

"Customer Engagement"
"Building Brand Equity"
"Developing Your Brand Voice" 
"Creating a "Fan" Base"
"Building Community Network"

"If you're not on social media, you don't exist." 

Blah blah blah.

This fear mongering is annoying and not the whole story.

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So let's get a few things straight.

1. You don't have to do anything

You don't have to be on facebook to build a business, so don't get your panties in a bunch when you read that. Yes for some businesses in some industries Facebook is an amazing tool (as can be twitter, instagram, linked in, etc...) but not being on them isn’t the life and death of most businesses. 

Actually, 80% of small businesses on facebook would be in the same exact position, possibly even a better position, if they weren’t on facebook. Where did I get that statistic? From my own two eyes! You know what I’m talking about. How often do you look at a fellow business owner’s facebook page of 87 followers and see that their last post was 2 months ago? My point exactly, that page is doing nothing for them.

2. “Don't half-ass four things. Whole-ass one thing" -Ron Swanson.

The biggest mistake people make in social is trying to be on everything, and then spreading themselves too thin. When you have a pathetic number of posts and followers, even if you are on every platform, it still doesn’t give a great impression. Instead, pick the one that makes the most sense for your company, and go hard.

Where is your audience, and what kind of information are they looking for? If you’re selling organic baby food, facebook is great because you can target ads to new moms, and we know they’re all there because we see all their baby photos. But if you’re selling art, go to Instagram where it was reported that the actor Leonardo DiCaprio bought a $15,000 by Jean-Pierre Roy, an emerging artist, over† the phone, after supposedly seeing it on Instagram. 

And do your best to give value, don’t just make “Me! Me! Me!” posts and expect people to follow you. There is lots written about this, you can start with point 3 here.

3.  Likes and Fans Don’t Mean Diddly-Squat if You Aren’t Getting Sales

If you don’t have a clear path to conversion (i.e. they see the ad and you know exactly how they are going to turn into a paying customer) then it’s not worth a cent. Hashtags don’t get you sales. "Impressions" don’t get you sales, and paying for “impressions” is ad sales fodder useful mostly to major corporations.  Planned marketing efforts executed creatively yield sales through social media, period. Yes you could get lucky with a random sale sometimes, but random luck is not the way to run a business.

4. Facebook: Pay Up or Lose

If you want to use Facebook to build your business you must spend money on ad dollars. This is not the post explaining how to do that but I’ll give you a few tips:

  • Always have a goal for a post/ad.
  • Want more people on your newsletter? Then make it an ad for an irresistible FREE download that people get for subscribing.
  • Launching a product, or want to sell directly to customers? Offer a limited time special or coupon and make the offer a “first month free” to a subscription based business.
  • When choosing the demographic for your ads, target specific people in specific locations. Then write your ads to speak to those people in those locations and use imagery about those people in those locations. 
  • A/B test your ads- easier than it sounds. It just means put up two ads at a time, give it a week, and then change the one that’s losing and try to beat the one that’s winning with a new ad. Rinse and repeat.

Need ideas for ads? Pay attention to the Facebook ads you see and you’ll start to see a pattern. They work. If you’re on Facebook, it’s what you need to do to be successful.  

5. Google+, wah wah

And if you still want to just post for the sake of posting without thinking too hard about creating value or developing creative strategies, do it on Google+. No, we still don’t think people are looking at it, but Google is, and they reward companies that use it. Get your business on Google+ so you can show up on the map- this is big and your competitors likely aren't doing it cause it's a pain in the butt! Reviews on Google+ are huge too, they show up when someone does a google search for you.

Not that we use Google +, just sayin’. (Dec. updatewe did sign up to be on the map, and we're waiting for the snail mail postcard to come in the mail. like I said, kind of a pain.)

Conclusion

The illusion of social media is that you can do it yourself successfully because it's easy to use. But unless you've got a lot of free time to educated yourself on a new industry, you are probably spinning your wheels. If it really is a strong place for your business to be, then hire a professional to at least help you come up with a strategy that has clear goals. Even if you execute it yourself, you'll be infinitely better off then just posting on facebook because you think that you should.

DID DONALD TRUMP MURDER AN ARGENTINEAN PROSTITUTE IN 1987?

Nope.

Well, to be completely accurate, I don’t know if he did or didn’t.
I’m more interested in why you clicked the headline.

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"Clickbait" is a term used to describe inflammatory headlines that pique curiosity to get clicks. Since advertisers care about clicks, not readers, the follow up content is often useless and irrelevant. Gawker and Buzzfeed are the best (or worst?) at getting click to an "article" that ends up being a complete waste of time.

Why do we care?

Because if you can use clickbait to share genuine, useful, entertaining content, you will win the hearts and minds of your readers. Since we trust you only put out genuine, useful content, we recommend you use some clickbait tactics to get people to actually read it.

So here you go, the 5 Easiest Clickbait Tactics to make your articles clickable (we urge you to only use these powers for good!)

1.  Tie your article to something that’s happening NOW

Did you just have a small heart attack watching Trump at the republican debates? Do you own a fitness company? Here's some free copy:

  • “The Trump Workout: Drown your tears in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and then do these 3 exercises.”

WHATEVER YOU DO, don’t make the subject of your emails “July Newsletter” or the title of your articles “May Marketing Article.” This does not count as being "current" people!


2. Start Your Headline with “Why”

“Why” tickles our curiosity, and when we are curious, we click to relieve that itch. Pair it with something random and you really have a winner:

  • Why too few clients is better than too many
  • Why you're still single
  • Why cookies for breakfast might make you skinny
  • Why Tequila is Good for You

3. Be Bold (Ask for Forgiveness, Not Permission)

This is a classic clickbait tactic, but hyperbole and exaggeration do not mean the content has to suck. As long as the article has value other than just the click - it will attract your target market AND you will actually deliver relevant, valuable information to them. This is clearly one of our favorite moves, like in some of these past articles:


4. Turn Any Headline into a Question

“Sugar is poisonous to your health” is less engaging than “Is sugar poisonous to your health?”

When posed as a question, people on both sides of the conversation are curious to see what you’re going to say. State the fact, and you already told me the punchline.

Here's another:
"Trump seems to hate women” does not get as much interest as “Does Trump hate women?”

Basically, do you want to be talked at or asked a question?

Headlines phrased as questions have the potential to entice literally everyone, those who hate, love or are just curious about the subject. You can hear the reactions: "What a dog, I bet he does hate women", or "No way he hates women, he's married at least a few of them!". Regardless of your position, the question makes space for many points of view and opinions.

*(By the way #sorrynotsorry for the Trump bashing. If you find it offensive this is probably not the company for you!)


5. Talk Directly to Them: "You" and "Your"

In the end it’s not about you, it’s about the reader. And using the word "you" subconsciously hammers that home. Talk to your customer, not at them.

  • How Would You Spend an Extra $5,000?
  • The Best Kept Secret Investment Tip You Won’t Believe
  • Your Evening Routine That is Draining All Your Energy

So there they are, the five easiest click bait tricks. If Donald Trump can pull off this kind of lead in the republican presidential campaign using these techniques, imagine what you can do with them!

Note: Sometimes we even help clients write these clickbait headlines... in our BRANDUPS!

IS YOUR WEBSITE A DINOSAUR?

Crazy technological advancements have created a small business landscape of unprecedented proportions. You can see the ripple effect in how we view websites, what we expect, and what we won’t stand for anymore. Worstofall has broken down what separates successful websites of the future from the dinosaurs of yesterday and today.

So the question is... Is your website leading the revolution, or are you already a dinosaur?

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WEBSITES OF THE FUTURE...

1. Will be childishly simple in their message and purpose

We can now hop back-and-forth between articles, screens, and ideas multiple times per minute. Customers lose interest in something if they aren’t sold in a split second (or at least sold on the idea of reading more). Getting your point across stat-quick will only be more important as the online landscape gets better at it—and as the dinosaur sites get crushed.

Proof: Every successful company

2. Will sell only one thing

Everyone should understand immediately what you sell so they can determine if it is right for them. With a bajillion new websites popping up each day, users are getting more and more used to finding exactly what they are looking for on websites that make it easy to understand, order, or contact. Businesses that offer hyper-specific products and services will beat their generalist competitors. 

Proof: There exists a store called The Heatonist in the high-rent section of Williamsburg, down the street from the Wythe Hotel, that only sells hot sauce... seriously.

3. Will have very limited “Options”

Sheena Lyengar’s great TedX talk outlines “choice overload.” She explains a study where she set up a tasting table of jam in front of a supermarket. On certain days she had 24 different jams to choose from, and other days only six. People who saw fewer options were six times more likely to buy a jar.

There are countless examples of this phenomenon (Sheena offers a few more; the talk is worth a watch!), but we know it feels like the wrong choice. You’re worried that offering fewer options equals missing out on sales. Stop thinking like that. When customers are six times more likely to buy from you, your sales will go way up, not down.

Proof: Casper- Maybe you’ve seen the subway ads? They sell only one mattress in every bed size. Business Insider’s article, “I just bought a bed from the ‘Warby Parker of mattresses’ and I will never buy one in stores again,” says it all: This trend is here to stay.

4. Will speak in tweets, captions and headlines only

If you’re over 40, you may still have the patience to read five-paragraph “About” pages and laundry lists of services, but I doubt it. As businesses get better and better at communicating their value in a sentence, no one will tolerate lengthy prose. Stop reading. You get it, and I’ve already said too much.

Proof: Twitter and your shrinking attention span

Badass website checklist

Want to lead the movement with a "website of the future," now? First step is to simplify your message.

WANT SOME MORE ACTIONABLE TIPS?

We'd love to share our 5 Steps you can take to Badassify Your Website in our

'BADASS WEBSITE THAT SELLS' CHECKLIST!

THE NEWEST GENERATION TO COMPLAIN ABOUT

Just when you were starting to figure out the Millennials, here come the Gen Zers. These kids, born from the mid-1990s through the late 2000s, are poised to become the largest consumer AND entrepreneur generation yet, and they are going to seem like aliens.

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Generation Z has never known the world without computers and the Internet. If you think Millennials know more about technology than you, brace yourself. These Gen Z kids are native; it’s in their blood. Connecting with them is going to be quite the challenge.

For Gen Zers, opening up a small business is a no-brainer so look out!

By 2020, a projected 50 percent of Americans will be self-employed, and you can bet a lot of them will be this younger generation, who will wonder why they would ever get a job when they can sell stuff from home by playing around on social media all day.

You’re probably getting that sinking feeling... Yet another group you have to figure out so you can keep your business afloat, right?

Wrong! 

The only real difference in working with Generation Z is that there will be infinitely more young, hungry competition down the road. This demographic grew up building websites and marketing themselves before they even understood the concept of marketing.

It’s not only that they know how to use editing programs like Garageband (to edit music), Adobe Creative Suite (graphic design and photography), and iMovie, it’s that learning these new programs is second nature and effortless. They are unafraid to grow and change. So how do you prepare yourself for this ever-increasing competition?

No matter how quickly and easily these kids might be able to create a website and design a logo, they are not inherently able to grow a strong business by building a brand and reputation. 

You need to have your own niche. This is true not just for new and prospective clients, but also for your existing customer base. When you grow your business based on a realm of expertise, it will be increasingly difficult for anyone to compete with you. You will actually scare off future competitors because you have such a hold on your corner of the world.


We call that having a badass brand!

The Gen Zers will inevitably build things they’ve already seen, playing the “me-too” game that lures in so many entrepreneurs. It will take a while for them to realize they have to create their own niche, so that gives you just a little extra time to make it happen. 

But make no mistake: They will figure it out! And if you don’t build your foundation now…well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Need help with that? 

ARE YOUR "SOLUTIONS" LOSING YOU CLIENTS?

Many businesses are walking around trying to solve people’s problems. It’s a commendable mission,  it's even the point of business- to create value for others by solving their problems.

But we’re often missing one crucial detail: we are solving a problem the clients don’t know they have. And if your customer doesn’t know they have the problem you are solving, they will not buy your solution.

So what do we do?

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Sell people on what they want, then give them what they need.

This mantra can change the way you play the sales game.

As the expert in your field, you have so much information that your customer needs to know. But your knowledge goes deep, much deeper than our initial understanding of what you do. If you include all the nitty-gritty details, and try to explain why we need something we don’t understand, you will have a hard time making the sale.

This doesn’t mean lying. Chances are, you already are selling what the customer wants, bundled somewhere in your list of services. But the purchase is based on the initial pain point, and the company that convincingly promises to solve that pain point is the one the customer will hire. And the client will be willing to pay a premium because solving the problem is their most important goal.


Example:

Brett Lavender is an exceptional public speaking coach, but he teaches communication skills that go way beyond public speaking and help his clients excel in all aspects of life. After all, when you are a great communicator, you instantly benefit in relationships with friends, family, and even strangers. 

Being a great communicator is so valuable that Brett wanted to focus on selling that skill set. But how many people actually think their biggest challenge is that they aren’t very good at communicating with their spouse, their colleagues, or their boss? And how many would be willing to pay to improve their skills? Not a whole lot.

On the other hand, tons of people have a desire to improve their public speaking skills, and they’re willing to spend a lot because they know it will pay off.

When you work with Brett on public speaking, you understand and then receive the benefit of becoming a great communicator. But Brett is going to have a much easier time selling the skill of public speaking, because that’s what people want. Once you work with Brett, you understand the value of improving your interpersonal communication skills, and no doubt will want to work on those, too. 

But Brett’s unique approach to public speaking is such a huge differentiator that it sets him apart from the competition and makes it much easier for him to sell his services.
 

Bottom line:

What do your clients need?

What do they know they need?

Which one are you selling them? 

Sell them what they want,

then give them what they need and you'll always come out on top.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD LOGO?

If you think your logo is the most important part of your brand, you're not alone. Most people focus on creating a cool logo and miss what’s actually needed to turn it into a badass logo that people recognize and love.
 

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Most people focus on creating a cool logo and miss what’s actually needed to turn it into a badass logo that people recognize and love. In the small business space, it has everything to do with how you communicate what you have to offer in a clear and meaningful way.
 
It has almost nothing to do with your logo!!
 
The problem is we small business owners are looking up at huge companies for ideas of what we need to succeed.
 
But we are not them, and they are not us. And we aren't even headed in the direction to be them! Because most of those example brands you are looking at are products.
 
But you are a service.
 
And even for the huge badass brands of companies that sell products- even their logos aren't the reason they are successful. It's the brand that made the logo what it is. For example:

NIKE: THE GODDESS OF VICTORY

Case in point: Nike. When we think of Nike, we think of the swoosh. So it’s no surprise that most people equate the power of a brand with the power of the logo.

I mean, what a brilliant logo, right?

WRONG!

Sure, there’s a story behind the shape of the logo, but people don’t buy Nike because of the swoosh.

The logo is brilliant only because of the behemoth brand that backs it up. Apparently a student designed the swoosh for $35 in 1971—what a steal! But it wasn’t really a steal. Nike made that logo brilliant by positioning the company in the market, and then pumping cash into smart advertising campaigns over decades.

The swoosh might as well be some weirdo abstract creature that has nothing to do with what it’s selling, like the mermaid on the Starbucks logo. It’s iconic because the brand made it iconic.

The logo is only one small part of the brand. Yes, a bad logo can hurt your business. And a brilliant logo that makes people stop and think, “Hey, that’s cool,” will have customers think about you for an extra millisecond.

But a logo does not a brand make. On the other hand, a great brand can make a plain logo seem absolutely brilliant.

Too harsh?

Why are we being so harsh on logos? After all, we love designing badass logos, and it’s fun to come up with a smart logo that encapsulates the brand’s essence into a single mark that, over time, the consumers will recognize sans the company name. That’s pretty cool, and that’s what all businesses want.

We’re being harsh because we don’t want you to spin your wheels on getting the perfect logo in lieu of building the brand that’s actually going to make that logo sing. Yes it's important that the logo is in line with your brand's positioning (a nice luxury font logo for a premium priced brand makes sense while a childish font would not) but once it's in the right vicinity, we find no "perfect" logo is going to make your company successful.

10:1 RULE

So what makes a good logo? The brand behind it. Go ahead: Put effort into a logo you can be proud of. But don’t do it if you’re not going to put ten times the effort into a brand that’s going to make it work for you. Stop spending time on your logo, and start spending time on your brand: your logo will thank you.

Most people think if they have a badass logo, they also have a badass brand! And while a cool logo can take you far, it is most certainly not a brand, and understanding the difference can open your eyes to new opportunities for growing your business.

Below are 4 key differences that can help you determine if you have a brand or not, and when you need one.  

OK, BUT WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LOGO AND A BRAND?

What’s a logo? A mark that represents your company.

What’s a brand? The reason your logo has any meaning at all. It’s the value, feeling, and personality of your company that your logo will come to represent if you market the brand consistently over time.

A logo without a brand is just another mark.

1. A LOGO IS A MARK, A BRAND IS YOUR STORY

A logo is the mark that identifies your company whenever it’s presented.  It’s the mark that goes on top of your website, your business cards, and your products and packaging. A logo is one very important part of your brand.

A brand is how consumers perceive you. It's the sum of your company’s touch points and includes everything your customers come into contact with. It's the main message and idea that influences everything you say and do, how and where you market it, and of course, all the visual elements of your business (website, business cards, marketing materials...)

An important point most people miss is that a brand is not about what you are selling, but why people care about what you’re selling. It’s about the emotional need you are fulfilling. 

Think about your brand as a story. Who are you, and why should people care?

 

2.  A LOGO WILL HELP YOU START A BUSINESS, A BRAND WILL HELP YOU GROW A BUSINESS

You can start and build a business with a logo, and as a solopreneur just by operating you are your default brand because you are your business, and people can’t help being themselves pretty consistently. If you’re a reliable, hardworking person with a great product, you’ll probably do alright! Although if you rely on your personal awesomeness to develop your business, it will mean that you need to spend quite a bit of time with each lead for them to fully understand why you’re great.

When you start hiring employees and outside vendors who will also be selling your services (social media marketers, for example), a brand is crucial to making sure that everyone is selling the same thing, with the same message. Even if it continues to just be you, if you are utilizing online marketing techniques (social media, blogging, webinars, newsletters, etc…) a brand will make sure that all the content you put out there is consistently telling the right story, reinforcing the main overall message of your business. That consistency is what develops relationships with people overtime, be they current or potential clients. The longer you reinforce your message, the more awareness you bring to your business and that awareness multiplies overtime and translates into sales.

 

3. A LOGO INFLUENCES YOUR VISUALS, A BRAND AFFECTS AESTHETICS, AND MORE

Since the logo is the sum of the brand's visuals, we usually start by developing the perfect logo mark and then build the entire visual brand around it. But that visual brand does not directly reference company culture or messaging. Again, when you have a brand message, it influences every decision you make as a company (For example your pitch; your homepage copy; how and where you market. A few less obvious ones might be; how you structure your work days; where you have a company holiday party or host promotional events; what kinds of events you sponsor; what charities you support; the kinds of gifts you give...)

 

4.  A LOGO IS MORE AFFORDABLE THAN A BRAND

Unless you have an investment with which you are starting your business, developing a brand before you’ve actually set up shop is usually not possible given your limited resources. When we help growing businesses create a brand, we have a lot of information on which to base that brand message; past experiences can shed light on the actual needs of the consumer (as opposed to the needs you think they have.) 

That said, having a brand is powerful.  If you have a clear and strong message, and brand elements that strengthen that message (i.e. a badass website, super professional business cards, eye catching mailers…) selling is much easier.  Many industries sell their good based almost completely on their brand. Clothing and jewelry, for example, are a dime a dozen, are non-essentials, and consumers in these verticals buy  based on the brand equity more so then in service-based businesses. The whole buying experience needs to make consumers feel great because they don't need to buy this item. And that experience is shaped by the brand. 

But out of the gate, when you are starting a business, there are so many other things that need your time and money. So when boot strapping the business, it’s usually not feasible or the best use of your limited resources.  After all, a great brand without a great business has nothing to sell. Here's an article about how much branding costs, and you're just starting out, check out our Brandshrink or  Brandup, an affordable way to get everything you need, including a responsive website if you're not ready for the full shabang.

In the end you will need both, but when you are a small business, doing a full branding project is often not affordable.  If you use a logo designer that knows about branding, elements of your overall brand message will still be discussed and explored to achieve the right logo anyway. A brand will always be more powerful, but companies don’t usually have the resources to develop one when first starting out.  When you’re ready though, a brand is necessary and will help take you where you want to go!

ARE YOU BORING?

Boring is probably the worst insult you can get. I think most people would rather be mean or rude than boring. Boring means nobody cares to think of you because there's not much to think.

So why do so many businesses settle for being boring? 

Here are three common things businesses do that make them boring and bland, and what to do instead if you want to titillate your audience

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1. Use superlatives

Unless a reputable source said it’s so (and you can cite them), saying you are The Best at anything is pretty lame. How do we know you’re the best-- because you said so? Of course you’re going to say that, you’ve got a pretty obvious agenda.

INSTEAD, TRY THIS:
Give some specifics. Whether it’s Geiko saying they will save you 10% or more on car insurance (instead of saying they are “the cheapest”), or Dominos saying they will deliver your pizza in 30 minutes or less or it’s free (instead of saying they have fast delivery), Specifics are more believable and will go much farther than some generic claim with nothing to back it up or compare it to.

You can also say something entirely different and badass- but that’s a different article.

 

2. Write too many words

Unless we are sitting down to read a book we actually want to read, we don’t want to read. So if you can’t sum up your point in a few sentences or less, don’t bother writing it.

And break up your points with paragraphs.

And use headlines.

Because they are easier to read, and lots of words are boring.

 

3. Talk about yourself

It’s hard not to talk about ourselves, after all we are the inspiration and the reason for our business' existence. Maybe compare it to being ones child, an extension of ourselves. We are the center of our own universes, and it’s a habit that’s hard to shake.

So it’s no wonder that everyone has their bio, their story, and their history all over their website. It’s the story we know, and it feels important.

But you know what is interesting and important to me, the customer? What you’re going to do for me. How looking at your website, or learning about your company, is going to benefit me.

Us customers are not just self-centered a-holes, and it's not as cold and sad as it sounds. It’s actually quite wonderful! It’s the reason businesses exist: to create and give value to others. It’s a noble cause that comes with a perk of being able to support yourself monetarily.

So do us a solid and talk more about the value you created for us, and how it’s going to help us, and stop telling us about your hobbies and pets and how long you’ve been in business (I don’t want the oldest company, I want the most effective company for solving my problem.)

Your customers, and your bank account, will thank you handsomely.