Brand Siren

Why You’re Burned Out on Your Business

How to fix business burn out

It’s an unfortunate part of running a business — sooner or later you’re going to face business burn out. There are a lot of causes of burn out, but in working with hundreds of clients, there are two that I’ve seen come up most often: 1) Your enthusiasm for what you do is no longer enough to sustain you; and 2) You’ve had enough experiences where you worked really hard at something only to get no result to be feeling discouraged.

When our business is shiny and new, it’s often pretty easy to keep working at it–even when we’re not getting results. We knew we were getting into something big and hard before we decided to launch, that that level of commitment is often enough to keep us motivated for the long haul. Plus, a new business still has that shiny new energy which most people find fun and fulfilling.

But after we’ve been in the game for awhile–whether that means running your own business, or working for someone else–all those times we didn’t get results start to add up and they erode our confidence. Missing the mark is a normal part of life. There are going to be times when we work hard, do our best, have the experience to get great results, and still the project is a flop.… Keep reading

Getting Found vs Being Seen: How SEO Doesn’t Matter Without Your Tribe

Keep more site visitors

If you have a website, you know what SEO stands for and chances are you even know a thing or two about precisely how to optimize your site for search engines, even if you outsource all the work.

But getting found is only the beginning. Because there are a ton of websites people could explore when they Google something, people are quick to leave your site if it doesn’t feel right.

You probably already know that you have mere milliseconds to capture a visitor’s attention or else they’re “bouncing” away from your site. And you probably also know that 94% of the time people close your site so quickly, it’s a design issue (Northumbria University).

So, it’s not enough to rank highly in the search engines. You’ve got to create chemistry once people are on your site.

How do you do create the kind of chemistry that keeps visitors around so they can join your Tribe?

  1. With great overall design.
    Choose the colors that your audience loves (that reflect your brand), shapes that are a good fit for your message, navigation that suits your Brand Siren, photos that connect with your people, and typography that works well for your visitors.
Keep reading

What They Don’t Know Can Hurt You

When I was in college, I had a heck of a time choosing a major. So, to figure out what was the right fit, I took a lot of classes–so many, in fact, that I had enough lower division credits (the overview classes) for a Bachelors, if only they didn’t require those pesky upper division credits (the in-depth classes).

I find the basics of just about everything interesting, but in order to want to learn all the details, it has to be a subject I really love. (Like design and writing.)

This means I know a little about a lot of things, and it comes in pretty handy. It means I know, for instance, that polar bears are usually left handed and I can still explain exactly what’s happening during El Nino in California.

When it comes to writing your newsletter–or any content, really–you can’t know exactly what your people know. You can’t know if they’ll get that reference you made to Firefly or whether they’ll have ever heard of Matt Nathanson.

Not knowing can be frustrating. But it’s also an opportunity. The trick is to drop in just enough background to keep all your readers on the same page, without going into such detail that the readers who are familiar think your writing is too basic.… Keep reading

A Formula for Coming out of Hiding

Business owner brand archetype for visibility

In the habit of hiding, I talked about how necessary it is to surrender to times of hiding out. Sometimes, hiding is a fundamental part of moving on to the next stage; sometimes you need to rest, be fallow, absorb, and go (relatively) unnoticed. For myself, I’m an expert hider. I can go months without visiting Twitter, blogging here, or logging into Facebook. Basically, the only inbox I can’t avoid for quite as long is my email inbox. And, even that, as close friends know… I have been known to neglect.

Sometimes, we just plain don’t feel like participating, and though the social media gurus of the world will probably disagree with me… I think that’s absolutely fine. I think we’re all entitled to be private when we want to be, whether that’s with certain sections of our lives or during certain times. It’s okay to step back and not participate.

But, sometimes we really want to participate. We’re eager for connection. We want to belong and jump in and conversate… But we don’t know what to say. We think we have to be _______ [witty or powerful or friendly or cranky or any one of dozens of other characteristics various social media folks proclaim are the core of connection], and we’re just plain not sure how.… Keep reading

Follow the Yellow Brick Road: How to lead your tribe when you’re a wanderer

Wandering as a small business marketing technique

(We’re currently profiling each of the five Brand Sirens, one by one. See the full series of Brand Siren Case Studies here. If you don’t know who your Brand Siren is, take the quiz to find out.)

When it comes to Judy’s work with clients, it’s always about the journey, not the destination. (In this way, she’s Edith’s exact opposite.) This means that a Judy’s relationship with her clients is deeply rewarding, and often very personal–she knows even the minute details of what her clients are struggling with.

Just because the journey is rewarding, though, doesn’t mean it’s easy for a Judy. Would-be clients can drag their feet getting started with a Judy because they don’t see the final outcome and are reluctant to commit until they do. This often leads to endless emails and pre-work conversations–if the Judy offers free consultations, she can expect people to ask for more than one before signing on the dotted line.

Also, Judys often add new services and skill-sets as they explore, which means even Judy herself isn’t always entirely sure what she does for her clients (or, she may not be able to communicate it clearly).

All of this tends to leave Judy struggling to charge the rates she deserves because she can feel like her skills aren’t up to par because she has less experience than the other types (because she’s always adding new offerings on the fly).… Keep reading

Snap Your Fingers, Edith: How a Crazy Bus Driver Can Teach You All About Building an Audience Before You Have a Niche

If your business were a bus (photo of abandoned busses)

In the imaginary world where your business is a bus, each of the five Brand Sirens types has a different approach to bus-driver-dom. For instance, Audreys tend to have trouble leaving the station (what if someone’s just running late and really needs this bus?) and Katharines tend to leave before the assigned time (what if we miss half the fun out there because we’re lollygaging?).

(Wondering who the heck are Edith, Katharine, and Audrey? They’re three of the five Brand Sirens. Basically, they’re role models for an easier approach to stepping into the spotlight with your business. If you’d like to find out who your role model is, you can take the free quiz.)

Ediths, though, start with the bus station.

See, an Edith tends to rename the bus. She rewrites the routes. And she has a tendency to suddenly pull out of the station while someone’s still getting on (or off) the bus.

In other words, she can be a danger to herself and others! (Hold on, though–since you’re not actually driving a bus, all of this is actually a good thing, handled safely.)

See, Edith has to generate controversy. Even if it’s just a small controversy.… Keep reading

The Five Brand Sirens

Brand Archetypes for Small Businesses

Your Brand Siren is all about which classic Hollywood film star (or creative) best embodies your most client-attractive way of being.

After all, each of these five women built an audience of adoring fans by behaving in a specific (and different) way.

What’s great about this approach is that it means by following your role model’s style, you can easily connect with more great clients (instead of connecting with clients you’re not a good fit for).

Each of the styles is described below. To find out which best suits you, take the quiz.

You can also read my other blog posts about the Brand Sirens.

Edith Head

Edith Head was a master at creating transformations. Working with you is magical and your clients often remark (or you’d like them to remark) about how working with you seems effortless, transformational, and mysterious.

When it comes to your website, it’s crucial that you construct an entire, spellbinding experience for visitors. Not for you is the Seeker style of asking lots of questions, or the Ingenue’s style of gentle storytelling. Rather, you wave your magic wand, et voila! your web visitor feels the power of your abilities.

It can be tricky to really embrace who you are because there are so many guides steering you astray.… Keep reading