I’m Published on Huffington Post!

published in Huffington Post

I’m so excited because I was published on Huffington Post this week. Last week I penned a blog on my website about fear and its relationship to failure. I received great feedback on it and decided to submit it to Huffington Post, after a little PG-13 tweaking, for the business section. It only took a few hours and I got an email from Arianna Huffington’s email address that it was accepted. An assistant probably wrote it but I choose to believe otherwise.

Yay! 

I will be doing some writing for other online publications as well but it was awesome to kick it off for a source that I’m an avid reader of.

For some strange reason, the photo is not letting me great when I try to share from social media. That’s why I decided to write a blog about it.  Read my Huffington Post blog HERE!

I appreciate all of your support!

 

5 Networking Tips For Introverts

How to Kill a Room With Confidence

networking for introverts

I enjoy social media as much as the next person but I must occasionally “adult” and  venture out into the real world and actually meet people. I realize it’s a foreign concept and against new societal norms but it’s valuable to make real connections with our peers, so network we must.

This post is for my introverts. An introvert is defined as a person whose energy is depleted after interacting in a group or crowd. An extrovert walks away from parties and social gatherings feeling rebooted and re-energized. The term introvert has been mistaken for “shy” but that’s not what it means. Introverts are  also seen as having bad social skills but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We just differ in the way we communicate.

In a previous job, the company I worked for lauded extroverts. They put them on a pedestal. The company felt as though extroverts were better suited for the job and more in alignment with the values of the company. As an introvert, I felt the stigma of being branded with an “I” on my forehead. I still believe they had separate feasts for the extroverts that introverts weren’t invited to.

People who know me in real life refuse to believe that I’m an introvert. I can be the life of the party and I can get pretty loud in the right setting. A former coworker even told me that I must’ve “failed the Myers-Brigg test” when I scored as an INFP. My social media channels also don’t exhibit any signs of introversion, however, as I get older I become slightly more of an ambivert. An ambivert is someone who can switch between the two worlds .

I am a self-diagnosed social media junkie. The best part about social media is that I can do it from home in the comfort of my bed in pj’s, unlike peer-to-peer networking. Both are necessary to succeed either in the corporate world or as entrepreneurs.

I’ve learned a few things in the last 8 years of working in corporate America and as an entrepreneur that have helped me work a room with more confidence.

Here are 5 tips to network like a boss while introverting (I made that up btw).

  1. Purpose of Attending – Before you attend a networking event or meeting you should have a purpose in mind. Is your goal to meet specific people? Is the group or meeting in alignment with your current values and mission? You should ask yourself these questions as not to waste your time or anyone else’s. That may sound harsh but your time may be better served elsewhere if it doesn’t line up. It may be tempting to RSVP to every event that comes calling but I would advise against it. Introverts should save energy for the functions we most want to attend.
  1. Do Your Research – I always research organizations and events beforehand. What is the sole function of the organization? Is it a referral network or non-profit event? Some organizations even list the members right on their website. At the very least, you will find board members and those in leadership positions. It would be beneficial to know who they are and their roles. You should also take note of the group members’ occupations and hobbies, if listed, as a way to engage in (non-awkward) conversation. If you know a member or an attendee, have them make introductions. Most introverts struggle with this not because they are shy or can’t communicate but because they are out of their element.
  1. Be Prepared – I’m a pretty prepared person by nature but I have been off my game before. It happens to the best of us. Just as recently as yesterday I attended a meeting for the 1st time and didn’t take enough business cards. There were over 50 people in attendance and maybe only half received business cards. Fail! Out of those 25 people, surely 2 could have used my services. I have since put a fresh stack of business cards in my car. Being prepared will relieve some anxiety and boost your confidence in any setting.

“Luck is when opportunity meets preparation”    –Unknown           

  1. Know Your Elevator Pitch – This falls under the umbrella of #3 but it’s important enough to stand on its own. The elevator pitch can be nerve-wracking for anyone but especially for an introvert. If you are attending an event for the first time, you can count on people asking who you are and what you do. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. The best way to get around this is to practice, practice, practice. Keep it short and sweet. Write down the 2-3 key points you want the attendees to remember. Maintain good eye contact and posture. Kill it.

5. Force Yourself To Network – I made a promise to myself when I did my SMART goals this year that I would attend at least 2 networking events each month as a part of my professional development. As an introvert, it’s a great way to get out of my comfort zone and hold myself accountable. I will search for 2 meaningful or beneficial events or meetings each month and step away from the computer. Now that I work from home it’s more important than ever to meet new people and engage in a real way.

I hope these pointers resonated with those of you who are introverts. I know networking can be intimidating or overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be that way. My goal for this year is to continue to push myself to new levels by making connections with people who are in similar realms as I am. The people you meet and things you learn are invaluable for personal and professional development.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you enjoy networking events or stay away?

 

Why No One Gives A Damn If You Fail

Courage

There’s something about doing new things and breaking out of a rut that opens you up to scrutiny and threatens to derail your confidence. So many people are deathly afraid of one word: failure. It’s almost paralyzing to even think about. Who wants to put themselves out there only to fail?

But I have a couple of questions. Who promised you that every idea or outcome would be a slam dunk? Where is it written that you get to knock it out of the park every single time? If you find that in a contract, forward it to me so I can collect on my funds.

One thing you can believe is that if you never try, you damn sure will fail. And you can take that to the bank.

Here are some examples that I hear the most often centered around failure:

  • I want to move to another city but I’m afraid that I’ll fail and have to move back home.
  • I’m afraid to start this business because people will think I’m a loser if it doesn’t succeed.
  • I don’t want to go back to school because I don’t know if I have what it takes.

My response to you…So what?

This life isn’t a dress rehearsal folks. It’s the “Real Deal Holyfield”. You don’t get to leave this earth and come back and do it all over again the way you had hoped.

Truth moment: My former business consisted of producing beautiful journals and stationery which is something I’ve always been completely obsessed with. People loved them and I even got them into a local store in Tempe. SCORE, right? Wrong! After spending thousands on the production of them… they tanked. I still to this day have some of them in sitting boxes in my garage. Journal, anyone?

I must’ve been a few years ahead of the curve because now they are all the rage and everyone is selling journals. Seriously? Que sera, sera. I tell this story because it took me years to get back on the proverbial bus of starting another business.

My  confidence and bank account went down the toilet and into the sewer system. I had to find them both (it was funky), make a plan and now I’m back at it. But I count that failure as a win.

Why would I count failure as a win? Because now I know that starting up lean and focusing on providing services instead of making products is best for me at the moment. I already have a list of digital products in mind that I will sell after I’ve tested the market but I’ve been 10x smarter about the way I spend money this time around.

There's always a lesson if you pay attention. Click To Tweet

My point is that failure is inevitable when you are trying at anything. If you’re not trying something that makes you nervous and a little scared, you’re not really living. But just like anything else, those feelings of anxiousness and doubt don’t last always. Once you get in there and start making things happen, they’ll slowly begin to subside.

If it makes you feel any better, no one is really thinking about you anyway. I’m sorry you had to hear it from me but we’re too caught up in our own “stuff” to keep up with your wins vs. losses. We’re all selfish that way and that works for me.

Start today by making small steps toward your goal and take action. In 2016, let’s stop focusing on failure and use that energy to channel it into being a success.

What are you doing this year that’s making you a little nervous? It could be a class, activity or side hustle. Comment below.

**Update: This post was featured on Huffington Post. Check it out here.

Why Your Business Needs A Content Writer

Hire a content writer

A business owner wears many hats. It can be frustrating to keep all the balls in the air and some tasks inevitably will fall by the wayside. The first task to take a backseat in a thriving business is usually content creation. That’s why it’s imperative to hire a content writer for your business.

You may be wondering what a content writer does.

A content writer handles content creation including blogs, newsletters, social media and press releases. If your staff doesn’t have a dedicated writer or marketer, creating content can get old fast.

It’s not always top of mind and it can be tedious to maintain.

When having to choose between landing a game-changing sale or acquisition and writing a 500-word blog post, the sale will win out every single time…as it should.

And while it’s easy to throw it all on the backburner, it may be having a negative effect on your business. According to Sprout Content, companies who blog see 60% more business than those who don’t.

Your company blog and social media accounts are where customers go to stay up-to-date on your business. There they can find the latest promotions, product/service offerings, locations and more.

The most loyal fans will share your blog posts and social media updates. The sharing of content will bring in more interest thus resulting in higher conversions.

The top 5 reasons why blogging is vital for business are:

1)    Blogging helps SEO which drives traffic to site via Google search engines.

2)    A blog serves as a home base to distribute social media content.

3)    Blogs tell your story in your tone and voice.

4)    Writing blogs can lead to higher conversions.

5)    Blogging can establish you as an expert in your field.

Click here for a fantastic graphic and breakdown on Inbound Marketing from Hubspot.

“Strangers>Visitors>Leads>Customers>Promoters”     

via Hubspot

Now that we’ve established the importance of a blog, let’s discuss the most common roadblocks for business owners when it comes to content creation.

“I Don’t Have Time”

There are a multitude of things you could be dedicating your time to rather than writing blogs and Facebook updates. You have sales calls, budget meetings, and networking events to attend.

With so much on your plate, hiring a content writer can free up time to work on your business rather than in… Click To Tweet

 

Once you add family obligations, hobbies and life, you can see how sitting down to write blogs or updating social media can be a challenge.

Although blogging and social media can lead to higher conversions, it’s not always immediate. It can take time, consistency and testing to see the needle move.

Leave the social media management and blog writing to those whose sole job it is to source topics and create valuable content.

“Who has time for that”? I’m glad you asked…I do.

“It’s Not My Thing”

 Maybe you have the time on your hands but not the inclination. Writing may not come as easy for you as other aspects of your business. We’re all wired differently. That’s OK and nothing to be ashamed of.

It can take years to learn proper grammar, syntax and the natural flow of writing. The outsourcing of content creation to a Journalism school graduate (ahem: me) or an English major can take years off your life by relieving fear and anxiety.

If sitting down to write is like brain surgery for you, hiring a writer to compose your content is the way to go.

The image you portray to the world on your website and social media should be one of professionalism and expertise.

“Content Writing Is No Fun”

Let’s assume you have the time and the inclination but creating fresh content doesn’t give you wings. It just isn’t any fun for you.

If you don’t enjoy it, odds are that you won’t do it. This will definitely show through in your content writing.

Of course, we all do things we don’t enjoy daily when we understand what the rewards are. You may not want to go to the gym in 30° weather but you do it because you understand the payoff. The results won’t be immediate. The abs won’t magically appear after one round of cardio.  You will have to continue to drudge through to see a change.

The same thing applies to content writing. Once you start to blog and update social media accounts consistently, you’ll start to see increased engagement and enthusiasm for your brand.

If you’re not interested in taking this on, hiring a content manager or writer is your best bet.

I presented 5 reasons why your brand needs fresh content and the challenges that business owners face that keep them from doing so. Time is by far the most valuable asset we all have. It’s also the only asset we don’t get back.

If you would like to take back your time email me for information on the content creation and management packages I offer. My editorial calendar is filling up fast so call to schedule 602-761-0885.

 

How Our Favorite Brands Gained A Cult-Like Following (Part 2)

Branding Breakdown Series (Part 2: STARBUCKS)

Starbucks Honk Kong

Starbucks Honk Kong

I’m back for Part 2 of my #brandingbreakdown series. In Part 1, I discussed Chick Fil A and the reasons I believe they’ve been able to grow a tribe of loyal fans.

I received a lot of positive responses from that post and I hope it helped small business owners and entrepreneurs think of ways they can incorporate similar strategies into their own business/brand. This series stems from my post called “Are You Striking The Right Tone For Your Brand?” where I featured a downloadable PDF to walk you through an exercise to develop your brand’s tone and voice.

This week I’m back for Part 2 of my #brandingbreakdown series to talk about another company that has a following like no other. Yes, you guessed it (and it’s in the title).

It’s Starbucks!

The name alone makes me want to drift off into a euphoric coffee-induced state. Too much? I don’t mean to wax poetic but a good cup of Starbucks allows me to function on 75% mode with little to no sleep, so let’s get into it.

Here are the reasons I believe Starbucks has grown into the 800 lb. gorilla with the cult-like following we see today.

1).     Customer Service – Yes, customer service comes in at #1 again this week but it is so important. It’s one of the main reasons why Starbucks continues to go gangbusters. I’ve always had the most pleasurable experiences at the busy coffee shops. I’m not sure if it’s the good karma that place exudes or the coffee beans that everyone is all hyped up on but it’s always a great experience.

Customer service is key to people buying your product no matter what realm the business operates in. No, let me rephrase that…

Customer service is vital to customers championing your brand. There’s a big difference. Click To Tweet 

Starbucks has put their stamp on their service with one simple question: asking your name. This is one element that makes them stand out. Sure the name is misspelled or flat out wrong 99.97% of the time but so what…it’s funny and social media share-worthy. It also makes the service seem more personal assuming they happen to remember it. Many restaurants ask your name but, for some reason, it stands out when Starbucks does it.

If you follow Starbucks on Facebook, you will notice how interactive they are by responding to nearly every question or request. They are dedicated to not leaving their customers hanging. Many small businesses should take note of this.

And although the company is no stranger to controversy like the infamous “Red Cup Gate 2015”, they take it in stride with class.

Focusing on user experience or customer service as a principle will never steer you wrong. Add an amazing product and you become unstoppable.

2). The Cool Factor – Everything from the music they play (and sell) to their Instagram feed is beautifully curated, youthful and hip. They are in touch with their customers and on the pulse of what’s happening and it shows. People of all ages and demographics stand behind the Starbucks brand.

The coffee shops are a playground for movers and shakers. Freelancers and creative types go there to work and vibe off of the energy and meet like-minded types. I’ve heard it many times, “deals have been made at Starbucks”.

If I may be blunt for a moment, as a freelancer who now works at Starbucks often, what I love most is that they don’t interrupt the flow of the patrons. The coffee shop is a peaceful haven to work even with the constant dribble of noise. I appreciate that.

3) They are everywhere – Unlike Chick Fil A who chooses to be the turtle, Seattle based Starbucks is most certainly the hare.

The company was founded in 1971 and now operates 23,391 locations worldwide. Yes, let that number sink in for a moment.

You will find Starbucks in airports, Target stores, on college campuses and several at Disneyland. There are no shortage of locations to grab a cup of morning Joe or Chai tea. While it works wonderfully for them, it’s not a strategy that every company can pull off.

The company has managed to make coffee drinking cool, making it somewhat of a status brand. It’s not your grandpa’s coffee though it might be his favorite place to buy it. You may hear “I have to get my Starbucks” since the brand has become synonymous with the beverage and the logo is identifiable to nearly everyone.

4) Employee Investment – I can’t talk about Starbucks without speaking of their contributions to their employees. I believe it’s important that a company as big as Starbucks give back to those who give so much of their time + energy to move the brand along.

One of the biggest benefits Starbucks offers is paying tuition for part-time and full-time employees.They most recently teamed up with Arizona State University to pay either partial or full tuition for online programs. Read more about that here. The best thing about it is that there are no strings attached (that I know of). The employees don’t have to continue to work for Starbucks after graduation. Did I mention you get free coffee helping you to study? Win/Win.

That’s a huge financial investment to make in your employee’s future considering the cost of tuition. Starbucks said “throw that degree in the bag. We got this” and they defintely can afford it at the rate they’ve grown. As I mentioned in Part 1, customer service is directly tied back to employee satisfaction.

I’m a fan of the Starbucks brand as you can tell but I realize that no company is perfect and none of us knows what happens in the “kitchen” (aka: behind the scenes) but they have a huge following so they must be doing something right.

I have many friends and associates who feel even stronger about the company than I do. We all have reasons why we think Starbucks is killing it and those were mine. I hope you enjoyed this post!

Are you a Starbucks loyalist? If so, why do you think they are as popular as they are?

If you like these posts, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here or in the sidebar.

I’ll be highlighting my final brand next week. No hints this time! If you have any suggestions or guesses drop it below.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Goal Plan And Kill It In 2016

Niapose

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I hope you had an amazing New Year’s Eve! If you’re anything like me, you were home playing board games with family/friends and fighting sleep to make it to midnight.

But here we are. We made it to 2016 and what a blessing it is! A new year means another opportunity to get it right, whatever it is.

I always find it refreshing that we get to go into a new year with a renewed mind, body and spirit. Click To Tweet

I have an awful memory regarding most things. Everyone who knows me makes fun of me because of it. I like to think it’s because once I’m done with someone or something, I’m done. I don’t really look back once I’ve had closure. I guess my brain needs that space to learn how to function in new arenas or maybe I’m just getting old. Nah!

At any rate, I’ve been goal planning my 2016 for months now, happily leaving 2015 in my dust. I’m an obsessive goal-setter, totally OCD about it. I write my goals down on paper years in advance, retooling them often and I do my best to achieve them. Some work out better than others…such is life.

I also do my vision board at the beginning of each year. You can read more about that process here.

Back to goal setting.

Categorizing Goals

One method that I learned about years ago is to put goals into categories. I like to use a variation of the following categories:

Career (new job, career change, more clients, professional development courses, grad school)

Family (date nights, kids, family quality time)

Financial (save money, increase income, reduce debt, tithe consistently)

Physical (eat better, exercise more, meditate, yoga)

Personal/Misc. (read more books, less social media, be more present)

You get the picture. These are some examples so feel free to customize them to suit the different areas of your life. It definitely helps me as not to get too overwhelmed.

SMART Goals, Smarter You

Another way to lay out your goals is to make them S.M.A.R.T.

smart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By developing SMART goals, you’re able to drill down thus making them more attainable.

For example, if one of your financial goals is to “save money” you would make it SMART by writing:

S – Save money.

M – $1,000/month in savings (You now have a benchmark amount to measure this goal).

A – Achieve this goal by working an extra 10 hrs/week & spending $200 less somewhere.

R – This ties into your overall financial goal to be more self-reliant.

T – If you saved $1,000/month, you would have $12,000 by year-end.

Now you can realistically measure how on or off target you are on an ongoing basis.

My preference for staying organized with my goals is by using a beautiful planner and/or journal.

Planner-Journal

These are the main strategies that I use to goal plan. They make me dig deeper into each area of importance to me. I fine tune them throughout the year because…LIFE. 

What kinds of methods or strategies do you use to goal plan?

My Top 5 Podcasts of 2015

And The Episodes That Inspired Me!

headphonesandmic

I have a confession. I am a podcast fa-na-tic.

I started testing the waters with podcasts 2 years ago and it’s safe to say that I’m hooked with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I subscribe to new ones almost daily and I’m positive that they are the reason why I have little space for much else on my devices.

Podcasts have taken off in the past few years although they’ve been around forever. They have come a long way and now there’s at least one to tickle every fancy.

They are extremely convenient (similar to audiobooks) which is perfect for someone on the go like myself. I would consume an entire episode on my hour long commute and even at the gym. I’m not sure why but I always feel the need to broadcast the awesomeness of podcasts, as if people aren’t already aware.

Listening to finance and business podcasts is similar to taking college courses except it's FREE. Click To Tweet

I want to share my top 5 podcasts of 2015. They’ve all aided in my personal development either financially, emotionally or professionally.

The Dave Ramsey Show

dave ramsey podcastYes, I drank the Dave Ramsey Kool-Aid. This was the first podcast I downloaded 2 years ago and I listened to it for daily motivation and financial guidance. It is the reason why I have thousands of dollars less debt now. I also attribute my mindset about money and the choices I make to this podcast.

I highly recommend it for actionable steps if you’re looking to improve your financial outlook. In retrospect, it was the catalyst to planning my exit strategy allowing me to quit my 9-5 job.

It is a Q&A format so I don’t have a particular favorite episode. I am fond of his rants though. 

 

Myleik Teele’s Podcast

myleik podcast

I started listening to the Myleik Teele #MyTaughtYou Podcast in 2014 (late I know) even though I followed her on Instagram long before that. Myleik Teele is an entrepreneur who founded Curlbox, a subscription box for curly-haired beauties. She’s also made quite a name for herself in the social media realm and is followed by thousands all over the globe for her advice on lifestyle, goal-setting and money.

She’s been a huge inspiration for living my best life on my terms. She shows me that it can be done if I’m willing to put in the work!

My favorite episode of 2015: June Mid-Year 2015 Checkup 

 

The Lively Show  

TheLivelyShowBannerThe Lively Show is another great podcast that I stumbled upon in 2015. Jess Lively interviews influencers in spaces such as health/wellness, career and money. She speaks about living a life with “intention”. I love this because the days and years will pass anyway (if you’re fortunate) so you might as well live them on purpose.

I’ve recommended this podcast to several friends. Her voice is calming and her questions are incredibly thoughtful.

Favorite episode of 2015: 10 Truths About Finding Peace In Being “Average” In This Season Of Our Career

 

The Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn

spi-artwork

If you follow podcasts at all, specifically related to business or entrepreneurship, you’re already familiar with “SPI with Pat Flynn”. It’s a weekly podcast about building a successful online business. He interviews people who are killing it in their respective fields and willing to share their wisdom.

Whether you’re in the brainstorming phase of starting a business or are deep in the trenches, you need to listen to SPI. It’s a great source of motivation. If other people can make it, why can’t you?

Favorite episode of 2015: How Nathan Chan Built a 6-Figure Digital Magazine and the Marketing Strategies We Can All Use

 

Online Marketing Made Easy With Amy Porterfield

amy porterfield image Amy Porterfield is new to my subscription list having only started following her in November but I’m learning so much from her already. She’s mostly known for her webinar courses and Facebook marketing prowess. The podcasts are content rich with ideas on how to scale your business from email list building to content creation.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to monetize your blog/website, follow her. She also includes valuable downloads with each podcast.

Favorite episode: The 3 Crucial Stages of an Online Business with Marie Forleo

I would listen to podcasts everyday at my desk in my former 9-5 job praying that hope, wisdom and passion would magically be absorbed through my earbuds.

Several of the entrepreneurs featured would say they did the same thing and that podcasts gave them the courage and knowledge to start their own journey. The podcasts I listed above are not only for entrepreneurs, they include valuable life lessons anyone can use.

I’m a lifelong student and I’m always on a journey to learn as much as I can. It may sound boring but the common thread is that all of these podcasts are about real people with real tales of overcoming. Isn’t that the best kind of story, after all?

As you can see,  I don’t follow many fun, fictional types of podcasts. If you know of any feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

Are you into podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you follow and why?

The 3 Best Types Of Posts To Write For Year End

lucho-41

The year is quickly coming to a close and people are starting to look back in retrospect on the highs and lows of 2015. It’s essential for businesses to do the same.

In speaking with small business owners and entrepreneurs, the one struggle they have is generating new ideas for creative content.

One of the first tenets in journalism is writing content that is timely. Most journalists look at the calendar year and write content that makes sense for the season and relate to the struggles that come along with it.

It’s really a no-brainer way to come up with ideas for blog posts and articles. The holiday season is abundant with opportunities for content creation.

With that said, there are 3 types of posts that I recommend at year-end that will let your audience have a bird’s eye view into your business: past, present and future.

  1. Year In Review – A look back over the past year is one of my favorite types of posts for year end. It’s a great way to allow customers, old and new, to harken back to some of your most memorable moments. Don’t be shy about it either. If you were published in a magazine for the first time or took on a dream client/project, put it out there for everyone to see!
  2. Full Steam Ahead – If you’re a new entrepreneur like myself, a look forward may make more sense, however, more established companies would benefit as well. If you’re rebranding your company, expanding your offerings or planning to blog more in 2016, let everyone know what they can expect going forward.
  3. Ebooks, Annual Reports and Content Upgrades – The great thing about the end of the year is that you get to look back over all of your hard work from the previous year. It’s almost like a little yearbook and portfolio for your business. Why not compile all of those beautiful images, designs and content into an ebook or lookbook? Make it a virtual one-stop shop that people can access online or as a content upgrade either for free or a small fee.

One of the great things about being a small business owner or an entrepreneur is that your customers support you and are connected with you and your company on a level that McDonalds could never be.

You can make a separate post for each one or combine them. Any variation will do but don’t miss the opportunity to bring your customers along on the journey with you.

Are you making any big plans for your business in 2016?

Star Wars Mania: Can You Say Cha-Ching?

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the newest release in the Star Wars series has hit the big screen. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is literally everywhere and has been for weeks.

It’s a proverbial dream come true for every company/product to be incorporated into mainstream America like Star Wars has. I’ve never seen anything quite like it so I’d be remiss not to blog about it.

Star Wars paraphanelia has been spotted at NBA games, fast food chains and more. There’s even a toaster in the likeness of Darth Vader that dispenses the Star Wars logo on bread. Now that’s dedication!

They’ve all found a way to buy into the craze that is Star Wars. I’ve never been a fan of the movie series so I was naive about how far the appeal stretched.

I felt compelled to see what all the hype was about so off I went to the movies armed with an attention span the size of a gnat and a nice amount of cynicism. Isn’t it amazing what great marketing can do?

I was impressed with the beautiful imagery and captivated by the storyline. I would highly recommend the movie just because of the amazing graphics.

According to “The Wrap”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is on pace to beat Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time. To date the movie has made $765.9 million dollars and is expected to gross $1 billion (with a “B”) by the end of the holiday weekend.

Are you a Star Wars fanatic? Were you shocked to see Star Wars everywhere you turned?

How Our Favorite Brands Have Gained A Cult-Like Following

Branding Breakdown Series (Part 1: Chick Fil A)

chick fila

I’m going inside some of our favorite brands to identify what makes them a branding success in my 3 Part #brandingbreakdown series.

I’m a big consumer of these companies/products and have often wondered what kind of sorcery they’ve cast to keep me coming back for more with my hard-earned dollars in hand.

You can rest assured that it’s not dumb luck and these behemoths have poured considerable time and money into studying their customers and perfecting their image.

In a previous post ,“Are You Striking The Right Tone For Your Brand?”, I included a downloadable PDF Exercise to help you identify companies that are doing it right and how you can find your own distinct voice.

In Part 1, we’ll be breaking down Chick Fil A. The home of the chicken sandwich that will make you bite your own finger. I’m not so secretly hoping that I will be rewarded with a lifetime supply of free food and sweet tea. If you can make that happen, hit me up.

While the delicious food is an important part of the equation, there are a multitude of reasons why Chick Fil A is winning in business. Let’s dig in shall we?

1). Customer Service – It’s consistent. It’s welcoming. It’s fast. It’s everything we’ve come to know and love about our experience at Chick Fil A.

As a matter of fact, if someone told you they had a bad experience at Chick Fil A, you may not believe them choosing to count it as an off day for your companion and not the establishment itself.

That’s how you know they’re doing something right. Sure the food is yummy, but let’s be honest, there are other places you can pick up a more moderately priced meal. Chick Fil A just goes that extra mile.

When you leave and the employee says “my pleasure” you actually believe them and that, my friend, is worth $7.00.

2). Employee Investment –You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with anything and why do I care?” Let me explain.

Several studies have shown that employee satisfaction has a major impact on the quality of service. Great customer service is a direct result of satisfied employees.

Chick Fil A believes in promoting their loyal employees by rewarding them with franchise opportunities. Ashley Derby started with Chick Fil A in high school and continued through college working her way up the ladder. Now she owns her own franchise. Read her story here.

Bottom-line: it pays to be kind to your employees and include them on the buy-in of the larger goal. Click To Tweet

3). They Stand For Something –While many may not agree with their Christian religious beliefs, it’s a breath of fresh air that a company still stands for something in a time where big companies are selling their souls in exchange for a higher stock price.

Chick Fil A is privately held allowing them to make decisions that align with their values. They believe so strongly in these principles that the restaurants are closed on Sundays so their employees may attend church service and spend valuable time with family.

This also lends itself to the scarcity theory. We’ve all seen a social media post of a friend who’s dying because they couldn’t get their fix on a Sunday.

Absence does make the heart grow fonder and the cravings grow more intense. Kind and genius!

4). Steady growth – Chick Fil A is growing slow yet steadily. The company is not oversaturated like McDonald’s which means it’s not as easily accessible. You won’t find one on every corner.

Chick Fil A has a very selective franchising process making sure that every owner has the proper capital and same core values just as the founders intended.

How is this helpful for the growing brand?

Well, making sure the company is on solid footing and all franchise owners have bought into the larger goal on the front end is key to staying power.

Is there anything I’m missing? Are you a fan of Chick Fil A? If so, what do you love about them?

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter so you can get the #brandingbreakdown of 2 more popular companies.

Here’s a hint: you may have a beverage with the logo on it in your hand right now!