25 Tips to be Consistent With Your Brand

Recently, I was researching a business and came across its Facebook page. The cover image was great + conveyed a strong message with the logo prominently placed. I know exactly who they are. But the little square profile image that shows up in my newsfeed is different (I noticed because I do branding). You know what though? New potential customers like you + me who like that page will never notice that brand’s updates in our newsfeeds because it’s the wrong, outdated logo.

On social platforms all we see is that little square profile image and if you have a different image, icon or logo then how do people know it's you

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Overwhelmed Much? 3 Strategies That Help Simplify

I was going through some of our blog posts recently looking for a post to maybe repurpose for a client that needs more content and wanted something different from their normal topic. I came across a post I did about a year ago about how running a business is hard. It was a pretty good post if I do say so myself. It struck me at how we (B&A) are in a different place in the business but at the same time in the same place. Because running a business is hard. Still.

One of the key things that post talked about was being transparent with the business and letting people see behind the scenes, good and bad. So much good has happened over the year and we have amazing clients that we are doing amazing work for and that’s all fabulous. But with all that good comes being overwhelmed sometimes. It made me think about how overwhelmed I can get and my reaction to overwhelm is to be tired. All. The. Time. Tired enough that a few weeks ago I blew off work in the middle of the day (I apparently called in sick) and took a nap. And then felt guilty about it. And then I was overwhelmed by the guilt, hence more tired and then overwhelmed even more. And it all turned into a vicious cycle. Now, what kinda crap is that?

There are so many things in my business that contribute to this overwhelm. Too many emails, perceived client demands (that I probably make up in my head), to-do lists, social media, social engagements, setting goals, meeting said goals, success, failure, meetings, strategies, business models… Should I keep going? Did I mention too many emails? This is the vein of my existence yet the goal of my ego.

Enough Already!

I’m over it. The being overwhelmed. I’m guessing you are too. Let’s all make a pack together. We are going to implement these 3 simple steps in reducing our overwhelmed brains that will also help reduce all this crappy stress.

  1. Unsubscribe from Emails: All those emails that you get that you save for later, skip over or delete altogether. Get rid of them altogether so they don’t even hit your box. I sign up for these guys all the time with all the good intention of reading them and then I just don’t for whatever reason. I’m really bad about saving them because I’m going to read them later when I have time. Reality check: I never have time. I’m not saying get rid of all of them. There are a few that I religiously read every time they hit my box. Here are a few that I read and highly recommend: The Middle Finger Project (warning if you like sugar coating don’t bother), Melissa Cassera (I totally have a girl crush on her) and Tara Gentile (she just knows her shit and like Star Trek). I do watch Marie Forleo and Carrie Green’s videos because that’s easy for me to listen to in the car. We sometimes send out emails and you should keep on that list really ;). Sorry I had too, it’s in my contract.
  2. Hire an Assistant: Or a cleaning lady, or a copywriter. Whoever it is you need help from. You guys all know Jenn around here. She writes for this blog and helps me exponentially. She runs all of our social media (among a lot of other things) and that was the best decision I ever made. Because now it actually gets done. Period. Best. Decision. Yeah, your going to have to pay for it and sometimes money is tight. I totally get it. I’m in the spot a lot. But trust me when I say you need help. You need someone that is going to do that crap you don’t want too or don’t have the skills to do. I totally have the skills to run our social media, I just don’t want too. So, I either pay someone to do it for me or it just doesn’t get done. I’d rather it get done. If you need help with something, get it. You don’t have to go with the most expensive option just something.
  3. Take the Nap: And don’t feel guilty about it. That’s just down right ridiculous. I tell people all the time there is no such thing as a marketing emergency. No one is dying because your sales copy isn’t whipped out in 10 minutes. I have learned that I’m a late afternoon and early evening worker. I get more creative work done between the hours of 4pm and 7pm than I do all day. Those are my writing and graphics hours. So if I try to do it in the middle of the afternoon and I’m overwhelmed or tired I’m just going to have to re-do it again because it’ll be crap. I might as well take a nap and do it right when I’m more refreshed and in my zone. That’s just me. I find everyone is different and your best times might be early in the morning (I still do have a conspiracy theory about morning people but I digress). Find your zone and then just take a nap already if you want.

What do you think? Will these tips help with our overwhelm? What are some of your strategies to not feel so overwhelmed all the time? Obviously, email overload is the big one for me but what is your hot button? Leave me a comment and let’s work on reducing our overwhelm together.

Things Go Wrong… 5 Tips to Still Rock It Out

OMG! NOT AGAIN!

How can this be happening… AGAIN?

Are you kidding me?

WTF?

I know I am not the only one who has ever said these… repeatedly… sometimes it seems like I say them every day. Please tell me I am not the only one. You have had these moments… right? Shew! I feel so much better now. Actually, I am gonna let you in on a little secret about me… when I have THESE days I feel so much better after a long cry. (OOOHHH it’s not taboo to talk about crying now I hope).

Anyway… recently I had a fuckin meltdown because NOTHING was going right in my personal or professional life. I was feeling inadequate all the way around. NOT GOOD! I do believe that if you are trying to run a household, juggle two jobs AND two kids, something is bound to go wrong at least once a day. Well, mine hit several at a time and all within 24 hours.

End of the school year. ‘Won’t work worth a damn’ internet service. Can’t watch videos for B&A Book Club because of said crappy internet. Causing your boss more work. Starting a part time job. Not getting client work done faster. House looking like a tornado came through weeks ago and still is trashed. Ok I think you get the picture… or do you need more? No, I am done… for now ;).

If you feel me Tweet: Got #99Problems but does anyone really care?

Ok let me get to the fuckin’ point… we all have these days. Sometimes they are completely out of our control and there is NOTHING you can do about it at the time. But, what you do is what will define you. You can either go sulk in the corner and complain about it on Facebook, Twitter and to your friends for days on end or you can just roll with it (Tip #1). I tend to just let it all pile up and then have a meltdown (don’t ever knock the healing power of a good cry). I swear I feel 90% better after a good long cry (Tip #2) and then all you have left to do is just roll with what has been dealt to you at that particular time. You pick yourself back up, blow a kiss at your reflection in the mirror and go get shit done!

Business won’t get done while you bitch and whine and complain about it. Put your big girl panties on and OWN IT (Tip #3)! If you caused more work for said boss (ahem… Sorry Ronii!), just apologize and move on to the next item on your to-do-list and ROCK IT. Client work doesn’t wait for you to keep beating yourself up. And, yes, electronics suck and don’t always work when you are expecting them to so you take a break. Go sit out on the deck with a glass of wine to calm the stress that is building up and adding to your breaking point (Tip #4). Go talk to your best friend (you know she always makes you feel better because of her quirky attitude and AWESOME personality…ahem…again Ronii that’s you – five). Just walk away from the problem for a few and come back renewed and ready to take on the world!

Don’t ever let your feelings of inadequacy or technology crappin’ out be what defines you. MAKE the actions on how you deal with these little hiccups in life and business be what defines you! So are you going to continue to beat yourself up…OR… roll with the punches? Tell me your ‘shit hits the fan’ story. I bet we can relate and pull together, together (wait, that looks weird but oh well I’m rolling with it).

It’s My Birthday! 29 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me (+ 8 more)

Well, actually tomorrow is my birthday. So in celebration of my 29th birthday I’m listing the 29 things (in particular order) you probably didn’t know about me. Plus 8 more… because I'm actually 37 this year. I’m departing from our traditional ‘let’s learn about marketing and business’ post and giving you a sneak peek into the crazy mind of a creative entrepreneur/human. I get tired of the ‘let’s learn something’ format and like to hear about humans and can only assume that you like sometimes too, hence my shameless self promotion on my birthday because let’s face it, it’s really all about me up in here.

  1. I hate the idea of a bucket list. Why can't we all just live our lives and do things we want to do.
  2. I want to learn how to surf.
  3. Speaking of learning stuff, I want to learn to sail too.
  4. I have this paralyzing fear of failure. And I'm a perfectionist, which is a deadly combination for a business owner. Hence no products yet like I promised. I’m trying to break through my upper level limit. 
  5. In the holy trinity of people in business models (the finder, minder and grinder), I'm a minder and love to strategize and think, which generally leads to over thinking. And I don't really link/want to implement or sell. 
  6. I'm a terrible "networker." It's really hard for me to meet new people.
  7. Most people probably know this, but I'm terrible with names. I recognize you and can probably tell you your birthday but I can't remember your name to save my life.
  8. I hate the concept of hustle. It bothers me that it's meaning is deceiving yet in business every guru talks about how you have to hustle as in work your ass off for 90+ hours a week. I'm tired. And I'm tired of working my ass off 90+ hours a week, hence starting my own business.
  9. My favorite restaurant is Rue de Jean. It's so indulgent.
  10. I love to go to the movies and have a huge tub of popcorn with lots of butter and a diet soda. Ironic, I know.
  11. Even though I'm a huge WVU fan, I did not go there or graduate from there. But it's the representation of the state.
  12. I'm a couch potato. And I love watching TV. It's relaxing to me.
  13. When it comes to TV though, I can’t commitment. Which is why I don’t watch shows like The Voice or American Idol. That’s just too much commitment for one week let alone a whole season.
  14. I'm extremely loyal. If I form a bond with you, you better be prepared for "till death due us part" because you will have me forever whether you like it or not. But I will always be there for you and will do anything within my power to help you.
  15. But once I'm done with you, I'm done. No confrontation, no explanation, no apology. Just done. A trait I get from my dad.
  16. I hate confrontation.
  17. I don't drink nearly as much as our readers probably think I do. One or 2 a week, maybe.
  18. My family is like the Cleavers. I'd rather hang with them than anyone else. And when friends talk about their dysfunctional/fighting family, I just can't relate because mine is awesome.
  19. I'm a thinker and analyze everything and everyone. I want to understand what drives peoples’ behaviors and decisions. I love psychology. A trait I get from my mom.
  20. My family in WV calls me Ronii Anne. But my middle name is Leeanne, which is my mom and my godmother's name together.
  21. My mom told my brother and me once that, "Brett was the smart one and Ronii was the pretty one." I’m still in therapy over that (not really).
  22. I'm the fuck up of the family. And I'm totally not (completely) a fuck up. I have a Master’s Degree for goodness sake. Just goes to show you how sane my family is.
  23. I love to eat! I love food and I love lots of it. I’m not one of those girls that picks at her food when you go out. I’m the kind of girl that licks the plate after I eat everything on it. The only thing that saves me from being 400 pounds is that I love to work out too and workout almost every day.
  24. While speaking of things I love. I LOVE to sleep. And its no secret that I’m a night owl and I think that early morning people have a conspiracy against us. I’m not one of those over zealous people that say, “I only need 4 hours a sleep a night.” Bullshit. That’s your exhaustion trying to convince you that you get enough. If I had my way I would get between 9 and 10 every night and sleep in until 10 every day.
  25. I’m a really slow reader because I read every word on the page but my comprehension is amazing.
  26. I counted and I have 5 books started and not finished yet. That’s just what I do.
  27. I love the Twilight Saga and I’m Team Edward. And one time on the way back to Charleston from Raleigh, I missed my exit and ended up in Wilmington, NC because I was so engrossed into listing to the book.
  28. I really might be the crazy cat lady. While I only have 1 cat, I’m freakin’ obsessed with her and she’s kinda mean. She probably reflects my personality perfectly.
  29. My favorite color is red.
  30. I have never broken a bone. Or at least that I went to the doctor and they told me it was broken. 
  31. I’ve never had a cavity and love to go the dentist. My dentist in SC is the son of my childhood dentist in WV (who my parents still go too).
  32. You would think that because I love to eat I would love to cook as well. Nope. Not the case. I only cook out of necessity.
  33. Confession: I really don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.
  34. I have been an extra in a couple of TV shows.
  35. I minored in French in college and really can’t speak a lick of it anymore. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
  36. I have a part time job at Curves and coach women on health, wellness and fitness. I’m a multi-passionate person.
  37. The lead singer to Tonic hit on my one time after a concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. That was pretty cool.

Here's my birthday wish: vanilla cake with buttercream frosting and a drizzle of chocolate ganache with a glass ob bubbly (of course). If you could deliver that to... Kidding. My birthday wish? Leave us comment with something we don't know about you. What is that awkward thing that I'm totally going to make fun of you for? Because I probably do that same awkward thing too and probably do a lot of people. I can't wait to hear all about you too. Don't let me be the only one here sharing. That would be awkward.

Tattoos & Branding

Do you have ink?

Are you branded?

If you have ink you are technically branded. Hmmmm… if you have branded yourself, is your business branded too? Actually let’s hold that thought for a minute… I am the oldest out of 3 siblings and the only girl. I thought my dad was going to have a heart attack when he saw my first tattoo (which I got in my early 20s with my best friend). He never expected it from me… my brothers, yes, but not me. I am his baby girl. And yes, it is located in the small of my lower back. And, NO, its not a “tramp stamp” as they are referred to, but just a simple sun about size of a half dollar. Hey, I love sunshine and the warmth it represents. My best friend got one about the same size in the same spot. Awwweee, how cute are we? LOL!

So years go by now we are in our mid-30s and what do we do, we brand ourselves again. This time I got my sons' names scribed in an infinity symbol around my wrist connected by a heart, and my BFF (who, BTW, thinks she is a Rock Star) got a star on her wrist. AGAIN, Awwweee, how cute are we? (although this time we didn’t go together).

There is a lot of stigma associated with tattoos. WHY? It’s your body. If you want to brand yourself with something your passionate about, BY ALL MEANS GO FOR IT! I think tattoos tell a story about a person. What they like, what their interests are, who they love, what they love…. Even farmers tattoo (brand) their livestock. So it can’t be all that bad… right? (OK! OK! that was quite a stretch) But really, tattoos or branding illustrate your story. As a person, you are sharing what you are passionate about. Shouldn’t you do the same for your business?

Branding your business is a lot like tattooing (branding) your body. It shows your uniqueness and what separates you from the pack. It helps tell your story. It defines your personality. I mean really the list could go on and on. So don’t you want to tell the story of your business and show its uniqueness and what separates it from the pack? I know we do that B&A AND help other entrepreneurs and small businesses do the same. Hell, even Ronii and I show the world our uniqueness and personality and our story through our ink! And before it is all said and done, I am sure we will add a few more branding marks to our bodies.

What if...

I have a confession. Apparently I have a lot of these. But this one I'm really nervous about. You probably already know this but I'm the new President of the Charleston American Marketing Association. Well, actually I start July 1st. But its here. And I'm FREAKED out!

What if I'm terrible at it? What if people don't like what I do? What if no one shows up for meetings? What if it all falls apart? What if... What if... What if...

I know I'm being irrational about the whole thing but welcome to the chaos that floats around in my head. I have said for year that I'm like a great Monet painting. From afar its beautiful and makes sense but when you get up close its just a chaotic mess. That's me, really. I mean, I know I'm not going to blow the whole thing up. Well, I might... With fun.

I joke. But that's not really a joke. I've decided that what I want in life is to have fun and work with people I like. I have implemented this philosophy at B&A with Champagne Thursdays (insert shameless plug here: go sign up for our Champagne Thursday Inspirations and you just might get something fun. It's over there <---. Go do it now. I'll wait. You can always come back and finish this in a sec. But I digress.) We have fun on Champagne Thursdays AND get a lot done. I'm taking this leadership style and translating it into this new leadership role at CAMA. I mean what good is doing great work if you can't have fun doing it?

I know what you are thinking, "Ronii, you're crazy and freakin' out for nothing." I really appreciate your confidence in me. And you are getting a rare glimpse into my not so put together head (that's scary, huh?). But we all have one somewhere inside us. Help me out here. What do you freak out about? Make me feel better that I'm not the only one out here that freaks out about things.

F.O.M.O – Fear Of Missing Out

This past Saturday I woke up and decided to go for a stroll down King Street. Apparently, so did 40,000 other people. Ohhh, the annual Cooper River Bridge Run. One of the only things in Charleston (besides snow or a hurricane) that can completely shut down the city for a day. All Charlestonians know that there is an unspoken after party for those who run in the race. Basically, runners spend the second part of their day making up for the calories burnt by bar hoping.

I had an intense F.O.M.O (fear of missing out) feeling and refused to miss the celebration. My friend and I devised a plan…we went home and changed into out best running outfit. As we headed toward King Street, we cornered a group of runners who were leaving and asked to have their registration numbers. They were nice enough to not question our weirdness and pass over their golden tickets. As we pinned our numbers to our t-shirts, we morphed from weekend slackers to Bridge Run survivors.

The next couple of hours were spent chatting over a drink with other runners, debating if the uphill part of the bridge or the last mile was the worst part of the run (as if we knew…). Although we faked our acceptance into this group of people, my friend and I truly enjoyed our conversations with strangers. Even if we didn’t actually have the bridge run in common, our conversation always led to a topic that was mutual.

As B&A’s biz development sidekick, I get to attend several networking events every month. The hardest part of these events is breaking the ice with strangers.  However, my bridge run experience showed me that new conversations tend to follow the same pattern. Awkward introduction followed by information sharing, discovery of a shared interest, and BOOM a connection is made.

~Taylor

Oreos, Someecards, and Human Truth

Oh, Oreos. There are few things you can eat 30 of and afterwards still want more. There is something so powerful and dangerous to me about Oreos. It’s like I have an out of body experience and when I come back to reality, I’ll have just eaten 30 Oreos. The amazing part is, while I’m in this lofty, daydream-type trance, I am still able to dip in milk with precise calculation; the outcome being a not-too-soft but not-too-hard Oreo (per-freaking-fection). It’s a lovely and delicious thing. And I just let the guilt roll off of my shoulders and blame it on that devilish, overpowering trance. Ugh, Oreos. I’m afraid that when the day comes for me to get pregnant and deliver a child, I’ll have eaten so many Oreos during my pregnancy that I will give birth to an Oreo.

Do you smell what I’m stepping in here? Let me be clear: I LOVE OREOS. That much. I’ll bet anything that you have a food or dessert that you feel this way about. I wouldn’t consider you human if you didn’t. And that’s my point. Everyone’s afraid to talk about it, but we all feel it. The continuous hand-to-mouth motion and no urge to stop. No urge to fight it. We’ve all been there and that is what we like to call a human truth. Something that connects us in a fashion so deeply hidden by embarrassment or resentment or pressure to live ‘healthily,’ we rarely acknowledge it to ourselves, let alone discuss it with others. Enter the ecard.

They are breaking out onto the scene with tremendous popularity, each expressing one harsh, hilarious truth at a time. Some apply so accurately to me it’s as if I’d written it myself. Which is why, I guess, millions of people are slapping them onto Facebook and Pintrest like fake tattoos on a five year old. They acknowledge a deep, innate human truth that reflects on the surface as humor and so we can all laugh about it together even if it’s about a real fear or an under-the-table topic like gay marriage or baby poop or, well, an unmanageable sweet tooth so severe you need to work out five days a week to keep it at bay.

Here are some that I feel best reflect me and the truths that literally do define me:

Ronii didn't have as many Someecards on her Pinterest boards as I did because she's totally lame. But here a couple about her.

 

This human truth that I speak of connects us all together and is the perfect opportunity for your business to show that there’s a human behind it that is just like them. This is creating personality around your brand that consumers connect to on a more intimate level. We all know that people work with businesses they know, like and trust. Totally clichéd, but oh so very true. Taking your human truths that other’s can connect with is a great way for your customers to get to know, like and trust you. Hence, more clients with more work.

What are yours?

~Coco

What Makes a Great Leader?

As many of you know I'm very active with the Charleston American Marketing Association. And many of you know that for the past 2 years I have been on the CAMA Board of Directors. My term as the Programming Director comes to an end this month and I, Ronii Bartles, will transition into the Presiden-Elect seat of the CAMA. What in the world did I get myself into? How am I going to lead a group of volunteers to be as passionate about marketing as I am? I don't think I know what I'm doing here?

In April the CAMA sent me to a leadership conference all about the AMA to help me with all these concerns and the self-doubt that I'm having. It was an amazing conference that made my head spin with so many great people and so much information about AMA and leadreship skills that I can use, not only with AMA, but in my business. I'm totally pumped and exhausted at the same time. My whirlwind trip to the conference really began the weekend before when I flew to San Francisco to visit a girlfriend from high school and drank Sonoma dry, only to come home for a few days, do a speaking gig, catch up on some work, attend Coco's wedding (on my brithday) and board a plane at 6am with a massive hangover the next morning. Did I mention there was a wedding on my birthday? Hence the hangover.

I get to Chicago after 3 hours of sleep and 9 asprins and our first session is at 9am with Kevin Eikenberry, who is the keynote speaker for the weekend. Kevin gave a fun and informative presentation on championing change. He then proceeded to make me famous for the weekend by drawing my name out of hat (not really a hat but close enough) and giving me his four books. That's right... four! I was known as the book girl the rest of the weekend. I guess that was my reward for actually paying attention with a massive hangover.

As Kevin talked about the differences in managing, leading and championing change, I couldn't help but wonder if people are born natural leaders or if these are skills that one can learn. I came to the conclusion in my sleep deprived haze that it is probably a little bit of both. There is a charisma to great leaders that makes you sit up and listen but there are also some skills that leaders must learn along the way. I'd like to think that I'm like my mother, which make me a natural born leader. But the reality is that I'm probably like any other person born with a little charisma that will help rally the troops. But there are just some things that I still need to learn.

I'm still scared to death about my upcoming term in a leadership role for the CAMA. Particularly since I know that come the following year I'm going to be the head honcho. Eeek!

I need help. What are some of you leadership tips? How do you lead those in your business and organizations?

Earning a masters in organizational leadership can help most individuals succeed in their professional life by becoming great leaders.

Baby's Got Sauce!

If you’ve got it, flaunt it! I’ve got it. I know Ronii has it. And other cool people, too. My mom has it, and one of my really good friends. But, just like Oreos and wine and quad espressos, too much of it is a bad thing.

Confidence. It sells. Confidence radiates how sexy, smart, and poised you are, and can therefore supersede even the most cunning sales pitch. Granted, what you’re saying to a potential client is likely important, the cold truth is, what they’re seeing can subconsciously make up their minds before you even open your mouth. Facial expressions, smiling, hand gestures, the tone of your voice, and general body language will give you away the moment you walk through a door.

Use this to your advantage!

Back in my college days (feels like forever ago to me), I can remember a specific conversation I had with one of my professors. We had to do one of those exercises where you make a presentation to the class, and afterward, you would get critiqued by the teacher. I remember telling him that I would always be nervous speaking in front of people, no matter how confident I was in my subject matter. I admitted that I could feel my voice wavering as I spoke, and even as I was getting comfortable giving presentations, my heart would pound incessantly.  His response resonated with me forever.

He said that, in fact, it was one of the best presentations he had seen that semester, and shared with me this advice: Nobody in the audience can feel my heartbeat, and nobody could hear my voice wavering…as far as the audience was concerned, because of the way that I carried myself and the confidence I had in my research and myself, I was indeed the master of the Hawaiian Punch marketing plan (there was a reason I chose this subject…although it escapes me at the moment).

So instead of focusing on selling an idea, product, or service, try shifting your focus on the “vibe” you exude and the personality you bring to your business. Chances are, this client has seen or heard of whatever it is you are proposing. But what they haven’t seen before is your sauce. Your tenacity, your conviction. A certainty in your abilities and your strengths that only you know and only you can convey. How you put the heart…and backbone…into your business.

Good luck!