What Happens When You Put Love Into Your Product

Putting love into your business is branding in itself. In fact, putting love into your business might just be the #1 way to grow your brand. 

Let me illustrate. 

I have a favorite coffee shop. The baristas and chefs treat their work like a craft despite the fact that most of them are musicians, writers and the like whose real craft is something else. The drinks are pricey but their frothy, perfectly balanced confections are worth every cent.  Except for one barista. Pretty sure she’s actually the owner who is most often at the register except on Sundays—when she’s behind the bar.

Her drinks have zero style. Want the beautiful leaf etched in the top of your foamy latte? You’re lucky if your latte has any froth at all. Want your drink to be just on the edge of hot on a cold day? You’ll be happy if it’s just on the other side of lukewarm. Sometimes they're barely drinkable and on occasion I have to throw her drinks away, forgoing $4 and my favorite chai tea after having walked more than half a mile.

Disappointed? Nah. I'm downright dejected when this happens.

This full-time owner, sometime barista operates the bar slinging drinks like it’s an assembly line. It’s feels as if she's simply counting the dollars coming in rather than focusing on the quality of what she’s putting out. When you focus on the dollars and not the craft you not only put out a shitty product; you’re actually doing more harm to your business than you might think. Without love or mindfulness, your product just becomes yet another item of consumption, it doesn’t stand out. When your customer doesn’t feel love oozing through your service they’re less likely to get hooked on it and they’ll go somewhere else. 

I’m not gonna pretend that I’ve never done this. There were whole stretches of time back in the late 90’s when I hated what I was doing. Rather than crafted with love, my work was laden with fear. Yep. I was doing this work because I was afraid I couldn’t do what I loved. I was motivated just to survive financially rather than to thrive. It was pretty obvious. If that company was still in existence  Sure, I showed up to work everyday, working 60+ weeks regularly. But. I was slogging away, being dragging along rather than gleefully leading the way spreading my love for my tasks.

When you find yourself in this position you must take action: Bake some love into your product and if you can’t, perhaps you need to pivot what you’re doing or make a career change.

When I realized that I had no love to give this particular kind of task, I left that field and moved into my current work. Now I love each and every client. I tend to their brand as if it were my own brand child. If I don’t think I can love someone’s brand I pass on their business. 

Babette's Artisanal Bread, Denver, CO
Babette's Artisanal Bread, Denver, CO

Let me tell you about another brand; a place where love is baked right into the product. Babette’s Artisanal Breads. This husband and wife driven shop makes the most delightful artisanal bread you’ll ever have outside of France. Each loaf of bread is tended to by the loving hands of Steve, the owner who adds flourishes like a beautiful stencil on the top of the loaf. While the pretty design doesn’t change the taste, it does delight the eye. It makes you feel special. I once bought a loaf just for that stencil. Even though I can’t eat much of it due to serious gluten issues I love giving this man money.

When you put love into your business…

- Your clients notice 

- It makes you happier

- You’re more proud of your work 

- You produce a better product 

- You transition away from things you don’t love faster

- Your brand grows much more faster

This applies to all sorts of businesses, not just those which makes things to delight your taste buds. Other businesses where love is apparent include: Maptia and The Pack. And if you’ve ever flown Southwest you know that they LOVE what they do. 

I know there are plenty of brands who bake love right into their product. What are some of your favorite examples? 

Five Things Marketers Need to Stop Doing This Very Minute

I’m not typically prone to rants but sometimes it just comes flying out of you and you find yourself on that digital soapbox. This is one of those times.

I’m a born and bred marketer. But you knew that. What you may not know is that I have a love-hate relationship with marketing. I love what marketing can do for a product or service. Nothing makes me happier than when these guys get to help make organizations communicate better through their workshops. There’s a thrill when someone’s life becomes easier, more convenient or even just a little bit happier because of something I helped promote.

But. 

As with any field there’s a dark side. We’re not even going to talk about spam or black hat SEO because those things deserve to banished to marketing hell and never to be used again. Instead, let’s talk about less controversial but still offensive marketing tactics that need to stop now. 

1. Taking 10 days to remove me from your subscriber list

Why: Why, why, why do this? In today’s era of immediate removal, this makes you seem old, out of touch and incompetent. Even worse? The skeptical among us (and our numbers are high) think you’re just trying to squeeze out more sales even though we’ve made lack of interest known. 

2. Making me log into an account to remove myself from your list

Why: While this all-in-one system might be easy for you it’s much harder on your customer. Never a good thing. People who may temporarily wanted a break will remember what a pain this was and never resubscribe again. 

3. Link bait headlines

Why: Just look at the recent backlash again Upworthy and Buzzfeed. There’s also this downworthy plugin by Snipe that’s designed to decipher the spin. Enough of the "Mind blowing weird tricks and secrets you can learn from dead people" headlines.

4. Pop-ups asking me to subscribe now!

Why: Pop-ups work but users (including me) hate them. While they work their shelf life may be limited and you need to take care when placing them on your site.  And the sentiment is growing. Pop ups on smartphones are especially frustrating. You're reading an article when the screen goes gray and either you click to some site selling insurance or you have no way to remove the pop up so you have to abandon the page.

Pop-ups work but be aware, their shelf life may be limited and new tools are coming out to overcome these digital nuisances. Pop-ups may even harm your overall brand. 

5. Focusing on vanity metrics

Why: Vanity metrics do not always equate to what drives revenue. A while back I went to a blogging conference. Some of the bloggers boasted 100,000 twitter followers but when I dug deeper these folks were barely making ends meet. While I may have a tenth of their #’s I have something more important: consistent clients and money in the bank. 

As the internet grows to 1.82 billion indexed pages …and counting, the signal to noise ratio is tough to combat. You can almost understand why marketers employ these dirty tricks. The downside is that everyone has caught on so users are getting inundated which means a backlash is looming.  I believe in marketing and even the more controversial cousin, growth hacking but hate how it gets bastardized. Don’t be one of those people.

C'mon, admit it. Using these strategies makes you feel kinda dirty sometimes doesn't it?

What to Do Instead

Be authentic. 

Focus on what’s really important. 

Do good work, which naturally attracts people.

 /end rant

How to Get that First Draft Done

Need to update your marketing copy but are worried about your writing skills? Procrastinating on that blog post because you're afraid it won't sound as good on paper as it does in your head?  Sometimes you may need to hire a professional to clean up that messy first draft. (um, hi!) However, writing the initial draft can coalesce your thoughts on your brand or your position on a topic and -- get it out of your head so you can think about other things. This infographic offers great advice for writers or anyone who's working on copy. Well. What are you waiting for? Barricade yourself in and start writing!

 

10 Rules for Writing First Drafts
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

How To Find Your Startup Story

Just keep getting the damn words on the page! You're still very early in the process. Even though it may seem like you're been doing a lot of writing you're still in the process of peeling back the layers to understand the larger story you want to tell. The only way to peel is by writing--so keep at it, girlfriend!


This quote is from the instructor of my memoir writing course. I've been writing for about a year and a half but when you're reliving your life, trying to hash out the most important moments to find the real story, it can feel like well---a lifetime. During the class we have opportunities to get feedback on our writing. Although it can be cringe-inducing at times, the feedback is the most valuable part of the experience. People skip over stories you labored over and linger in unexpected places. For a writer, a reader's feedback is critical as it offers the most telling sign of what resonates with your audience, whether you're on the right track or if you need to rip up the floor boards and start again to build the right foundation.

Finding Your Story
Finding the story while writing a memoir is not unlike a startup or small business trying to find the most compelling story they can tell about their value proposition to customers and potential investors. In the beginning it's a bit like a game of hide and seek. First you'll look in one place for the story and then another. It can go on this way for quite a while until you find the story that your audience grabs onto and your business really takes off.

Don't Quit
Don't worry. This is game of hide and seek is just a part of the process to refining your message. Don't give up! Don't wait for the perfect marketing message to appear before approaching your audience. Just keep crafting your story. Find out which parts of the story resonate with your audience. Actively look for the feedback of potential customers and investors. When someone takes an action on your site ask for their feedback. Recently, TechStars Boulder 2012 company 27 Perry, who has just launched their site publicly, contacted me to get my opinion. CEO Kelly James asked thoughtful questions about what appealed to me the most and was open to my thoughts. If she keeps doing this she'll find her story--probably sooner than later.

Just keep crafting and getting feedback. A story that resonates with your audience will emerge. Whatever you do--don't give up. Just keep peeling!

What Street Beggars Can Teach You About Marketing

Yesterday as I was driving to my writing class I stopped at a light next to a well kempt man holding a sign. Normally I ignore them but his chatter was so inviting that I had to see what was going on. His sign said:

Bad advice $1

Chuckling I had to learn more about this comedian who's stage is a street corner. It looked like he had everything he owned in the backpack next to him with a cup hanging from the side. Obviously he wasn't rich but looked like he knew how to hustle. Clearly people asking for money on the street are desperate and some of their pleas reflect that desperation. Others have a much more humorous creative take on their situation. These are the ones I will always give a few bucks in exchange for a picture of their sign. Here are people who know how to sell their situations.

One of the things that will always get me in a sign is a sense of humor. The other thing I love about this sign is the directness of it.

Snorting my tea onto my companion when I saw this sign while on the 16th Street Mall,  I had to stop and give this woman and her friend some money in exchange for this shot.

Though you can't see it, this couple's sign asked for $25 for a marriage license. Whether they truly needed the money for a marriage license or not it was creative.

 

Are these people crazy?

These days whether you own a business or are even just looking for a job you need to know how to market yourself in a way that cuts through the noise to reach an audience that cares. Here's are a few things these "marketers" did well:

  • Understood the uniqueness of their situation or product
  • Communicated their unique selling proposition well
  • Know that part of marketing is entertainment
  • Appropriate use of humor
  • A willingness to be silly, creative or outrageous in order to make the sale

To survive in today's tight economy you have to know how to and be willing to market yourself. It's simply a requirement.  When you have that inevitable "woe is me" moment just remember how first world your problems are.

At least we're not hookers right?