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? 

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?

Social Media: It Might Just Save You From Careening Down a Cliff

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous early fall days where you want to be close to the outdoors. I had focused on social media and blogging work enough for the day. Since my parents were visiting and the trees were beginning their change early, we drove into the mountains. We chose a shelf road a.k.a. the "Oh My God Road." The vistas are amazing, the 1,000 foot drops scary. The curviest parts of the road have no guard rail and only one single turn has a well-worn wooden guardrail that as my dad puts it, "Wouldn't hold a chickadee." This was not the time for my brakes to have serious problems.

{insert scary Jaws music}

So of course, the brakes decided this was exactly the time to begin making a screeching metal sound that pretty much ripped the lining from my ear drums.

Luckily the sound was just a warning shot rather than a cannonball.

My fragile brakes held out. Safely on relatively flatter ground we parked to ponder what to do next. My engineer father quickly jumped out, leaping underneath the car to feel the rotors to see if there was much damage. Being far less technical and far more prone to being social, I jumped on my phone sending out a quick tweet about needing a good auto mechanic. Within minutes I had 4 suggestions and within 10 minutes I had an appointment for this morning.

Though social media has become a major communication, marketing and business device in the past few years the stigma of being only good for sharing "what you had for breakfast" still remains.

Still Clinging to 2009?                                                                                                                                  Climb in your time machine and get into 2012. Here are a few facts to help you.

Social Media Saves Lives {Full Contact}

Social Media Facts for Business {Time Magazine}

Find an Lost but Pricey Ticket to the Olympics
{Mashable}

You can rationalize your fears, lack of time, say that "face time" is the only way to build a business or any other excuse as a reason why social media doesn't matter but...

You'd be wrong.

Let me tell ya. Social media is a critical communication vehicle in your marketing plan and it's here to stay.  Engage. Capture. Measure. Convert.

Get on it now. If you don't, pretty soon you won't have any money to buy the breakfast you're not sharing on Twitter.

3 Things I Don't Understand

In the midst of writing marketing copy, blogging for startups and taking a writing class, to say that I've been burrowing into writing like an underground mole looking for a home wouldn't be an exaggeration. Many times I seek the refuge of personal writing when I need to make sense of something. When I'm in this space I'm generally pondering things that somehow have slipped through the synapses of my brain without sticking.

Things I don't understand:

A. Why they sell Halloween candy in August. 

B.  Why I love to memoirs about chefs even though I'm such a reluctant cook that my specialty is toast.

C.  Why I have such a love of startups.

After a long day of client work, mountain driving and car problems I went to bed last night thoroughly exhausted. You know, the kind where you just know that you're going to sleep deep, fast and hard. Those are the nights that usually give the body and the mind just the kind of rest it needs for deep regeneration.  Suddenly in the middle of the night, apparently 3am according to my Sleep Cycle app, I sat straight up in bed with a flash of insight. At some point it seems I took the red pill and The Matrix suddenly appeared before me and the once elusive answer appeared.

I love to see things transform.

  • Raw ingredients into delectable treats.
  • Clueless non-cooks morphing into full-fledged chefs.

  • An idea into a business that has solid impact or disrupts a market.

It's a transformation story. Taking a raw collection of materials and molding it into something useful for others is completely satisfying. I love creating a marketing department from the mere notion that it's critical way to support the business. There's something about writing a post for a business that helps them solidify their intellectual dominance that completes me.

This. This is why I love what I do so much.

It was one of those moments you dream of (lucidly and in your awakened state) where the answer you've been seeking finally bursts free from the burrows of your mind and into your consciousness. Having connected all the dots like one of those drawings in a child's workbook I am reminded that I'm on the right track. Sometimes you just gotta take a break to receive the answers you seek. Now my mind can move on to other pressing matters like why retailers think I should stock up on Halloween candy in the summer.

 

I hope you know what drives you at your core. And? That your work is completely wrapped up in it.