Branding Woes: How to Pivot, Tackle and Excel

Over the weekend – (aren’t you glad it’s Monday?!) I’ve had eight conversations about personal and business brand marketing. Many young professionals like myself are slowly but surely redefining themselves, discovering the hidden talents and passions we now refuse to tuck away from the world.

“Find a good job that makes good money and stick to it!”… Thanks for the advice, Mom – but Why?

We no longer live in a time where you must choose one career path with the sole motivation of monetary gains. With the world more interconnected than ever, professionals are rediscovering their paths, and rebranding their identities to do what gives them an element money can’t entirely provide: A sense of Purpose.

Now, I won’t go on a tangent about money-motivation or the psychology behind the state of “Purpose” (unless you’ve got an extra 30 minutes to spare). However, I do want to touch on 3 key ways to define or redefine your personal or business brand. Whether you’re an existing business owner, nonprofit founder, or an aspiring entrepreneur, take a journey with me on how 3 steps to strategically position and market your brand.

To commence the redefining stages, you must have an understanding of Marketing 101 (or at least Marketing 99C).

Ask what marketing is and most people will say it advertises a business or service: It sells things.

Marketing sells things. That is true. Advertisers can spend millions of dollars trying to overcome the fatigue with evermore flashy campaigns, but it’s futile if it feels inauthentic.

To overcome this, we need to rethink marketing. What is marketing, beyond traditional advertisements?

Marketing is the art of persuasion, the spark of inspiration, and the connection between a company and the world.

Marketing is the language of engagement between your brand and your targeted audience. It tells a story. This brings us to the first element.

To commence the redefining stages, you must have an understanding of Marketing 101 (or at least Marketing 99C).

Ask what marketing is and most people will say it advertises a business or service.

It sells things. 

Marketing sells things. That is true. Advertisers can spend millions of dollars trying to overcome the fatigue with evermore flashy campaigns, but it’s futile if it feels inauthentic.

To overcome this, we need to rethink marketing. What is marketing, beyond traditional advertisements?

Marketing is the art of persuasion, the spark of inspiration, and the connection between a company and the world.

Marketing is the language of engagement between your brand and your targeted audience. It tells a story. This brings us to the first element.

Step 1 Discovery: Who are you reaching or trying to reach and why?

In order to market something people want, you must understand who they are and what they need. We start by carefully defining your target audience; the narrower the focus, the faster the growth.

Have you identified the problem you set out to solve? What motivated you along the way to perfecting your brand? There’s your master key. After you’ve determined your audience, you’ll be propelled to the next phase:

Step 2 Storytelling: Don’t create a pitch, tell a story

In the world of startups, pitches are essential to inviting funding opportunities from investors; but it is the power of storytelling that supercharges the pitch.

Crafting a message that translates your brand is essential to aligning with your targeted audience. The audience probably won’t remember your years of experience, your amazing accomplishments or other fun facts, but they will remember your story. They will remember the value your brand can potentially bring to them. That’s when you reel them in.

Step 3 Connection: How will you connect your content and drive action?

By humanizing your brand, people to want to learn more. Connect your customers with your “must have” products and service with a single call-to action. Embed this messaging in the resolution of your story. “Contact me for a consultation.” or “Learn more about our services” are just a few.

Discovery. Storytelling. Connection. Ready-Set-Go! Now it’s time to retain and grow. After giving your audience a reason to connect and consume, focus on creating loyal, passionate customers of your brand. Keep your CRM (customer relationship management) processes on point by keeping in contact with leads and prospects.

Emails (please not too many or your open rate might decline), events, phone calls, “thank you’s”, special offers, follow-ups, magic moments, and cards with a personal touch etc. that occur constantly and automatically at defined points in the pre-sales, sales and post-sales process. Bring back those dormant contacts and don’t stop showcasing the value you bring (or can bring) them.

Overwhelmed by the thoughts of the rebranding journey? Don’t freight! PivotPath brand development services are perfect for brands at any stage. Contact us today for a consultation on how we can help you!

Don’t worry! Tips for a Thriving Small Business

Back in 1997, Netflix entered the movie entertainment industry, competing with the leading provider of home movie and video game rental services, Blockbuster.

Welcomed with skepticism, the powerhouse brought new solutions to movie watchers: DVD-by-mail subscriptions, video streaming, and branded content. However, success did not come quickly. In 2011, Netflix lost over 800,000 members due to increased pricing and over confidently moving too quickly. Fast-forward to today and Netflix now serves over 125 million users worldwide. What lessons can we learn from Netflix’s success story? No matter how innovative or market ready your business may seem to be, snags will come; so be prepared.

Before you dream of the big bucks and a healthy bottom line, metaphorically view yourself as a runner in a marathon; the tortoise versus the hare. You, in some way, have prepared for this race. As you approach the line and begin to secure your footing, different scenarios and ideas fill your head with ways to finish the race on top. You’ve prepared for the victory lap, the prize.  

The gun shoots and you’re off. While admiring the roar of the crowd, you unintentionally misstep, tripping over yourself, and stumbling, as you view your competition continuing on ahead of you. As a business owner, it is easy to be hare-like: passionate, enthusiastic, full of ideas, and overly confident, lacking a plan and discipline, because of underestimating the unforeseen challenges ahead.

Instead, be like the tortoise. Prepare for a marathon. Consider these common mistakes small business owners make and, if you’re currently guilty, remedy them as early as now:

1. Doing it “Solo-Dolo”

You might believe it to be more efficient if you do everything yourself. As a startup, most business owners do, in fact, juggle many hats: sales, marketing, accounting, human resources. However, eventually business grows, becoming more demanding of your time and you won’t be able to expertly handle all aspects of your business. As a potential result, your business could become inefficient and unsustainable.

Delegation is key.

Hire the right kind of talent needed for your business. Start by hiring an assistant (virtual assistants are a great option) part time for specific tasks, eventually increasing the hours as you see fit. This will free up your time abit, allowing you to focus on growing your business and reaching your targeted audiences. Plus, collaboration always sprouts the best ideas.  

2. What Business Plan?

Yes, some successful business plans like J.K. Rowling’s might have been created on a table napkin. But this may not hold true for everyone. A business plan is very much like a blueprint for a house or a building. It helps integrate all of your ideas in one place, and expound on those ideas for implementation.

A good business plan should cover all aspects of the business, including summary, products and services, customers/targeted audience, marketing, strategy, pricing, and financials. Like blueprints, business plans should have contingency plans and exit strategies in place as well. Some may think business plans are an unnecessary nuisance – however, having a solid strategy allows you to go back to the books when things go awry.

There are a lot of resources online on how to create a business plan, and you do not have to be an expert to put one together. Whether you plan out the next year, or the next three years, you will not go wrong with having an operation efficiency strategy in place.

3. “I am my only competition.”

New businesses are established daily, and as the saying goes: there is nothing new under the sun. Thousands of companies have competing products and services, creating variations in marketing and branding; (Note: have you walked down a bread aisle lately?) By negating the vital step in conducting an analysis of your market, you’re tremendously undermining your potential to connect and capture your targeted audience. Knowing where you stand among your competition is essential for several reasons. With this knowledge, you can:

  • Determine a competitive price point based on what competitors offer
  • Identify marketing and advertising dos and don’ts
  • Provide better quality products or services

Knowing where you stand and how to remain competitive gives you a lot of foresight when creating a successful business.

4. Marketing, Smarketing!

Sure, you have an awesome product or service; but how are you reaching your targeted customers? Marketing is vital for any business and content is the king of today’s marketing environment. The most successful brands in the world have developed detailed marketing strategies that help them inspire, entertain, and connect with their target audiences.

Whether it be print, social media, or blogs, marketing is essential in increasing your brand visibility and sales. If you currently do not have a marketing strategy in place, start by setting a feasible marketing budget, and utilize the various free marketing platforms. Keep in mind that marketing is only as effective as the analytics that back it up. Blasting content that does not actively engage your audience or increase sales is just as bad as not having a strategy at all. Analyze and understand what your analytics reveal about your marketing and steadily work towards improving your methods.

5. “I know what people want!”

In order to market something people want, you must understand who they are and what they need. Carefully define your targeted audience(s); the narrower the focus, the faster the growth. Once you have identified your customers, craft messaging that translates the value your brand brings them. Again, you can only tailor your content once you’ve researched and understood the needs of your customers. After giving your audience a reason to connect and consume, you will establish and retain loyal and passionate customers.

Every business owner faces challenges. Becoming an entrepreneur means stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks; with this, comes mistakes and lessons. If you’ve read this article and want direction on brand development or marketing services, we are here to help. Let us take care of connecting you to your audience(s) while you do what you love: running your business!

Boost Your Private Label Product Sales with These 5 Marketing Tips

Not getting enough sales on you private label products? Does your product outshine your competitors, but not sure how to market it correctly?

A lot of private label products have come and gone but there are those that have made a mark in the industry. Not only because they offer better quality products than most competitors out there, but they also appeal more to the targeted audiences. The secret lies in how to position these products to resonate with your audience and create loyalty to your products and your brand. 

If your products are ready to launch, or have been ready for quite some time now, but you aren’t quite sure on how to successfully market them, here are a few tips that can help you hit the ground running.  

Define your Brand Cornerstone

Ensure that your brand packaging and logo is unique and attracts your target market. Always ask yourself, “What kind of message do I want my brand to convey? Do I want to appeal to a certain lifestyle, a mindset or a goal?” Always strategically think and plan out why your products are the best, and the value you offer that others don’t. 

The Importance of Social Media  

Social media platforms are the ultimate way to kick off your private label brand and create brand awareness. Most companies launch on social media platforms, especially on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Launch a successful marketing campaign by the use of Facebook “likes” and Instagram hashtags to create brand credibility online. We strongly suggest you also invest in paid advertisements so that your brand is visible to your targeted audience.

Follow influencers and bloggers, and actively engage on social media. You can create a series of posts, following specific themes and post them on peak days and hours for your targeted audience, as well as creating holiday posts and relate them to your brand. This leads us to #3.

Be Responsive and Engaging

A strong online presence requires a high response rate and close engagement with your audience. To do this efficiently, establish an engagement process on how you and/or your team responds to questions, comments and inquiries online. Great customer service is a must and will boost brand loyalty as nothing turns off a potential customer more than a non-responsive chat support system or unanswered calls.  

Make sure you respond to all comments and thank them for being a loyal customer (or interested in your product). If you can’t get to your inquiries on time, set an automated chat bot to make sure that the initial engagement with a potential customer happens. 

Be Consistent

The secret here? Plan, plan and plan. Map out a three to six month marketing campaign for your products, and be prepared to make adjustments as you go along. Being consistent on marketing campaigns allows you to foresee any hiccups along the way, and allows you to be more creative.  

More ways to make your marketing plan consistent: 

  • Establish specific timelines and goals on your content calendar.
  • Meet with your staff and support team regularly to align the team goals (even if you work alone).
  • Create a road map as to where you want to be in 3, 6 or 12 months. 
  • Work on those goals alongside your marketing plan. 

The Power of Analytics 

Take advantage of business intelligence tools on your platform’s back end. Whether it’s on your website or Facebook page, run analytics on a weekly basis to get a feel of how your product line and engagement perform online. A lot of actionable insights are found in these analytics reports, which allow you to consistently adjust to the demands of your audience.

Even if your brand is performing well, analytics can also provide foresight on how you can further improve and expand your online presence. You can discover some marketing channels that you have not thought of exploring before, audiences and other target niches that were right under your nose the whole time.

Believe in your product and see the results with a solid marketing plan. A strategic marketing campaign runs by itself literally, when you are confident that your product doesn’t compromise quality. Not all private labels are created equal, but with the right mindset and a strategic marketing campaign, no doubt you are on your way to the pinnacle of e-commerce success.  

Need help crafting brand messaging? Contact us for a consultation today!

PivotPath’s #CharityFriday Highlights: CPCSL

Compassion for Peace and Child Survival- Sierra Leone (CPCS-SL or “Compassion”) is a nonprofit specializing in the intervention of humanity through education, advocacy, and rehabilitation in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Compassion seeks to aid men, women and children in bridging the gap between poverty and sustainable prosperity. To accomplish these objectives the organization relies on their staff’s expertise, donor engagement and execution of targeted programming.

CPCS-SL is an organization at the heart of believing that a wave of kindness can turn into an ocean of contagious goodness. The primary goal is to serve, advocate, educate and provide rehabilitation services in Sierra Leone through global partnerships. 

The nonprofit has several ongoing projects focusing on the areas of intervention, concentration and specialization:

Project Learn was the inception of implementations efforts, where CPCS-SL partners with school systems, individuals and social workers to ensure children receive an exceptional education.

As a subset, Project “Women Empowerment” seeks to empower marginalized women by providing a voice in matters that affect their ability to contribute in society. The project also provides educational and financial literacy trainings and provision of livestock for agricultural use.

As an organization, we do not believe nor practice autonomism because we have adopted the age old african proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. In our case it takes a global community to solve individual problems.

Willietta Gombeh, Founder of CPCS-SL

In 2017, Sierra Leone was devastated by a major flood killing and displacing hundreds of people.

During this time, CPCS-SL increased their online visibility by connecting with donors via social media pages such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Gofundme. By effectively utilizing these tools, they were able to not only raise funds but gain new donorship and partnership with other local and international organizations.

Within the course of a month, they raised over $5,000. The outpour of donations promoted CPCS-SL to be one of the first responders to this disaster, as well as one of the leaders in the rehabilitation process for these individuals.

In addition to meeting their primary needs (food, clothing, and temporary shelter), CPCS-SL also provided individuals with stipends and medical assistance. CPCS-SL utilized social media as the leading way to engage their partners, recruit new donorship and direct fundings to humanitarian efforts.

The primary mission of nonprofits is to make a positive impact. And brand marketing aids organizations in deepening the impact they make. Willietta and her team have clarified their goals, transformed their mission through the power of storytelling, and utilized social media to align with targeted audiences. 

Whether you’re entrepreneur, nonprofit founder, or nation, branding is such an integral part of successful growth. Contact us today so we can assist you on your journey and pivot your path.

PivotPath’s #CharityFriday Highlights: Lift a Village

In light of World Refugee Day yesterday, we not only highlight an amazing nonprofit for this week’s #CharityFriday but also a founder with deep ties to the refugee population in Houston, Texas and abroad.

The Lift Our Village nonprofit was founded in 2014 by Aisha Koroma, a Sierra Leonean born Social Worker and Mental Health Professional raised in Houston, Texas, USA. Having experienced a life of hardship growing up in Sierra Leone like many of the children in our program, Aisha has always been dismayed by the poor standard of education available to underprivileged children in Africa.

In 1996, Aisha and her family fled Sierra Leone as a result of the country’s civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.

The family settled in Senegal where Aisha continued her primary education in an alternative school established for refugee children. In the year 2000 at age 14, Aisha and her family were resettled in the United States and has been working to serve the underprivileged ever since. 

In the summer of 2012, Aisha traveled to Sierra Leone as a volunteer for A-Scholars International, a UK based organization with a shared mission. Upon her return to the United States, she knew she had found her purpose.  Her passion for transforming lives through education and creating social change for children across the globe is invaluable.

Since 2014, the nonprofit Lift a Village has provided more than 400 disadvantaged children ages 6-18, from kindergarten to 12th grade; with a personal education program tailored specifically to their needs. This holistic approach enables children to break the cycle of poverty and reach their full potential.

Social media has played a great role in spreading our mission to our targeted audience. We utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to educate others about our mission; share updates on programs/services/activities; as well as soliciting donations. Lift a Village is not a grant funded organization so all our programs and activities are funded by our Founder, executive team, and donations from the general public.

Aisha Koroma, Founder of Lift of Village

The primary mission of nonprofits is to make a positive impact. And brand marketing aids organizations in deepening the impact they make. Aisha and her team have clarified their goals, transformed their mission through the power of storytelling, and utilized social media to align with targeted audiences. 

Whether you’re entrepreneur , nonprofit founder, or political leader, branding is such an integral part of successful growth. Contact us today so we can assist you on your journey and pivot your path.

PivotPath’s Women In Business Feature: Ajara Marie Bomah

Ajara Marie is a professional, business mogul and marketing executive with over 15 years of experience. She specializes in diaspora engagement and investment in Africa with a critical focus on women in business in Africa. She runs a boutique strategic communications agency that empowers African female entrepreneurs and individuals.

Ajara Marie helps her audience develop their brands and businesses to better position themselves for opportunities in their local and international markets. In addition to her career pursuit, she is a humanitarian working to change the lives of young people, especially girls in Africa. 

As the CEO of an established agency, Ajara Marie aids clients in building out their dreams of entrepreneurship and sharing their branding stories to their targeted audiences; however, she, too, has encountered a few obstacles as an entrepreneur. PivotPath founder, Elizabeth M’balu Oke, asked Ajara Marie about the two most challenging aspects of business, especially as a female entrepreneur in Africa.

Starting and growing a business as a female entrepreneur in a developing country isn’t easy. There are many challenges we face daily in trying to start and grow our brands and businesses. Over the years I have learned that this is part of business.

Two main challenges that most of us face as business owners are

1. Accessing funding to develop our businesses and

2. Finding and building networks and mentors.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

1. Access to funding

As entrepreneur, trying to get funding for business is hard. But, as a woman we are often sidelined more than our male counterparts.

Either we [women] don’t have the right information as to where funds are available or know the different types of funding. Also, some of us don’t know how to develop investment-ready portfolios and pitches. In addition, some of us don’t know how to manage money so that affects how we look at funding opportunities.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

Yes, people feel there is money available for female entrepreneurs. However, when you don’t have collateral to apply for loans, or the interest rate is so high and can’t be lowered, there is not much option. [You just have to] to try and manage with what you have. [Unfortunately], sometimes [this] takes up most of your time and you are unable to work on other aspects of the business.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

2. Finding a Business Mentor

Mentoring and support networks are very important. As a business woman, it is imperative to have one or the other.  

Women Mean Business’ #shemeansbusiness Brunch and Learn

Business is about making decisions and choices that can help in making your business succeed or fail. Therefore, having an experienced mentor who has been down this path before can be helpful in keeping you from making some of the same mistakes they may have made.

Unlike our male counterparts, female entrepreneurs find it difficult to get the right mentors. It took me years to find successful female entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone/Africa that inspire me and were willing to work with me. Being part of networks and organizations that empower females who are in business has also been helpful. So, there are quite a few Facebook groups and local networks that I am a part of that have been helpful.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

We then asked Ajara Marie how she has strategically and successfully overcome these challenges using a form of marketing to reach your targeted audience(s).

Leveraging on my networks to build relationships and building my digital media footprints.

I’m a connector and meet with different people all the time. I often times get great leads but either forget to reconnect or foster relationships with these people that I meet. I believe life is about building relationships and harnessing out networks. You have to be intentional about building business relationships and sharing opportunities with others. By doing so, you build genuine relationships where everyone benefits. Collaboration is also key and can open door for you; it’s also a great way to get business leads.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

I’m also a behind the scene type of person, so I do a lot in the background and tend not to share much about my what I do with the general populous. However, a few years back I realize that people were interested in knowing what I was doing and were inspired about my work. With that, I took strategic steps in putting myself out there and sharing some tips, experiences and things that I have been doing to reach where I’m out.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

“I took advantage of sharing my story on my social media links, digital magazines, collaborating with other to host events and programs.”

In this day of technology, having a digital media footprint is necessary. It can serve as your CV and a way for you to inspire others. I am very big on mentoring and this is another way that I can use my space to mentor others as well.  This has also given me the opportunity to connect with other powerful women doing great things across the world.

Ajara Marie Bomah, CEO of Woman Mean Business

Supporting small businesses and nonprofits is an act that acknowledges the tremendous risk and challenges that come from following your dream, pushing your creativity into a business, and starting your own your thing. PivotPath realizes these realities and serves as a median to alleviate these challenges by providing brand development, content management, and social media marketing services, customized to fit your specific budget. Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help you discover your audience and connect them to your Story.