When Nate and I first started the business, the name and branding fell into place easily. Someday I'll Learn began as a personal way for us to keep distant friends and family updated, and every detail of the site grew easily out of our own preferences. There was no pressure to impress anyone or worry about consistency and setting ourselves apart.
The blog world's gotten a bit more cutthroat since then.
In the last decade, this little website has morphed from a hobby to a job, and a massively competitive industry has sprung up around it. As someone with a background in marketing, I'm proud to play a part in the shift towards more organic messaging. User-generated content is my JAM, you guys! As a busy family, though, sometimes the ‘business' part of it all feels a bit overwhelming.
I didn't set out with a well-defined plan.
I don't have an MBA.
Teleconferences are often on our calendar. We open the computer to find ourselves face-to-face with big-shot executives in upper-floor New York offices. For me, this typically entails a frantic runaround five minutes beforehand in which I tug my hair into submission, stick some Sesame Street in for the boys and throw a clean shirt on before carefully adjusting the monitor to make sure nobody can see my jogger pants.
It's hard to keep Imposter Syndrome at bay.
Time and time again, though, we've had colleagues seek us out for pointers on professionalism. We have excellent relationships with brands, maintaining the same partnerships for years. Quite a few PR reps have hired us over and over again for various campaigns. I feel like we must be doing something right!
Something different, perhaps?
In conversations with my friends, I've mentioned a couple times that I send thank you cards and small Christmas gifts to our closest sponsors. They're always blown away.
“How do you find time for that?”
“It's business,” I shrug. “I make time for that!”
I remember sitting at my grandpa's desk as a kid and watching him and grandma pore over address books every year. He was a highly-respected executive for one of the biggest oil companies in the world, yet he never forgot to include a supplier or a secretary. That made a big impression on me.
Nate and I create custom cards with our sponsor MOO, and at the end of a campaign I jot down a quick little note and plop it in the mail. It's not a huge gesture, but in this day and age of tweets and e-cards, I think a tangible reminder in the office goes a long way.
Since Instagram is a huge channel for us, I've found a really unique way of pulling that into our thank you cards with one of MOO's custom layouts that can feature 12 photos pulled from our social channels. It's easy for me to select the pictures I want to include in one click and then – voila! I have a super-impressive, custom card featuring the work we did for their company. It has our information, and we seal the card with custom MOO stickers that have our logo on it. What makes it truly special, though, is that it serves as a little commemoration of our unique partnership.
We try to do all the right business-y branding things, of course. Our blog's overall vibe has been consistent for quite awhile, with unchanging colors and fonts. Our blog name is always in all-caps and black, with our logo and accents in blue and grey. This wood-panel texture often finds its way into our cards and flyers and other printed items. Overall, though, I feel like incorporating photography is the biggest part of our branding. Glossy photos are what we do. They show who we are. They say a lot more than any slogan or tagline ever could.
So when colleagues ask me my biggest business tip? The answer is simple. I make it about our work with our partners. I keep in mind that while the person on the other side of the computer may sit in a big-shot, shiny, fancy office…they're still people at the end of the day. They're probably going a million miles an hour, too. Small gestures can make a difference, and they will absolutely remember the happy feeling of stopping in their tracks to see their brand honored and thanked.
For fellow small businesses looking for a way to stand out, the answer isn't about you.
It's about them.
How do you make your small business stand out?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of MOO. The opinions and text are all mine.