Once Upon a Time

storytelling

Storytelling is a time-honored tradition which began before humanity had the ability to create long-lasting printed documents. The first stories were a way of passing on an oral tradition and history of various cultures around the world. There is still a storytelling tradition in many cultures, although as communities spread out, storytelling has moved to written, printed, and now digital methods of recording the tales. Oral traditions created a rich history for ancient cultures that gave rise to much of what we call myths and legends today, a blend of history and religion which gave purpose to people who lived short and often harsh lives.

Role of Printing in Storytelling

The development of the printing press gave stories new life because they could be disseminated on a broader scale and replicated easily. No longer were scribes necessary for copying expensive books and papers. Not only was the rich, cultural history and religious beliefs of various people shared among a wider community, but pure fiction was written for the purpose of entertainment and enjoyment for the masses. For those who were not taught to read, stories were read and passed around by those who could.

Storytelling in the Digital Age

While it has become easier to distribute stories in the digital age, and more of the world’s population is educated enough to read, storytelling continues to be a powerful way to distribute a message to people. Computers and the internet make spreading the word faster, but the concept of an oral tradition is easily seen in the many repetitions of news stories online from different slants or points of view. The question lies in how an entity or brand can create a unified story to present to an audience or market. With the unique ability to duplicate digital image and print and distribute them through many channels, storytelling can be a powerful tool for marketing a company or organization.

Incorporating Storytelling in Marketing and Branding

A recent article in Search Engine Journal discusses the benefits of storytelling as a method for branding. The author, Katy Katz, talks about how storytelling creates connections and potential bonds between a brand and a market. When thinking about storytelling for a brand, call to mind some of the brands that you grew up with that have become common words in the American culture such as Kleenex, Coke or Pampers, often used to replace the actual word for the item being talked about. While creating a storytelling campaign for your own brand may not turn it into a common household word, you will still be able to cement the story with the brand name to create lasting memories in the minds of your audience.

Benefits of Brand Storytelling

Katz mentions 5 benefits to brand storytelling in her article.

1. Storytelling builds memories.
2. Storytelling is a natural motivator.
3. Storytelling builds relationships.
4. Storytelling makes content exciting.
5. Storytelling can make something old, new again.

How Can You Use these Benefits to Your Advantage in Marketing?

Since most businesses have competitors that offer products or services that are similar to theirs, branding offers a way to show your differences. Creating a brand story or even just telling your brand’s story in a cohesive manner can give your audience reasons to bond with you beyond pricing or product quality. An excellent example of brand storytelling is the way Tom’s Shoes has incorporated their brand name with their history of giving. (http://www.toms.com/stories/giving/10-years-of-giving-together) They have created not only an excellent product, but a compelling reason to buy from them.

You can do the same.


Click here image

Print It Plus has so much to offer. Find Out What You Have Been Missing.

For more information or to request a quote, go to Print It Plus, http://www.printitplus.com.

Mutual Respect: The Secret Ingredient When It Comes to Managing Employees

Working together

Many business leaders are still operating under the mistaken impression that the key ingredient to managing employees involves learning how to delegate responsibility. So long as you tell the right people to complete the right tasks, your business should pretty much run itself, right?

Wrong.

You can’t just demand that your employees dedicate a huge part of their waking days to helping you accomplish your own professional goals. They have to want it. You can’t buy it, either – high salaries and competitive benefits help, but they’ll only ultimately carry you so far.

So how do you make not only managing employees easier than ever, but also turn them into true, loyal team members instead of passive subordinates at the same time?

The answer is simple: mutual respect.

What is Mutual Respect?

The most important idea to understand about mutual respect is that you’re dealing with a two-way street. You can’t force someone to respect you just because you happen to be their boss or because your name is on the door. You have to earn it. You have to show them that you’re worthy of it.

However, generating mutual respect isn’t as easy as flipping a light switch. It involves a lot of small things that eventually add up to a pretty significant whole. It’s about being genuine in your interactions with employees. It’s about going out of your way to do the right thing and recognize a job well done. It’s about making sure that all employees, regardless of position, have an equal voice in all decisions that affect them. It’s about taking the time to show an employee that those eight hours they spend in the office on a Sunday didn’t go unnoticed. That they were appreciated. That you wouldn’t be where you are without them.

What Mutual Respect Means in the Long Run

If you’re able to foster an environment where mutual respect occurs organically, you’ll begin to feel a wide range of different benefits almost immediately. Mutual respect means that an employee is willing to put in a little extra effort and work harder because they know that you appreciate what they do and that you would be willing to do the same if the situation was reversed. Mutual respect means that if you do make a mistake, an employee is going to give you the benefit of the doubt because it’s the same courtesy you’ve afforded them in the past.

Mutual respect also means that all employees understand and even believe that they have an equal voice. They don’t feel like they work FOR you, they feel like they work WITH you – because you feel the exact same way. Even when a conflict does arise, it never gets heated or even contentious because people who respect each other don’t argue and fight over issues, they discuss them like civilized adults.

These are some of the many reasons why mutual respect is the secret ingredient when it comes to managing employees. Creating a workplace where mutual respect is encouraged creates a “trickle down” effect almost immediately – conflict management is easier, collaboration is more efficient, and even the types of personality or cultural differences that stood to divide employees in the past only work to bring them together.

Mutual respect allows everyone to come to the simple yet important realization that at the end of the day, you’re all part of the same team.


Click here image

Print It Plus has so much to offer. Find Out What You Have Been Missing.

For more information or to request a quote, go to Print It Plus, http://www.printitplus.com.

4 Trends Affecting Small Businesses This Year

4_trends

Business owners tend to spend a lot of time searching the magic oracle (a.k.a. the internet) for answers to business growth questions. How do I get new customers? How do I get existing customers to come back? Why doesn’t my cat like me?

Ok, maybe business owners don’t have issues with their cats, though the other questions are probably crowding their brain space right now. Fear not, we’ve identified 4 business trends you should be paying attention to this year.

JOBS Act Crowdfunding Investment Opportunities

Not everything in business is free. It may be all well and good to max out credit cards or drain your savings to start and grow your business, but now there’s a better way. The JOBS Act: Title III was recently released and what that means for you is that your business can raise investments through crowdfunding, even from non-accredited investors. If you’re in the market to increase your market share, consider checking out sites like Crowdfunder.com or Equitynet.com.

Rapid Delivery Systems

You’ve probably heard by now of rapid delivery and logistics systems like AmazonFlex and UberRUSH. Society is moving rapidly to an on-demand world, capitalizing on an economy of shut-ins, or more likely, extremely busy people. If you are in the business of selling products, you can now easily integrate an entire network of delivery drivers to hand- deliver your goods to your customers’ doorsteps.

Cyber Security

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the world is moving to the cloud. The rise of SaaS (Software as a Service) companies and the increasing value of information have turned the web into a hackers dream. They’re becoming more creative as well. Imagine coming into the office one day and finding that all of your files have been encrypted and a ransom note is in your inbox for the key. Your business could easily come to a crashing halt.

If you’ve never thought about cyber security or don’t know where to start, head over to the Federal Communications Commission and create a custom Small Business Cyber Planner.

Social Responsibility

Today’s consumer is becoming more socially aware and more socially active. They care about the world they live in and they expect the same from the businesses they patronize. Earn their respect and you will have dedicated clients for life. We’re talking more than just going green, though, although it’s always a great first start. The next step is to imagine ways in which your product or service could help reduce suffering, poverty, or climate change. Find an issue that resonates with you and your clientele and that finds a way to effect a little social change from within your company.

 

Click here image

Print It Plus has so much to offer. Find Out What You Have Been Missing.

For more information or to request a quote, go to Print It Plus, http://www.printitplus.com.

Does it Make Economic Sense to Buy Locally in This Internet Age?

door-w-open-sign

Much has been written about the advantages of shopping and buying products online or from big box retailers. But does buying locally offer any benefits the Internet and big box stores can’t match?

Saving a few dollars by buying online is a given in many product categories. Amazon has becomes a household name by selling books and every other imaginable item, many of which they don’t manufacture themselves, at discounted rates.

However, before you spend that next dollar online or in a big box store instead of with a local business, consider the impact your decision has on your community and even your own pocket. The short-term benefits of saving a few dollars are dwarfed by the long-term negative consequences, including job loss in the local community.

Buying local isn’t just a feel good act or an act of charity. Buying local has a profound impact not only on the local community but also on the entire region surrounding the community.

When local businesses close their doors, they create a social and economic hole which is hard to measure and even harder to fill. With the closing of each local business, the quality of life in the community changes in ways that go far beyond dollars and cents.

Independent local businesses spend money locally on a wide variety of services needed for their own ongoing operations. They hire locally and spend money with their own local vendors. Local businesses hire local accountants, consult with local attorneys, work with local building contractors, electricians, and plumbers, and advertise locally. In general, they do far more to keep the flow of money in their local community than online companies or big box retailers do.

Out-of-the-area corporations use minimal local services and goods. Most of the profits are kept with the corporate headquarters where they stay.

Here are some other facts to consider.

  1. Small businesses account for over 75% of all new jobs in the U.S.
  2. Small businesses employ over half of all U.S. workers.
  3. Twice the amount of money stays in the community when it’s spent with a local business versus an online company or big national box store.
  4. Local economies aren’t hurting due to lack of money coming in. Instead, the shortfalls come from too much money flowing out to big corporations out of the area.
  5. National and international politics and policies have a far lesser impact when the community shops locally, thereby relying less on out-of-town corporations. Local shopping money has a much higher chance of recirculation within the local community.
  6. Locally owned businesses typically provide higher wages and better working conditions than large corporate chains and Internet-only businesses.
  7. You can see, touch, and feel what you’re buying locally, instead of having to wait until the shipment arrives.
  8. There are no shipping costs or delivery delays when you buy locally.
  9. When buying locally, you can get your questions answered in person or on the phone instead of playing email tag with the online vendor.
  10. Your local business owner’s livelihood is dependent upon giving great service. If they don’t, you won’t go back. So they try hard to satisfy their customers because they know there are only so many customers in the local market.
  11. If you encounter any issues or problems, local ownership can make quick decisions to resolve the matter. Important decisions are made locally by people who actually live in the local community and feel the real impact of those decisions.
  12. Local businesses add charm and a unique atmosphere to their local community. They help build strong communities and vibrant town centers that foster social relationships not possible with websites or big box stores.

Local businesses don’t ask for special favors. They simply want a fair and equitable playing field on which to compete. Many small business owners have their life savings tied up in their companies, so they have much vested in the success of their business (and the local economy). Small businesses simply want it known that sometimes a few dollars saved in the short term does far more damage to the vitality and well-being of the community at large in the long run.

Now that you know some of the facts, it’s time to visit your local businesses. They’ll welcome you and thank you for supporting your community.

Happy shopping!