Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Power of Social Media

Let’s be real. As design professionals, our world has changed dramatically over the past several years. With the internet now deeply entrenched in our lives, it has changed not only how we research and access information and products but also has changed how we market ourselves and our businesses, or so it should!

In a world where social networking and marketing are growing at an amazing rate, I often get asked if we, as design professionals should be using the various online social mediums in our business. There are many opinions out there as to which social mediums to use but the bottom line answer to using online social media is a resounding YES! Since this seems to be a very hot topic right now, I’ve decided to devote the next few blog articles to taking a look at the more common social networking and marketing tools out there and provide some real time information on why and how to use them as well as how to incorporate them into your overall marketing strategy for your design business.

This week, we’ll focus on Facebook. Let’s start with the latest statistics. According to, as of February 2009:

  • Facebook reported nearly 45.3 million active US users as of February 2009.
  • Facebook is growing in every age/gender demographic. Fastest growing segment: Women over 55.
  • Facebook is growing faster with women than men in almost every age group. Women comprise 56.2% of Facebook’s audience, up from 54.3% late last year.
  • 45% of Facebook’s US audience is now 26 years old or older.

Now think about who typically purchases design services. With these statistics, we’d be foolish to ignore Facebook as a means of connecting with both current and prospective clients, not to mention networking opportunities with other businesses that compliment ours. Our business is based on relationship building, word of mouth has historically been our best source for clients and Facebook provides just that, an online means for promoting our services “word of mouth”. Not only can we create relationships, we can do it faster than ever through Facebook. And best of all, Facebook doesn’t cost any more than a little bit of your time each day; there is no financial investment required.

Promoting your business on Facebook begins with setting up a strong profile. It allows you to showcase what you can do, who you can help, what you have to offer. The next step is networking by reaching out to people in your industry on Facebook and start making connections. It's a great way to see what other businesses are out there in which you share similar interests and target market and see where you might be able to leverage that to help both your businesses. Set up your Facebook page with the intent on keeping it business focused. That doesn’t mean you cannot share anything personal but when communicating on Facebook, never say anything that you wouldn’t say to your clients in a face-to-face conversation. Invite your clients to join you on Facebook and use your posts to communicate design tips, great finds, inspirational thoughts, as well as aspects of your personal life that are funny, interesting, basically anything that would help them get to know you better. You can also post photos of your work or pictures of designs that really inspire you. To really start building relationships, post comments in response to other posts. It can be as simple as one or two words and gets your name out there to their Facebook friends.

Finally, post daily to keep you and your business in front of your Facebook network so when they or their friends need design services, you'll be top of mind : )

Monday, July 13, 2009

Get Uncomfortable

If you want to experience the greatness life has to offer you, you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. What does that mean? It means stretching yourself beyond your capabilities knowing that in the end you’ll grow and your newly acquired strength and confidence will continue to propel you forward to reaching your vision. We all have this ability to go outside our comfort zone and persevere – otherwise we’d still be crawling on the floor : ) Think about a baby taking its first steps. Crawling around met our needs but we all knew there was something better. We’d struggle to pull ourselves up knowing this was the first step in walking but quickly realized it wasn’t as easy as it looked. We’d fall down time and time again, sometimes taking a nasty fall and getting injured. But we wouldn’t let that stop us because each time we tried, we’d gain that much more strength and feel our goal of walking that much closer until one day we’re able to easily stand. With renewed confidence, we take our first step only to fall once again. But we knew with commitment and perseverance, we somehow learned to pull ourselves up so surely we can walk! We practiced again and again, putting all our energy into taking that first step, not letting anything stand in the way of reaching our goal. Then one day we finally do it, our perseverance paid off and we take that first step, second step and before you know it, we’re running around elated that we’ve reached our goal and loving the new life we’ve arrived into!

But, how do we lose the ability to persevere through anything to reach our goals? Somewhere along the way, someone told us we can’t do it, made us feel inadequate or told us our dreams were too big for us and we began thinking small and living a life that was comfortable. Think of how amazing our lives would be if we employed the same level of commitment and perseverance we did as a young baby trying to walk into all that we do today! We can do this and those that have achieved greatness before us have tapped into this allowing nothing and no one to stop them from achieving their vision for their life. Think of some of the great sports figures of today. Tiger Woods started life not knowing how to swing a golf club, Michael Phelps didn’t swim before he walked, although some may disagree : ). They both started at the beginning, taking those first few strokes, experiencing the challenges along with the victories, and living a life that was probably more uncomfortable than comfortable in those early years. But it was that internal drive to go beyond their current capabilities that allowed them to excel, growing stronger both mentally and physically. They each embraced their sport and passionately committed to being the best at what they did. They had a vision of greatness and they didn’t let the challenges and setbacks that came their way stop them!

No one said the path to achieving greatness in life would be easy but the journey is well worth the results! Find that inner child in you that allowed you to persevere and not give up at the first challenge that came your way and reconnect with that belief and inner drive to achieve anything you put your mind to! Learn to ignore the naysayers, learn from your setbacks to make you stronger and let your vision of something better be your guiding light. Your greatness is within your reach!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Time to Weed And Feed

Many days we got so bogged down with all details of managing our business that it's easy to lose sight of our vision. In fact the vision you started out with that inspired and energized you can seem out of reach many days. You cannot underestimate the power that your vision has on your business and your life. Your vision is your beacon that you need to constantly keep in front of you, allowing it to guide and direct you. It reminds you of the higher purpose you have in your business and keeps you focused on the end result.

It is when we take our eyes off our vision that negativity, self doubt, fear and frustration creep into our mindset and drain us of our energy and purpose. How do you know when you've taken your eyes off your vision? Do you feel like you're treading water to stay afloat in your business? Are you afraid to stop doing what you're doing for fear you'll completely drown into the chaos and confusion that surround you? Do you feel like your thoughts are spiraling out of control telling you you'll never get it all done and feel paralyzed in your current situation? These are telltale signs that you are no longer focused on your vision.

So, how do you reign in the chaos and zoom in on your vision? The answer is very simple, just stop doing what your doing when these thoughts and feeling surface. I know saying that is easier said than done and like anything else, it takes practice. Our bodies and minds have learned to kick into survival mode when we feel overwhelmed. The negativity that creates feeds on itself and spirals us away from our vision. Rather than putting ourselves out there, growing and taking risks, we instead hold back and struggle to stay where we are. By training ourselves to simply stop, reassess and hone in on the bigger purpose for doing what we're doing, we will counteract the negativity and bring our vision back into focus. I heard a term the other day that sums up what we must do - "weed and feed". We must WEED out the self-doubt, fear and negative thoughts and replace with faith, trust and belief in our vision - FEED the positive. We can only do this by recognizing when we've lost focus and taking the extra effort to stop, weed and feed!