Spotlight: Imani Johnson

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Imani Johnson, Mimi’s Mane Tease
My Story: Funny enough I wanted to be a barber when I was choosing my classes but the program was full and I had to pick cosmetology. I went straight to work at a salon after high school, while all my friends went straight to college. I told my mother I didn’t want to go and I would take my cosmetology career serious and so that’s how it started. I was a shampoo assistant first, then I started styling. That came about when I was at work one Saturday and walk ins were coming in but no other stylist was there to service them and my boss at the time told me to start taking walk ins. My biggest challenge was staying focused, being a 17 year old stylist comes with a lot of freedom, I over came that when I realized, I’m responsible for my own pay! One thing I’m really good at is weaving, my sew ins are flawless!
3-5 Business Tips for new entrepreneurs:
1. ALWAYS be on time. It sets the tone for you as a business person.
2.Be aware of your consumers and meet their needs before they get a chance to ask
3. Check your feelings at the DOOR. Emotions and paycheck a DON’T mix.
4. Never wait on anyone to teach you about your market, go and learn it. Learning is free (books)
5. If it’s your passion, eat, sleep and breathe it, it’s ruff but the money comes. Keep your heart in it
What inspires me to do what I do is seeing my clients happy about a transformation I can make styling their hair. Knowing that is enough, your hair is an adornment and when women feel and look good, life is good.
The problem I solve for customers in my industry is being everything they need. Meaning, I take my brand seriously, I do everything I’m doing with a pure heart and my clients appreciate that. Also, I’m always on time for my appointments!
MiMi’s Mane Tease
Location: Personal Touch Salon, Hyattsville, MD
Styleseat: styleseat/i/mimistylesme
Instagram: slim_thickmimi
Facebook: Imani Johnson (MiMi)

Spotlight: Emily Romig

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Emily Romig, Cactus Crate
My story: In college, you could pretty much guarantee that I had at least a dozen cacti and succulents lined up along my windowsill, lovingly planted in teacups that I got from Goodwill. As the years went on, I ran out of space for cacti, but noticed that I always got compliments on my collection. Instead of continuing to expand my own collection, I started thinking. In this current climate of subscription box services and southwestern aesthetic enthusiasm, I got the idea to send plants (and other themed accessories) right to cactus lovers! A huge challenge has been figuring out how to actually ship live plants with the least mess (and stress to the plant) possible. However, I’ve learned a lot simply from observing the practices of online garden wholesalers. Remember the shredded paper you get in your Easter basket? That stuff is perfect for keeping prickly little plants tidy and comfortable! My biggest strength is that I’m a really fabulous bargain-hunter, which really comes in handy when you’re just starting out with only a couple subscribers that you want to give the most bang for their buck.
3 Tips for inspiring entrepreneurs:
 1. Go for it. Really. Take the plunge. Whatever that means to you, do it.
2. It’s okay to start out slow. That’s what I’m doing right now. It gives you the opportunity to work out a lot of bugs, take a lot of humbling advice, and intimately get to know your targeted customer base.
3. Your customer is smarter than you think. There’s a sweet spot right in between the right amount of engagement via social media, and just badgering them way too hard.
4. Your friends, family, and partner are all really great sounding boards for ideas. Make use of it.

What inspires you to do what you do?  The incredibly popular kawaii culture and aesthetic, my late grandmother’s love for plants, and the fact that cacti are just so darn cute. (And hard to kill.) I’m just very passionate about plants, and I want to share that passion with my customers!

What problem do you solve for your customers? I think a huge roadblock for a lot of my customers is that they don’t know how to choose or care for a cactus. They don’t know where to go to find one, and they certainly don’t know what to do with it. I make it fun and easy by including a curated, healthy plant as well as a care sheet along with the other cactus-themed accessories. I help them realize that it’s not hard at all to start your own little apartment garden.
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Marketing Muscle: Positioning

Marketing Muscle: Positioning

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The real muscle behind your marketing efforts is positioning.  Just like you cannot force a puzzle piece into a space it does not fit, you can not force an idea into your customers’ minds or lives that does not match up with an interest, need or desire that is not already fulfilled by another service or product on the market. Positioning is the finding of an unaddressed need, and then fulfilling it with your distinctive and perfectly suited offering.

Some examples of successful positioning are:

1. Fulfill an unaddressed interest or need. Find an itch and scratch it! Study your customer to see what needs they have that no one else is fulfilling. Do they need a new product to make their lives easier? Is there an existing product that needs to be made better or more adaptable? Identify this need and move quickly into position before another company does!

2. Challenge the status quo. Find a new form of distribution to innovate your pricing and promotions. Take Air BnB for example, they took the hospitality industry by storm. Currently, they fill more rooms annually than all Hiltons combined. But, get this, they don’t own a single hotel of their own! Disrupt the “norms” or your industry and win interest and the hearts of your customers.

3. Specialize to serve a new market niche. Rather than compete with the pack, how can your brand step away and blaze a new trail? Specialty brands will serve a narrow segment of a bigger market. Does your industry focus on a bigger picture, but you find a smaller need that is often overlooked or under represented? Look what Spanx did to the pantyhose industry!

4. Transform an established solution or introduce a new solution altogether.. This takes enormous insight and a great knowledge of trends and popular culture, but it is doable. Think about when the desktop computer met the laptop and then the tablet. These new technologies were transformations of previous designs. Now, you can work virtually anywhere: in your office, at the park, or even while flying across the country all because someone decided to transform the desktop computer.

We’d love to hear from you! What questions or suggestions do you have about positioning yourself in the marketplace?

#marketingmondays #adbcreative #brandanewyou

Spotlight: Stephanie Nolan

Spotlight: Stephanie Nolan

 

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 Stephanie Nolan, XOXO Virgin Hair
My Story: Before the inception of XOXO Virgin Hair, I was a fashion model, working with major brands such as Adidas, and Black Entertainment Television, and Lusters Hair Products. Thru my experience, I noticed that there was a great demand for hair extensions that could withstand frequent styling, thermal tools, and chemical alterations. I began to search for authentic origins of hair, as I wanted to honestly market my brand in an industry full of misconceptions. In December 2013, I launched XOXO Virgin Hair with quality, and longevity in mind. To be honest, one of the biggest challenges that I have faced was finding an authentic source, which took lots of late nights, and questions, staying up into the wee hours to communicate with sources who operated on a 12 hour difference! What I can definitely say I’m great at is noticing hair quality at the drop of a dime, I’m pretty great at predicting how hair will behave, and so far I have not been wrong lol. I’m also great at customer service, as my brand is an investment, and I want to ensure that new customers are comfortable in making their purchase by answering questions, and offering product education, which is also missing in the hair industry.
 What inspires you to do what you do? What problem do you solve for your customers?  Seeing most of the industry provide a sub-standard quality, and/or dishonestly marketing their products inspire me to continue the path that my business is on. I want to make it easier for everyone to wear and style hair extensions. High quality hair saves money, time, and labor for everyone involved!
My advice to an aspiring or current brand owner is to make sure you have contracts in place with ANYONE you will potentially be working with. I learned this from a business man turned friend, Antonio Velaz. If they have a problem in signing any agreements, diplomatically move forward, you have to protect your brand at all costs. My other advice is to also be attentive to customers, before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale! It’s how you develop loyal customers, in accordance with the high quality product(s) that you distribute!

XOXO,

Stephanie
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Business Name: XOXO Virgin Hair
Location: Online only
Customer Inquiries: info@shopxoxohair.com
Media Inquiries: press@shopxoxohair.com
Contact Number: 424-703-5105
Social Media | IG: @xoxovirginhair

Spotlight: Jakiera Daniels

Spotlight: Jakiera Daniels
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 Jakiera Daniels, Jakiera’s Eye Photography

My story: I got started with photography at 8, when my mom bought me my first 2-eyed point & shoot, next was a 110 film camera. At age 16 she bought me my first professional SLR camera and I’ve been shooting ever since!

 

My biggest challenge as an entrepreneur: self doubt, convincing myself that I’m not good enough compared to others. It takes constant reinforcement, but I overcome that challenge by consistently perfecting my craft, working through my self-doubts, tuning out others’ opinions and by pushing my own limits.

 I’m really, really good at: Capturing the raw authenticity of a person and creating an emotion through my photos.

 What inspires you to do what you do? Capturing art that shows the depth and authenticity of the people of the world (we’re kinder and braver than the daily perception) and being able to create an image that validates their significance and oneness, and promotes self-love.

What problem do you solve for customers in your industry? To allow people to live in the moment instead of missing it in order to take a photo (more specifically, while on vacations). To creatively capture the essence of an event, wedding, ceremony, or performance in a way that allows you to share and relive the occasion while viewing the images. I offer peace of mind, knowing that a dependable photographer with consistent, professional skills will be seizing precious memories for you.

3 Tips I’d give to an aspiring entrepreneur: 1) Continue to learn and perfect your craft 2) Use your intuition as much as your skill 3) Be innovative 4) Do it with a purpose greater than you!

 Your go to photographer,

Jakiera Daniels

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Jakiera’s Eye Photography
Columbia, MD
Twitter/ Tumblr/ Facebook/ Instagram/ LinkedIn @JakierasEye

Quiz: What is my brand personality?

A quick exercise to help uncover your brand personality

Here’s how to discover your company’s brand personality so you can use this style in all the marketing efforts you undertake in the future.

1. Take a piece of paper and draw six horizontal lines. To the left of each line, write:

  • Personable and friendly
  • Spontaneous and high energy
  • Modern or high tech
  • Cutting edge
  • Fun
  • Accessible to all

2. To the right of each line, write:

  • Corporate and professional
  • Careful thinking and planning
  • Classic and traditional
  • Established
  • Serious
  • Upscale

3. Place dots closest to wherever your company falls on the spectrum. Don’t over think this, and don’t be afraid to envision where you’d like your company to be, even if you’re not there now. Draw your dots, and keep reading.

Where Does Your Company Live on the Spectrum?

MOST OF YOUR DOTS  TO THE LEFT?

Your company is contemporary, fast-moving and energetic. You like to make ideas happen quickly, and you don’t mind taking risks. Your communication style is friendly and approachable.

MOST OF YOUR DOTS TO THE RIGHT?

Your company is traditional, relies on solid planning and established ways of getting things done. You might be trying to appeal to upscale clientele, and your communication style is corporate and professional.

What Does It Mean?

Knowledge is power: defining these brand personality traits means you can apply them consistently in your verbal and visual communication.

A clear vision of your brand personality will guide your choice of colors, typography, word and actions.

A company that is traditional and established will use classic typefaces that have been around for centuries. Color palettes lean toward conservative, rich hues. The communication style is formal and corporate. This company’s brand image stands the test of time. Because it relies on elements that have been in use for decades, the style will still look fresh five years from now.

A company that is contemporary and high energy will have colors, typography and a communication style that reflect this. The color palette might be vivid and trendy. The typefaces used have been released in the last ten years. The graphic style is open, airy and asymmetrical. The copywriting voice is friendly and approachable. This company will likely have to re-make their image more often than the traditional one to stay ahead of visual trends.

What If Your Company is In Between?

If your dots are mostly in the middle, I urge you to take a stand about how you’d like your brand personality to be perceived. When it comes to marketing your business, the middle is the worst place to be. You’re guaranteeing that your brand will be entirely forgettable, because it’s not one thing or the other.

The middle is Blandsville. Avoid it all all costs.

If your dots are all over the place, with some on one side, and some on the other, you have a quirky brand that doesn’t fit easily into a box. That’s good! Feel free to mix and match traits from the lists above. You might use traditional typography and colors, but a very friendly and approachable copywriting style, for example.

Uncover It and Let It Shine

Every brand has a personality. One personality isn’t “better” than the other. Once you identify your company’s brand personality you can use that knowledge in all the marketing work you do.

Your communications will look and sound like they’re coming from the same source over time, and your decisions about how to express your brand verbally and visually will be right on target.

This exercise only works if you actually take ten minutes to do it. Carve out the time today to think it through, and see for yourself how much easier it is to market your business.

Why Your Brand is Important

 

Branding

 

 

Your brand is more than just your logo, website, or business cards.  While it is necessary to put great thought and effort into these things, your brand is so much deeper. Most entrepreneurs go into business with an idea, not a brand. This idea can be so soulful and personal that it can be challenging to present and explain to others. You think everyone should intrinsically understand it, as you do—but they don’t. And that’s why you need to develop effective brand messaging.

Your success is tied to your brand message and the impact it makes. Your story must be told and in a way that customers not only understand your purpose but can see the value in your product or service. Simply put, your brand is your voice in the marketplace. What does it say?

 

Stay tuned for steps to help you develop your brand message.