Business Tips

Our faces reveal multitudes about who we are, what we are thinking, and our intentions toward others.

Lying right under your nose is an awesome landscape of skin, muscles, and features. The face is one of the most profound parts of our body, and it packs so much power! Check out these remarkable facial facts:


  • Humans are capable of making 10,000 unique facial expressions.

  • The face has the biggest range of muscle structure in the human body, and 43 of these muscles are directly linked to facial emotions.

  • Humans regularly flash micro-expressions that last less than 1/25 of a second before they consciously or subconsciously neutralize them. These split-second displays can reveal more than a thousand words (or lies!) ever could.

  • Genuine facial expressions are almost always symmetrical. From frowns to smiles, people typically reveal authentic feelings evenly on both sides of the face.

Faces Add Impact in Marketing

How does this play into marketing and print?

First, it’s important to recognize the impact of faces so we can prioritize them in design. Research by Catherine Mondloch showed that newborn babies less than an hour old prefer looking at something with facial features. Humans prefer humans, and people buy from people!

It would be careless to overlook these statistics while continually deferring to inanimate objects. When you’re looking to add that personal touch to your marketing mix, remember faces can help you to:

Connect with People




Large, faceless corporations feel cold and manipulative.

To humanize your brand, feature people, not products! Pictures of real people build empathy and trust among viewers. And eye-tracking studies show that the faces of babies and pretty women are two of the most effective subjects you can use.

Putting faces on your brand allows you to connect with your audience in a relatable way. As you position faces in your ads, remember eyes looking right at people will have the greatest emotional impact because the eyes are the most significant part of the face.

Create Curiosity




Humans have a natural tendency to follow the gaze of others, and we have been coached since birth to follow these visual cues about where we should be looking or going.

Want to build curiosity and engage your viewers? If a face on your poster is gazing toward a text box or a product in the margin, readers will track toward that area as well.

Emotions can also be carried from a subject to the viewer as you set a tone within your design. The emotion in the faces you display can draw people to linger longer before your designs or to be drawn deeper into the message itself.

Cultivate Trust




People react to a photo on a page faster than any other design element, and seeing the people behind a business can establish credibility very quickly.

You can use faces to cultivate trust by using staff profiles on a website, facial photos in welcome displays or high traffic areas, or brochures with testimonials and photos from real customers. If viewers can relate to the people enjoying your product, this will seamlessly build positive associations in their own minds.

When used properly, photos of faces can help you connect with people, create curiosity, and cultivate trust.  Bypass resistance and build connections through the magnetic power of people!

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Business Tips
As the largest dental practice in North Carolina, Lane & Associates Family Dentistry (LAA) says it is proud to serve the state of North Carolina during COVID-19.

While restricting elective procedures, LAA has also gone above and beyond to serve its employees and community. LAA offered to temporarily pay employee insurance premiums, to prorate employee anniversary gifts, and to offer its staff interest-free loans. Staff have given nearly 1,000 sewed masks to the NC healthcare system, have been encouraged to donate blood, and they have provided lunch for healthcare workers, first responders, and long-term care facilities.

Recipients were thrilled. The Windsor Point Retirement Staff in Faquay-Varina gushed this over social media: “To Lane & Associates Family Dentistry, from the bottom of the hearts…THANK YOU!! We had the tastiest visit from Poblano’s Tacos Truck today for lunch!! It was delicious!”

Using Lag Time to Surge Ahead During this uncertain season, employers around the world are navigating the challenges of fewer customers, reduced hours, or even mandated closures. While you may not be able to proceed with “business as usual,” what can you do to keep your staff busy and profitable at this time? Here are a few ideas to consider: Mobilize Service Like LAA Dentistry, companies that care deeply for consumers, employees, and the community will gain trust and admiration. Perhaps you can’t use your employees for face-to-face business right now, but maybe you can mobilize them for service instead.

From a highway cleanup to food bank shelf stocking, brainstorm how you can involve your team in the community rather than running for cover. Companies that people admire help people solve problems, grow personally, or act collectively in ways that bring significant impact.

Host Meetings and Presentations Remotely
If you haven’t already, this is a great time to take your meetings from the boardroom to the internet. Video-conferencing platforms abound in both paid and free capacities. Looking for options? Try Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts. If some employees are unable to attend, choose software that allows you to make recordings that can be shared later.

Get Organized
What are those 5-10 projects your company has been putting off for years? Now is the time to tackle them! Have your team sort file cabinets, recycle or donate useless items, shred old documents, or clean up digital files. This is also a great time to pursue continuing education, to gather tax documentation, or to work ahead on upcoming certifications.

Research New Systems or Marketing Options
Experts estimate that every minute spent planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution: if it takes 10-12 minutes to plan out your day, this can save up to two hours later on! This principle holds true over time. By using downtime to research new systems (think project management software, marketing automation, or new accounting systems), you can surge forward after the quarantines have passed. This may also be a good time to conduct focus groups or A/B testing for future marketing or to gather customer feedback that helps you to assess social and economic dynamics and to consider new opportunities. With the increased downtime, many companies have reported a positive increase in survey participation.

Get Personal
Connections are the key to business, so use this time to make personal phone calls, to write notes of appreciation, or to find ways to offer extra value to your best customers. Reward loyal customers who share info about your online classes, delivery options, or your social media posts. A little appreciation goes a long way! Using Lemons to Make Lemonade Employees are vital to your business. If at all possible, use this time to test new ideas, provide services in new ways, or to tackle tasks that have been long neglected.

Think outside the box and encourage your team to be creative too!
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Business Tips

Fear. Stress. Helplessness.

Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or homeschooling your kids, people across the globe are struggling with big emotions during the COVID-19 situation.

How do you lead well in times like these? While daily leadership is essential for your business, crisis moments reveal the quality of your vision like nothing else. And while you may be exhausted or overwhelmed, now is not the time to push pause on your leadership. What are the “next best steps” you can take in this hour of uncertainty?

1. Increase the Frequency of Communication

During hard times, the frequency of communication should go through the roof.

Even if you have bad news, it’s important to acknowledge this ASAP. While you may not have all the details, a prompt announcement can minimize speculation, reassure panicked contacts, and let people know that you are proactively addressing each challenge.

2. Be Authentic

Now, more than ever, people are craving connection.

Since many of your customers and subscribers are working from the kitchen table, this is an important chance to re-tool your communication. Get in touch with your own feeling of isolation and use this to inform your messaging. From email communication to print mailings, review all your messages through the lens of people who are stuck at home. Ditch the corporate-speak and seek a more human tone for your brand, and use this framework to empower empathy while focusing on others’ needs.

3. Break Up the Depressive Mindset

All of us need a break from 24/7 bad news. So, how can you bring positivity in this hour?

Noting the deluge of video-conferencing, Audi of America recently launched a series of specially curated images to serve as a glamorous backdrop in virtual meeting rooms. Now enthusiasts can bring their favorite Audi with them to their next conference call or virtual happy hour, and Audi plans to release new images weekly. Simple pleasures make a big difference in tough moments!

Now, make it personal. How can you sound a note of joy or generosity today? Could you post a funny video, release a helpful blog, highlight hero stories, or offer incentives that benefit customers or people on the front lines?

Or look at your own product mix and ask: “what could I change to help my customers?” Do you have a paid or premium service that you could offer for free to help people get by over the next few months?

4. Sow Seeds of Honor

When you look at your schedule today, things seem rather quiet and eerie.

Companies of all sizes have sent people home, and every distraction has been silenced. While the coronavirus has ushered in strange times for all, good leaders won’t just hunker down. Instead, it’s time to push back with a different spirit.

In an age of mocking and disdain, today is a great day to show respect and gratitude. Whether personally or professionally, use this forced pause to repair a strained relationship, to say thank you, or to serve others. Make that difficult phone call. Donate blood or serve at your local food pantry. Show public or private appreciation for your leaders. And appreciate people who don’t deserve it (despite their inadequacies).

As you honor people, they will honor others. Perhaps this is a chance to shift the atmosphere and proactively build honor into the fabric of your network. As a leader, you WILL set the pace for others.

Connection is the New Currency

Though today’s challenges are extreme, it’s important to remember they’re only temporary.

It may not be easy, but many of us will come out of this stronger. Though it may feel that the waves are continuing to rise, take heart. Prioritize connection, and the uncharted waters can be parted in order to lead you toward a prosperous future and a newfound hope. 

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Business Tips

The coronavirus has rattled the world, and while the health consequences are dire, the economic fallout could be worse.

In just one week, from March 7 to March 14, initial unemployment claims jumped by a third, rising from 211,000 to 281,000. And while we don’t know whether workers have been laid off or furloughed, we do know that lost jobs are bad for families, employers, and the nation.

Job losses translate into increased federal spending and a slower response to unemployment claims, and those businesses that have to hire or train new employees down the road will undoubtedly take a financial hit later. Even if it’s difficult, your business can benefit by keeping employees on payroll and by modifying your business plan.

What might this look like? Here are some options to consider:

Lower Overhead Expenses

 

The most effective response to financial pain is to freeze spending wherever possible.

This may mean holding off on new investments, eliminating projects where costs exceed value, or re-proposing previously rejected cost-savings ideas. Want a more comprehensive guide to cutting costs? Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.

Consider Alternative Financing

 

While borrowing may not have previously been in your plans, the Small Business Association is working directly with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to companies that have been severely impacted by COVID-19.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program may provide the vital support you need during this temporary loss of revenue. Other options to consider are family borrowing, hard money loans, or seeking a float loan from a customer or an external “angel investor.”

Liquify Assets or Discount Existing Receivables

 

How can you attain missing funds to pay employees in a crunch?

“Beg, borrow, or sell whatever you need in order to come up with the funds,” says Rod Jorgensen, the director of counseling at the Nevada Small Business Development Center. Whether you sell vehicles, buildings, or equipment, put every option on the table for consideration.

Donald Todrin, founder of the Northhampton, MA-based Second Wind Consultants, says taking as much as a 50 percent hit on your outstanding receivables may also be a wise strategy:

“If I’ve got $25,000 out on the street that I’m owed, I’d slash it down to $10,000 on a promise [that vendors] wire me the money today,” Todrin said. “Pay me half [of what you owe me] and I’ll wipe [the debt] out. And you raise cash instantly and overnight. Now you pay a price for that because that’s your overhead money, but you cover your payroll. You got to play for another day.”

Be Resourceful and Keep Employees in the Loop

 

If you know you are unlikely to make payroll, it’s essential to be honest upfront.

Proactive communication is crucial during a crisis. If finances are tight, tell people up front, starting with the natural hierarchy of company leaders and involving them in the process. Allowing leaders to inform their teams can soften the blow and make it easier to gather feedback.

And be creative. Teams that want to retain employees in extremely tight situations may consider shrinking paychecks across the board or ask the highest paid, top-level staff members to (electively) forgo paychecks for a short time so lower-level employees can still be paid. This spreads out income and grows confidence and unity in your staff.

People First

Though you may not be closing shop, many businesses will experience shortfalls in this season. Creative, sacrificial entrepreneurs will work hard to protect their most valuable asset: people.

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Business Tips

They say the only sure thing about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.

If communication between two family members is a challenge, how much harder is communication at work? Have you ever experienced a team “fail” like this?

 

After meetings, people don’t seem to know what was said or what’s coming next. It’s like the meeting never occurred.

After training on a new procedure, only one person recalls the protocol.

Following a brainstorming session, everyone assumes someone else is covering the “next step.” The ball is dropped, resulting in blame, disillusionment, and embarrassment.

Make Your Messages Stick

Everyone knows communication is critical to success.

To run a thriving business, employees, managers, and CEOs need to communicate clearly and effectively. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of short circuits in this process, which can result in angry employees, difficult HR situations, and lost profit.

What can you do to improve team communication? Here are a few suggestions from some of today’s best leaders:

1. Kick Silo Doors Open

 

Many teams work well together but fail to communicate with the larger organization.

Communication silos occur when people in different departments don’t collaborate or connect to the bigger company vision. Enon Landenberg, founder and CEO of tech consulting company sFBI, says this is common:

“It’s very possible for departments to focus too much on their own work and miss out on the big ideas that only come from collaboration,” Landenberg said. “Egos [can prevent] honest discussions about the quality of work, necessary improvements and fresh ideas.”

To avoid this problem, send weekly briefings to the entire company and regularly schedule time for divisions or leaders to connect on projects, questions, or suggestions.

2. Limit Email Communication

 

When employees receive too many emails, they will start forgetting and ignoring the information they receive.

According to Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile, urgent messages should always be relayed by phone or in person. And when it comes to email conversations, Corbin says this:

“[I follow] the three-email rule: After three messages, we talk.”

Simplify not only the amount of email but the language you use. When technical jargon abounds, you increase the chance for errors because people can’t understand you!

3. Squash the Gossip

 

News travels quickly, especially if it’s bad.

Some rumors are just silly, but many contain an exaggerated seed of truth. Managers should address issues head-on rather than mopping up messes later. Even if you can’t share all the details, giving people a snapshot of the situation will build confidence and quiet dissension.

4. Lead Engaging Meetings

 

When people fail to listen, their minds are probably elsewhere. 

The burden of communication is yours, so make meetings concise and engaging. Share the purpose of a meeting immediately, and conclude with assignments and action steps. Train managers to share only the most essential information and to use stories to illustrate a point. (e.g. “Yesterday, I got a phone call from our largest shareholder, and guess what they said?”)

Megachurch pastor Craig Groeschel says this:

“Work to keep your meetings small and your communication large. Too many [leaders] make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting determines its size and . . . [it is important to] keep the discussion moving. Maintain a sense of polite urgency, pushing hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not so hard that discussion and decision-making is rushed.”

Eliminating miscommunication can head off a whole host of problems, so be intentional and make improvements each day!

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Business Tips
Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes admitting them.

If we’re honest, business professionals hate owning up to mistakes because of pride, embarrassment, or fear that customers will leave. But denying weaknesses only magnifies awkward situations and hurts your company’s reputation. Dealing proactively with problems will strengthen credibility and spark improvements that benefit your brand.

When Micheal Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey founded Barefoot Cellars, they started in a laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse. Knowing next to nothing, they made many mistakes. In one instance, they discovered a barcode error that led a shipment to ring up for less than it should, which lost the distributor money.

When he caught the mistake, Houlihan showed up personally at the store’s corporate office with a check for the loss, including an added bonus for the distributor’s time and expense. Houlihan described to the manager how Barefoot Cellars was shifting internal processes to make sure the problem never happened again. Because Houlihan owned the mistake and informed the distributor in person, the orders kept coming, and a potential complaint became a memorable learning experience.

Overcoming “Survival Mode” Mentality

For many companies, the default approach is to respond to problems as they arise.

This survival mode mentality may work temporarily, but long-term success is built as your brand is able to impress and delight customers in a more proactive, personalized way.

Future forecasters predict that by 2023 businesses will transition into a season of “continuous service” through artificial intelligence. But in the meantime, customers still need care, and the best strategy is upfront intervention.

Looking to sharpen your systems? Here are three ways to be more proactive:

1. Inform Customers About Your Mistakes Immediately

It’s always better for customers to hear about a problem directly from you instead of discovering it themselves. If your company identifies a problem upfront, you can avoid costly damages and harmful publicity. As you identify errors, take responsibility for the mistake, offer refunds or future discounts, explain how you are remedying the problem, and let people know who to contact for assistance.

2. Offer Self-Help Customer Service Channels

One reason service can be so frustrating is the wait time and red tape it involves. Many customers prefer to find answers themselves, so generate accessible content that addresses common complaints. This may include a FAQ page, live chat software, webinar tutorials, or a customer care focus in your print newsletter. Not sure where to start? Review customer service call and email logs or use survey data from clients and customer service representatives.

3. Build 5-Star Service into Your Company Culture

For proactive service to work, it must be embedded into your company culture. Here employees are trained to deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. This means everyone (not just the people on the front line) must understand and desire a 5-star service. Teach employees to anticipate what a client MIGHT need and have a solution ready before they ask. Build Your Brand by Fortifying Customer Confidence One of the most effective ways to stoke customer confidence is to do things for your customers before they know they need it. Like a vase on a pottery wheel, proactive service means continually molding and reshaping the interactions customers have with your business. As you preemptively address sore spots, you’ll confirm the customer made the right decision to do business with your company.
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