What Are Your Business’s “Three Corners?”
After thoroughly enjoying and contributing to Erica Allison’s post a couple of weeks ago–which generously invited us professionals to share our stories so she could offer referrals with a more genuine understanding of who we are–I knew I would be bringing some version of it home. It was cemented by Spiro Pappadopoulos’s post yesterday about differentiating the one special thing your business does and selling on that. But I’ll make it three or more.
A silly little sing-and-sign verse was popular when I was little. It goes:
My hat, it has three corners.
Three corners has my hat.
And had it not three corners,
it would not be my hat.
Short. Sweet. And deep. Real deep, from the branding perspective. I know which hat is mine, and it’s a keeper. Three corners make it recognizable, special, and Property of Shakirah Dawud.
I invite you to share with me as many “corners” as you like–the ones that make your business yours and no one else’s. It could be location, aesthetic, personnel makeup, process, product, or any other quirk you never thought about until now–and love to death–about your business. Read those of others, too. I hope to uncover an aha! marketing or branding moment for you along the way, if you were looking for one. Otherwise, just have fun. I’d love to get to know your business better, and the little things create familiarity.
Here are my three:
- The spicy-sweet energy zing of ginger tea with red zinger or lemon is the only thing this business runs on until around noon.
- My sweet and rather unassuming family doubles as my top-secret 007 support weapon.
- I write it all down and then type it all up.
What are yours? Remember, it doesn’t have to be just three.
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I invite the moms here to be featured via Momaraderie on my blog. Kaarina, I've been wanting to get to you for awhile; Shakirah, I wasn't sure about your kid status; Erica...you're on list, too; and Davina, I think we have to wait on you! This comment section is so rich with info about peeps; am loving it. If anyone is interested just advise and I promise you won't do much work.
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Welcome to the world's longest wait my friend, hope you packed a lunch. ;-) I can support you all, even as a just a big kid myself.
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Sign me up Jayme: I'm at your service! Delighted to participate. Look forward to hearing more. Cheers! Kaarina
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing I'm game. I was taken by the title when I saw it on the last Momaraderie post. Thanks for the invite.
Great post and great thought-provoking comments! My corners:
1. Listening with the intention of understanding, not responding (I think this is a paraphrase of something Robin Sharma wrote, and it's a staple to my business). I listen with a compassionate heart, listening twice as much as I speak (as they say, we were given two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we speak), with an objective neutral perspective and an integrative mindset to feed back what I'm hearing with the intention of eliciting solutions and possibilities.
2. Empowerment - as a former Olympic level coach, I have an ability to make goal-setting and goal-attainment realistic and do-able for each individual, by providing the tools, support, encouragement, knowledge...whatever is needed by the individual to become the best they can be.
3. Like Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing #3, I have over the years, accumulated experience, expertise and wisdom that allows me to somewhat "specialize in being a generalist". I'm able to assist on many fronts, including branding, marketing, planning and execution, mainly because of the coaching approach I take, and the lifelong learner that I am. I act like a funnel, taking knowledge and experience gained and sharing it with others based on their specific, unique needs, to help them find their own way to solutions, productivity and profitability. No one size fits all here: completely customer-centric, completely individualized approach.
Oh, and like angieatkinson ...coffee and love...good stuff! Cheers! Kaarina
KDillabough Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing angieatkinson That coffee and love one is gonna make her famous, lol!
Being a funnel is a unique way of describing yourself, and I think it makes for a perfect image of how your experience is really put to work for the individual. That's one I'd like to steal, if you don't mind!
Thanks for reminding me to come back here! I read the post last week, and ment to come back when I could breath! Here are ours:
1) Belief that one size doesn't fit all! --Everything we do is custom. We believe that each business, each CEO, each person has individual needs and molding a box solution to fit misses key elements of what makes a business unique.
2) A knack for explaining tech to anyone --Our President/Project Manager was a programmer in a marketing department, so he worked with non-tech people everyday. He can hear your needs and translation a solution into something anyone can understand.
3) Embrace change -- In our industry you have to keep current and embrace change or be left behind! Our developers are always learning the next thing (even if its not the next best thing). If we wait until our customers come asking for it to learn it, we are behind the curve. We try to always be the one making the suggestion, not joining the conversation late!
sydcon_mktg That second point about being able to explain tech to all? Not everyone has that, certainly! I've worked with more than one tech teams on three different software programs, and very few people could really explain what was going on. We mostly got the people who'd listen to our requests or take down our help tickets, fix it, and leave it at that. It was so hard for these same people to tell us why our requests wouldn't work, or give us a mental "picture" of the system so we could be on the same page.
Public relations services are a dime a dozen; hard to differentiate at all, but here's how I do (although I had to think about these answers):
1. Passion for my profession -- I firmly believe what I deliver comes from the heart. I want business to value my services and skills and believe that public relations is an ethical endeavor which brings value and results.
2. Thirst for knowledge -- I never stop learning. Why after 27 years in PR am I more qualified in social media than the youngsters (who accuse me of being old guard)? It's because I have that experience and excitement to keep myself fresh and thus the deliverables and client service I offer.
3. The blend. The boundaries of my expertise have blurred. I play in marketing (not the numbers/analytics); I play in social media; I play as a business coach; I am a natural career counselor; and, I play squarely in my foundation of PR. Because of #2, and driven by #1, I can naturally counsel clients on a variety of topics and expertise.
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing The excitement to keep yourself fresh is a must in any field. Experience is a very important learning tool of course, but the newest experiences keep you from developing blinders. And I'd say a PR person who can also offer career guidance probably packs a powerful, personal impact on people. Sounds like fun!
ShakirahDawud Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing See you said it better Jayme. There are times clients like the 'sounding board' advice and times they don't want a business coach or counselor, just what they want. Probably something I failed to mention in my answer which you hit on quite well: integration and experience. No one does business or markets in a silo, so it's important to look at the whole picture and see how the different tools and tactics will work best together for the overall strategy. Experience is tempered with knowledge and expertise. I don't care if you've only been on Twitter and blogging a year, or have 20 years of traditional media relations under your belt.. the right idea and approach can come from anyone who keeps learning, keeps it fresh. FWIW.
I feel like we've all shared so much on this post that we've formed a little community -- thanks ShakirahDawud ! I am now following you all on Twitter because you're all so soulful.
Saidandsung Yay, Carla--and I'm so glad to have you back. I backed myself into a deadline corner back in March and after I fought it back, I was completely exhausted. I kept up only with deadlines, and the blog was not happening. You've been such wonderful support, and I'm coming back soon to learn more from and share with this group of people whose work ethic and personalities I admire--and many more, too.
ShakirahDawud I hear you -- we've all been in those work bubbles. I had a big one in March as well. Now it's time to focus on my own marketing. Glad that you have bounced back in your Tigger-like fashion and are rarin' to go! :)
Apologies to all, nothing near as good. And cassiemon and Saidandsung not sure I could do 4. Hmm... Not being effacing, this is something I am RE-thinking per my business strategy and I'm still figuring this stuff out, how to make it work, market it, all that jazz. FWIW:
1. I can write pretty well, and sometimes get lucky in that I can keep it on the shorter side, less warm up and more finish. *Bonus is when I can get lucky, do it with wit and humor and style.
2. I can tell stories in ways that are different, make it easier for others to relate to or understand. It lets me tell what really is 'news and to which audiences.
3. I'm a fairly decent sounding board, wide-angle lens with as others have mentioned an editor's and designer's eye so we don't miss the little things either.
3HatsComm cassiemon Saidandsung The wit and humor certainly keeps me coming back, but you always have a solid point to make each time. No matter how long, it's always a fast read, and then the fun in the comments starts.
I'm still thinking up a good tagline to solidify my marketing scheme and brand the business more uniquely, too, and this was fun to think about for me. Not sure I got far with ginger tea and typing, but it was a start.
Hi, Shakirah. Great post! Thanks for the link and inviting me to participate. This is a hard. The responses are fantastic!
1. Taking every opportunity to learn and teach others. Every one of my explanations or proposals is detailed. I also learn something new every day either through conversations or through the manuscript that I am working on. Admitting that I don't have all the answers.
2. Appreciating the similarities and differences in people, including cultural and environmental differences. I try not to judge.
3. Not taking myself too seriously and making time every day to laugh. I love listening to the laughter of little children and people who are enjoying life.
4. Giving back through volunteering in a classroom, by making something for a person in need, or by donating to an organization. This allows me to build community.
cassiemon You get extra points for not taking yourself too seriously, Cassie. So many think of us editors as the ramrod-spined, tight-lipped types. Being thorough and then allowing each new experience to continue to teach you is something everyone respects, as you saw when your post here when viral (folks, pay attention to this low-key lady, she's onto something).
Thanks so much for visiting--it won't be the last invite, but you can drop by any time you get the chance. I'm finally coming out of a writing slump, so hope to keep things interesting.
1.Healing and restoration through stories, honesty, and humour
2. Too raw for some, but for others, it's like coming home. They and I, are like a moth to a flame
3. A loosly drawn narraritve that aims to draw others in, so we can really get to the heart of the matter
An interesting idea Shakirah, it was really helpful for me to think in these terms, thanks for sparking the flame
I love what Angie said, I run on love and coffee, can I copy that one for my no.4?
mylifestylemax Sure you can, knowing angieatkinson I don't think she'd mind! That third point, about using a loosely drawn narrative, is something the results of which I've recently had the opportunity to see, and they were wow! So many comments and such engagement! When you leave your post wide open for interpretation and debate, people are drawn to you, as you said, like moths to flame. I know I had to say something!
So glad to have you over, Stacey!
1. I have a superb manuscript-side manner when editing. My queries are unfailingly polite, provide enough detail to allow authors to understand what answer I'm seeking (never, ever just "Author: Please clarify"), and let authors know that I'm on their side instead of being a scold ("Author: Your explanation is one of the clearest I've seen on the topic. It was a pleasure to read").
2. I have a special talent for understanding what authors who are non-native speakers of English mean to say and for helping them express that in standard American English.
3. I make sure that my authors know that I appreciate their trust in my editing. Without them, I wouldn't be in business! One thing that I do with all of my international ESL (English as a second language) authors is to research national holidays for their cultures and then e-mail them appropriate wishes when those holidays come up, taking the opportunity to once again thank them for being my clients.
KOKEdit That last point is sure to make you special, Kathy, people are always delighted to be remembered on their happiest days by those they least expect to hear from. And learning about people as "people" and not just money sources is fun and rewarding.
I like checking in with my business connections every now and then via e-mail just to ask how they're doing personally and business-wise. I don't mention anything about myself unless they ask because the point of the exercise is just to hearing from them, and trying to lighten their day with good wishes and sometimes encouragement.
ShakirahDawud KOKEdit You gals are so on target here -- it's about connecting. Not so much "staying on the radar" as so many recommend, but genuine interest in how they and their businesses are doing. Good stuff!
Ooh, loving this post and am letting some of my fav creatives know about it so they can drink of this concept's cup! People like papercutny dyanavalentine cynfrank allenmogol jasonwomack jenncoledesign to name a few:)
Here are my 4, since you said we don't have to stick to 3!
1) Quality -- I approach my work with a designer's eye, a marketer's eye and a customer's (or end-user's) eye, as well as my editor's eye, so that I deliver excellence.
2) Rhythm -- My songwriting background gives my copy a built-in flow.
3) Inspiration -- I spark off examples of great design, wordplay, productivity methodology and seeing others find their bliss. The latter makes my heart fly every time.
4) Fuel -- Breakfast #1 and Breakfast #2 are why I can accomplish so many different things in a day!
Ooh, ooh, I want two breakfasts! Any favorites? I know I'm bad for not eating in the morning, but I'm just not a morning person, and my stomach stubbornly reminds me of that by remaining uninviting to food for at least 3 hours after I'm awake at 8:30. I wish I could start work at noon. It seems late, but in California at least, it's still only 9, right? And you've got every bit of me after that until around 1am.
But I LOVE breakfast (and am pretty good at preparing a nice one given the mood, if I do say so myself), even though I tend not to eat it until late.
ShakirahDawud Well I just adore food, and eating shortly after I wake is a great way to get the metabolism going and to give me fuel to get going! Breakfast #1 usually involves either oatmeal with berries or toast with either peanut butter or Tofutti or some jam, along with some herbal tea. But then, inevitably, a couple hours later, I am hungry again, so Breakfast #2 kicks in, with fruit or cheese or yogurt or sometimes even another piece of toast! I suppose some would call it a snack, but since it's usually breakfast foods, I think of it as a sequel.
And yes, Shakirah, you should operate on West Coast time -- Why not? They say you should figure out what time of day you work best and set your hours accordingly, so if you are a night owl, then hang up a sign in your online storefront and let the world know that while they are sleeping, you are crafting their brand messages:) Now THAT'S peace of mind!
Saidandsung Innnnnteresting! Perhaps I'll do that. Worth a try. Of course, I still have a 9-to-5, so I'm forced to be awake earlier than I'd rather.
And I actually do something like what you mention, too, except my first "breakfast" is just ginger tea. Later on, though, it's pancakes, french toast, omelette, something substantial. Later on I get something just to ease a sweet or salty craving until dinner.
Ginger tea is so good for you! My weakness is the chai latte -- tastes like Christmas! I try to limit it to 3 a week, rather than every day because of the sugar. On other days, I look to herbal tea.
Saidandsung Might you by chance be referring to Trader Joe's instant chai? Love that one, too, but I save it for when I've pulled an all-nighter. That's one delicious blast of caffeine and sugar!
ShakirahDawud Hehe the instant spiced chai at Trader Joe's is good, yes (and sinful for the sugar content), but for a different texture, try the Chai Latte mix they sell there (near the other chai but in a carton). I believe it's Oregon Chai; you mix it with milk (soy for me, but every so often I'll treat myself to skim for a better flavor) and it's just wonderful!
Saidandsung A girl after my own heart- I do the two breakfast thing, too! Then lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and head home for dinner! :)
1. I get inspired by music when I design
2. Since I work alone I spend a lot of time cxheering my own accomplishments
3. When I feel like my business day is in shambles I like to take time and see how great the people who inspire me are doing. It lifts me up.
doggdaze Looking to greatness is always positive; it will help you bring your brand of it back to your clients, too. So glad to have you over!
Great idea, Shakirah and thank you for the shout and the link love! My three corners...
1. I live and die by my white board - client projects and due dates fill it up. I use Outlook, Evernote and a handwritten journal, but I love the big visual of 'the board'.
2. The coffee flows freely in this office until the lunch bell rings and then it's water the rest of the day!
3. In addition to client artwork and marketing pieces that I love, my kids' art fills the walls.
EricaAllison Love kids' artwork, but probably most of my 2-year-old's doodles and fingerpaintings are displayed by her grandma <g>.
When I was working in the office of my 9-to-5, my officemate and i found an old flower-themed calendar. We ripped out the pictures and taped them up along the border above the window like a wallpaper border. Both of us have moved out since, but they're still there and the new inhabitants say they get compliments.
Fun times, but there's nothing like decorating your own business walls!
1. I always, always put the needs and wants of the client first.
2. I am likely to offer free advice to anyone who asks for it. I have picked up many clients this way.
3. I run primarily on coffee and love. :)