Category Archives: Business Tips

What Should be Included in Your Brand Guidelines?

Brand guidelines are clearly defined standards showcasing how you and others should talk and present your company to the world. These guidelines are a physical or digital booklet to share internally with your entire team and with any vendors or partners.

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing. Just kidding! By providing a guideline for your employees, vendors, and partners to follow when representing your company, you are establishing consistency. And consistency is no small feat. From your logo and colors to your mission and messaging, your brand guidelines provide direction allowing employees to establish an “on-brand” decision without always needing to consult upper-level management.

The Power of Consistency

Consistency breeds recognition. This recognition generates feelings of understanding and trust that help drive consumer brand loyalty. If you think about some iconic brands, can you recognize their ad campaigns without a logo? In a lot of cases, yes! This is because of their consistent brand elements and messaging. For example, can you recognize the saying “Just Do It?” Doritos took this concept even further and launched an ad campaign that didn’t show their logo or name, but still clearly represented their brand identity. These companies established that iconic recognition by presenting a consistent brand identity outlined in clear brand guidelines.

What should be included in brand guidelines?

What you include in your brand guidelines might differ slightly for each brand. However, as a general rule of thumb, you want to have anything that helps people understand your brand. Remember this document will help guide individuals inside and outside your company, so be sure to include information you assume is even basic company knowledge.

The Basics

No matter your industry, company size, or location, there are certain brand aspects that every brand guideline should include.

  • Company History | Your company story, including why you got started.
  • Logo | Variations of your logo, color options for your logo, and logo sizing and spacing.
  • Brand Colors | Colors you tend to use throughout your brand materials, including the HEX, RGB, and CMYK codes.
  • Fonts | Font variations and text sizing.
  • Imagery | Examples of photography, illustrations, and icons in the proper aesthetic (and ones to avoid).

Culture

All companies have a culture, but only some are intentional about creating one. If your company leans on your culture to help make business decisions, it is essential to include it in your brand guidelines.

  • Personality | Who you are or a list of adjectives that describe your brand.
  • Mission Statement | Why your company exists and what purpose you are serving.
  • Vision Statement | What your company aspires to be.
  • Core Values | Your company principles and beliefs.

Possible Additions to Your Brand Guidelines

Now is when your guidelines become individualized! Brand guidelines don’t have to be limited to the usual brand items. Think of your brand guidelines as a consistency handbook! If there is something you want to present in a specific way, no matter where it’s shared, include it!

  • Target Audience | Specify a target audience and why they need you.
  • Social Media Assets | Profile and cover image styles, team welcome, anniversary, or closure announcements, and company-specific or common hashtags.
  • Voice | Words and phrases your brand regularly uses (and ones to avoid).
  • Grammar | The grammar rules you follow and break. For example, does your company always use the oxford comma?

Brand guidelines are an important part of a brand identity. If you need help putting together a formal document to share with vendors, partners, and new hires, our team of professionals can help.


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Heather Morrison
Heather is the VP of Operations at Innereactive and we are lucky to have her. She has over five years of experience running an HR department and enjoys helping businesses like yours find solutions to their HR needs.

Onboarding New Hires

The hiring process is often a dreaded one. Sometimes HR professionals are so excited to finally find the perfect candidate that they immediately relax and just cross the item off their crowded to-do list. However, not staying focused on our new hires after the paperwork is a mistake that could potentially lose an amazing employee you just hired. Here are our recommendations for onboarding new hires.

Onboarding New Hires Starts Immediately

Once the candidate has accepted the job offer, it is time to start onboarding! Even if that person isn’t starting for two weeks or two months.

Your First Onboarding Email

The first email you send to your new hire after they accept the job is crucial! And it should include more than just a request for the financial and legal documents needed to start. It should be the start of your onboarding journey with your new hire and celebrate them as a new part of your team.

  • Company Handbook: While we always recommend sending a copy of your Company Handbook in the email where you extended the job offer, the next best place is in the email immediately after the candidate has accepted the job.
  • Legal Documents: This email should outline any other information you need from your employee, including any financial or legal documents for your company, like W4 and I9 paperwork.
  • Security: If you have a security system that requires an access code, ask them what they would like their code to be.
  • Dietary Restrictions or Allergies: If you provide snacks or meals in the office, ask after their allergies or dietary preferences to ensure their needs are met.
  • Culture: Provide insight into your culture and environment, including what is appropriate to wear. Starting a new job is stressful and providing this information to new hires makes them feel like they are already part of the team on day one.

Internal Announcements

While your team, or the team you are looking for, probably already knows you are hiring, you should always announce the new team member to the existing team. Share their start date, what their training schedule will look like, and what job responsibilities they will be taking over.

Get Personal and Fun

Start to flex your creative muscles and think of fun ways to welcome new team members to your team. Our team has had a blast creating “welcome videos” with our team. We then include the video in our first welcome email outlining all the details they need to know to start their first day. Think of your company culture and how you could show off your personality and culture in a video. We think this is the best part of being an HR professional!

Here’s an example our welcome video! We shared this video both on social media and with our new hire in an email.

Making Your New Hire Feel Welcome

  • Incorporate a fun question into your interview process and turn the answer into a card for employees to sign and say welcome. We like to ask what kitchen appliance each new hire would be and why.
  • Organize a team lunch for the first day to help your new hire meet and feel comfortable around your team.
  • Put together a swag bag and include things they will need at the office or fun items to use personally. Our company swag bags always had branded company gear like a backpack and jacket!

Stay Organized and Consistent

Have a developed checklist of activities to complete to ensure the employee can integrate into your company as quickly and smoothly as possible. Ensure they are provided the proper training, introduced to the right people, and have all the equipment and software they need to do their job. Most importantly, create a structure to check in with them frequently throughout the first 90-days to ensure they are thriving and ask for their input on how the transition into your company could have been even better! We can’t even begin to share the first-day horror stories we have heard, so plan some tasks and goals for your employee’s first day and first few weeks.


Retaining top talent starts before day one. Craft an intentional journey for new hires or risk losing them. If you are not sure where to get started, we can help your team establish a journey that is unique to your business!


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Heather Morrison
Heather is the VP of Operations at Innereactive and we are lucky to have her. She has over five years of experience running an HR department and enjoys helping businesses like yours find solutions to their HR needs.

The Most Important Part of a Review: Your Response!

According to a study done by BrightLocal in 2022, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Studies have shown, we as consumers are more likely to purchase if others around us, even total strangers, share a positive previous experience with that same purchase. The way customers talk about you is just as important as saying your name! So what does this mean? Having recent positive reviews on platforms like Google or Facebook can directly impact your business’s sales in a very positive way. 

Your Online Reputation is More Than A Number

While customers are focused on seeing recent positive reviews, your online reputation is more than just a number! Customers also want to see the company responding to reviews both positive and negative. A friendly, open-to feedback appearance can work wonders for your brand. This approach shows you care about your customers. If you have had some recent negative feedback, this approach can also help improve your ratings, allowing you to share recent changes you made with your company based on the feedback provided. 

How to respond to positive reviews

Responding to a positive review will help with customer retention. It shows you are actively listening to all feedback and willing to take the time to engage with real people that have walked through the door. When people know your business will see and respond to feedback, the chance of them turning into loyal customers is higher. 

A great way to respond to a positive review is first to say thank you. Then, show appreciation for the customer taking the time to share their experience. Positive reviews and high ratings are powerful social proof for attracting new customers. After showing your appreciation, tell them you’d love to see them again. It will help customers feel welcomed if you extend the invitation for them to return. Here is an easy templated response that you can use:

Sample Review Response

“Thanks *INSERT NAME*, for leaving us such a wonderful review! We are thrilled that you enjoyed your experience. We put customer experience and satisfaction as one of our top priorities, and your review reaffirms the hard work we put in to accomplish just that! We look forward to serving you again soon.”

**If you are in an industry with customer privacy regulations like Healthcare (HIPAA), there are rules you should follow when responding to reviews to make sure they are compliant. Reach out to us via the form below to get our quick guide on responding to healthcare reviews!**

 

How to respond to negative reviews

Getting negative ratings or feedback online is tough. It is understandable to get angry, defensive, or annoyed at first. But good news! Negative reviews don’t necessarily have negative consequences. On the contrary, they can add a bit of authenticity to your brand if you reply correctly. What is even more important than what a negative review says is how you respond! 

To make your reviewer feel heard and valued, you want to thank them for taking the time to share their experience. Next, you will want to show empathy and understanding for the product/company at hand, then reinforce your company’s standard values. Finally, always extend an invitation back. Here is a great templated response:

Sample Review Response

“Thank you *INSERT NAME* for taking the time to share your experience with us. We here at *INSERT BUSINESS NAME* take much pride in our customer’s success, which is why we would like to make this right. Please provide more details about this incident by emailing us at *insert email* so we can make it right. We would love to serve you again and show you our commitment to providing exceptional service to all.”

While one of the most important parts of a review is your response, first you need your customers to share their experiences! We understand that getting reviews is half the battle.  Innereactive helps busy business owners implement processes to receive more reviews and craft the perfect responses once they start rolling in.


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Marisa Lyon
Marisa is the Finance and Marketing Manager at Innereactive, and we are so grateful to have her. She enjoys helping businesses find the right solution for their marketing needs.

 

Writing a Bio You Will Want to Share with Others

It’s not uncommon for individuals to struggle with writing personal bios because it’s…awkward! Now is the time to shake off those feelings and prepare to toot your own horn! To make writing your bio a little easier, take our tips below!

Include the “Obvious”

In most professional settings, sharing your name, job title, educational and professional experience, accomplishments, future goals, and aspirations is appropriate. Write all your obvious facts in a list, and then pick the top five! Use those accomplishments to write a few sentences about yourself. 

Writing a bio for outside your company:

While most people find themselves writing a bio when beginning a new job, sometimes you need to write a bio for another professional setting or while pursuing personal goals. If you are representing your company at an event, include your company information in your bio so attendees can build context about you.

Writing a bio for personal endeavors:

Even in a personal setting, like volunteering, there are benefits to including the basic information mentioned above. However, we recommend mixing it up a little bit! Try to focus on accomplishments that are relevant to your endeavor and explain your personal mission statement. 

Get Personal 

Even in a professional setting, it is important to share personal information. You don’t have to jump into your religious or political views, but sharing information about your hobbies and causes you care about can be valuable. This information humanizes and increases the likelihood that readers will remember you! It allows the reader to relate to you and understand your motivations easily. 

Tie Company Bios Together 

If these bios are being added to a company website, consider a piece of information unique to your business and include it in all employee bios. If you work in food service, ask people for insight into their favorite item on the menu. A travel agency? Ask if you had to drop what you are doing right now and travel to one place, where would it be and why? If you ask an interesting question during your interview process, include it! 

Still struggling to get started? Download our list of questions below to start outlining your thoughts! Even when asked the right questions, connecting the answers in a meaningful way can be challenging. Our copy experts can create a bio that tells the story of your team members and encourages your clients to feel a personal connection to your team.


Ready to craft the perfect bio for your team? Download our bio template here!


Heather Morrison
Heather is the VP of Operations at Innereactive and we are lucky to have her. She has over five years of experience running an HR department and enjoys helping businesses like yours find solutions to their HR needs.

Creating An Annual Team Training Program

Ensuring employees are properly trained is challenging for any business, but especially challenging for small businesses that don’t have a Training and Development Manager. Here are our three tips for creating a successful team training program!

Establish a Training Routine

Determining the material you want to cover is the first step to developing an annual training program. Some topics can be consistent yearly, but others may vary. Before getting started, familiarize yourself with the training requirements for your business. For example, some state and federal laws require businesses of a specific size or industry to perform annual training.

State/Federal Required Training

  • Sexual Harassment Training
  • Safety Training (Emergency Action Plan, Personal Protective Equipment, Hazard Communication, First Aid)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Training

In addition to the required training sessions, you may want to consider trainings like:

  • Sales Training
  • Customer Service Training
  • Performance Management Training
  • Compliance and Ethics Training
  • Data-Security Training
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The possibilities are endless! But don’t forget, not every person in your company will need to complete the same training.

Once you know the training topics you want to cover, determine the appropriate frequency level. Once a month or once every other month is usually a manageable frequency for business companies and training coordinators. Start with fewer, more infrequent training sessions to get your team used to the time dedicated to professional development. During this time, you can use each training as a learning opportunity and make small adjustments to how you share information or institute the training.

Team Training PresentationDedicate Time to Team Training

Create and share your planning schedule with your team. If possible, schedule a dedicated time for each team member to complete the training. This will increase the likelihood that people will complete the training and that you won’t have conflicting schedules to compete with as the dates get closer.

When sharing the training program with the team, also share the training objectives. For some training sessions, the objective might be to fulfill a state requirement. However, we still recommend sharing this, so the team knows what to expect to learn and can get excited to attend. For others, like sales training, the object could be to increase sales of Product A from $30,000 monthly to $50,000 monthly. Be as specific as possible to help people understand the importance of the training.

Use Qualified Trainers

Many people try to complete all training sessions by having employees (usually the person responsible for HR execution) run them. This might not be a bad idea if you have people on your team with the right specialties and qualifications. For some companies, outside assistance may be beneficial.

Innereactive’s President, Samantha Toth, specializes in sales and marketing training. Let us help you create custom training programs specific to your industry to help your team sell better and sell more! Our team is also capable of helping you establish a customized annual training program, complete with team training materials, schedules, and even recommendations for training topics or qualified trainers.

 


Ready to create a team training program to lead your business to success? We are excited to help!


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Heather Morrison
Heather is the VP of Operations at Innereactive and we are lucky to have her. She has over five years of experience running an HR department and enjoys helping businesses like yours find solutions to their HR needs.

Simplify Your Hiring Process

Some companies dread having to hire a new employee. The process can be time-consuming, expensive, and at times frustrating. And after interviewing, you may not even end up with the right candidate. Simplifying your hiring process so you are ready to hire the moment you need someone can help your business on multiple fronts. When you simplify your hiring process, you can fill the position faster, spend less time and money, and ensure the candidate is the right fit for your company.

Job Postings

Start by creating a job description template with a starting salary range that all of your job postings can follow. Next, get ahead of the game and outline your current company job descriptions now! This allows you to post an opening as soon as it’s needed. If you are handed a two-week notice, this will reduce the days your team feels the pinch of being short-staffed. You can also openly share job descriptions and salary ranges internally so employees looking to grow within your company will know the expectations and skills they need to obtain a specific position within the company. 

Ask For a Cover Letter

Unless your candidate will fill a role that requires them to showcase their writing, branding, or selling skills, ask yourself if you want to require a cover letter. If the answer is yes, determine what you hope to learn about a candidate from their cover letter. If you are going to invest the time in reading a cover letter, offering candidates some direction on what to include might be beneficial if you are looking to learn something specific. 

Interviews

Simplify Your Hiring - Ten Min InterviewThe 10-Minute Interview 

What better way to simplify your hiring process than with a 10-minute interview! Knowing that you only have 10-minutes with a candidate allows you to pinpoint the most important questions to ask and more quickly determine if they are the right fit. Outline five to ten interview questions in the first round of interviews and stick to only these questions. It is tempting to go on a tangent if a candidate answers a question with an interesting response, but don’t! We recommend noting the follow-up question and asking it during a second interview if they are a possible candidate.

The Second Interview 

Fewer candidates should be brought in for a second interview. The exact number may differ based on the number of original candidates and the position being filled. These interviews should also be longer and potentially less scripted. It is still important to have a list of questions to ask each candidate but pursue follow-up questions during the interview to fully understand the candidate. Generally speaking, we recommend no interview process should extend past two interviews.

Job Offer

Send a personal response to every candidate you interview. It can be a templated response but include a personal introduction. This shows that you valued your candidate’s time. If possible, respond to every person who applied for the job even if they didn’t receive an interview. Responding to all applicants shows them that your company makes decisions within appropriate time frames and that they aren’t going to hear from you months later asking for a job interview for a job they no longer remember applying for. 

Send a personalized email with the job offer and a copy of your employee handbook attached for the candidate you wish to hire. 

When you simplify your hiring process and build structure, you ensure candidates have the best possible experience.


Need help? We can help you streamline your hiring process by creating structure and proper documentation, including job descriptions, interview questions, job offer templates, and onboarding checklists.


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Heather Morrison
Heather is the VP of Operations at Innereactive and we are lucky to have her. She has over five years of experience running an HR department and enjoys helping businesses like yours find solutions to their HR needs.

The Art of Ghostwriting

The Art of Ghostwriting

Do you have a sales training course you need to develop, a blog to write, or a website you’d like to update with some professional touches? We understand the challenge many people face when presented with a content-heavy project. If you are asking yourself a lot of these questions, ghostwriting with Innereactive may be the perfect solution for you

  • Where do I start?
  • What topics should I cover?
  • How long should the copy be?
  • How will I make time to complete this?

If you are looking for an expert in content development, strategy, and education, we can help! Let us be the expert behind the pen, give you all the credit, and let you focus on other important tasks.

How Ghostwriting Works | Woman Typing on ComputerHow Ghostwriting Works

One of our marketing experts will meet with you to understand your project goals and objectives. If you need any advice for a go-to-market strategy, education, or just product positioning, we’d love to share help you with your strategy as well. During this kickoff period, we would collect any resources on your topic and fully comprehend the message you’re trying to convey. This is where we ask you a lot of fun questions and allow you to pour out what excites and motivates you about this topic and why your target market needs to invest. This process, coupled with ample research, allows us to develop a comprehensive outline that organizes your message in an engaging and meaningful way. Plus, we’re really fun to work with. 🙂

The Final Product

Your Brand & Your Voice

We take pride in knowing that our clients trust us to write quality material for them. After working with you through the final editing and proofing of your project, you will have a strong, solid, high-quality, original product to call your own. And what’s great – it will reflect your brand and your voice.

Continuing education approval

If we’re helping write a continuing education training course, we can also get the course approved through credentialing organizations for you! One less thing to worry about. Our event manager has become an expert in opticianry and optometry CE in both the US and Canada. Having your custom course approved through credentialing organizations for live and virtual CE approved presentations will help increase your audience!

Sit back, relax, & let us ghostwrite for you!

If you’re someone looking for a ghost writer, chances are, you’re already very busy building your business. Course writing, sales training and promoting your products and services in an educational way is very time-consuming. If you’re wondering if someone can capture the true essence of your business even if they don’t work for you, look no further than Innereactive. We specialize in writing about topics like:

Optical:

  • Lens Technology
  • Frame Buying
  • Inventory Management
  • Dispensing to Patients

Marketing:

  • Social Media Post Content
  • Websites and blogs

Human Resources:

  • Business Operations
  • Company Culture
  • Leadership & Change
  • Practice Management
  • Staff Training

And More!


We are ready to help your launch your next educational training, a new website, or a blog with content built to drive results.


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Jess Hunt
Jess is the Events Manager at Innereactive. After gaining 11 years of event experience in the food industry, she’s ready to take on the optical world. She’s very passionate about helping people, simplifying processes, and creating positive experiences.

The Importance of a Company Handbook

The competition for top talent has always been a challenge, but with the recent “Great Resignation,” finding and keeping the right employee is more challenging than ever. There are endless directions your company could take to attract and retain talent, but having and sharing your company handbook will increase your company’s transparency.

Using Your Company Handbook In Hiring

I can hear you asking, what does my company handbook have to do with finding the right employee? The truth is, employees have choices — more choices than ever before. They want and, in some situations, are demanding more. Employers need to shake the misconception that employees are grateful to just have a job.

Enter your business. You offer more, you value your employees, you provide excellent benefits and pay, and current employees love your company culture. This is great news! It sounds like a lot of current job seekers would be interested in applying for your open position. But how do you communicate all of this information? You could put some of it in a job posting, and that would be a great idea, but you don’t want to make your job posting too long. You could discuss some of it during your interview, but you may run out of time to discuss everything. Enter your employee handbook!

The Perfect Job Offer

Your employee handbook can help you secure the talent you need to see growth and success within your business. When you are ready to make a job offer, send the candidate an email attaching both a formal job offer and a copy of your employee handbook. Call out a few important points in the handbook in your email or job offer, but invite the employee to review the handbook in its entirety before accepting the job.

When created properly, an employee handbook can give employees a clear understanding of a company’s true culture and how it treats its employees. Extending the handbook as part of the job offer shows that your company values transparency. It will also likely decrease those immediate employee turnovers (assuming your employee handbook is an honest depiction of how you run your business).

The Employee Journey

Even after the initial hiring process, employee handbooks are beneficial. They hold both the employer and employee accountable to a certain level of conduct. As an employer, your handbook allows you to have a standard guideline to point back to if an employee’s behavior ever falls outside your company values or expectations.

Keep Your Company Handbook Accessible

Start the employee journey by asking employees to sign the most recent version of your employee handbook. Keep an updated version somewhere where anyone on the team can easily access it. This will increase compliance and create a level of security because employees know what is expected of them and will know how to handle certain situations if harassment or discrimination ever becomes an issue within your company.

Update It Regularly

Keep in mind that you are not locking yourself into anything by publishing an employee handbook. You can add new policies and update or remove existing policies to offer better insight into company expectations or outline how the company plans to move forward. Be sure to communicate those changes to your employees and ask for updated signatures! In fact, you should set up a time to review your handbook annually to ensure all state and federal regulations are still being outlined properly.


Need help writing or updating your employee handbook? We can create a customized handbook that outlines your business’s vision, benefits, building amenities, employee conduct requirements, and state requirements.


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Heather Morrison
Heather is the VP of Operations at Innereactive and we are lucky to have her. She has over five years of experience running an HR department and enjoys helping businesses like yours find solutions to their HR needs.


The Importance of Setting Goals

How to Make a Plan and Stick to It

Taking the time to sit down and hash out a communication or marketing strategy plan takes a lot of focus and time. We get it! In fact, we do that sort of planning for a lot of our clients. If you’re considering making some changes this year, we’ve outlined a few steps to help you succeed.

  1. Be Intentional

Don’t set goals you think you’d like, but don’t actually want. In other words… be intentional about what you want to achieve. Don’t shotgun lofty ideas for the sake of writing something down and then expect to accomplish them. Your goals should be personally significant and you should feel a sense of ownership over them. Focus on a select few goals that are challenging, but also attainable and relevant.

  1. Be Realistic

One of the main reasons we see marketing plans fail is when people are unrealistic about their desired outcomes. Whether you’re developing short-term or long-term goals, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your company, and your capabilities. Take a moment to step back and critically look at your business, from where you are right now. Set goals based on where you are today, not where you’d like it to be today. Start with three realistic, attainable, and relevant goals and then set timeframes by which to achieve them.

  • Start broad and focus on your overall goals you want to accomplish for the year.
  • Focus on three-month increments by breaking your year into quarters.
  • Get a spreadsheet going to organize the who, what, where, when, and how.
  1. Identify Your Target

Your marketing strategy plan should define your target audience.  This provides direction and consistency of messaging across mediums as you move forward with your campaign(s). This may include blog topics and posting frequency, online ad and social media campaigns, and promotional materials. Remember, a good marketing plan will provide organization of a variety of marketing mediums and help them work together to achieve your final goals.

  1. Write Everything Down

While it seems simple, writing down your goals and your marketing strategy is important.  Having your strategy plan and goals in your head is not enough.  When you write them down, they become real. Outline like crazy. Add a calendar. Take big ideas and initiatives and break them down into smaller, bite-size tasks to accomplish by specific dates. Add color coding to organize topics and campaigns. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to accomplish this goal, and what are some specific ways I can go about achieving it?”

 

  1. Don’t Overdo It

It’s important to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.  If you’re just getting started with marketing, or if it’s your first time with a formal strategy plan, be reasonable in the number of initiatives you include. If you include too much, it can be overwhelming and you risk burning yourself out. Start a spreadsheet and use these organizational tips to get started:

 

  • Organize your columns by month and rows by methods of communication.
  • Color coordinate each cell according to which campaign it’s a part of.
  • Be concise, bold topic names, and italicize supplemental information.

 

  1.  Stick With It

Once your marketing strategy plan is complete and you start implementation, you have to stick with it.  Just like any other job responsibility, marketing must remain a priority.  Only by consistently implementing a marketing plan will you experience consistent growth.

 

The Elusive Mission Statement

A How-To Guide for the Rest of Us

Let’s start off at square one. Should you bother even having a mission statement? Does it hold a purpose? Does having a well-defined statement actually help your business? In short, the answer to all three questions is a resounding, “Yes!” If you don’t currently have a mission statement on paper, chances are you were still thinking about it as you were establishing and growing your business. Let’s look at why you should be writing out your mission and vision, and how you can begin to hone yours. Continue reading