How to Refresh Your Brand in 2017

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The close of one year and the start of the next brings many things. For most individuals and businesses a new year means a new start, providing a clean slate with which to move forward. While this may not be technically correct – after all, the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve doesn’t erase previous performance – the mindset of change and starting over can be refreshing, especially for small businesses with big goals.

Whether 2016 was a year overflowing with success or wrought with challenges, the coming of 2017 is the perfect time to refresh your brand, fine tune your focus, and get started on the right foot. A brand refresh can have great potential, reminding you of your vision, ensuring consistency, and encouraging growth rather than stagnation. Here’s what you can do to ensure 2017 is your best year yet.

Connect With Your Audience

Most companies choose to leave outsiders in the dark when it comes to business strategy. For many, this is a logical decision, preventing competitors from overtaking your ability to gain ground. However, this approach can have the opposite effect with customers, putting up walls that create unnecessary distance.

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to inspire some loyalty and emotional ties. Consider posting a blog summarizing your activity and successes in 2016 and thanking your customers and fans for all that they do for you. When shared on social media, these posts provide the kind of information that stimulates a connection between you and your customers.

Target a New Market

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If you’re a small company or a new business, you may not be reaching everyone who can make use of your products and services. In order to maximize potential, use the start of a new year as inspiration to grow and improve.

Take time with your marketing team, and review who you are targeting, what you are targeting, and where the majority of your sales are coming from. With this information, you can draw conclusions regarding what areas you can approach more aggressively, and which audiences likely aren’t receiving the attention they deserve.

Reevaluate Costs

Even the most successful companies in the world can feel the pain of pinching pennies. To improve your odds of financial success in the new year, it’s important to take a deep dive into your expense reports.

Start from the top down and evaluate each category that drives your spending. Sure, you may not be able to do anything about monthly rent, but making minor energy saving changes, like limiting printing to must-have reports, can really add up over the course of the year. Look for unnecessary expenses that your team can do without that won’t compromise employee morale, and make some cuts for the new year.

Try New Marketing Techniques

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How you market your products and services can be a great opportunity for growth and change. With so many options from social media marketing to email newsletters, there’s bound to be a strong strategy you’ve never considered.

Instead of doing the same things day after day, take a look at what your marketing campaigns may be lacking. Are you tracking your success with Google Analytics? Are you focusing solely on Twitter instead of taking advantage of Facebook? By taking the time to identify shortcomings, you can find a great way to move forward in the new year.

Brainstorm New Ideas

When the status quo is positive, it’s easy to fall into a predictable rhythm every year. However, there’s no good way to grow without incorporating changes. The start of another year is the perfect time to start brainstorming new ideas, whether that means putting more focus into research and development, or simply improving community relations with volunteer activities.

Consider putting out a suggestion box and soliciting ideas from your team. Take at least one option offered, whether functional or recreational, and implement it company-wide. This strategy not only shows that you listen to feedback, but can also demonstrate a willingness to keep moving forward.

A brand refresh offers many benefits, providing a new perspective on your corporate identity and an opportunity to build connections with current and prospective customers alike. If you’d like to do more than simply exist in the new year, this can be your chance to revitalize your brand and move your business forward. By changing up marketing techniques, building emotional connections, and launching new products or services, you help ensure that 2017 will be a smashing success.

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Remote Control: Creating a Productive Distributed Work Model

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Guest blog written by Lance Trebesch, Ticketprinting.com CEO

E-commerce isn’t constrained by time zones or location, so why should your office be? To be truly dynamic and have greater access to finding (and hiring) the right people, a distributed team work model is the answer.  My own company, for example, is based in wonderful Bozeman, Montana, and our production facility is in Harlowtown, Montana. However, 55 percent of the TicketPrinting.com team is not in those two locations. We’ve got workers living from sea to shining sea and beyond.

The decision to integrate distributed teams into the TicketPrinting.com structure was a practical one. Though Montana is beautiful and a fantastic place to live, the pool from which we could draw for specialized positions, such as software development, coding and graphic design, isn’t huge.  Also, by enabling team members to work remotely, we save on overhead costs, which allows us to focus resources into delivering the best product and customer experience possible.

Sounds great, but you may be asking yourself how a team of workers spread out across the globe can be efficient and cohesive.  It’s a very salient question! Not unlike a traditional workplace, the distributed team work model requires great communication, the right tools, and a positive corporate culture.

Below are some tips to creating an effective team of distributed workers:

Hire The Right Folks: Now, I realize I’ve mentioned how finding the right person for the job is easier when the world is your hiring pool. However, just because
a candidate has the skills doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a fit for working in a distributed team. Look for folks who don’t require a lot of oversight – those with freelance or entrepreneurial experience are often a safe bet as they’re self-starters and accustomed to working independently.

Make Communication Easy:  Since you can’t physically drop by someone’s office, chat in the lunchroom or grab someone for a quick meeting, do everything you can to create regular and clear communication amongst your team. Use tools such as Basecamp or Blossom to organize projects and keep everyone on the same page.  Foster a rapport and community with team group chats through collaboration technologies like Slack or Hipchat.  I’d also suggest regular face-to-face meetings via Skype or Google Hangouts.

Get Everyone Together:  For any company to flourish, its team members need to feel as if they are part of something cohesive.  Host a retreat with workshops as well as opportunities to socialize. Interacting in person and sharing experiences is something that is invaluable and worth every penny.

Respect Time Zones:  Having team members working all over the US and abroad means everyone’s work schedules are not the same. Encourage a mindset of flexibility, patience, and adaptability. For example, a team member in Boston may
have questions for a colleague in Seattle, but he or she is unlikely to get an immediate response at 8am EST. In that scenario, the person waiting for answers must be able to turn their attention to other projects.

Measure Productivity: Though you can’t see your team in-person, that doesn’t mean you can’t assess whether they’re working.  After all, gauging whether someone is pulling their weight in a traditional office setting can be tricky, too. In fact, in some ways it is simpler to figure out if folks are working in a distributed team because it’s purely about results. Are projects being completed on time? Are you receiving responses to queries within a reasonable timeframe? If so, that’s a clear positive your worker is on the ball.  There are also apps designed to track what folks are doing during their work hours, such as HiveDesk, WorkSnaps and IDoneThis.

It’s Distributed Not Remote:  Lastly, we use the term “distributed’ not “remote”.  Remote conjures detachment and distance; while we are geographically apart from each other, through tools like Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts and more, we are very present second by second as a team.  We do not feel in any way “remote” from each other.