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Branding Reality : Will Arranged Marriage Become a New Business Trend? Ask the Love Doctors.

I am fascinated by both the instant controversy and the disruption opportunity sparked by Married at First Sight – a new reality TV show on the FYI network. Promoted as a social experiment, complete strangers are first matched by experts, and then subsequently married without so much as a handshake or first glance. The show’s concept met with much skepticism and outright criticism prior to its debut; many feeling that it made a mockery of traditional marriage and family values.

Now that a few episodes have aired I see the tide changing. Throughout my Twitter feed, Married at First Sight is now widely praised as relatable, authentic and different from “regular” reality TV.  The experts on the show include: Chaplain Greg Epstein and Drs. Joseph Cilona, Logan Levkoff, and Pepper Schwartz – each of whom are very well positioned to launch the next eHarmony.com. Founded by clinical psychologist Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony.com has topped over a billion dollars in cumulative revenue by focusing on compatibility questionnaires without the benefit of its own reality TV show.  I think the Married at First Sight concept could be expanded to give tired daters immediate access to their end goal – making me wonder whether this is the new multi-billion dollar success formula for dating marriage sites.

This social experiment has the ability to be an influencer in the wider matchmaking market as well. So even those companies and experts outside the show in any matchmaking, wedding planning, coaching, or love-connection company can maximize on this reality TV trend by entering the conversation socially or by adding a new twist on their marketing campaigns and/or service offerings.

Though we are only a few episodes in – should successful relationships emerge between the couples – I can foresee that there will be plenty of consumers who long for the same type of service.

Forget The Bachelor/Bachelorette concept – I think FYI is onto something. Let’s see who rides this reality TV trend…


Brand Positioning for Designers and Product Companies

My daughter Kristen has just graduated from college with a degree in fashion design and has been tapped to design a line for a luxury sustainable wood eyewear company. (whoooohooooo!) And in a series of conversations over the past few weeks we touched on brand positioning – as each of the people involved is representing and nurturing their own emergent brand.

From my outsider view – the eyewear company has a high-end, green/sustainable, kind of edgy but meticulously hand-crafted eyewear product/brand. (It’s a pretty cool product and I would like a pair myself… but I digress…)

My daughter’s brand perspective provides a global design aesthetic with a focus on the melding of color, creativity and texture.  So then in this collaborative environment, how can each new brand be positioned synergistically?

In this case, the eyewear brand should lead and the designer should follow because it is important that a new product company with a narrowly focused line not be diluted or eclipsed by a designer’s brand.

However, the benefit of bringing a designer in (which btw is a great idea for other micropreneurs to consider) means that the designer should influence and add to the product story. It then becomes a great angle for the product company’s marketing and sales materials – even for those launches with a limited time engagement. With proper handling even an emerging designer with a strong perspective can help craft the story for the product company. And the benefits for the designer will be numerous as well.

I think there are other cases where mature companies can take somewhat of a back seat and exist more as the platform. Take the Target and Neiman Marcus collabo for example – a rather brilliant program all the way around. They sought to bring in hot leading designers to launch “affordable chic” lines for the following impressive design roster:

Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Band of Outsiders, Brian Atwood, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Eddie Borgo, Jason Wu, Judith Leiber, Lela Rose, Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Philip Crangi, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Robert Rodriguez, Rodarte, Skaist-Taylor, Thom Browne, Tory Burch and Tracy Reese.

In this case, all of the brands were well known – and each lends its own credibility and depth to the experience. It also broadens the reach for both Target and Neiman’s.  The lines are introduced to an entirely new entry-level market and presumably as they mature (read: have more disposable income) they will seek out the true luxury buying experience with Neiman Marcus.

Ahhh…. yes, balanced collaborative branding takes a considered approach but as in these two cases, it can be a brilliantly executed experience for everyone involved – including the consumer!




Planning your Portfolio Career

A portfolio career can be defined as having a collection of projects that provide you with your active income sources. Portfolio careers are a great choice for those with a wide range of interests. Whether those interests are in the type of work you want to do, the industries you want to work in, or the people and companies you’ve developed relationships with over the years. Having a portfolio career means that you are never reliant upon just one source of income – and should one source dry up, you can go about replacing it with a bit more peace of mind knowing your other project revenue streams are intact.

So how do you create a portfolio career? You start with the portfolio itself. A portfolio is a book highlighting your expertise. It should be designed to be opened and shared with the people you wish to connect with. It shows your best work, your ideas, your creativity and diversity. To create your online portfolio to highlight your career and the opportunities you want to pursue – consider these 3 critical factors:

  1. Register your main website  and give it a name that will stand the test of time – this is a must if you don’t want to spend money and time re-naming your site later. Your site name should be as versatile as the projects you intend to pursue for many years. Picking your main URL with a singular focus in mind defeats the purpose of a portfolio careerist’s pursuits. Use this main site to collect examples of your work and projects, clients, promote your services, classes and events, and provide your reader with high-level/global understanding of what you do. As your interests change and your portfolio blossoms, the page names, navigation and content should be edited to reflect your next career strategy.
  2. Then go about creating additional URLs to highlight your skills for providing service or sharing ideas in various markets. If for example your main page is named XYZMarketingServices.com, and this year you decide you would like to narrow your focus to marketing for the food and restaurant industry – then your secondary marketing pages should be named and designed to connect with the best customers in that target market  – for example GoodFoodieMarketing.com. Any advertisements that you create to target your market should then link to these distinctly branded secondary pages.
  3. Understand your point of overwhelm and plan accordingly. Anyone that works independently and juggles their own clients, deadlines and opportunities in various stages of the sales pipeline knows that stress is definitely not limited to people with 9-5 jobs. Therefore, build your income sources wisely. Instead of taking on 5 clients – take on 2, and then create other leveraged, residual or passive income streams. At first these income streams may be more like a dripping faucet, but with time each can be nutured to grow to the point where you don’t have to pursue new clients unless you want to.



Four proven ways for a consultant to create residual income streams for her business…

Hey there. I’m back just jotting down my answer to a question posed to me today from one of my clients that I thought may interest you. She wanted to know what my top four suggestions were for adding residual income streams based on my own personal business building experience. Great question.

Here they are in no particular order:

1.  Create an application that will provide a solution for the core problems your own customers are facing.  Think automation, sharing/collaboration, or data mining.

2. Create and sell your own branded information products including e-books, white papers, how-to guides, etc.

3. In this same vein, create a self-guided online course for your clients.

4. Add a much needed/requested service that you don’t currently provide for your clients. Outsource it to a trusted and competent provider and keep a percentage of the income.

I have personally seen each one of these ideas grow business profits exponentially.

Creating Recurring Revenue Streams for your Company

Recurring revenue allows you to secure a client once and bill them for value-added services over a specified amount of time. It’s an ideal model for creating reliable and sustainable income while you focus on securing new customers.  Plus, when your company has profit centers that generate income in a number of different ways, the risk that your revenue is negatively affected by an economic downturn or market change is significantly reduced.

The idea of creating recurring revenue streams is not new at all. As an example, think about your last mobile phone purchase. Most likely you signed on for about 2 years of service in exchange for paying a lower price for your phone. That’s just one example of how to incorporate a recurring revenue stream into your business model.

So while recurring revenue is not new, what is particularly exciting today is the ability to use technology to automate and deliver a number of recurring revenue programs in a digital format using your website, QR codes, smart phone, mobile apps, in-app purchases, or through an eLearning platform. Technology gives even the tiniest of companies an opportunity to automatically deliver quality services and make money while you sleep.

Today’s most nimble businesses are re-thinking how they make their money and how they structure and automate their company’s profit centers using technology to control things like:

°  Automating everything from your Lead Generation and Sales to Content and Product Fulfillment

°  Service, Maintenance and Customer Support

°  Booking & Direct Payment

°  Subscriptions to Members Only Website

°  Product Training and Certification

The sooner you get started building recurring revenue streams, the better. Build them once and capitalize on repeat sales which grow exponentially over time.

Now go out there and get paid for your knowledge and your content!


Micropreneur Ventures

I talk a lot about owning your own business around here. Primarily because I adore all things about business, and also because it’s one way for people to do what they love and make a great living. But I’m not fond of just any old type of business model – I love our new Online Micropreneurial Business Model, which is based on the years of experience and research I’ve done while working in and around some of the best virtual companies. And boy do I have some stories to tell…

From product selection to daily schedules, I’ve seen it all. These companies often fly under the radar and they don’t make Money or Inc. magazines. They are ordinarily run by anywhere between 1 to 7 people, and provide product or services to a niche market. These companies are all virtual. They hardly ever touch products, they take out advertising with precision, sometimes their websites aren’t even very elaborate – but they provide details that speak to a particular market and they make it easy for people to pay them. Plus they all make at least 7 figures per year. What’s not to like about that?

Our Online Micropreneurial Business Model helps new micropreneurs grow small and nimble niche companies – based on something they have a passion for.  But I think the key to being a successful micropreneur is in the setup of the virtual business.You can’t just throw it online, post a few blogs and product links and hope for the best. So here is a quick preview of my list of the top 6 things that are absolutely essential for upcoming micropreneurs to include in their virtual business planning and setup:

  1. Process Automation for 90% of your Sales, Marketing & Advertising
  2. Beneficial Information Products
  3. Niche Market Expertise and a Unique Voice
  4. Multiple Payment Portals
  5. Attractive, Trust-Building Branding
  6. Residual, Passive, Active and Leveraged Income Streams

Without any one of these six areas in place, you’re probably working too hard to make a living doing what you love.