Have You Lost Your Why?

Have You Lost Your Why?

Are you making a difference in life? What will your legacy be? Living intentionally and with a purpose takes sacrifice and hard work. Recently, a friend of mine was describing a mission trip to Africa and how she spent three months working in a remote village. Her goal was to help the village people by contributing to their vision. Like many why experiences in life, those three months ended up transforming her from the inside out. After my recent birthday, I started thinking about what I wanted for the next half of my life. We are each the navigator of our own destiny and are therefore responsible for what path we take. For me a resounding voice kept repeating a desire to create deeper and more meaningful fulfillment. But how?

Finding your purpose or your why has to do with making an impact, tapping into something deeper inside and recalibrating your passion. Ultimately your why is not about you, it is about making a difference in the world. And no that doesn’t include surfing Facebook and making random comments to distant friends. Think about your life, what does it say about you? By aligning yourself with your passions you will tap into your greater purpose. Passions are the result of taking action and doing something that moves you.

For example, I didn’t know I loved to travel until I took my first trip. Then I was hooked on seeing the world and learning about other cultures. When it comes to finding your purpose you need to get out of your head and into your heart.

There are common themes around finding your why, they include:

  • Contributing to a bigger dream or mission through sacrifice
  • Pushing past fear and allowing yourself to become vulnerable and living outside your comfort zone
  • Finding a greater good beyond your individual selfish interests or limitations
  • Finding a problem and trying to solve it
  • Getting out of your head and turning your passion into action

We only have a set number of days on this planet, what will your epithet be? If we all just take a small step out of our comfort zone and get involved with something we feel passionate about, miracles could happen.

Jodi Cross is a marketing strategist, speaker and writer and can be reached at Jcross@crossnm.com.


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A Quick Reference Guide to Making Marketing Planning Simple

People often underestimate the power of marketing. Think of it this way, would you take a road trip without a map? You need a well thought-out plan for your business to succeed.   I have written hundreds of marketing plans. When I ask my clients what’s stopping them, the # 1 response is, they are intimated by the process or don’t know where to begin.  Here is a simple outline I hope will take the pain out of marketing planning.  

Here are some basic down and dirty elements of a marketing plan:

If you are interested in discussing or developing a marketing plan contact Jodi Cross at CNMI. Jodi may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or visit www.crossnm.com for more great marketing ideas.  

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How To Develop a Business Plan

     

 

Writing a business plan can be a daunting task. Just like anything else in life, a plan is an essential tool for success. We have all witnessed an under capitalized business shutter up soon after opening. A business plan should tell a compelling story about what you do and why consumers would want to buy your service or product. A good plan is a living document that shows viability and growth and should be updated on regular basis. There are multiple websites and templates on the internet that help organize the process. In addition, the Small Business Association (SBA) offers some good resources to guide you through your journey.


There are various types of  business plans used for different stages of growth. Stages include; start-ups, post launch, line of credit needs and expansion & growth. Determine what stage of your business lifecycle you are facing and tailor your plan accordingly. Consider the audience, are you looking for investors, partners, stakeholders or a line of credit?  Regardless of your lifecycle, a business plan sets you up for success.  


Business Plans should answer a litany of what, who, why and how questions:

  • What is the problem that your business is solving?
  • Why do consumers want your product or service?  
  • What are your key features?
  • How much capital is required?
  • What challenges could impede growth?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

 These questions should be answered in sections and clearly articulated for the reader to understand and process. Whether looking for capital or seed money,  defining business objectives and goals in a logical and disciplined way will make the difference between success and failure.  There are several standard sections that must be included, the outline provided illustrates a framework to get started. 


The business plan framework is very simple, and outline in this graphic:

The Final Steps:

8. Funding

Why should a bank or investor help you? How much do you need? When will you be able to pay it back? What is the investor going to get out of the deal?

Key Inclusions & FAQ’s

  • How long will the cash or requested funding you receive last? What will it cover in terms  of growth. What type of funding are you requesting? Debt, Equity, Angel?

9. Appendix

This is an as needed section but you should have it organized in case a lender asks.  

Key Inclusions & FAQ’s

  • Include legal paperwork, letters of reference, customer testimonials, permits, contracts, leases, attorneys, accountants and your business manager.

Now that the framework is in place, start writing and don’t stop until the plan is done. When presenting to investors tell a story that sells your business idea simply and succinctly.  Describe how you make money and what the best thing about your product or service is. The foundation you establish today will be rewarded tomorrow.

Sources: Sba.gov

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Social Media With a Smile

We found a great resource for the stats on social media by Social Hospitality:

http://socialhospitality.com/2013/10/modern-hospitality-social-media-with-a-smile/

We put together some graphics that break down what we learned. 

And here is a graphic by Social Hospitality:



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Amping Up Your Positioning

 Amping Up Your Positioning

By: Jodi Cross

Recently I heard an interview with Brian Cornell, Targets new CEO about how he plans to reposition the retail giant moving forward. Mr. Cornell, stated that Target was “going back to the basic core values” that made Target a success. Target will once again deliver on their brand promise and tagline, “Expect More, Pay Less and strive to cool again.”  In the interview, Cornell specifically mentioned the brand pillars that made Target a success. They included; trends and fashion, design and style, wellness solutions and customer service.  Under the former CEO, Target appeared to have lost focus and tried to compete with Walmart on price and the addition of an expanded grocery product line. 

I am not only a brand marketer but I am a consumer and I shop at Target. Cornell’s comments were music to my ears. This brings me to the power of brand positioning.  Brands like Target create a relationship with their customers. Their pillars and tag line underscore the brand promise and clearly communicate points of distinction that the consumer can relate to.

At CNMI, we have worked with a multitude of brands to develop value propositions, create long-term advantages and target key customer markets to build and grow revenues.

Here are some insightful questions we use to help define our client’s positioning;

  • What do you want your brand to be known for among your target audience? Do you own that positioning?
  • What advantage do you have over your competition?  
  • Does your brand position match your companies KPI’s and vision?
  • Are your branding goals realistic and attainable?
  • Does your brand relate to the consumer on an emotional level?
  • Does your brand positioning contribute to long-term growth?

To determine the answers to these crucial questions, CNMI conducts a collaborative stakeholders meeting during which we come to mutually agreed upon conclusions and action items. Then we work toward crafting a positioning for your product and/or service.

Here are some key elements to consider when crafting your positioning;

  • Your positioning should differentiate your brand from the competition. The differential cannot be based solely on price or service.
  • Consumer perceptions should play a key role in crafting your position.
  • Consider your audiences, a positioning needs to add value for both consumers and stakeholders.
  • Your brand position must be believable and consistent in all areas.
  • Your product or service position should be easy to communicate and difficult to mimic.
  • Your positioning should match your personality and image and be sustainable over a long-term business cycle.

There are many brands who have gone to or are heading toward the branding graveyard. Radio Shack, Kodak and Blockbuster come to mind. I predict Target will make a strong come back!

If you are interesting in refining or developing your brand positioning, gaining greater market share or driving revenues, contact Jodi Cross at CNMI. We may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or visit www.crossnm.com for more great marketing ideas.  


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Planning Overtakes Procrastination


Planning Overtakes Procastination

By: Jodi Cross

Check Mate! I have declared war on procrastination! The piles have been building for months and my “to do” lists have a list of their own but nothing seems to get done. The key to ending the madness is planning.


Start by organizing your to-do lists and make priorities:

Make a list and write items down in categories

  • Breaking things into Personal or Professional action items

Prioritize 

Think of issues as:

  • Critical-these are things that must be done in an urgent time frame or their will be consequences.
  • Important-these items are action that must be taken but there are not   urgent consequence.

Layout tasks on your actual calendar

  • Schedule action items into small tasks.
  • Set deadlines and stick to them.

Avoid getting caught in the perfect trap 

  • Perfectionists can be the biggest procrastinators of all, it is part of their winning formula. Instead focus on progress.

Minimize Interruptions and distractions

  • Set a time to get projects done. Check your emails during certain windows during your day to avoid distractions.
  • Compartmentalize work flow and return calls later. Stays focused on projects and see them through. Once a task is completed check your email list and return your calls during set times throughout the day. This will make your time more productive.

Build in rewards

  • Think about big and small rewards you can give yourself if you finish a project.
  • Use positive, pleasurable outcomes to motivate you to complete a project.
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They Call It… The Journey Through the Clouds

 


Last month we traveled from Calgary to Vancouver on a trip they call the Journey through the Clouds. We saw majestic mountains, scenic valleys, wildlife and azure lakes. Part of our vacation was aboard a train called the Rocky Mountaineer, which set an enjoyable pace through Western Canada and across the Great Divide.


We started out in Lake Louise at the infamous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you ever get to Alberta this resort is not to be missed! The property is a lovely old hotel with vistas overlooking some of the most beautiful mountain scenery, emerald waters and a stunning glacier all surrounded by cool Canadian temperatures, mountain trails and refreshing air.

 Known as the hiking capital of the world, Lake Louise captivates you with meandering paths, sightseeing Gondolas and the adventure you would expect of a national park. In fact, the majority of the trip both by car and train takes you through Canada’s treasure chest of National Parks.


We headed out of Lake Louise and continued on our journey to Jasper to pick up the train. The drive was about three hours long on the Icefields Parkway. Normally driving bores me, but this was the most spectacular drive I have ever been on. The ride takes you through Banff and Jasper National parks. Rugged peaks, turquoise lakes, waterfalls and glaciers peek out at you around ever turn. It is absolutely stunning! There are places to camp, picnic or  hike all along the route. We stopped several times but you could literally spend an entire day on this drive.


We picked up the train in Jasper a sleepy little town of 4,700 people.  The Rocky Mountaineer was top notch. We opted for the Gold Leaf experience which provides meals, beverages and a dome like viewing coach. Meals are served in a dining car below. The over night stop is in a town called Kamloops then you continue for another day heading toward Vancouver. Over bridges, through tunnels, and past rivers we traveled. We saw fisherman and salmon swimming in one of the  biggest salmon runs in 40-years.

 

We arrived in Vancouver to spend a couple of days in a chic metropolitan city with great restaurants, shopping and nightlife. The city was easy to get around with a bus system that continually loops to all the attractions.  There is a wonderful mix of culture and nature in Vancouver with Stanley Park being a highlight. We walked to Granville Island, breezed through ChinaTown and shopped along Robson Street. This was the perfect mix of scenic landscapes, outdoor activities and big city fun. I feel refreshed and ready for the busy fall season ahead. 

  

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com


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When Did Ethics Become Subjective?

When Did Ethics Become Subjective?

By: Jodi Cross

You may have heard the old saying…It’s not what you do when someone is looking, it’s what you do when no one is looking that defines your moral character.  


How did the ethical balance in our society get so out of control? Do ethics still matter; are they relevant or subjective? Ethics are a standard of moral behaviors that are accepted by society as right versus wrong. They guide us, define our character and help us make the right choices. Then why the Ponzi schemes, corporate CEO resignations and  Martha Stewart going to jail for insider trading? All of this can’t be a good thing! Has greed commandeered our ethics? It seems like this generation doesn’t see any real moral absolutes and they tend to make decisions based on their situation. Which is to say, if it fits their lifestyle then why not do it?


Situational ethics has created a moral decay that is pervasive in our society today. People can be caught doing something and still lie about it, all while justify and blaming it on someone or something else. In theory, people agree about what is right and wrong, things like honesty, courage, respect for life are clearly right and cheating, lying, and stealing are wrong. So how did we get where we are today? 


Ethics is more than dealing with the legal consequences of your actions it is about how you feel about yourself when you do something that is ethically questionable. Better yet, ask yourself, would you want someone to do the same thing to you? People may be above the law and not get caught but we should never abandon ethics.


Ethics is something that should be ingrained in us. It is about how we treat one another. My parents modeled it every day by providing guiding values, and making us accountable for our choices.   Our forefathers decreed ethics as a self-evident truth, Moses brought down the commandments, not the suggestions. It is time we get a grip and stop sliding down the slippery ethical slope laced with justifications and excuses. Choosing the ethical solution isn’t always easy, that’s why it’s called an moral dilemma.  I believe if we all tap into our guiding compass we will pick the right path and one we can be proud of. Perhaps that will start a chain of events that will bring us back on course.  


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com



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Identity Theft

Identity Theft

By: Jodi Cross

Nothing strikes panic in a person more than hearing the words “your identity has been stolen.”  Identity Theft is an epidemic in America with an identity being stolen every 79 seconds. According to recent statistics it is a matter of when you will become a victim not if you will be a victim.

The most commonly recognized type of Identity Theft is Financial Identity Theft and apparently that is the best kind to have because you definitely don’t want the other types. The other types can be far more destructive, they include; Criminal, Drivers License, Medical, Mortgage, Postal Address, and Social Security. 

The one that I was least familiar with was Medical Identity Theft. This is where someone steals your identity, receives medical care, it then goes on your record and labels you with certain diseases that you may not have, such as diabetes. In this case, if you had to have an emergency procedure, the hospital could look at your records and administer insulin, which could result in your death.

So how does Identity Theft happen? There are many ways it can happen; computer hacking, stealing your mail, rummaging through your trash, phone or email “phishing”,  and skimming your credit card number are just a few.  Some fraud artists cause an accident by rear-ending you to take your information off the traffic ticket.  

Criminals are clever and you must remain alert and stay vigilant at all times. For example, did you know your personal information is loaded onto plastic hotel keys when you are staying at some hotels? The keys act as a charge card to allow you to make purchases in the outlets. If you don’t cut them up or throw them away, anyone can have access to your credit card information.


If Identity Theft happens to you;

  • Call the three major services, Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, all websites are spelled as listed. If you think you are a victim of Fraud you must call immediately to reduce your liability. An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90-days.
  • File a report with the local police department and the federal trade commission (877-IDTHEFT). Most police departments are so understaffed that no action will be taken unless the loss is over a certain dollar amount.  
  • Close your accounts and cards with a certified letter to the provider and keep copies of all correspondence.
  • If you want to alert retailers not to accept your checks call TeleCheck at 800-710-9898.

To help avoid Identity Theft;

  • Invest in a shredder and destroy all information with your SS # on it.
  • Make sure all correspondence is password protected on-line, and change your password every two to three months. Update your anti-virus software look into AVG and Ad Aware.
  • Use online banking and go paperless so fraud can’t occur in your mailbox.
  • Avoid free Wi-Fi networks in public places, people can tap into your computer and access your personal information. 

There are many agencies and online resources that can assist, but like anything else, the burden becomes yours to follow up. Identity Theft doesn’t just cause a financial hardship; it destroys your peace of mind. Take some steps to protect your self and your family. © 


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