Category: Business

Breaking Barriers: How US Womxn Entrepreneurs Can Overcome These 4 Common Business Hurdles

Hurdles are nothing new to womxn entrepreneurs in the US. While we’ve come a long way from challenges like needing our husbands’ or fathers’ signatures for loan or credit applications thanks to the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, we still have some ways to go to secure our seats at the table. Still, with passion and determination, womxn business owners can overcome any obstacle on their path to success.

Let’s look at four common hurdles that womxn entrepreneurs typically face in the business arena. More importantly, let’s examine how we can get over them

Hurdle #1: Lack of Access to Capital

One of the biggest obstacles to any womxn entrepreneur’s success is lack of access to capital. Without funding or resources, we can’t build, much less grow, a thriving business.

As of 2019, women-owned businesses have created 10.8 million jobs in the US. They’ve also generated $1.8 trillion in earnings. And yet, in 2022, some 25% of women entrepreneurs have had their business loan applications denied compared to 19% of men. In 2023, only 28.4% of loans backed by the US Small Business Administration went to women-owned companies. As for venture capital funding, women-owned businesses received only 2% of the total capital invested by the end of 2023. 

We’re clearly looking at a considerable gap in capital access for womxn entrepreneurs here. This is why many opt to self-fund their businesses by dipping into personal savings, using their personal credit cards, or with the help of family and friends.

But self-funding isn’t a choice that everyone can make. If that’s your case, here are options you can explore to raise capital for your business:

  1. Check out resources like Access to Capital Directory for Entrepreneurs by Bank of America.
  2. Set up crowdfunding campaigns through sites like Kickstarter and IFundWomen.
  3. Find women-led investment groups like Broadway Angels and TrueWealth Ventures.
  4. See what funding avenues are available at your local SBA Women’s Business Center.

 Nina Vaca: Starting a business with $300

As the CEO of Pinnacle Group, Nina Vaca is one of the rare Latina leaders in the male-dominated IT industry. Her father’s death in the late 1980s compelled her to take over his travel agency at age 17. In 1996, when she was 25 years old, Nina started Pinnacle in her living room with only $300 in her pocket as a way to expand her family’s network. Today, Pinnacle is a billion-dollar company and one of the biggest workforce solutions providers in the world. It’s also one of the fastest-growing woman-owned businesses in the US.

 

Hurdle #2: Gender Bias and Stereotypes

Getting funding is challenging for women business owners because of two huge factors: 1) the prevailing stereotypes our society has formed for females and 2) the gender bias that grew from these stereotypes.

A 2018 study showed that white male-dominated investing companies tend to look at the applicant’s gender when considering business pitches. These investors often see women-owned businesses as riskier. They also judge female applicants based on the quality of their pitches and their confidence in delivering them.

Another 2018 study found that male investors usually perceive that the venture has a higher risk of failure if a woman’s business is in a male-dominated industry.

And then, there’s the age-old debate about women and emotional labor. Women are expected to bear the brunt of the labor at home. According to this article, traditional financiers are likely to deny loans to women business owners who are mothers and homemakers. The common belief is that CEOs who are also moms won’t be able to prioritize growing their companies. 

Lastly, we have the common gender perception that women are emotional and, therefore, lack the assertiveness necessary for leadership. While this characteristic is now seen as empathy, being more in tune with their emotions is still seen as a negative for women entrepreneurs in some circles.

Gender perceptions are learned, so it will take time for society to completely change how women are seen. We need to fight our small and personal battles in this arena. Here are some strategies we can adopt to win these battles:

  1. People don’t know what you know. Explore ways to position yourself as an expert in what you know.
  2. In a room full of colleagues and peers, don’t wait for others to introduce you as the expert in what you know. Introduce yourself.
  3. Surround yourself with a tight circle of diverse advisors and mentors, not just women. Having male advisors will give you an insight into why men in your industry behave the way they do. 
  4. Build your social capital and plug into business networks in your area, such as your city’s chamber of commerce or local NAWBO chapter. 

Mariyah Saifuddin: Setting the stage

Innovative Solution Partners CEO Mariyah Saifuddin often finds herself the only woman in the room whenever she meets with colleagues. The experience made her an expert at setting the tone whenever she enters a room. She does this by introducing herself as the owner of her company and showing what she brings to the table as an IT professional. She doesn’t wait for anyone else to make introductions for her.

 

Hurdle #3: Work-Life Imbalance

Prevalent gender stereotypes also contribute to another hurdle that women business owners typically experience: the lack of work-life balance. As mentioned earlier, women are expected to shoulder the brunt of emotional labor. They’re traditionally seen as the primary caregivers for their families and households.

A San Diego, CA-based study in 2023 found that the participating women struggled to balance the demands of caring for their children and running their businesses. This was especially true during their early years of operations. Ironically, the participants shared that they started their own business to have more time for family.

Why do women business owners need to balance their personal and professional lives? For one, it helps us stay healthy physically and mentally. It’s all too easy to get caught up with the demands of running a business. If we don’t keep this balance, we’ll soon be headed for burnout.

Another is it gives us a sense of fulfillment, especially regarding relationships. Maintaining balance allows us to strengthen and enjoy our relationships with family and friends. It also makes space for us to relish the fruits of our labor.

Yet another reason is it keeps us productive and creative. Time away from work helps us relax and recharge. We can do more when rested and process information more effectively when our minds have had time to unwind.

How can we create a balance between our professional and personal lives?

  1. Build a team to support you. Having a team to whom you can delegate tasks can free up much of your time and energy. This lets you focus on what matters instead of getting tied up with the day-to-day. Even hiring a part-time virtual assistant to, say, manage your emails and phone calls can make a difference.
  2. Explore childcare options. If you need to attend to tasks without getting distracted by your kids, check out available childcare options. Your spouse or a family member can look after your kids while you work. You can also sign up for daycare or get a babysitter.
  3. Set boundaries. Setting boundaries will prevent you from getting too caught up with the demands of your business. This can be as simple as limiting your work time to certain hours. On the flip side, you may need to impress upon your family that you can’t be distracted during your work time unless necessary.
  4. Schedule some me-time. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Keep your cup refilled by setting aside time for yourself – for meditating, exercising, working on a hobby, reading a book, or even lolling in bed and doing nothing.

Queirra Fenderson: Building your business around your life

Business coach and The Ambition Studio founder Queirra Fenderson talked about building your business around what’s going on in your life. She shared that when she and her husband were trying to get pregnant through IVF, she reorganized her work around her doctors’ appointments and prioritized self-care. She stressed the importance of identifying the life you want to lead and structuring your business around it.

 

Hurdle #4: Limiting Beliefs

Perhaps the biggest hurdle that womxn business owners face is their own limiting beliefs. If you see yourself in a negative light, you’re restricting your potential.

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to have faith in our abilities. When we have a strong self-belief, we empower ourselves to overcome the obstacles to our success. We become resilient enough to push against the challenges ahead. We can trust our judgment and decisions and take the risks we need to grow.

Plus, a strong self-belief negates the impostor syndrome that can keep you from celebrating even your smallest wins. When you believe in yourself and act on your beliefs, you win your team’s and peers’ respect, and you can inspire others with your story.

How can you overcome your limiting beliefs?

  1. Journaling. Writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help you identify and question your limiting beliefs. Ask yourself why you believe or feel the way you do. Analyze your behavior and what triggers them.
  2. Reframe your beliefs. Once you’ve identified your limiting beliefs, find a way to reframe them into empowering statements about yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” tell yourself, “I am capable of learning how to do this.” Also, list the values you want to believe you have, visualize yourself achieving success through them, and affirm yourself daily with them.
  3. Set smaller and achievable goals. While setting big and lofty goals is exciting, you may reinforce your limiting beliefs if you don’t achieve the expected results. Set the bar within your reach. Celebrate once you’ve reached the goalpost, and then take one step out of your comfort zone and set another goal.
  4. Get support. Having someone to talk to and be accountable for your limiting beliefs helps a lot in overcoming them. That someone could be your spouse or partner, a trusted family member, a close friend, or maybe your therapist or life coach. Hearing yourself talk to someone about how you see yourself can be enlightening. You can also gain perspective when you hear someone else’s thoughts about you and how you’re doing. 

Nicole Chamblin: Knowing your worth

Leadership and productivity coach Nicole Chamblin shared that doubt is the biggest challenge she must continually go through. She said it’s easy to compare ourselves with others and allow the negative voices to creep into your head because of these comparisons. Knowing your worth and reminding yourself frequently of your worth are powerful weapons against self-doubt.

Hurdles are nothing new to womxn entrepreneurs in the US. We’ve come so far, and we still have a lot of challenges along the way. But as long as we are determined to overcome these hurdles, we can achieve our success stories.

 


Innovate Like a Pro : Unlocking Business Success Through Cultural Diversity

These days, diversity has become even more important in the workplace. More companies are embracing a remote setup and hiring talented professionals from all over the world. Not only does this add different mindsets and backgrounds to a company, but may also contribute to improved productivity. In fact, McKinsey & Company has a report stating that companies that honor diversity are 35% more likely to be more efficient than their competitors. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to embrace cultural diversity in your business to develop more innovative ideas, have better problem-solving, and gain broader market appeal.

What does diversity mean?

It’s important that you understand what we mean when we say “diversity.” Cultural diversity in the workplace refers to the inclusion and representation of individuals from various backgrounds, demographics, and identities within an organization. It’s not meant to “check a box” in your organization’s “representation” quota but to encourage professionals from all over the world to contribute to your business regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic status, among others. 

Cultural diversity in the workplace recognizes the unique perspectives and talents that individuals bring to the table and harnesses these differences for the benefit of your group. 

Why is diversity important in the workplace?

A diverse workplace encourages innovation, creativity, and problem-solving by bringing together a broad range of ideas and perspectives. It can improve employee engagement because people feel a sense of belonging and are more willing to be more authentic while working.

Diverse companies also have the unique advantage of understanding and serving a more extensive target audience, which could improve customer satisfaction and business success.

How having a culturally diverse workforce can benefit your company

The benefits of diversity are countless, but here are five benefits that could significantly impact your bottom line. 

  • It helps maximize skill.

With a culturally diverse workforce, you look for talent and talent only. By focusing on the person’s skill set, you empower individuals to bring their best selves to work. Your organization benefits because you have a team composed of skilled professionals who are confident in their abilities and the abilities of their co-workers. 

You also boost problem-solving capabilities in your team because you are fostering an environment where all voices are heard and valued. 

  • It helps you retain talents.

Aside from attracting a broader talent pool, cultural diversity is crucial to building respect between you and your employees. Your team understands that you trust them and value their skills, which makes valuable candidates want to join (and stay) in your company. 

  • It improves your team’s creativity.

Studies have shown that a culturally diverse company is more creative. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, you have more opportunities to have another pair of eyes looking at and solving an issue. Remember that having a more diverse workforce brings new ways of thinking into your business that can be applied in many ways. This way, you will not be pigeonholed in one direction. 

  • It increases employee engagement.

Even if your company operates remotely, something must be said about having a culturally diverse group. You can communicate directly with someone from a different culture or background and gain firsthand knowledge of interacting with someone different. Further, your team can also engage with different people for work. This helps build trust and can lead to greater motivation, collaboration, and loyalty. 

  • It boosts your company’s reputation.

A company that is known to employ people from all over the world is considered a good employer. Today, workers want to know they are valued for their skills and won’t be judged by arbitrary factors. This reputation will elevate your company’s standing and attract more people to come and work there. 

More importantly, having a good online (and offline) reputation can boost your credibility with your target audience. Your customers learn how to respect your brand for your excellent service and your dedication to your employees.

Conclusion

Maintaining a culturally diverse workplace can do wonders for your company. You benefit from having a talented pool of workers who appreciate and work well together. 

You also get to attract and retain top talent. Organizations prioritizing diversity and inclusivity tend to attract a diverse pool of skilled individuals seeking an environment that respects and celebrates differences. This, in turn, aids in retaining talent, reducing turnover, and creating a positive reputation as an employer of choice.

Ultimately, a culturally diverse workplace promotes a culture of respect, acceptance, and inclusivity. It sets the stage for mutual understanding, collaboration, and harmony among employees, fostering a conducive environment for personal and professional growth while contributing significantly to the success and sustainability of the organization. Embracing diversity isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage that paves the way for a brighter, more innovative, and prosperous future.


Top 10 Branding Must-Haves for Holistic Health Practitioners

As a business owner, you must know how to market your brand to gain new customers, build visibility, and maintain a good reputation across the board. But you may be struggling with finding the right branding strategies for your company, especially if you are part of the holistic health industry. 

Having a well-informed and multi-faceted marketing plan can make an enormous difference in your success – while also adding credibility to your brand, whether you’re a Reiki master or yoga instructor! 

Here are 10 branding must-haves you can consider to help you get started or improve your current marketing plan. 

1. Show your credentials, if you can

Your credentials matter. Having a state license can add credibility to your brand and attract more customers to your business. You can also post any licenses or training certificates you may have or are currently taking to augment your “About me” page. 

If you plan to receive money in exchange for certain health services, it’s a good idea to look at your state’s laws on how you should proceed. For example, you may need to be accredited by the Professional Wellness Alliance (PWA) if you want to legally be able to provide services. 

It’s perfectly okay if you don’t have credentials yet, especially if you’re just starting. However, you should plan your marketing efforts to slowly build up your credentials. This not only gives you better branding but also provides peace of mind that you are operating in a safe, legal environment. 

2. Define what makes you different 

As with any good branding strategy, you need to know how to differentiate your holistic health business from your competitors. Identify and highlight your unique selling points and keep repeating them throughout your social media. 

For example, if your health business offers a combination of Reiki with sound healing and manifestation practices, your brand strategy should highlight this unique blend. You can showcase how this combination can provide potential clients with a comprehensive and holistic approach to their well-being. 

3. Know your audience

No two holistic health businesses are the same, so it makes sense that no two customers are, either! Based on what you offer, try to gather as much information as you can on your target customer. Think about their needs and preferences and build your branding strategy from there! 

During the early stages of your marketing, you can ask your potential clients what they want from their holistic health business. Keep track of this information so that you can easily identify trends. 

4. Make a plan

This is especially true if you’re a one-person business or just starting. You need to make a simple and realistic marketing plan that works within your budget, time availability, and skills. You may want to go all out with your marketing plan – but remember that it’s better to start small but efficient than have a grand plan that is all over the place. 

5. Use the right advertising mediums

It is a common misconception that all businesses need Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This is why it’s so important that you know your target audience. Are you looking to attract tech-savvy individuals or is your ideal client more interested in word-of-mouth? 

Choosing the right advertising medium ensures that you get the right attention from the right people. This also maximizes your budget as you use your money more wisely on advertising that will work best for you and your company. 

6. Join a professional organization

If you’re a holistic health business, you will inevitably come across people who will think of your company as a lot of “woo woo”. The best way to reduce this is to join a professional organization. Not only does this add credibility to your brand, but it also provides free promotion, as these organizations typically include you in their professional directory. 

7. Make a website

Make your website easy to navigate and understand. This is particularly true if your holistic health business is a little esoteric and may need some explanation of the services you provide. It’s a good idea to also include several media that show what you have to offer. 

If your budget allows for it, you may want to create a professional website on DIY platforms for a monthly fee. 

8. Use social media

Make a habit of regularly engaging with your customers. Not only will this help build better relationships with them, but also help you understand their needs better. Most customers are more honest about their experiences on social media – so it’s a great way to hear unfiltered comments about your business. 

9. Create an email newsletter

Consider creating an e-mail newsletter that you can easily manage and schedule. Remember to always ask permission from your clients before adding them to your newsletter list! A lot of people don’t want to receive emails, so make sure that you inform them if they will be added to any list. 

You can use your newsletter to alert your community about any upcoming events, promotions, specials, or discounts for your holistic health business. 

10. Ask for ratings and reviews

A great way to build your holistic health brand is to ask satisfied clients to write a review online. This also has the added benefit of improving your SEO ranking and boosting your brand on popular search engines. 

 

Conclusion:

Owning a holistic health business does not have to be difficult if you have a well-thought-out branding strategy. Keep in mind that the goal is to build credibility, so it’s okay to take things slow and steady at first rather than go all out but have a confused marketing plan.


3 Key Leadership Lessons from Women CEOs

Did you know that, as of 2018, 12.3 million businesses in the U.S. are women-owned? That’s roughly 42% or four out of 10 of all companies in the country. Interestingly, these women-led enterprises generate around $1.8 trillion in earnings every year.

Judging by these figures, the current notion that men are better at leadership and women should emulate them is becoming obsolete. Women generally have a distinct leadership style that their male peers can actually learn from.

What leadership lessons can we learn from female CEOs? Let’s spend some time pondering these three:

Know your strengths and limitations.

Women tend to be more self-aware, and they’re usually not prone to bluster. This tendency for self-awareness gives women a deeper insight into their own strengths and limitations. They build on their capabilities and lean on others to make up for their weaknesses.

What does this mean for you? If you want to be a good leader, you need to learn more about yourself. Know the traits that make you strong and acknowledge your weak points. Use your strengths to grow your business and surround yourself with a competent and inspired team to make up for your limitations.

“It’s OK to admit what you don’t know. It’s OK to ask for help. And it’s more than OK to listen to the people you lead.” – Mary Barra, General Motors CEO

Put your team first.

Women are often stereotyped as too compassionate and relationship-oriented to be competent leaders. But the fact is that these traits are now seen as indicators of high emotional intelligence, which in turn has become a desirable trait among leaders.

As mentioned earlier, a woman business leader tends to surround herself with a team to augment what she lacks. But this relationship is rarely one-sided. Female leaders often serve as mentors and cheerleaders to their team. They encourage and empower their team to grow professionally and personally through validation and empathy.

“I think about: ‘Have I been bringing enough people along?’ You can help a peer become a CEO… This is not a competition or a race.” – Rosalind Brewer, former CEO of Walgreens

Be a transformational leader.

Perhaps one of the best leadership lessons we can learn from a woman CEO is the art of transformational leadership. A transformational leader is someone who leads by example. Their sense of purpose and values inspire their followers to change their own beliefs, bring out their best selves, and positively impact their world. Women CEOs tend to be gifted transformational leaders.

How can you become a transformative leader? It starts with yourself. You need to be a model of integrity and principle. You have to have a clear vision and measurable goals. And you have to win your team’s trust, be ever-reliable, and inspire them to serve the higher good rather than their self-interest.

“Leadership is service to others.” – Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Co. President and CEO

These are only a few leadership lessons we can learn from women CEOs. Spend some time meditating on these lessons and see how you can apply them to your own business.

Sacred Fire Creative is a digital marketing agency that positions itself as a force for good. Reach out to us today and let us help you build a solid, authentic brand that matters to your audience.


Material Change Institute: Diversifying Capital Investment One Cohort at a Time

The investment industry has one glaring issue – it’s predominantly white and male. Given the role that investments play in driving economic growth, the fact that the industry lacks racial and gender diversity can be detrimental for women and people of color. Most of the time, they simply can’t get in the door.

Material Change Institute is set to change that. Helmed by woman investor and entrepreneur Eve Blossom, this new non-profit provides women and BIPOC professionals the skills and connections they need to succeed as investors.

Material Change Institute offers training for would-be investors.

Material Change Institute equips would-be investors from minority and underrepresented groups with the essential knowledge and tools for getting started in investment. It offers a 12-month executive program called the Material Change Fellowship.

Through the Material Change Fellowship, professionals receive training in leadership and strategic skills for different forms of investing. They also get access to mentors, peers, and partner funds that can help them apply their learnings practically. Hybrid training modes – internships, cohort-based learning, and online modules – are available. As of this writing, Material Change Institute only accepts fellows with at least five years of professional experience.

Eve Blossom aims to change the landscape of investing.

Material Change Institute founder Eve Blossom is set on transforming what the investment industry looks like. As she said in this article, “[D]isruption is needed when a system is not inclusive, does not apply different perspectives that would increase the opportunity and wealth for all of us.”

She has a point. A 2019 study revealed that women- and minority-led investment firms manage only 1.3% of the world’s assets. The worldwide asset management industry is worth US$89 trillion as of 2019. Additionally, a 2022 report found that the venture capital workforce is only 4% Black and 5% Hispanic/Latinx, though 45% is female.

Through its training program, Material Change Institute is opening the doors to investment for more women and people of color to come through. We can look forward to when the industry is not so white or male anymore.

 

Sacred Fire Creative is a Portland, OR-based digital marketing agency that aims to promote good in the world. Work with us to strengthen your brand’s connection with your audience and become a force for good.


Customer Experience in the New Reality

We’re now living in a so-called “new normal” for more than a year because of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Each one of us experiences this new normal in different ways.

As business owners, we have to adapt how we serve our customers depending on how they live through their new normal. We are now called to shift from simply providing customer service to creating customer experience.

In this article, we answer three main questions:

  1. What is customer experience?
  2. How does a profound customer experience look like?
  3. How can small businesses offer an innovative and exceptional new-normal customer experience?

What is customer experience?

Customer experience is not the same as customer service or customer care.

Customer service is the advice or assistance a company gives its clients. On the other hand, customer care relates to how well clients are taken care of when interacting with the brand, whether through social media or other channels.

It’s important to note that individuals may not even be customers during the brand interaction.

What about customer experience? Customer experience involves every interaction between the customer and the brand at every point of contact or touchpoint.

Brands have many different touchpoints with individuals, and these cover the entire customer journey. This journey begins when someone makes their first inquiry. Moreover, it extends even after they use the product or service.

Consciously or not, customers evaluate each touchpoint with the brand. It’s how they decide whether they will continue doing business with the brand or not. This underscores the importance of customer service.

If a person has a profound customer experience with your brand, they may decide to continue doing business with you. Therefore, our ultimate goal is to create a profound customer experience for each of our clients and prospects.

Why is customer experience important?

Here’s a quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Why is this quote relevant to our discussion of customer experience?

You see, we can’t just tell people what our brand is and expect them to believe that. That’s not how it works.

Instead, how you make your customers feel is what makes the strongest impact.

Why?

People’s memories of an experience often involve emotions—how they felt at moments in time. The customer experience involves how you make your clients feel. And that’s what they will walk away with.

What you’re doing at every single touchpoint with your client is you’re creating a mini-customer experience. These mini-experiences add up. And then, all together, all of those different experiences that involve deep emotion create brand loyalty.

What are the dimensions of a customer experience?

According to Gentile, Spiller, and Noci (2007), there are six dimensions of the customer experience.

1. Sensorial dimension

The sensorial dimension addresses sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell to arouse aesthetic pleasure, excitement, satisfaction, and a sense of beauty.

One example is that some handbag brands add a specific scent to their products. So, when they deliver any gift to their customers, the gift comes infused with their branded scent. The customer then subconsciously comes to associate the fragrance with the brand.

2. Emotional dimension

The emotional dimension generates moods, feelings, and emotions that hopefully positively influence the customer’s image and attitude toward the brand or company.

You generate this emotion. When you create a touchpoint with your customer, how do you want them to feel afterward? Do you want them to feel relieved? Enlightened? Entertained?

You’ll want to consider this question before deciding what kind of customer experience you’re creating.

3. Cognitive dimension

The cognitive dimension relates to experiences requiring thinking. It engages a customer’s creativity.

It is similar to the emotional dimension. The emotional one activates the heart, while the cognitive one stimulates the brain.

When you interact with your clients, are you activating their minds? Are they thinking, being creative, and running through their head the different scenarios and memories they have relating to this experience?

4. Pragmatic dimension

The pragmatic dimension comes from the practical art of doing something or using a product. It is the art of doing, and it involves action steps. It’s the physical part of doing something while using the product.

Any kind of unboxing belongs to the pragmatic dimension. Let’s look at unboxing an Apple product as an example.

When you open an Apple product, everything lines up just so. When you pull the box apart, you’ll see that there’s just enough space. This creates the feeling that they had taken care of every single step along the way when they made their product.

5. Lifestyle dimension

The lifestyle dimension affirms the beliefs and values shared between the brand and the customer.

When you create a brand, what happens is you’re making a set of shared beliefs and values for your brand and the customer.

For example, Apple’s “Think Different” slogan, part of Steve Jobs’ early marketing campaigns, means they want you to think beyond the ordinary. It implies that people who use Apple are out-of-the-box thinkers. They’re extraordinary; they’re “rebels.”

Disney is another example. The House of Mouse is a brand that relates to the family—its shared belief is the importance of taking care of and spending quality time with your family.

The lifestyle dimension is about confirming the values a brand shares with its customers. It’s about making people raise their hands and say, “That’s me. I identify with that.”

So, when you create customer experience, you’ll want to think about what beliefs and core values are going into your brand. Your implied values will make people who believe the same things come to you.

6. Relational dimension

The relational dimension encourages experiencing the product or service together with other people.

This is how we observe, live through, anticipate, and participate in a customer experience in a community. Some products and services are meant to be used independently and alone. And then, there are others where this relational dimension becomes extremely important.

For example, let’s say you’re going to a Disney park. The experience will vary depending on who you’re with, but you probably wouldn’t go for it on your own. People go there with their families or friends. This means the relational dimension will be crucial here.

What is a profound customer experience, then?

We mentioned earlier that our ultimate goal is to create a profound customer experience for our clients and prospects. But what exactly is a profound customer experience?

Any experience that involves ALL SIX DIMENSIONS is considered a profound experience. So, a profound customer experience engages all of the emotions and senses.

It brings you to the point of creativity, firing up your imagination. And it’s pragmatic—you’re immersed in it, you can feel and touch it, and you can use it.

It has a lifestyle component, where you feel its impact on your core values. You believe in it. And it’s relational, one that you experience in your community.

How does a profound customer experience look like?

Disney provides what is considered a great example of a profound customer experience.

The Disney guest experience

Disney is in the business of creating magic for guests to experience and remember. Walt Disney’s vision is driven by a common purpose that every member of the Disney organization is taught:

“We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for all ages, everywhere.”

How do they do this? Disney attracts guests of all ages, from all walks of life, and from all countries. It’s a tourist attraction for the parks’ host countries: the United States, Japan, France, China, and Hong Kong. Seven out of 10 Disney guests are likely to return to the park a second time.

When you go to one of the Disney parks, here’s what people really love and experience:

  1. The parades and the castle fireworks shows
  2. The character meet-and-greet
  3. All the different characters at live shows in the park, like Lion King and Moana.
  4. The interactive themed attractions, such as creating your own lightsaber in Savi’s Workshop, the new attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Disney’s guest experience is a range of various experiences within one bigger experience. It definitely hits all of the different dimensions of a customer experience.

Moreover, Disney does it multiple times in different ways so that people can experience any part of it as much or as little as they want. This creates a deeper level of loyalty.

How does the new-normal Disney guest experience look like?

Disney closed down parks at the height of the pandemic, with some slowly reopening depending on the health crisis status in their respective countries.

As they couldn’t open in full capacity, they offered alternatives—they shifted from in-person, dynamic experiences in the park and took it all online.

#DisneyMagicMoments

Disney took advantage of their digital assets: their blogs and social media. They launched the #DisneyMagicMoments campaign and released virtual tours of the Disney parks. It was a brilliant way to be immersed and experience the parks in a digital environment.

This campaign also encouraged guests to share photos and videos they took during their Disney vacations. It got a lot of people sharing their memories. They got into reminiscing and sharing the last time they went on a Disney vacation. That way, people could still relate as a community and share their experiences.

#AdventuresatHome

Disney also launched #AdventuresatHome, a DIY at-home adventure pack that allows fans to experience Disney travel adventures at home. They produced six adventure packs featuring Montana, South Africa, the Rhone River, Iceland, Greece, and Alaska. They published those in the Disney parks blog.

Each adventure pack includes:

  1. The Disney shows to catch related to each area
  2. A recipe developed by Disney chefs that you could cook at home
  3. A simple board game with downloadable printables
  4. A high-resolution photo of beautiful scenery or landscape from the area

The Disney new-normal guest experience is genius. The company shifted quickly during the pandemic by offering something new that people could share with their families while in lockdown at home. People aren’t just reliving things they had already seen, and they weren’t just looking at their own photos from before.

The Disney online experiences are interactive and highly engaged. Moreover, they bring some relatable elements to the Disney brand. The recipe touches on different senses, and the board game touches on different dimensions. The core values are brought in—that Disney is a fun brand that you experience with your family. It has all six dimensions of the customer experience melded into one.

What about small businesses?

Obviously, Disney is a giant entity with a considerable capacity for delivering profound customer experiences. But what can small businesses offer as innovative and exceptional new-normal customer experiences?

First, as a small business owner, you should keep in mind:

  • What do your customers need and want from you?
  • What pain points can you solve? How can you delight?
  • How do you bring the customer experience to your clients safely and conveniently?

These are notable examples of how some Sacred Fire Creative small business clients shifted during the pandemic:

Asian Mint

Asian Mint is a restaurant business that serves Thai cuisine in Dallas, Texas. They were shut down right away by the pandemic, though eventually, they got to do takeout and delivery.

One of the most significant shifts they did to cope with the pandemic was offering ChefMint kits. People were at home, but they still wanted to spend quality time with their families in a restaurant setting.

The ChefMint kits made it easy to cook Thai food at home and replicate the experience of dining at Asian Mint. The ingredients were pre-packaged, the recipes were included and worded in an easy-to-follow language. The dishes can be cooked in 20 minutes or less. Anybody within the Dallas area could get these kits delivered in cooler bags. Anybody throughout the US could also order these kits with dry ingredients and recipes.

ChefMint became a way for Asian Mint to increase its outreach. It brought the Asian Mint restaurant experience into the home kitchen.

Nikky Feeding Souls

Nikky Feeding Souls is another brand from the owner of Asian Mint, Nikky Phinyawatana. Before the pandemic, she took small groups on tours of Thailand to experience the culture and cook the food. When the pandemic hit, she created her “Escape to Thailand” series, a virtual Thai cooking, culture, and travel experience. She had ChefMint kits mailed out, along with different kinds of small gifts and little notes about Thai culture. Then she wrapped up the whole experience with live webinars in group settings so that people could experience it together.

Cindy Briggs Workshops

Cindy Briggs is an internationally renowned watercolor artist. She’s been teaching art for 20 years through plein air or live, open-air workshops in places like Italy and France. She had workshops scheduled up to 2022.

With the pandemic, Cindy canceled her plein air workshops and took these workshops online. Cindy had been doing online classes before and simply expanded the workshops.

Through these online workshops, people experienced Cindy through videos, live webinars, and exclusive Facebook groups. Her students got PDF lists of everything they needed for the class and detailed video instructions they could watch on their own time from the comfort of their homes. The advantage of these videos is Cindy’s students can rewind them, speed them up, or go back to a section if they want to. And they can watch one section over and over.

In live webinars, Cindy starts a painting from scratch, and her students can paint along with her. She also gives specific feedback on work submitted through her Facebook group.s.

OMEGA Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a sport that people need to do in a gym. However, with the pandemic requiring gyms to be closed, OMEGA Gymnastics transitioned online. They did Zoom classes where their kids trained from home.

One of the things they did differently was their distance learning program. Following all Covid cleaning and distancing protocols, OMEGA opened a section of the gym for a small number of students. They could come in during the day, do their online classes, get help with homework, and get some time doing movement in the gym. Through this distance learning program, OMEGA provided students technical assistance, helped them stay focused during classes, and got them active during breaks.

 

The new normal is upon us. Our customers expect, and even demand, customer experiences that fit their perception of the new normal. It’s up to us business owners to adapt and create the experiences they’re looking for.

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What is Loss Aversion?

Let’s talk about loss aversion, why the pain of loss results in irrational decisions, and how marketers are taking advantage of this.

Loss aversion is perfectly summed up by FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out.

It’s the irrational fear of loss. In psychology, loss aversion explains why people, too often, focus on setbacks instead of gains—it explains why the pain of losing is seen to be more powerful than the pleasure of gaining something. In their Prospect Theory study, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky said, “losses loom larger than gains.”

About twice as large!

What makes loss aversion so influential?

Simply put, we hate loss. Receiving something is great, sure—but we don’t love it as much as we hate losing.

If you received a $200 jacket for your birthday, you’d be happy. However, if your dog chewed a giant hole in it the next day, the unhappiness you’d feel would be twice as powerful.  

Losing something or downgrading is psychologically distressing, so we do what we can to avoid it (even if it makes absolutely no sense).

It’s not completely our fault, though. There are intense cultural, socioeconomic, and neurological factors at play when it comes to the power of loss aversion.

Loss triggers a reaction from the same part of the brain that processes fear and risk. Our brains also associate loss with prediction errors and disgust. We’re trained to detest loss.  

We’re extremely vulnerable to loss aversion when it comes to making decisions because as soon as we imagine a choice, we’re emotionally invested and attached.  

People will go to incredible lengths to avoid a perceived loss.

Example: waiting in absurdly long lines to get something for free.

In December of last year, Starbucks created a holiday-themed travel mug that you would get for free if you ordered a Grande holiday beverage. They claimed they would keep the promo going until they ran out of mugs. Nobody knew how many they had on hand, so there were lines around blocks at Starbucks stores across the country. It didn’t matter that the travel mug was valued at less than $5 and made from thin plastic. They had already latched on to the idea of getting a free holiday treat, so not receiving that mug would be considered a significant loss.

People are also likely to make purchases they weren’t necessarily planning on making if you provide them with a free shipping coupon. They’ll recognize that this opportunity doesn’t come along all time, and the thought of losing out on it will persuade them to make a purchase.  

Businesses use loss aversion marketing strategies all the time.

A perfectly executed “flash deal” is a big moneymaker. When a product is deeply discounted for a very limited time, the consumer’s brain focuses on the ticking timer and the amount of savings rather than on the product itself. You probably don’t need another sweater or another cordless vacuum cleaner—but at 70% off, that’s a GREAT deal, right? I can’t miss out on that!

It’s also why pre-orders, coupons, and VIP exclusives work. With pre-orders, it’s an early bird discount—the discount is the prize for ordering early. With coupons, it’s a lot like being given free money. Why would anyone throw free money away, right? With VIP exclusives, all you needed to get VIP status was probably to sign up for a newsletter, and voila! It’s too easy. Why risk missing out on the action?

Free trial periods show people exactly what their life would look like with the product or service, making it exponentially harder for them to end it when the trial is over. They’ve experienced the benefits and identified with that life, so they don’t want to lose it.  

Insurance companies usually have a mile-long list of extremely unfortunate things that could happen to you and how you’ll be negatively affected if you don’t have the proper coverage. No matter how unlikely these events are, they’ve successfully set you up to view them as losses, and you’re more likely to focus on those than the regular payments required to avoid them.

If your business needs to avoid giving people more than necessary, loss aversion tactics can help you sidestep that waste. Studies have shown that when options are presented as addable rather than retractable, people will only take what they want (toppings on a salad, ingredients in a sandwich, etc.).

You can maximize the effects of loss aversion marketing in your small business, too.

The success of your offer entirely depends on your messaging.

Understanding your target audience and their fears is crucial to connecting with them. You need to clearly explain what their life would be like if they don’t purchase your product or service, and they won’t care unless you speak directly to their pain points and experiences. It’s about showing them what they’ll miss out on if they don’t participate soon and painting a picture they can’t ignore.

People must believe there’s something to lose for loss aversion to work properly. If you post an offer for 20% off and claim that it’s only available for the next two days and then post a 25% off coupon the following week, you’ve given people a reason put off making their decision. Even worse, they’ll notice that you contradicted yourself, and any trust they had in you and your brand will start to fade.  

You’re working hard to convert all the “I’ll just buy it tomorrow” shoppers into “I feel good about committing to this now” shoppers. Keep that goal in mind, and you’ll notice a positive trend in your conversion rates.

How about you? How do you leverage on loss aversion? Got a question? Don’t forget to COMMENT below and SHARE your thoughts.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201803/what-is-loss-aversion

https://www.activecampaign.com/blog/loss-aversion-marketing

https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/loss-aversion/


Ways to Shop and Support the AAPI Community – AAPI-Owned Restaurants

We’ve assembled a list of AAPI-owned restaurants in Portland that are ready and excited to share their outstanding food with you! By ordering meals from these restaurants, you’ll be contributing to their success and possibly opening your eyes to new, delicious flavors. From Thai to Indian and Chinese to Hawaiian, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from for your next take-out night or dine-in experience.

Stabs

Fresh, handmade noodles? Smoked meat on bahn mi? Yes, please.

https://www.instagram.com/stabs_smokedmeats_asianeats/

Mama Dut

Check out Mama Dut if you’re vegan craving for something Vietnamese.

https://www.mamadutfoods.com/shop

Matta

For a nostalgic Vietnamese-American experience.

https://mattapdx.com/menu-1

Kim Jong Grillin

Authentic Korean served hot and fast from a food cart.

https://kjgpdx.com/

Bing Mi

Not your usual crepes. A food cart serving savory, keto-friendly Jian Bing crepes.

https://www.bingmiportland.com/

Bit House Collective

For that playful Filipino dive bar experience.

https://bithousesaloon.com/

Mama Chow’s Chicken

For all your wonton, wings, and garlic noodle cravings.

https://www.facebook.com/mamachowskitchen/

Nong’s Khao Man Gai

Chicken and rice you won’t stop thinking about.

https://khaomangai.com/

Sushi Ichiban

Sushi and Japanese quick-eats for takeout.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100056129276079

Toki

The place to go for Korean chicken and comfort food.

https://www.tokipdx.com/

Duck House

Where you can enjoy a Szechuan banquet in style.

https://www.duckhousepdx.com/

Coco Donuts

Handcrafted donuts and coffee like no other.

https://www.cocodonuts.com/

Stretch the Noodle

Servings are huge enough for sharing, totally amazing to eat solo if you’re starving.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stretch-the-Noodle/208396859948318

Kim Jong Smokehouse

A harmonious marriage of Korean street food and Southern BBQ traditions.

https://kimjongsmokehouse.com/

Top Burmese

Burmese food with a distinct Pacific Northwest flair.

https://topburmese.com/

Magna Kusina

Old-school Filipino dishes with a fun and modern twist.

https://www.magnapdx.com/

Frank’s Noodle House

Come for the fresh, hand-pulled noodles. Stay for everything else.

http://www.franksnoodlehousepdx.com/

Smokin Fire Fish

Your source for local Hawaiian food.

https://www.smokinfirefish.com/

KaTi

A small vegan/vegetarian restaurant serving big Thai flavors.

https://www.katiportland.com/

Mojo Crepes

For satisfying your craving for Japanese crepes and sweets. Savory is also on the menu.

http://mojocrepes.com/

Thai Fresh

Fresh Thai food, strong community vibe.

https://thaifreshpdx.com/

Kala Noodle and Grill

Curries, boat noodles, stir-fry, pad Thai, oh my!

https://www.kalapdx.com/

Yataimura Maru

Japanese comfort food made from scratch.

http://www.marupdx.com/

K&B Bakery

Serving Portland almond cookies for 27 years.

http://kbbakery.com/

Da Hui

A Hawaiian dive bar with a strong rockability vibe.

https://dahui.bar/

Namaste Bazaar

When you want to experience fine dining on authentic Indian cuisine. Vegan and vegetarian options available.

https://www.namasteindiancusine.com/indian-bazaar

Shandong

Chinese comfort food served family-style.

https://shandongportland.com/

Pai Tong Thai

Just like Grandma’s cooking… if your grandmother’s Thai.

https://www.paitongthai.com/

Red Robe Tea House

For experiencing Chinese-style tea time.

https://www.redrobeteahouse.com/

Chen’s Good Taste

A modern spin on Chinese classics.

https://www.chensgoodtasteor.com/

Mekong Bistro

Authentic Cambodian flavors served this side of the Pacific.

https://www.mekongbistro1.com/

Banh Mi Up

For soothing a craving for Vietnamese, whether it’s a quick bite of bahn mi or pho or a full family feast.

https://www.banhmiuppdx.com/

Dehomis

When you’re peckish for gyoza and other Japanese savory snacks.

https://www.dehomis.com/

JinJu Patisserie

When your K-drama binge makes you hungry for chocolate and pastry.

https://jinjupatisserie.com/

Open Tandoor

Traditional Indian cuisine served Portland casual.

http://opentandoor.com/

This is just a partial list of AAPI-owned restaurants in Oregon. Feel free to explore what’s in your neighborhood.

 


6 Ways to Shop and Support the AAPI Community – AAPI Art and Museums

Portland is home to some of the most authentic Asian gardens and comprehensive art collections. Taking in visual representations of AAPI culture is an effective way to increase understanding and acceptance. Art has a unique way of bringing diverse communities together and creating a shared experience that unites us. Planning a trip to any of these listed AAPI art museums or exhibits would make for a relaxing afternoon absorbing cultural values and artistry.

Japanese American Museum of Oregon

Formerly known as the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, this museum provides physical and virtual opportunities to learn about Japanese American art, culture, history, civil rights, sports, and other topics.

http://www.oregonnikkei.org/

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Considered one of the most authentic gardens outside of China, Lan Su transports visitors to an inspiring wonderland of art, architecture, design, and nature that honors Chinese culture.

https://lansugarden.org/

Portland Chinatown Museum

As Oregon’s first museum showcasing Chinese American history, art, and culture, The Portland Chinatown Museum strives to collect, preserve, and share stories and artifacts that honor immigrant experiences.

https://www.portlandchinatownmuseum.org/

Portland Japanese Garden

This garden was created to share a genuinely peaceful experience with the community, promoting nature, harmony, and the expression of Japanese culture.

https://japanesegarden.org/

Portland Art Museum: Asian Art

With nearly 4,000 objects exhibited, the Asian Art collection at the Portland Art Museum is a constantly growing compilation of artwork mostly gifted by Portland families and individuals.

https://portlandartmuseum.org/collection/asian-art/

Portland Taiko

Having started with a single homemade drum, Portland Taiko is a group that performs traditional Japanese taiko drumming and promotes Asian American creativity and empowerment.

https://portlandtaiko.org/

Exploring AAPI art can be a truly enlightening experience. It’s also an excellent opportunity to support the AAPI community.


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