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Asking for magic without leaving the comfort zone would be like handing Picasso a single bucket of grey paint and expecting a masterpiece. 

It’s an overused statement, but magic does NOT happen inside your comfort zone.

Nearly every day, clients and prospects bring up examples of groundbreaking ideas. Things they’ve seen in case studies or heard about, brilliant work that made a difference. Then they proceed to explain that they want something just as groundbreaking, something that will disrupt the market, something that will break through the clutter…BUT, they want to do this without making any changes, without breaking new ground, without learning new tricks, without taking some chances, without being the bad-ass decision-maker they’re trying to emulate.

Asking for magic without leaving the comfort zone would be like handing Picasso a single bucket of grey paint and expecting a masterpiece.

If you’re wanting to disrupt your market, be a market-leader. Today is the day to roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel, and break new ground.

general business

Giving someone a job title doesn’t magically give them a skill set to match

I own a full-service marketing/PR/advertising/web/creative agency, but my biggest role in the professional world is that of business consultant. Regardless of why someone seeks me out, it takes a few days/weeks to find the true needs that need to be addressed.

The one thing that is a constant lately, is that I keep finding myself wondering how the fuck people wind up in the jobs that they’re in.

When you’re filling roles within your company, remember that a job title doesn’t magically bestow upon someone a set of skills. Regardless of how well intentioned someone is, sometimes they simply can’t fucking do the job…and they’re doing more harm than good, although they may be trying as hard as they can.

Hire the right people. Promote the right people. If you have the wrong people, let them go and make corrections…you owe it to the rest of your employees.

general business reputation management

A quick testimonial – Adam Brown / Tennessee School of Beauty

“My  name is Adam Brown and I am a 4th generation Cosmetology School owner. Our school basically had a monopoly in the city of Knoxville until 4 corporate schools moved into the area about 3 years ago.  When they came in, I knew we would have to do things a little differently than we had done in previous years, especially in terms of marketing.  After researching and interviewing many marketing/public relations firm, I realized that Zane Hagy would owned the perfect firm to keep us as the leader in the market.

Zane made me look at things differently than I had before. I went from spending more than $100,000 on radio ads to updating our web and internet presence (all for much less than we were spending on radio).  In addition to updating our logo and catalog, he also suggested we spend money doing events—a great and successful idea.  Then he suggested we spend our energies going out in the public and doing tons of free services for various charities—-again, very successful and great for name recognition and p.r..  Then he suggested we doing a video campaign with lots of testimonials (TSB4me).  I am pleased to say that by consistently changing up what we were doing and moving on to the next big thing, we have been able to increase our enrollment and stay at the top of the market.

Zane works with my ideas and always listens, but he also knows that I have 100% confidence that his marketing ideas will work.  I guess one of my strengths is letting the experts do what they do best while I focus on running my school.  My advice for anyone considering using Zane for their school or salon is to do two things: 1) hire them, and 2) listen to them. It’s very difficult sometimes to get away from what just worked, but because we’ve been willing to keep changing things up, we’ve been able to remain fresh in the public’s eye.”

Adam Brown, President
“Where Future Salon Owners are Born”

general business

What’s easy for some…

What’s easy for some, simply isn’t for others. Each time I’m speaking to a crowd or meeting with new clients, I have to remind myself that just because something is common sense for me…doesn’t mean it is for the audience.

So the next time you’re a little frustrated because those you’re communicating with don’t seem to quickly grasp all you’re trying to communicate, remember we can’t all be experts in every field. In some areas, we’re all reduced to the level of a cat trying to figure out how the toilet works.

general business rants and ramblings reputation management

Haunted by Past Mistakes

Whatever you do, you’ve done some things that didn’t work out. If you’re a driven individual, you’ve flat out done some things that failed miserably. You can’t break new ground without having a few things go horribly awry.

The key to winning is to keep making mistakes. The more mistakes you allow yourself to make, the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll accomplish. If you’ve hit that spot that you’re paralyzed by your past mistakes and simply can’t move forward, maybe you’re only one more mistake away from something so big it makes you forget about all those mistakes.

Make mistakes. Get back up. Dust yourself off. Learn from it. Go make another mistake.

Don’t let the mistakes haunt you, embrace them.

general business

11 Points to Consider when Raising Your Prices

I’m constantly approached by salons and booth rental stylists who tell me they need to raise their prices, but they’re simply afraid to. As a stylist or salon owner, why on Earth are you afraid to raise your prices? You are buying the same services your clients are, they know about the cost of living and the value of a high-quality service provider.

Instead of being afraid, be proud of the fact that you’re in a position to provide services that are valuable enough to warrant an increase!

Here are 11 tips when raising your prices:

Inform your clients in advance: Don’t be shy about it. Post notices on your mirrors and doors, let clients know what the new price changes are and when they go into effect. Post notices 6-8 weeks before making the change.

Don’t apologize: Explaining the price increase and being honest about the reasons it’s needed is not the same as apologizing. DO NOT apologize. You need to earn a comfortable living as much as anyone else, stand behind your decision. You can easily point out that you’re moving with the industry and that your services and level of expertise (as well as costs of doing business) have increased in the past few years.

Over deliver: Treat every client as if they are your only client. Provide the absolute best possible service every time you see a client, make them see the value in whatever you may charge.

Explain your costs: In some cases, if engaged in discussion, you can simply explain your need to raise prices. Let clients know where the additional funds will go. Has your product line increased in price? Will you be getting additional training? Has your rent increased?

Add services: Add a simple value-added service that doesn’t cost you a lot or take a lot of time. Find perks for your clients that make them feel like they’re leaving with a bargain.

Thank your clients: Don’t let one client doubt how much you value them and the trust they put in you. If they know you appreciate them and that you don’t take them for granted, they’ll trust your need to raise your prices.

Send a hand-addressed letter via the mail: Create a simple letter explaining the price increase and outlining the changes, tell your clients you appreciate them, and hand-address the envelope. Let clients know what’s happening AND let them know they were worth your time and a stamp.

Update all items with prices listed: Some stylists and salons have prices listed on a multitude of sites, make sure you update everything everywhere.

Just do it: Quit worrying about how everyone will respond, if you need to raise your prices, just raise them.

Start with just the new clients or give a discount to existing clients: For the first 1-2 months, you could simply increase the prices for new clients. Let existing clients know you’re giving them a XX% discount off the new price for the next 2 months as a small thank-you for their continued friendship.

Remember this: You Earned It!

[originally published in Salon Today]

general business rants and ramblings

Make a Decision

From information gathered from searching the internet (not always the safest way to gather trustworthy data quickly, but suitable for this purpose), it appears that adults make about 35,000 daily decisions.
35,000 decisions. Water vs tea, tap water or Pellegrino, lemon or no lemon, straw or no straw…just ordering a drink with lunch could be overwhelming if you think about it. As bad as ordering water is, don’t even think about what you go through trying to order a coffee at Starbucks.
One of the common threads I’ve found amongst the top salons I’ve worked with is that their leaders are willing to make decisions and live with the consequences. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t, but if you aren’t willing to make decisions you’ll spend your life at the lunch table and never get your glass of water.
Whether you’re a stylist, a salon owner, or own your own salon suite, you are faced with 35,000 daily decisions. Don’t be shy. Make decisions, give your opinion, forge your road ahead. Remember that all the ‘failures’ that come from making decisions are simply steps towards success.
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We Create Our Own Demons

A quote that’ll mean far less to those that aren’t Iron Man fans, but I don’t trust those people anyway.

You start with something pure. Something exciting. Then come the mistakes, the compromises. We create our own demons. – Tony Stark

This sums up many projects fairly well. We never look at a project and think of all the glorious ways we can fuck it up. We start with a clean slate, full of potential and excitement. Somewhere in the midst of a committee, however, things start to fall apart. Those with vision defer to those with volume. Those with reason are drowned out by those with money. Before long, potential fades away.

It’s late/early, and I’m tired, so I’m not going to tie this one up with a pretty bow. But if you have a vision, if you have a goal, don’t be deterred by negative influences and easier ways to get things done. Keep your focus and your dream alive within yourself, and get shit done.


general business

Work Your Ass Off When Nobody’s Looking

I’m constantly told by others how easy my line of work is for me. Clients and colleagues reference the fact that this all comes so easily to me, that I just fly by the seat of my pants and inherently know what to say and do. The kind ones refer to me as an idiot savant, the descriptions go downhill from there. I have several clients that are the same way, during a meeting they appear to there for fun instead of work…yet they know the answer to every question and have researched every angle of the discussion at-hand.

What people don’t see is the fact that behind every hour of appearing to have superhuman talents and knowledge, there are countless hours of work and dedication. I’m not more talented or smarter than anyone else in the room, and I’m certainly not a savant (the ‘idiot’ moniker, however, is likely applicable).

Making it all look easy is simply the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But it’s worth it. It’s just like time at the gym. Those that are able to lift more and run faster than you make it look easy, but that’s because they’ve put hours of effort into it. So, work your ass off on when nobody’s looking, and let everyone think you’re naturally the best there’s ever been.


general business rants and ramblings

Be Awesome

Whatever you do, be the fucking best there is.

There isn’t a job out there that this doesn’t apply to, nor one item that you’ll ever undertake in your personal life.

I somehow found myself in a pretty rundown hotel recently, as I had pulled over late at night and was simply too tired to go any further. I had simply decided to take whatever I could find at the nearest exit. Although I pride myself on being rather low-maintenance, I’ll admit I am a delicate flower when it comes to my hotel choices since I travel so frequently.

When I walked into the office, I could see how rundown the place was, the carpet was tattered and the entire facility looked as though it was far past its prime 30 years ago. There wasn’t any historic beauty here, just old rundown shabbiness.

The front desk person greeted me like I was his long-lost brother. He wasn’t overbearing, but made just enough small-talk during the check-in process to determine that I was completely exhausted. By the time check-in was completed, he’d found out that I needed food and offered to call in an order for delivery since there was no dining at the hotel, then he had someone from the maintenance team drag my baggage to the room for me (I don’t travel light). A few minutes after I was settled in the room and waiting for food, the front desk called to make sure that I had everything I needed and to remind me that they had ample toiletries they could run my way if I’d forgotten anything when I packed.

Under most circumstances I’d have hated my short stop for rest based on the rundown nature of the hotel, but that wasn’t the case in this instance. Thanks to one single person that was being the best front desk person he could possibly be, I would rank my stay with any of the high-end hotels I frequent.

Imagine how different the world would be if everyone went to work each day with the simple goal of kicking ass regardless of what they do. The best possible service at every restaurant, the best possible service each time you have to call for technical support, the best possible service from your consultants, etc. Everyone would suddenly be upwardly mobile, moving on to better jobs and careers as they show their true abilities.

What are you going to do today? Whatever it is, do it better than you’ve ever done it before.