Get Creative!

We joke that there’s nothing new under the sun. The same younger folks who mock the old-timers among us wear clothing lines recycled from times past and sing lyrics to songs we knew when we ourselves were children. So too, unless you’re an inventor, it is unlikely that your business provides a product or service that someone else, somewhere else, is not also marketing. The key, then, is in how you package or deliver whatever the product, service, or content is that you’re selling. And the great differentiator is creativity.

 

Paint a picture. Okay, maybe not literally (although a mural would be AWESOME). But use imagery to promote your work. People are visual by nature, and your images will get their attention far more easily than the best-worded content. Be sure you’re adding well-worded content for them to see once you’ve piqued their interest. Capture video of your team (or your team of one—just keeping it real in small business land) at work behind the scenes. Create an infographic of what you do, the pain point you solve, or the progress you’ve made. (We’re super proud of that growth in charitable giving).

 

Provide value. Sure, all business inherently should be about providing value to customers. But if you want to stand out, go the extra mile. Not everything you offer has to be about making a profit. Share your expertise. Be a resource for the people who trust you with their dollars and business. Like these great (free!) MILLIE Toolkits that can help guide you through a PCS from start to finish. Incidentally, giving away something that you’ve invested time and love in is good for business.

 

Be generous with your gratitude. You could simply put whatever you sell in a box and send it out in the mail. But everybody’s doing that. Be creative about how you show your love for the people who keep your business lights on (literally and figuratively). Send a handwritten thank-you note. Toss in a free product or coupon code. Showcase their work if you’re providing services to them. Give them a shout-out for their business (unless you’re selling something that requires some discretion, and then maybe don’t advertise how glad you are they’ve bought your incontinence products, for example.)

 

Create your own league of super fans. Super fans are people who are delighted with the products or services you offer. They’re your purpose as a business owner. They’re also your best marketing tool. Get their quotes and endorsements. Ask for those positive reviews that you can promote on your website and social media. Capture photos of people wearing/using your products in the most interesting/far-away/unusual places via a photo or video contest. Hold a “best caption” challenge. Make it “cool” (or at least remotely entertaining) to be someone who purchases what you’re selling.

 

Brag on yourself. Well, not in an unbecoming way, but if you can’t speak well of whatever you’re selling, making, or providing, then how do you expect other people to be excited about it? Want to see a great example of this? Check out Cape Henry Associates. They don’t just tell you what they do—they show you with engaging video. Put yourself out there to the extent that you’re comfortable and then a little bit more (because growth comes in the uncomfortable places). Allow yourself to be interviewed about what you do or sell. Provide content to sources beyond your website and social media properties.

 

Pick and choose from any or all of the above. Better yet, figure out how to add your own special spin to your efforts. And across it all, be authentically you. The most creative thing you can do is be yourself.

2019-06-17T20:05:44+00:00July 1st, 2019|

CEO SPOTLIGHT

The Creative CEO: Leslie Brians of Leslie Brians Designs

By: Rheanna Bernard

When Leslie Brians graduated from Texas A&M with a master’s in architecture, she married her spouse, who was in the military. She quickly realized that she would have to get creative with her career and that her degree would only get her so far in the crazy world of the Army. In her seven years as an Army spouse, she has worked in fashion, marketing, public affairs, and web design. The uniqueness of her life as a military spouse has created a perfect environment for creativeness and for Leslie to expand herself as an “artist” and as a professional in her fields. Creativeness is a key element to successful business. Even if you aren’t in a creative business, being creative can set you apart and keep you on the quest for growth. Leslie has done just that.

In 2016, Brians set out to create her own business, which she says was “the only natural next step in my professional career.” Leslie Brians Designs provides branding services to companies and nonprofits looking for an on-trend yet classic aesthetic for their online and print brands. Working from home, and for yourself, can be challenging, but Leslie fuels herself by feeding her creativity and challenging herself. “I love taking a simple idea and really turning it into something unique and beautiful,” she says. Brians acknowledges that it isn’t only her creativity she is fueling, but that of her clients as well. Her designs tell a story for each of the brands she works with. She says, “I make it my goal with each and every client to make sure their branding reflects the special story behind their business—the hard work and grit and dreams and finished product.”

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2019-06-30T21:08:34+00:00June 30th, 2019|

Did You Know?

Creativity breeds innovation, and innovation drives businesses to greater and greater things. Some of the greatest inventions happen when people are allowed to foster their creativity and think big.

Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get out of our comfort zones and think outside the box. Powerhouse can help jump-start your office spark. Check out our Career Resources page to find helpful ways to brainstorm or encourage team building. When we feel comfortable dreaming big and we have someone to bounce ideas off of, the sky’s the limit!

2019-06-30T21:09:00+00:00June 30th, 2019|

MARKETING BUZZ

Three Ways to Stay Creative on Social Media

By: Rheanna Bernard

With everyone posting all the time and social media changing almost daily, it’s hard to feel like you are keeping up with the Joneses. Staying creative when everyone is doing the same thing can make social media frustrating. When thinking of how to stay on top of things, it’s important to take into account your niche, your message, and your individual or company personality. Using those key elements, you can make your own social media unique and CREATIVE.

  1. Publish Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are the easiest way to show your creativity. Getting out there and showing your face to your followers are the best ways to connect with them. Show who you (and/or your company) really is by talking about your goals, your mission, and your everyday life. Make your Stories eye-catching by utilizing GIFs and stickers. Include hashtags and geotags to draw in a new audience.
  2. Consider using Facebook or Instagram LIVE. Creating videos is a great way to include more creative content on your social media. If you provide a service or sell a product, create a LIVE experience for potential or current customers by showcasing how your product works or a providing a review of your product by an actual user. Another way to get creative with your video is to talk about a subject your clients might also be interested but that might be different than what you are offering. This is a great way to bring in new customers who might not already know about you. One of my favorite examples of this is the company Once a Month Meals. They offer a service of monthly freezer meal recipes and shopping lists to their customers. Several times a month, they put discussions of aspects related to cooking on a budget, cooking for families, and cooking freezer meals on Facebook LIVE. While these videos aren’t directly selling their product, they are offering helpful tips and advice to potential customers while also helping their existing clientele.

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2019-06-30T21:09:25+00:00June 30th, 2019|

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

Three Things You Need to Know about Unleashing Creativity in the Business Setting

By: Julie Kirchner

In a competitive business landscape—as an executive, entrepreneur, or employee—the pressure to “be creative” can be high. Your capacity to get creative can make the difference between whether or not you stand out in the crowd, determine how many customers you can reach, or affect your ability to convey your message accurately and concisely. Creativity is something we often relate to intelligence, talent, and ability. It is regarded as a very desirable quality, both individually and within an organization.

  1. Your creative style may be rooted in your culture.

As it turns out, how we perceive and define “creativity” actually varies by culture. If your business has a diverse workforce, customer base, or international strategy, it pays to tune in to one rather simple nuance: Is your work “unique,” or is it “useful”?

Psychologist Letty Kwan’s research on the culture-and-creativity connection is summed up in an article in Psychology Today entitled “What Is the Relationship Between Creativity and Culture?”

According to the article, “A common definition of creativity is ‘something both novel and useful.’ In this context, ‘novel’ means original, unique, or innovative. ‘Useful’ means viable, practical, or aesthetically pleasing.”

As Kwan and her team point out, recent studies have emphasized that our cultural background, Eastern or Western, may influence which ideas or creative products are selected for continued development.

And along those lines, your ability to get excited about something—and therefore devote your creative energy—may depend simply upon whether you see it as practical or original (or both). (more…)

2019-06-30T21:09:50+00:00June 30th, 2019|

POWERHOUSE SERVICE & SUCCESS

Client Profile:

“I hired Powerhouse when I needed help with a large rebranding effort. I knew Powerhouse would come through on time and on budget, and I wasn’t disappointed! I love working with confident, positive, action-oriented team members, which is exactly what Jess has assembled. Plus, I fully support the mission of Powerhouse to create employment opportunities for military spouses. What better way to give back to those who give so much other than to provide mobile careers they can pick up and move wherever the military sends them?”

-Rissa Reddan, Senior Vice President of Marketing, PayNet, Inc.

2019-06-30T21:10:14+00:00June 30th, 2019|

BUSINESS RESOURCES

Fostering Creativity in the Workplace

Fostering creativity in the workplace can be challenging. You want to maintain a professional atmosphere, but sometimes that very feeling can, well, feel stifling. Studies show that employees who are empowered to express their creativity work better and create more innovative work products. Here are three sites to help you get started with increasing the creativity in your workplace.

StartupNation’s Catherine Plano discusses why and how creativity is so important on the workplace. As she says, “creativity is a mindset.” As we all know, creativity can’t be forced, but it can be fostered. Check out what Plano has to say and get inspired to get creative!

Filestage gives you 29 tips on how to increase creativity at work. These tips all come from award-winning companies and range from getting outside opinions on our ideas to finding ways to diversify your team. These 29 tips will get your creative juices flowing and give you practical ways to implement a creativity plan for your office.

For those who work in a virtual workforce, it can be difficult to feel a sense of belonging. The isolation that many virtual employees feel can also stifle creativity. Museum Hack’s Jesse Sussman provides ideas for creatively building a team spirit and ways to help your virtual employees bond. Some are fun, some are goofy, and some might even prove nostalgic!

2019-06-30T21:10:42+00:00June 30th, 2019|

GIVING BACK & GETTING INVOLVED

Find Your Passion: Danielle Jackson

By: Julie Kirchner

When Danielle Jackson started her photography business five years ago, she could never have predicted where her passion for photography—and people—would be taking her one day. This summer, Danielle is going on her first-ever mission trip to Uganda with Show Mercy International. We caught up with this busy entrepreneur, wife, mother of two teenage daughters, and soon-to-be missionary to find out what inspires her.

“People have always been my thing. I just love people. I majored in sociology, which is ridiculous…don’t ever let your child get a degree in people. That is not a ‘job,’” Danielle shares straightforwardly, with a kind of knowing chuckle in her voice. “BUT, truly, what is behind all of it—the photography, the fundraisers, all the things I do—it’s the people. It’s my love for people that gets me there.” This is evident in the way that Danielle goes about her business as well as her philanthropy.

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2019-06-30T21:11:06+00:00June 30th, 2019|

Spotlight on Powerhouse’s Amanda Higgs

Here at Powerhouse we are blessed with a wealth of talent, which is why we love to showcase some of our amazing members from time to time. This time, we’re shining a spotlight on a true “Powerhouse,” Amanda Higgs. Amanda is an incredible video producer who edits our clients’ videos. She takes their ideas and brings them to life by doing everything from creating storyboards to helping our clients figure out how best to feature themselves and their products. She delivers top-notch, quality videos every time.

Amanda has had the privilege of working with some of our favorite clients (okay, okay, they’re all our favorites. I mean have you checked out whom we’ve been partnering with lately? Could you choose a favorite?). In the past she’s worked with Cape Henry Associates, Jacey Eckhart, and HPI. Currently, she’s working with MILLIE to edit social media videos to help them best serve the military community. Amanda has been a Powerhouse video producer for two years, and we really can’t imagine how we functioned without her.

She loves the flexibility her career with Powerhouse brings, both in terms of her position and her ability to flex her creative side. It’s very true that a career with Powerhouse will challenge you to stretch your imagination on what you can do. The success of such creative endeavors is a product of trust and expertise on both sides. At Powerhouse we listen to our team members’ opinions because we trust that they will bring us ideas beyond our wildest dreams, and the fact that we foster such a trust means that our members feel safe to reach for the impossible. We’re pretty sure it’s a win-win. Amanda even told us that working for Powerhouse is her dream job. Well, the fact that she can report to work in her pj’s probably doesn’t hurt!

Amanda is proud to have served 11 years as a military spouse. Her husband retired as an Air Force Master Sergeant after a 21-year career. They have two boys: Ben, who is in sixth grade, and Jake, who is in fourth grade. She and her husband love spending time with them and their rescue dog, Lucky Ducky Applesauce Higgs. We’ll save you the time—Amanda doesn’t know how Lucky came by her name any more than we do. Still, we’re kind of in love with it.

Our intrepid video producer is as optimistic as they come and is truly one of the most resourceful, creative, dependable, and kind people we know. Her philosophy is to leave the world better than she found it, which is sort of our philosophy too, so it’s no wonder we’re happy Amanda is at Powerhouse. It’s not too much to say that Amanda loves her coffee (she only mentioned it a few times), but she also loves reading and watching movie adaptations of the books she reads. Spoiler alert: The book is always better, in her opinion. She also loves to cook, though she does admit that her smoke detector is her biggest fan. We’ll trust her on that one.

Amanda is always looking for ways to learn new techniques and gain new perspective in her work life. She hopes to be with Powerhouse for a long time because Powerhouse allows her the opportunity to constantly discover and grow. She wants to be a part of Powerhouse growing its clientele and contractor base. Even more, though, she wants to be a part of a company that gives so much back to the greater community. As she says, “Powerhouse gives back more than any other company I know.” She’s looking forward to watching, and participating in, Powerhouse growing its “Share the Goodness” campaign. We agree.

So we asked Amanda as a parting question what fun facts we should know about her. She shared that she and her son share the same birthday. She can touch her tongue with her nose (you just tried to do the same, admit it). Also, she’s terrified of frogs and dentists. Fair enough. Of course, she also added that she’s always up for coffee, but we already knew that. Check out some of our clients’ video posts. Amanda and her coffee may have had a hand in producing them.

2019-05-23T19:13:48+00:00June 12th, 2019|

Tips for Staying in the Cybersecurity-Know

Whether it’s identity theft through an ATM skimmer or the possibility of stolen social security numbers after a company or organization you trusted was breached, you likely know—either firsthand or via a friend/family member—what it’s like to have your personal information compromised.

But as the owner of a business, you have a different level of responsibility in protecting your organization, assets, and customers. Although we are far from being cybersecurity experts, we’re here to help point you to some resources to stay up-to-date on the latest in cybersecurity.

In the wise words of that famous NBC PSA…

Tip 1: You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!
Would you consider yourself a tech novice? When you think of hackers, do you think of someone in a dark basement in a far-off country? Or do you think you’re a tech expert who knows what it means to protect your business from potential threats? Either way, you can never know too much, and you can always teach an old dog new tricks.

In 2014, Rick Howard, CISO of Palo Alto Networks, created the Cybersecurity Canon (read more in the CSO article by Ben Rothke). The Canon includes highly recommended books from cybersecurity experts, and whether you are looking for information on cyber history, law, governance, or risk/compliance, this list is easily sortable and has something for everyone. And if you are simply interested in a great vacation read as you gear up for the summer, you can find that on this list, too.

Tip 2: Follow a Few Trusted News Sources.
There is a lot of information out there about cybersecurity, and it can feel overwhelming at times. Our second tip is not to try to boil the ocean with your knowledge. You can lean on a few sources for great, timely information. Here are a few sources we like to follow:

Dark Reading: You can find a great mix of news and commentary from experts, with product information sprinkled throughout the site.

Krebs on Security (Brian Krebs): Brian Krebs is a highly respected cybersecurity expert and former reporter for The Washington Post. When it comes to cybersecurity, he doesn’t simply report on the news—he breaks the news. Whether it’s nation-state hackers or cybersecurity vendors, everyone wants Krebs’ attention in the cybersecurity world.

CSO: Like Dark Reading, you’ll find a mix of information on this site. This is a great place to browse for tips from experts.

SC (formerly known as SC Magazine): You may see some more vendor-specific news here, but there is healthy mix of thought leadership on cybersecurity, too.

The Hill: Most publications have a cybersecurity section these days, and given all the changes in government policies, it’s not surprising that The Hill also has a cybersecurity section. This is an excellent source for staying up-to-date on the latest federal cybersecurity policies.

Tip 3: Lean on Others.
At the end of the day, you are one person who likely has to run a business, not simply worry about cyberthreats. The good news is that there are lots of people out there who spend their days staying current on what is happening in the world of cybersecurity. So consider whom you can lean on to support your learning and/or strategy to protect your business from potential threats. Here are a few people to lean on in your cybersecurity journey:

Make friends.
Identifying solid mentors and new friends is a great way to stay ahead of the game, while not relying on just your knowledge to make decisions. Check out local cybersecurity meet-ups or attend a cybersecurity conference (RSA and BlackHat are two tier-one tradeshows on the topic).

Invest in a cybersecurity team or consultant.
Find an awesome IT person who is passionate about cybersecurity.

If your budget allows, consider hiring a Chief Security Officer (CSO) or a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

If you have a limited budget, simply bring in a consultant to evaluate your cybersecurity strategy and current holes and to provide guidance on how you can reduce risk.

Tip 4: To Err Is Human.
Regardless of what you do to protect your organization, human error is inevitable. A recent report by Oracle, noted in this article by TechRepublic, calls out this specific trend and how artificial intelligence may be a solution to consider. But investing in AI-specific technology might not be realistic for your business right now, so our biggest tip is to ensure you properly train your employees on the risks of cybersecurity, compliance, and privacy. (Don’t assume you are compliant because you have a cybersecurity policy or vice versa.) It does not matter what you know—if your employees are not educated also, you will continuously be at risk.

Being a business owner comes with a ton of responsibilities, and in today’s world, ensuring you’re in the know about cybersecurity is—and will continue to be—one of them. Lean on a few trusted cybersecurity experts to guide you so that you can make your business its best. Because what they say is true: Knowledge is power.

2019-06-05T19:56:43+00:00June 5th, 2019|