Winning the Name Game: What We Can Learn from the World’s Stickiest Brands

Have you ever wondered how the most iconic brands got their names?

The Lego story is as elegantly simple as the blocks themselves.

The Lego company began in the workshop of Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen in 1932, where he crafted wooden toys. Christianson’s inspiration for the brand name came from the Danish term for “play well” – leg godt. By combining the first two letters of each word, he created a unique and meaningful brand name that has transcended countries and generations.

In 2016, Lego’s turnover grew 6% to 5.1 billion euro, surpassing Mattel’s measly $4.9 billion, making them, for the first time, the world’s largest toy company.

Making Your Name Stick

A great name can make a brand.

In today’s expansive global market, it gets harder and harder to win the name game. If you want your name to be known and respected, you have to pick a winner and make it stick.

What makes a great brand name? The “stickiness” of the word can make all the difference. Names that closely align with the service they offer are especially memorable (like Twitter, Smuckers, Naked Wines, SnapChat, Netflix, PayPal, Red Bull, Dollar Shave Club, and Snuggie).

Names with engaging metaphors are powerful too. When paired with a clear graphic device, names that suggest something beyond their literal meaning create some of the most evocative brand identities.

Take Amazon, for example. When Jeff Bezos was looking to carve out space as the biggest bookstore globally, he wanted to convey his company’s sense of mystery and endless possibility, available to any customer with an internet connection. Bezos tried two or three names before settling on “Amazon.”

The metaphorical impact of this name had great appeal: the Amazon River was the biggest in the world, home to a vibrant ecosystem as exotic and different as Beso’s dreams. It was the ideal metaphor for his new venture. The Amazon was striking and boundless, just as he wanted his online store to be. It was also the largest river in the world, 10 times larger than the next contender – perfectly fitting the vision for Amazon’s status today!

Growing Top-of-Mind Awareness

Once you’ve found the right name, it’s time to get it in circulation.

Brand awareness is the extent to which a brand is recognized by potential customers and correctly associated with its particular product or service. When your name becomes familiar, you will enjoy all kinds of perks:

— People will know who you are and what you do

— A viewer will be more open to reading your ads or mailings

— Search engine users will be more likely to visit your website

— Prospects will be warmer toward a referral from one of your current customers

— Customers will be more likely to choose your brand over others, even if there are cheaper options available

Looking for ways to get your name out in your community or industry? Here are 10 ideas:

1. Create a custom hashtag that plugs your unique selling proposition 

2. Participate in or sponsor local events

3. Build bright, colorful infographics 

4. Post regularly to social media using your brand voice

5. Sell your name through special shapes (i.e., die-cut postcards, magnets, or key chains)

6. Go mobile by creating colorful decals for vehicles

7. Hang full-size posters in “can’t miss” locations

8. Add a blog to your website and feature it in printed inserts or newsletters

9. Invite your employees or VIP customers to wear branded clothing at key community events

10. Design beautiful labels for all your products

It’s a good idea to use a mix of online and offline strategies to build awareness in most cases. The more customers see your company, the more likely they are to think of you when they’re ready to buy.

5 Straightforward (and FUN) Ways to Boost Your Productivity This Year

Today is a great day to integrate some healthy new habits into your routine.

Everyone benefits from good time management, and here are just a few simple ways to free up more time to do things you really love!

1. Create Templates

Tired of repeating yourself?

Templates (a type of “fill-in-the-blank” document) are great for assignments created the same way every time. Whether it’s a weekly email, a presentation spreadsheet, a thank you note, or a method for re-directing inquiries to a better source, creating templates in advance can save you tons of time in the long run.

2. Listen to Audio Books

Who doesn’t want to read more?

Audiobooks are a wonderful way to maximize that “throwaway” time in the car, getting ready in the morning, or during exercise.

In 2020, many local libraries made audiobook apps totally free. People who previously struggled to finish a chapter found themselves gulping down five books a month, while sharpening their minds and adding spontaneous joy to each day!

3. Block Distracting Apps, Websites, or Emails

According to research carried out by RescueTime, the average digital worker can’t go more than six minutes without checking their email or instant messaging.

The digital nature of your work and social life can leave you frazzled by constant alerts. This minimizes both productivity and potential as you struggle to focus on tasks for even short periods.

Start this year strong by implementing a few website and ad blocker tools. Unsubscribe from email lists or group chats that are sucking away precious moments in your day. And set your devices to block notifications from coming through in key work hours.

4. Batch Prep Your Meal or Meal Prep

If you want to save time in your busy week, mastering food prep can be huge.

Every time you mess up and clean your kitchen, it takes time. So why not make one big mess once a week, rather than a medium-sized mess every day? This can be as simple as chopping your veggies (or cooking all your meat) as soon as you get home from the store. Or it can be more intentional, like pre-cooking several meals and properly labeling them for fridge and freezer storage.

While the idea of prepping several meals at once can seem daunting, the time, energy, and money you’ll save in the long run are totally worth it.

5. Try the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with their time – rather than against it.

Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks (referred to as pomodoros). After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes. This work rhythm helps create a sense of urgency and productivity followed by natural releases needed in order to recharge.

Curious? Check out this short tutorial to learn more.

Save More Time, Live More Life

While you may not be a fan of resolutions, the emphasis here is on forming productive habits and finding tools to minimize your daily load.

To be more productive, look beyond your task list to the organizational tools needed to manage time well. That takes effort up front but gives you more time to enjoy each day later. And that really is crucial!

As writer Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Simply Irresistible: Best Practices for Writing Compelling Lead Magnets

Have you ever made an impulse buy at the grocery store? Or been drawn to an online store that you knew was probably fakey clickbait?

Sometimes, when the right offer hits you at just the right moment, it seems impossible to resist! And they don’t call this “magnetic” appeal for nothing.

In marketing, Magnets are an effective technique for gaining a prospect’s contact information and/or drawing them into your sales funnel. Sometimes called lead generation, this process of stimulating and capturing interest (to develop a sales pipeline) allows you to nurture a lead until they are ready to buy. 

Sounds easy enough, right? But how do you build this curiosity or engagement with your target audience? According to Hubspot, about 63 percent of businesses believe their biggest marketing challenges relate to generating traffic and leads, and 60 percent of marketers say lead generation is a key pain point for their company. Leads typically hear from a business after they receive and respond to some type of content, and knowing where to build this bridge can be a challenge.

Looking for some ways to engage your next VIP customer? Here are five time-tested options to consider:

Provide a Free Onsite Course or Webinar

People love information.

And giving it away for free is bound to create a sense of reciprocity with your prospects because humans naturally want to respond when something has been given to them.

Look for a point of need in your prospective customers and offer them valuable information in a podcast, an in-person event, or a consultation, and people will jump right in!

Compile Case Studies and Reports

Insider information about a company’s sector is always valuable.

This may be a quarterly white paper (like a comprehensive guide on the latest technology or trends in your industry) or a case studying outlining the benefits of certain methods, products, etc. Trade this information for your prospects’ contact information, or send a flyer with the introduction but release the full content only if people sign up to receive it.

Offer a Demonstration or Free Trial

A good way to secure customers is to give them a way to try your service or product without cost; or receive a free quote from your team.

Mailed postcards or website promo codes are an effortless way to get this offer in front of them.

Promote Contests and Free Products

A no-fail way to generate leads is to make generosity fun.

You can offer a free product, a BOGO offer or bundle promotion, or even a monthly drawing for a goodie bag of some kind. The more creative the offer, the better!

The Road to Opportunity

No matter what magnet you use, your lead generator should:

  • Position you as the guide. (Share empathy and authority as one who can help solve their problem.)
  • Stake claim to your territory. (Differentiate yourself from competitors and share unique knowledge in key areas.)
  • Qualify your audience. (Speak to the specific audience you are trying to reach with a succinct, irresistible headline.)
  • Create trust by solving a problem. (Even though your product should be the ultimate solution to their problem, your lead generator should provide an immediate benefit too.)

When you implement a lead generation program, you increase brand awareness, build relationships, generate qualified leads, and ultimately close deals.

And the better your leads are, the more successful your sales will be!

Expand Your Market: 15 Ways You Can Use Direct Mail to Sell in 2021

Life is noisy.

In today’s world, everywhere you look, you’re constantly swamped by ads: buy this, watch this, subscribe now!

How pervasive is this? These stats give us a glimpse:

  • Thanks to the internet and new technologies, the average viewer is exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 ads daily.
  • Google has managed to grow its advertising revenue every year for the past 19 years. It made over $134 billion in 2019 alone, just from advertising.
  • Sixty-five percent of people say they skip online video advertising – doing so as soon as they get the chance – and 76 percent say this is an ingrained behavior.
  • In 2020, the average open rate for marketing emails was around 21%, and more than 20% of marketing emails never made it to a subscriber’s inbox.

In contrast, more than 40 percent of recipients scan or read the direct mail pieces they get, and consumers are 22 percent more likely to purchase products promoted through direct mail than they are products advertised through email.

Maybe this noise overload is one reason younger people are placing greater value on print products. Millennials say they value direct mail in general: 69% of Millennials said they “somewhat” or “very much” like print coupons for restaurants, and 65% said they like coupons for retail businesses. In one survey of Millennials, 75% of respondents said receiving personal mail makes them feel special.

Open the Door with Direct Mail

All of these are wonderful reasons to add direct mail as an arrow in your marketing quiver.

In the digital age, an ink-on-paper sales letter or direct-mail package that your customers can hold in their hands will really distinguish you from competitors. More exposure means higher response rates. Higher response rates lead to more leads. And more leads generate greater sales!

When you’re ready to expand your market, here are several ways to package your message through direct mail.

— Make an announcement (perhaps using a flashy invitation or an oversized postcard)

— Send a sales letter or script font note combined with a catalog or brochure

— Introduce a new product or service

— Distribute a maintenance or service checklist with a detachable coupon

— Generate long-lasting impact with a sleek postcard magnet

— Invite people to attend a product demonstration, educational seminar, or nonprofit fundraiser

— Send renewal reminders for subscriptions, contracts, insurance policies, or service agreements

— Send holiday greetings with a special New Year’s offer

— Welcome inactive customers back with an incentive

— Get your company in front of fresh prospects using new mover marketing lists

— Promote a “live” social media event you are hosting

— Distribute valuable content through educational newsletters

— Conduct a sweepstakes event or contest

— Sell seasonal merchandise or products linked with hometown favorites

— Offer a free analysis or a complimentary cost estimate, review, or consultation

New Prospects = New Possibilities

Some marketers shy away from print, which is truly a loss.

Mastering direct mail can help you strengthen your reputation, drum up leads, entice new prospects, and make you a hero to your clients or boss.

Need some quick-to-print templates or tips on no-hassle mailing lists? Contact us today! We’re here to help.

4 Ways to Lead a Team that Goes the Distance

A marathon isn’t enough anymore.

Around one million people took part in marathon races in 2018, but ultramarathons (ranging from 50 km to multi-day races) are one of running’s fastest-growing fashions. Ultramarathon participation is up more than 1,000 percent over the last two decades! 

While physical endurance is paramount to success, one of ultramarathoners’ outstanding qualities is mental endurance. To travel 100 miles by foot or run around a track for a continuous 24-hours, mental resilience is essential. These races are repetitive, involve hundreds of thousands of steps being taken, and are as much of a test of a person’s ability to push through monotony as they are a test of physical strength.

Record-setting US runner Camille Herron says a key to her success is to mentally “break up the race” and to find coping strategies to do so.

Maintaining Professional Momentum Over the Long Haul

Mentally motivating your team can involve a similar approach.

The work done by your team has a significant impact. But your team members cannot serve effectively if they’re under major stress; they will break down before they go the distance. This is especially true in the holiday season – and even more so during a global pandemic.

How can leaders help people succeed over the long haul? By cultivating the concept of relaxed concern. Though it may sound like a contradiction, teams cannot thrive if they don’t take mental breaks along the way. Although people must realize their work is important, they won’t last if they can’t take their foot off the accelerator.

When you want to encourage an attitude of relaxed concern in your team, here are a few habits that can help: 

1. Have realistic expectations

Don’t expect every person on your team to work at the same energy level all the time.

Everyone is different – some people are a racehorse, others are a snail, and many people fall somewhere in the middle. Set your focus on output, not on the process, and allow people to work at a realistic pace to their professional DNA.

2. Be aware of external drains on energy and compensate for them

When someone on your team experiences illness or personal crisis, realize it will drain their energy, and then compensate for it.

Reportedly, 80% of workers drag themselves into work during illness, and an alarming 37% of people say they do not get sufficient sleep. Physical struggles and personal stress increase errors and fuel conflicts at work. Do everything you can to encourage personal well-being in your team, and allow margin when people are struggling. By prioritizing people above results, your team will be better off in the long run.

3. Work smarter, not harder

If the ax is dull, a difficult chore becomes impossible.

To make the best use of energy, work smarter, not harder. You may have people on your team who are working harder than anyone else, but their productivity is low because they aren’t working smart. Encourage and support your staff as they look for ways to make their work easier. This not only increases productivity, but it frees people from frustration and weariness.

4. Make work fun 

The most successful people in life are those who get paid for doing what they like to do.

And that’s true for businesses as well. Close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, and companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%. Whether you host quarterly “feast days” or post a wacky wall of fame, investing in relationships is always worth the effort.

For your team to maximize potential, they need to stick around. Cultivate relaxed concern to build teams that go the distance!

Magnetic Marketing: Using Faces to Command Attention

Our faces reveal multitudes about who we are, what we are thinking, and our intentions toward others.

Lying right under your nose is an awesome landscape of skin, muscles, and features. The face is one of the most profound parts of our body, and it packs so much power! Check out these remarkable facial facts:

  • Humans are capable of making 10,000 unique facial expressions.
  • The face has the biggest range of muscle structure in the human body, and 43 of these muscles are directly linked to facial emotions.
  • Humans regularly flash micro-expressions that last less than 1/25 of a second before they consciously or subconsciously neutralize them. These split-second displays can reveal more than a thousand words (or lies!) ever could.
  • Genuine facial expressions are almost always symmetrical. From frowns to smiles, people typically reveal authentic feelings evenly on both sides of the face.

Faces Add Impact in Marketing

How does this play into marketing and print?

First, it’s important to recognize the impact of faces so we can prioritize them in design. Research by Catherine Mondloch showed that newborn babies less than an hour old prefer looking at something with facial features. Humans prefer humans, and people buy from people!

It would be careless to overlook these statistics while continually deferring to inanimate objects. When you’re looking to add that personal touch to your marketing mix, remember faces can help you to:

Connect with People

Large, faceless corporations feel cold and manipulative.

To humanize your brand, feature people, not products! Pictures of real people build empathy and trust among viewers. And eye-tracking studies show that the faces of babies and pretty women are two of the most effective subjects you can use.

Putting faces on your brand allows you to connect with your audience in a relatable way. As you position faces in your ads, remember eyes looking right at people will have the greatest emotional impact because the eyes are the most significant part of the face.

Create Curiosity

Humans have a natural tendency to follow the gaze of others, and we have been coached since birth to follow these visual cues about where we should be looking or going.

Want to build curiosity and engage your viewers? If a face on your poster is gazing toward a text box or a product in the margin, readers will track toward that area as well.

Emotions can also be carried from a subject to the viewer as you set a tone within your design. The emotion in the faces you display can draw people to linger longer before your designs or to be drawn deeper into the message itself.

Cultivate Trust

People react to a photo on a page faster than any other design element, and seeing the people behind a business can establish credibility very quickly.

You can use faces to cultivate trust by using staff profiles on a website, facial photos in welcome displays or high traffic areas, or brochures with testimonials and photos from real customers. If viewers can relate to the people enjoying your product, this will seamlessly build positive associations in their own minds.

When used properly, photos of faces can help you connect with people, create curiosity, and cultivate trust.  Bypass resistance and build connections through the magnetic power of people!

Build Enthusiasm with Gorgeous Print Catalogs

Do you have a favorite catalog?

In days past, the Sears Christmas edition or the Lana Lobell fashion catalogs were the birthplace of many shopping addictions.

But though these nostalgic beauties hold a special place in many hearts, catalogs certainly haven’t disappeared from today’s marketing landscape. Companies like L.L. Bean, Ikea, J. Crew, and Athleta continue to dominate sales through the distribution of printed catalogs.

And people enjoy reading them. According to USPS, 47% of people set aside catalogs to read later, and 84% of consumers said they genuinely enjoyed receiving unexpected catalogs from places they had previously shopped. Enthusiasm has soared – response rates from catalogs has increased 170% from 2004 to 2018! 

Using Hard Copy Catalogs in Your Omnichannel Marketing

With a decrease in printed mail, today’s paper catalog is primarily a marketing tool – one of maximum potential during the holiday season.

The most sophisticated retailers are continuously working to build a seamless omnichannel operation, and companies that integrate catalogs, websites, and physical stores can simplify the shopping experience while closing more sales.

Print advertising is a great compliment to your online sales platforms, because print marketing often prompts greater follow-through. BRAND United reports that 86% of shoppers bought an item online after seeing it in a printed catalog.

Want to weave together catalogs and online purchasing? Here’s one inspiring example of a killer omnichannel strategy.

Quadratic: Selling the Adventure

For 30 years, Quadratic has prided itself on providing Jeep enthusiasts with the best parts and accessories for their customers.

From Antenna kits to light bars, Quadratic is committed to providing parts and accessories for daily on- and off-road needs.

Today millions of people receive Quadratec’s printed catalog in the mail. Even though there are more products on the company’s website than in their catalog, Quadratec uses printed catalogs to demonstrate it is an authoritative brand leader. Jeep enthusiasts love “jeeping,” and there’s just something about a giant catalog that gets that adventurer’s heart pumping!

In combination with its print success, Quadratec has elevated digital marketing efforts. By creating a corresponding mobile app, Quadratec allows customers to scan each product in the catalog with a mobile device. Scanned items bring customers to that item’s specific page on the website, so customers can easily tag it for a wish list, add it to their shopping cart, or purchase it from their phone.

Is this effective? Absolutely. Since launching its first AR-enabled catalog, Quadratec has experienced a three percent sales boost, and its mobile app is used an average of 200,000 times each month.

A One-Two Punch

Direct mail meets customers where they live, and catalogs are a long-standing customer favorite.

Data shows 44 percent of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving direct mail marketing, which is 10 percent more than people who visit landing pages after receiving an email. And because catalogs are extremely engaging, people feel more confident about purchasing when they receive one.

David Naumann, vice president of marketing for BRP, noted studies that have shown people can spend upward of 20 minutes looking at catalogs compared to the seconds they might spend looking at product images displayed online:

“When you have that physical catalog, customers might ponder it longer, even write notes on it,” he said. “It’s something you really can’t replicate in other media.”

Want to explore catalog marketing options for your business? Visit us online today for a free quote!

Why Direct Mail Postcards are Worth Every Penny

Although postcards are one of today’s beloved print pieces, they had a humble beginning.

The earliest postcard dates back to 1840 when an English man named Theodore Hook sent one to himself. By 1861, the US Congress allowed privately printed cards, weighing one ounce or under, to be sent through the mail. That year, John P. Charlton copyrighted the first postcard, and by 1901 postcards were a regular part of mailed communication.

Generate Huge Exposure with Just One Mailing

Fast forward a century. 

Postcards are now an essential marketing option for many businesses, and with good reason. These versatile tools represent a huge opportunity for companies that do it right.

And the results are compelling. One real estate agent makes $5,000 to $20,000 in commissions every time she runs a direct mail campaign. A Texas dentist added six figures in new revenue thanks to one mailing. And a financial services firm spent a few thousand dollars to net dozens of new clients with an average value of $1,500 each.

Why are postcards so effective?

According to UnitedMail, 79 percent of people act on direct mail immediately (while only 45 percent do so for email). More than two-thirds of consumers open all of their mail, even easily recognizable junk. And this is especially true for young people! According to the U.S. Postal Service, 36 percent of people under age 30 look forward to checking their mail, and 37 percent of the coveted 25- to 35-year-old demographic immediately read their mail.

Since postcards are so visually accessible, they are read frequently and generate huge exposure. When businesses target specific audiences and link to tailored landing pages on their website, they can spark considerable revenue with just one mailing.

Postcards generate fast results, and they work for any business. As long as you have a clear marketing strategy and great graphic design, postcards will work for you!

4 Keys for Designs that Deliver

When you are ready to launch your direct mail postcard, here are four keys for generating compelling, actionable designs:

1. Design with Your Audience in Mind

If there’s one mistake common to most marketers, it is this: assuming your audience knows the terminology of your industry.

Whether you’re a financial advisor or a chiropractor, frame your ideas in words that would make sense to anyone. 

2. Paint a Picture of the Problem You Can Solve

People won’t read every word you share, so don’t bury the lead.

Immediately communicate the problem your business can fix. Center your writing around how your product can make people’s lives easier or better.

3. Use Simple, Crisp Graphics

The image on your postcard should be instantly recognizable.

While it may be fun to try something clever, this often confuses the audience. Since you have mere seconds to communicate an idea, your image should reinforce the concept in a strong, obvious way.

4. Add Bulleted Lists and Distinct Next Steps

Readers won’t engage with longer text, so shoot for punchy subheadings or bulleted items that clarify value.

People want more than just a phone number or a web link. Be specific with CTAs like, “subscribe to ___ for ______” or “call today for your free consultation!” 

Let Our Team Mail for You

Ready to expand your reach with a focused direct mail campaign?

Save on stress and expense by consolidating your creative processes. Our full-service design specialists can provide the artwork, the printing, and even the mailing services. To get a quote, visit our website today! 

Snag Younger Customers: How to Build Connections with Generation Z

With the oldest of Generation Z graduating and entering the workforce, it’s time to set your sights on this powerful consumer demographic.

Who are these Gen Z individuals, and what is the most effective way to reach them? While many media companies have written them off as “screen addicts,” Gen Z is actually very nimble, engaged, and unique.

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • As of 2020, Gen Z makes up more than 40% of U.S. consumers.
  • Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote.
  • Generation Z represents the leading edge of the country’s changing racial and ethnic makeup. 52% are non-Hispanic white, 25% are Hispanic, 14% are black, 6% are Asian.
  • Gen Z logs on to social media for roughly two hours and 55 minutes each day. This is almost an hour longer than the average millennial.

Want to engage younger prospects? Here are five tips to consider:

1. Diverse images are extremely impactful

Gen Z has a natural awareness of how diversity is depicted (or overlooked) in your media.

Whether it’s custom photography or variety in your testimonials, it will seem strange (or even offensive) if your media is too homogenized.

2. Gen Z loves a good deal

Estimated at having $4 billion in discretionary spending, the buying power of Gen Z is significant.

But having grown up during the 2008 recession, Gen Z has an innate appreciation for a bargain. Gen Z will hunt for value in two ways: buying from inexpensive brands or purchasing expensive items with durability guarantees. Generous warranties and engaging in-store experiences are also a way to offer them more bang for their buck.

3. Gen Z was born social

Over 91% of Gen Z kids have a digital footprint, and Gen Z spends more time on mobile devices than Millennials.

Gen’s Z’s favorite sites are YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Because they are so visual, whenever possible you should “show,” not just “tell.” Image-based advertising and short-videos are especially effective!

4. Real is best

Gen Z people seek uniqueness in all walks of life, and particularly through the brands they buy from.

Gen Z-ers prefer brands that are authentic: 82% said they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, and 72% said they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. Product quality, positive reviews, and customer service are the top three characteristics that fortify their trust in a brand.

5. Give them a voice or a role

Given how socially aware this generation is, remember Gen Z-ers love opportunities to contribute, create, lead, and learn.

Whether you allow them to personalize your product or you prioritize ethical marketing (like partnering with nonprofits or standing for a cause), Gen Z appreciates buying from brands that give them a role in the journey.

Help Them Live in Person

Finally, remember that Gen Z longs to engage, and this doesn’t have to be online. 

A new A.T. Kearney study reports that 81% of Gen Z respondents prefer to purchase in stores, 73% like to discover new products in stores, and 58% browse in-store selections to disconnect from social media and live in the moment.

From gorgeous window banners to sharp point-of-purchase displays, sensory impact plays a principal role in creating the right mood for an impulse purchase.

Expand Your Influence by Growing in Self-Awareness

Have you exited a bathroom without realizing there was toilet paper on your shoe?

Or awkwardly tried to make conversation with someone who had food on their face? Whether someone is clumsy in conversation or they have really bad breath, a lack of self-awareness can profoundly hinder their reputation or influence.

Success Starts in Relationships

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self: including traits, behaviors, appearance, and feelings. Researchers find two areas of self-awareness to be especially important in leadership:

Internal self-awareness: This represents how clearly you see your values, passions, aspirations, fit with your environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others.

Internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness. It is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.

External self-awareness: Understanding how other people view you can make you more responsive as a team member and more skilled at showing empathy or taking others’ perspectives. 

When you more clearly see yourself as others do, you will have better relationships with your team, and they will view you as a more effective leader. 

If success starts in relationships, self-awareness is arguably the most important capability for leaders to develop. The numbers reflect this. In a study of the stock performance of 486 publicly traded companies, Korn/Ferry International found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than poorly performing companies.

Know Yourself to Empower Better Choices

Do you want to grow in self-awareness? Here are a few areas to focus on:

1- Strengths and weaknesses

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses that can hinder us or help us reach our goals.

Take ownership over these regularly, and compensate for shortcomings through personal development, honest acknowledgement of your struggles, or by delegating weak areas to someone with greater expertise.  

2- Triggers

Identify what factors, triggers, or indicators – both negative and positive – prompt others’ behaviors toward you.

Think about questions like: why do you do the things you do, and how do others respond? How do you respond in turn, and why do you react the way you do? What is the impact of culture on your perspective and others’ perceptions?

3- Moods

Try not to make decisions when you’re in a bad mood.

Whether you’re feeling depressed or just “hangry,” bad moods can make you lose sight of your hope or your values. Emotionally aware people can push pause, allowing trying situations to simmer down before they respond.

4- Personal Curiosity

Leaders are learners, and curious people are nimble amidst challenges.

While you can’t control your circumstances, you can take responsibility for who you become. Stay curious, respect others’ opinions, and don’t stop seeking to grow and change.

Commit to Continual Growth

Emotional intelligence empowers you to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and to proactively manage your relationships in healthier ways.  

Leaders who focus on building self-awareness will seek honest feedback from others and examine why they succeed or fail in different circumstances. And this can be fun! Remember, no matter how much progress you make, there’s always more to learn. That’s one of the things that makes personal growth so exciting.