Introducing Elaine’s Unique Finds

Helping a Brick & Mortar store enter the online world.

Here’s the story:

For five years our client, Elaine, has been successfully curating and selling treasures that she carefully selects at reputable estate sales across the region. Her unique finds can be found at Glorious Possibilities in downtown Nashua, NH. But the opportunity to place an ad in a very targeted publication got Elaine thinking…should I be doing more? Is it time to get online?

The solution:

The answer to Elaine’s questions was a resounding YES! Which is what lead her to purchase one of our perfectly baked Mini Muffins, designed to help small business owners just like her grow and thrive.

The execution:

Elaine’s shop is essentially a store within a store, so we set out to create a Brand that reflects her unique style and would truly help her to stand out in the way she deserves. During our roadmapping session, we dug deep to really understand what Elaine does, how she selects her pieces, and the incredible research that she does for many of the items she selects. So when you make a trip to her shop, she enhances the experience by telling you the story behind the piece, where did it live before? Has it been loved? Who cared for it? And, because she’s so selective, we wanted folks to know that she’s sure to find “The Very Thing” you’re looking for.

Once Elaine’s brand identity was clearly defined we applied it to her gorgeous new website…something Elaine hadn’t envisioned she’d ever have. But with the help of the Brand Muffins bakers, she’s ready to take her business to the next level.

The result:

Elaine’s Unique Finds successfully launched her new website with a brand that truly reflects who she is. And, she couldn’t be happier!

We’re excited to share Elaine’s Unique Finds, where we know you’ll find The Very Thing! And next time you’re in Nashua stop by to say ‘hi’ to Elaine — tell her the Brand Muffins peeps sent you.

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

Mom Always Said…

To honor all the moms out there who not only taught us valuable life lessons, but who also (maybe unknowingly) laid the groundwork for strong social media values for us to carry through in our businesses, Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s to you and all that you’ve taught us!

Use your manners:

How many times did your mom tell you to “Use your manners”? This mom mantra is drilled into our brains from the time we can talk. So why is it that so many people, and even businesses, forget this golden rule when it comes to social media? Understandably, we live in a time where social media outlets have provided a new platform for us to share our opinions. It’s so tempting to respond to something you see, but it’s not always the best course of action if you are a business. In fact, don’t do it. Sit on your hands if you have to… whatever it takes to avoid saying anything that may damage your brand image.

As a business, especially a small business that often relies on their local community to stay alive, it’s mission critical that you not only use your please and thank you’s, but that you are respectful, too. Your brand reputation depends on it.

Don’t mix your personal life with your professional life:

Our clients often ask us if they need separate social media accounts for their small business. Our answer is always a resounding: yes! That’s because you are building a brand and that is different from reporting on what is happening in your personal life. A cute picture of your puppy may not seem like a bad choice, but those photos from your night on the town with friends probably don’t belong on your business page… again, think of your brand.

Ignoring someone is not cool:

Want to know what else is not nice? Not responding to comments or questions posted to one of your channels. In real life we call that ignoring someone, and that’s not cool (at least according to my mom). As a business in the social media world, not responding to comments or questions is called bad business practice. If a client or potential client makes a comment or complaint on one of your social media channels, they are giving you an opportunity to help them get clear on who you really are. Oftentimes, this makes for happy, loyal customers who will go on to share their positive experience with their social media audience, thereby attracting new customers for you. If you don’t have the time to respond yourself, assign this task to someone on your team. It’s that important.

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything:

Thumper’s mom (and mine too) had it right when she said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Guess what? The same holds true for social media. Play nice with your competitors. Trust me, it’ll go a long way. While you may not be able to measure the impacts of being nice, I bet you’d immediately feel the effects on your brand if you start smack-talking your competitors. We refer to it as “community over competition” and it’s real. Better yet, go the extra mile and compliment your competitors from time to time.

Don’t be “guilty by association”:

I used to hate it when my mom told me, “Not everyone is going to like you, and you’re not going to like everyone either. But you do have to always be nice.” I used to take offense. I thought, ‘What do you mean not everyone will like me?’ Guess what? She was right…. again. In social media, this means that not everyone will “like” or follow you, and you may not like or follow them back. And that’s okay! It all comes back to building your brand – finding your tribe. Liking or following the wrong person or business may tarnish the brand you’ve worked so hard to develop. Sort of like hanging out with the wrong crowd. Choose thoughtfully.

Hard work pays off:

There are about a million more life lessons that my mom taught me. But one of the most valuable ideals that she instilled in me is to work hard, at everything you do, because hard work pays off. It might not pay off the way you meant it to, but there’s always a lesson to be learned.

Hats off to all the amazing women and moms out there, who inspire us to be our best in business and in life. This Sunday, Mother’s Day, is in honor of YOU!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

Celebrate Small Biz

This week is for you, small business owners! Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has proclaimed the celebration of National Small Business Week. It’s an opportunity to recognize our favorite small business owners and entrepreneurs, and the heart-filled work that they do.

We’re here to cheer you on, not just this week, but every week, every day, all year long. You are the thread that makes up the fiber of our communities all around the country. Thank you for working hard, creating jobs and improving our communities. As a small business ourselves, we get the challenges and opportunities that you are faced with day in and day out. It takes hard work, dedication and grit to be successful.

The week is full of free webinars, interviews and resources that will be valuable to you, whether you are just starting out or have been in business for many years. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a fantastic resource, chock-full of information to get you started and to keep you growing. Be sure to follow them on Facebook too!

We also love our friends over at Seacoast SCORE. They are a network of volunteers who offer free, confidential business advice to small business owners. Take advantage of one of their workshops, check out the resources on their website, or go the distance and set up a meeting with a counselor.

Of course, we’re here to support you, too. Do you have all the ingredients for a successful business, but need help getting them cooking, so to speak? Maybe you’ve been in business for a while now and you’re ready to take it to the next level. That’s where we come in! Brand Muffins was created with small business owners in mind. We offer all the tools you need to give your brand a boost. You’ll get expert branding and web design at an affordable price.

Cheers to you, small businesses everywhere!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

The DIYer/Jack of All Trades: An Entrepreneurial Profile

We love entrepreneurs because they’re a breed of their own. Driven, courageous, self-sufficient – sometimes downright crazy. There’s never a dull moment. No two business owners are quite the same, and each entrepreneurial journey is uniquely reflective of its own brand.

Today’s featured profile: the DIYer/Jack of All Trades.

DIYers are go-getters. They’re the self-sufficient business owners who don’t believe in outsourcing, but instead take on all aspects of the business themselves. Maybe their budget is strapped and they can’t afford to bring in the help. Or maybe they have difficulty trusting someone else to take the reins – their business is their baby, after all.

Sound familiar? You’re probably a DIYer if you consider yourself a “control freak”. In your mind, no one can understand the intricacies of your business better than you, and no one can do can the work better. Right? … Maybe.

We love the confidence, and we love the guts. We would simply ask all our Jack of All Trades friends to consider the balance of being a business owner. Being a solopreneur (in the true sense of the word) means wearing all the hats – doing all the things – from being a marketer, accountant, sales(wo)man, social media specialist – and of course, an expert of your trade. If you do choose to go it alone, there’s a potential for burnout, and certainly a challenge sustaining your business if work starts piling up.

The reality is that someone else may actually be able perform better in certain aspects of your business than you. You might be a kick-ass marketer and your advertising strategy is down pat, but maybe bookkeeping is a bit of a weak link. And if you’re spending too much time on that piece of your business, you could be losing out on gaining new clients and actually doing the work that runs your business. Efficiency is everything.

Doing it yourself can only get you so far, friends. At some point, you simply need to ask for help, because being a business owner doesn’t really mean going it alone.

And if you’re in need of a little help, consider investing in a Brand Muffin to get you where you’re going. We designed these brand boosters with the small business owner in mind, filled to the brim with expert branding and strategy, stunning web design, killer copywriting, and a few extra toppings to really pack a punch. The result: the support you need to breathe a little easier. We’ve got you.

 

Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

 

Enjoy this post? Stay tuned for future entrepreneurial profiles! Whoever you are and whatever your ‘type’ may be, we want to shine a light on the beautiful chaos: the ups, the downs and the laughably relatable parts of being a business owner. Tell us in the comments below what kind of entrepreneur you are!

A Young Entrepreneur’s Perspective on Small Biz

Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you can’t get it done.

I recently met with a successful businessman who was looking to me for a referral for hire. And he said something that stayed with me.

“I don’t want to hire someone with ’20 years of opinion’, if you know what I mean.”

That hit me. Gone are the days of only hiring folks who have double-digit years of experience. Today more than ever before, I believe we are recognizing the immense value in the younger generation and their unique perspective on this whole digital thing.

I was 24 years old when I decided to go out on my own in business. To enter into the entrepreneurial world. I knew I had talent that I wasn’t using – and I wanted to be using it. I wanted to serve my community and I didn’t believe I should wait until I had a mid-life crisis to finally decide that I want to be doing what I love. Life is simply too short.

So let’s do it now, especially now. Life doesn’t become less complicated as we age – we don’t have fewer children, buy fewer houses, have fewer divorces, acquire less debt, etc. The responsibilities typically don’t lessen; the barriers typically don’t let up. If anything, being young is the BEST time to enter the entrepreneurial world.

It’s waiting for you. I encourage you not to wait for it.

I don’t know if these words would have held true 40-something years ago. Extensive work experience used to be what you could lean on, what would lend yourself credibility as an entrepreneur. Today, if you’re under 35 and rocking it out as a small business owner, that is valued in and of itself. I would even argue that the younger you are, the more valuable you are.

The belief that youth doesn’t equate enough experience is a doubt to be cast away. You have a lot more knowledge in social media, marketing and advertising in the digital age as it applies to the current state than your 60-year-old coworkers. The world we live in is very different than what they were taught regarding these topics.

I say this all out of love. It may sound a little harsh, but I do think it is true and important in today’s day and age.

Okay, so how do we enter into this world? How does one become known for their genius, whatever that may be?

My advice: start a passion project. Start a community and make connections with those who share your passions. This is your secret networking tool that will ultimately make your passion profitable. As you’re doing this, work on strengthening your own marketing and advertising plan. Embrace the digital age. Be consistent with your messaging and speak to the ways in which you solve others’ problems, making their lives a little easier.

So what are you waiting for? A sign? This is it, my friend. You are ready.

Raya Al-Hashmi
Business Brand Photographer, Raya On Assignment
rayaonassignment.com
Find her on Social:
Instagram
Facebook

Raya is a rockstar entrepreneur and a master behind the lens. We think she’s killing it in her business, and we’re delighted to have her as a guest blogger for the Muffington Post! Be sure to check her out on Instagram and Facebook to see what she’s up to these days. And stay tuned… Raya will be guest blogging for us again!

Is Face-to-Face Networking a Thing of the Past?

In this day and age of social media and smartphones, you may be wondering if in-person networking is a thing of the past. Sure, it’s easier to “make connections” online – but are those connections real?

Trust me, I get it. Networking can be super awkward and uncomfortable. I’m a shy girl who would gladly choose going home to my family than attending another networking event. I’ve tried to “network” using various social media platforms. But lately I’ve had to put on my big girl pants and just get out there! And let me tell you what I’ve learned.

Get over it! Networking isn’t as bad as you’ve led yourself to believe. First of all, you’re not the only person who feels awkward – there’s at least one other person in the room who feels or has felt the same way you’re feeling. So get over it!

Find the right event. There are tons of networking groups out there. In fact, I think you could spend most mornings at a “coffee & connection” meeting and most evenings at a “business after hours” networking event. The trick is to find one that matches your goals. Are you networking for your business or product? Or are you networking to make connections for a career change? Whatever your reason, be selective.

It’s more than just a meeting: Yay you! You made it to your first networking meeting. Now what? Well, remember why you went in the first place… to make connections, right? So, #1 plan to go to another one and #2 reach out to the people you met! A quick email or shout out on social media goes a long way.

Be prepared to be surprised. Approach your next networking event with your eyes wide open and be ready for the unexpected. What I mean is, you may be attending this event for business purposes but leave with new knowledge of a volunteer board you may be interested in joining, or a new restaurant to try. You just never know what nuggets of information you will take away from networking.

And most importantly:

Authenticity. Let it be known that authenticity is actually the #1 lesson you need to learn in business. And the only way to be authentic is to develop real, human connections. You can’t do that online. You have to get out there and talk to people. Create a dialogue; share your passion.

The takeaway? Face-to-face networking is NOT a thing of the past. In fact, I think it’s more important than ever. Whether we know it or not, we all enjoy the times when we can step away from our screens and devices and actually have real conversations.

I encourage you to give it a try.

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

Tips for how to stay focused as a Mamapreneur

When my daughter was just 8 months old, I made a massive decision. I took the leap and left my decade-long corporate career in collegiate athletics marketing for the opportunity to be present with my little one and to begin building my dream career.

When I first launched my business, I had less than 2 hours a day, during naptime, to coach clients and grow my tribe. I found some immensely helpful tips that I want to share with you.

Here are the top 5 ways I grew my business while raising my baby:

1. Focus on top priorities daily
In the beginning, it felt like there were hundreds of things to do – and there were. It was a steep learning curve, but being a mama led me to need to learn how to prioritize.

First things first: make a list and prioritize by importance and urgency of the projects on the docket; then set deadlines and get workin’ to maximize your precious (and limited) time.

2. Ask for help
This was absolutely crucial to my success. I learned that it was okay to ask my husband for help at home or to ask our parents to spend some extra quality time with their sweet granddaughter once a week or on a weekend when I needed the space to crank out deliverables.

As mamapreneurs, we can have the world on our shoulders and feel like we should be able to carry it alone, but the gift we give others by asking for their support is priceless.

3. Learn how to be uber-efficient
When I learned about block scheduling and hired a Virtual Assistant to the team, the game changed. These two things were life-savers and I was able to pass off techy tasks that were not in my zone of genius and zone in on my genius during those naptime windows when I had to get content out to my tribe.

I could’ve spent hours trying to get things done, or tried to fit into everyone else’s schedule. Instead, I found what worked for me and got a lot more work done in those small pockets of time.

4. Ditch the comparison game
I realized, very quickly, that comparing myself to my non-mom friends and online idols made zero sense. I grounded in to gratitude every day and celebrated the fact that I traded in my daily commute for the moments I could never get back with our girl.

I made a pact with myself that it was, perhaps, going to take me longer to achieve my career goals…but becoming a mama was a life goal that I wasn’t willing to squander for anything.

5. Build an amazing tribe
Soul sister power for the win! I could not do this without my tribe of incredible visionary women and cheerleaders.

I deeply value relationships and spend the time cultivating and caring for them as a major part of my weekly schedule. Spending an extra day on a trip to meet up with a friend (taking the online life to real life) can be the meeting that leads you to your next client or key business contact.

Parenthood is one of the greatest blessings and gifts I could ask for. I left my corporate career to be more present for my life and the people in it, and over the last 4 years, I’ve done just that and grown a successful business that has served thousands of women worldwide in the process.


Amber Lilyestrom
Transformational branding strategist & business coach, philanthropist and lifestyle entrepreneur
Facebook
Instagram

We just had to ask Amber to join us as one of our guestbloggers. She’s a mamapreneur who is gettin’ things done, while balancing her family life too. She has been featured in Entrepreneur, Startupcamp.com and Working Mother magazine and is the host of the Amber Lilyestrom Show. She helps women entrepreneurs position themselves as sought-after experts and thought leaders through social media, engagement marketing and the creation of a soul-connected online brand presence. She’s helped thousands of women worldwide and built her multiple six-figure business as a full-time mamapreneur.

Be sure to check out her website and find her on Facebook and Instagram where you will find lots of inspiration. And don’t worry ladies – Amber will be guest blogging for us again in the future, so stay tuned!

What Your Account Manager Wants You To Know

What is an Account Manager anyway? And how can they help your business grow?

An Account Manager is a team player who can adapt to and manage a variety of situations, whether it’s a client request to launch a special weekend only offer or preparing strategy for an annual campaign. We oversee the marketing process for our clients so their campaigns are successful and their business grows as a result!

Hi, my name is Dee. I’m a Certified Agency Account Manager at DARCI Creative, Brand Muffin’s sister company. I’m a dancing queen, Beyoncé fan and a Rosé Enthusiast (Well, I used to be… I’m expecting my first baby in July!) And I love what I do.

Sure, some days are stressful and a little nutty, but what job isn’t? Helping clients, large and small, grow to meet their business goals is so rewarding and on top of that, I have great relationships with our clients, and some of them I consider to be close friends! Whether you’re an existing DARCI or Brand Muffins client or you’ve been considering signing on with us I want to share a few things about working with an Account Manager so you know what to expect! Here we go:

#1 – We’re Here to Help. Our #1 priority is making sure our clients are happy. Think of us as your dedicated Customer Service Rep, that you have access to at all times (not really, but pretty much). Need a black & white version of a logo? No problem. Have a great idea for a Holiday Give Away? Awesome, we’ll help you turn the idea into a reality.

#2 – We Want to Get to Know You Better. And we like to ask questions. A great Account Manager is always researching and learning about your business and your industry. What are your competitors doing? Who is your target audience? How can we get the best results? In the end, this allows us to communicate effectively with you and makes us better at what we do.

#3 – We’re Organized. We keep deadlines, campaign & website launches, and anything connected to your account on track, so you don’t have to worry about it. You’re running a business, aren’t you? You can leave that to us.

#4 – We’re Your Gate Keeper. Remember all those pesky sales people calling to ask if you want to run a radio ad, or a TV commercial, or buy a cool water bottle with your logo on it? Send them our way, we’re happy to manage the sea of media reps that probably call on you multiple times a day. Again, you’re running a business, ain’t nobody got time for that!

#5 – We Appreciate You. We might help keep your business running, but at the end of the day, you are what keeps our business going. So thank you for trusting us with your business. It truly is an honor to work with some of the best small businesses in the Region.

#6 – We Take You to Happy Hour. We work hard, to play hard. Creating relationships with our clients outside of the work day is important to us, so let us treat you to a cocktail, or two.

Daniele Hosser
DARCI Creative
Senior Account Executive

The Wantrepreneur: An Entrepreneurial Profile

We love entrepreneurs because they’re a breed of their own. Driven, courageous, self-sufficient – sometimes downright crazy. There’s never a dull moment. No two business owners are quite the same, and each entrepreneurial journey is uniquely reflective of its own brand.

Today’s featured profile: the Wantrepreneur.

Wantrepreneurs are dreamers. They’re not yet a true entrepreneur, but they aspire to be one. Maybe they have an idea for a new business venture to launch, or maybe they haven’t quite settled on an idea but crave the freedom and the flexibility that comes with entrepreneurship.

You’re probably a wantrepreneur if you consider yourself a side hustler, building a business on nights and weekends while killing it at your 9-5 day job. You’re a perfectionist – a procrastinator, even – not sure if you’re quite ready to take that leap of faith. Maybe you’re in limbo, waiting for the funds and resources that you need to lift your business off the ground. Or better yet, you have the resources, the bright idea that sparked this all in the first place, and the motivation you need to take that step from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur – you just need to put in the hours to get there.

Whatever stage you may be in, we give all our wantrepreneur friends kudos. Starting a business is no easy task, and we’ve been in the same place you are now.

Our advice for the wantrepreneur? Write down your goals and the steps you need to take to get there. Don’t overthink it, and don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. That’s where the magic happens, after all.

And if you’re in need of a little help getting from A to B, consider investing in a Brand Muffin to get you there. We designed these brand boosters with the small business owner in mind, filled to the brim with expert branding and strategy, stunning web design, killer copywriting, and a few extra toppings to really pack a punch. The result: the boost you need to break free of that wantrepreneur title, while launching that business of yours to new heights.

Enjoy this post? Stay tuned for future entrepreneurial profiles! Whoever you are and whatever your ‘type’ may be, we want to shine a light on the beautiful chaos: the ups, the downs and the laughably relatable parts of being a business owner. Tell us in the comments below what kind of entrepreneur you are!

Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

Maggie Sutherland: The Story of Seacoast Lately

I never planned on starting a business. It just kind of… happened.

Here’s what I know: many parts of my life have come together to create a career I never imagined, and I’ve never been more clear about anything than where I am right here and now.

For those of us who are just meeting, I’ll give you a brief introduction. My name is Maggie Sutherland and I am a New Hampshire native and Seacoast enthusiast.

In college, I studied studio art and business. From the time I started until a year after I graduated, I held seven unpaid internships. If you know the movie The Devil Wears Prada, picture me as Anne Hathaway. I thought I wanted to be in fashion in New York City. Turns out, I fell head over heels for influencer marketing after experiencing the collaboration and rewards that come from blogging and social media marketing. With a newfound passion, and a longing to be back with my family and community on the Seacoast. Seacoast Lately was born!

So what exactly IS Seacoast Lately, anyway? In a nutshell, it’s a curated lifestyle resource for Seacoast locals and tourists. Through social media platforms, a website and a weekly newsletter, we gather and share what is hip, happening, new and noteworthy across the area, from Kennebunkport, Maine to Hampton, New Hampshire. I like to describe it as a modern chamber of commerce meets local newspaper that covers multiple towns all in one source.

In creating Seacoast Lately, I wanted to offer a resource where people could learn, be informed, smile, and appreciate the Seacoast on a deeper level. Where inspiration can thrive and New England enthusiasts can gather. I try to curate all Seacoast Lately content as fun, inviting, and happy – qualities that are so important to me. I think it helps my business stand out.

When someone e-mails me to say, “I tried this new fitness studio after reading about it in your newsletter this week!” or someone approaches me at a cafe and says, “Hey, I’m trying this drink because you posted it on Instagram!” – those are the moments that bring me the greatest joy. I think it brings others joy too, learning about local businesses and products in their community, while being inspired by the stunning scenery that surrounds us every day.

Two years since pressing ‘send’ on my very first newsletter, Seacoast Lately is growing every day! I couldn’t be happier than to wake up every morning to do the work I love.

 

Maggie Sutherland
Seacoast Lately

 

Find her on Social:
Instagram
Facebook

Maggie is on her A game when it comes to social media, and she portrays the Seacoast beautifully. We love watching this young entrepreneur blossom – as she says, ‘Let’s root for each other and watch each other grow!’ Be sure to check her out on Instagram and Facebook to see what she’s up to these days. And stay tuned… Maggie will be guest blogging for us again!