3 Secrets to Reaching RnB Artist Fan Loyalty without Singing a Note

Wouldn’t it be great to have fan loyalty like R&B artists? Fans who will share your content, say wonderful things about you and buy whatever you sell.

fan loyalty

Old school R&B superstars like Jagged Edge and Avant have huge fan bases who are loyal, and let’s be honest, a little crazy (even though they are mostly well into their 30s.)

These artists aren’t in heavy rotation on the local radio stations or highly promoted by their record labels like Beyonce’ or Trey Songs, yet they continue to tour the world and perform for sold-out crowds.

Fans of these R&B crooners (myself included) will support nearly everything they do … buy every album, go to their concerts, answer trivia questions on social media, etc.

Hey, I flew from Cleveland to Atlanta for a Jagged Edge/Avant concert, sat outside for hours in 90 degree-heat and spent several hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving the show.

But guess what, it was all worth it because I got a chance to talk to my favorite member of Jagged Edge, Brian Casey.

Ok, back to the wonderful world of fan loyalty.

So wouldn’t it be amazing if your customers were just as loyal? Spreading your content, saying great things about your products and services and recommending you every chance they get …

What’s the Secret?

Before I spill the tea, let me tell you that it’s not just about the talent or music. Sure talent and great songs have played a major role in the success of R&B artists like Avant and Jagged Edge, but real fan loyalty is inspired by much more.

So what makes the fans of these R&B crooners so fanatic after all these years? Quite simply, they identify with these artists.

For example, Jagged Edge is a rough-around-the-edges, Timberland-wearing male group from Atlanta that sings love songs. When they hit the radio, their persona was much different from suit-wearing likes of New Edition.

We appreciated them then because we could relate to their experiences (not many folks walking the streets with glittery suits on like New Edition) and now we continue to listen because their music has created memories for us – our first dance, kiss, etc.

Be Likeable

Show customers that you’re relatable by letting your human side shine through. I know what you’re thinking … easier said than done. But actually it’s easier than you think.

First, stop using words like “cutting-edge,” “best-of-breed,” “mission-critical,” etc. People buy from people and words like these sound robotic and unnatural. Be likeable by conversing with your customers without all the buzzwords.

Be the Solution

Second, find out the problems your audience face and offer solutions. Now, you can’t and won’t be the solution for everyone, that’s why it’s important to identify your audience. Solve problems for those who want and need your help.

Back Up Your *Ish

Lastly, and this is a big one ­– back up your *ish with damn good customer service. Ever hear you should never “make promises you can’t keep?” Try to always keep your word with customers. We understand things come up, but your word is your brand – and if customers can’t rely on your word, then how can they trust the quality of your products or services?

What’s the Word: We all wish we could reach celebrity status when it comes to fan loyalty. While we all can’t be R&B artists, by following these steps, we can build irresistible, memorable brands that our audiences will love and trust for years to come.


What You Can Learn about Marketing Strategy from the Cleveland Browns

Win or lose, the Cleveland Browns have shown commitment in the face of challenge and we can all learn about marketing strategy from this comeback team.

cleveland browns, learn about business strategy
Photo courtesy of the NY Times at www.nytimes.com

So the Cleveland Browns is on a serious winning streak and I’ll be the first to admit that I am utterly amazed and am humbled to learn about marketing strategy from this comeback team.

Even die-hard fans can agree that the season started off pretty rocky. And with the Brandon Weeden (Browns quarterback) injury and Trent Richardson trade, most were ready to throw in the towel on yet another football season.

Then along comes Brian Hoyer, the local kid from St. Ignatius High School with a good arm and some pizzazz. And now the Browns are first in the AFC division. I don’t know the last time I heard “Cleveland Browns” and “first” in the same sentence.

The Browns faced some challenges early on and made some tough decisions that sent sports reporters and fans into a near cardiac arrest – but they are bouncing back, despite Hoyer’s recent injury (a torn ACL).

So what can we learn about marketing strategy from the Cleveland comeback team?

1.       It’s Good to Shake Up the Strategy

Trading running back Richardson seemed like the worst decision in the world. Fans were pissed off, sportscasters were in an uproar and the stadium seemed to have a dark cloud over it … until the next game when the Browns won.

As business owners, everyone may not agree with your decisions and strategies, but you can’t build success without taking risks.

2.       You Can’t Please Everyone

Every single game, Browns management is called everything but the son of God for play calling, quarterback decisions, etc.

Owning a small business is tough and sometimes, you have to make unpopular decisions to stay afloat. Sometimes your choices don’t work out and at times they do. The key is focusing on doing what’s best for your business because you can’t please everyone no matter what you do.

3.       Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number

Why the heck would the Browns trade a young, agile athlete like Richardson for a veteran like Willis McGahee? For the Browns, it wasn’t about age. The organization was in search of a specific skillset and saw McGahee as the guy, despite his age.

It’s easy for prospects and colleagues to judge you for being a young or old school entrepreneur, but at the end of the day, it’s your skill and professionalism that matter most. So whether you’re still “wet behind the ears” or a seasoned veteran, don’t let age get in the way of your dreams.

What’s the word: Marketing plans and strategies aren’t written in stone. It’s okay to tweak your plan until you’ve come up with a winning solution. 

October Is National Women in Business Month

Celebrate National Women in Business Month with us by sharing your wisdom in our upcoming article.

National Women in Business Month, women business owners
Celebrate National Women in Business Month

Happy Women in Small Business Month! We’re celebrating this month with an amazing article packed with success tips from you … women who are doing great things and “working it” in small business.

According to a recent study by American Express, even with more than 8.6 million women business owners in the United States, we still continue to trail our male counterparts. In addition, most women business owners earn less than $100,000 in gross revenue. But stats are just that, stats. You can’t let them define your success.

As women business owners, we juggle being a wife, mother, business owner, therapist, etc. – I’m tired just talking about it. The heavy load most of carry is exactly why it’s so important that we offer assistance to other women in business. And words of wisdom on how we overcame certain obstacles is oftentimes the help most of us need.

Share Your Wisdom

What advice would you give to women business owners? Please answer the question in three sentences or less and provide your full name, title, name of your business and contact info (email, Twitter handle, Facebook page address or Google+).

Send your words of wisdom to info@baab.biz. Thanks for taking the time to help other women business owners reach greatness!

So You Think Writing a Business Plan Is Not Necessary?

If you want to qualify for a small business loan, you’ll need to start with writing a business plan.

qualifying for a small business loan, how to write a business plan
Interview with Emily Sullivan, Relationship Manager (Cleveland, Ohio), ECDI

As promised, we’re continuing our discussion from last Thursday, “What You Need to Know About Qualifying for a Small Business Loan.” We thank Emily Sullivan, Relationship Manager in the Cleveland, Ohio office of the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) for sharing her thoughts on the importance of writing a business plan and what you should include to make them super amazing.

BAAB Writing: What criteria does ECDI consider when evaluating loan applications?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): What’s unique about ECDI is that we’re different from a typical bank as far as our criteria for applicants. So we do look at the business plan and financials to make sure that’s really thought out, but we really get to know the business and the person. While we do underwriting, we call ourselves a “character-based lender.” So we analyze the “horse and the jockey” where the horse is the business and the business plan and model. The jockey is the business owner.

BAAB Writing: What information does ECDI like for applicants to include in their business plans?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): Obviously business plans vary based on the type of business and whether it’s a startup or existing business. Overall, we look for an executive summary, information about the product (or service) and the business model. We also look at the industry and market analysis and competition showing that the business owner knows what they’re breaking into and knows the market.

In addition, marketing should definitely be addressed – how they plan to market themselves and what type of marketing they’re already doing, a marketing budget, etc. It’s also important to include general operational elements in the business plan, such as staffing, owner and management information, production, working capital details, etc.

BAAB Writing: We’ve heard that lenders are not looking for applicants to submit a 100-plus page business plan? Do you agree, and if so, what would you say is the ideal length (recognizing that the content is much more important than the page length)?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): I would say the longer is definitely not the better when it comes to business plans. We’ve received 75-page business plans with copies of research articles, etc. and that’s not really the voice of the business owner. We want to hear the entrepreneur come through in their business plan.

We’ve had five-page business plans that are awesome and we’ve had 20-page business plans that are just as awesome. People try to veer away from personalizing it and we think the personal side of it is great. Show your passion in your business plan … so if that does take 100 pages and it’s truly your passion coming through then we’re definitely not against that.

Bonus Tip: Proofread your business plan or have someone else proofread it for you. As we’re reading your business plan, it’s our first or second impression of you and if it includes grammar and punctuation mistakes, for example, we notice. So definitely have someone else look that over for you.

BAAB Writing: What does ECDI offer small businesses that a bank or other “traditional” lending institution may not?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): Our niche is helping businesses that can’t qualify for traditional funding. That can mean a variety of things, for example we work with a great deal of startups. We’ll work with specific industries that traditional banks tend to steer away from, such as the food and trucking sectors – industries that are viewed as being a bit more risky for banks to take on.

We’ll also work with people who have credit issues. So if you have a foreclosure or bankruptcy in your past or your credit score is a little iffy, we’re unique in that we’ll work with you because we’re so hands on. We’ll try to help borrowers through these problems by asking for letters of explanation and bring in other resources to assist them. We bring them into our ECDI family of businesses.

What’s the Word: So there you have it folks – everything you need to know about making your business attractive to loan officers and investors. We’d like to thank Emily for taking the time to share this invaluable information with you.

Not sure where to start? Get our super easy guide on writing a business plan.

What You Need to Know About Qualifying for a Small Business Loan: Part 1

Qualifying for a small business loan takes passion and a plan for growth and sustainability.

qualifying for a small business loan, how to write a business plan
Interview with Emily Sullivan, Relationship Manager (Cleveland, Ohio), Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI)

Having pages of great words and financial summaries in your business plan is pretty useless if you know nothing about qualifying for a small business loan.

Sure, some of us develop business plans … well you guessed it … for planning purposes. But most of us do it in hopes of moving a loan officer or investor to open their wallets in support of our vision.

We’ve helped a significant number of small business owners develop fundable business plans and are committed to always giving the people what they want. So, this time, we set out to get the view from the other side of the table.

Emily Sullivan, Relationship Manager in the Cleveland, Ohio office of the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) shed some light on what entrepreneurs need to know about the small business loan approval process. ECDI is a 501(c)3 non-profit economic development organization that offers financial literacy training, innovative microenterprise development training, capitalization programs and much more.

ECDI Offers Business Loans and Training

BAAB Writing: How many local startups/small businesses has ECDI helped since opening the Cleveland office in July 2012?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): More than 40 small businesses have received loans from us, but we’ve also provided business training to individuals as well. We work with various training partners throughout the Cleveland area such as Bad Girl Ventures, the Hispanic Center, Explorer, Magnet, COSE and others. We meet with clients to assess their needs and bring in all necessary partner resources to help small businesses get to the point where they can be successful.

What To Do Before Applying for a Small Business Loan

BAAB Writing: What are some steps ECDI typically advises applicants to take prior to applying for a loan?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): At ECDI, you’ll definitely need a business plan, projected financials broken down by month for the first year and then just three-year general projected financials for a startup. We do need all small businesses that are registered with the state to have an employer identification number (EIN) and a DUNS number. Those are just some of the things we look for to lay the groundwork. Once the basic requirements are met, we work with clients through the loan application and underwriting process.

Top Three Reasons Entrepreneurs Ask for Funding

BAAB Writing: Based on the applicants you’ve seen, what are the top three reasons businesses request funding (e.g. cover the cost of marketing campaigns, staff, etc.)?

Emily Sullivan (ECDI): Definitely a big one is marketing. A lot of people are trying to put up their websites, handle distributing and advertising, so definitely marketing. Another reason is increasing inventory which is typically a focus for retailers and restaurant owners. Lastly, funding is also requested to handle general business expenses such equipment and machinery.

Tune in Next Tuesday for Part 2

Wow, this is getting juicy! Tune in next Tuesday for Pt. 2 of our interview with Emily Sullivan of ECDI. She’ll spill the tea on what information should be included in your business plans and answer the age-old question: “How long should a business plan be?” Trust me … you’re going to want to hear this.

Can’t wait until Tuesday? Sign up for our VIP Club and get the rest of the interview today. For guidance on how to write a business plan, download our Short and Simple Business Plan Guide.