Globalization and the power of social media have changed how we do business in a single generation. Getting—and keeping—our customer’s attention can seem tougher than ever. So how can you and your business be seen and remembered among the digital noise? You become a trusted brand when you earn your customer’s respect.

The Values Institute has studied the most trusted brands to see what they are doing well to earn the trustworthy label. Across a variety of brands, they found that the five C’s are key—Competence, Consistency, Candor, Concern and Connection. Successful businesses demonstrate become pillars of a community by providing jobs, stimulating the economy, and lifting others up by supporting charitable organizations. They earn their community’s respect by being an active, generous part of it.

Even though the boundaries of community have expanded, there are more opportunities than ever before to connect and get involved. I’ve put together this list of six ways you can use your business to give back to your community—whether that’s in a small town, a booming metropolis, or the global marketplace. For each, I’ve included examples of how three amazing female leaders have used their own creativity to connect and give back in an authentic, personal way.

Practice philantrophy through professional organisations

Professional organizations exist for almost any vocation and group you can imagine. Find the best fit for your profession or interests. Many companies will cover the annual dues for their employees so check with Human Resources to see if that’s a benefit at your office.

Once you’re in, get involved. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many groups have established charity programs and committees or support students or young professionals with mentoring programs. They will usually welcome your involvement.

For example, Nancy Leavitt of American Family Insurance has served as the Charity Committee Chair with Whatcom Women in Business (WWIB). That group awards more than $20,000 in academic scholarships to local high school students each year.

Award-winning floral designer, Natalie Ransom of Pozie by Natalie, mentors fellow business owners in the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and WWIB. “There are so many incredible things we can learn from each other,” Ransom says. “My parents instilled in me that I can do almost anything. But I know that not everyone grew up with that or has that confidence, so it’s important to me to share that message. If you work hard, anything is possible.”

Donate your skills

There are probably a number of events, galas and fundraisers you’ve already attended or heard about because you care about an organization’s mission. Offering your skills to support their existing events saves them money and allows your work—and concern for community—to shine. Not only will you expand your network, they may also recognize you and your business during the event, on social media, and in program materials, meetings and more.

Sarah Rorvig of Vivaluxx School of Makeup Art donates her makeup skills and those of her students to an annual fundraising runway show, Handbags for Housing. The event benefits Lydia Place, whose mission is to disrupt the cycle of homelessness and promote sustained independence. “I love giving back as much as I can as an artist. It feels good that our team helped them raise more than $90,000 at their most recent event,” Rorvig says. “And my students expanded their experience and built new professional connections too.”

Get on board

Once you’ve spent some time getting to know a charity or professional organization, you can make a bigger impact by joining their Board of Directors or Trustees. Positions may be elected or appointed and usually come with a one or two-year commitment. At regular board meetings, you can get in deeper behind the scenes and help make decisions that guide and improve the future of the organization. Most of the world’s nonprofits wouldn’t exist without the donated time and genius of their Board.

Leavitt has held board positions with a number of charities, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Whatcom County and Women Sharing Hope. Ransom has been on the Board of Blue Skies for Children and WWIB.

“Supporting local charity is near and dear to my heart. It’s just part of who I am so I am honored to have served these organizations and the local charities they support,” explains Leavitt.

Cultivate business partnerships

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller

Partnering with other businesses means you can tackle bigger projects and reach a larger audience than you might alone by spreading out the workload and sharing your customer base. Choose businesses with appropriate, established customers that you are not yet accessing. But be sure to vet any new partners in advance to protect the competence and consistency of your brand. Then brainstorm events or promotions that are mutually beneficial, creative and fun for you and your customers.

Ransom rewards and connects with her devoted social media followers while introducing them to new local businesses with floral Treasure Hunts. “I put left over flowers and plants to use in an arrangement or terrarium then take it to a local business. We snap a photo and post it to Facebook and Instagram,” explains Ransom. “The first follower to guess the business and pick up the item gets to take it home for free. It’s a generous way to introduce people to my favourite businesses (and their owners) while also making someone so happy!”

Rorvig and Ransom have also partnered with local photographers to make their own passion project styled shoots come to life. Photos from these shoots have appeared in some of the most influential publications in their industry.

Don’t forget the match

Larger companies will often encourage their employee’s charitable giving by offering to match a donation up to a maximum dollar amount. Some paperwork may be required, but it will be well worth it to double or even triple your donation. Don’t be afraid to ask your Human Resources rep. Your inquiry may just spark a new company policy.

Leavitt discovered that the corporate offices of American Family Insurance would match the charitable donations she raised in her annual June and December ‘Quotes for Community’ campaigns where she donates $1 to a local charity for every insurance quote requested throughout the month.

Go slow – every little bit helps!

Life and work probably feel pretty full already so how are you supposed to add something new? The answer is by starting slow and being selective. In order to be candid and feel generous, we must be coming from a place of abundance. Sometimes that means taking a look at what you’re already doing to see if change is needed.

My favourite mantra is by Professional Coach Cheryl Richardson: “If it’s not an absolute YES, it’s a NO.” Take time to learn how to say no gracefully—with candor—then let the guilt go, and only give your YES to what’s really important.


Though leaders like Ransom, Rorvig and Leavitt only raised modest amounts or donated just a few hours of their time, their efforts have introduced and endeared them to their communities. That’s real connection. They have made a tangible, memorable difference to those they’ve touched and laid the foundation for others to follow in their path. By earning the respect of their communities, they’ve given back and made many new, life-long customers and friends. You can take that first step today, too!

Founder of the public relations company Wilde World Communications, Lorraine Wilde has published more than 200 articles, blog posts and essays since 1998. She writes about what inspires her. That includes the arts, music, film, science, motherhood and the amazing female business owners in her corner of the beautiful Pacific Northwest United States. Like other Leaders in Heels, she uses her business to support local charities and fellow business owners in her community and beyond.

After nearly 15 years in the exhibit and trade show industry, I created my company after a request for services from one of my clients. This was 25 years ago. Today, I stand at the helm of this, now, multimillion dollar enterprise. My mission is to meet all of the changing demands of exhibitors’ trade show needs in any venue. Positioned in the Washington D.C. area, I have uncovered how crucial rebranding can be for staying competitive in a market, whatever yours may be. The following three steps will guide you through that process.

1. Determine what your clients desire and how effectively you’re meeting that need

Your business exists not for you, but for who you serve. Additionally, it’s not as simple as you just providing a product or service to a customer. Ultimately, your company’s presence serves a greater need in an industry. For example, a rental car company serves their client’s need to get from point A to point B conveniently. Figure out what market desires propel your company.

Industries change, client needs change, and many other unexpected factors change — this is why rebranding becomes necessary. The first step in determining whether this is a move you need to make is to appraise how the demand for your services has evolved. What other tools are clients using? How have their service requests or orders changed over time? How have the complementary industries developed? These questions can help you paint a picture of small but significant elements to your market that you may be missing.

In the same vein, listen to what your clients are specifically requesting. This is especially true if they have had desires for services or products that you don’t presently offer. If you haven’t encountered any new client requests, don’t be afraid to ask. “What else could we offer you that we currently don’t,” or a simple, “what would make your team’s day easier that you currently don’t have” are powerful questions for you to pose to your clientele.

Industries change, client needs change, and many other unexpected factors change — this is why rebranding becomes necessary.

2. Assess how your competitors are serving the needs of your clients

In the same vein as step one, your product or service satisfies a demand of your customers but your competitors can achieve the same objective with a different offering. For example, ride-sharing apps help people get from place to place, and consequently can serve the same need as the aforementioned rental car company. What your competition is doing is just as important as what you’re doing.

How have your competitors’ offerings changed over time? Has any specific one poached customers from you more than others? If so, what are they providing that makes customers switch? Why do your loyal clients stay with you? Ask yourself as many questions like these as you can in order to drill down into where you stand in the industry against your competition. If the industry is changing while you aren’t, it’s a strong sign that changes on your part need to be made.

3. If it is appropriate, trust your gut and adjust your brand

If after evaluating the landscape of your industry it is apparent that you need to rebrand, then do it. Do not clutch to what you have hoping it will just work itself out. For my company, our clients are getting younger. I’m not. I can’t cling to what worked 25 years ago when I started the company. That being said, you can’t forgo the instincts that made you a successful leader from the start. Throughout any process as subjective as rebranding, use your gut.

Moreover, just as important as when to rebrand is when not to rebrand. Don’t do it as a strategy to fix another unrelated internal issue. Altering how you want to be perceived in the market can be unnecessarily disruptive with happy clients.

Ultimately, your brand should fit the needs of your clients and their respective industries. You are there to serve them. Use your clientele as the primary guide to adjusting your distinctive brand. Use your competition as a secondary guide, only to inform you of your clients’ needs. It should go without saying, but avoid becoming a facsimile of another company.

Just because your brand was effective when your business began, or even because it worked a year ago, it doesn’t mean it will work today. It’s your job as a leader to figure out how you can best service your clients. Rebranding can be a powerful tool to stay competitive in your market. Of course, this doesn’t mean changing your organization’s core values or unique identity. Exhibit Edge will always aim to provide incomparable personal service, integrity, and value for trade shows and corporate spaces, but that doesn’t rule out any necessary rebranding in order to better deliver that mission.


Bev Gray is the President and CEO of Exhibit Edge, a leader in the trade show industry. In 2004, Exhibit Edge received its Woman-Owned Certification by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, WBENC. Exhibit Edge prides itself on always moving forward and staying ahead of the curve while still maintaining exceptional customer care.

The ability to effectively market yourself, your business, and your brand is crucial in business. It can create raving fans, loyal customers, and lots of revenue if done correctly. Even though there are many ways to get out into the world and let people know that you exist, this still tends to be a challenge for many. This has a lot to do with the world changing which makes the way we market change. Marketing is not all about banners, flyers, post cards, and pamphlets anymore. It also isn’t about handing out as many business cards to strangers, or being featured in the local news papers or on radio stations. As a matter of fact, these are ways that probably will render you the least results.

That is because technology has made the world smaller and much more noisier. There are many people that are pushing their brands, products, and services into the world and people are being bombarded with options on a daily basis that they don’t know how to handle. For them, it seems like every time they turn around, someone is trying to sell them something, wants them to do something, or wants them to opt-in for something.

Honestly, people have become numb to average marketing tactics and pass right by them if there is nothing to compel them to pay attention. That means that the only way that you are going to be seen and heard is if you are louder than all of the rest of the people who are trying to market themselves and their businesses.

Being unable to detach yourself from the things that used to be effective a few years ago and learn what is working in the present marketing arena will definitely hold you back. Online marketing is something that is being done by people and companies who are winning in the market place. The reason why they are winning is because they know how to be seen and heard by the people that they desire to be in front of, and they are making lots of cash while doing it.

So how can you get in the game and effectively market yourself?

Brilliantly embrace and tell your own unique story

You are the only person on this whole planet that has the exact experiences, background, upbringing, and memories as you. You are your own unique person and brand, and you can attract people that will fall in love with what you have to offer and become raving fans. All you have to do is be transparent and tell your story. This is not the time to worry about people knowing about your failures or your disappointments. This is the time to relate and resonate with people that are your target market.

Build up anticipation

Don’t let all of the cat out of the bag! In marketing, you can’t just go for the ask. Think of marketing as if you were on a first date. Being wined and dined is something that most people want. They want to get to know the person that they are thinking about getting into a relationship with. It may be several dates before they are actually comfortable with you enough to open up to you and tell you some intimate things about themselves and also be intimate with you.

Be generous

There’s something about a giver that people fall in love with. They want to be around them, they begin to trust them, and they have no problem with coming back for more. The know, like, and trust rule is very real and the more that people who you are trying to reach come in contact with you, the better they will feel about trusting you to do what you say that you are going to do. Your generosity can come in the form of free tips or advice on social media, a coupon, a free course, an informative news letter, or a free eBook of some of your best work. The better your giveaway is, the better your influence will be.

Show up in places where the people who you are trying to reach and connect with are going to be, and share your expertise

Actually help someone for free. If you are trying to get someone’s attention, the last thing that you want to do is be in places where they definitely are not. In order for you to know where they hang out, you are going to have to take the time to get to know who they are, what they listen to and read, what their pain points are, and what solutions you’re able to give them. Doing that allows you to understand them enough to know where you will be able to find them, how to resonate with them, and effectively market yourself to them.

Make sure that you are being persistent and consistent

A lot of times when marketing, it isn’t that you aren’t getting out in front of the people that are potential raving fans and customers. It is that you aren’t persistent and consistent enough. The average person must see you or your ad seven times before they decide to take action. If you have already given up on the third try, then you are leaving a lot of success and potential customers on the table.

How to effectively market yourself is a skill that you need to learn and implement in order for you and your business to be successful. It also must be executed with strategic thought and planning. The way that you market yourself can be the difference in how many opportunities come your way as well as how many zeros are behind the income you make.


Denise Damijo is the Founder & CEO of Denise Damijo International, LLC. She runs a successful business while juggling a husband and 5 children (3 being under the age of 2), and is Momapreneur’s Business and Lifestyle Strategist. She has been featured in places like the Huffington Post, Addicted2Success, Women On Business, Elite Daily, and more. She is also a published author, and the creator of the Rise UP And Win Challenge. Denise love helping momapreneurs get clear, get intentional, and get paid by helping them strategize great content, marketing, and sales plans.

Much like the eye-catching front cover of a magazine, your website is an introduction to what’s inside your business – a window to your world.

If done correctly, it can convey your expertise and professionalism, foster customer confidence and trust, and brand you as a credible employer attracting people who want to work for you. Given this, what kind of content should you have on your website to optimise your communication?

1. Use well thought out content that communicates your culture

Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?

These questions can be answered throughout your home page, about us section, services page, etc. One point to remember is copy for the web should be different for that meant for print. Most people skim read websites rather than loiter; your main aim is to give people what they want to see in the blink of an eye and the search engines great content so you will be found online.

The essence of website content is originality. Search engines and your audiences want original and genuine content. Communicate the company ethos and personality, forget the industry jargon, and keep the updates regular.

2. Create a news page

One page that’s often overlooked but is incredibly important in promoting your business is the news page. Some companies use a blog for this. The news page is where you can communicate what it is you do, in real time.

Developing a news page can have a positive impact on your business for a number of reasons

  • Keeps your staff, customers, stakeholders and the wider community engaged with your business.
  • Builds your image and reputation.
  • Illustrates how proactive you are within your business.
  • Original content will be proactively promoted throughout search engines thus increasing traffic to your website.

Get your blog or news page going today with these easy to follow tips:

  1. Consider a brief headline. In any search result only the first 50-60 characters of the title will appear. Never repeat your headline in consecutive posts! Search engines will assume it’s a duplicate of the last piece and place it way down the search results list.
  2. Write for your audience. Use a conversational tone to engage the people you want to engage.
  1. Keep your sentences short with no jargon. Lists can be good to allow you get to the point, but again, only use them where relevant.
  1. Don’t fill the content with the same key word. Constantly repeating the name of your business within every article will place you at a disadvantage. Search engines will move you further down the search list.
  1. Use photos, and if you have them, videos. News that can illustrate the story is far more engaging for the reader.
  1. Add a quote from a spokesperson. This could be your MD, line manager, or customer. Not only do quotes add weight and perspective to a story, but they make it real.

Remember the magazine cover. If you want people to have a good feeling about you, make sure you look the part and also talk the part. You are an expert in your field, so regular content updates make it much easier for people to understand you, find you, and ultimately enquire about your services!

There are so many ways to generate new business today: lead generators, complicated email CRMs, sales funnels capturing new leads followed by a series of emails driving them into your product ecosystem at the end.

Each of these platforms and processes are competing for your marketing dollar so that you can attract new customers. And when you are building these platforms, you are busy and feeling productive.

But is it actually the best use of your time and money? So often, we keep ourselves busy to avoid doing the things which will be more effective, albeit sometimes a little bit uncomfortable.

You have probably heard this before, but it is worth repeating. The easiest business to generate is from existing customers. I know it, you know it, but do we spend the energy on it we should? Recently I have been investing a bit more of my energy in this area and it has been quite rewarding and satisfying.

I’ve set myself some sales targets and with some advice from a friend who specialises in sales, I was reminded about this truth.

So these are the steps to generating more business the easy way:

Step 1

Generate a report from your accounting package based on customer and dollar spend over the last few years. In Xero you can select a period and how many of the those periods to compare to. I then imported this into Excel and sorted it by who had spent the most with me over this time. This means you start with the top 20 percent. The ones who are generating the most business. The valuable ones.

Step 2

Set yourself a goal of 5 -10 calls per week. So that’s only 1-2 calls per day. It’s not that difficult. But it can be the most profitable way to generate more business.

Step 3

Find a reason to get in touch. This can be tricky. You don’t want to be calling up a client to say, “Hey, we did some work together last year, do you have any work for me?” People don’t want to buy from someone who sounds desperate. So you need to connect with your customer in a friendly, confident manner. It’s okay if they know you are keeping in touch because of business, but don’t sound desperate about it.

Some ideas to consider here are:
1. Follow up on the service or product you provided them. Ask how is it is working for them. Be interested to know if they are getting value from it.

2. Share stories about other customers and what has worked for them. Pass it on to see if it might be useful.

3. Is there something you’ve seen or heard recently that might apply to their business? Knowing that you are thinking about them is a good thing, especially if it something that can help their business.

4. Are there some insights relevant to your industry that are worth sharing? As a video producer, I see more and more businesses embracing the power of video. So I rang one of my previous clients to see if they were making any changes to their communication strategy to embrace video as a more regular form of communication, given everyone else is doing it? Hopefully it gave them something to think about.

5. Is there someone you can refer to their business? If you network enough, you will meet plenty of people. Helping people connect is a great way to build a relationship.

Step 4

Keep going. Not everyone will be in the time or place to accept a call from you, so don’t get disheartened if occasionally they seem less than enthused. That’s okay, because what you will be pleased to find is that quite a few are more than happy to hear from you. I know when I receive calls from previous suppliers I respect the fact that they are being proactive, especially when it can be scary to make such calls.

Step 5

Use the phone and don’t resort to email. Ask yourself, are you more likely to engage with someone you know who calls you or with someone who emails you. Email is easy to dismiss. Making phone calls takes confidence and people respect confident people. Even if you don’t feel confident, you will be respected for faking it until you make it :)

Next time you are playing with some complex sales funnel platform, ask yourself if this will build your business, or whether it’s distracting you from making calls which are more likely to generate more business. Sometimes, the easy money is right in front of you!

I read the funniest e-shot I have ever read last week, I declared it a great piece of PR.


Because it’s a great story, it connects with people, it has personality, it’s human, it isn’t selling something, and it’s memorable.

Here it is in its entirety:

David Parkin, Director of events and travel business COPA, on getting run over…by a golf buggy

Getting run over by a golf buggy wasn’t my finest sporting hour.

It isn’t a story I’m eager to tell either.

But memories of that infamous occasion came flooding back this week with the news of the death of great Fleet Street sports writer and editor Peter Corrigan from cancer at the age of 80.

You see it was Peter who was at the wheel of the golf buggy that landed on top of me. Given that such vehicles travel at a top speed of 5mph you must be wondering how I found myself under its wheels.

I still am too.

Cardiff-born Peter’s career saw him go from tea boy at the South Wales Echo to sports editor of The Observe presiding over a team of stellar talents including the nonpareil Hugh Mclivanney.

In between those two roles he worked at almost every newspaper in Fleet Street and helped write the autobiographies of England’s 1966 World Cup winner Martin Peters and rugby great Jonathan Davies.

One of his biggest scoops came in 1962 when he was on holiday in Italy with his wife and bumped into Wales, Leeds United and Juventus legend John Charles on a beach.

When Peter enquired: “How you doing Charlo?” the footballing giant replied: “I’ll give you an exclusive, I’m going back to Leeds.”

He was later appointed chief sports columnist for the Independent on Sunday and wrote The Hacker column about his golfing exploits.

That was what he was doing when I met him a few years ago when I was business editor of the Yorkshire Post and offered a tempting “freebie” trip to play several top golf courses on the Algarve in Portugal.

I joined a handful of journalists as guests of a luxury golf tours firm.

We stayed in separate apartments at the top end Pine Cliffs golf resort and on the first morning were booked to play the well known Quinta do Lago course.

The course was pretty busy so we started on the 10th hole and had all got into our stride by the time we were getting to the halfway stage on the first tee.

I smacked my tee shot into some bushes at the top of a bank on the side of the fairway and set off to find the ball.

Peter Corrigan, who I was sharing a buggy with, followed me up the bank as I whacked my ball out of the bushes and back onto the fairway.

But it didn’t travel very far and I walked down the slope to hit the ball again.

What I didn’t realise was that Peter had driven the buggy down the bank behind me and instead of putting his foot on the brake, pressed down on the accelerator.

I heard a shout of: “Get out of the way!” turned my head but before I had a chance to leap clear the buggy had hit me and I was aware of rolling underneath its wheels as it continued down the hill for several metres before coming to a stop.

During those brief seconds under the buggy I remember all I could think was: “I’m going to die.”

When the buggy finally came to a stop I was spread-eagled lying on my chest underneath it.

The first thing I thought was: “I’m alive!”

All I could hear Peter Corrigan shouting to passing golfers was: “He’s dead. He’s f***ing dead!”

The two other people playing with us ran across the course and it took them and Peter’s efforts to lift the buggy up so I could crawl out.

One of them later told me that all he could see when he ran over to help was a golf buggy with a white golf shoe sticking out from underneath it.

He said it reminded him of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East and all you can see is her scarlet slipper poking out from under the wooden house.

Having emerged from under the buggy, the adrenalin of knowing I was still alive enabled me to stand up for a few seconds before collapsing on the fairway.

The leather belt on my golf trousers had nearly been sliced in half, my thick polo shirt was torn open at the back and there were holes in the knees of my trousers.

I still have the shirt at home. I should frame it like other sportsmen frame their international shirts.

A member of staff arrived in a buggy to take me to the golf resort’s medical centre.

I later commented that not one person sitting on the terrace of the clubhouse who had witnessed the accident had come over to help

“No, but they did give you a standing ovation when you were driven past them in the buggy on the way to the medical centre,” pointed out Peter helpfully.

At the medical centre I was checked over by a German medic called Dr Kaiser (with a story this ridiculous you don’t need to make a name up like that).

He told me I was exceedingly lucky as there didn’t look to be any internal injuries or broken bones but he said I had a couple of black eyes and cuts and bruises to my back.

“But my chest is really burning,” I complained.

“It will be, you’ve got a tyre mark right across it,” explained Dr Kaiser.

At that point Peter Corrigan burst into the examination room.

I said it was kind of him to come back to check if I was OK.

“I had to, that accident really affected my concentration and ruined my round,” he replied.

All the best Peter, thanks for the (painful) memories.


So what is it that we can learn from this and why is it such a good piece of PR?

The topic may be golf but you don’t have to be a club member, or have in-depth knowledge of the game to appreciate that this story is gripping, informative, funny, and packed full of human interest.

Be honest with yourself, how many e-shots do you receive in a week? How many do you remember?

Most e-shots I receive go straight to spam whereby I delete on mass, but this one I read.

I read it because the title pricked my curiosity, ‘…getting run over by a golf buggy’, you don’t hear that every day!

After the first paragraph you are absolutely hooked by the authors submission to share what must have been an embarrassing, not to mention worrying, experience.

Once gripped you taken through paragraphs of humorous detailing that serve to enhance the story before ending on serious note, the authors nod to a deceased colleague.

So before you approach your keyboard, just think, how can my story connect, engage, entertain, and be memorable.

Sounds hard? Start with giving a bit more of yourself like this author did, after all PR is about positive relationships so start creating them.