Back to [Business] Basics: Stretching…Getting Over Yourself to Promote Your Brand

This week, we delved into the archives of mAmLtDaRt Musings and found a refreshing and reassuring post for first-time or “starter” business owners. This post which was published some time ago (we cannot remember when) is about stepping outside of your comfort zone to develop and grow your business. If you’ve ever shied away from an opportunity or multiple opportunities to advance whether entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial, this message is definitely for you.

Stretching: Getting Over Yourself to Promote Your Brand

By: Melissa A. Matthews, Co-owner of MAM Squared, LLC.

Finally taking a little time to compile the mAmLtDaRt/ MAM press clippings over the past couple years. I have always been a bit apprehensive about pumping press coverage of both myself and the brand. Often thinking it’d be a bit self-absorbed. I recently read an article that said this type of apprehension breeds  “false humility”.

I’m still uneasy about it but what I’ve learned in art and business is that you have to be a bit uncomfortable — it stretches you. If you aren’t uncomfortable,  you aren’t growing or evolving in either realm. So that said, I am going to stop stalling and start organizing these links.

What have you been afraid or apprehensive to do that will help you stretch yourself or your brand? Leave a comment or tweet me @mamltdartbrand on twitter.  Let’s stretch together, I have it on good authority that working out is easier with a partner…

 Photo Credit: (

Melissa A. Matthews is author of the e-book, An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out and co-owner of MAM Squared, LLC.

Back to [Business] Basics: Do-Over! Righting and Rewriting Your Business & Branding Blunders

Making mistakes or bad choices are par for the course in this thing we call business ownership, but a single bad choice or mistake does not have to equal devastation. It’s all about your recovery. In a post she wrote for mAmLtDaRt Musings months ago, Melissa encourages us all to use our blunders as a learning opportunity and to make an effort to do damage control wherever possible.

Do-Over! Righting and Rewriting Your Business & Branding Blunders

By: Melissa A. Matthews, Co-Owner of MAM Squared, LLC.

Last week, my very business and branding savvy sister sent me a link to a popular blogger’s page. Said blogger was reaching out to her followers via blog post to figure out how she might be of assistance to them in their various ventures. My sister was like “this is a great opportunity for you. Tell her about your book. If she reads it and reviews it— she has thousands and thousands of followers.” And she was right, I knew that but I was also mired in a virus that had latched on to me like one of those movie-alien-creatures or a parasite to host and was sucking all of the life out of me.  

I don’t know about you but when I’m sick, I could careless about branding. mAmLtDaRt, although my baby just can’t compete with a raging fever, cold sweats, coughing  and overall I’m dying-I know-I am-I’ve seen the light-itis. Therefore, I scribbled a one line note to the blogger. Something along the lines of “I wrote a book, it’d be really appreciated if you reviewed it…boom!” No backstory, no real info. just a link to the e-book online.

I know, I know, very Good Fellas/ Soprano-esque of me but hey, I’m only human and I was sick. This morning got to thinking about it…like “wait, did I really do that?” And then reality hit…”yes, yes, I did do that!”

I didn’t panic. I pulled out my do-over button and pushed it. Chances are even if she saw that first email, she read it like “what?” and quickly disposed of it. So I penned a new, more polite and comprehensive email asking for assistance and a few hours later, I had a response. She requested the free copy of the book I offered in order to do the review!

Now, righting every misstep isn’t as easy as sending an email or rewriting a letter.  However, admitting you were wrong or made a mistake and asking for a do-over is perfectly acceptable as a business person. This isn’t playground tag or primary school lunch trade, backsies are allowed. Take back control of the situation and move forward in a positive direction. Don’t know how? Here’s a solid start:

  • Forgive yourself.

  • Address the mistake head on.

  • Make an apology if necessary.

  • Research or simply ask what the appropriate way to move forward is.

  • Don’t make the same mistake twice, especially not with the same person.

Melissa A. Matthews is author of the e-book, An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out and co-owner of MAM Squared, LLC.

Sketched for Success: A Blueprint to Constructing A Strong Company

“You can’t wait until the weight is applied to design the construct. You design the construct to bear the weight” – TD Jakes
Have you built your business to withstand the growth that you hope to achieve?
Today, you are a solopreneur i.e. a one (wo)man show servicing a small area, but within the next five years you want to go global. What steps are you going to take to get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow?
There are several factors you’ll have to consider as you structure your company so that you can transition from one phase to the next.
1. Structure:
Jargon and Fractions

I don’t know about you but legal jargon makes my head hurt and in third grade—when we started fractions—is when I realized, math is not my thing. However, these things are virtually unavoidable in business. There are just some things you have to know and do. This part isn’t the sexiest part of constructing a lasting business but no one complains when the checks start rolling in because they are in place.

Legalities: Is your business registered/licensed to do what you do?
Fiscal responsibility and planning: How are you financing your business? Is it sustainable?  Do you have a contingency plan?
PANIC NOT! If you have begun to read this section and are thinking ” Legalities? Fiscal Planning? I’m gonna fail! I’m gonna fail! I don’t have any of those things in place.”
STOP! It’s not too late. Get informed and begin your planning today. Your business is a living, breathing entity and it’s never too late to make a change. There are tons of online resources. Start with, maybe invest in a financial management system like Quickbooks, Outright, or have an informational session with financial consultant.

DON’T GO OUT & DO EVERYTHING TODAY! Take baby steps; you are building your business for the long haul so taking it one thing at time—making small incremental changes to your operations—as you grow is completely acceptable and in many ways preferable.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work
I don’t know about you, but I’m a twinmeaning I had to share everything when I was growing up.  So now, I tend to be a bit less apt to share. I don’t like sharing my ideas and getting all fuzzy in front of the fireplace listening to other people’s. However, as a business owner, I understand that my business can’t just be built around my own genius. First off because I think every idea I have is “AMAZEBALLS” and want to implement them all. Secondly, I don’t know everything and have realized that other people’s contributions might add a great deal to the mix. Last, but not least, if I am the center of my company’s universethe nerve center, brain, and  ultimate idea haven from which all greatness flowsif anything should happen to me, my company would die with me (not built to last)! So since i plan on having kids one day and want to leave something for them, me and my ego have acquiesced to the idea of team building. Won’t you join me?!
Building an operational system that is NOT completely dependent upon or centered around  you and your skills is paramount to your success.  An atmosphere of like-minded, but divergent talents that you can consult, train and eventually hire is the best possible solution to help your business grow from a small force to a force to be reckoned with.
Employ talented interns that can grow with your company. You can train them to meet your specific needs and as soon as you can afford to pay them, put them in a position to take some of the responsibility off of your plate.
Hire consultants on a project-to-project basis until you can hire someone to fill those absolutely essential positions in your company. These  jobs will become apparent as you grow because you will see which tasks demand the most attention and just how beneficial they are to your operation.
P.S. Don’t feel obligated to build a HUGE team. What you need is an effective team and that can only be defined by you and your company’s needs. Exactly how many people do you need for optimal efficiency and outstanding production?
Okay, so now you’ve got your business all registered, your taxes straight and your accountant or management system in play. You’ve got a hot-to-trot dream team making all your ideas come to fruition and your product is dare I say, “AMAZEBALLS!” Now what? Whose buying it? That’s what! 
Cultivating Relationships:
Build a NETWORK of stakeholders through messaging, marketing,  media (both traditional and social), and public relations.
Network is a buzzword in this social media driven society, but what does it actually mean? It is both a noun and a verb.
Who are your network? Friends, family, potential customers, partners, community members, and the press; these are what you call potential stakeholders.
How do you network? Position yourself to meet people who are running similar businesses ( you can find people through online forums as well as your local chamber of commerce), you also want to identify your target audience and begin building relationships with potential consumers you can do this by hosting meet-ups, product demonstrations, etc. and attending them as well.
Now that you have a network, you have to speak to them.  Everyone wants to feel special and it’s your job to make them feel that way.
Every different type of stakeholder in your network will require their own message. The nuances of how to craft messages in your marketing and promotion to each sector can be difficult, but is absolutely necessary for your success.
MegaphoneMarketing & Promotion Strategy: 
You’ve identified your players and how you want to sweet talk them. Now you need to figure out when to talk them and how to tie it into a thought-out and consistent calendar of business promotion.
Strategy is the key word here. You can’t decide on Dec 24th that you want to do a Christmas promotion.
Make a promotion calendar. Give yourself at least two to three months lead time for planning and executing a promotion (especially a holiday promotion). At the beginning of the year, try to identify possible promotional opportunities for the first six months of the year. Well, really, from March through let’s say June or July (because January and February should have been planned before the end of the last year).
Your promotions don’t have to be huge price slashing ordeals, either. You can offer smaller discounts for a longer time period or institute a rewards program for clients or customers. Play with different types of promotions until you find what works for your business. Refrain from annoying the hell out of your consumer with obnoxious or unnecessary emails. if you email about one specific promotion twice, leave it at that. NOBODY likes a pest.
This is a topic, I can go on and on about but then this post would be a novel and it’s already at short story level. So if you aren’t quite sure how to identify your stakeholders, network and how to build sustainable relationships with them, stay tuned. MAM Squared LLC will be opening registration for our new Webinar series “Brown Bag & Biz Tips,” in just a few weeks. Among the topics it will tackle are “Support is A Verb” aimed at identifying your network and stakeholders and what to expect from them; ” Wooing & Winning: Telling your Story to Grow Your Business” all about crafting your message; and an ” An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out: using your talent to make a profit”. 
For now, happy sketching!!!
IMG_9853Melissa A. Matthews is author of the e-book, An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out and co-owner of MAM Squared LLC.


By: Melissa A. Matthews, Co-owner of MAM Squared, LLC.

  • Apt: very appropriate: especially suited to the circumstances
  • Appraise: to make or give an estimate of how much money something is worth

This week seems like fertile ground to talk about value, value proposition, work and worth. Every time I turn around, it seems I bump into a creative business or business owner that is struggling with pricing their product(s) and/ or service(s).


Just yesterday, a member of my Amen Corner* reached out to me because her business is growing faster than she can keep up with due to her current situation as a part time working stiff and part time entrepreneur. What a good problem to have, right? Her business began to require more time- time to build her inventory to meet growing demand, Woohoo! Every entrepreneur’s dream, right? Not, exactly!

Her business recently got a major boost as online retail sales surged and the coup of landing multiple wholesale clients. She crunched the numbers, crunched the numbers again, it didn’t makes sense– the numbers just weren’t adding up. By now, you must be thinking what I was thinking, how could that be?

Once she calculated all of her profit from the wholesale and retail revenue streams she would barely break even, despite the fact that her brand is H-A-U-T-E and H-O-T, hot right now! Why you ask? After a little digging, I uncovered that her pricing strategy discarded the cost of her labor as well as an accurate portrayal of her overhead expenses including product materials, marketing, and promotion.

Then this morning, I was trolling through my email as usual and happened upon a Livingsocial email. I am a fan of and, I have had some really good dinners and excursions from deals they’ve featured. However, as a business owner, the concept of some of the deals offered through these sites imply a bit of desperation on the part of the companies but that is a different post altogether. I digress, I was stopped in my tracks by an offer by a local illustrator offering personalized children’s books at a rate of $12 per book.

As an illustrator myself, I know how much time and energy goes into the production of images alone for children’s books and I can tell you that even if that poor sap sold a thousand of those $12 books, S/he will make little profit. Profit that when weighed against the aggravation will amount to nothing and/or drive them either out of business or to the nearest loony bin. As my ever so wise, boyfriend says “the juice would not have been worth the squeeze”.

When someone buys your product they aren’t just buying a shirt, bar of soap, or piece of art, they are buying your brand. This must be a consideration in your pricing strategy and value proposition.

When you price your product, you are essentially assigning a quality value to it. The price, along with the packaging, and pitch tells your customer just how much your product is worth to them and their everyday life. If your packaging is sexy, the pitch is agreeable, and your price is bargain basement–something just doesn’t add up. Not only is it disingenuous to the consumer but you are actively placing yourself, your company and product at a disadvantage. It is impossible to maintain a business when your costs continually out weigh your revenue.

My advice to my friend, poor sap illustrator, and to you- KEEP CALM and RAISE PRICES. Better yet, start off with a mutually beneficial value proposition. What does this mean?

When pitching your product to clients, underscore the superior quality, time investment, labor, and your persnickety attention to detail (aptly appraise your time and labor). Explain how these factors make for a better product and how the cost associated with the product is a direct reflection of it’s quality. Your consumer will rise to the occasion–every consumer is not a fit for your brand. Remember that ‘your consumer’ will appreciate your brand and product for what it offers and does not offer.

I’ll be holding myself to this same model as I prepare for an upcoming exhibition this weekend and grapple with keeping my price point where the level of labor, time, commitment, and study demand!

My fave explanation just in case you are grappling with it: “It took me a lifetime [of study to produce that]”- Pablo Picasso

Happy Ap[t]praising!


Melissa A. Matthews is author of the e-book, An Artpreneur’s Guide to Pigging Out and co-owner of MAM Squared LLC.



*=The initial 3-5 people that an entrepreneur confides in when launching a new product, or business. One’s inner circle.