A couple of weeks ago, the Michigan Business Rap had me on their Lunch Break radio program. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting local business professionals and sharing my insight on content marketing! The other participants couldn’t have been more welcoming and gracious.

So what is the Michigan Business Rap? According to their website, “Michigan Business Rap is a daily radio show hosted by Michael Patrick Shiels and Tony Cuthbert. Every weekday afternoon from 12-1 p.m. on The Team 92.1 FM the show is live. The hosts engage a panel of local business experts in a roundtable discussion, which is designed to break down hot topics and timely news stories from the perspective of business owners. The show opens the microphone to the business community, resulting in informative, interactive and entertaining discussions.”

Starting a company from scratch isn’t easy. Trust me, I’ve been there.

When you first begin, it can be frustrating. You don’t have the money to create big, extravagant advertisements or campaigns to get people’s attention. You don’t have the online presence with your website or social media to direct prospective clients to your company. You don’t have the help of a full-time marketing staff. But there are still affordable things you can do to raise awareness about your business! 

I may be a little late to the podcasting craze, but I’m hooked. I recently got a new phone because mine jumped off a cliff (figuratively, not literally). When I got my fancy-dancy new phone,  I got a free pair of Beats Wireless headphones (sadly, not sponsored!). New gadgets = revolutionized morning routine.  

I know your secret… You don’t have a marketing department, and you’re kind of embarrassed about it.

It’s okay, I promise. You’re not alone. In fact, there are more businesses than you can imagine that don’t have a marketing department. These include businesses that employ as few as five people and companies with more than 500. And it’s not necessarily because they don’t want to have a marketing team. It’s simply a result of not having the resources to put one in place, not realizing the need, or more commonly, not realizing the opportunities you’re missing.

How many advertisements do you think you come across in a day? A handful? A couple hundred? Try nearly 5,000! Each day you are inundated with thousands of ads and sometimes, you aren’t even aware of it. Companies attempt to gain customers by proving themselves through constant logo appearances, media, and advertisements. But let’s be honest, how well do those ads work on you? Not as well as they used to, right?  So how do businesses break through to customers when they are swamped with so many messages?

AuthorAmanda Washburn

Many business owners want to showcase the products or services their company offers, but aren’t sure how. When you have a variety of offerings, it’s easy to create brochures that have too much information and are not that enticing. What you need is a marketing piece that is focused, easy-to-read, and compelling.

Your business needs a one-sheet (or a series of them!).

Keep reading to find out what exactly a one-sheet is, get the ultimate one-sheet checklist, and learn how you can use this tool productively for your business.

Chances are if you clicked on this article you’re not new to the idea of social media marketing. With 74% of the adult population active on a variety of social networks it’s evident something is working when it comes to connecting with customers online. That’s basic marketing 101 - be where your customers are. 

Picking the right social media platform to connect with your customers is a bit subjective. As I am sure you can guess, most businesses invest the bulk of their energy into the more obvious platforms like Facebook. But there is one network in particular that deserves a lot more attention—Pinterest

This past week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Cooper Spaulding, the owner and operator of film production company, Cold Box Films. His company writes, films, and produces high-quality videos for the small business market primarily in the greater Lansing area.

During our conversation, we discussed why videos are an essential component to successful businesses and how they can help companies flourish. Check out all of the helpful insight Cooper shared with us!

Yesterday was one for the books. I, along with three other business leaders in the Lansing area, spoke at the Branding and Marketing Bootcamp facilitated by RING (Lansing's Innovation Network) and powered by LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership.) Speakers included Laurie Lonsdorf  with the Lansing SBDC, Melissa Meshke with Michigan Creative and Amber Shinn with the MSU Innovation Center. 

34 local business entrepreneurs and professionals came together to learn about the basics of branding, strategic ways to use social media and video, public relations 101 and the power of content marketing. The bootcamp was in an ideal location at the 300 Room which is next to The Hatch Incubators and the Technology Innovation Center.  With comfy chairs, state of the art technology, Bloom coffee and delicious pastries, we were spoiled! Ah, what a day! 

Opportunities come from places that you least expect them. Professional relationships are one of the many elements that influence how you come across these opportunities. There are many different tips out there that explain how to maintain these relationships, but we know networking is a definite path that can lead you to creating those great connections.  Several people have mixed feelings about networking, but fear not! Networking doesn't have to be as scary as you might make it out to be. 

Today we will provide you with 5 unique networking tips that can take your connections to the next level.


Happy Friday! It has been raining all morning and all I want to do is go sit in front of the fire with a hot cup of coffee. Ah, coffee. I haven’t had any in two and a half weeks! (If you know me well, you know I used to drink at least 3 cups a day.) I won’t get into it but I have been on an awesome detox directed by Back to Basics Healthy Living and no caffeine is allowed (amongst many other things). It is quite a feat considering all we have accomplished here at Rough Draft Solutions without any coffee involved! Despite over extending my will power during this detox, I am feeling better than ever. -- All joking aside, this weekend we are headed out of state and it is threatening to snow. Way. Too. Early. If it snows, I am definitely going to give in and have a nice hot cup of jo.

Anyhow, how was your week? What was your biggest accomplishment so far? Around here we have been having fun finishing up some great projects.

I know we are well into the year, but I thought this video was a neat look into the current trends and what is to come in 2015. Often it is a challenge to keep up with all of the social media trends and demands, but I don't think small business can get away from it. This video was created by InfoGraphicsDesign. What are your thoughts on these trends? What are you doing to stay active on social media?




Happy Friday!

How has your week been? It is hard to believe that we are halfway through August! The project list has been pretty full over here at Rough Draft Solutions – but that is a wonderful thing! In the time that I have been a business owner I have learned one thing for sure - there is an ebb and flow to the number of projects that come to fruition. It seems the art of business success is in managing those ups and downs and establishing systems to help create a balance between actual project work and the effort to find work for the future.

Have you ever wondered how to more effectively engage your customers? Sometimes it is hard to know what to say and other times it is a challenge to know how often to reach out to your customers. Whatever the situation may be, business owners often postpone the task of reconnecting with their customers after they have completed a project - simply because they don't know what to say. 

The common misconception is that our customers don’t want to hear from us or that they already know enough about our company. However, there is immense value in sending friendly greetings, occasional updates and sharing relevant industry news with customers.