Monthly Archives :

January 2018

Made in Minnesota: U + B Architecture & Design

Made in Minnesota: U + B Architecture & Design 900 600 Amy Judge

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Mark and Paul!

Today’s featured Minnesota business owners are Paul Udris and Mark Burgess, founders and partners at U+B Architecture and Design.

Q. Good morning, Mark and Paul! Thanks for joining us on our blog today! We would love to learn a little bit about you guys and about the origin of U + B Architecture & Design. What can you tell us?
A. It’s our pleasure to be here! We started our firm in 2003 out of Paul’s basement actually! Initially we focused more on residential projects but now we work on diverse project types from small residential projects to restaurants and public buildings. Before we began U + B we were friends and we were working together but going into business together really felt like a leap of faith. There has to be a profound level of trust between business partners, just like between spouses. As business partners, we love to collaborate and play devil’s advocate when troubleshooting ideas. Hand picking the projects we tackle is a huge benefit within our partnership. We get to be captains of our own destiny in that sense.

Q. So what kinds of projects are your favorites?
A. Working with entrepreneurial clients is hands-down our favorite. They appreciate the personal service we provide and the day to day involvement with both owners. We love having a collaborative relationship with our clients and most of them end up as repeat customers. We believe in advocating for our clients. Deciding if you want to build and if so, where, are important questions we help walk clients through. We pay close attention to their needs and creatively solve their problems in a way that’s really beautiful. If their project ends with a beautiful simplicity we know we’ve done a good job.

Q. Did you always want to be an architect, Mark?
A. As a kid I was really into making art and building things so in a way I believe I did.

Q. What are some challenges you encounter within your business?
A. We need to have a wide breadth and great depth of knowledge within our field. The cool part is we learn something new every day. Managing the workflow can also be challenging. If we run up against a project that we don’t feel confident tackling we don’t go after it.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. The biggest obstacle was surviving two recessions. In the construction industry we are essentially the ‘marines’ of the economy. We’ve learned that making our clients a priority is essential. We’ve also learned the importance of diversification within the work we do.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. Right now we are transitioning from a small firm to a medium-sized firm. This involves putting a lot of software and systems into place. I would love to go back in time and institute these systems earlier on.

Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling. How do you stay focused or get refocused?
A. We both have really supportive wives. If things are getting hectic at work they help us to re-focus. We also try to delegate what we can within our company. After all, there is a limit to how much multi-tasking any one person can do and do well. We have a great group of people within our company. People we can trust and count on. Delegating helps to unburden the mind. One thing we both strive to do is leave work at work. Home is family and personal time.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money and why?
A. I would give the money to Justin, our business development manager, and ask him to take some important people out to lunch.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are your favorite apps or software tools that you use within your business?
A. Definitely Outlook and our drafting programs.

Q. Something fun…If you could open any business today what business would you open?
A. I would lead backpacking trips in the mountains and the desserts. I love Southern Utah, Death Valley and the Canadian Rockies. I love being in the moment and staying active helps keep me balanced.

Q. What is your best advice for someone just starting up their business?
A. Find a good business partner!

Thanks for your time, Mark! Best wishes to you and Paul for continued success in all your design endeavors at U + B Architecture & Design!

If you’d like to learn more about U + B Architecture & Design you can visit them online at:

What Does Your Customer’s Story Look Like?

What Does Your Customer’s Story Look Like? 900 601 WildFigAdmin

Your customer’s story begins long before they become your customer. It starts when they see your logo for the first time, when they hear your name, or when they first engage with you. Their first impressions of your company and their initial experience become the first chapter in their story.

So how do you ensure your customer’s story is a never-ending fairytale filled with magical experiences rather than a melodrama?

You start by planning and documenting your customer’s story from initial contact through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.

To do so, you’ll need to take a trip down memory lane to fifth grade, when you learned about the five essential elements of your customer’s (and any) story: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.

How well do you know your customers? If I asked you to vividly describe the traits of your best customer, what would they be? Why do they choose to buy from you? What are their motivations and expectations? Write down all of these character traits. They’ll help you better understand the main characters in your customer’s story.

Where is your customer now? Where do they want to go? Maybe they are sitting at their desk, staring at a mound of paperwork, daydreaming about a beachy vacation. Or perhaps they are spending too much time in the trenches and need to find a way to out so they can better manage their business. No matter what the scenario is, if you understand where they are at currently and where they want to go, it’ll likely mean a happy ending for both of you.

This is where your planning gets really fun. Every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Your job is to map it out. The best way to do this is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and walk through a typical experience with your company. Here’s an example.

Imagine your customer is about to go on a roller coaster ride. As they wait in line, they are excited and filled with anticipation. This is how they feel when they first meet you and explore the possibilities of how you can help them.

As they make their way up that first scary peak, they are still excited, but a little nervous about their decision to work with your company. Now they are at the top and looking down at what’s ahead and about to shriek with a mixture of anticipation and fear. This is likely the point in the ride where they are paying for your products or services. After a brief, albeit steep decline, they are back on their way up to another crest and are now experiencing the joy of working with your company.

This rollercoaster ride is a great analogy for your customer’s story. We know there will be high points and low points in the relationship, so map them out. Is there a time when your customers are really happy with your products/services? This might be a great time to ask for referrals or testimonials.

Next, look at those low points. Is there a time when your customers might look to drop your services? What can you do to avoid that before it happens?  Once you’ve mapped out the plot in your customer’s story, the next step is to understand the conflict and resolution.

The conflict in your customer’s story can be compared to their pain points or why they need your products and services. Do you feel like you’ve got a good grasp on what their pain points are? If not, we highly recommend setting up a call or meeting with your top 3 customers to ask them why they hired you and how your products/services have impacted their business. It’s also important to understand what their potential sales objections might be so you can address them before they actually become objections.

The last essential element in a well-written story is the resolution.
The solution to the problem is the way the action is resolved. Put more simply: the resolution is the products and services you provide your customers. The reason this element is the last of the five is because you have to understand who the characters are in your story, where they are at, and the conflict they are experiencing before you can provide a sound solution.

Two of the biggest mistakes we see at this point in the story are1) companies just talk about the features and benefits of their product/service. rather than address the impact their products and services can have on their customers and 2) they forget their customer’s story doesn’t have to end after the first novel is complete. They can continue to write the story and provide opportunities for their customers to continue buying from them and refer their family and friends, too.

Do you need help understanding and documenting your customer’s story? Or maybe you’d like your customer’s story to have a happier ending? We can help. Schedule your consultation with Wild Fig Marketing to start writing your customer’s story.

Your Website isn’t an Ad, it’s the Main Event

Your Website isn’t an Ad, it’s the Main Event 900 600 WildFigAdmin

With our amazing Figstory event fast approaching, we thought we would let you hear from the speakers that will be presenting at this amazing event on January 25th. Here’s a blog by Brian Johnson of PageCrafter. Join us on the 25th to hear more from Brian on exploring the power of using empathy to connect with website visitors!

By Brian Johnson of PageCrafter

Unless you’re in advertising, odds are you do not seek out advertisements or relish being aggressively sold to. So why then, is your website built like an advertisement?

In today’s marketing climate, your website is the central hub that connects all of your marketing efforts. It is where your potential clients are going to find out more information about you, and if done right, it is where you will generate the majority of your business.

And yet, you’re doing it all wrong.

If you’re treating your website like a glorified infomercial and trying to ram your offer down your visitors’ throats, read on. I’ve got three main tips to telling a better story, improving your communication, and maximizing the leads you get from your site.

1. Use Empathy to Connect with your Visitors.

You need to put yourself in the shoes of your visitors. Why are they on your site to begin with? What do they want? Who are they?

If you can answer those questions and if you’re able to truly understand their needs, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what to say on your website.

If you’ve determined that your visitors are generally there to find out more information about your product, make sure it’s easy to find that information. If the primary purpose is to find your contact information, make that easy to find as well. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to buy something and not knowing how.

The bottom line of empathy is to figure out what your visitors want, and give it to them in a way that feels natural and intuitive.

2. Tell Your Story in a Way That Appeals to Visitors

While simply listing endless specs may be heaven to a small subset of the population, you are generally going to have more luck making things a bit more interesting. Third-person narratives are generally cold and impersonal. Nobody wants to read that!

Instead, use first-person. On your “About Us” page, for instance, instead of giving a cold and stale “Acme, inc. was founded in 1492 to meet the needs of consumers yadda yadda,” why not try an interview with the founder? Giving a first-person account is always more interesting.

In general, it is better to demonstrate the expertise or capabilities of your product or service. Sometimes that is as simple as having a video that shows a product in action. Other times, it might mean producing how-to articles that show off how knowledgeable you are in your field.

Why? Because it’s almost always better to actually prove you are something than to simply say you are. Especially in situations where people are already distrusting because you are trying to sell to them.

For instance, imagine you are using one of those newfangled dating apps. Which person would you choose: the person who says they are funny in their profile, or the one who tells a hilarious joke? Easy choice! It’s much easier to say you’re funny than to say something funny.

3. Capture Your Visitors Into a List so that You Can Keep the Communication Going

Depending on your industry, it could take many months or even years to get through to people. If you can get them on your email list, you stand a better chance of getting in front of them and demonstrating your worth.

Even if you have fantastic content and tell a great story, if there’s no next-step, what was the point? You need to convert.

Getting your visitors in to your email list means that you can consistently get in front of them and show off new products, demonstrate expertise, or generally keep them updated. This is all extremely valuable, and if done right, will eventually lead to them becoming a customer.

If you keep these three things in mind, you will be worlds ahead of the average business website. It can be challenging to work through some of this, but if you want to succeed then it is absolutely critical!

And remember: stop treating your website like an advertisement.

Do You Wear a Costume Daily?

Do You Wear a Costume Daily? 900 600 WildFigAdmin

With our amazing Figstory event fast approaching, we thought we would let you hear from the speakers that will be presenting at this amazing event on January 25th. Here’s a blog by Char Dobbs of Char Style and Image. Join us on the 25th to hear more from Char on creating an authentic presence to attract the clients you want as well as several others on growing your business!

By: Char Dobbs of Char Style and Image

I must say it’s always fun to look at all the cute babies in their costumes for Halloween. What’s even more fun is hearing from friends about how their kids absolutely refuse to take off their costumes, contrary to what the parents want them to do. However, the kiddos love their costume so much, that they want to wear them all day, EVERY day.

And I must admit, I don’t blame them. The kiddos just want to feel & be great. In their costumes, they experience surges of energy…and some may even feel invincible, all because of how the costume makes them feel.

When was the last time you felt that way?

Recently, a woman told me that nothing in her closet made her feel great. Not. ONE. thing. I could hear my heart break a little…

Think about it, you literally wear clothes every. single. day. You more than deserve to feel invincible for at least 1/365 days, right?

Experiencing at least one day where you feel so great that you are brave enough to ask for that promotion you’ve been waiting to get or closing a huge contract.

It is perfectly okay to desire to feel how those kiddos felt in their costumes. Happy, beautiful, fierce, powerful, sassy, pretty, fun & confident.

Dare to feel great as much as you can. It will do your confidence & your wallet some good.

Do you desire to feel great? Maybe that hit home for you. If it did share with me by commenting below.

With style & love,