Recently, I was featured on The Executive Blog as a contributor to the article, 37 High-Converting Sales Tips Straight Form The Experts. It was an honor working with Jimmy Rodela, so we collaborated on another set of useful tips for the business owner: strategies for beating the business blues. I find this to be very timely – especially with the weather getting nicer. Makes it hard to stay focused! Let us know what you think!
As much as many of us would hate it, sooner or later, we all find ourselves in a rut — whether you’re going through the same day-to-day tasks grudgingly, or running low on inspiration — it’s only human for us to feel this.
And so the question becomes, “What do you do in these situations?”
Allow me to share with you eight strategies that can help you with beating the business blues.
1. Refresh Your Mindset
A pessimistic viewpoint won’t help much in inspiring a better outlook translating that into poor performance.
Experts tell of several ways to achieve this, through meditation, reading a book or psychological hacks, your renewed perspective will serve to be a good launchpad to run your business better.
2. Take A Walk
When experiencing mental and emotional blocks simply take a break and walk around. Take your work out to new places. This way you might even spot opportunities and inspiration from experiences you haven’t felt before.
3. Get A Pep Talk
Join a seminar or watch videos featuring people from varied industries, gain a fresh perspective on how they tackle similar problems you have.
Sometimes the voice inside your head is your enemy; you have to drown it out with inspiration from outside sources.
4. Revamp Your Workplace
Have you seen the offices of the most famous software giants?
Your office may have turned too bland to produce a happy working environment. Add a bit of color, rearrange desks, throw out clutter, you’ll be amazed how some of these adjustments can change moods.
5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Try your best not to micromanage, find tasks that you think you can delegate to others.
At times, your problems may not even be caused by the overall nature of your business but may be of the nitty-gritty things.
6. But Relish The Small Wins
Acknowledge that even the smaller wins contribute to the overall betterment of your business.
Did you save up on operations expense? Celebrate it! Did you find an app that can make your business run smoother? That’s another reason to be happy.
7. Identify Your Stress Points
Your daily energy is also a limited commodity.
Learn to identify the other causes of your energy drain, whether relationship problems or health problems, solving these issues first could help boost your mood in the office.
8. Streamline Your Time
The other limited commodity is time. Pinpoint what the industry calls organizational drag, wherein the company identifies the non-essential things in the company spends time on.
You need to be proactive about getting yourself out of your business blues. These strategies will help you first pinpoint the cause of your blues and find ways to solve it.
So, get moving. Put these points into action as WHEN you take your first steps is crucial as what steps you would take.
Have other suggestions or strategies of your own? Do let us know if this article helped you out and sent it to anyone you think may be going through this challenges.
As you know, I am a big fan of collaborating with other authors to bring my readers valuable content that will help them build their business. Today’s guest post is from Wendy Dessler. Wendy is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. Here are some of Wendy’s thoughts on some quick and actionable SEO tips that will help improve your visibility!
Cover All Your Bases
There is more to online content optimization which utilizes search engines than its simple creation. You want content that is the right length, that has been properly structured such that it is visually appealing, that concerns topics about which target markets seek information, and includes useful data.
You want your content to have links which go to your site, as well as other resources that don’t compete with yours, but which may simultaneously assist your clientele. Pictures are a great idea, so are video links and clips if you have the ability to include them.
Something else you want to do is include anchor text as well as keywords. The two differ but slightly: keywords need not necessarily have anything that links beyond the content being read. Keywords are sort of an “anchor point”, if you will, for a search engine. Meanwhile “anchor texts” are anchor points for the reader.
The right anchor text will be amenable to search engine algorithms, and will lead clientele directly to your home website. But if you don’t choose the right anchor texts, you’re wasting your time. According to Linkio, “A tool should automatically filter out links that don’t matter.” The right kind of anchor text selection tool will give you the best possible choice to build your article around.
The SEO Behind The Scenes
Something else you’ve got to consider when it comes to marketing online is the coding which hides behind the scenes. There’s a thing called “meta tagging”. Basically, this is a fancy way of referring to HTML code which hides behind “the veil”, as it were, of your site’s interface.
In HTML code, the way you title things will make a difference to search engines where a query might be entered in. It can be complicated to properly optimize meta tags, but this is a core tenet of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) protocol.
Something else that is core to SEO is the continued production of content. If you want to be absolutely sure that your online marketing campaigns lead to the results you seek, then you want continuous creation. Ideally, you want content pieces that are at least 500 words. It turns out that longer content actually tends to be more effective.
If you’ve got content of this length, you want about fifty original pieces produced monthly. That comes to a minimum of 25,000 words. Over the course of a year, that comes to about 300,000 words of content. That’s quite a lot! It’s doable internally, but if you’re not doing it right, you could be doing a lot of work in vain.
Guest Blogging And Professional Assistance
Something you can do to bolster the effect of your online content is to utilize guest blogs and to repost content that is relevant. For reposting purposes, you should strive to design content that has an evergreen quality which can be continuously reposted. In terms of technology this may be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
For example, new tech requires new writing; but that which concerns trends—like Moore’s Law—can be evergreen. If you’re unfamiliar, Moore’s Law predicates that computational ability doubles on itself at regular intervals.
Getting The Help You Need
It’s easy to see why working with the right developer of online content makes sense. There are many variables to consider, and while it’s certainly possible that you’ll get the hang of it eventually, it’s unlikely you’ll retain “cutting edge” affiliation with trends as they develop; and the learning curve with content can take years to master if you don’t know what you’re doing.
That said, content marketing using SEO and other techniques which utilize the web can be exceptionally effective. If you have yet to look into this, you should. If you have already, it makes sense to work with professional purveyors in order to see the greatest return on the most minimal investment. Remember: time is money—if you’re wasting hours on something that’s futile, you’re wasting money. Professional solutions will help you avoid this.
Business leads are always at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. This is where your website should be doing most of the work for you. How does that work? By offering something of value to your target market. Easier said than done, right? Well, not really. I am honored to share a guest post from Victoria Greene that spells out some simple ways to effectively draw in the people you are meant to serve by implementing business lead magnets into your online marketing strategy. If you have questions, I can help you get started!
A solid lead generation strategy is a critical part of any business plan, yet if you are new to the marketing game, you may find yourself wondering just how your competitors manage to generate so many leads with such consistency.
Happily, the trick to successful lead generation is no eldritch mystery, or closely-guarded secret. All you need are some effective lead magnets to draw potential customers to your website, where you are better positioned to engage and convert them.
There are numerous lead magnets you could try out, but a few in particular are tried and tested strategies that have worked well for many businesses already. That’s not to say you couldn’t come up with something completely different that works just as well…but here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. The Ebook
At some point you have almost certainly come across a business page offering a free eBook or PDF download. Perhaps you even have a few saved for later perusal. The point is, a high quality document, packed with useful and relevant information can do wonders for your conversion rates.
Of course, creating interesting, original content in such a lengthy format can be quite an undertaking, so this strategy is not for everyone. However, it can be a fantastic way to advertise a longer publication, or body of work, or to showcase your knowledge and insights on a particular topic.
Just be careful not to create an unoriginal document, hashed together from recycled material. Not only will this make visitors unlikely to bother with your content in the future, it could discredit your business as a whole.
Image Credit: Screencap from HR Magazine
2. The Freebie
Whether it’s a piece of software, a free trial, or even a complimentary consultation, offering some form of freebie is a great way to get users to sign up on your website. In fact, you can even deliver on this particular lead magnet by advertising free content, such as videos, podcasts, and infographics, which is locked behind a sign-up requirement.
The draw is that your visitors feel like they are receiving something useful and valuable at no cost to themselves. As such, don’t be afraid to state a value for the freebies you are offering, to increase the impression that you are offering something worthwhile. You might want to A/B test a variety of different freebies to see which one is most popular with your target audience.
Image Credit: Screencap from Delicious Magazine
3. The Exclusive Deal
Similar to the freebie, the exclusive deal takes advantage of the user’s curiosity, and encourages them to find out more about the product or service you are offering. Most people can’t resist a bargain, especially when it is backed up by exclusivity marketing.Image Credit: Screencap from The Icelandic Magic Company
Placing a time limit on your lead magnet deals, or placing them behind a mandatory sign-in, gives users the sense that they are one of only a few to benefit from that deal, increasing its appeal. This particular lead magnet can also be used to advertise an upcoming product, or even push early sales, as in the example above.
4. The Webinar
Brand authority counts for a lot, increasing the trust customers have in your business, and even boosting your ranking with search engine crawlers. As such, it is important to ensure that your audience can see that you know what you’re talking about. Better still, you want to be the source they turn to when they have a question about your niche.
Webinars, like this one from Freedive Wire, provide an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, offer helpful insights on a topic, or even to showcase a product. It also enables you to engage more directly with your audience, by adding a level of personality that is absent from written content.
Image Credit: Screencap from Freedive Wire
5. The Case Study
Including case studies on your website is fantastic way to showcase what you do, and give potential customers an insight into your greatest successes. Case studies act as proof of your ability to meet a client’s needs, and to deliver a high quality service in accordance with their specifications.,
By showing off your business’ greatest achievements, you can inspire visitors to sign up for more information or even a consultation. From there, you are in an ideal position to act upon that interest, and secure a new client.
6. The Quiz
Sometimes, a bit of fun can be an effective way to win over your target audience. A quiz or survey is a fantastic means of engaging visitors on your site, and learning a bit about them in the process.
A great example of this can be found at Beardbrand. Their quiz is short and entertaining, providing an amusing description of the user’s beard style at the end. But more importantly, this result is followed up with a range of associated beardcare products.
Interactive elements of this nature are a great way to persuade people to spend a little longer on your site, giving you more time to win them over. And even when these elements are humorous in nature, they can still be used to offer a more personalized user experience, and to drive targeted sales.
Fun content like quizzes are especially useful for product-based businesses and can be used as part of your ecommerce advertising campaigns. Just make sure that your online store has robust content features, or use a plugin like WPQuiz to automate the process.
Image Credit: Screencap from Beardbrand
7. The Cheat Sheet
If you like the idea of an ebook, but don’t have the time or resources to put together something of that length, you can do just as well with shorter-form content, such as a cheat sheet or swipe file.
The reason this type of content makes such a successful lead magnet is that it is generally quick and easy to digest. This means the on-the-go communities within your audience can benefit from your knowledge and insights, without having to sit down and pore over a lengthy document.
Cheat sheets provide clear, concise, actionable information, in a streamlined and attractive format, making it a solid choice for many businesses when planning their in-house content strategy.
Image Credit: Screencap from Cravings Crusher
8. The Toolkit
With a little extra work, instead of providing a single ebook, or cheat sheet, why not compile a few helpful pieces of content into a toolkit? You can even include some existing resources or repurposed content. As long as the whole provides more value than its individual parts, you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch.
Take a look at this offering from Live Your Legend; they offer a collection of four PDFs and two posters, providing a range of insights on becoming an entrepreneur. All they ask in exchange is for readers to join their online community.
Image Credit: Screencap from Live Your Legend
Local online lead generation is often far more effective than equivalent offline strategies, so it is absolutely worth putting some time and thought into developing some effective lead magnets on your website.
It can take time to get the ball rolling, and unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to acquiring leads. As such, you will need to weigh up the above suggestions, and your own ideas, against the specific needs of your business and its target audience. Furthermore, when you settle on an option, it is important to be patient, and give it time to work before simply moving on to another strategy.
Always remember to keep an eye on the backend data for your website, so you can see which strategies are working best for you, and continuously optimize your lead generation tactics in order to get the best possible results for your business.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how brands can improve their reach by making the most from their marketing strategy.
When I am coaching my clients on marketing their businesses online, the one thing that they voice the most frustration over is coming up with blog topic ideas. They are constantly coming up with reasons why they cannot think of any topics. I realize this is hard, and often struggle with the same problem. But blogging is VERY important. Did you know that nine out of 10 companies now sue some form of content marketing to attract leads. It is no surprise. Even Facebook’s recent algorithm changes are pushing businesses to focus on quality content.
Not only does quality content help with your social media, it helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), AND it establishes you as the category authority in your business or field. If you are blogging constantly, people will remember that you are the go-to person on that subject when they need to hire someone. It also establishes great relationships and builds your tribe.
But enough about why – we all know we need to do it. But what do you do when you are stuck? I recently came across a great article that highlighted eight different blog topic generators for blog post ideas. I looked through all of them and picked out my favorites below, but I encourage you to read the entire article because it was very informative and helpful.
1. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator
HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!
I put in networking, online and offline. Check out the topics they gave me! I will definitely be using this tool again. How easy was this?
2. Portent’s Content Idea Generator
If the thought of three words is more than you can handle, then Portent’s Content Idea Generator is for you. It DOES NOT get any more simple than this. You only have to enter one keyword and then let her rip. This one is actually a little more entertaining since it gives jokes along with the titles. I entered the word “blogging” and this is what it gave me:
As with before, if you don’t like what they first suggest, you can enter the same word again and give it another try. Don’t be afraid to try similar words.
3. Link Bait Title Generator
Link Bait Title Generator is not flashy at all but gives the most topic ideas in one sitting that I have seen. It gives titles and ideas that focus the gamete of informative, controversial, or just plain fun to read suggestions. I simply entered “blogging” and look what I got. My screen shot could not even fit all the suggestions!
What’s else is helpful with this tool is if you click on their logo, you will be taken to other tools that will help with the content portion like the Hashtag Finder option. This will help you find an already current and trending hashtag to put in your posts that will help with your SEO and share-ability on social media.
This is for the people that are wanting to dive in a little deeper. If you are wanting to see what your competition is doing, or what the most popular existing articles are on the topic you want to write about, you can use the Buzzsumo tool. You can enter in your topic and it will tell you what is getting the most attention: like how many Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ shares. You can also play around with the filters on the side to get more specific information on your topic. This is really helpful if what you are blogging about is in a crowded space and you want to stand out with your article. Below I am showing what I got when I entered: blogging ideas for small businesses.
This one will find a ton of possible keywords or phrases fro your next blog post. You simply type in your topic or some keywords that pertain to your industry and off you go! It is a free tool from the Neil Patel group. I suggest checking out their website. They also have some free tools you can use for SEO and a cool A/B testing calculator.
Final Thoughts On Blogging
Don’t drag your feet coming up with ideas. We are already in February! Make your blogging calendar today. It is so much easier to sit down and write about something when you know what your topic is rather that have to figure that out first before you even start the writing process. Yes, planning takes some time but you will be so happy when it is all finished and then you simply produce the article. Need help? That is why I am here! Contact me about sitting down and getting your 2018 Marketing Calendar all set during a 90 Day Plan session. We can also discuss my DONE FOR YOU Program!
Every business should be working on their audience-focused marketing strategy for 2018 if they have not done so already. Gone are the days when you just relied on spitting out some information pertaining to your industry filled with keywords you think that people are using during their searches. You must up your game if you are going to reach your audience in a meaningful way, and then convert them into sales. So let’s start at the beginning:
Who Is Your Target Market?
Specifically. The more specific the better. Then ask yourself, “What is their woe? What is their pain point?” Typically your target market has urgent needs – things they are trying to move away from. They will have compelling desires – things they are trying to move toward. Now take that information and tell them the #1 biggest result that you provide that will address these issues and partner it with the benefits that it will give them.
Set Your Goals
Start at the end and work your way backwards. Do you want to increase leads? Is there a specific dollar amount you have in mind as it pertains to sales? Are you wanting to increase YouTube followers, blog subscribers, social media followers? Once you know what it is you want, this will allow you to create better quality content that has a more specific call-to-action, thus helping you achieve these goals.
Develop A List of Potential Topics Your Target Market Is Interested In
Brainstorm time. Once you dive in and figure out their urgent needs and compelling desires, it should be easy to come up with a list of topics that you know your audience cares about. A great tool that can help you is HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator. This handy tool wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!
Do A Keyword Search
Yes, this is still important. People are still using search phrases to find you. But again, do go it alone. A great free tool to use is Ubersuggest.io. Just type in your keyword and this handy tool gives a ton of ideas to choose from.
Create A Calendar So It Makes Sense
What I mean by this is that certain topics may make more sense depending on the time of year you are sharing them. This post, for example, would not make as much sense if I had ran it in May. HubSpot offers free editorial calendar templates for you to use. You can also go extra simple and just open a spreadsheet. Don’t make your life any harder than it needs to be.
Get It Done
You’ve got your topics, you’ve got your keywords, and you’ve got your timeframe. Now sit down and write! Not a writer? Hire one. Seriously, stop dragging your feet and stop whining about it. Don’t waste time on something that is not your strong suit. Share your research with a great copywriter and spend your time elsewhere. Don’t let the writing part hold you up.
Track Your Success
I wrote an entire article on this topic called, If You Don’t Track, You Don’t Have Jack. If you are not testing and measuring, or paying attention to what is resonating with your audience, then everything you are doing here is just a complete waste of time.
Diligently working on an audience-focused marketing strategy will not only help you convert people into customers, it also helps your SEO since you are providing quality content out there on the internet. So this is a win win. Get started – because there is still time. 2017 isn’t over yet! If you need help – I am happy to help you!
My mind has already been on 2018. What did I learn this year? What can I do better? What did my marketing efforts of 2017 actually accomplish? I ask myself, and my clients, all of these questions as I sit down to prepare what I plan to take on for my marketing content for 2018.
First step: Get your calendar ready. I prefer to keep things simple. I have a very simple spreadsheet that outlines the twelve months of the year and I brainstorm different events or anniversaries that make sense for me to comment on. It is basically a “big picture” approach about the kind of content I feel would be relevant to my readers and clients. I take that information and formulate the various blog posts I want to write about that make sense with certain times of year. I am always open to move topics around to adjust to current events and moments in time that have events where the need for a little shuffling is in order. Always remain flexible and have the ability to capitalize on current events.
If you are not into spreadsheets or documents, another great place to organize your calendar is on Trello. I have mentioned Trello in the past. It is a FABULOUS online tool that multiple people can log onto and all of your team members can brainstorm content for the following year. This is a great one if you have a team, or if you want to share it with your business coach. **hint hint***
A lot of my clients – and other business owners – like to put their topics and ideas on their actual calendar. Having your due dates in front of you when you can glance at it and prepare for it weeks in advance allows you to prepare for it so you are not running around at the eleventh hour trying to meet a deadline. You can either color code your online calendar, but quite often it is even very useful to do it the old fashioned way – with post its and stickers! Below is a the folks at CoSchedule who make a WordPress plugin for an editorial calendar, and they are still using sticky notes! Whatever works for you – do it!
But what does one do when they sit down to a calendar and come up with nothing but a blank piece of paper? One resource is from Authority Hacker entitled 13 Creative Ways To Find Blog Post Ideas.
Another list I will highlight my favorites from is a great resource called CopyBlogger, and their article “50 Can’t Fail Techniques for finding Great Blog Topics” but make sure you click here for a the full list.
1. Google alerts – setting an alert with some of your industry’s key words. This can give you an endless supply.
2. Riff on a popular post. Post your reaction and thoughts to a popular blogger’s thoughts and a hot topic and you can gain some power packed link benefit!
3. Try a new medium. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, or one of MY personal favorites: watch some TV for inspiration. Shark Tank is one of my favorites!
4. Do an interview. Do you have a favorite person you like to follow online or connect with at networking groups? The answer is no unless you ask them for an interview! I am sure they won’t mind the free publicity!
5. Take an entire day off. I love this one. Recharge your brain for a whole day by doing something you love. Go focus on your hobby and enjoy yourself. Giving your brain a break may be just what you need!
6. Do a product review. Is there something in your business you use every day that you just LOVE? Write about it and spread the love with your readers! My husband, who runs an IT company, does a great post every December on his picks for Holiday Technology Toys as an example.
7. Recruit a guest. When all else fails, call for back up and schedule a post of someone you respect that you can feature on your blog. Make sure their content is what your readers are looking for and it makes sense with the overall feel of your blog. But don’t get lazy and rely on them every month!
Lastly, you will want to set some sort of alert and an accountability system in place so this task actually gets completed. If alarms work for you, wonderful. If you need an accountability partner to make sure it gets done, then set that up. You will be amazed how much you get done when someone else is watching!
So I want to hear from you! What is your preferred calendar method and where do you get most of your blog topics?
For those of you that need your memory jogged, a QR code (Quick Response Code) is a type of barcode or label that contains information about what it is attached to. QR Codes have been around since the 90’s, but have never really taken off in the United States. Up until now, it was perceived as a bit of a pain to use them since it required a third party app to scan them. Most people will not take the time to open a separate app to scan a code. I am completely guilty of this. I know, how lazy is that, right? Well now you don’t have to any more thanks to Apple.
With the release of their new iOS 11, you can now use your built-in iPhone camera app to scan a QR code, which will take you directly to where the QR code wants you to go – no more third party app required! Given how popular iPhones are, this suddenly makes the use of QR codes much more feasible for companies looking to share information with mobile phone users.
So this begs the question: will more companies now start taking advantage of the technology of the QR code? I certainly think they should! So here are some suggestions that business owners can use to utilize QR codes to market their business or products.
- Direct Mail Piece. It is so hard to squeeze all the info you want onto a postcard or brochure, isn’t it? Instead, you can put a fancy QR code on that piece that will give your target market all the information they need without the restrictions of space. Simply put the QR code on the postcard with a few nuggets and a call to action and you are good to go.
- Utilize Video. Have your QR code take them to a video on your website that is either informational or instructional. Everyone loves video and a quick “how to.” Or, if you are trying to promote a product or an event, this is the perfect way to do it. Have the QR code open to a video with you personally inviting them.
- Promotional items. I have seen where companies put QR codes on their promo items. Maybe consider a t-shirt or mug or something that has plenty of space to display it. Then that will take them to your website where they can learn more about you!
Two quick things to mention. If you are going to utilize QR codes, make sure they have an email capture form so you can get their information. They are obviously tech savvy, so you want to grab their email so you can keep in touch. Also, wherever the QR code is sending them MUST be mobile friendly. Nothing is worse than not being able to read or see the content on your mobile device. Over 90% of information consumed is on a mobile device, so make it a pleasant experience. If you need help with any of these things, don’t hesitate to ask!
So, does this new technology have you wanting to give QR codes another try? What do you think? Leave me a message in the comments!
It is easy to get stuck in a rut with your systems or processes while running your business. All to often do I see business owners with the mindset “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But that is not wise for entrepreneurs. The world we live in is nothing but constant change. There will always be a new program, new app, new service that could possibly be serving your better, or maybe even saving you money. I just finished reading a great article that got me inspired to double check some of my processes. This in turn got me thinking – what else could maybe be improved? I have pulled together a list of six things that you should check on that you may not have investigated in a while that could improve productivity AND profitability.
When is the last time you went really took a good hard look at your website? When is the last time you changed the content? When is the last time you had someone reach out to you based on your website? If you can’t remember the answer to any of the above questions, this one definitely needs to be a priority. So much has changed with website platforms, SEO, mobile optimization, and lead generation. Websites are so much easier to manage now, and the old SEO rules definitely no longer apply. (Check out 18 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind from Hubspot – GREAT suggestions to help get you started on this front.) Your website is definitely your first impression – so make your first impression your best. Call your web guy to start a refresh. If you don’t have one, I recommend this guy.
Server vs. Cloud
It used to be that small businesses had little choice when it came to centralized data storage or application sharing. They had to buy an expensive server and pay someone to maintain it. Then every few years buy a new one and start over. The reality was that most small businesses would hold on to a server for many years past the time it should have been replaced – and they would not pay to have it maintained anywhere near as much as they should have! The great news is that with mobile devices and cloud technologies, the need for small businesses to maintain a server of their own has been significantly reduced. Many small businesses that do fairly standard “office” tasks with their technology are great candidates to retire their old server and take advantage of a variety of cloud-based services that can offer many advantages to even a brand new server. If your business has an in-house server sitting lonely in a closet somewhere, it is highly recommended that you review the functions that server provides and evaluate if certain cloud services can be a safer and more cost-effective option for you.
FYI, technology has moved very fast and a lot has changed in the last several years, so don’t dismiss cloud services out of hand. A lot of misinformation gets shared by people who simply are repeating what others told them – and it’s often outdated and/or no longer relevant. Seek out qualified advice from a technology professional who is fluent in the many cloud technologies available. There are IT firms out there who are behind the times themselves and will still recommend servers to small businesses that would do better without one.
There are a lot of CRM programs out there. In the beginning, they were all very cumbersome and hard to set up since you had to put a lot of work into the set up. Truthfully, a lot of small businesses don’t even really need all the functions they provide, and you end up spending a lot of money on a program that you only use a fraction of. Based on your need and the size of your business, I recommend checking out this article which covers pricing, features, and the type of support provided for small business, very small business, what is free, and what is best for start-ups. I also found this article helpful, and showcases even a few I did not know about. Personally, I find a lot of usefulness out of using Trello, which is also free.
When is the last time you updated the look and feel of your newsletter? Is it still the same template that you started with years ago? While continuity can be a GREAT thing in many cases, you also need to be up with the times when it comes to visual design. People are really drawn to images and video. Take a look at your newsletter template and see if you think it really grabs the end user like it used to. You don’t want people to just scroll past something – you want to catch their attention.
Credit Card Processor
So much has changed in the credit card industry over the last 10 years. The mobile device revolution spurred a variety of mobile card processing services such as Square. It is now almost trivial for any small business to process credit cards. The reality is that customers look down upon those businesses that do not, so it is in the best interest of a company to make sure they can take credit cards – even if they only run a few per month. The question, however, is which credit card processor to use? Traditional credit card processors have some overhead costs that the newer generation of processing services do not. However, the per-transaction costs of the newer services are higher and eventually those fees add up to cost more than a traditional processor would. So what is a business to do?
The best advice is to find a person you can trust to give you good information regarding credit card processing. There is usually a fairly defined break-even point for most businesses where the fee structure of a traditional processor starts to save them money. Additionally, the costs associated with a processor can fluctuate over time so it is a good idea to make sure your current processor is still offering competitive rates. A trusted credit card professional can evaluate your costs and advise you if you should stick with who you have or look at another processing company. Ask around your area to find someone trustworthy, or if you need help, I can offer some referrals to trusted professionals my company uses.
It is easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks and not think about the next level. When is the last time you sat down and mapped out the next 90 days of what you wanted to accomplish in your business? Last month I sent an email out to my list promoting my 90 Day Plan that I teach my clients – and more importantly hold them accountable to. Typically this should be done quarterly – but I say it is never too late to make a plan. So what it is mid July. It is never too late to map out a plan, set goals, examine processes to achieve those goals, and have someone help you stick to it. I encourage you to do it, and if you need help, please call me!
These are just the first six that popped into my head, also some that I have witnessed for myself from some other businesses. I am sure there are many more. So think about it – what systems or processes do you need to take a look at? What have you not paid attention to lately that you should? I highly recommend giving your business a tune up. You never know how much money AND time you could be saving.
I recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company. Already in 2017 we are seeing massive strides in the way companies are using video to market their business, as well as the platforms making changes allowing you to take your video to the next level.
Just last week, Facebook announced new ways to watch videos on Facebook that include bringing sound to the videos in the news feed as you scroll, adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, a new watch and scroll feature that allows you to keep watching the video but allowing you to keep scrolling through your feed, and a new app for watching Facebook videos on TV with the use of an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV.
YouTube traffic expanded more than 40% since last year, and continues to have a billion users watching millions of hours every single day. The thing you have to remember is that these are not super high quality edited videos by professionals. These are quick and easy videos that people are simply using cell phones to shoot in many cases. But that is getting it done. The content is out there, you are creating a relationship by being in front of them and it is increasing your credibility.
It is also rumored that Google and Bing are both testing video incorporation into their search results – meaning your Google ad or other content will get better results if it is a video. That is awesome!
Video is really leveling the playing field when it comes to marketing your company. For a small business, video is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get in front of your target market. It allows you to connect with your audience in ways you never could before. You can answer frequently asked questions, showcase new products, interview happy customers, demonstrate your products, the list goes on and on.
So what are some more ways you can use video to market your business?
- Add video to your marketing emails. Studies show it will boost your click through rate by 200-300%
- Embed videos on landing pages of your website. This will help boost your website’s SEO. Sixty-five percent of people will visit a website after viewing a branded video they find online or via social media channels.
- Start utilizing the Facebook Live video feature. Facebook gives more attention to live video and will therefore make sure it shows up in a person’s feed. For those of you using this feature already, you may have noticed a recent spike in views thanks to this change in their algorithm. Don’t forget to save it to your camera roll on your phone so you can upload it to YouTube for additional exposure.
I recently read a quote that said “To not have any kind of video support and/or strategy that lives with and/or complements your existing communications would be a fool’s errand. It’s time to learn to love video.”
I completely agree. The age of using video to market your business is definitely here and I am sure we will see a lot more this year in technological advances that will make it even more simple to do. Time to quit dragging your feet and get started.
I was recently approached by several people about coming to speak at their event about networking. It is very common this time of year to re-focus your efforts on networking and analyzing where you should be spending your time to grow your business. Rather than tell it like it is to a small group, I am choosing to lay it all down and put it out there – the COLD, HARD, UGLY TRUTH about networking.
- Everyone’s process is a bit different. Most people shy away from networking because they think this means going to some boring mixer, drinking your glass of wine, passing out business cards, all while collecting some for yourself. Ugh. This IS NOT networking. This is wasting time. Networking does not just happen in meet and greets. Networking DOES NOT have to happen in a certain way. It can be anywhere. I network just about in every situation I am in. The grocery store, the school pick up line when I am getting my kids, chatting with other Moms, talking with the neighbors, all my friends on social media, you name it. Technology certainly has opened some doors for us to keep communicating. The point is – choose strategies that appeal to YOU. Maybe it is face to face events, or a lively LinkedIn Group, or simply making an amazing blog and staying in touch with your followers that comment. The point is – you will shine if you are having fun. People will be drawn to you, and that is really what you are after.
- It’s not all about you. It’s about building lasting relationships. This takes time. I once had a job many moons ago where I was required to return with at least five business cards from people I had “connected” with at an event. The proverbial “get in, get out” method, or as some may call speed networking. This will get you no where. You cannot expect to get serious leads EVERY time you go out. Networking takes time and patience. You have to go into it with the mindset of building relationships. Start conversations with questions. This takes the spotlight off of you in the beginning and allows you to learn something about them in the process. People love to talk about themselves. Then you turn your focus on “what can I do for you” by doing the following:
Share who you know. This means everyone you have ever met. It is as simple as that. During your chatting, really listen to what the people are doing, involved in, trying to accomplish and think about if there is anyone in your circle of influence or database of people that you think they should meet. People will remember you for making the connection.
Share what you know. This means your life experiences, your observations, what you just read on Facebook, tips from email newsletters you subscribe to, etc. Share the knowledge that you think will help them in their agenda.
Share how you feel. Sharing your compassion will always bring you the greatest rewards. Show concern, show empathy. It will not only help you with your bottom line, but also knowing that you are following your heart and your integrity.
- You MUST keep in touch. Otherwise, this networking thing is a complete waste of time. This is also the number one thing most people will not do. They make quality connections, work on building relationships – and then….nothing. Work gets busy, life gets busy, or they simply get lazy. Such a shame. Create a system for yourself and stick to it. I like to use Trello to give myself a to-do list, where I include time in my schedule for a keep in touch strategy. Regardless of how you remind yourself, you have to follow through.
Networking in some form is a must. On the bright side, it can be in many forms. Just stick with what works for you, make sure it’s not all about you, and you will do just fine. Approach every event/encounter with an open mind, making new business contact, and maybe even a friend. You never know who knows who, who they can lead you to, and what can come of that new face from across the room. Those kids that invented the Kevin Bacon game were on to something. Six degrees is not very far. Good advice to take with you to every networking opportunity in the future.
What is your favorite networking strategy? What works best for you?