Archive for the Tips & Tricks Category

How Much Personality Should You Add to Your Company Blog?

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Many businesses struggle with the value of adding personality to their professional blogs. You might have heard that customers like to get to know the people behind the company brand to help build those crucial relationships, but you’ve also heard that blogs are supposed to be centered around building value for your customers. How are you supposed to reconcile these two seemingly opposing ideas?

Balancing your blog

Your blog should really be doing both. The key is learning to balance the blog. The primary focus of your blog should always be providing value to your visitors. These are the posts that are most likely to bring new visitors to your site, answer their questions, and convince them that you’re an authority worth their attention. In general, you want about 75 percent of your blog posts to fall into this category.

There are some visitors, however, who read your blog because they’ve gotten to know your company. They already know they can trust your judgment, so they turn to you for regular industry updates or when they’re looking for information. These are the visitors who will likely be most interested in learning more about your company on a personal level. Since you want to develop content for your visitors on every stage of their journey, you also need to develop some content for this type of reader. Set aside about 15 to 20 percent of your content as more self promotional. These posts can include case studies, product information, and ideas about how to maximize your company’s products and services. Then reserve about 5 percent to 10 percent of your posts for more personal information.

What to include in your personal posts

Your personal posts can include a variety of different types of information that will give your potential customers insight into your company and the people who work there. Here are some ideas about the kinds of things to include in this section:

  • posts about company gatherings (such as your holiday party), including some pictures of the celebration
  • employee spotlights, where you highlight the employee of the month and give a fun interview that helps the reader relate to this person on an individual level
  • announcements about new hires
  • video walk-through tours of your offices and production facilities, so visitors can see ‘where the magic happens’

Including occasional posts like these on your company blog will help customers place a face with the name. When they receive an email from your company or a response to an inquiry, they’ll no longer be dealing with an anonymous person, but an individual they feel as though they know.

The hidden benefit of personal blog posts

As an added bonus, speaking about your employees and highlighting their accomplishments can help make your workers feel more appreciated. They’ll feel as though their work is noticed and valued by everyone at the organization. This helps create a happier workplace and can help reduce employee turnover. When your employees are happy, they project that happiness to your customers, which helps improve customer satisfaction.

Personal blog posts can be a fantastic asset for your organization. They can help build customer relationships and make your employees happy. Using them wisely can help grow your company and improve your marketing. If you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, let us know! We’ll be happy to help you get started.

Date: 21st November, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How to Fix Your Call To Action

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Your call to action, or CTA, is easily one of the most important parts of your website. It’s where you find new leads and convince your audience you offer something worth exploring. Whether your CTA invites people to sign up for a newsletter or download your latest ebook, all CTAs are not created the same. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when developing this critical part of the website.

The words

The words on your CTA are critical. Most people will be skimming it, so it’s important to make your offer’s potential value obvious to everyone who sees it. Use precise, clear language that explains what customers are going to receive. Bullet points are fantastic because they’re particularly easy to skim and tell the audience exactly what they’re going to receive.

The words you use in your CTA should also line up with the text around it. For example, if you offer home cleaning services and are offering a free download on the safest cleaners to use around children, your CTA will probably best fit at the end of blog posts and articles that discuss the dangers of certain cleaners or how to safely secure cleaners away from children. Try to create a tangible link between the content and the CTA. This will help ensure your offer reaches those who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.

The appearance

While what you say is certainly important, so is the overall appearance of your CTA. Choose contrasting colors to help the CTA pop from the page and attract viewers’ attention. A CTA that just blends in at the bottom of a blog post will be overlooked and have a poor conversion rate. Similarly, make sure the CTA is big and bold, so no one can miss it. Don’t hide the CTA in the corner, using the same font size as the rest of the page. It will be too easy to ignore.

In the same way, use images and other visuals to help consumers get a concrete look at what they’ll be receiving. If that’s an ebook, for example, use a picture of an actual book with the title of your ebook printed on the front. Using images helps people develop a strong association with the product you’re offering and makes it look more appealing.

The importance of testing

When planning your campaign, develop more than one CTA, then test them to see which one resonates more with customers. You might be surprised how much difference a particular word choice or color can make on your conversion rates. Run basic A/B tests on the CTA, and get concrete answers about which offer is getting more conversions.

An A/B test is simple. Say you have one CTA and then develop an alternate page. The A/B test will randomly show some visitors the original and some the alternate page. It will then track how many people convert from each page. You can use this information to see which has a higher conversion rate, so you get the best page on your site.

Developing an efficient CTA will bring you leads and potential customers. Take the time to follow the steps above, and create a CTA that will maximize your potential.

Date: 18th November, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Finding Your Crowd… On Social Media

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Imagine you just moved to a new area. It’s a small city with a bustling population. The local college attracts many young adults to the city, especially on the weekends, while local businesses ensure the professional crowd is also well represented.

Being new to the area, you want to find a place to go for dinner where you can meet some locals and start to get to know your new neighbors. Friday afternoon, you head into the first restaurant. It’s bustling with activity and has great music, but at a volume so loud you can barely hear yourself think. You look around and realize that the crowd is mostly college kids. Surely, some of them are great people, but this isn’t really the crowd you’re looking to get to know. You might make a connection or two, but it will likely be significantly harder to form meaningful relationships.

So, you head out to the second restaurant. As you walk in, hardly anyone looks up. Most people seem to already be finishing their dinner, and the average age in the place seems to be older than your father. Sure, there are probably some fantastic people here, too, but again, this really isn’t the crowd you’re looking for.

You try the next place. You see some people in your age range, but it seems to be a much more family-oriented scene. Most people in the restaurant have young children seated with them. While you love your nieces and nephews, you don’t have children yourself yet, so you wonder how well you’d fit in. You decide to wander on.

Finally, you head into the fourth place. You look around and breathe a sigh of relief. This establishment is filled with other professionals in your age range. This will be a great place for you to start to meet people in your new town and hopefully form some meaningful connections that can help you both socially and professionally.

So what does all of this have to do with marketing your company?

As the restaurants in our story demonstrate, different places tend to cater to different crowds. They aren’t all interchangeable. The same is true of social media. If you want to increase your odds of connecting with your audience, you have to know what types of social media they like and where they will be found. To accomplish this, you need to know the following:

A precise definition of your audience

Before planning a social strategy, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. This isn’t just a general idea of “people who need XYZ.” Instead, you need a more precise profile, including age, education, position, challenges, responsibilities, and what your prospects are looking for.

Who uses each social media platform

B2B companies tend to put a considerable amount of effort into LinkedIn, because this is the platform for networking professionals and those who are thinking about business. Facebook is dominated by people in a variety of age ranges looking to joke around and chat with friends. Twitter is a continuous conversation. Google+ has the biggest asset for local businesses looking to boost their SEO and odds of being found by local patrons.

Take these two sources of information and combine them to make a social media marketing plan that will help grow your company in ways you never thought possible. When you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us. We’re here to help you get started and find success.

Date: 14th November, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Keeping the Ship Afloat . . . In Business

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We’ve all heard the expression “keeping the ship afloat.” Anyone who has ever spent time on an actual ship knows that keeping a boat afloat and getting it to the intended destination is no easy task. Ships of all sizes require a considerable amount of work from everyone on board, and we in business can learn a great deal from these professionals when it comes to keeping our own companies running and moving in the right direction.

The importance of clear leadership

Ships are not democracies. A captain always leads the ship’s crew and directs activities on board. Captains have considerable experience sailing ships and know what needs to be done to make the trip a success. Their ability to see the larger picture lets them direct their subordinates. They don’t waffle in making decisions and have confidence in their abilities.

Like any good leader, however, a captain also willingly listen. Captains will take advice from their advisers in certain situations, and then balance the advice against their own experience. A good captain is able to take all of these sources of information and synthesize them to come up with the best possible solution.

As a business leader, you must be willing to do the same. Strong leaders unabashedly listen to those around them while also using their own experience and wisdom to make decisions for the benefit of the company. They don’t shy away from making firm decisions, nor are they so concerned for their own power that they neglect to listen to what others have to offer.

Dedicated workers

Ships have always required dedicated crews to keep them afloat. The ships of old required crews of men who would paddle the ship or control the sails to keep the boat moving. Crews today might man the sails or the engine rooms. No matter where the crew is working, however, they have to be prepared to give the boat 100 percent.

The employees you select for your business must also be fully dedicated to your company. You should be able to trust that their skills and experience will help them move the organization forward. Running an efficient business means not having to look over everyone’s shoulders, but instead establishing goals and having your employees work to meet you there.

Choosing a direction and sticking with it

When sailing a ship, the boat has a concrete destination. The captain and crew might have to adjust their route slightly if a storm comes up or another obstacle crosses their path, but they always know where they’re going and how they plan to get there.

Your business must have the same foresight. Successful organizations don’t set vague goals for success. Instead, they lay out concrete, measurable goals they want to achieve. When the goals of the organization are clearly laid out in front of everyone, it’s much easier for each person to know exactly what they’re supposed to do and how that fits in the broader picture.

Keeping a ship — or business — afloat requires strong leadership, a dedicated staff, and concrete goals. When you manage to keep these three ingredients in mind for your company, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Date: 17th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Business Lessons From the Wizard of Oz

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The Wizard of Oz is an exciting tale that has delighted people for several generations. When young Dorothy is magically transported from her home to the magical land of Oz, she and her companions must outsmart witches and other dangers in an effort to find the famed Wizard of Oz, who they believe can help her find her way home and grant her companions gifts of their own. Upon finally finding the wizard, however, they learn that he is not some great and powerful wizard after all. Instead, he’s just an ordinary man behind a curtain, projecting his voice and image to appear to be a magical being. Still, in the end, Dorothy does learn how to get back home.

The Wizard of Oz and Business

There are two key lessons we as business leaders can learn from the wizard. In one situation, he’s an excellent example of what we should do. In the other, he does the exact opposite of what would be appropriate in the business world.

What the wizard gets right

In Oz, the wizard regularly projects his voice and opinions for all the kingdom to see. He providers personalized information for each person who visits him.

In social media, we’re often asked to be like the man behind the curtain. We must project our voice and opinions in a variety of media, communicating a sense of authority and wisdom. With all the demands of the modern business world, it can be tempting to resort to automation. There are a number of ‘tricks and cheats’ available in the social media world. From programming social responses to buying followers to automating tweets, it’s very easy for those who desire it to completely remove themselves from the actual social media process.

If we’re to learn anything from the mysterious wizard, however, it’s important to remember to always have an actual person ‘behind the curtain.’ This will allow us to engage potential leads when they arise and avoid missing opportunities to bring in new customers, which can easily happen if all our responses happen automatically and we aren’t actually monitoring the conversation.

What the wizard gets wrong

Although it’s important to remain actually present behind all our social media campaigns, we also need to be authentic. The wizard made the devastating mistake of casting himself as something he wasn’t: a powerful wizard. When those who actually needed his help (like Dorothy and her companions) turned to him, he was virtually powerless to help. If we cast ourselves as something we’re not, nothing will destroy our reputation faster than our customers realizing it. We must always be realistic about our capabilities and strengths. Play up what you can do for customers and be confident in your abilities, but don’t ever let yourself get caught in a web of lies.

What to take away

Social marketing is an important part of branding and finding new customers. It requires authenticity. That means broadcasting a solid message based on what you can do for customers and always keeping a person involved with every stage of the campaign to communicate with customers. When you stick to these two rules, you’ll have a great chance of success.

Are you ready to get a new campaign started? Come talk to us! We’d be happy to help you get started.

Date: 10th October, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Are You Using Keywords Correctly

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When it comes to search engine optimization, few topics are as popular as the use of keywords. To hear some people describe it, keywords are the secret to success; if you just use specific keywords in your text enough, people will flock to your website. But think about the last time you read something that was clearly “keyword stuffed.” It probably sounded awkward, unnatural, and a bit forced, didn’t it? You probably didn’t take the information or the website too seriously. Fortunately, it is possible to use keywords effectively to entice visitors, give them confidence they’ve found a good source of information, and still sound completely natural.

Selecting the keywords

When choosing keywords, think about the words customers are commonly searching for online. Monitor the number of searches that are done for different keywords, and then choose a few you’d like to target. These should be keywords directly related to your business, so you can use them naturally throughout your website and blog.

When selecting keywords, make the subtle distinction between keywords you and other professionals in your industry are likely to use and those your customers are likely to use. Your keywords won’t do you any good if your site ends up just attracting competitors. They’re not looking to buy from you! You want to use language and keywords that reflect your customers’ priorities and their language. This will ensure you bring the right people to your site. This is also helpful for selecting vocabulary words to use on all your marketing materials, including your outbound direct mail and newspaper advertisements.

Using the keywords appropriately

Make sure you use the keywords a few times in content. This will let your visitor know they’ve found a page with the information they were looking for. If done naturally, using the keywords in the opening paragraph can be a good practice for this reason.

Don’t use your keywords excessively, though. Generally, aim to keep the keywords in mind when you write, and use them whenever the opportunity naturally arises rather than assigning yourself the task of fitting them in as often as possible. Using this system will help you improve the flow of your writing and make it sound much more compelling and natural, rather than a trap designed to bring visitors to your website.

The reason blogging and keeping your website up-to-date are so fantastic for marketing is that both of these practices allow you to naturally incorporate keywords into your content. Keywords should be thought of as subjects that you want to write about. They’re terms your potential customers are searching for because they’re interested in learning more. Be the source of information for them, so they will turn to you as a source of authority.

Keywords can be very helpful in developing websites to attract and retain visitors. Capitalizing on their value, however, requires understanding what customers and search engines are and aren’t looking for. Keeping these guidelines in mind should help you use your keywords to your advantage. If you’re ready to take your marketing campaign to the next level, let us know. We’d be happy to help get you started!

Date: 8th October, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Building a Championship Team at Work

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Postseason baseball is in full swing. After six months and 162 games, only a handful of teams have earned a chance at becoming World Series champions.

Putting together a championship-quality roster is no easy task. Tryouts, trades, drafts, and injuries all play a part in the process. Teams must find the right mix of players who can bat, pitch, and field. Just as importantly, though, they must consider team chemistry, too. Is everyone playing together? Are internal rivalries or personality clashes going to get in the way of a cohesive unit? Can those clashes be overcome for the sake of success? In the end, it often takes experience to get it just right.

What businesses can learn from baseball

When you set out to select members for your own professional team — your business — you must give it as much thought as a baseball coach and general manager. Sure, you should carefully review resumes and interview candidates, but in doing so, try to avoid the temptation to simply fill a role, rather than building a team.

When you fail to evaluate a candidate for their ability to fit in with your company culture and ascribe to your company mission, it’s easy to lose your internal values. This can in turn damage employee morale and employee loyalty. When everyone is concerned with just completing a job, rather than working together as a team, people don’t feel as connected to their workplace.

Why this is dangerous

According to Bain & Company, it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. Building a successful business should be focused around delighting your customers, giving them reasons to return, and encouraging them to recommend you to others. Your employees are the ones who interact with these customers every day. They’re the face of the company. When you don’t take the time to develop a strong company culture that encourages employee satisfaction and a positive work environment, you end up putting up a huge roadblock for customer satisfaction.

Choosing your team

Work with your current team to develop lists of values and priorities that keep your workplace cohesive and productive. When you’re ready to make a new hire, carefully consider how the person will fit in with the rest of the organization. This will include asking them questions that relate to these specific values.

Consider having candidates speak with multiple people at the company or try performing some of the basic tasks they would do if they were hired. The better you can choose your employees, the better you’ll be at building an organization that works as a team and serves your customers with a united front. Have faith and trust in your organization, empowering your employees and making it an overall fantastic place to work and grow.

While many organizations realize their customer service will have an enormous impact on their success, they don’t realize that something as intrinsic as their hiring practices can have such a big impact. Give your company a leg up and complement your marketing efforts with a superior, service-oriented company. Get started by making sure each hire you make will be a great fit for your team. You may be surprised how much it pays off.

Date: 5th October, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How Football Can Help Us Build and Grow Our Business

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With football season now in full swing, fans across the country are watching their favorite teams fight for a shot at postseason glory. Football is a sport that requires athletic prowess, analytical skill, and a considerable amount of strategizing. As such, there are many lessons we can apply to the business world. Here are just a few to consider.

Study the competition

Football teams are known for their intense studies of opposing teams. Coaches and players alike will spend hours analyzing footage from past games to get a feel for how their opponents work together, what plays they go to frequently, and what strengths and weaknesses they bring to the field. They use this information to develop their own strategies and to see where their opportunities lie.

As business leaders, we should do the same. It’s not enough to just occasionally glance at the websites of the competition. Instead, we should be analyzing their moves, seeing what works for them and what doesn’t, discovering where they’re failing their clients, and finding whatever else we can glean to help us compete more effectively. This insight will give us the tools we need to make our own businesses stronger, as we compete for customers and leads.

Build a balanced team

Successful football teams look for talented players in every position. Having four starting quarterbacks but no safeties will do a football team no good. The team needs to be balanced and account for every position. When games are starting, how often do we hear comments about how one team will be at a disadvantage because a particular player or two are out due to illness or injury?

The same principle applies to business. Successful companies account for every position, too. This includes:

  • leaders who can help the company see and attain its vision
  • financial experts who are good at accounting and planning budgets to help the organization make the most of its resources
  • marketing and sales professionals who excel at generating leads and bringing in new paying customers to help the business grow

Have a good leader

On the football field, effective leaders are essential. The coaches are responsible for developing the playbook and strategizing what plays to use. A good coach can work magic with a mediocre team, while a bad coach can have a losing season even with the strongest of players. The quarterback is another key position. Quarterbacks are responsible for leading the team on the field, implementing the plays the coach dictates, and keeping the team working together.

In business, leaders are equally important. They must be able to see the company vision and guide those around them toward that outcome. Talents in strategizing, encouraging others, and working in
groups are all important for leaders. Cultivate these talents among your staff, especially those in leadership positions, to maximize the potential of your company.

When it comes to organizing a business, football has many lessons it can teach. Keep these lessons in mind as you tune into this season’s games, and see just how much you end up learning.

Date: 26th September, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Applying the Lessons You Learned During Your First Weeks of College

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Imagine it’s your first day of college. You enter campus, not knowing anyone. You find your way to your dorm room and review your class schedule and campus map to try and figure out where you need to go. You listen to the chatter of hundreds, if not thousands of new classmates outside your door. The whole process can feel more than a little overwhelming. You somehow need to find new friends in this home away from home, but when not a single face looks familiar, that can be easier said than done. How do you find people you like? How do you start forming relationships?

Chances are you begin by looking for people with common interests. If you’re into fitness, that might mean spending time at the gym on your free time. If you’re into a specific sport, you might try out for a team or get involved in a recreational league. If sports aren’t your thing, you might find clubs and groups that cater to your other interests. When you find people who share your interests, you start to build the relationships that will carry you through the rest of your academic career.

How you can apply the lessons you learned in college

The same principles apply to building your customer base. When you first begin building your company, you’re like that new kid on campus. You need to find people interested enough in you and what you have to offer that they’ll want to build a relationship with you. These relationships will be the key to finding new customers.

Where to go to find your niche

The key to successful marketing is finding your niche and building potential relationships. In school, you found those people by joining clubs, participating in sports teams, and taking part in activities where you would be likely to meet others with similar ideas and interests as you. When developing a marketing plan, you need to do the same thing.

Begin by determining the type of people you want to attract. Identify key characteristics of potential customers and use that information to find them. Learn what your potential customers are interested in, what concerns them, and where they like to hang out. Social media is a fantastic tool for finding potential customers and jumping into the community.

Social media offers access to groups, trending topics, and other useful insights you can use to pinpoint your desired audience while also finding meaningful dialogue that can help you better meet the needs of your customers. Use these resources to start building relationships. Just like that lonely freshman in college, you want to begin by starting the conversation. Become a familiar face to those in the crowd. Ask people about themselves and listen to what they have to say in response. Use that information to build your value. Show these new potential customers how you can help them solve their problems.

Finding a core audience and a niche to grow your business can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Think of how you handled your first weeks on campus. You focused on finding others with similar interests and started conversations to begin developing relationships with them. Many of these same tactics will also work in the business world. Focus on building relationships, and the rest will follow.

Date: 23rd September, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Business Lessons From The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby is considered an American classic. Its recent film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio has only increased its popularity. Few students in North America made it through high school without reading the book, and the film only helped to bring the images of decadence to life.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story takes place on Long Island during the 1920s. A mysterious millionaire named Jay Gatsby holds luxurious parties on a regular basis, all in the hopes of drawing his old lover, now married to another, to his home so he can rekindle the romance. Over the course of the novel, it becomes apparent that Gatsby has made his money participating in illegal activities, such as bootlegging, and has surrounded himself with an unsavory crowd of people who seem to care only about where the money for the next party will come from.

In the end, all the money in the world can’t save Gatsby from an untimely demise.

What we can learn from The Great Gatsby

Networking

Gatsby understood the importance of networking. He used his connections to build a reputation among the people of the fictional town of West Egg. His network even managed to bring him into contact with his old love, which was the ultimate goal of his parties and wealth.

Every business professional should leverage networking to build their company. It’s impossible to do business in a bubble. Networking will put you in touch with others in your industry who you might end up working with, as well as potential customers and clients.

Goals

Gatsby’s entire career was focused on reconnecting with his past love. He kept his eyes always focused on this prize and strategically worked to achieve it. From building his wealth to throwing his parties, his life was centered around this key goal.

Hopefully, your long-term goals are more business-oriented than Gatsby’s, but even so, it’s still important to keep your eyes focused on achieving them. Don’t get distracted or caught up in some new fad if it doesn’t help your company achieve its goals. Goals can change and adapt, but it’s important to always keep your eyes forward.

A strong foundation

Gatsby managed to build a wealthy empire for himself. However, this empire had a horrible foundation. He had built everything on an illegal enterprise and associations with people of questionable character. While he may have had good business sense, he still tried to take the easy way out — to build his wealth without having to develop an honest business.

When building your business, focus on establishing a strong foundation around a network of reputable business associates, strong products and services, and outstanding customer relations. Don’t take shortcuts. They’ll only come back to hurt you in the end.

The Great Gatsby is a classic novel that explores the world of the roaring twenties. It can be tempting to dismiss the moral lessons as products of a bygone era. For those of us in business, however, there are many things we can learn from Gatsby’s triumphs and failures. No professional should overlook them.

Date: 17th September, 2014 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments


 

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