As much as it may hurt, people WILL judge you–by the things you do, say, and the way you act. These small things can affect your personal and professional relationships with others. If you want to start off a new business relationship on the right foot, it’s important that you know the areas in which you will be judged:
Show up late, and you are proving your lack of professionalism. Show up 5 to 10 minutes early, and you’ll guarantee a good first impression. Being early shows you are proactive, organized, and professional!
How firm is your grip? A weak handshake instantly makes the other person think that you are a weak person. If you want to start off the business relationship on the right foot, shake hands with a firm grip–not bone-crushingly strong, but firm enough to show you mean business.
Do you look at the person’s face when you talk to them, or do your eyes tend to wander? Introverted people have a harder time making and maintaining eye contact, which may give the wrong impression. Eye contact is so important!
Are your nails bitten and ragged, or are they clean and neatly trimmed? Clean, trimmed nails show precision and organization, while bitten nails indicate a lack of self-control. Hands that are very rough, dirty, or sweaty will also give a bad impression of you as a person.
How do you interact with the servers and attendants at the restaurant where you are having your business lunch? Are you kind and friendly, or do you tend to be brusque and demanding? How you treat wait staff is indicative of how you treat your employees.
Do you often pull out your phone to check it? Even if you’re just checking the time, it can be perceived as a lack of respect and interest. ONLY pull out your phone if it rings. Get a watch to check the time, and keep your phone out of sight during the meeting.
Handwriting may not be as important as it once was, but there is still a lot to be said about a person’s handwriting style. Are their letters neat and clean? They usually will be too! Are their letters chaotic and illegible? This is usually indicative of their personality. The style, shape, thickness, and pressure of your handwriting says a lot about you.
There is such a thing as “too much” smiling. Over-smiling can make the person believe you are hiding something or trying to manipulate them. Make an effort to be friendly and polite, but don’t try so hard to become friendly that you drive them away.
Follow this advice, and you’ll always make a good first impression!
SEO is not an exact science. This becomes apparent when trying to incorporate both SEO and branding into a strategy. This process is finicky to say the least. On the one side, SEO deals with the placement of keywords and phrases. On the other side, branding deals with company loyalty and culture. Incorporating both sides dilutes the prominence of both. But eliminating one or the other may not meet all strategic and marketing goals.
Once again, it should be emphasized that SEO is a series of guidelines rather than an exact science. Having said that, the following recommendation can be used to satisfy both sides of the equation. In general, keywords and phrases (i.e. SEO) should remain the focus of any early-stage company, while the incorporation of company branding should appear later in the evolution. This is simply a general statement and should not be taken word for word.
The reasoning is pretty straightforward. At first, no-one knows the name of your company, but perhaps they are searching for your products or services. In other words, you want to target keywords and phrases that focus around your offering rather than your company. As you build loyalty and credibility, branding becomes more important. It’s at this point that you may want to incorporate corporate messaging to strengthen the relationship with customers and instill trust in your brand.
One final thought about branding: if a searcher types in the name of your company, they are likely to find your website anyways. This is due mostly to anchor text and back-links. Therefore, optimizing for the company name is rather insignificant in most cases.
If you’ve ever taken the time to sit down and figure out where all of your money goes, you may find yourself cringing at some of those unnecessary expenses. The truth is that all businesses have a bit of “extra” at first, things that need to be shaved down to a minimum. Creating a budget is the best way to ensure every penny your business earns is going to the right place.
If you want to know how to create a simple business budget, follow the steps below:
Many people will tell you to figure out how much you’re earning first, but we like to calculate expenses first. That way, we can ensure our income is covering our expenses.
First off, the fixed costs, things like:
Government and bank fees
Rent or mortgage
These costs will remain the same from month to month, so they’re the foundation of your budget.
Next, figure out your added expenses, the ones that tend to change from month to month. This includes:
Even if you don’t expect these expenses to occur every month, it’s a good idea to factor them into the budget. It’s much easier to set aside $100 per month for your annual business trip than try to scrounge up $1,000 when the time comes. Always set aside money in advance of the expenses, and you’ll never be caught flat-footed.
Now it’s time to determine your business income. You need to not only look at the income of your product or services, but you need to examine things like:
Additional income from secondary jobs
All of these things will help you to figure out how much of the previous two elements you can cover easily, and how much you’re missing to be “in the black”.
There are always going to be “one time” expenses:
New furniture for the office
Special software to improve productivity
Equipment upgrades or replacements
These expenses are no less important, but nearly impossible to predict. It’s vital that you set aside a monthly sum for these expenses. That way, when they do crop up, you’ve got the money to cover it.
Your budget doesn’t have to remain the same from year to year. In fact, given the changes in the economy, it’s important for you to adjust your budget on a regular basis. Examine your budget for pockets of money that are sitting dormant and could be put to better use, or for expenses you’re not quite covering properly. Adjust your budget regularly to keep up with the changes in your company as well.
What’s the point of having a website if no one sees it?
Website traffic is what will make your website “work”. You’ve invested all that time and effort into setting up a website, so it’s time to get eyes on your content. It’s the only way that you can turn a profit—via direct purchases from your webstore or generating leads for your offline business. So how can you get more traffic to your website? Here are five simple ways to increase your website traffic:
SEO is complex and difficult to understand, but it’s worth the effort to learn! Using SEO correctly can get your website ranked highly on Google’s search engine lists, which will send “organic” (not paid) traffic to your website. That’s the most desirable type of traffic, as it means people are actually interested in what you have to say/offer. By optimizing the content of every page on your site, you increase the chance of getting that priceless organic traffic.
This is one that could go downhill fast! Ads—on social media sites, Google, etc.—can increase the visibility of your website. However, if your website isn’t designed correctly (with good landing page copy, a clear call to action, a good incentive, etc.), visitors will simply click away. You can spend a fortune on advertising without ever seeing a penny of ROI. You have to be smart with your advertising, and stay on top of the performance of every ad. It’s the only way to be sure you’re not throwing money down the drain.
Social media is one of the best ways to get eyes on your content. Your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts can all be used to funnel visitors to your website. However, you have to learn to use each platform correctly (Twitter is micro-content, Facebook is short-form content, and Pinterest is all visual) if you want to succeed.
Will people click on a headline like “Find out what makes X problem work”? Probably not. But they’re much more likely to click on “The Secret Way to Deal with X”, something with an eye-catching headline. Make those headlines intriguing, and the people who see your headlines will be much more likely to click through to your website to read the content.
This is actually two different things: you guest posting content on other blogs, and allowing others to guest post content on your blog. Both will increase the visibility of your website, and can be an effective way to tap into your network of friends and colleagues.
Follow this advice, and you can see a spike in your website traffic in no time!
The holidays are a time when people are more inclined to spend money—just look at how much people spend on Black Friday and their Christmas shopping list. If you’re smart, you can take advantage of the holidays to increase your company’s revenue. If you’re really smart, what you do during the holidays can keep a steady income all year long!
So how can you take advantage of the holidays?
Don’t be content with sending out a generic email to your newsletter list or a Christmas card to your mailers. Instead, spend a little money to send them a small gift, something holiday-themed and branded with your company’s logo. It’s an investment that will improve customer perception of your company significantly.
Don’t just put certain items on sale when the holidays roll around. Instead, create products especially for the holiday, and offer them for a limited time only. People flock to Starbucks for pumpkin spice lattes and McDonalds for the McRib. Seasonal items can be a good option to increase sales. After all, no one wants to miss out on something that’s “exclusive” or “limited availability”.
No matter what service you provide—from house cleaning to SaaS consulting to dog walking to software creation—you have something that other people want. Why not offer “gift cards” for your customers? They can purchase a certain amount of service for their family, friends, and coworkers. This gives them an easy gift option, one they know is high quality. It also uses word of mouth to spread your company’s reputation. It’s a win-win!
People have invested their hard-earned money in your products or services. That’s a big deal, and something you should be publicly grateful for. Post an annual “Thank you” message to your social media accounts to make sure people realize how much you value their business. If you want to throw in an exclusive gift (coupon, discount, special offer, freebie, etc.), it will only improve your standing!
Use YouTube, Facebook Video, and Instagram Stories to create your own unique videos for your customers. You can use the video to promote a product or just as a way to appreciate your clients and social media followers. Your goal should be to prove that it’s the relationship that matters to you, not the fact that they buy your goods or services.
Make it a goal to do one small random act of kindness every day of December, and encourage your followers and customers to do the same. Post all of your acts of kindness to your social media pages—not as a “look what I’m doing”, but as a way to encourage others to get into the holiday spirit.
The holidays are a time for you to capitalize not only on the increased spending, but also on the festive mood. Use the holidays to improve the public’s perception of your brand (not your products), and they’ll be far more likely to spend their money on you all year around.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and all the others can provide you with excellent options for reaching potential clients. However, with so many other companies and individuals trying to do the same thing, your company’s message can get lost in the crowd.
If you’re trying to figure out which social media platform is the best for your business, here are the most important ones to consider:
Facebook is still the leading social media platform, but it’s become more of an advertising platform than a way to organically reach new people. However, it’s very useful to use to build customer loyalty, and you can establish yourself as an authority by sharing interesting, informational, and relevant content. On Facebook, short videos are the most effective, followed by images. People want to learn about other people on Facebook, so you need to make your brand as personable as possible.
YouTube is all about the interesting and new, but presented in video format. The beauty of YouTube is that anyone can start a channel and upload videos at any time. The bad news is that there is so much competition that it can be hard to get noticed. However, creating videos for YouTube can give you content to post to your other social media accounts.
Twitter is the place for people to share breaking news, instant feedback, short-form content, quick updates, promotions, contests, and viral content. Using hashtags (your own and popular ones) will allow you to engage with people around the world. It’s a highly effective online publicity platform, but it’s not as effective at promoting customer interaction.
With Pinterest, it’s all about the visuals. Pinterest users will share beautiful images, many of which are linked to products. Pinterest is like an online scrapbook where people showcase products and display the “essence” of their brands through visual creations and “inspiration boards”. To use Pinterest, you need to have someone who can create beautiful branded images. Integrating a call to action into your Pins will increase customer reactions. Best of all, you can micro-target your promotions and campaigns.
Google+ is a Facebook wannabe, one that encourages building an audience and brand loyalty. However, the beauty of Google+ is that it’s not as over-used as Facebook, and it can do wonders for your Google SEO ranking. Posting content to Google+ can be a good way to reach a whole audience of people who never use their Facebook accounts.
You need to use each social media platform the way it was designed to be used if you want to see results!
Social media can be a highly valuable tool for your company if used right, or a giant time-waster if not. Knowing how to use social media correctly can make all the difference! Here are a few tips to help you maximize your social media use:
Twitter is used for VERY short-form content, Instagram is all about visually appealing images, and YouTube is for engaging long-form content. When posting to social media platforms, make sure you’re posting content that suits the audience.
Never jump into a campaign without a plan. Sit down and create a comprehensive social media marketing plan before the campaign begins. It can help you increase your chances for success, as well as prepare you to analyze the good/bad of your plan.
The truly effective way to reach more people is to engage with them. Always be ready to reply to comments, thank people for participating, and listen to what people have to say. The more you engage, the better!
You’ve come up with a social media plan, but you have to be ready to adjust or flex as needed. The only way to know if it’s needed is to monitor your efforts. That means tracking/analyzing your social media progress to determine if it’s having the desired results. Change as the situation merits!
Twitter and Facebook both have automation options, and you can find tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to help you schedule content ahead of time. Automation can help to streamline the process!
Target your audience – Know who your audience is, and make sure your posts reach them! The narrower your audience, the greater the chance that you’ll reach the right people with your content.
Don’t spend time posting across all platforms if only a few platforms yield the results you want. Make sure your efforts are concentrated on the social media channels that work best for you.
Used right, hashtags can be a great way to track your engagement. Used incorrectly, they can clutter up your content and annoy people.
Part of the social media plan should be to draft a calendar that helps you to keep track of everything you are posting and when.
It’s worth spending a bit of money on advertising via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media channels. The ad money will often yield a higher ROI than with Google AdWords marketing!
Marketing is so much more than just creating social media posts and paying for advertising space. It comes down to a plan that will help you to reach your audience as effectively as possible, and with the best possible ROI. You have to approach it with the right mentality, which means:
Each campaign you run should fit into the overall plan for marketing your business. With a master plan, it will be much easier to draw up the blueprints for smaller, individual campaigns and keep them all relevant to each other.
Is the goal of your campaign to drive people to your website, increase clickthroughs, or generate revenue via sales? Having an objective will help you to know whether or not your campaigns succeeded.
Having metrics and parameters. You have to measure your results in order to determine whether or not they’re effective. That means establishing metrics and parameters for “success” or “failure”.
Everyone has to operate within a budget! A small measure of success is being able to get the desired results without going over-budget.
A lot of market research should go into your overall marketing plan. Once you understand your audience, it’s easier to know how to reach them with the right marketing campaigns.
You can’t post the same content to Facebook as you post to Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube. All of your marketing campaigns should be tailored to the platform you are using.
You need materials that will do what you want them to: convert viewers into customers. That means putting a lot of thought into the copy you write, the images you use, and the message you’re trying to communicate. Refine the materials until you’re certain they do what you want them to.
You need to have tools to measure the results of your marketing efforts. This means tracking clicks, page views, conversions, sign-ups, and all of the other metrics you’ve established. Going back over the results of your marketing campaign will help you to learn from your mistakes and successes. You’ll be able to make the next one better!
It’s not easy to run a successful campaign, even if you’ve dedicated your life to marketing. But the tips above can help you to prepare yourself and your marketing campaign for a greater chance of success.
There was a time that “local SEO”—optimizing your content according to a specific location, using keywords such as “drycleaners Los Angeles” or “dentist Miami”—was perceived as something done exclusively by bricks-and-mortars retailers. After all, using local SEO narrowed the audience to only people in that specific location.
However, the truth is that local SEO is important even to online retailers. Why is that?
Well, simple: your customers live in cities, right? If you can target your content according to that specific city, it’s easier to give them what they need.
Let’s take, for example, an online clothes retailer. The retailer sells both winter and summer clothes. To hit the winter-wear audience in the Northern United States, they can use local SEO for New England, Chicago, Seattle, and so on. But people living in the Southern United States will start wearing summer clothes long before their northern counterparts do, so a local SEO campaign targeting Phoenix, Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston will enable the clothes retailer to start selling summer clothes before the sale of winter clothes ends.
Google loves local businesses, and actually does more to promote them than global or national businesses. The search engine is designed to bring up local results first, especially if the keyword searched includes the location. A search for “laundromat in Glendale” will usually bring up the Glendale-specific locations, and farther down the list will be the retailers that belong to larger chains. It’s Google’s way of promoting local business and delivering the best tailored results.
Google also tries to give the most specific results according to the person searching. Your Google history will give the search engine information on the sort of information you’re looking for, according to your location and other data. If there is a business that offers what you’re looking for in the place you want it, Google is going to make sure you see it.
Proximity-based searches are more common with mobile commerce as well. Look at Uber, the app that searches for the closest vehicle to your desired location. Or Tinder, which tries to find matches nearest to you. Local SEO will be important for mobile searches as well, as Google has tried to make the searches as location-specific as possible.
Local SEO is no longer useful just for brick-and-mortar retailers. Even online retailers should endeavor to include local SEO when and where relevant. It may lead to much better engagement and reach in the specific cities where you want to find your target demographic.
Social media is one of the most powerful forces in the modern world. A single Tweet can make or break a career. A single photograph can propel someone to stardom or bring a powerful man or woman low. Social media also provides a tool for marketers to better understand their customers, as well as to find new ones. By keeping up with the latest trends in social media, brands will have a better chance of achieving their goals and reaching a larger audience.
WhatsApp and Messenger are the two most popular messaging apps, but Snapchat, QQ Chat, and Viber all add their weight. More and more people are turning away from Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram, and going to the apps where they can message directly with others.
Not only did Facebook roll out their LIVE feature, but Twitter and YouTube added the live video feature as well. US Instagram users also have the option for live videos. In 2017, Facebook and YouTube will both be adding new live video features to their platform, allowing people to connect with others live and in real time.
A surprising number of people are using social networks to find new products to buy, so it makes sense for these platforms to eliminate the middle man (Amazon and other retailers) and simply put a “Buy” button on their interface. Facebook has introduced a Marketplace feature, and more social media platforms are taking advantage of the popularity of social commerce.
Open your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed, and you’ll see A LOT of paid advertisements. It’s estimated that close to $36 billion will be spent on social media advertising this year in paid adverts alone!
Since the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, social advocacy—championing a cause via social media—has become more and more common. Everything from the Women’s March to Bell Let’s Talk have taken advantage of social advocacy, and it will continue to increase as we go into 2017.
More and more platforms and search engines will take steps to crack down on “fake news”, with the goal of eradicating it entirely. Fake news affected 2016, especially during the U.S. Presidential Elections. Facebook banned fake news from advertising in late 2016, and will continue to work on blocking and suppressing clickbait-type headlines that are intended to spread misinformation.
2017 is going to be a fascinating year for social media! It’s important that you “get with the times” and stay abreast of how your customers will be using their social media apps and platforms. The result will be much more effective, targeted marketing.