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.
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 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.
The word “brand” is usually used to refer to a company or line of products, but it actually goes beyond that. A company’s brand is the perception people have of that company. For example, thanks to Apple’s branding efforts, we all know that Apple products are sleek, cutting edge, and innovative (even if they don’t always live up to the hype) or that Nike is the brand for athletes (even if other brands have better products).
Your personal brand is the world’s perception of who you are. Building a personal brand is the best way to influence the people around you: employers, coworkers, employees, customers, supplies, even your competitors. By creating a personal brand, you control the narrative and help people perceive you the way YOU want them to.
What is the most important aspect of who you are and what you do? What is the “mantra” that drives your product or service? Think about what matters most to you, and that is the heart and soul of your brand.
Tugging on someone’s heartstrings is the best way to get them on your side. You need to think about how you make your product/service/persona to make people feel, and how you want them to perceive you. The emotional appeal of your brand is what will set you apart.
What is it that you are offering to people? What do you have that makes you unique from others? Why do you stand out from the crowd? This goes beyond just the skills, products, or services you have to offer, but it includes your personality, character, and passions.
How would you describe yourself? Are you an artist, a leader, a strategist, or a team player? What words can you use to endear yourself to others emotionally? Think about the things about you that appeal most to others, and use that in your creation of your personal brand. Be a “passionate creator” or a “willing assistant” or an “enthusiastic leader”.
Your personal brand should be distilled to one or two simple concepts. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, but find your niche and make it work. Narrow the scope of your brand to a simple concept that everyone can relate to. The simpler the idea of you and your brand, the more easily people will be able to relate to it.
In the end, your personal brand is how the world will perceive you. It’s best if you can control the narrative and help people to see you the RIGHT way.
Have you ever heard the expression “Content is king?” It’s one that has become very popular in the last decade, especially with the drastic shift in advertising and marketing caused by social media and the internet.
Once, your best means of reaching people was via billboards, TV ads, radio spots, and newspaper ads. Now, the most time and cost-effective methods of marketing is using the internet (social media, company website, etc.).
The internet is designed to be an information superhighway, where people can access anything they want in a matter of seconds. Search engines provide relevant results for millions of searches every day. Guess what those results are? 9 times out of 10, they’re articles, blog posts, and content posted on websites.
If you want to get people to visit your website and find out more about your business, you MUST create content that is relevant, valuable, and consistent. Content allows you to establish yourself as an authority, which increases the likelihood people will seek you out for answers and help. Regular content posting also keeps you in the forefront of potential customers’ minds. If they keep seeing your content when they’re looking for advice or help with a problem, they’ll end up thinking of you when they need your business.
Content marketing is important for customers, as it’s a “soft sell” tactic. By delivering consistent value through your articles, blog posts, and other content, you slowly convince customers to take advantage of your product or service. In this modern day and age, most people prefer the soft sell than the in-your-face “Buy or try my product/service!”
Content marketing also matters to search engines. When people do a search for a problem or question related to your business’ product or service, you want your content to be as highly ranked as possible. The higher the ranking, the greater the chance of a search engine user clicking on your website and reading the article or post. Content allows you to take advantage of people’s desire for more information and knowledge, yet still entice them into buying your product or trying your service.
Content marketing also allows you to build a relationship with your customer. You provide them with daily or weekly solutions and answers to their problems and questions, and that endears them to you. That positive association in their mind will make them think of you next time they need your product or service. Once again, it’s about the “soft sell”.
The internet can be a highly useful tool to promote your business, but you have to learn how to do it right. Providing regular content is the key to being a smart internet marketer!
Conversion Optimization, also known as conversion rate optimization or CRO, is the optimization of your website/online sales funnel in order to increase conversion (turning visitors into clients). It has nothing to do with getting traffic to your website—instead, it is the art of using that website to increase sales.
The “sales funnel” concept is a simple one: you get visitors to your website/landing page from everywhere—SEO, social media, blog content, etc. Every one of those visitors can become a client. Your website or landing page contains content, images, videos, and information that will turn the visitor into a paying customer.
CRO is the optimization of your content so that it increases the chance of someone becoming a customer (conversion). CRO is often done by A/B testing or split testing: creating two similar versions of a landing page and testing them to determine which is more effective. You end up using the variant that has the highest conversion rate (clicks, sign-ups, downloads, sales, etc.). But you don’t stop there! You continue to create new and improved versions of your landing page to continue to optimize your conversion. Over time, you end up with a highly efficient sales funnel that will drive people to take action: join your mailing list, buy your product, contact you, and so on.
The good news is that you may only need to make minor changes to your website’s content, layout, structure, or presentation. Even small tweaks in theme, a few minimal word changes, or the addition or deletion of a video can make all the difference. The small changes can have a visible effect on the conversion of those visitors.
It’s vital for you to continually be looking for ways to do things better, especially in terms of your sales funnel. You want to increase your conversion rate as much as possible. You may not be able to drastically increase the number of visitors you get to your website, but you can ensure that MORE of those visitors are taking action once they’re on your site. In the long run, CRO can help you to do more even if you don’t have millions of unique visitors to your website every month.
Instead of investing in advertisements to encourage people to buy, you can drive them to your website. Once there, your content will do the work of converting them into customers. It’s a “soft sell” method that works far more efficiently than direct advertising!
If you’ve ever talked to a web developer, they will no doubt have harped on the importance of building a mobile-friendly website. You may have no idea why it matters, but they certainly believe it’s important. But why? What makes a mobile-friendly website so vital for the success of your business, product, or service?
Here’s the truth: more and more people are using their phones to shop. You can still go to your local store and buy goods, but your phone is useful for calling a cab (Uber), staying in touch with friends (social media), ordering dinners to go (Grubhub), finding good places to go and activities to do (TripAdvisor), even booking flights and hotels (AirBNB, Expedia, etc.). 55% of consumer shopping time in 2014 was spent on phones, while only 45% was spent on computer. That means more people are buying using their phones. If you have a product to sell, your customer are probably most likely searching for it on their phone.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t directly sell products; the average person spends more time surfing the internet on their phone than they do on their laptop. If you succeed at driving them to your website (where they can find out more about your product or service), you want them to stick around to find out more. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, they’re all but guaranteed to click away and go to another website that IS mobile-friendly. Your customers—both current and potential future customers—expect you to make their life easier. A mobile-friendly website is one that is “easier” for them to use.
As mentioned above, most web-surfers are likely to leave your website if it’s not mobile-friendly. But here’s something you might not know: Google may also penalize your website for not having a mobile-friendly design. Google may display it when someone is searching from their PC, but not when searching from a phone. Given that 55% of web surfers are using their phone, you could end up losing a huge chunk of business because you don’t have a mobile-friendly site. You want Google to drive as many clients to your website as possible, which means building a site that is compatible with mobile devices.
Yes, it will likely cost more to create a customized theme that is responsive to mobile and desktop users. In the end, however, it will benefit you—both in terms of customer ease of use and search engine compatibility.
Marketing is all about putting your message in front of the right people in the right way. Thanks to social media, that has become easier than ever. If used correctly, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and all the other social media platforms will allow you to engage directly with your target demographic.
First off, social media is where people go to relax and distract themselves from work. It already has a positive association in their minds, meaning the things they see while on social media will also tend to have that positive connotation. If your marketing campaign appeals to them, inspires them, or catches their interest, they’re far more likely to engage with it than they would while surfing the internet for education or information.
Social media also provides you with a surprising amount of information on who people are. Facebook, for example, compiles not just names, but also locations, interests, ages, likes and dislikes, and so much more. You’ll be able to use the social media profiles to target the right people with the right message. If you use the platforms’ various paid options, you’ll tap into their compiled databases to ensure your marketing campaigns are targeted at the customers most likely to be receptive to your message.
Social media gives you a much broader reach than you’d get from other sources. While Google’s SEO rankings are dependent largely in inbound links to your website, it does take into account links from social media. The more people post links to your page or content, the higher your SEO ranking. However, that also increases your visibility on those social media platforms and increases your authority.
People are always looking for new and interesting, content that educates, entertains, and gets them thinking. If you approach content creation with that mindset, you’ll find that the images, videos, and articles you post to social media have much better engagement. The more people engage with and share your content, the more you are perceived as an authority. This in turn increases the chance that people will seek you out when they have a question they need answered or a problem they want solved. Your reputation as an authority is worth gold!
Social media also allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending, popular, and of interest to your target demographic. If you “join in the conversation” with your marketing and content, you become relevant and trending as well. You’ll find that social media enables you to stay current with the times in a way classic content marketing never could!