Propel Businessworks https://propelbusinessworks.com Brand, Website, Digital and Content Marketing Company, Portland, OR Wed, 12 Dec 2018 00:46:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://propelbusinessworks.com/wp-content/uploads/Propel_Symbol_Green-144x144.png Propel Businessworks https://propelbusinessworks.com 32 32 8 Ways to Build Your Website Traffic https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/8-ways-to-build-traffic-on-your-website/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/8-ways-to-build-traffic-on-your-website/#respond Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:00:02 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8314 Your website is one of your most important assets as a business. It serves as the hub for your online presence, the place all other profiles and platforms point back to. Building a website is only part of success; the other piece is building traffic so your site is a resource your existing and potential clients, customers, and partners are using.

Here are eight easy ways you can build traffic on your website:

  1. Make use of SEO best practices. It’s simple, but critical. Google is still looking for websites with solid SEO. This includes knowing what your target keywords and phrases are, installing them on pages and images, and using them throughout your copy text. >>> Learn more about how to improve your website’s SEO here.
  1. build trafficBuild your internal links. This is an excellent strategy to make those bounce rates get lower. By strategically linking words and phrases to other appropriate pages and blogs on your site, you not only create value by providing resources, but encourage people to spend more time on your site. >>> Find out about better techniques for cross-linking on your blog here.
  1. Be active on your blog. You’re probably tired of hearing us say this, but we can’t stress enough the importance of consistently and regularly posting new content to your website. This will allow you to provide resources and information to your audience, but also lets search engines know your website has fresh, relevant content. >>> Here are 7 reasons your business should be blogging.
  1. Utilize the Guest Blog strategy. This is money, and goes two ways. First, invite people to write on your blog. Everybody loves to be valued for what they have to say, and guaranteed your featured authors will want to share what they’ve written. Second, look for opportunities to be a guest blogger. You’ll be exposed to a new audience and cross-pollination in business is always a good thing. >>> Check out these 4 ways to incorporate guest blogs to your existing strategy.
  1. Maximize social media. The first step here is to set up your social media accounts to always point traffic back to your website. Include your website URL in your profile, always! After that, use your social voice to share your content. Vary the message, but Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn (among others) are excellent places to strategically share your content and direct traffic back to your website. >>> Learn how social media impacts your SEO.
  1. Leverage content in your e-newsletters. Hopefully you’re already sending a regular e-newsletter to your email lists, but there’s no better reason to start than building traffic on your website. As you blog and create quality content your audience cares about, your e-news is another excellent place to share those resources and send people back to your website. >>> Find out how e-news and blogging go hand-in-hand, and how to create an e-news that works.
  1. Get into advertising. While it’s not exactly a free option, strategic paid advertising works. You have multiple options when it comes to where you advertise, and you’ll definitely want to think through where will get you the most bang for your buck. Paid search and social media are great places to start. >>> Here are some great tips on how to budget for social media marketing.
  1. Build a responsive website. More and more people are relying on their mobile device for all their technology needs, choosing a smartphone or tablet over a laptop or desktop computer. Make sure your website is “responsive” – meaning it adapts to a simpler, mobile-friendly version for phone and tablet users. This will help you make sure to capture traffic from all sources, not just people using a computer. >>> #5 on this list of website must-haves goes into more detail about a having mobile-friendly, responsive website.

Building traffic on your website isn’t rocket science. It just takes implementing some simple strategies and adjusting a few details you’ll be sure to see an increase in traffic. Just remember: it’s unlikely you’ll see a dramatic jump in a few days. Building consistent traffic takes time, but consistency will pay off in the long run.

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Keep Track of Your Social Media Progress https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/track-social-media-progress/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/track-social-media-progress/#respond Tue, 20 Nov 2018 14:00:55 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8309 Businesses worldwide have adopted social media marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. Whether they are posting to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, or all of the above, businesses around the globe are reaching their audiences through the use of social media.

Now, businesses can post to social media and engage with their audiences on a daily basis, but how many of those businesses are tracking the success and progress of their platforms on a regular basis?

What you should be tracking:

  • Likes on social

    Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

    Best times to post: Most platforms either have analytics directly on their sites or a companion app that provides analytics. By reviewing these analytics, you will be able to decipher what times your posts are reaching the widest audience.

  • Increase or decrease in likes/follows: How many people have either liked or un-followed your page in the past X amount of weeks? Each website directly tells you how many likes you have at any given time.
  • Type of content that receives the most engagement: What type of content is your audience responding to? Videos, images, article shares, Q &A, tips, etc.

 

What this information will tell you:

Social media is constantly changing. For example, in the past week, Facebook has introduced the “See First” option. This new feature gives consumers the ability to choose who and/or which brand(s) appear first on their newsfeeds. By keeping track of what is working and not working, you will be able to adjust your social media strategy.

Similar to traditional marketing, social media marketing is all about testing and getting to know your audience. When comparing and testing, you are performing what has come to be known as “A/B” testing: an experiment consisting of two variants which are treated as the control and the treatment in the test. For example, you can take what you are currently doing on Facebook as test A and change it by a variant – say the time you post changes – for test B.

If:

  • You posted at 5pm on a Tuesday and had 0 likes and then posted on Wednesday at 10am and had 5 likes, you will want to try and post again around 10am. This tells you that your audience liked the content you published and/or was online at the time you posted.
  • You post 5 times a week at the same exact time on different days with different types of content (i.e. an image, a video, a tip, Q&A, and an article share), then examine which post had the most engagement. This is a good indication of what your audience likes to see from you.

How to keep track:

An easy way to track the changes from month-to-month on your social platforms is by creating a spreadsheet. Create a header or new sheet for each platform (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). Include columns such as: likes, best times to post, type of content, etc., and a date that the statistics were taken. Set a reminder on your calendar or phone to review and take down statistics on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Keep track of your social media

By keeping track of your different social media statistics, you will be able to discover what is and what is not working on your various platforms allowing you to adjust your strategy.

We encourage you to do some research on the different platforms regularly to see if any changes have been made that will impact your business. Some resources to check out: Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, and SteamFeed.

Do you have a tool or other suggestion that you would recommend that helps keep track of your social media progress? Let us know in the comments below.

Jamie

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The ABC’s of a Communication Plan https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/abcs-communication-plan/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/abcs-communication-plan/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 13:00:48 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8308 Marketing has come a long way from what has come to be known as “traditional marketing methods.” Such marketing methods include flyers, newspaper ads, magazine articles and ads, radio announcements, TV commercials, and phone calls.

The newer, more “modern” marketing methods include email, blogging, vlogging, and social media. These newer concepts may seem foreign to marketers who learned the traditional style of marketing. In fact, making the change may seem overwhelming & confusing.

However, with the help of our Communication Plan, the switch doesn’t have to be difficult.

What is a communication plan?
Communication planThe communication plan is just that: a plan on how and where you should communicate with your audience. It provides you with a roadmap that you can use to make your business thrive and stay top-of-mind with your audience.

Every company is different and therefore, every communication plan differs. As marketers, we know that every industry has something which makes it unique (different demographics, for example) – and the differences mean some social media platforms work better for specific industries than for others.

What does the communication plan include?

The communication plan is a comprehensive, in-depth plan that guides you through several different means of communication; these include blogs, e-newsletters, and social media. The plan is broken into these parts:

  • A brand voice profile – Each brand has a different voice and way of communicating with its audience. Some are more serious, whereas others take a more lighthearted approach. The brand voice profile includes keywords, language to be used, information about your target market, and more.
  • A communication plan overview – A brief overview of what the rest of the plan includes… the simple version. For example, later in the plan we will explain the things you should be posting. This part of the plan includes how often, what times, best days, etc.
  • A blog (and, if appropriate, a vlog) plan – Blogging is a great way for companies to share their knowledge and expertise with their audiences. The blog plan takes into account what your company wants to be known for and establishes a plan which determines the exact dates, times, titles, and topics to publish. The blog plan has SEO in mind as it also includes keywords and tags to include in your blog – all of which help you get found online.    blog planIf your business is well-suited for creating regular and consistent videos, we may recommend creating a vlog platform using a social platform such as YouTube or Vimeo for your brand. Not all businesses, however, are the right fit for a vlogging plan.
  • An e-newsletter plan – Email is an easy and effective way to keep your audience in the loop of what’s going on with your business. It gives you the opportunity to share resources, updates, articles, announcements, and more. Our e-newsletter plan lays out the best days & times to send out your e-newsletter blast.
    enewsletter plan
  • A social media activation plan –Each social media platform has to be treated uniquely when it comes to when and what to post. Our social media activation plan includes tips on best using the various platforms as well as the target post days and times. We explain and break down the basics of social media for those of us who are less familiar with the verbiage. Further, we include what content to publish – as well as what days and times, and how often to publish it.social media activation plan

What are the benefits of the communication plan?

In this day and age, businesses must use the right content marketing tools in order to progress. Consider the communication plan as a step-by-step guide to implementing content marketing into your current marketing strategy. Take the guesswork out of what you should be publishing and when; we do all of the research for you.

What if I don’t have the time to do everything mentioned in the plan?

Great news! We can implement & manage the plan for you. After all, content marketing is our forte.

We understand that content marketing is a foreign concept to many small business owners. The thought of implementing and managing such an in-depth plan can be overwhelming. Allow us to implement and manage the plan for you while you focus on other aspects of your business that need your knowledge and expertise.

Do you have a question about your current communication efforts or are you wondering if a communication plan is right for your business? Contact us today so we can help answer your questions.

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Take It Easy: One Platform at a Time https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/take-it-easy-one-platform-at-a-time/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/take-it-easy-one-platform-at-a-time/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:00:41 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8307 Small business owners have probably been hearing for some time now that they need to be on social media. However, they may be wondering how they could possibly take on yet another thing? With so many social platforms they could be on, they may start believing that it’s too difficult to possibly manage every platform on an ongoing basis. There are many other parts of their businesses that are more important!

When business owners hear they need to be on social media, they may think they should be active on every social media platform: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Pinterest may come to mind.

For someone who is in charge of their own business and manages all the aspects of their business (i.e. marketing, accounting, HR, sales, etc.), then yes, adding on social media can seem overwhelming and impossible.

But here’s the good news: when they say you should be on social media, they don’t mean every platform all at once!

Choose the platforms you need to be on

Image courtesy of Pixabay and antonin77

Image courtesy of Pixabay and antonin77

Certain social media platforms are better for some types of businesses as opposed to others. For example, if your business doesn’t have a physical location then Google+ may not be your top priority. If you have an accounting firm, then visual platforms such as Instagram may not be the best fit for your business.

When it comes to choosing which platforms you should be on, you should first do some research. Find answers to the following questions:

  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Are they on specific platforms and not others?

Ask for advice from a social media strategist for some help and guidance if you aren’t finding definitive answers.

Make a list of the platforms you eventually want to be on

Now that you’ve done some research on which platforms your competitors are on, your next step should involve creating a list of the platforms you want to eventually be on and then set some goals.

Start by choosing the three platforms that make sense for your business and are the most important to you. Next, set a timeline of when you want to be on those platforms and how long you need to build up your communities for each.

Don’t feel overwhelmed – you don’t have to be on all of them immediately!

steps-388914_1280Start with one

When deciding to start on the journey of incorporating social media into your marketing strategy, don’t feel like you need to start by jumping onto every platform all at once. Instead, take it one step at a time.

Is there a certain platform that you are more familiar with? Or, is social media a completely foreign topic to you? Choose a platform that feels most comfortable to you (or should we say more comfortable than the others!).

If you are totally lost and have no experience in the social marketing field, then we recommend that you start with Facebook. It is one of the easiest to set up and is pretty self-explanatory. You can post easily and maintain consistency when posting on Facebook. The platform makes it easy by allowing you the ability to schedule posts directly onto your Facebook page.

Claim the page

Think back to when you were choosing a name for your business, or better yet – buying a domain name for your business. Did you run into the difficulty of someone, somewhere having the same idea for a business name? Most likely, the original name you had in mind for your business was already taken.

Similarly, think about how many people are already using social media. If your goal is to be on social media, establish pages on all platforms you want to be on. This prevents anyone else from taking the name away from you.

When establishing your social media pages, you want to customize the URL’s. Traditionally, when you sign up for a social media platform- say Facebook- you are given a domain name such as Facebook.com/user/awer8342384aehtwiue8235. Unless your business is named awer8342384aehtwiue8235, you will want to customize your URL to include the name of your business on every platform you are going to be on.

Build slowly

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Once you become comfortable with one platform, add another. Although the platforms are all a bit different than one another, there are numerous resources that can help you through the process of setting your business up on the various social media platforms. From blogs, to how-to videos, to social media experts willing to consult with you, you have everything you need to grow your business’ online presence.

Of course, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed when learning a new platform. In fact, you may never feel completely comfortable with a platform. And that’s okay because each platform seems to change fairly often – they are regularly adding new features or making other changes to enhance their users’ experiences.

Keeping up with every change can be challenging, but don’t let the changes defeat your progress. Just keep going with the flow! As they say – practice makes perfect! And don’t be afraid to make some errors. The good news is that there is an edit button on some pages and delete buttons on others!

If you are still feeling hesitant about getting on the bandwagon and joining the social media world, then give us a call. We want to see your business prosper and by building a plan around your social media marketing strategy, you can see your business prosper online.

-Jamie

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A New Perspective on Your Market: Market Research https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/perspective-market-market-research/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/perspective-market-market-research/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 13:00:42 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8306 When you started your small business, you more than likely spent hours performing market research to better understand the market size, needs of the market, and your competitors. You gathered as much information as possible prior to the development of your brand and communication strategies.

Who is your market?

How old are they?

Is your market a certain gender?

How do they behave?

What do they like?

What do they dislike?

When do they buy?

What do they need?

What are other competitors not offering?

competitors

You investigated and performed:

Market Segmentation: personality, demographic, gender use of product differences

Market trends: the trends during the seasons of the market

SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

As with life, change happens in the business world regularly. We have to take the time to perform market research often so we don’t miss out on a new audience. However, performing market research takes time and your time is devoted to your current business transactions. What if someone else performed the marketing research for you?


There are many benefits to outsourcing your market research:

1) Time

As we mentioned, you currently have plenty of other priorities in your business. Handing off the research to someone else allows you to focus your time on what has to be done now. The entire market research process can be timely, but a professional who specializes in this area can get through the process within a reasonable timeframe.

binoculars2) A new perspective

Every business owner gets to know his or her business backwards, forwards, and up-side down (after all, it is your baby!). By outsourcing your market research, you are opening the door for a new perspective of your market. A fresh pair of eyes can be a great benefit for your business. The outsourced partner may be able to identify markets that you haven’t reached and therefore help grow your business.

3) Current practices

When was the last time you performed elaborate market research? New technologies, websites, and applications are launched every day. There may be new measurements that you haven’t yet discovered or considered. A new, helpful tool can uncover even greater details of your current research.

4) Efficiency

If you are looking to make changes to your marketing strategy now, outsourcing can be a great option. By hiring an outside source to perform marketing research and marketing research solely, the turnaround for the outcome report will be quick and allow you to make changes faster.

How can we help?

Was social media around when you started your business? Have you ever compared your social media efforts to those of your competitors?

Plan Promote Prosper specializes in social media. We know the platforms businesses should be active on, as well as when to be on them, and how to use them.

Whether you are looking to start a business or you have been in business for years, contact us so we can help you take your business even further.

-Jamie

 

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Congratulations! You’ve Launched A New Website: Now What? https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/congratulations-youve-launched-a-new-website-now-what/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/congratulations-youve-launched-a-new-website-now-what/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 13:00:27 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8305 You’ve been working diligently to get your new website to perfection and spent hours upon hours doing the following:

  • choosing a design
  • choosing colors/fonts
  • creating fresh content with keywords integrated
  • selecting images that portray your content and are ethical (i.e. copyright infringement)
  • making sure you end up on the correct landing pages

And now, you want the world to know it is ready! You are sure to be proud of all of your work and effort, but now you have the task of showing it off.

How are you going to announce your new website and entice people into seeing the fruits of your labor?

Here are suggestions for bringing people to your new site:

Your social media platforms

Facebook

If you have been using social media to communicate with your audience, then this is a great place and opportunity to tell people about your new site. Throughout the process of creating your website, you may want to post “teasers” such as “We’ve been hard at work. Check back on [release date] to see what we’ve been up to!”

After your website is complete, encourage your audience to visit the website. Be sure to include the URL (make sure it works first!). Another way to gain interest is by posting a photo of the site’s home page – people are visual after all! Consider posting more than once strategically.

Tip: Don’t forget to include your website on your social media platforms’ “about” sections (and make sure you update the link after completing your website).

Your e-newsletter

Simply Mail

Dedicate a section of your e-newsletter to the launch of your new website. Treat that section as an invitation; make it exciting! Include a picture – either of one of the pages or your logo – and make sure that image links back to your website. The easier for your audience to access your website, the better.

A blog

Blog

Show the before and after. You might choose to show some of the steps you took to get to the finished project…or, just take the opportunity to show it off! Your blog allows you to visually show your progress through the website. Plus, rumors say that search engines love blog posts.

However, your work is not done – in fact, it’s never done, but that’s okay! When it comes to your website, you should prepare for regularly updating and checking in to make sure your site continues operating at the level you expect it should.

Here are some things to consider for maintaining your new site:

SEO

SEO by Yoast

Now that you’ve created a website, has your SEO ranking changed? If your ranking did not improve as you wanted, then you’ll want to look through your content to incorporate keywords. Think about what someone looking for a company such as yours would type into Google, Bing, or Ask to find you.

If you used WordPress to build your website, we highly recommend installing the plugin “SEO by Yoast.” This plugin provides its users with a great guide to helping you improve your SEO. From red light indicating “bad SEO” to green indicating “good SEO,” installing the plugin is a sure way to guide you through making your website SEO friendly. Jamie discusses the increased SEO benefits to bloggers who use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress sites in one of her recent articles for SteamFeed.

Updated info

Contact Form

Did you move? Change your number? Create a new social platform? Make sure that you regularly update your contact information. We have all been to a website or two (or 50) where the contact information is no longer valid. This often leaves us frustrated – and frustration leads to us leaving those websites. Don’t let all of your hard time and work go to waste!

Check your stats

Stats
Insights, statistics, analytics – whatever you call them – are not just tools that are offered for fun. They are included to help you find areas where you are successful and areas where you need to improve. Is your website getting hits (visits)? Which pages are getting more hits than others? This could be a good indicator of which pages may need SEO improvement.

Speed of your site

Image courtesy of Pixabay and ary74

Image courtesy of Pixabay and ary74

The loading speed of your website can make or break you. If too slow, your potential visitor is most likely going to leave your site for a competitor’s. There are numerous sites that help you test the speed of your site:


Mobile Friendly

Image courtesy of Pixabay and PIX1861

Image courtesy of Pixabay and PIX1861

 

Most website building platforms now help ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. However, to make sure, use a tool such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. It’s simple! Visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. Copy and paste your web page URL and press analyze.

Launching a new website is an exciting time, but is also stressful. Take some time to strategically plan how you will promote your new website so your business and website can prosper.

Have questions about building your website or creative ways to promote? Let us know. We would love to help!

Bren

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4 Things to Consider In Your Email Marketing Planning https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/4-things-to-consider-in-your-email-marketing-planning/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/4-things-to-consider-in-your-email-marketing-planning/#respond Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:00:56 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8304 Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you decided it’s the right time for your business to join the many businesses already using email marketing? If so, you are making a wise decision.

For one thing, email is still one of the most effective means of communicating with your audience and driving more business. According to a recent stat quoted by Jenna Hanington in her article for Pardot, “Email is the preferred method of communicating with businesses for 69.7% of US internet users.”

However, this does not mean that you should just start blasting out emails willy-nilly. As with all marketing, you must first begin with a sound email marketing plan and strategy.

Here are a few things that digital marketers should consider as they plan out their email marketing:

1) Timing

Determining when you should send out your emails is important. Sending your emails out at the right time increases the likelihood that the recipients will click on and read them. And of course, the more people who open your emails, the better.

In truth, there is probably no “absolutely best time” for sending out emails. What works for one organization does not work for all. Finding your “best” time for your emails will require some trial and error on your part. Whichever time you choose, just make sure you stay consistent.

For example, after doing your research, you determine that most of the people receiving your emails open and read them when you send them out every second Wednesday of each month at 10AM. Our advice is that you add this date to your calendar as the “best time” for your email marketing.

Of course, nothing is set in stone. As more people start subscribing and unsubscribing, you may eventually reevaluate and continuously find your best time.

A recent article via WordStream, “Perfect Timing: The Very Best Time to Send Email Newsletters,” shares general advice on good times to send email newsletters that are widely accepted by others in the email marketing community. The author, Megan Marrs, adds a few other suggestions as well.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and jscreationzs

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and jscreationzs

2) Audience

Finding your target online audience is another key to successful email marketing. Without the right audience, you’ll spend a lot of time designing an email campaign that benefits no one. You’ll not only waste your time, but you will also waste their time (and possibly be reported for spam).

If you’d like to learn more about what happens with email spammers, I discuss aspects of email marketing, including the ugliness of being “blacklisted” due to spamming in one of my articles for SteamFeed, “Top 10 Best and Worst Email Marketing Strategies…and Why You Should Care!

As for obtaining the right audience for your email marketing efforts, organic list building is always your best bet. Include places on your website and Facebook Page(s) where people can easily sign up for your emails. You can also create links to your signups and send them out through your other social media channels. You may also consider adding your current customers, past customers, and prospects to your list of recipients.

3) Color

Dozens upon dozens of articles discuss the psychology of colors. Colors definitely affect us on many different levels. In fact, you may not even realize the extent of how colors affect our moods and our purchasing decisions.

Marketers and advertisers, on the other hand, do and should pay attention to colors and their effects on people. Using the right colors can make a big difference in the success of your email marketing campaign.

This article via mailjet, “Psychology (and deliverability) of colors in email marketing,” does a fantastic job of breaking down the feelings associated with each of the 7 basic colors. It also provides suggestions for how you can apply each color to your email marketing.

4) Content

Once you have developed your list of recipients, as well as determined the colors and design for your email marketing campaign, then it’s time to decide on content. The content you include in your emails should provide value in some way to your audience. Otherwise, they may unsubscribe after their first email.

In a nutshell, knowing your audience and meeting their content consumption requests is important. Does your company offer products or services your readers would like to know more about? Are they interested in reading your content for educational purposes or do they want your content to simply entertain them? Knowing your audience will help you answer these questions and provide them with the content they crave.

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

There are many other aspects and best practices involved with email marketing. As I implied earlier, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to email marketing, but any company can achieve success when they find what email system works best for them.

Do you have other questions about email marketing or would you like to learn more about how Plan Promote Prosper assists our clients with email marketing through Simply Mail? Feel free to call us at (971) 238-4705 or contact us online any time.

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How to Choose the Best Social Media Tools for 2018 https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/how-to-choose-the-best-social-media-tools-for-2018/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/how-to-choose-the-best-social-media-tools-for-2018/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 13:03:49 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19722 Social media is more powerful today than ever before. As we head deeper into 2018 and the era of customer experience, people around the world are using their social channels not just to communicate with friends and family, but to learn about brands and make purchasing choices too.

While, in the beginning, social media platforms were simply a way for people to stay in touch, and share personal information with their network, they’ve quickly evolved into a tool that bridges the gap between companies and their customers. As the average audience member continues to avoid traditional advertising at all costs, social media could soon become one of the only ways for brands to reach their target market. In fact, social media currently delivers a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than any outbound marketing campaign.

Why Companies Need Social Media Marketing Tools

The trouble is, while most of today’s businesses know how important social media is to their growth, few understand how to use it to their advantage. There are so many different social platforms out there to choose from, with algorithms that change almost constantly, that it’s difficult to keep track of your newest promotional strategy.

That’s where social media marketing tools come in. These resources can help you to tap into the true potential of your social media presence, by:

  • Allowing you to track branded hashtags and competitor mentions
  • Giving you a way to analyse the performance of your campaigns
  • Ensuring you create a consistent presence with automated posts
  • Protecting your reputation by giving you a way to instantly respond to consumers
  • Managing cross-channel campaigns so you can reach a wider customer base
  • Helping you to engage with your clients and potential customers

Building Brand Loyalty with Social Media

With the right social media tools and profiles, you can access so much more than just another way to promote your products and share your brand messages. Around 53% of Americans say that they feel loyal to the companies they follow online. In an era where brand loyalty is in increasingly short supply, a social media strategy could be your way to differentiate.

Of course, the social media tools you need to use to get the most out of your strategies will vary depending on your specific goals, and your target audience. For instance, if you want to work on boosting engagement, then you’ll need a tool that keeps track of customer messages and allows you to analyse everything from likes and shares, to comments and retweets.

How to Find the Right Social Media Tools

Ultimately, no matter the reason for your social media marketing strategy, the right tools can help to reduce the complexity of your campaigns and give you more control over your outcomes. The only problem is, while approximately 97% of companies say that they’re currently using at least one social media profile, another 85% say that they don’t know which social tools they should be using.

The good news is that you can learn everything you need to know about the hottest tools on the social media market right now with one simple infographic. Check out this visual guide to the best social tools for 2018, and you’ll be boosting your social strategy in no time.

social media tools

AUTHOR BIO
social media tools

David is a content writer at Design Wizard, a simple-to-use graphic d
esign tool that allows you to personalize an image in seconds. It features excellent integrations with Hubspot, Marketo, Intercom and Buffer, and is perhaps best known for its magic resize button which allows you to change the size of a template quickly. You can tweet David with any questions at @getdesignwizard

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Outsourcing: It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/outsourcing-it-doesnt-have-to-be-scary/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/outsourcing-it-doesnt-have-to-be-scary/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2018 13:00:39 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8303 Outsourcing Diagram Means Freelance Workers And Contractors

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is your first thought when someone mentions, “outsourcing”? For some of us, it may call to mind examples such as the call centers that are located overseas. However, outsourcing has become – and continues to be – so much more.

Entrepreneur.com provides the following definition of outsourcing:

The practice of having certain job functions done outside a company instead of having an in-house department or employee handle them; functions can be outsourced to either a company or an individual.

Although simple, this definition sums it up quite well though.

Here are reasons why outsourcing doesn’t have to be scary

Outsourcing has become common for businesses of all sizes and industries

Many companies find that outsourcing their non-core business processes makes sense for them. For one thing, it allows them the time and resources they require to adequately focus on the more critical aspects of their business. It also frees them up for handling what matters the most to them – their current and potential clients.

Outsourcing can prove especially beneficial for small business owners

Owning a small business or working for yourself often means you are wearing many hats (or all of them), so to speak. Taking upon all the responsibilities can definitely hold you back from growing. When you’re entrenched with the chaos of day-to-day operations, finding the time needed for lead generation and sales becomes increasingly difficult.

Outsourcing gives businesses the gift of time

It’s worth mentioning that there are also aspects of every business which may be more complicated than others. Rather than spending countless hours learning and then ineffectively implementing those unfamiliar functions, it makes a lot more sense that you find an expert who has the knowledge and understanding of your weak area(s).

In other words, why spend unnecessary time and lose money in the long run when you can invest in others’ expertise?

Once you find an expert – or group of experts – you can fully trust for those functions, then you can focus on your more vital projects and responsibilities. You can definitely justify the money you spend through outsourcing, especially when you start seeing how much time you are saving and becoming more efficient. And, rather than having your business become bogged down or stuck in a rut, you can start thinking about you and your business’ future.

Which functions should I outsource?

A business could potentially outsource any of its functions. The best rule of thumb would be analyzing them all, then pinpointing the main processes which are either (a) those you really need, but lack the skills to do them well, (b) just bogging you down, or (c) too expensive to maintain in-house.

For example, more and more businesses are outsourcing their content marketing and social media management. Businesses know they need these activities in their marketing mix, but may lack the time and skills they need for doing it effectively and/or consistently.

A business may consider hiring knowledgeable freelancers or an agency – or both – for their content and social media needs. The idea is that this 3rd party individual or group helps the business gain the online exposure and website traffic it needs; and this allows the business owner and his or her staff to focus on their business’ other operations as it grows.

On the other hand, maybe your business has a strong marketing and sales department, but is weak in the areas of finance and accounting, payroll or human resources. Depending on the size of your company, you may find that outsourcing these types of jobs to independent contractors may end up being your most cost-effective option. This may be especially true when comparing the costs to hiring someone in-house or a larger group, like a PEO (professional employer organization).

As you can see, outsourcing isn’t scary, and may be the right fit for your business needs. I’d love to hear your thoughts about outsourcing. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact us if you have questions about what Plan Promote Prosper can do for your business.

~ Jamie

 

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10 Reasons Your Business Should Be On Social Media https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/10-reasons-business-social-media/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/10-reasons-business-social-media/#respond Tue, 10 Jul 2018 13:00:18 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8302 Social Media for Business

Image courtesy of Pixabay and nominalize

It is safe to say that most businesses today are on at least one social media platform.

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, a whopping 92% of the 2,800 marketers surveyed revealed that social media is important for their business. This percentage is up from 86% in 2013.

A 2014 article via Entrepreneur shares stats from another study which was conducted by LinkedIn and market research firm TNS. Their study includes survey results from top decision-makers for approximately 1,000 SMBs (small and medium-sized business). They discovered the following about social media use in this group:

  • 81 percent use social media to drive growth
  • 94 percent said they use social media as a marketing tool
  • 90 percent called social media effective in building awareness

These statistics show how significant social media has become for business growth and success, don’t you think? As well, it is of growing importance that all businesses have a presence on social media.

Here are 10 reasons why social media is a crucial part of any business’ marketing plan

1) Social media gives businesses an opportunity to promote their brand without being pushy

There is nothing else quite like social media in the ways it lets businesses share what they are and what they do. For one thing, social offers businesses with a safe and open outlet where they can be “themselves,” and introduce their products and/or solutions without being sales-y.

2) It lets a business be where their target audience is

Sure, there are a lot of celebrities and teenagers using social media. However, there are also plenty of “regular” people – and your potential clients – using it as well. Establishing your business on social media helps you find your target audience, and lets them find you as well.

3) Enables your audience to find you more easily

This goes along with reason #2. If your business is active on social media then your online audience can find and follow you.

4) Allows a business to establish trust and relationships with its audience

Establishing a social media presence and finding a target audience is only the beginning of using social media as a business. The next steps involve interacting with that audience through replying, responding and sharing information. This proves effective for businesses as a way of gaining the trust of potential and current clients and building relationships with them.

Which leads to reason #5!

5) Opens the doors for engagement and 2-way conversations with potential clients

Starting and having conversations on social media is nearly effortless. Although some people feel uncomfortable having conversations with businesses in person, social media allows them a chance for having conversations with businesses without the pressure.

6) Helps businesses keep tabs on their online reputation

Knowing what other people are saying about you is essential for a business. Social media provides an excellent place for people to either air their grievances or sing their praises about businesses. If people are saying negative things about your business, you can easily learn those details online. Being able to turn a negative into a positive often makes a big difference for your business and your customers.

7) Gives your business the opportunity to receive and quickly address customer service issues with current clients

This one goes hand-in-hand with reason #4. The sooner you find out about customer service issues, the sooner you can resolve them.

8) Provides a way for businesses to spread their content further and wider

If your business has a regular blog and/or e-newsletter, then being on social media becomes even more important. Social media is one of the most effective and efficient ways to distribute your content to a larger audience. As more people view and share your social content, they help exposure your brand and content within their own audiences.

This exposure may also help boost your business website’s SEO, which leads into reason #9!

9) Social media helps drive traffic to your business website

Having a presence on social media is one of the best methods for driving traffic to your business website. People may be attracted to your social media profile(s) because of your blog posts or the other content you share from your website.

The more people who like and share your content through social media, the more potential eyeballs you gain. This helps lead more people to your website, where they can learn even more about you and your business – and hopefully become interested and start conducting business with you.

10) Maintaining a social media presence is much less expensive overall than traditional advertising

And last…but certainly not least…involves the overall cost of building and maintaining a social media presence.

Social media is not free, but costs can range from minimal to not-so-minimal. For example, one of your largest expenditures may include hiring a person or agency who specifically handles your business’ social media accounts and communities. However, the cost (which is often still less than traditional advertising campaigns) is certainly worth it once the social media marketing efforts produce qualified leads who become satisfied client

Is your business using social media in its marketing mix? If not, what has been holding you back? Hopefully the reasons above will help you understand how other businesses are using social media with success, and how it can help you, too.

~ Jamie 

 

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Building Business Websites That Perform https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/building-business-websites-perform/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/building-business-websites-perform/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 13:00:23 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8301

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Picography

We can all say that we have been on hundreds of different business websites; some “wowed” us, and others, well…let’s just say they did not.

If you are in the process of building your own business website, it helps if you start by determining which individual elements you need before looking at the “big picture.” Taking one step at a time, you will be on your way to building a business website that truly performs for you.

Here is a list of ten “must-haves” for business websites

1) First, there are 5 pages website professionals suggest you should always have for your business website:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Products/Services
  • Testimonials
  • Contact Information

2) Simple, clean design and faster load times

Never underestimate the importance of a well-designed website. Keeping your design simple – from the colors you choose to the overall layout – make your site more appealing to the people who visit your site. Internet users, and especially those browsing the internet on mobile devices, make snap judgments about organizations by simply viewing their business websites; and they do so within a matter of seconds.

One of the primary goals that most people have for their business websites is achieving a low bounce rate.

Google defines bounce rate as “the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).” This is why the lower the percentage is, the better. A lower bounce rate indicates that you are attracting the right audience to your business website and then keeping them there for longer amounts of time.

The following guidelines also help create pleasant and hassle-free experiences for the people who visit business websites. Focusing on these will also help result in lower bounce rates for you:

  • Use a clean and simple design.
  • Make sure your verbiage is straightforward and relevant.
  • Use original photographs and/or images; avoid stock photos.
  • Make it easy for visitors to navigate from one page to another.
  • People get impatient with slow websites. Google even takes page speed into account when ranking sites. Do some research (or consult with a website developer) and find out how you can best optimize your website’s loading time. (There are also dozens of tips and tools for how you can do this on the internet.).

3) Strong Call-to-Action (CTA)

At the very least, you should have at least one CTA on your site. We recommend having at least one on each page of your business website.

Help make things easy for your visitors by providing straightforward verbiage and buttons or hyperlinks which stand out. Create a strong CTA which takes them somewhere else on your website, such as a sign-up form for your newsletter or where they can download a document, for example. Doing this keeps them interested in you and your business.

4) Email sign up or contact form

Providing a form where your visitors can request information, such as an e-newsletter or phone call is essential. This opens the door for two-way communication – and more lead generation opportunities – since they are giving you permission to get and/or keep in touch with them.

5) Mobile-friendly

Do you want a site that both Google and potential clients consider relevant? If so, then having a mobile-friendly site is no longer just an option.  Google now labels mobile-friendly websites as such in its mobile search, which creates even better opportunities for attracting visitors, generating leads, and acquiring new customers.

Google offers a nifty tool which allows you to test whether your website is mobile-friendly. You can test your own business websites here: [https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/].

6) Business contact information that is in plain sight and/or easy-to-find

Even if you have a contact form on your site (which you should!), you should also make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to contact you offline. Make sure you are displaying your phone number on at least one of your pages. If privacy is no issue for you, also include your mailing and/or email addresses as well.

7) Customer Reviews/Testimonials

Hardly anything has more power for influencing potential customers than your current customer’s feedback. When a current or former client says positive things about your business, it helps develop other people’s trust and strengthens your business’ credibility. As you receive written customer reviews and/or testimonials, add them to your business website – with the customers’ permission, of course.

8) Optimize for Google with relevant keywords

Your primary purpose for having a business website is so people can find you online, learn more about your organization, and the products/solutions you offer. Otherwise, why would you need a website in the first place?

Using the right keywords helps boost your site’s SEO, which in turn improves your site’s ranking by Google. This is all good because it helps people who are searching for a business like yours find you, rather than landing on your competitors’ business websites.

 9) Blog posts or news

Google (and your site visitors) likes business websites with fresh content. It also provides a way for businesses to initiate communication with their visitors and earn their trust.

10) Social media buttons

It’s a good idea for business websites to provide and display social media buttons which link directly with each of the company’s social media platforms. This helps build up an organization’s online presence, and also increases a website’s ranking.

You should also include social sharing buttons for each blog or news post, since these encourage readers to share content directly from business websites.

Of course, there are many other elements that go into building business websites, but these tips should give you a good head start.

What do you think makes a good website stand out from the rest? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions – please feel free to leave a comment below!

~ Jamie

Related Resources:

https://www.godaddy.com/business/10-must-haves-when-building-a-website.aspx

http://www.instantshift.com/2013/09/02/importance-of-effective-website-design-infographic/

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What is “Content Marketing”? https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/content-marketing/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/content-marketing/#respond Tue, 12 Jun 2018 13:00:26 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8300

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and KROMKRATHOG

The phrase, “content marketing” is primarily used to describe marketing online by using social media, e-newsletters, blogging, etc.

Do you think the term “content marketing” is just another marketing buzzword or a passing trend? Sure, the term may be another buzzword, but it’s definitely not a passing trend.

Although content marketing seems like a somewhat new idea, it has been around for a while. Plenty of businesses have used content in the form of printed documents and publications for marketing purposes.

Currently, many businesses are moving much of their offline publishing to the internet. These savvy business owners and marketers fully understand that content marketing is essential for establishing and strengthening their online presence.

So, what is content marketing? Here are a few things you need to know!

Content marketing is an important piece of an overall inbound marketing strategy

Content Marketing Institute provides the following definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Traditional, or outbound, marketing is also known as “interruption” marketing. In other words, this type of marketing involves businesses “interrupting” decision-makers for the purpose of informing them about their brands and/or products. Common outbound marketing methods include phone calls, direct mailers, trade shows, and face-to-face meetings.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is where small business owners and marketers use a variety of online content to attract potential clients to their websites. Businesses are not interrupting or overtly selling their brand with inbound marketing. Instead, they are providing information, in the form of content, as a way of educating and informing their online audiences. Content marketing allows businesses to “sell” their products and/or solutions in a far more subtle fashion than outbound marketing.

Here is a list of some of the common types of content that marketers currently use for content marketing:

  • Blogging
  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Images/Graphics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • SlideShare presentations
  • E-newsletters
  • Social media posts

How effective is content marketing?

Small business owners and marketers are seeing positive results from using inbound marketing, and especially when they include content marketing in the mix.

If you are still feeling skeptical about inbound/content marketing, then these statistics about its value may help change your mind:

  • Website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%)
  • Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate
  • Adopting an inbound strategy doubles average website conversion rates, from 6% to 12%
  • Brands relying on inbound marketing save over $14 dollars for every new customer acquired
  • Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound marketing
  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are more likely to buy from that company
  • Social media sites and blogs reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users and account for 23% of all time spent online
  • 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not blog
  • 70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company
  • 60% of buyers are inspired to seek out a product after reading content about it
  • 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them

Source: Kapost

Do you agree that it sounds like content marketing is a win-win for the businesses that are using it – and also for the people who are seeking out valuable content online.

At Plan Promote Prosper, we believe that most businesses are aware that strategic and consistent communication through content marketing equals increased revenue. However, we also understand that day-to-day operations take priority for most small business owners. We can help! If you’re interested in learning more about how we help our clients with their content marketing, please contact us online or give us a call at (971) 238-4705.

~ Jamie

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Developing a 3-D Business Communication Strategy https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/developing-a-3-d-business-communication-strategy/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/developing-a-3-d-business-communication-strategy/#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 13:00:27 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8298 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and cuteimage

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and cuteimage

Is your organization’s current business communication strategy working the way you want? Are you reaching the right people?

When it comes to effective business communication, you need to start with pinpointing exactly who your audience is and what matters most to the people in it. Your audience is very important to your business since these are the people whom you want to receive your organization’s messages. With a successful business communication strategy, members of your audience will understand your messages and some will move forward and take action.

Once you define your audience, it’s time for you to take the next step – communicating with your audience. This next step involves determining the best way(s) to make a positive impact through your communications; creating and implementing a sound strategy becomes essential. A successful business communication strategy really comes down to two basic things: (1) What to say, and (2) How to say it. Thanks to the Internet, organizations currently have even more business communication channels than in the past. Currently, many business decision-makers are technologically savvy and go online regularly for their business communication.

An excellent way to reach more of the people in your online audience is through developing a “3-D” business communication strategy. We call it “3-D” because this communications strategy incorporates 3 components:

  • Blogs
  • e-newsletters
  • Social media

Business communication through blogging

A robust blog can easily be your organization’s most valuable communication and marketing tool. It’s certainly going to be the hub of your online business communications strategy. Blogging allows you to introduce your company and its services, to tell its story, and to share its personality. These are suggestions for helping your blog and blog posts shine:

  • Always include links back original sources, especially when directly quoting from other articles
  • Strive to create content that is current, high-quality, interesting, and industry-relevant
  • Update your blog on a regular basis
  • Inject your own personality when relevant and appropriate
  • Avoid writing overly self-promotional or sales-y posts; successful business communication helps drive sales through educating and informing
  • Make your blog a “two-way street” by inviting readers’ comments and including social media sharing buttons

Business communication through e-newsletters

Have you thought about creating and emailing a newsletter for your organization? Including e-newsletters within your 3-D business communication strategy makes a lot of sense for most organizations, regardless of their size, industry, or budgetary requirements. For one thing, e-newsletters are efficient and cost-effective vehicles for spreading your company’s messages and blog content. As well, they are a great way to connected and stay connected with your audience. These are a few things to keep in mind when using e-newsletters for business communication:

  • Include links that connect your e-newsletter directly to your blog
  • Establish thought leadership by including an industry-related article or two within your newsletter
  • Advertise your organization’s special events, such as webinars, in your newsletter
  • Aim for consistency by sticking to a regular schedule for emailing your organization’s e-newsletters

Business communication through social media

Businesses are increasingly learning that social media holds a nearly infinite amount of potential for their communications. This last – but certainly not least – component of a 3-D business communication strategy, social media, could be considered the most powerful of the three components due to its ability to help individuals and organizations potentially reach thousands upon thousands of others.

When including social media as part of your communications, you’ll want to create and publish content in a similar way as the other two components of your 3-D communication strategy. Most importantly, you must define your audience and make it your top priority in order to achieve optimal results from your business communication. Knowing and understanding the platforms and the types of posts your audience prefers, along with maintaining consistency with your postings, are all crucial for gaining the trust and loyalty of your audience’s members.

Sharing your blog posts through your organization’s social media platforms is a great way to increase their exposure. It’s important to do so in moderation, however, so as not to “spam” your audience. Sharing quality content by mixing your posts with other industry-related articles through social media helps build your audience – and your positive reputation – as well.
Bringing them all together for a 3-D business communication strategy

As I mentioned earlier, your organization’s blog is going to be the core of your business communication plan. As you begin tying your e-newsletter and social media posts to your blog, you’ll find your business communication reaching more of your audience. The more eyeballs from member of your target audience, the more impact – and positive results – from boosting your business’ content.

Jamie

Related Resources:

http://publicrelationssydney.com.au/best-communication-strategies-business-2/
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-newsletters-business-61725.html
http://www.benchmarkemail.com/blogs/detail/social-media-the-most-influential-tool-for-business-communication

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The Magnolia Empire: A Case Study of Chip and Joanna Gaines https://propelbusinessworks.com/case-study/the-magnolia-empire-a-case-study-of-chip-and-joanna-gaines/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/case-study/the-magnolia-empire-a-case-study-of-chip-and-joanna-gaines/#comments Wed, 09 May 2018 13:00:50 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19541 [et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text pt 1: let me paint a picture of this entrepreneur couple…” _builder_version=”3.2.1″ custom_padding=”20px||20px|”]

I relate to many business owners in different ways, but when I began watching Fixer Upper on HGTV almost five years ago, I knew I liked these entrepreneurs. I also know that I had found a new favorite TV show, but now I’ve had the chance to visit Waco, TX to do a case study on their empire there is even more to love.

Maybe you’ve heard of them – Chip and Joanna Gaines? They’re the founders of the Magnolia empire of businesses in Waco, Texas and their Fixer Upper show first aired on May 23, 2013. Since then they have become American celebrities.

If you’re not familiar, let me paint a picture of this entrepreneur couple…

Chip is fearless, skillful, and hilariously, well – Chip! He has been an entrepreneur from a very young age and had owned multiple businesses by the time he met Joanna. And Joanna is a designer with an incredible eye who responds to Chip with adoration, always laughing at his silly comments and stunts, and constantly cheering him on.

Watching them work together as they bought, remodeled, flipped, and completely transformed homes I began to fall in love with not only her style and his ability to do everything, but their wholesome relationship and family lifestyle.

⇒  In many ways Chip even reminds me of my husband, and watching Jo respond to him has even encouraged me to respond better to my man. To roll with the punches, be an encourager, and appreciate him for the way God made him.

And that isn’t all. As a student of business and entrepreneurship I began watching their story unfold as they had ideas and pursued them. Their dreams were always worth the effort and I know I wasn’t the only one who was inspired by their go-get-‘em spirit.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.2.1″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text pt 2: A quintessential American pursuit” _builder_version=”3.2.1″ custom_padding=”20px|||”]

A quintessential American pursuit

Their story really is the quintessential American pursuit of happiness, passion, and doing what you love only to have it become a huge, successful reality. But their now mega-business empire was a long journey, not an overnight success as we may expect from their sensational TV show. As with all entrepreneurs, the dedication and conviction and determination is daily journey.

When they got back from their honeymoon in 2003, it was the task of remodeling and redecorating one of Chip’s rental properties (to make into their first home together) that inspired Jo to open “the little shop on Bosque Boulevard” (which they later closed and have just reopened in March of 2018 as the Magnolia Warehouse Shop located at 3801 Bosque Blvd, Waco, TX 76710; open Thurs-Sat during select times and offering last chance items & slightly damaged products at a discount).

Over the years we’ve watched Chip and Jo not only inspire the design and house-flip industry, but they have also pursued the purchase of “the Silos” then opened Magnolia Market at the Silos and the Silos Baking Co., and now Magnolia Table (off Valley Mills Dr.) all of which are episodes on their hit HGTV show. And their businesses and opportunities haven’t stopped there, oh no.

At Magnolia Realty they currently lead a large team of over 100 real estate agents serving Waco, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Temple-Belton, and San Antonio. If you’re visiting Waco and need a place to sleep, they even have two properties (Hillcrest Estate and the Magnolia House) available to reserve for a minimum 2-night stay.

Between Magnolia Home Furniture, the Hearth & Hand product line available at Target, Magnolia Journal – their own quarterly magazine, Magnolia Seed and Supply at the Silos, and now three books: The Magnolia Story, Capital Gaines, and the Magnolia Table Cook Book I can’t imagine how many business decisions they face on a daily or even weekly basis.

No matter what they do, no matter what dream they are pursuing, they have done it together continuing forward in each adventure with what must be an incredible team of people helping them behind the scenes.

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An experience worth the hype

April 22nd – 24th of 2018 I took the pilgrimage to Waco to experience it for myself and it did not disappoint. The following is a recount of that experience…

First off, let me just say that this trip was a fairly last minute opportunity I was able to take with my sister-in-law and cousin. We had miles to burn and all three were able to pull the trigger on this particular couple of nights very quickly. All that said, we may not have been there for the most ideal days of the week to experience everything, but it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

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Magnolia businesses are closed on Sunday.

Perhaps due in majority to their faith, yet also with their focus on family values and with employer benefits in mind, all Magnolia business locations and companies are closed on Sunday (with the exception of their realty agent schedules, I’d imagine). So, when we arrived at our hotel on Sunday (three blocks away from the silos) while I knew I’d walk over and see Magnolia in person, I also knew I was only going to get a feel for the property in general.

Honestly? The silos are huge, but everything seems bigger on TV and standing outside of the locked gates, I felt like the market, bakery and lawn were all smaller than expected. (That changed when I returned on Monday, however.)

You can peer into the bakery and through the property gates to get an idea of what you’ll experience – the layout, style, design and décor, size, and brand approach.

Through the fence, you can also get a glimpse of the Seed and Supply building, adjacent gardens, lawn and food trucks on the opposite side of the grounds. And let me tell you, it’s beautiful!

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Monday at Magnolia Table [2132 S Valley Mills Dr, Waco, TX 76706]

Chip and Joanna really don’t have small visions. So, when Chip’s dream of owning a “breakfast joint” became a possibility, they went for it. [see the story here]

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First, a bit of history:

The building was a beloved Waco cafe called The Elite for almost 100 years. When the doors closed, Chip and Jo swept in transforming the interior into a light, bright, open, and overall beautiful restaurant. It took them close to 18 months and Magnolia Table opened in April of 2018.

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Waiting to put our name in:

When my sisters and I arrived there was about a 20-minute wait to add our name to the wait list. It was a beautiful morning and everyone in line seemed happy to be there. A few Magnolia employees made the time pass quickly with joyful attitudes, stories, explanation of what to expect, and light-hearted humor. That was my first impression of their attention to detail and customer service. I felt like I was in line at Disneyland – awaiting an experience I had anticipated for years.

After putting our name in we were given an hour and fifteen-minute wait time and invited to enjoy the Patio area where coffees, juices and pastries were available for purchase while you await your reservation time. There is also the Take Away and Market on the opposite side of the restaurant where food, coffee, and all kinds of products and souvenirs could be purchased.

Every experience I had with an employee was impressive. They were friendly, happy, and offered to take our picture, or answer questions.

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The Take Away and Market (take out area) & Patio:

We decided to head to the Take Away and Market to order coffee and look around. I purchased a handcrafted pottery mug, we got our picture taken, and then headed out to the patio to sit in the sunshine.

On the Patio we struck up conversation with a couple who had made the journey from Atlanta and quickly passed the time until we received the text that our table was ready some 30-minutes earlier than expected. Under promise and over deliver? Always a plus. Way to go Magnolia Table.

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Where I get it from…

For those who don’t know it, my father has been a restaurant manager and critic for almost as long as I’ve been alive. While I was growing up it would not be unusual for my brother and me to cringe as dad called over the manager at any restaurant we were eating at only to give feedback on how they were performing. (And it still happens to this day.)

It was with that upbringing that I learned insights about the restaurant industry, how not having keen attention to detail can be a deal breaker, and why excellence in not only service but the customer experience will make or break an eatery.

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All about the details

The bathroom was beautiful. I know, I know. This seems like a silly place to start, but clean facilities really do tell you something about the care taken in a business, let alone a restaurant. [The only feedback we had for Magnolia Table’s restrooms is to add a shelf inside the ladies room stalls so that purchases, bags, and purses don’t have to be placed on the floor. Since the restaurant is so new, I’m sure this feedback will be welcomed.] The style and details though, were gorgeous.

In the restaurant, the tables were pre-set with classic cafe forks and knives and thick napkins with the restaurant’s name placed simply at the bottom in their signature black font. The glasses, table, seats, silverware were all clean and the water carafe had a simple “Magnolia Table” type in mint green font – another detailed touch.

One of the unique things Chip and Jo included at each table is a leather pouch which they invite you to use for storing electronic devices (mainly cell phones) during the meal. They want to encourage their guests to share in conversation, put down technology, and get back to relationship. I love that, although it didn’t stop me from keeping my phone handy for photos! You’re welcome… 😉

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Now, about Breakfast!

Our server was all smiles when she arrived at our table. She greeted us, poured us all water from the carafe and asked if we had any questions. A few short minutes later she returned for our order and within 10-15 minutes breakfast arrived.

You should know, breakfast is one of my favorite meals. I enjoy getting up on Saturday and Sunday to cook a hearty, warm, delicious spread for my husband and myself just like my mama and my Granny used to. Whether it be Jimmy Dean, eggs, and an English muffin, egg or crab benedict, or biscuits and gravy – I’m a fan of a solid home-cooked meal to start a weekend day – and always coffee, of course.

That said, it was hard to choose from their menu, but having a choice between breakfast and lunch I knew I wanted breakfast.

The three of us ordered the same, delicious “Farm Breakfast” each opting for different meats so we could try it all. I was very pleased when I mentioned to our server that I really wanted to also try their Hollandaise with the housemade tater tots and she offered to bring me a bit to try, no questions asked.

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Every. Single. Bite.

From the eggs to the sausage to the hot biscuits, all the way to the homemade tater tots, strawberry butter, and my taste of Hollandaise, every single bite was scrumptious! It was a large breakfast and none of us finished every bite, but that could have been due to the coffees we had previously enjoyed on the patio.

On Tuesday we did return to the Take Away and Market to grab lunch for our drive back to Fort Worth and it was just as delicious. We each enjoyed the chicken salad which was creamy, cool, crunchy, and fresh! I was even impressed at how soft and delicious the croissant was, even when it came out of a deli fridge. Well done, again!

All in all, this restauranteur’s daughter was impressed, and I feel like that’s saying something. And yet, I wouldn’t expect any less of Chip and Jo or their team of business champions; to know what they wanted, to go after it, to find people who are experts in the industry who would lead the charge, and for it to all come together just like this.

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Magnolia Market [601 Webster Ave, Waco, TX 76706]

People flock here!

When we got back over to the Market, the place was hopping! People were everywhere, taking photos outside, sitting and playing on the lawn, next to the bakery enjoying their treats, shading themselves from the sun under the shadows of the Silos themselves, in the gardens, waiting in line for the Bakery, checking out the food trucks, everywhere.

Upon check-out at the Market I asked an employee if it was busy like this all the time and she shared that Monday’s are extremely busy because they are closed on Sunday, but the crowds taper off Tuesday and Wednesday. (Good to know!)

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Inside

The Market was very much alive and felt very crowded with wall-to-wall bodies of women and men alike observing, handling, talking about design, décor, and taking it all in. Again I’ll say, it felt like Disneyland (for women) with lines wrapping around stanchions and through the store and people swarming about. But everyone seemed willing to wait and employees smiled kindly and graciously everywhere we turned.

There are two areas inside the market. Walking through the first room which is filled with the eye-catching, inspiring, and beautiful decor you’d expect you can then enter the second “room” and proceed down a few stairs to continue shopping. This isn’t really a room but a massive warehouse where cotton was processed and stored in the property’s former life. You’ll even notice original conveyer belts and fans and catwalk structures overhead. This area also has “Chip’s Corner” with a selection of products for ‘the guys’.

The check-out lines weren’t terribly long and each time I got to a clerk, I was always asked where I was from (they all seem to know that people come from all over the U.S. for a Magnolia experience), and whether I was military (for which they give me a 10% discount at every check-out opportunity). Each item was wrapped carefully and placed in a branded Magnolia bag. Every detail made an impression.

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Outside

A large lawn is exposed to the sun and people play games, relax on blankets, or sit and catch their breath. A pavilion shades picnic benched tables and guests. Around the NW side of the property food trucks of all kinds line the Jackson Street side of the gated block. There are areas to eat and everywhere you go you are reminded of the history of the property with original pieces of the structures still intact.

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Magnolia Seed & Supply

Yes, Magnolia has a seed and supply collection. But located on the North end of the Silos property, the Seed & Supply is a little building that focuses on gardening. With flowers and plants and garden beds out front, a greenhouse and shed, they are providing an example of living life simply while also encouraging people to embrace, learn about, and love gardening.

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Silos Baking Co.

One of my favorite episodes of Fixer Upper is the episode where Jo catches a vision for the on-site structure adjacent to the Silos. The woman is inspiring as she reveals her love of baking among all of her other talents, business ownership, and wife/mom responsibilities.

In the episode we watch her vision and design of the building, their cupcake taste testing process, and the final reveal to their kids, which was ridiculously darling. But what I noticed upon my visit to the Silos Baking Co. was the thoughtful process they have embraced and have to master every day due to the overwhelming demand to try her famous baked goods.

My sisters and I didn’t even attempt to stand in line on Monday, instead opting to enjoy a scone, biscuit, and cupcake for breakfast on Tuesday. Best. Decision. Ever. The line was short and we walked right in. We were handed an order card, were able to still decide based on seeing what was behind the counter glass, and were in and out within 7 minutes I’d say.

Again, the employees all smiled broadly and the man at the register even bantered with my sister-in-law about how Idaho’s sports team had beat his team, something I know nothing about but got a kick out of.

I enjoyed every bite of “The Prize Big” (savory scone) biscuit I ordered, not to mention the Carrot Cake cupcake with cream cheese icing, and a taste of the Cranberry Orange Biscuit (sweet scone) I took home for a friend of mine. I only wish I could order a dozen for birthday parties in my area…

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Magnolia Table Cook Book released April 24th, 2018

We flew out the afternoon of Tuesday, April 24th, but not before enjoying the bakery and grabbing a few last minute items in the market. Between the bakery and waiting for the Market to open I noticed a truck on the lawn with a big board with kitchen utensils and “Magnolia Table” written out.

I thought they were promoting the restaurant, but to my delight I found out Joanna’s much anticipated Magnolia Table cook book was released for sale that day! How special! And no, she wasn’t there to sign. We found out she was in New York promoting the book that day, of course. But I felt almost giddy to pick up my copy and be the first to do so at that little silver truck on the lawn. I even met the Art Director, although I failed miserably at networking further. (Seriously Jamie? You’re smarter than that.)

Back to the cookbook though, it’s beautiful. Photography, stories, and all at the caliber you would expect of JO, not to mention drool-worthy recipes that harken back to the “good ‘ole days” and call you to its’ pages. I can’t wait to channel my inner Joanna and dive into my first recipe!

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My business owner observations

It amazes me how America as a culture, feels the need to be a part of something great. That thousands make their own trek every year to experience the Silos, the Market, the Bakery, and now Magnolia Table for themselves. To get their own taste of the vision we have all watched this passionate couple develop on television in front of our eyes.

Values-centered

What I love about Magnolia is how values-centered they seem to be. Their employees seem truly happy – happy to be there, happy to serve, just happy. Without a doubt, the culture this couple has created is one of gratitude, service, and joy.

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Power teams and small business promoters

Not only that, but Chip and Jo have leveraged other local business owners, craftspeople, artisans, professionals, and experts to do the work they do alongside them.

Chip and Joanna don’t pretend to know or do it all themselves. Instead, they bring people around them who work excellently and they give them projects, build their businesses, develop teams and surround themselves with the best. This is seen in the show (refer to Clint Harp’s woodworking, or Jimmy Don’s metal working, or other designers Joanna brings in for property design elements) and I observed it in their employees while in Waco as well.

So, I can only imagine all of the brand managers, marketing, communications, business consultants, advisors, managers and others who are working behind the scenes to make Magnolia what it is! (It almost makes me want to uproot and move to Waco just to have the chance to work with them! Almost!)

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Building and improving with purpose

What I also have observed is the dedication Chip and Joanna have to preserving the history of Waco, while also being the catalyst to improving its’ once-tarnished reputation. They have been vessels for bringing light back into a darkened place, and with their passion they have followed each pathway and approached each open door to their destiny.

Priorities

Has America seen only the entrepreneur journey or the realized dreams? Or have they also been attracted to the wholesome, fun-filled, caring, family-focused couple who are examples of a way of making a ripple effect by doing life and doing business from a higher standard?

I am inspired by Chip and Joanna and the Magnolia businesses for many reasons, but I’m even more inspired that after five years of Fixer Upper shows the couple decided to end that endeavor in order to serve, love, and raise their family better. And now she’s expecting baby #5 in July.

We truly need more American businesses with values like theirs as examples of success.

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Final #bosslady thoughts…

Be Like Chip.

I think we all need to be more like Chip. Entrepreneurs who want something should go after it. Be bold. Be brave. Be confident. To not take no for an answer, not believe negative words or thoughts. And to have fun every step of the way. We should never give up. And when we get tired, or the road takes twists, we should find a new opportunity to shine. We should also treat others with kindness and bring light and joy to the world.

Be Like Joanna.

And I think we should all be more like Joanna. To embrace our passion, dive in with both feet, and bring our own unique creativity and talent to our industries. Not only that, but to also be steadfast, loving, encouragers of each other, especially those we work with and live with. We should bring out the best in others, whether that be team members, family members, or friends. I’ve seen her do that with Chip in every episode, and as a result I know it’s how she lives her life as a whole.

When it comes to all things Magnolia, how can one not to be inspired?

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Social Media Management: Managing Your Social Media Platforms Beyond Publication https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-management-managing-social-media-platforms-publication/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-management-managing-social-media-platforms-publication/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 13:00:53 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8299

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhoto.net and stockimages

Many small business owners, especially those just getting started with social media management, envision the process as simply posting fun stuff to Facebook and Twitter. Although this works well for your personal accounts, managing social media for a business requires an entirely different process.

One of the first things social media managers and/or business owners must determine for their social media management is a solid plan. This plan should basically include the type of content they plan on posting and how often they should post it.

Always (and often) sharing “fluff” on a business social media platforms is rarely a smart strategy. As well, when your business is using social media as a way of attracting potential clients for your business, relevant content from your industry is essential.

Once social media managers have their social media content and posting strategy in place, they must realize their job doesn’t end there: successful social media management involves so much more.

Knowing and understanding how social media management activities will help your business stand out from your competitors – and adds value for your audience.

Here are suggestions for social media management beyond publication:

Engaging

Doesn’t it make you feel like people are “listening” to you when they “Like” your Facebook status or “retweet” one of your posts on Twitter? Almost everyone likes that feeling, right? The concept for business social media management is similar. Whether your business posts on its social media platforms as your logo or as your headshot, engaging as a “human” makes a huge difference to your audience.

Saying “thank you,” when others share or retweet your posts is a common practice for business accounts. You can take this a step further, and maybe even spark a conversation, by adding an extra comment, or asking a question. Engaging with your audience is a way of showing your business’ human side and building relationships.

Responding to inquiries and/or complaints

Gerry Moran shares shocking stats in a recent article, “Listen Up. Your Customers Are Complaining on Social Media.” This information should certainly serves as a “wake up call” for listening and responding in a timely manner:

79% of your customers who complain on social media do so in hope that their friends see their dissatisfaction with your brand, reports Edison Research.

 Edison Research reports 42 percent of consumers complaining in social media expect a 60-minute response time. Then, eMarketer states 70 percent of brands respond to complaining customers (in social media) within 24 hours.  {See the gap there?}

 71 percent of consumers receiving a quick brand response on social media would likely recommend that brand to others, compared to 19 percent of customers who received no response, finds NM Incite.

As you can see, listening and responding as part of a successful social media management plan is critical. Find a system, such as a social media dashboard, that allows you to monitor your “mentions” or other conversations about you on social media. Popular dashboards for businesses include HootSuite, Sprout Social, and Sendible. You can use these dashboards scheduling posts and real time posting. More importantly, you can see immediately when people reply or respond to your posts. Getting these notifications creates a perfect opportunity for you to immediately engage people in conversations by commenting or answering their queries.

Providing the most up-to-date information

Sharing a blend of relevant and valuable content with your audience is an important part of effective social media management. However, providing your audience with content that current is even more important. People may perceive brands and businesses that share up-to-date information as more reliable and trustworthy than those who do not. You can use tools for easily discovering current and relevant content with sites such as Scoop.it, Feedly, and Alltop.

When to consider outsourcing as a strategy

Without a doubt, doing social media management “well” requires a lot of time and patience. It also requires consistency. And I did not even get into measuring, testing, and reporting in this article. So, as you can see, effective social media management is so much more than just posting on Facebook and Twitter.

Many busy business owners are discovering how outsourcing their social media management is helping them significantly – from brand exposure to ROI, and everything in between. Finding a social media professional or agency you trust to handle your social media operations can be a life-saver. A reputable social media manager will spend the time needed for posting and engaging on social media. Outsourcing your social media gives you back the time you need for handling the other important aspects of your business.

Do you see the difference between simply posting on social media versus having a complete social media strategy for your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave a comment below. You can also contact us online or by phone at 971-238-4705 if you have additional questions or want to learn more about our services.

~ Jamie

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Keeping It Real: Responding Like A Human https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/keeping-real-responding-human/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/keeping-real-responding-human/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:00:22 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8297 It’s growing more important to be different and engaging on social media, yet we have all received responses such as:

Thank you for following.

Thanks for the RT.

PBW_0213_028Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to receive a robotic response from a company that you know is made up of real people. Why aren’t they taking the time to be different?

One of the key reasons businesses are on social media is to develop a relationship and engage with their audience. If you respond to your audience using cliché, automated responses, what does that tell them? “The company doesn’t value me.” “Are they even reading what I say?”

Why not set up auto-responders?

1) Be different than the rest!

We have all heard the phrase “If he/she jumped off a bridge, would you?” Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should, too. There is value in being unique! Set a new trend in your industry of NOT using auto-responders.

2) You have real people working for you, not robots!

It is easy to set up an automated response, however, it takes time to respond with a customized response to each of your new followers, retweets, or mentions. Your customers will recognize their value to your company, which in turn, will help you to establish a lasting customer relationship.

3) Frankly, it’s annoying.

There is nothing worse than getting a notification that you have a new message only to find a “Thanks for following” response. You know they want followers and everyone who follows gets the same response.


What are some ways you can respond?

Response

  • Use their @Names or tag them. There is no better way to be personal than by recognizing an individual follower. It shows your audience that you are present online and are aware of what’s happening on your social platforms. Plus, who doesn’t like to get a notification saying “So-and-So mentioned you.”
  • Change up the wording. You can be creative in your responses and you may like a particular response. However, your audience will notice if you are responding in the same way over and over again even if it is creative. Find synonyms for “thanks” and “appreciate” etc.
  • Ask questions. “Thanks for sharing! What did you think of the article?” “Which of the resources mentioned have you used?” The options are limitless. Find ways to further the discussion by asking questions and responding appropriately.
  •  Retweet something they have published. Reciprocate the favor! They enjoyed something you published enough to share it with their audience. Favorite the share and then share in return.
  • Follow back. Gained a new follower? Think they could be a potential customer? Value the information they publish? Follow them back. You don’t have to follow everyone back, especially those “gain followers” profiles that we have all come to recognize. You may even wish to say, “Thanks for following! Enjoy the content you publish and can’t wait to see more articles!”

These are just some of the ways you can take a different approach to responding to new followers, retweets, etc. Avoid using auto-responders and cliché responses. Show your followers that you care and value them.

What are some other robotic responses have you received on social media platforms that you would recommend readers avoid? Let us know!

Jamie

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8 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/8-blogging-mistakes-to-avoid/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/8-blogging-mistakes-to-avoid/#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 13:00:26 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8296 Image courtesy of Pixabay and markusspike

Image courtesy of Pixabay and markusspike

Have you ever been on a company’s blog and found spelling and grammar mistakes? Links that don’t work? Formatting that made the article difficult to read? Not only does this create a negative image in the eyes’ of readers, but it often deters them from ever returning to your blog. Some of these errors are so easy to catch, but businesses can become so overwhelmed in their content marketing efforts that these mistakes are often overlooked.

Use this list of 8 common blogging mistakes as a checklist of things to avoid and check when publishing a new article.

Proofread for Spelling/Grammar Errors

This may be the easiest mistake to avoid. Not only do our computer programs have a spelling corrector, but so do many blogging platforms. They alert you when a word is spelled wrong for a purpose. However, they do not pick up when the wrong “there,” “its,” “your”, etc. are used. Take the time to read through your post carefully to make sure that all spelling and grammatical errors are corrected. Posting a blog article with numerous spelling and grammatical errors can lead to your business losing credibility.

A fresh pair of eyes can be extremely helpful, as well. Write the post and go through it once/twice and then have someone else go through it, too. A new pair of eyes can help to catch some of the errors you may have missed.

Post Regularly, But Not Too Regularly

A blog post is not needed everyday. Consider posting 1 or 2 a week at most, but not everyday. Write when you have something to say instead of publishing an article that you whipped together because you HAD to publish. Your readers will appreciate their inboxes not being filled with RSS feed notifications that your company has posted yet another article. Be strategic in when you post!

Word Count

What number of words is the proper number of words in a blog post? Stop revolving your blog articles around how many words you need to publish in order to be valuable and picked up by search engines. Instead, stop writing when you have finished what you have to say regarding a specific topic. 750 may be optimal, but if you can say what you need to say in less, that’s OK too!

Plain English

You are a professional in your industry and understand the terminology that comes with it. However, your readers may not be as well-versed. Write your blogs in layman’s terms and avoid writing in jargon. Although some may understand industry specific terms, others don’t. Write your article as if you are going to be sharing it with a novice. If you are looking to explain terminology of your industry to your readers through your blog, that’s OK! Just make sure that this description can also be understood by that same novice.

Editing Takes Time

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and winnond

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and winnond

This is different than proofreading your article. Check the flow of your article and move around paragraphs as needed. Does the article make sense? Did you go off topic or on a rant? Can something be removed and the blog still make sense? Have you used repetitive words or industry jargon? Make the post easy to read! Even try reading the article out loud. Reading aloud will help you to catch awkward wording and help you to identify changes that need to be made.

Personality

If your blog article sounds robotic, you’re doing something wrong. Your blog articles should allow you to have some personality, voice your opinions and be creative! Remember, your readers have chosen to read what you write because you are different than the rest. Others are writing about the same topic you are, but they chose you! Let your personality come through your writing. Share your own experiences, opinions, and perspectives on topics; incorporate your sense of humor; create a unique voice. Whatever makes you “you”, incorporate it!

Blog on the Same Site

If you use a completely different website to host your blog, reconsider. You may be trying to save money or think that having two websites is better than one. Think about it this way… If your blog is on the same website as all of your services and content, your blog readers have easier access to your website. Go for the “all-in-one-place” approach.

Quality Images

Images are a great way to strengthen your blog posts if used correctly. The images need to be of quality and relative to what you are writing about. If a blog visitor sees an image, but can’t identify what the image is of or how it relates to the topic, they are more apt to stop reading. Smartphones and tablets have high quality cameras that can produce the images you need for your blog. Try using your own photos not only so you can customize the image to your topic, but to avoid copyright infringement by using another persons’ images.

Image courtesy of Pixabay and 742680

Image courtesy of Pixabay and 742680

Although blogging is oftentimes described as an easy and affordable content marketing tool, posting the perfect blog post can be difficult and overwhelming to some. From coming up with a topic to discuss to posting the blog with proper formatting and various elements, there is a lot to consider. Remember these common blogging mistakes as you progress in your blogging efforts. By eliminating these, you can improve your following and gain credibility.

Jamie

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6 Social Media Best Practices You Should Know About https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/6-social-media-best-practices-you-should-know-about/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/6-social-media-best-practices-you-should-know-about/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 13:00:24 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8295 Social media is no longer just an optional tool or resource for businesses to use to help promote their brand, engage with their audience, and build an online presence; it is a necessity. In fact, most businesses are already using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, but there are other platforms to be considered for your business rather than for your personal use such as LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest.

The options are limitless when it comes to what you can post on these platforms. From videos, to images, to links to other content as well as your unique content, what you share online helps you to build your online presence. What some people forget… what you post online under your business’ name will shape people’s opinions about your brand for better or for worse.

Once those opinions have been shaped, they are hard to change and you may have lost, what could have been, a valuable customer.

These 6 best practices are the things we recommend for your business to remember when posting online.

Consistent

Image courtesy of Pixabay and tigerlily713

One of the biggest factors of a successful online presence is being present consistently. Once you have begun to develop your presence online, maintain it by regularly posting content. Your audience now expects to hear from you on a regular basis.

Also, remaining consistent in your posting will help you to build awareness of your brand. The number of posts in any given day on any platform can be extensive. By posting consistently, you are more likely to appear in your audiences’ news feeds therefore reminding them that your business exists and is there for them.

However, there’s more to being consistent online than just regularly posting. Keeping your brand voice consistent over time is equally as important. Your brand voice helps to create your brand image and personify your brand. If not consistent, you chance damaging your brand’s image.

 Professional

Keep in mind… this is NOT your personal page. This is your business page and should be used as such. What you say and publish on your personal page is not meant for your business page. Keep the information you publish on your social platforms informational, resourceful, and business-minded.

Authentic

PBW_0213_115Be you! Your audience comes to you to hear from you, not another company. Although you may be sharing others’ content as resources and tools, the content that you publish in your brand voice should be your own. If using other company’s content, be sure you are not plagiarizing. Use quotations when you use word-for-word content.

As a general rule of thumb, use more of your own content rather than others. If you are introducing an article written from someone else, create an interesting lead in using your take on the article. Be you, or should I say your business, as much as possible online.

What are some other ways you can keep your brand authentic? Read more here.

Resourceful

Your audience is driven to your page because they trust what you have to say and they are interested in what your company has to offer. Therefore, how can you be THE resource for you industry and keep them coming back as well as referring
others to your platforms?

Share your own content, resource recommendations, tips, and tools, but also share others’! If an article by another company is relative to your industry and strengthens your opinion on a specific topic, share it with your audience. If you read an article and find yourself saying, “I’ve said this before” or “I totally agree,” share it!

Responsive (not reactive)

You may have some followers that disagree with you or dislike your company and post about it for of your followers to see. This is an opportunity for you to respond, not react! What do I mean by that?

When you respond, you take time to think about how you want to say back (not days, but maybe 20 minutes to an hour). This is a well-crafted message that acknowledges what the person has to say in a positive way. We all want to defend our business, but we have to be careful as to what we say online. If they had a negative encounter with your business, apologize and find a way to make it right. If they blatantly say, “I hate your business,” find a way to say “How can I make it better?” If you are having a hard time figuring out what to say, ask some of your fellow employees how they would respond to the criticism and work together to craft a response.

In contrast, reacting is responding immediately after they have posted with another negative response (often times the first thing that comes to mind!). Refrain from reacting. You can damage the image of your brand by being irrational and letting someone’s negative opinions make you respond in an unfriendly manor. “I don’t know why anyone uses your business” shouldn’t be followed up with “Get off our page!” or “We don’t care.” Also, reacting would be instantly deleting the comment and/or the user. There are some instances where deleting the comment is OK such as if profanity is used or threats are made. Keep in mind, sometimes criticism is the best way to improve!

Light

PBW_01_035 joyThere is already enough negativity surrounding us in media. You have the opportunity to be positive and uplifting! Make your readers look forward to seeing what you have to say by keeping your content light. However, IF something has happened that you believe your readers should know or you want to recognize an event or tragedy, do so…. Just keep it light!

Before you or anyone within your business publishes anything on your social media platforms, check that the list of best practices above has been met. Everyone within your business must be aware of the effect these best practices can have on your business. How do you ensure that the content you publish remains consistent with your brand’s image?

-Jamie

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Startup Lessons You Don’t Want To Learn The Hard Way https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/startup-lessons-you-dont-want-to-learn-the-hard-way/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/startup-lessons-you-dont-want-to-learn-the-hard-way/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:03:56 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19533 On average, about 50% of new businesses close their doors only 5 years after incorporation. The notion provides some comfort when compared to the usual adage that half of newfound companies fail during their first year, but the fact still stands that a company is most vulnerable during the first few years of its life-cycle. Startups, the up-and-comers of the corporate world, are more likely to thread on dangerous ground as a result of adopting novel, but often unproven, management, production and communication methods. It’s a high-risk, high-reward kind of scenario, where doing things differently can potentially lead to spectacular results, but also disastrous failures.

Nevertheless, there are certain steps that every business can take, including startups, to reduce risk of going under prematurely. Striving for novelty and experimentation is important, but doing so on solid foundations is much more likely to produce results in the long-run. Getting your basics right will go a long way, and this includes avoiding rookie mistakes. To find out what those are, and how best to overcome them, take a look at the rest of this article.

Inadequate Work Conditions

Startups come in all shapes and sizes. What they all have in common however is a need to for adequate office space. Running an operation from your bedroom can work for a while for some companies, but down the line moving to an office becomes mandatory. This is due to several reasons. First, most apartments offer limited space for the necessary office equipment, which will quickly lead to overcrowding. Second, having a home office muddles the line between work and leisure hours, which can be psychologically destabilizing. Finally, work-related data and equipment needs adequate protection, which is something a home environment can’t afford without compromising comfort.

Mismanaging Finances

startup lessons

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and rawpixel

The quickest way to ruin a company is by staunching the flow of finance within it. Mismanaging money leads to production slowdowns, late salaries, defaulting on debt, and bankruptcy among other things. There are many ways in which finances can become an issue within a company. Overzealous profit reinvesting can anger workers who are counting on short-term returns. Spending on needles luxuries can back-fire after the “wow” factor associated with them starts to dissipate. General financial incompetence can lead to bad bookkeeping, which is a quick ticket to a government inspection. For the reasons mentioned, competent accounting firms should be hired to ensure your finances remain on track. Additionally, there are plenty of resources online to get you up-to-speed with accounting basics, so you can be prepared for any potential problem that might arise.

Running Second-Rate Tech

Nothing gets deprecated quite as fast as technology. Conversely, nothing but technology innovates at such a staggering rate. This can present a problem for fledgling companies with a limited tech budget. Buying equipment which will soon become obsolete, or overspending on cutting-edge tech which few people are still using are both common mistakes that startups tend to make. When it comes to technology, the best advice to follow is finding the right tools for the job. Carefully consider the kind of work you will be doing in the foreseeable future, and acquire all necessary equipment for the task at hand.

Neglecting Marketing

Products no longer sell themselves, and it is doubtful if they ever did. In other words, in order to do business, you need some form of promotion in order to reach your target audience. The problem is, there are so many approaches to marketing, that it becomes hard to distinguish what works and what doesn’t. Some experts are proclaiming the end of traditional advertising in the wake of digital marketing, others decrying the latter as a scam and suggesting to stick with tried-and-true methods. The truth is, there isn’t one marketing strategy to rule them all. Each company needs to find the specific means of promoting themselves, and to do so they need to consider a whole series of factors, most notably their budget and target audience.

Missing Deadlines

startup lessons

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and Kevin

Rookie companies are often eager to deliver more than they originally promised to their investors and owners. Unfortunately, over-promising but under-delivering seems to be the standard when it comes to startups. Often this is due to a cascade of missing deadlines, where one instances of being late creates a bottle-neck which causes further delays. For this reason, always being up-to-speed with deadlines is imperative for smaller companies. Whether through individual diligence, the use of project management software such as ActiveCollab or Basecamp, or careful planning, keeping on schedule is anything but optional.

Conclusion

There are many things that can go wrong when creating a startup, some of which we have outlined above. Fortunately, there are measures to address most of them, provided you are willing to do some research on the subject. A company that is well acquainted with what can go wrong is much more likely to make it past the dreaded 5-year mark.

Author bio: Steven Clarke is business consultant that likes to write about his ideas and share them with the world. He is a regular contributor to several websites. When not working on new projects, Steven likes to spend time with his daughter in the great outdoors.

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How to Make Your E-Newsletter More User-Friendly https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/enewsletter-userfriendly/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/enewsletter-userfriendly/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 13:00:03 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8294 Image courtesy of PIxabay and PIX1861

Image courtesy of Pixabay and PIX1861

What are the goals of sending out an e-newsletter?

  • Reach your target audience
  • Give them valuable content
  • Expand your subscriber’s list
  • Get your name in front your readers
  • Drive traffic to your website

To measure this, e-newsletter senders check their insights & analytics including: unsubscribe rate, bounce-back, etc. But, perhaps one of the most important analytics to understand and monitor your e-newsletter is your click through rate.

Click through rate is defined as:

“A way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of an email campaign by the number of users that clicked on a specific link.” (via Wikipedia)

So, how do you improve click through rate and reach your goal of driving traffic to your website via your e-newsletter?

Make it user friendly!

In your e-newsletter, you are most likely including images, recent blog articles, upcoming events, promotions, and contact information. Although all of these parts make for a good e-newsletter, a great and effective e-newsletter goes one step further by incorporating links.

Where should you add links?

  • Photos: Alongside your blog articles, e-newsletter distributors will add a photo that is relative to the blog topic included. Link the image to the original blog post on your website or a social platform that the image was taken from such as Facebook.
  • Titles: E-newsletters are broken up into sections and each section has a new title. Link the title to whatever you are discussing in that the section: a blog title should be linked back to the original blog on your website, “follow us on (insert social platform) should link to the social platform, etc.
  • “Read more” and other calls to action: To avoid creating a lengthy e-newsletter, calls to action are included at the end of a section such as “click here” or “read more.” Make sure you link these to the rest of the content you want them to read.
  • Social platforms: If your e-newsletter includes social icons or mentions of your social media platforms, link directly to your business’ Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ site. Eliminate the work your readers have to do in order to find you online.
  • Events: E-newsletters are a great place to promote upcoming events. When discussing the event, link to the event’s sign-up or informational page.
  • Email address: If you provide your email address anywhere on your e-newsletter, make sure it is a mail: to link. Make it easy for your readers to contact you in one easy step!
Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Adding links in your e-newsletter is one great way to improve your content and make it user-friendly. An e-newsletter that is user-friendly is more apt to creating loyal readers, which could lead to an increase in your subscription list as they refer their coworkers, friends, and family to your site.

Jamie

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How to Automate (Almost) Everything on Your Website https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/how-to-automate-almost-everything-on-your-website/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/how-to-automate-almost-everything-on-your-website/#respond Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:27:22 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19525 Managing a business website can be a time-consuming endeavor. In order to grow and scale your business operations, you should be looking at ways of automating website management tasks.

Setting up automation tools will ensure that you are prepared to meet the changing demands of consumers, and will also give you more time to invest your overall business strategy.

Here is some advice on how to automate (almost) everything on your website to save yourself time and hassle.

Compliance & Security

automate (almost) everything on your website

Image courtesy of Unsplash

There are loads of security and development tasks that help keep your website safe — and many of them can be at least part-automated.

Here are some of the tasks you can save time on:

  • Automating privacy policies & terms and conditions using generators
  • Automatic security and database updates
  • Autosaving database backups
  • Auto-syncing data from your site into your CRM or email database.

Install security plugins and apps from verifiable sources in order to help you fight comment spam and DoS attacks in a more efficient way. You should also set up extra hosting arrangements that automatically help keep your site up during a sudden spike in web traffic and server requests.

If you are selling products through your website, the process of converting currencies and paying the proper amount of tax for your sales is a crucial area to automate. You can find tools that will calculate sales tax per transaction and record the data for your books. Make sure you stay compliant and accurate by auto-generating your tax return data as you go.

However, you must also bear in mind that you will also need real-life advice on legalities and taxation from licensed professionals.

Newsletter Signups

Building an email list of prospective clients and leads is often the #1 job of any business website.

Email marketing, despite the popularity of social media, is still an excellent medium for bringing in sales. In fact, email subscribers have been found to spend on average 138% more than customers who visit websites through alternative channels.

automate (almost) everything on your website

Photo provided by author

Make sure you are using tools that cleverly opt your visitors into your newsletter. Create automatic pop-ups, scroll bars, download buttons, even sponsored social media ads — everything you can to start a permission-based marketing funnel.

GetResponse is an industry leader in the list building space, and can help you create a wide range of ‘sticky’ features that keep users engaged:

Read more in this previous post on beefing up your newsletters with conversion-driving content. Use your email marketing as a means for upselling and linking to bundles of products on your site.

Meeting SEO Requirements

Any brand worth its salt will be adding new content to their website to boost their SEO potential. SEO plugins can help you create search-friendly content as you are uploading blog posts through your site’s CMS. Something like Yoast on WordPress can help you scale back the time when it comes to optimization — allowing you to quickly and efficiently update title tags and meta descriptions, and even create site-wide rules.

If you’re in the ecommerce space, you should consider investing in an online store builder that automatically optimizes your site as you add new product pages — updating your sitemap.XML files for every new item uploaded onto your site and auto-generating initial metadata.

Search engine optimization is a long, multi-disciplined process. It requires your creative input, as well as a checkbox list of enhancing requirements. Make sure you are investing your time in the former and automating in the latter.

Reviews Generation

Your reputation as a business owner can be enhanced with review automation tools.

A study from Deloitte and Touche found that businesses are 60% more profitable if they take a customer-centric and social proof approach to their sales — reviews are essential tools to help you sell your business.

Website customer feedback services provide business owners with an easy way to organize consumer comments, and they also prompt customers to leave reviews. You won’t have to dig around for emails and be for reviews — they will just automatically come in.

automate (almost) everything on your website

Photo provided by author

A tool like Yotpo uses AI in order to help you gather intelligent and compelling UGC (user generated content). This can be a great way for ecommerce brands particularly to supercharge their sales.

Customer review automation also simplifies the process of generating and sending customer post-purchase surveys. This is one of the best ways of getting honest opinions on where your services might be currently lacking.

Fulfilling Orders, Smarter

If you are sending anything out to customers, you need to look at investing in a comprehensive order management systems (OMS) that hooks up with your website. Together, these tools can manage inventory updates across all selling channels. Some can also connect with supplier warehouse management systems to make picking and packing tasks easier.

In meeting demands in peak seasonal shopping periods, order management automation can make a huge difference to your profit margins. It will also make your website management during the sales a lot more efficient, and ensure that product listings are 100% accurate. An out of stock product page or an unfulfilled order can lead to a really negative customer experience.

Social Media Management Tools

Social media marketing is a vital channel for bringing in sales, regardless of your business model. Getting your head around automating the processes will help you optimize your social funnel, and ensure that it’s working well in conjunction with the rest of your website.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to automatically pull in your social feeds to your website — it will instantly bring it a bit more to life, and give clients and customers more context about your business.

In order to keep your social media pipeline full, you will want to part-automate and schedule out your social media calendar.

Social media automation tools offer affordable price plans for small business owners. However, major brands like Buffer and Hootsuite also provide free plans you can access to help you schedule:

  • Buffer will suggest the optimum time for posting within their post scheduling dashboard.
  • Hootsuite will let you run three separate profiles on their free subscription plan.

 

Your website needs automated tools to help you keep up with the developing needs of your customers. There is a vast array of A.I assistance you can seek to save time, communicate efficiently with your suppliers, and enhance your online marketing presence. Make sure you are setting up the right web infrastructure well in advance of seasonal selling peaks. These preparations will help you reap the full benefits of automating your business.

automate (almost) everything on your website
Victoria Greene
is a writer and branding expert. She runs a blog called Victoriaecommerce. Her site offers tips for new business owners looking for help with marketing and automation.

 

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Planning Social Media Out Ahead of Time https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/planning-social-media-time/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/planning-social-media-time/#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 14:00:05 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8293 TimeManaging your social media content can be quite the challenge. First, there’s deciding what topics to cover and what content to produce. Then, there’s the question of which platform or platforms to use and what time to publish. Bottom line: there is a lot of planning and thought that has to go into managing your social media. .

Quality content can require some serious time and preparation. The same applies to quality social media posts. Planning out and scheduling your social media ahead of time can do wonders for your business, free up your time, and boost your potential reach.

Here are some tips and tools for scheduling out your social media ahead of time:

Decide When and Where

Knowing when and where your customers’ attention is focused will increase your chances of making an impact and reaching your audience. Finding out the right times to post takes data mining and outside research. Luckily, there are a variety of tools that can help you to determine your customers habits like Hootsuite and SproutSocial. These sites analyze the habits of both your followers and potential followers to help you strategically plan out your social media.

Pick a Scheduler

Let’s just assume you are a West Coast-based company, but your target customers are spread across multiple time zones. Chances are your East Coast customers are checking social media updates earlier than your Midwest or West coast customers. In order to reach your target audiences, you have to ensure that you’re posting at the optimal time on each social media platform. To achieve this you need to pick a social media scheduler.

Savvy social media communicators know that scheduling content ahead of time is extremely useful. It frees up time and can boost your potential reach by optimizing posting times. There are quite a few different social media management tools available for small businesses; however, here are three you should consider using:

Hootsuite: This scheduler is compatible with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Bloggers, marketers, and small businesses use Hootsuite to manage their social media content. It offers a user-friendly interface and can archive your tweets making it easy to track your online communication.

Tweetdeck: This scheduling tool is compatible with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Tweetdeck is known for its speed and ease of use. It allows users to manage multiple accounts at once and see different breakdowns of account activity.

LaterBroUse this tool to schedule Twitter and Facebook. It’s an easy to use and simplistic platform that takes care of your scheduling needs. It’s a streamlined platform with less glitz than the other two, but it gets the job done.


Schedule Ahead…but don’t over post!

Scheduling content ahead of time does have its limitations. Each social media platform should have a specific amount of content shared per week. If you go overboard with social media posts, you risk loosing followers and hurting your brand image. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow for each platform:


Facebook
: With Facebook, less is definitely more. 1-2 posts-per-day spaced out over the day should be your benchmark. Some businesses have found better engagement by posting even less often: 3-4 times a week. Experiment with what works for your audience!

LinkedIn: Generally, 1-3 posts-per-week is effective, however some businesses should use up to 5. It depends on the nature of your industry. Tip: Be sure to schedule posts during the weekdays rather than the weekends for this platform.

Pinterest: Beware of “pin dumping,” aka posting an excessive amount of posts at one time. Either schedule pins with Viraltag or pin in groups of at most 5-7 at a time.

Instagram: Consumers love photos and videos and Instagram is a great platform to share them. Stick to several photos spaced a few hours apart each day. Avoid annoying your followers with an abundance of photos in one sitting.

Twitter: Twitter is the granddaddy of slick and quick content updates. On this platform, the more the better, however never post all at once. 5 tweets spread out over the day as opposed to 5 tweets 
within 10 minutes is far more effective.

Google+: Just like with Facebook, Google + should be used sparingly but daily. 1-2 posts per day should be plenty for your business on this platform.

Scheduling ahead of time will help keep your social media on par. Remember to schedule weekly and keep your content fresh even if you are recycling content. As a small business, knowing the habits of your target market is essential. Picking a scheduler can be a lifesaver and limiting the amount of posts per platform will keep your audience engaged. Social media is a powerful communication highway that can help build your business and brand awareness. To help you with your social media endeavors, we offer social media management and planning. Check out our product page and, as always, share your social media success stories with us!

Jamie

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5 Ways to Get More Out of Your Past Blog Articles https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/5-ways-blog-articles/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/5-ways-blog-articles/#comments Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:00:59 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8292 Content marketing is one of the best ways to get your opinions and ideas out there. Consumers naturally gravitate towards products and services that they can relate to; the more interesting or applicable to brand, the better! Content marketing is the super-highway of connecting your brand to your target market. One of the most affective and enduring content marketing tools is the granddaddy of online content: blogs.

Blogs by definition are playgrounds for ideas, opinions, and innovative thinking. They are the perfect canvas for online marketers to sell new products and promote services. Blogs can inform and/or entertain depending on they way you use them. Whether you blog once a day or once a month, high quality blogging can do wonders for your business. One of the most overlooked aspects of blogging is how to keep using past blog articles to your advantage.

Suppose you have a blog post from a few months back that received rave reviews! Why not highlight it again on social media? Or publish a follow up post? Here are 5 tips and tricks you can use to get more out of your old blog posts:

 

1. Linking to past blogs

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

This is arguably the most straightforward way of getting more bang-for-your-buck out of older posts. Let’s say that you wrote a blog a few months ago about a new social media platform. Now you are writing a comprehensive comparison guide between the same platform and another. This is the perfect opportunity to reference your older post and drive traffic to other parts of your website. Older blog posts can be used as references and also help to build your readership. Simply insert links to older blogs within new blogs or newsletters. It’s sure to put your older post back on the radar!

2. Use Social Media

Social media and blogs were made to go hand in hand. Social media is a great way to draw attention to older posts. There are a few different ways you can do it, however the easiest is to tweet out links or share posts again on different platforms. Keep in mind that posts with exceptional content or posts that have gained popularity are the best, older posts to highlight, again. If you aren’t sure which posts to choose, check out the amount of views, shares, and comments generated by readers.

3. Revamp your older content

Another great way to get more out of your past blog posts is to give them new life. Why not add sharable pictures or graphics? Or, maybe the content needs to be revised? Keeping your posts up-to-date will encourage readers to look at older content and keep your material fresh. Adding new graphics can, also, add a strong visual aide and increase click-through rate.

4. Publish a Follow Up Post

Awesome older posts usually have a few things in common: a great topic and strong content. Chances are, if a blog topic was interesting to readers beforehand, it is still intriguing now. Creating follow up posts about topics are easy ways to highlight and reference older posts. Maybe last month your piece on the best cafés in town was a hit; why not write a sequel focusing on the best teahouses? Consider creating a series or sequence of articles that are related and link to older posts within the series.

5. Update the SEO links within plast blog posts

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Often overlooked is the SEO of older posts. SEO can be incredibly effective at first, but as your blog post ages, so does the SEO. Consider taking a fresh approach and update your SEO. Updating your SEO will help attract more search engine traffic and increase search result rankings. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?! Another hint: consider updating your meta description to something catchier. The meta description that worked three months ago could have reached its ROI potential and may need some changes.

Blogs are the gift that can keep on giving; you just have to know how to achieve it! They are extremely powerful marketing tools and can help give your small business an edge over your competitors. Whether you recently started or have been blogging for years, we hope that these ideas will help give your older posts new life. As always, reach out to us with any questions you may have and share your success stories! Try revamping one of your older posts today!

– Mackenzie Priest

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Do You Have a Social Media Bullseye? https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/do-you-have-a-social-media-bullseye/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/do-you-have-a-social-media-bullseye/#respond Tue, 23 Jan 2018 14:00:56 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8291 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Lindsay_Jayne

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Lindsay_Jayne

Social media is a beautiful thing. Over the last decade, it has taken social and commercial communication to another level. As a small business, social media offers you cost effective and efficient marketing tools. Whether you want to focus on brand awareness or growing sales, social media allows you to reach your target consumer segment unlike any other marketing channel. However, in today’s market, simply being active on social media channels is not enough to drive business. Consumers are out there waiting for you to grab their attention! All you have to do is engage and create content that is worthy of it. But where do you start? Effective consumer engagement starts with a good goal or bullseye to guide your efforts. If you do not have one yet, no problem!

Here are some tips for and reasons why having a social media bullseye is good for your small business:

Why Goals are Important

Everyone loves to say goals are essential, but why are they important within social media? To start social media is quickly evolving into a primary form of communication. Today people around the world are able to share opinions and ideas instantly. This especially presents a business opportunity for small businesses. Without large marketing budgets, your small business can now reach customers and build business on these platforms like never before! That being said, without a primary social media object your efforts could be less impactful. Suppose you have set a goal of increasing traffic to your website by 15% by the end of the quarter. Where do you start? Using social media channels strategically can help you achieve this, however it takes planning and specific goals. If you do not have a social media bull’s eye, your efforts could reap little reward.\

Where to Begin

Image courtesy of Pixabay and stevepb

Image courtesy of Pixabay and stevepb

Start with looking at your company goals. Do you want to attract new customers? Do you need to drive sales? Maybe your aim is to build more brand loyal customers? These goals are easily transferable to a social media bull’s eye. Once you have chosen the company goals that you need to focus on, next create a social media plan that aligns. If your aim is to build brand loyalty, using a social media contest to gain followers could achieve that goal. For each platform you are active on, create a timeline and posting concepts. Then apply them to your social media plan. Picking a bull’s eye to hit on social media will help you obtain your goal and ultimately guide your business to success.

Keep Evolving Your Goals

Once you hit a bullseye, make sure you determine your next one. Goals are always changing within any business. After you achieve a goal, you move on and aim higher. Consequently the goals you have this year will be different next year. To keep your business growing, your goals have to keep evolving. Brainstorm ideas, narrow them down, refine and redefine your goals overtime. Redefining your goals will keep you thinking outside of the box and drive innovation. Social media bullseye’s are awesome tools that your small business can take advantage of. Don’t be afraid to start with a smaller goal and keep evolving it into something bigger overtime. Customers are out there waiting for you to grab their attention, why not start by picking your first goal today!

For inspiration and more information about developing your social media strategies, reach out to us or check out our product page today!

Jamie

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Quality Over Quanity: Why Blogging Less is Worth More https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/quality-over-quanity-why-blogging-less-is-worth-more/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/quality-over-quanity-why-blogging-less-is-worth-more/#respond Tue, 09 Jan 2018 14:00:29 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8290 Image courtesy of Pixabay and inspirexpressmiami

Image courtesy of Pixabay and inspirexpressmiami

The old adage “less is more” can be applied to countless scenarios. Whether its content or slogans, one epic line is worth far more than a 100 mediocre ones. One of the basic truths in content marketing is that quality always wins over quantity. The reasoning is straightforward: high quality content is always more effective at obtaining and maintaining readers. Especially when blogging generating high quality content for your readers is essential! But how do you ensure your blogging efforts are producing the results you want? Here are a few tips for creating and maintaining high quality blogs:

Quality Content

First and foremost a successful blog starts with its context. The topics and themes you write about are the foundation of your blog, dictating the direction you go in. However topics can only get you so far, because content is the real heart of blogging. You can use tools and strategies to ensure that your content is the quality you want.

First determine your audience.The audience you focus on requires a specific approach and the way you write reflect the message you want to send. Maybe your content is geared towards professionals in your field or online customer, both require distinctly different content. After you know who your readers are, create a content profile.Within this profile clearly state what type of tone, language, and style your blog uses. Sticking to this profile will ensure that your content upholds the quality you originally envisioned.

Finally set up a system of quality checks. After writing a blog, step back and reread what you have created. Ask yourself if it fits within your content profile and whether it reflects your business the way you intended. Also choose an editor to read and suggest changes, fresh eyes can objectively critique you’re content and help ensure high quality material!

Quality Posting Length and Timing

When you are passionate about a topic, it can be easy to talk endlessly about it. This isn’t a bad thing, however, when blogging, knowing when to sacrifice length for quality is incredibly important. Readers today have an average 8-second attention span; this means that you have to demonstrate the value of your blog and its quality instantly! To do this, first choose a catchy title and topic.Readers are naturally drawn to interesting and entertaining titles. Try brainstorming ideas and researching how to create good titles online.

Image courtesy of Pixabay and artemtation

Image courtesy of Pixabay and artemtation

Next, keep your length in check! Readers could care less about reading a 1000 word article on the latest social media platform when 300 can do the trick. A good rule of thumb is to stick to 300-600 words per article.This parameter is effective at both maintaining readers attention and helping you create good quality content.

Within blogging, quality over quantity applies to frequency as well. One of the major mistakes small businesses have when starting a blog is posting too frequently or too infrequently. Posting daily is incredibly hard to manage and could have negative affects on your business. Don’t risk overstretching by writing too often and sacrificing quality content.Consider having a weekly or biweekly blog, this will help keep your quality on par and readers engaged!

Readers want to know about new topics and ideas, but they want good quality information. This reflects poorly on your business so don’t over take the risk! We offer both blog planning and writing services for your small business. Shoot us an email and or check out our product offerings today! As always we hope these tips were helpful and we would love any feedback.

-Jamie

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Hand in Hand: Blog and E-newsletter Integration https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/hand-in-hand-blog-and-e-newsletter-integration/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/hand-in-hand-blog-and-e-newsletter-integration/#respond Tue, 26 Dec 2017 14:00:27 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8289 Image courtesy of Pixabay and 4in

Image courtesy of Pixabay and 4in

Ask any marketing expert and they would agree that successful marketing involves integration. This integration centers on ideas and is transmitted across multiple platforms in order to promote products and services. Two marketing tools that seamlessly go hand in hand are blog articles and e-newsletters. Both are content marketing tools that can promote your business while collaborating together.

How does this collaboration occur? To answer that you must to consider cross-channel integration. In more blatant terms, it revolves around linking blogs and e-newsletters to one another. This linking in turn connects to your companies website and helps generates sales. Here are a few ideas your small business can use to marry these two marketing tools together:

Linking, Linking, Linking

The importance of linking within your e-newsletters cannot be stressed enough. E-newsletters are the perfect communication outlet to promote new blogs, news articles and campaigns through links. Spotlighting blog articles in your e-newsletters allows you to link the blog article to your website, increasing your CTR and visitors to your site.

Summary of Articles

Blog summaries need to be engaging and interesting enough that your readers click through to the blog itself but not too comprehensive as to deter readers. Remember that e-newsletter should draw attention and also be brief, calling the eye to an interesting article spotlight and linking back to the full article on your site. Copy and paste the first 3 (or so) sentences of the blog article to your e-news, and finish the sentences with a “…continue reading” or “…keep reading” call to action that links to the website.

Graphical Links

Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

Nothing grabs attention like a good picture. Inserting photos or graphic images into your e-newsletter is a basic necessity, but they can also help link to blogs. Chances are if someone likes photo enough, they might click on it. Use pictures to create a link to blog articles by using graphical linking, it’s an easy extra element that you can use to drive traffic to your site!

Customer Comments

A nice way to incorporate blog articles in e-newsletters is to highlight customer comments about a blog. You can do this by either responding to a comment or simply adding the comment near the summary of the related blog article. Positive feedback from other consumers will increase the likelihood of other readers checking out your blog.

Integration is a wonderful and easily implementable marketing tool; you just have to know how to use it!

Try a combination of these tips in each one of your e-newsletters to promote blogs and drive traffic. Don’t forget to tantalize your subscribers with a Read more… link at the end of a description and add interesting graphical links! As always, let us know how these tips help connect your blogs and e-newsletters! Happy blogging and integrating!

-Jamie

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Tips For Creating the Perfect Contest https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/tips-for-creating-the-perfect-contest/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/tips-for-creating-the-perfect-contest/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:00:51 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8288 Image courtesy of PIxabay and StartupStockPhotos

Image courtesy of Pixabay and StartupStockPhotos

In the age of consumer engagement, social media platforms reign supreme. Social media has many wonderful uses. It can update people about the latest news article on your company or share pictures of new products. It is one of the most versatile marketing tools around and can be used to promote just about anything. Social media also allows companies to hold online sweepstakes, raffles, and of course, contests.

Social media contests are promotional tools that engage your customers or followers in order to gain mutually beneficial information. In less wordy terms, contests are fun ways to get your customers excited about your brand and build brand awareness! It’s a proven fact, people love free stuff. Because of this, people are willing to tell you things about themselves to get free stuff! It’s a beautiful thing, especially when trying to do consumer research about your company.

When building a contest there are a few things you need to consider: what is the aim of the contest? Do you want to gain consumer information or generate buzz? Where to you want to hold it? What are the terms and conditions? The list of questions goes on, so that is why you need a way to narrow it down. Here are a few starting points for creating the perfect social media contest:

First, What is Your Ultimate Goal?

Like any promotional endeavor, you have to start by determining what you hope to achieve. A contest is usually used to build excitement around a brand, new product or campaign. It can also be used to gain vital data on your customers and help with consumer segmenting. You have to start by asking yourself what your ultimate goal is for the contest. What information or brand awareness do you hope to attain? What will this contest do for your company? Once you have determined your goals, you are ready to  choose a social media platform.

Now, Focus on a Platform

With so many social media platforms to hold your contest on, you have to begin by choosing a home base. Do you want your contest to be primarily held on Twitter or Facebook? What about Instagram? To determine what platform to start with, you need to review your current promotional efforts. Where does your business have the most followers? What platform has the most activity? What kind of competition you are holding can also determine where you start. If it’s a photo contest, why not start on Instagram? If it’s just a lottery type contest, Twitter could be best. After choosing where to start, next you can formulate a cross-platform contest strategy.

Next, Use Cross-Platform Integration

Image courtesy of Pixabay and stux

Image courtesy of Pixabay and stux

Choosing a single social media platform is a solid beginning, but to take your contest even farther you need to develop a cross-platform strategy. Having a cross-platform contest will increase your contest awareness and number of potential participants. This is where you have to get creative and build a plan that allows your contest to be promoted across multiple social media channels. If you start a photo contest on Instagram, post submissions to your Facebook page and links to the submissions on your tweets. This is just one option and each contest will have a different strategy, however in order to have a successful social media contest cross-channel integration is key.

Finally, Here are Helpful Resources

Developing a viable social media contest takes planning, creativity and research! Here are some very helpful articles and resources to help you create the perfect social media contest:

13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest10 Branded Social Media Contest, and Social Media Examiner  has multiple articles to peruse.

We hope that these resources help you develop an awesome social media contest and share your results with us!

Jamie

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6 Reasons Social Media Customer Care is for You https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/6-reasons-social-media-customer-care-is-for-you/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/6-reasons-social-media-customer-care-is-for-you/#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 14:00:37 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19463 A lot goes through a customer’s mind before they make a purchasing decision, and a big part of this decision lies in the customer care that they receive from a company. In order to stay ahead of the game, you need to be providing the best customer care possible, and one of the best ways in which this can be achieved is through making use of social media.

Here are 6 reasons social media customer care is for you…

The information at website builder.org.uk states that 90% social media users have used social media to communicate with a brand. Therefore, it is vital that you start making use of this platform, and don’t waste the many opportunities that it provides. If that alone is not enough to convince you to get started then take a look at the 6 reasons your brand needs customer care.

Bigger Spending-

Customers that have had their search queries answered through any form of social media are much more likely to spend more money with the company than they would have previously done. People love using social media, with many using it on a daily basis for some reason or another, therefore this is often where they go for support. A company that gives their clients the support that they need will start to trust your brand, and this, in turn, will start to lead to sales. When they need to buy a product or service, then your brand is likely to be the first that comes to mind.

Go Where Your Customers Are-

Millions and millions of people are using social media every day, from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat. We live in a time where people can’t go for a few hours without checking their account. If the customers are already there, then it makes sense for companies to make use of these platform in any way that they can, including for customer care. This is especially true if your brand’s target market is the younger generation, as it is these that are using social media most often. If you are promoting your brand on social media, which most companies now are, then it is likely that your customers are already there, engaging and looking at your brand. Therefore, if your customers are looking for help, then you are already there to give that helping hand.

It’s cheap-

The stats at Website Builder show that it costs just $1 to solve a customer issue on social media. For years, customer service has been dealt with at call centers, and many companies still use this method, it works out as a lot more of an expensive option when compared with using social media. Using social media can increase the efficiency of a company dramatically, and when fully trained in the art of providing support via these platforms, it is likely that one person can handle many queries at once. If you want to start saving a little money, then social media is the way forward.

It’s Easy-

Everyone loves having a simple life, and social media customer service can provide just that. Using social media means that you can answer a company query promptly with just a few clicks. You can point them towards a helpful video, link them to a page in a website and hold a very human conversation. A quick and efficient response is usually all a customer needs in order to turn their problem into a purchase, and they may even tell others about the excellent customer service that they received.

Speed-

Currently social media is the fastest form of customer care out there. Customers no longer want to sit around waiting for a reply to an email or sit through hours of hold music. People expect an almost instant response when it comes to social media, and it is very possible to give this to them. Customers are able to write a quick comment, tweet or message to your brand in a matter of seconds, and a member of your company will be there waiting to provide the answer to their problems. Providing an answer instantly shows that as a company, you care about your customers, and this is already half the battle.

Sharing Opportunities-

Social media is exactly that, it is a very social community. People are constantly talking to each other about a huge range of topics through comments, likes, and shares. By using social media, you are providing a platform for people to talk about your company and spread the word about the brand to an almost unlimited audience. If you provide a customer with excellent customer service, then there is a high chance that the customer will share your response to others in their social circles. You will instantly have people knowing about your business without having to spend a penny.

See the full infographic on this awesome topic at: https://websitebuilder.org.uk/blog/rise-social-media-customer-care/  


Author Bio

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at Websitebuilder.org.uk. With preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.
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5 Ways to Keep Your Brand Authentic https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/5-ways-brand-authentic/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/5-ways-brand-authentic/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:00:37 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8287 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Naypong

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Naypong

Consumers love the latest and greatest brands, but they also love to be brand loyal. Ever wonder why you keep buying that Neutrogena face wash and not the cheaper target brand? Brand loyalty and a myriad of other consumer influences are at play. Brand loyalty is a major motivator of consumer behavior and very powerful when used to your business’ advantage. In order to build and maintain brand loyalty, your small business’ brand has to remain authentic.

With different brands and marketing tools popping up all the time, it can be alluring to alter your brand’s direction. Sometimes brands do need some livening up or a simple makeover, however it is extremely important to maintain your brand’s foundation. Maybe it’s a mission statement that you’ve built your brand around or a brand profile that you adhere you. No matter the case, staying authentically you is what sets your business apart from your competitors. Here are 5 ways to keep your brand authentic and your brand loyalty growing:

Stick to Your Values

At the core of your small business are the values that motivate you. Whether you value growth or innovation, your brand identity centers around the values you hold dear. Even when your company takes another direction or branches off, remember to always adhere to your values. This will help keep your brand authentic and ensure that your business does not take a turn that goes against what its stands for.

Be Consistent

Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

As with any product or service, consistency is key and the same goes for your brand. If you are known for specific colors or phrases, your business can easily remain authentic by continuing to use them. Having specific days that your write blogs or respond to customer emails also help keep your brand authentic. After all, the goal is maintain and generate brand loyalty so that your customers keep coming back! If you stay consistently true to your brand, you will reap the rewards.

Keep Your Personality

Whether your brand is known for being fun or luxurious, make sure the personality you portray remains the same. Consumers love to see themselves or people they enjoy reflected in the brands they consume. This may seem like a weird concept, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Consumers love to have a personal relationship with the brands they buy. They also enjoy seeing themselves reflected in brands. Brand names are designed to define our identity as consumers and be an extension of our own personalities. Don’t confuse your loyal customers by changing around your business’ personality!

Maintain Your Integrity

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and bluebay

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and bluebay

At the heart of any business is the ethics it lives by. The same goes for your brand. Your brand’s integrity and ethics help guide the direction your company takes in marketing and advertising. Maintaining your brand’s integrity will help ensure your brand does not sway to far from its
foundation. If you are built on the idea of giving back to your community, maintain your integrity by continuing to follow through. Refraining from falsely representing your products or services to customers will also ensure your brand’s integrity. When in doubt, remember to always be true to your brand and keep your brand’s integrity intact!

Be Flexible and Sometimes Malleable

This is the grey area of branding: How to you stay true to your brand while also staying true to the times? When Pepsi decided it needed a new branding tactic, it required a new logo. Instead of going off and completely redoing their iconic image, they kept the same concept but modernized it. Most brands will reach a point when they have to alter their original slogan or marketing tactics. However, it is important to remain flexible and sometimes malleable when the time comes to tweak your brand. Sway away from your original brand but DO NOT completely break away from your roots. Like Pepsi and many other iconic brands, stay authentic but don’t be afraid to take your brand into the modern age. Do not be afraid to modernize your brand, but always keep your brand’s foundation alive! Staying authentic is incredibly important to the success of your small business. Authenticity helps maintain your customer base and build brand loyal customers!

Remember to keep these ideas in mind when evaluating or building your brand! For more information about what brand authenticity can be for your business check out this document by Kite Brand Studio. As always, remember to share your success stories with us!

– Mackenzie Priest

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Before You Write, Here Are 5 Ways to Determine Your Next Blogging Topic https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/before-you-write-here-are-5-ways-to-determine-your-next-blogging-topic/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/before-you-write-here-are-5-ways-to-determine-your-next-blogging-topic/#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:00:05 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8286 Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

We’ve all experienced it, the dreaded writer’s block. No matter what you try to do, nothing seems to translate to the page. The same can happen when picking a blog topic. With so many different options and already conquered concepts, it can be difficult to choose something new to talk about.

You’ve taken the first step and created a blog with goals and a central idea. Now you have to keep it going while making fresh and interesting for your readership. But what can you do to think of your next topic? Here are 5 questions to ask to determine what your next blog topic should be about:

What’s new in your industry?

If you are thoroughly perplexed, start here. New developments within your industry are typically what people would like to know more about. For example if you are an accounting firm and there have been drastic changes to a tax policy, why not explain it to your readers? If you are a foodie blog, why not cover the latest kale trend? Each industry is specific; do some research about what’s new and interesting, it just might be what you need to get your next topic!

What is your area of expertise?

This question is self-reflective and sure to help with ideas. Look at your business and what it specializes in while also considering your personal strengths. What do you bring to your blog? What special knowledge or training sets you apart? If you took a new class on cloud computing or Google Analytics, why not share your experience? Use these aspects of your background and your business’ strengths to figure out what to write about next.

What’s going on seasonally?

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

Different times of the year call for different areas of focus in any field. As the fashion industry has seasons, so does the beer industry and tech world. Ask yourself what is going on at the moment within your field. Maybe its sweater season or the new iPhone model is coming out. Whatever the case, narrowing your focus to the time of year can help determine a cool new topic to talk about.

What topics are in demand?

Listen to your consumer feedback to gain ideas. There are always hot topics in any industry that are in higher demand. Your readers might ask you to cover a topic or one of their comments could spark inspiration! After all, the goal is to give the people what they want and keep them coming back for more.

What topic aligns with your goals?

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Ben_Kerckx

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Ben_Kerckx

When you created your blog, you had goals in mind. Maybe you wanted to become a leading voice in your industry or just drive business to your website. Whatever the case, your goals are the foundation of your blog. You have to consciously consider what goal each topic is meeting. If you are trying to become a pioneer of a new kind of fashion style or sell real estate, it’s important that the topics you cover relate directly to your goals. When stumped, go back to the criteria you built your blog on for inspiration!

Being stumped about what to write on is never fun. We hope that these questions will help you figure out a direction to go in! When in doubt, consider creating a blog plan to always know what to write about. These plans create a roadmap of ideas that you can follow each time you write.

Reach out to us about our blog planning or check out our website for more advice!

-Jamie

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Social Media Engagement 101: How to Help Increase Your Follower Interaction https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/social-media-engagement-101-help-increase-your-follower-interaction/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/social-media-engagement-101-help-increase-your-follower-interaction/#respond Tue, 31 Oct 2017 13:42:10 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19447 Most of the businesses nowadays use different social media platforms to market their products and services to the general public. It has quickly become a trend since businesses can make use of Instagram or Facebook’s features for free. Once your business has a large number of followers or likes, it will be easier for you to advertise your product and eventually earn popularity. But with the competition (which is happening online) nowadays, you want to receive more than just the people’s likes⎯you want to engage with them in an attempt to gradually earn their trust. You understand how significant it is to create engagement between the company and its online community, but you may not know how. Listed below are some of the things you can do to build an engaged online following:

1. Use call-to-action (CTA)

Companies which are active online are now using call-to-action to engage with their followers. CTAs can either be a caption or an image itself. Commonly used CTAs include characters in fast motion with a steady background. The trick is to have the followers tap the figure at the right time so that he/she will fit perfectly in the background. Some companies also use this tapping mechanism to earn likes for their page⎯one tap is equal to one Automaticlike for the company’s page.

Images with lines of “tag the person you love the most” or “tag the person who made your 2017 better” are also becoming very popular as an attempt to increase your follower interaction. Once followers see these images, they will likely mention their friends in the comment section and create an online advertisement for the company.

2. Make use of hashtags

how to increase your follower interaction

Photos provided by the Guest Contributor, autmoaticlikes.net

Using hashtags in posts can make your company stand out and create a brand online. It helps you categorize and organize images and videos content, which will help your business with content discovery. You just have to be sure to use hashtags which are appropriate for the audience you are trying to reach. For example, if your business is about creating desserts, you can use hashtags such as #eaats or #sweets rather than using hashtags about current events or the media. Followers will not like seeing posts in their accounts with unrelated hashtags so make sure that you use the correct hashtags.

Or if you want to be part of the latest trends, you can use popular hashtags like #TBT or #FlashBackFriday. To leverage your post from others, you can add an image suitable for the hashtags used.

Reach is everything when you want to build a large following online. You have to exhaust all efforts to ensure that your business’ content is in front of your target audience at the right time. A relevant hashtag will help you to become visible online.

3. Interact with other users’ content

Since you are thinking of using hashtags to interact with your online followers, why not do more? You can use these hashtags in finding people who have the same interest as you or your business. Search for people with the same hashtags and if you like what he/she is posting about, never be hesitant to comment or like the post. If you do this, the user will receive a notification with your name and avatar. Most of the time, the user will check your profile, engage with you through your posts and follow you back online.

increase your follower interaction

Photos provided by the Guest Contributor, autmoaticlikes.net

4. Create contests for followers

Contests are an easy way to increase your follower interaction. Not only can you reward your loyal followers, but you are also giving them a sense of excitement⎯this will make them check your page frequently to see if they won. Caption contests are prevalent online and if you think you have a good image for your followers to caption, go ahead! You might be surprised by how many likes, comments, and shares this post can gain.

5. Be visible on more than one platform

As a business, your followers should see you not just on Instagram but on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat as well. Doing so will allow your business to earn more followers and to create more avenues for you to interact with them. Additionally, being visible through different online platforms will allow you to further market your products or services. Do not limit your marketing initiatives to merely one platform but if possible, make use of all the online platforms available to you. Even if you can advertise online for free, never compromise the quality of the materials you post. Creativity and content should be a priority.

In summary

Being visible online is no longer an option but a necessity for all businesses nowadays. If you do not create a strong presence online, your competitors will, and this could mean a loss for you. Gaining a million followers online is one task to complete and being able to interact with them is another. So, whatever approach you decide to take to increase your follower interaction, just make sure that you are authentic with whatever you post and be social to everyone.

Julie Richardson

Julie is a proud Social Media junkie. Experienced in Social Media Marketing and SEO, she has been writing for automaticlikes.net for 3 years. Automatic Likes is dedicated to increasing likes, shares, and increasing user engagement. When Julie isn’t writing or helping create positive Social Media experiences, she enjoys comic book conventions and reading.

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4 Questions You Should Ask Your Brand Voice! https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/4-questions-you-should-ask-your-brand-voice/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/4-questions-you-should-ask-your-brand-voice/#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 13:00:45 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8285 As a small business you have some stiff competition! Other companies are always vying to be the best in your field and set themselves apart. One aspect that can push your company into the coveted sphere of success is a unique and intriguing brand voice. Just as you work at developing high quality products and services, creating a brand voice that communicates your culture can give you that special edge!

But how do you develop your brand voice? What questions should you be asking yourself? Here are 4 questions, and then some, to ask when developing your business’ brand voice:

Who is Your Audience?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and jscreationzs

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and jscreationzs

When writing a memo or article, you first need to know whom you are talking to. The same applies when developing a business plan or segmenting your business’ target market. When marketing your company you aim at specific consumers, the same goes for your brand’s voice. The people you are selling products or services to are those you want desiring to be your company’s friend. At the very least you want them to want a piece of it!

Ask yourself: Who is consuming your content? Who do you want relating to what you have to say? Who are the people you want in your inner circle? Align you brand voice with the audience you are focusing on, its sure to pay off in the long run.

What are Your Values?

At the core of any business are the values that drive it. Whether innovation or margins are your aim, your business has a driving force that pushes it towards success. When developing a brand voice, you have to consult your core values for the right directive. These values can determine what tone you use or what topics you cover.

Do you promote competition or collaboration? Is innovative thought encouraged? Are you sustainability minded or active? How important is giving back to your community? Clearly conveying your values will make your company more valuable!

What is Your Verbal Style?

When developing a brand voice, you have to determine what language and tone your business communicates with. Knowing how you communicate will determine how your company responds to tweets, emails and more. Having a solidified verbal style cements how to create content or handle PR incidents. Does it use jargon or slang? Is it proper or laid back? Does it use formal business writing? Can it have fun with words or topics? When in doubt, remember that your verbal style doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but always consistent!

What is Your Personality?

This is your company’s “X” or “Wow” factor that sets it apart. The personality your brand voice conveys should align with the culture of your company. Whether you are a small bakery or digital design firm, the personality associated with your brand voice should be an extension of your core values. Creating a brand voice is impossible without thoroughly being acquainted with the customers it keeps and attracts. That being said, there are a series of questions you can ask yourself about your brand and how your brand would react in different scenarios.

Is your brand open to everyone or exclusive? Does it react on instinct or think things through? What type of people does your brand hang out with? What are your brand attributes? Does it have any unique qualities that set it apart? Where is your brand’s hometown?

Though some of these questions may seem eccentric, you should be asking yourself questions like these when developing your brand’s voice. Using this style of brainstorming can help you set yourself apart from your competition and create a lasting, unique and authentic brand voice.

When pursuing your brand identity, remember to be true to your company and tap into your personality! For more exercises about developing brand voice check out this article and remember to share your experiences with us!

Mackenzie Priest

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Growing Your Brand’s Social Media Following https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/growing-your-brands-social-media-following/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/growing-your-brands-social-media-following/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:12:50 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19391

In 2017, social media has become a key part of every business. Executed well, it delivers measurable results in sales and brand awareness, and is an excellent way of reaching large numbers of people at a low cost. Facebook currently has 2 billion monthly users, with adults aged 18-34 most likely to follow and engage with a brand via social networking (Source Marketingsherpa). 

All brands begin with zero followers, so what’s the best way to drive those numbers up, retain your following and keep them engaged with your content?
Ross Cutting, Managing Director of jewellery brand www.janareinhardt.com shares his secrets to building and maintaining a loyal following:

1. Persistence pays 

At first you’ll have a handful of followers, while your competitors may be in the thousands. Stick with it. Post every day if you can, use relevant hashtags, follow others and engage with their content. Initially, it may seem as though you’re following more people than you have followers, but gradually things will even out. 

2. Be wary of buying followers 

This might seem like a quick fix, but ultimately it damages your brand and discourages engagement from genuine followers or browsers.  It’s very easy to spot purchased followers and see they aren’t the real deal, many won’t ever post or leave comments (except spam). Bought followers make a brand look less authentic. It is far better to build your profile gradually, with real followers who will engage with the brand, and in turn bring their followers to you. Organic growth is slower, but infinitely superior.
growing your brand's social media following

Photo via Jack Moreh and Freerange

3. Photos, photos, photos!

Instagram is a visual platform and picture led posts on Facebook and Twitter perform much better than those without. Constantly photographing and posting shots of our unique jewellery has been key in increasing our following. Average work is much harder to get people interested in, but our pictures are out of the ordinary and really capture people’s imagination. Find the thing that makes your business unique and capitalise on it. 

4. Continuity is key 

Style all your photos in the same way, with the same filters. Use the identical borders round pictures and create a colour scheme. It might seem a hassle, but ultimately creates a recognisable feel for your posts that people identify with your brand, forming a unique relationship with your followers. 

5. Engage with followers

It might sound obvious, but genuine engagement increases the likelihood of followers returning to your brand page and recommending you. Respond to comments where it’s natural to do so, get conversations going and build relationships. Make your posts a mix of products and stories that reveal something about your brand behind the scenes, this will help followers to feel part of your journey and not as though they are constantly being spammed. 

6. Link to your website 

Link back to your business site to drive traffic, but don’t go overboard.  If you link with every post people may feel like it’s hard sell and be turned off. Ensure a link to your website is obviously displayed under your handle, so followers can browse if they want to. If you’re highlighting a specific product, always provide a link on site, followers are more likely to impulse buy something they can immediately access. 
Author Bio

growing your brand's social media followingJulia Ross is a blogger, animal lover, jewellery enthusiast and Social Media Marketing Coordinator for Jana Reinhardt Jewellery.   

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Why You Need a Good Blogging Blueprint! https://propelbusinessworks.com/uncategorized/good-blogging-blueprint/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/uncategorized/good-blogging-blueprint/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 13:00:34 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8284 Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

If you have made the decision to implement a blog in your marketing strategy, that’s awesome! You’ve made the choice to help take your online presence to the next level. Your blog will provide you with an excellent outlet to leverage your expertise and increase traffic to your website.

Any blog starts with establishing a brand voice profile and content ideas, but what about a long-term plan? Whether a newbie or blogging veteran, using a blogging blueprint helps to keep you blogs consistent, authentic and interesting!

What is a blogging blueprint?

It is an integral part of your blogging strategy that maps out the content you write and topics you cover. Essentially it ties together your goals and keeps your blogging efforts on the right track. Using a blogging blueprint takes away the hassle of coming up with new ideas for each post. A blueprint can also help you achieve strategic business goals such as building readership or increasing search engine visibility.

How do you create a blueprint?

Creating blueprints are no easy feat, however the reward can be extraordinary! First you have to start with defining your goals, brand voice and audience. Whether a B2B business looking to generate new sale leads or increase your SEO, different goals require different strategies. Once you have clearly defined your goals, next you need to establish your brand voice.

A brand voice profile is a snapshot of how you want to convey your business. Aspects of this profile include taglines, values, language and tone. All of these elements and others combine to create a unique brand voice for your company and blog. Remember to always be true to your company when establishing your brand voice, this maintains consistency and reduces reader confusion.
Finally you need to know who is consuming your content. Knowing who your audience is will help determine how, when and what content you publish. Your audience is ultimately who you want to keep coming back and refer your blog to others. Therefore you need to give the people what they want by consistently posting and offering unique content.

Creating your own blueprint is no easy feat and expert advice can be incredibly helpful. Defining goals, brand voice and audience are just the tip of the iceberg. Figuring out what topics, ideas and keywords to focus on are far more complicated.

Content is the brick and motor of your blogging blueprint, without it there is nothing but a conceptual foundation. To determine what content to include, you need to analyze data and consult professionals so that your blog blueprint is the best it can be!

Why is a blueprint Important?

As with any business plan, having a strategic roadmap helps reach goals and build business. Using a blogging blueprint is important so that your blog stays consistent; after all haphazard blog posts or inconsistent posting times can confuse and deter readers.

A blueprint also ensures your blogs authenticity because it helps maintain original content, which is true to your brand profile. Finally it ensures that your business has the best chance of attaining and maintaining readers by keeping your content fresh and interesting.

Creating your own blueprint can be daunting, we offer services that streamline the process with the help of our marketing experts. Reach out to us for a consultation and check out our product offerings. We’re excited to see how your blog helps spur your business growth to new levels! Don’t forget to share with us your success stories!

Jamie

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5 Powerful Photos that Tell Your Brand Story https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/5-powerful-photos-that-tell-your-brand-story/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/5-powerful-photos-that-tell-your-brand-story/#respond Tue, 03 Oct 2017 13:07:22 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19389 Photography elicits a response, unlike any other storytelling medium. Visual assets tell a brand story without the need of language or prose. They bridge gaps where words fail, even bridging languages. Imagery expresses unique personalities while encouraging interaction.

Powerful photographs have powerful stories behind them. A brand story can serve many purposes, and utilizing the power of photography visually demonstrates the value of your brand. It enables your audience to understand your products through unique visual narratives.

Modern consumers want to connect with a brand that’s relatable or aspirational. Leveraging the expert knowledge of a professional photographer elevates the visual elements of your brand story. After all, photographs are the endless canvas with which brands can connect with their audience.

Photography in Dubai captures the glittering mosaic of the landscape. Photography is painting with light. It captures a moment in time and tells its story. With that in mind, here are the five most powerful photos that can make images part of your unique narrative.

how to use photos for branding

Photo via Brad Neathery and Unsplash

Lifestyle

Brand storytelling is all about developing an emotional connection between your consumers and the brand. Lifestyle photography is about context. It produces visual content that conveys a desired lifestyle to the potential buyer.

Take the Marlboro Man, for example. One of the most iconic images of the 20th century, the Marlboro Man strikes a vivid image. The last vanguard of the American frontier, the Marlboro Man as a photograph was nothing more than a saddle and a splash of red. It evokes the mythical American cowboy. As a commercial icon, the Marlboro Man sparked conversation; he was at once both reviled and revered.

Human Connection

By focusing on the human element of your brand, your brand’s story becomes memorable. Burberry’s Art of the Trench resonates with the brand’s audience because it associates an emotion with the brand’s product. It builds brand attachment and loyalty.

Photography provides your brand a two-dimensional stand-in for a three-dimensional experience. Choosing visuals that resonate with your audience’s collective subconscious can have a powerful impact. Photography engages the senses in a way no other storytelling medium can.

Food

Food has always been a focal point of stories. We share jovial discussions at the dinner table and catch up with friends over cups of coffee. Food is ever present in social gatherings and lunchtime chats. Food is social.

Food photography is soulful and genuine. It is beautiful in its simplicity. Food photography creates a compelling story, bringing a brand’s product to life in ways that text-based content can’t. Everyone knows what a Big Mac looks like without being told it’s a Big Mac. A unique skill of the top food photographers in Dubai, is to elevate your food narrative into a stunning visual conversation.

Leveraging the Color Palette

Few factors evoke as much of a response in photography than color. We all interpret color in different ways according to our individual experiences, cultural differences, and its context. Color can influence how your brand story is interpreted. Choosing the right color palette is as important as deciding what subject to photograph.

Colors are effective forms of communication. The study Impact of Color in Marketing finds that about 90% of an audience’s initial reaction to a brand’s product is based on color alone. Coca-Cola uses its color palette, a striking red tone with soft white, to promote its brand as a shareable narrative. Its “Taste the Feeling” campaign is eye-catching and promotes the drink as something to be shared among friends and family.

Behind the Scenes

Using behind the scenes visual content lifts the curtain on your brand and promotes deeper connections with your audience and its prospects. Offering a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors entices your customers to engage with your brand. It humanizes your company and communicates a story your audience wouldn’t otherwise hear.

London upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason leverages social media with behind the scene content of their products to create a personal connection with the customer. It’s programmatic advertising that tells the story behind their brand.

By integrating life experiences to your brand’s story, you create strong visual narratives that inspire the brand community.

To maximize the exposure of your photos and captivate your audience, it’s important to work with an experienced agency. Not only can they tell your brand story in a definitive manner, but their knowledge and expertise can also provide the look and feel your brand needs. Great brands rely on stories to define them. Leverage yours with the power of images.

AUTHOR BIO:

Barry is the creative force behind Barry Morgan Photography, which is a corporate photography company based out of Dubai. Firmly believing you should love what you do, to do your best. Originally hailing from a background in advertising agencies he now brings his business experience to create exceptional and effective marketing photography to help businesses achieve their goals.

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With So Many Social Media Platforms… Don’t Over Do It! https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/with-so-many-social-media-platforms-dont-over-do-it/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/with-so-many-social-media-platforms-dont-over-do-it/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 13:00:15 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8283 Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

From the dawn of social media networks to the advent of consumer engagement “how-to” books, small businesses everywhere have been asked the same question: “What’s your Facebook page?” Gone are the days when good customer traffic was generated only from a storefront or website. If you aren’t joining the conversation on Twitter or sharing photos on Instagram, chances are your business is suffering.

In today’s conversation-savvy world, consumers love to engage directly with the brands and products they buy. Tweeting at DiGiorno during the 2014 Super Bowl resulted in one of the most legendary brand moments of the year. The #DiGiorNOYOUDIDNT was met with fans eagerly awaiting the next tweet rather than yardage. Successful moments like this one are not just haphazard. They are strategically planned and executed communication plans that, with the right mix of wit and brand magic, can result in promotional gold.

One of the things that DiGiorno, Nike, and Coca Cola have in common is exceptionally monitored and managed social media platforms. Small businesses typically don’t have the budgets to pull off real-time marketing like these companies. Nevertheless, that does not mean that social media cannot do wonders for your business and marketing budgets. The first step is to choose the right platforms for your company.

How do you know if you should be on Twitter or Instagram? What about Pinterest? Here’s a list of benefits each platform offers and recommended users:

Facebook:

By far one of the user-friendliest platforms around, Facebook is an obvious choice as top social media platform. This all-inclusive site is great for catching up with old friends or sharing company updates. Widely adapted by an array of consumer segments, Facebook offers business owners’ versatile business profiles and consumer engagement tools.

Recommended User: Everyone. If your small business doesn’t have an account already, go create one now!

Twitter:

This platform took away the fluff of traditional social networking sites and focused on one core feature; the Status Update. With 140 characters, people around the world share news, ideas, and promotions daily. Though this platform has significantly less users than Facebook, it is regarded as one of the best consumer engagement platforms because: 1. Hashtags are king 2. The vast diversity of users 3. Its connectivity to other platforms.

Tweet by DiGiorno during the 2014 Super Bowl

Recommended User: Everyone. With its high growth rate and consumer reach, get your small business on Twitter as soon as possible!

 Instagram:

A picture says 1000 words and can generate great buzz. Sharing pictures has become second nature for a large chunk of the population. Now, major brands like Kate Spade and Columbia are using the #1 photo-sharing platform to build brand loyalty and promote new products. As a small business, Instagram is a great platform to build your brand’s story and share goodwill. Also, few marketers are taking advantage of the platform right now, meaning less branded clutter on consumer feeds.

Recommended User: Instagram, unlike Facebook and Twitter, is not the right choice for every small business. If you are creative firm or restaurant, sharing photos of new events or foods is a great idea. If you are in a more conservative field, Instagram may not be the right avenue to share content. Do research and consider what type of business you are to find out if it is right for you!

 Pinterest:

This platform is all about sharing style ideas and products. Primarily used by a female demographic, it does not have the same reach as Facebook or Twitter, but it makes up for it in other areas. Essentially, Pinterest allows users to post photos or products they like with links to content. If you are a retailer, online or otherwise, this platform can help drive traffic and build your brand story.

Recommended User: Online retailers and creative firms can do wonders using Pinterest to build brand awareness and promote products!

 LinkedIn:

LinkedIn started as a sophisticated networking site for professionals. Today, it is one of the leading talent acquisition sites with recruiters driving the majority of traffic. It is essential as a business professional to have your own profile, let alone as a B2B business. If you are in the business of B2B, this platform is, definitely, for you.

Recommended User: Business to business professionals and everyone in between within the business world. LinkedIn is great for finding professional connections and building following for your business.

 Google+:

Google’s answer to the content sharing trend, Google+ offers users the ability to strategically share content with specific circles. It is essentially a blank canvas that allows users extensive creative freedom to connect with people all around the world. The beauty of Google+ for small businesses is that it levels the playing field. Smaller firms and larger firms alike share content in the same way, meaning marketing budgets do not matter as much on this platform. Sharing relevant content on this site can also do wonders for your SEO, increasing your search result rankings!

Google+ - Plan Promote Prosper

Recommended User: Whether large or small, it doesn’t matter. Google+ is a smart choice to help increase the visibility of your firm’s website and build awareness with your target audience. Start using the platform today!

Obviously there are a lot of platforms to choose from – but there’s no need to stretch too far. Choose a top 2-3 platforms to focus on for your business. Use the majority of your energy on one of them with minimal or no engagement on others. This strategy keeps your social media communication uncomplicated and straightforward.

As a small business, use social media to grow awareness, build your brand voice, and connect with customers. Starting small keeps it manageable and ensures that you don’t spread your efforts too thin. Go out and create your accounts today or spruce up your social media plan! Remember: Quality over quantity.

–       Mackenzie Priest

(Featured image credit: TheBuzzBin)

(Content image credit: FlexibleSystems.com)

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Leadership 101: Key Steps to Becoming a Successful and Respected Business Leader https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/leadership-101-key-steps-become-successful-business-leader-employees-respect/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/leadership-101-key-steps-become-successful-business-leader-employees-respect/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:43:21 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19368 Aspiration to leadership is not an uncommon trait. We all grow up wanting to be captain of the team, head of our class or the center of our social circle. In business, leadership often becomes a measure of success in part because it’s typically the leaders who receive accolades and additional compensation. However, we all recognize that it takes incredible skill to lead – even more so to lead effectively. To manage an effective team while gaining and maintaining the respect of our employees is the highest aspiration. Here are a few steps to help you achieve that goal.

1. Lead by example.

Whether in business or our personal lives, no one likes a hypocrite. Unfortunately, for many people the prevailing attitude is often “do as I say, not as I do.” This is a surefire way to lose the respect of employees and foster resentment. What’s more, this attitude will eventually set your business behind, and keep you from achieving the level of success that you’d like. If you want the respect of your employees, avoid assigning them any tasks that you would be unwilling to take on yourself. You shouldn’t adopt an attitude that they are in the trenches and you are standing by watching. Don’t hesitate to jump in and help. At the same time, don’t hold employees to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

how to become a successful business leader

Photo via rawpixel.com and Unsplash

2. Recognize the value of your employees.

As a leader in your business, your value to the company or a team can and should go relatively unsaid. When there are achievements or new advancements, don’t hog the credit. Understand that any group achievement is reliant on employee productivity – their ideas and their strong execution of a strategy. If you want to be respected by your employees, don’t pretend that you did everything, or adopt an air of having been critical to the team’s success. Recognize what other people did well, and make sure that they know you recognize their talents and hard work. Take note, this step is useless without that last part – being thankful or appreciative means nothing if you don’t express it directly to employees.

3. Take time to listen.

From the outside, many people think that leadership is all about talking – dictating and giving orders. The truth is that it’s even more about listening. If you’re going to have the respect of your team, employees need to know that they are heard. This is why many companies advertise a so-called “open-door” policy. It’s important to morale that you listen to their ideas, that they have the ability to improve operations and help the team achieve even more.

4. Be accommodating whenever possible.

Employees sometimes require flexibility. Some work better under certain circumstances. When they bring ideas or requests to you, look for ways to say “yes” rather than reasons to say “no.” Eventually, this attitude will become the prevailing thought proces throughout your whole team or company, so try to take the positive approach. Otherwise, pretty soon employees will be looking for ways to cut corners or avoid doing work, rather than completing tasks more effectively or efficiently than you even hoped.

5. Offer abundant opportunities for advancement.

Everyone has ambitions; stifling or hindering the goals of employees will serve only to foster their resentment – and it will be well-earned. As a leader in your business, a critical part of your role is to cultivate an environment that allows employees to hone their skills, advance themselves, and enjoy the increased compensation and added benefits that come with more responsibilities. Failure to grant employees these opportunities will leave them feeling stifled in their own growth.

Leadership is a complex function in any organization. It requires not only abundant understanding of operations and numerous technical issues, but also of psychology and how to motivate or recognize your employees. In many cases, it means knowing when to be good cop and when to be bad cop. On the whole, being a leader can be very rewarding if you do it well. Your company or team can go on to accomplish a lot, and you can enjoy respect of employees and co-workers. You can give employees opportunities to grow and advance, while also advancing your own career. If you want to be a more successful leader, respected by your employees and partners, be sure to follow these steps above.

Steven McMeechan

how to become a successful business leaderSteven McMeechan is a strategic marketing and communications specialist with over twenty years’ experience in senior marketing management roles across a range of industries including Information Technology and Financial Services. He works for Capstone Financial Planning and lives in Melbourne Australia.

 

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Grabbing the Interest of Your E-Newsletter Readers Using Catchy Graphics https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/grabbing-the-interest-of-your-e-newsletter-readers-using-catchy-graphics/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/grabbing-the-interest-of-your-e-newsletter-readers-using-catchy-graphics/#comments Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:00:17 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8282 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Creating an interesting e-newsletter with appealing content and design can do wonders for your business. E-newsletters are great tools for keeping customers aware of your business and services, along with what’s new at your company. Traditionally, they are used as bulletins, intermittently issued, to update customers or potential customers about new articles, changes, or developments within your company. E-newsletters are meant to be brief and, as a consequence, need to be eye-catching right away!

Using images and eye-catching graphics within e-newsletters has the potential to increase your readers Click Through Rate or CTR.  The CTR is the percentage of readers that click on the article and read it. A higher CTR means that you did something right! People were interested in the topic or graphics attached to your e-newsletter and chose to read it.

An e-newsletter full of text can be boring to look at. Using relative, high quality graphics and images helps draw attention and communicate the message you want to send to your readers. Images should evoke ideas and reflect your company’s point of view. Remember that e-newsletter should draw attention and be brief, calling the eye to an interesting article spotlight and linking back to the full article on your site.

If you are featuring a new blog on social media marketing, be sure to imbed the same image you used for that blog within the article along with the link. This connects your communications across multiple marketing channels. When choosing images for your e-newsletters, remember the following:

High Quality

Good e-newsletter design requires a good foundation along with decoration. A good e-newsletter starts with a good design template. After you choose the right e-newsletter template for your company, you need to build upon the design with quality images. Choose high quality and high-resolution pictures for your e-newsletters.

Relevance

Pictures can say a thousand words; just make sure they are the right ones. Don’t just add images or pictures to jazz up an e-newsletter. Make sure they support your story. Keep e-newsletter pictures or images relevant to the topics at hand and your company. This will detour confusion on your readers’ part while reinforcing your brand image and promoting your company’s current topics of discussion.

Authenticity

Remember to always strive for authenticity. Just as your content should be your own, so should your pictures. Or at least you should have a valid right to use them! Authentic design and content will positively reflect on your company while supporting your brand image.

When it comes to finding pictures, you can always take your own! Another option is to use high quality photos from stock photo sites, Flickr or Google search. WARNING: Copyright infringement is never a fun thing to deal with, make sure that you never use an image that you don’t have the right to use! Here are a few image sources we love:

iStockPhoto.com

ShutterStock.com

StockFreeImages.com

CreativeCommons.org

It’s never too late to revitalize your e-newsletter efforts. Take time to look through the photo sites we recommend and incorporate great graphics in your next e-newsletter!

Jamie

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How to Dominate Instagram in Your Industry https://propelbusinessworks.com/socialmedia/dominate-instagram-industry/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/socialmedia/dominate-instagram-industry/#comments Tue, 29 Aug 2017 13:13:43 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19348 With the popularity of Instagram, you’re likely either thinking about finding a way to utilize this platform or currently working to get results with Instagram. And, I think this is great! The benefits and value that come from using Instagram are many and measurable. With that in mind, I want to help you better understand how you can use Instagram to increase engagement, boost brand awareness, drive more traffic, and get more sales!

I would like to start by saying that I honestly believe that any and all businesses can use Instagram. But, that doesn’t mean that Instagram is right for every business. Instagram is a very powerful tool. However, like all other social media platforms, it will take time, resources, and a commitment to see verifiable results. To help you take advantage of Instagram and better understand how you can use Instagram for your business, I’ve put together some tips for a variety of industries.

Hospitality & Restaurants:

how to dominate instagram

Photo via marriottmarquissd and Instagram

If you work in the hospitality or restaurant business, you have an abundance of options to create highly effective visual content on Instagram!

First and foremost, you should be including content that showcases your business and location. Use photos of the outside of your building(s), your grounds, your amenities, your rooms, your bar, your kitchen, and your reception area. These are all areas that allow you to create a story and evoke an emotional connection with your audience.

Don’t merely showcase your property in one light or at a certain time. Include a mix of content from different times of the day, different seasons, and different holidays or themes. It’s important to understand that your customers all have different plans when it comes to visiting your property. By showcasing your business in all these different settings and scenarios, you can ensure you connect with what they appreciate – and you might give them some ideas to try you outside their “normal” routine!

You should, also, focus on showcasing your “products”. This can include your food, drinks, amenities, gifts, guest rewards, and prizes. Sharing these types of content allow you to demonstrate the ambiance and atmosphere of your property. By showing your audience what they can expect when they arrive, you eliminate the concerns and confusion for new guests and inspire intrigue for potential new customers.

No matter where your business is located, there are plenty of other exciting things around you. To expand your content options on Instagram, incorporate posts that showcase your local attractions and surroundings. Are you near a convention center or sports stadium? Are you close to local parks or entertainment locations? Is there a local farmer’s market or other neighborhood attraction nearby? Displaying content that shows these local attractions will help your audience better understand what you have to offer and what they get when they visit you. Or, if they plan to visit one of these local events, they know you’re nearby!

Incorporate relevant hashtags related to both your business and the local attraction to help your posts get more reach and get found by more potential new customers. If you have promotions, coupons, or discounts available, you can also showcase these on Instagram. People love discounts and if you can incorporate these into your Instagram content, you’ll see greater results in your engagement, traffic, and conversions.

This industry is, also, at a huge advantage for making use of User Generated Content (UGC). Since your customers are likely actively sharing photos of your property, products, and amenities, you have a huge selection of fresh content to share with your audience. Find this UGC by searching hashtags or posts that tag your business. Use a repost app to share your customers’ posts to your account. Not only does this give you fresh content from a fresh perspective, but you also reward your fans by showcasing them and letting them know you appreciate them.

Retail:

how to dominate instagram

Photo via lululemon and Instagram

 

 

If you work in the retail industry, you have a ton of items to share on Instagram!

Your store (online or brick-and-mortar) is full of products to showcase on Instagram. Because your products are your source of revenue, you will want to highlight and showcase these on Instagram. Be sure to include new arrivals, new trends, new releases, and hot items. Also, consider including teasers or previews of items to be released or available soon. Make sure that you display your products as organically as possible. This means creating a story. Don’t simply share a photo of your product in the box (though this does work on occasion). Instead, show your product on a model, in use, in a related environment, or other situation that allows the viewer to connect with the product.

Showing your behind-the-scenes process is a great way to give your audience a closer look at your business and rewarding them for their dedication to your brand. You can show how your product is made, how you choose supplies or products, who’s in the meetings that make these decisions, what the packages look like before they hit the shelves, etc. These types of images also act as intrigue to inspire your customer to see the “final” product that will hit the shelves (or online store). If you have a local business, I recommend you use targeted, local hashtags to increase your chances of new customers finding you and your products. Retailers love sales and promotions – and your customers love them, too!

If you have a sale or promotion going on, make sure you advertise it on Instagram to let your audience know. I, also, recommend you offer Instagram-exclusive discounts. Once a month or one a quarter, run an Instagram promo code that you don’t promote anywhere else. This will help you gain new followers and you can track what sort of sales traffic you are getting from Instagram.

This industry is ripe for User Generate Content (UGC). If you find your customers, celebrities, or other people using or wearing your products, you can share those images to Instagram. If the person originally shared a post on Instagram, use a repost app to share their original photo – giving them credit and showcasing your fans. However, if you see people sharing photos on other sites or on other media, you can always take a photo of that on your desktop or screenshot your phone to create an image for your Instagram account.

Construction, Landscaping, or Trade Providers:

 

If you work in a trade industry, you might struggle with how to showcase your business visually. But, you actually have a ton of visual content that you can create while sharing a story and promoting your business. Some of the best content you can use revolves around what you create every day. If you’re “building” something or “crafting” something, you can easily share images of stages of progress. You can also show before and after images that demonstrate the quality of work you do. I recommend that you make good use of third party apps that allow you to create collage images for Instagram. You can create before and after images using a side-by-side collage, or show four stages of a project using a 4-photo collage.

You’re also lucky that, in general, the mediums you work with are very conducive to angles, lines, and other fun Instagram techniques. Experiment with different perspectives and angles to showcase your products with more depth, vanishing points, long lines, reflections, lighting, and creative layouts.

You can, also, make big strides by including how-to posts on Instagram. Mixing in photos and videos to showcase solutions, quick tips, suggestions, and helpful advice will turn your account into more than just pretty pictures – it will become a resource for your customers and potential customers.

Showcasing your employees and content of them “at work” is a really good way to familiarize your customers with who you are and what you do. When they get to recognize who is on your staff and who is going to show up when they call you for work, they are more comfortable, assured, and confident in the work they are going to have done.

Since you are likely a local based business, I recommend you find ways to tie into your local community and city area. Incorporate appropriate hashtags and information in your posts that relate to the area you are servicing.

Consultants and Service Providers:

how to dominate instagram

Photo via jenns_trends and Instagram

Finally, I want to take a look at one of the industries that struggles most with how to use Instagram – the consultants and service providers. Since you don’t have a product to sell and often provide many services remotely or develop customer relationships online, you struggle with what to share visually on Instagram. But, you actually have plenty to share! You just have to be a little more creative with it.

Most importantly, your Instagram account should reflect your business. It’s easy for consultants to share a lot of personal content and other random images because they don’t know what to share. But if you want your customers to follow you and attract new potential customers, your account needs to provide them with what they’re looking for. You can still mix in some occasional personal content and show that side of you and your brand, but the focus should be on your business.

If you provide IT services, your account should focus on this content. If you provide health and fitness training and support, your account should highlight this content. If you provide career and business advice, your account should reflect this. The biggest challenge is understanding how visual your business really is. You do things in your business everyday – and these can be documented visually.

Share images of your workspace or projects you’re working on. If you are working on certifications, training, or even just reading a new book on your industry, show your audience how you’re learning this – it helps you better serve them!

If you have to go to locations or travel for your business, share these locations through images. Meetings in a restaurant or at an office building or in a historic location all make for creative Instagram photos. If you travel, share an image or video from each location you visit explaining why you’re there and what you’re excited to do.

You, also, have the ability to get your audience involved directly in your business through Instagram. When you share images of your everyday routine or visits to new places, ask your audience for their input. How do they take their coffee (with a photo of your morning java)? Are they messy desk people or perfectly organized (with an image of your desk space for comparison)? Do they recommend a good place to go for lunch near your meeting location?

The purpose of Instagram is to share great visual content and forge new relationships. Taking advantage of what you do and incorporating your audience into that content will bring you big rewards. There are plenty of other industries out there and you may not really fall into one of the categories we discussed above, including healthcare and non-profits. 

I hope that the ideas and suggestions I listed will help you better utilize your Instagram account for your business. And, if you would like more assistance in creating an Instagram strategy specific to your business, please contact me. I offer strategy development and individualized Instagram training to help you succeed and meet your individual goals.

Fore more information or to sign up for the Instagram training program, click here.

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The Importance of Being Social https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/importance-social/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/importance-social/#comments Tue, 22 Aug 2017 13:00:58 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8281 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and jscreationzs

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and jscreationzs

Social media has redefined and reinvented the way we communicate. Twitter invites us to join the conversation while Facebook empowers people all around the world to stay connected. Businesses today have a unique opportunity to directly engage with consumers across multiple platforms. Marketers stress the importance of being active on social media, but why is it such an integral part of modern business communication? What can it offer small business owners compared to different marketing tactics? Here are just a few benefits that set social media apart:

Builds Trust

Social media has empowered both consumers and companies alike to share thoughts and ideas openly. With the advent of social media, businesses are able to answer questions, share information, and interact with consumers like never before. These direct channels of consumer engagement allow businesses to build trust with their consumers through immediate responses, transparency, and accountability.

Social media is an open platform where anyone can post reviews, comments, or concerns. Businesses that actively participate in social media have a higher level of accountability to their consumers to be transparent about their business practices. Building trust with your consumers through social media encourages them to refer your company and become repeat customers.

Improves Brand Image

As a business, your social media accounts are remarkable tools for improving your brand image. Business profiles are publicly viewable 24/7, offering great opportunities to promote new products and services. However, the open nature of social media can be just as helpful to your brand image as harmful. If a customer writes a bad review about a restaurant on their Facebook page, the restaurant has the opportunity to apologize and rectify the issue right away.

Unfortunately, PR incidents such as this are not always handled in the appropriate manor. If you are not careful about how and who is responding to criticism for your business, a social media nightmare like the one Amy’s Baking Company  faced could occur. In a nutshell, the owners of the business responded to criticism of their bakery by insulting customers with profanity and unwarranted comments. If Amy’s had the right person and procedures in place to handle reviews, they could have avoided the bad publicity they received. Overall, social media can improve your brand image if handled correctly and responsibly!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Until recently, search and social media were consisted separate entities. However, now more and more users are using Twitter, Pinterest, and other sites to search for products and information. Because of this trend, businesses have the opportunity to tailor their SEO efforts on social media to drive traffic and sales. Social media allows users to reach your website through organic search and content, meaning that your paid advertisements within newsfeeds are able to work in tandem with free Twitter statuses.

The combination of paid and organic search via social media has the power to drastically improve your performance. Social media is, now, a primary search engine to promote new content for your business. Using social media SEO can take your business from low visibility to a prominent search position. To achieve this focus on high quality content, well-developed pages and research SEO practices your company can implement!

These are just three of the reasons why it is important for your business to be on social media. Interacting with your consumers and utilizing social media platforms to promote your business is crucial to your business’ success. For more information on how social media can build trust and improve SEO, check out the following articles:

Forbes – 6 Ways Brands Build Trust on Social Media

Social Media Examiner – 18 Social Media SEO Resources

Mackenzie Priest

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Presentation Matters https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/presentation-matters/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/presentation-matters/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2017 13:00:45 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8280 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Nemo

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Nemo

Blogging is one of the best tools you can use to share ideas and connect with customers. Whether writing a blog for your small business or sharing professional ideas, content is ultimately King. However, the formatting and presentation of your blog is incredibly important to the success of your endeavors.

When developing a website, functionality, content and esthetics are all top on the priority list. When writing a blog, the same applies. Not all of us are blessed with artistic eyes, however here are a few formatting hacks that can ensure your blog looks as sharp and keeps readers coming back for more:

1. Don’t write a novel

A safe range for blog posts is 500-700 words. Any longer than 700 words, and readers start to lose interest. Keeping the content short also improves the visual appeal to potential readers. With people leading busier and busier lives, reading a short article is usually more intriguing than a long wordy one.

2. Use Subheadings

When reading through any text, it’s easier to grasp key ideas when large chunks of information are broken down. A great tool to avoid overly dense content is using subheadings. For example, if you are writing about the best-roasted chicken recipe, break down the article into separate parts. The first section could cover Prep Work followed by a section on Seasoning and then Cooking. You don’t have to use subheadings for every article, but they are extremely useful.

3. Be Bold

Formatting something bold automatically increases its importance within any text. Bolded content helps draw the eye and nicely emphasize a key section of the article. Add bolded subheadings and key words to your articles so it’s easy for readers to find information.

4. Order and Unordered Lists

Instead of simply writing each one of these tips out, we numbered them so you can easily see each one. Using lists is a way to compile information into manageable sections so readers can easily see key ideas, facts or data. Utilize bulleted and numbered lists whenever possible, especially when quoting data or important facts.

5. Point out key Info

Adding bolded or italicized text to key sentences and phrases also helps the reader’s eye be automatically drawn to 
that information. Formatting your text like this can ensure that readers get the key idea of your article.

6. Add Links

When referencing specific sites or articles, always include a hyperlink or link to the site or where the content was originally published. This allows your readers to gain more information about a topic or your source. Linking can also help you avoid plagiarism and copyright infringement issues by properly citing sources. Additionally, if you are discussing a topic that may be industry specific or not common knowledge, linking the text to a definition is a nice touch.

7. Be short and Spacious

Big blocks of texts are not visually appealing. An easy way to improve the esthetics of your blog is to use spaces when appropriate. Always add spacing between paragraphs and also keep them small, 3-6 sentences long.

8. Add (High Quality) Pictures

Adding an appropriate, relevant, and interesting image or graphic to a blog article can really help your point pack a punch. High quality and resolution pictures are always the best way to go. Most phones come with cameras that will take more than adequate blog-quality photos. Whenever possible use photos you have taken yourself or subscribe to a stock photo service to avoid copyright infringement.

9. Be consistent: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Staying consistent with your blogs brand voice is incredibly important. It ensures that your readership stays engaged and your content properly represents your company. Keeping the content formatting consistent is just as important because it reinforces your brand identity. When you find a blogging style and formatting that you enjoy, stick to it as much as possible.

Good formatting takes time, along with some trial and error. If you follow these tips, it’s sure to improve your blog’s visual appeal and help keep your branding consistent. We hope that you found these ideas useful and for more information, feel free to contact us or check out these links:

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/appearance-matters-how-to-format-your-blog-posts-for-social-linkbait-success/49116/

http://bloggingtips101.com/blog-post-format-formatting-effectively/

-Jamie

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Why Influencer Marketing Should Be On Your Agenda https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/marketing-tips/influencer-marketing-agenda/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/marketing-tips/influencer-marketing-agenda/#respond Tue, 01 Aug 2017 13:53:37 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19321 Influencers are the modern day business referral. After an influencer recommends your product or service, an influx of leads and conversions often come your way. With strategic management, influencers can offer a greater ROI than traditional sponsorship or advertising — it’s the new way to get ahead and break into markets.

Influencers are rife on all the major social media networks and often run their own blogs too — there are eligible influencer candidates to suit the budget and requirements of all businesses. Let’s explore exactly why influencer marketing should be on your agenda, and what you and your business can gain from leveraging this latest addition to the marketing mix.

Influencer Marketing

Photo via +Simple and Unsplash

It’s powerful

There are very few things with the potential to drive conversions more effectively than word-of-mouth recommendations. With over 74% of people turning to social networks like Instagram for guidance on purchase decisions, and 49% specifically relying on recommendations from influencers before making purchases, it’s clear that there is a lot of untapped potential in influencers.

Instagram is the social network that sees the most influencer marketing due to its highly visual nature that lends itself perfectly to photos and videos of products, but Facebook, Twitter, and blogging sites are also widely used for influencer collaborations.

Influencer marketing offers an opportunity for brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth recommendations through personalities that consumers already trust and admire. In return, influencers ask for monetary compensation, and sometimes a free sample of the product or service to try for themselves (honest reviews are often the best way to manage sponsored content). Reviews can be a particularly great way for new, smaller, or relatively unknown brands to grow their reach and piggyback off the credibility of influencers.

Not sure where to start? Check out this guide on what platforms you should be using to partner up with the best influencers to get the ball rolling.

Native advertising oozes authenticity

Influencer Marketing

Photo via kate.lavie

These days, 43% of people rank authenticity over content. This means that it’s important for your marketing tactics to come across as genuine, informative and not overly salesy.

Interestingly, 47% of online consumers now use an adblocker plugin on their web browser. What does this mean for you? It means that it’s paramount to put your money behind brand influencers and native content to market your products instead of disruptive ads. On-page ads will soon be a thing of the past.

In contrast to the disruptive ads of old, native advertising places brands and products subtly amongst ‘organic’ content. Overall, this creates a more pleasurable experience for users, who are not distracted from the content they intended to watch, view, or read by an irrelevant ad. Instead, the ad is subtly woven into the content they’re already consuming.

Take Naked Juice, the American smoothie brand, as an example. This brand has gained exposure across multiple industries and niches by leveraging fashion and beauty bloggers on Instagram. As a versatile product, Naked successfully caught the attention of new customers from a broad range of backgrounds — people who were happy to share their morning, fitness, food, and fashion routines and stories.

Have a think about what secondary niches might be a good fit for your product. If you’re an online bookstore, consider what kinds of influencers would like to do a post about what they’re reading right now. Chances are that you could target a wide range of willing influencers, from beauty bloggers to parents on Instagram..

Hyper-targeted advertising with high engagement levels

Influencer Marketing

Photo via Pixaby and Pexels

Influencer marketing can vary from the macro to the micro.

The term microinfluencer means influencers on a smaller scale. They are individuals who work or specialize in a particular industry, in a particular location, and have a substantial, though not huge, online following. Microinfluencers usually have a modest number of followers, however their audiences are significantly more engaged than those of some of the megainfluencers.

Microinfluencers are really useful for two reasons. Firstly, with these smaller influencers, you can really target areas of the country or world that you want to get your marketing messages to. Are you a brand opening a store in New York, and looking to gain press exposure and let people in the Big Apple know? You should try sourcing microinfluencers in that New York neighborhood to entice potential customers to your shop.

Secondly, with higher engagement levels, comes a greater chance that the right people will be seeing your sponsored posts. According to Hubspot, Instagram users with fewer than 1,000 followers can generate likes 8% of the time. This is a significant increase from users with 10-100,000 followers who achieve a lesser 2.4% like rate.

To harness the power of the right microinfluencers, it’s first important to cast your eye back to your buyer personas. Consulting in-depth data about your target audience, including purchasing habits, location, and hobbies will help you shortlist which verticals, areas, and industries to begin your search with.

Influencer marketing might just be the supercharged marketing tactic you’ve been looking for. Be sure to base every decision you make on what your target audience searches for online, and the kind of content that they enjoy to ensure maximum engagement. Convinced yet?

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant

Influencer MarketingI love my job. I get to collaborate with businesses of all shapes and sizes to help them produce an effective content marketing and social media strategy. I love seeing them get the results they deserve to take their business to the next level. Score!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What You Need to Know About Twitter https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/what-you-need-to-know-about-twitter/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/what-you-need-to-know-about-twitter/#comments Tue, 25 Jul 2017 13:00:38 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8279 Image courtesy of PIxabay and habergibitv

Image courtesy of Pixabay and habergibitv

Twitter is one of the most dynamic consumer engagement tools available. The issue is knowing to how use it. Simply starting an account and posting content is not enough to get your small business connected to your customers. Twitter Gurus around the world have developed tricks of the trade for building dynamic communication, brand voice and, ultimately, gaining followers.

So where do you begin? What can you do to keep people interest in what you have to say? Here are a few ideas of how to get the most out of Twitter and build your business at the same time.

Start with a Solid Profile – This includes choosing an applicable name and appropriate picture that represents your business. Keep your Twitter handle or name easy to remember so Twitter users are more likely to engage with you. For your background photo, use something that is expressive of your business’ story. For example, café, coffee beans or a unique picture of your establishment are a good place to start. Keep your profile picture simple: use your logo or a headshot for a personal touch.

Brand Voice – Know your personality and stick to it. Marketing experts love to emphasize the importance of brand voice and for good reason! Your company’s brand voice is what makes it unique and gives it a personality. If you are a fashion company or accounting firm, your choice of topics and content will be vastly different. Make sure that your word choice and topics stay true to who and what you are. Develop a communications brand kit that outlines what and how you communicate with your customers. Keeping your brand voice true to your company and consistent will also ensure that your audience gets to know you faster and keeps coming back for more.

Follow for Follow? – Building your audience After creating your profile and establishing your brand voice, you need to make sure you are encouraging people to follow you. If you have an existing blog, e-newsletter or other social media profiles, promote your Twitter account and ask people to get in on the conversation. Another good tactic is to start following prominent people and companies within your industry. Reach out to customers directly by asking to follow them and ,hopefully, they will return the favor.

Bridge Twitter with other media A reason why Twitter is such a dynamic consumer engagement tool is its versatility. Sure, you are confined to 140 characters per post, but within those characters you can put links to interesting articles, blogs, images, videos, etc. Spicing up your tweets with different media keeps your posts interesting and followers interested. tweetpic.com offers a free photo shrinking service so you can easily share pics with your followers. If you want to share articles without lengthily links, use bitly.com or ow.ly to shrink links to a fraction of their original size.

Leverage your Twitter content on other Platforms – Using cross-platform promotions is a great way to drive traffic to your site and keep your brand voice strong across multiple channels. If you are posting a new blog, promote it on Twitter with a catchy phrase. Have a new e-newsletter coming out this month? Why not promote it on Twitter with a picture that’s related to the content. Make sure that you have links to your other social media sites or website on your Twitter profile. Also put your Twitter handle on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media outlets that your small business uses. The goal should be to keep people moving around on different platforms but still ultimately focused on your company.

Twitter started as a means to generate conversation and awareness, now it’s your turn to leverage the power of the Twitter-verse. For more Twitter tips and tricks, check out these articles. However, other social media experts such as Forbes and Social Media Examiner provide great tips that will help you to leverage your Twitter account.

We would love to hear some of your Twitter success stories! Share them with us.

Jamie

For more Twitter tips, read:

Forbes’ “31 Twitter Tips: How to Use Twitter Tools And Twitter Best Practices for Business

Social Examiner’s “How to Use Twitter for Business and Marketing

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4 Ways to Manage Your To-Do List https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/4-ways-to-manage-your-to-do-list/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/4-ways-to-manage-your-to-do-list/#respond Tue, 11 Jul 2017 13:00:26 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8278 Image courtesy of Pixabay and bohed

Image courtesy of Pixabay and bohed

With life and work pulling in you multiple directions, it’s easy to lose track of things. Making to-do lists and task lists are awesome ways to keep everything straight. The old fashion pen to paper technique is still very affective however there are some great tools available to help keep you organized. Here are a few tips and tools you can use to keep your communication efforts and life on track:

Define and Redefine Your To-Do

Making to-do lists is not for everyone. Some people like keeping what they have to do bottled up in their heads. It might work for some people but the benefit of writing down what you have to do usual pays off. Start by making a rough draft of your to-do or task list. Read through it and cut out anything that doesn’t need to actually be there. Refining your to-do lists ensures that you are keeping pace with what you have to do while not overwhelming you with the minor details. Using categories and subcategories is an easy way to keep a detailed list without too much bulk!

Drop the Clutter and Archive

When working within any field its easy to get overwhelmed with current projects. An easy way to stay focused on the tasks at hand is to make sure you de-clutter your work environment and archive old projects. Your user interface can easily get covered with old documents or excel files, keep folders for each project or client handy to ensure that you are staying organized but not hording unnecessary content. Having a clean workspace will keep you on task and focused.

Keep your tasks Reasonable and Feasible

There is nothing worse than biting off more than you can chew. This results in poor work on your part and disappointed clients. Breaking down your tasks into smaller chunks can reduce your stress and ensure that you don’t miss any details. Give yourself deadlines for tasks and make note of when you finish something. This will ensure that both you and your client are satisfied with the work produced. Don’t forget to celebrate small wins!

Embrace Apps, they are your Friends!

To keep yourself on task and organized, here are a few helpful applications we love:

           Trello

  • Online and application platform that allows you to easily separate tasks and lists.
  • Some cool features include board sharing with others, email reminders and multilevel list making capabilities.
  • Reminders pop-up in push notifications and due dates are highlighted when the task is close to due date.

         

            Evernote

  • This application is a great way to jot down ideas and keep a running list of things you have to-do,
  • The platform is user friendly and can easily export into word doc format. This is especially useful if you are working on communication efforts such as blogs, social media and    newsletters.
  • You can create texts, reminders and lists all in one user-friendly place.

       

          Google Calendar

  • Google has always been at the user-friendly forefront and their calendar alerts are no exception.
  • This application operates online using your gmail account so that you can stay informed of your to-dos where ever you go.
  • You can create message alerts and push notifications on your smartphone or tablet as well.

Whether you like to stay classic with a notepad or high-tech with one of these apps, staying organized can help keep your business and communication efforts thriving. For more organizational tips for your business or communication plan, check out these sources:

Lifehacker – Simplify Your To-Do List

Fast Company – Make your To-Do List more Effective!

Jamie

(Content image credit: DallisonLee.com)

 

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10 Ideas to Create Conversation on Social Media https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/10-ideas-to-create-conversation-on-social-media/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/10-ideas-to-create-conversation-on-social-media/#respond Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:00:02 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8277 social-media

Image courtesy of Pixabay and niekverlaan

Image courtesy of Pixabay and niekverlaan

The number of social media posts we see on a daily basis is astounding. From businesses to individuals, the content reaching us through social media varies from entertaining to easily ignored. Individuals seek engagement and a relationship with the brands that they care for. From a simple acknowledgement of a specific user, to asking a question, to contests… social media can be an effective way to create conversation with your consumers.

So how can you as a company engage in conversation with your consumers in a unique way that will encourage them to communicate with you? We have identified 10 ideas to create conversation on social media:

1) Acknowledge new followers: Use their @Username or mention them in a Facebook post. Everyone loves to be recognized and engaging with new followers shows that your company cares for their consumers.

2) Create contests: No one turns down a free something from a business! This could be offering a service for free or a prize that everyone is after. Encourage followers to participate in the contest and you will see conversation start.

3) Ask a question: Many businesses are afraid to ask questions because of the answers they may receive or the lack of response. Asking questions is an easy and effective way to encourage your followers to communicate. Which leads us to….

4) Monitor your brand engagement: Know what is being said about your business and by whom. You have the opportunity to respond to all your users, provide clarification, and create a true conversation. It goes both ways after all!

5) Post consistently: You cannot neglect your social media websites. You must be pushing new content out to your consumers regularly in order for conversation to start. If you neglect your social media pages, you could miss out on opportunities for growth in your consumer base.

6) Retweet or share: Consumers love to know that the businesses they care for and follow are reading what they have to say, as well. If it is relevant to your brand, retweet or share their posts. It may start a conversation with just that individual or others could be interested in the topic of conversation and join in.

7) Positivity, sincerity, and friendliness: We have all seen individuals and companies whose content seems harsh or negative and the way they engage with their followers seems unfriendly. Make sure that when responding to your followers or posting original content, your brand voice is consistent with your company’s ideals. Being negative can create a poor brand image. If you are friendly and positive, you are more likely to see consumers who want to talk with you!

8) Use hashtags: As we’ve said before… the hashtag frenzy is not just a trend! Using a company specific hashtag along with related topics, will allow you to track what is being said. You can, also, use the what’s trending feature on Twitter or search by specific hashtag to then engage with the consumers talking about your business.

9) Post recent material: Social media serves as a way for consumers to track news on the things they care most about. Be sure to post articles, press releases, or other news related resources to keep your users up to date. If they have questions, they will likely ask you.

10) Call them to action: When posting, try to incorporate a call to action. Whether it be a follow, a retweet, etc., a call to action will increase the number of people who participate in conversation with your business.

It’s not too late to start communicating with your consumers. Who is talking about your brand right now? How can you use these social media tips to engage with them and create a lasting relationship? Check out your company’s Facebook or Twitter page this week to see who you can reach out to!

Jamie

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Should You Get a Security Camera for Your Business? https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/security-camera-for-your-business/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/security-camera-for-your-business/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 07:00:00 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/uncategorized/security-camera-for-your-business/ Yоur Business iѕ оnе of your mоѕt imроrtаnt invеѕtmеntѕ, ѕо уоu should соnѕidеr all possible ways to protect it. This includes everything from protecting your files from online attacks to protecting your office from burglars.

While protecting the files on your computer is as easy as purchasing some good and well known virus protector (like Kaspersky, Bitdefender or Norton), for a fairly small amount of money, protecting your office space and goods would require a bit more thinking…

Security systems can ѕеrvе as аn еffесtivе wау tо рrоtесt, еѕресiаllу when уоu аrе оut or going оn аn out-of-town triр. Onсе уоu hаvе one installed уоu will fееl mоrе confident аbоut lеаving уоur office аnd kеерing it ѕаfе from thiеvеѕ and burglаrѕ. Also, keep in mind that most insurance companies require their clients to add extra protection. This often includes security cameras or other surveillance tools.

If уоu are ѕtill dоubtful аbоut уоur decision to acquire a ѕесuritу саmеrа for your business, you ѕhоuld see ѕоmе оf thе bеѕt fеаturеѕ thаt theѕe products роѕѕеѕѕ, and learn about the imроrtаnt bеnеfitѕ that уоu соuld еnjоу frоm рurсhаѕing аn оutdооr wireless ѕесuritу саmеrа.

Eаѕу installation 

In the past, mоѕt security саmеrаѕ required рrоfеѕѕiоnаl inѕtаllаtiоn. But these days a good kit can be inѕtаlled on уоur рrореrtу easily juѕt by reading the mаnuаl and fоllоwing the ѕtер-bу-ѕtер рrосеѕѕ. Most come with all the required cabling but some wireless camera setups even bypass this laborious task. This means you don’t even need to worry about аll thе electrical wiring оf a wirеd саmеrа system that соuld саuѕе роtеntiаl thrеаtѕ tо уоur hоmе and make it mоrе susceptible tо accidents саuѕеd by fаultу wiring.

Thаnkѕ tо the dеvеlорmеnt оf cheap wirеlеѕѕ ѕесuritу cameras it iѕ nоw роѕѕiblе for рrореrtу оwnеrѕ like уоu tо inѕtаll ѕесuritу саmеrаѕ withоut аѕking for thе ѕuреrviѕiоn of рrоfеѕѕiоnаlѕ. It dоеѕ nоt need рrоfеѕѕiоnаl installation, and it wоuld not require you to аltеr уоur рrореrtу’ѕ infrastructure. Thiѕ unique fеаturе makes them реrfесt fоr рrореrtу owners who hаvе nо еxреriеnсе in inѕtаlling them.

Mоnitоrѕ your Business 24/7 

Anоthеr important feature of having a security camera for your business is the сараbilitу tо protect рrореrtiеѕ twеntу fоur hоurѕ a day аnd seven dауѕ a week. By installing a camera on уоur рrореrtу, you саn mоnitоr your hоmе еvеn while уоu аrе оut of town. Wirеlеѕѕ security саmеrаѕ are uѕuаllу сараblе of сарturing imаgеѕ and trаnѕfеrring them tо a раrtiсulаr Intеrnеt аddrеѕѕ. Onсе configured, you сan receive important alerts via email whеn рrоblеmѕ in your hоmе or business аriѕе. Yоu соuld еаѕilу соntасt thе аuthоritiеѕ when mаliсiоuѕ реорlе are trespassing or trying to gain access to your property.

Offеrѕ аdvаnсеd features for рrоtесting уоur Business 

An outdoor wireless security саmеrа possesses all thе fеаturеѕ nееdеd in order tо mаkе sure thаt уоur hоmе, home office, or business is 100% safe from thiеvеѕ and burglаrѕ. Mоѕt оf thе wirеlеѕѕ оutdооr саmеrаѕ оn the mаrkеt also offer advanced fеаturеѕ ѕuсh as аutоmаtiс diаling and mоtiоn detectors. Onсе these dеtесtоrѕ rесеivе ѕignаlѕ from any unnесеѕѕаrу motions around уоur office, thеу automatically diаl thе number of аuthоritiеѕ аnd infоrm them of thе problem.

These саmеrаѕ аlѕо соntаin mоnitоring ѕуѕtеmѕ which аllоw uѕеrѕ tо dеtесt whether thеir саmеrаѕ аrе experiencing аnу technical difficulties. Not only that, but they also monitor the реrimеtеrѕ of уоur рrореrtу аnd ѕеndѕ ѕignаlѕ tо the camera once mоtiоn iѕ detected. Then, thе саmеrа receives thеѕе ѕignаlѕ аnd ѕtаrtѕ rесоrding thе еvеntѕ in its view.

While purchasing a security camera for your business might feel like a significant investment, it is definitely worth its money if you consider how much you can lose if you don’t have one. Also, if you spend some time on the internet and browse for one online, you’ll notice that nowadays it’s really not that expensive. As it turns out, even dummy cameras have positive effect in stopping burglars.

Protection of your office goods doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective! Nowadays you can buy high quality cheap security cameras and surveillance systems for a low price and never worry again.

Jeffrey Ulrich is the CEO of Chinavision Wholesale Ltd.

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Play By the Rules: Developing a Good Social Media Policy https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/play-rules-developing-good-social-media-policy/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/play-rules-developing-good-social-media-policy/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 13:00:50 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8276 Image courtesy of Pixabay and succo

Image courtesy of Pixabay and succo

Knowing where to begin your social media efforts can be confusing and frustrating. With so many different social media platforms to fully understand, it can be difficult to know how each one will affect your company. It is important for you to develop, and for everyone on the team to understand, your company’s social media policy. Your social media policy should include rules to follow when utilizing company specific social media platforms.

Some important things to remember about social media:

1) Everyone is on social media:

Your content on every platform is being shared with everyone that has access to the Internet. You have the potential to reach a wide range of individuals.

2) What you say is what people will read:

After you post anything on a social media platform, it is up to the reader to interpret. The Internet lacks a “tone of voice” that a phone-call or face-to-face conversation can clearly get across.

3) Your name is tied to your social media platforms:

The Internet allows page visitors to make their own opinions of the company based off of what is posted; this includes on personal pages. You have the opportunity to excel OR damage your brand by what you post.

4) It’s a two-way conversation:

Although you think your job may be done as soon as you post your content, page visitors have the opportunity to comment. This is a great opportunity for your company to engage in conversation with what could be a potential client.

What do you include in your social media policy? Your social media policy should follow and reflect your company’s already established policies for its employees. Some tips to on making a great and effective social media policy for your company:

1) Respect yourself and your audience:

We have all experienced or witnessed an individual who has made their own opinion of a company known via the company’s social media platforms. Resist starting an argument with the individual.

2) Be truthful in your content:

When your credibility is lost, it is incredibly difficult to regain the trust of your customers. Make sure the information you are posting is accurate and truthful.

3) Be responsible and remember you represent your company:

Anything you post online through a social media platform is a reflection of the company you work for, represent, own, or manage. Inappropriate content can cause a lot of damage for your company.

4) Think before you post:

Once it’s posted, it’s available to millions of people.

5) Admit your wrongs:

We all make mistakes and it is important to own up to them quickly and humbly. Correct the error as soon as you are made aware of it and apologize with humility.

6) Provide valuable content:

Be unique in what you post and make sure it is valuable to your audience. You could be reaching your next client and/or connection with everything you post.

Social media has greatly impacted the world around us, and has become one of the means by which we communicate with one another. Revisit your company’s social media policy and make sure all employees are fully aware of their responsibilities on different platforms. By making everyone aware, you mitigate the risks of a negative online presence.

Bren

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Why Automation is Essential in Email Marketing https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/email-marketing-is-essential/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/email-marketing-is-essential/#respond Tue, 06 Jun 2017 07:00:00 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/uncategorized/email-marketing-is-essential/ In the era of social networking and mobile messaging, tech analysts tend to predict the demise of email once or twice a year. In spite of these gloomy projections, however, email is still regarded as one of the most useful and widely-used components of the internet.

While it may be true that mobile applications such as WhatsApp do a great job of providing instant messaging enriched with social media features, email is still king when it comes to digital marketing. In fact, if anything, email has become a more powerful marketing force because so many advertisers are falling to the siren call of social media.

Email has grown into a more focused and less frivolous medium of communication than it was in the early days of the internet. In 2015, an Italian IT research firm estimated the number of global email messages sent each day to be around 205 billion, which can be further interpreted as more than two million emails sent each minute. A sizable portion of this traffic takes place on mobile devices; to this effect, smartphone notifications make email more visible and open rates can range from 15 percent all the way up to 70 percent, depending on the campaign.

Modern Attitudes Towards Email

Email has achieved an aura of seriousness and formality that should be very attractive to brand managers and marketing specialists. Members of Generation X were raised on email the same way Millennials have been raised on social media. But when Millennials look for a job or make a major online purchase, they still turn to email. Similarly, when Millennials sign up for an email newsletter sent by a brand they are interested in, chances are that they are serious about waiting for these messages and opening them at their earliest convenience and in a comfortable setting.

With all this in mind, email marketing is seeing strong success rates these days; however, email marketing can be a time consuming process, particularly when compared to working with social media campaigns. That’s why many marketers are turning to automation when they formulate their email marketing plans.

importance of email marketing

Photo via Pexels

Understanding Marketing Automation

Traditional email marketing campaigns do not offer much in the way of automation. Aside from the ability to launch a massive, browser-friendly email campaign and check the rate of opened and read messages, legacy email marketing is not particularly rich in features.

Modern email marketing automation software offers advanced tools such as an executive dashboard that provides an instant, real-time glimpse at analytics and other information valuable to brand managers. Automation also means the ability to run drip campaigns and other strategies to cultivate leads and guide those leads through the conversion process. Furthermore, leads can be scored and adequately recycled so that they can benefit from CRM integration and Facebook pixel tactics.

Example of Email Marketing Automation

Imagine that an information security firm has a new data loss prevention solution for enterprise clients. Once the mailing list has been prepped, a newsletter about network intrusions and data breaches can be sent out to garner interest.

Since information security products and services usually require a certain sales process, members of the sales team need to focus on leads who are ready to buy. With an email marketing automation campaign in place, leads are constantly evaluated through demographics and certain actions taken on landing pages and social media. This allows salespeople to concentrate on solid prospects instead of trying their luck with leads who only have a passing interest on the subject of preventing data breaches.

Another advantage of automation is that it can easily scale according to interest. If the information security newsletter is being shared among IT professionals, a secondary campaign can be created to target new leads more specifically.

In the end, email marketing automation is too powerful a tool for companies to ignore, whether they focus on B2B or B2C marketing. Automation is exactly what many brands need to achieve marketing success these days

Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in digital media and sales.  He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and personal consultant.

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20 Amazing Benefits of Hugging According to Science (+10 Hugging Tips) https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/20-amazing-benefits-of-hugging-according-science-10-hugging-tips/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/20-amazing-benefits-of-hugging-according-science-10-hugging-tips/#respond Tue, 30 May 2017 07:00:00 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/uncategorized/20-amazing-benefits-of-hugging-according-science-10-hugging-tips/ Over the centuries, various forms of interpersonal touch have become less common, influenced by changes in cultural values and new technology. Nowadays, with twenty four hour access to mobiles, texting and email, many people spend more time interacting with their technology than they do with each other. This lack of touch has many effects on different aspects of our lives, and can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and insecurity.

So why is touch so important to us? We typically think of touch as a pleasant, but not very important part of life. But touch plays an integral role in our daily experiences. It influences what we buy, what we eat, who we love, and even how we heal. We use our sense of touch to gather information about our environment and to establish social bonds with each other.

Multiple studies have concluded that touch, especially hugging, provides numerous health benefits. If you’re looking for a great way to boost your immune system, reduce your stress, improve your sleep and even help cure depression, you need to consider hugging. Hugs have no side effects and require no prescription. Even better, they’re free and can be given and received anywhere, at any time.

Here are 20 great reasons why you should hug and allow yourself to be hugged every single day.

1. Hugging Helps to Fight Stress Induced Illness

It’s a well known fact that stress can weaken the immune system, leading to colds and other illnesses. As the body tries to cope with stressful situations, it responds by becoming physically sick.

Scientists have been investigating the link between physical touch and a healthy immune system. In a 2015 study involving 404 healthy adults, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University examined the effects of receiving hugs on the immune system. Participants were tested on their susceptibility to the common cold, after being exposed to the virus.

It turns out that the people who received more hugs, and greater social support, were less likely to get sick. In fact, researchers calculated that the stress-buffering effects of hugging explained thirty two percent of that beneficial effect. And amongst those participants that did get a cold, those that received hugs reported fewer symptoms.(1)

The researchers concluded that hugs are a way of providing support, and being hugged more frequently could be an effective means of reducing stress and stress related illness.(2)

Bottom line: Hugs help us fight stress and keep us healthier.

2. Hugging Boosts Our Immune System

Hugs strengthen the immune system. When you hug someone you are placing some gentle pressure on their sternum. This activates the Solar Plexus Chakraand stimulates the thymus gland. The thymus gland regulates and balances the body’s supply of white blood cells, keeping you healthy.(3)

The link between touch and a healthy immune system is also documented in a

2010 study published in the journal Developmental Review. The study examined the effects of massage therapy, and concluded that participants showed a noticeable drop in heart rate and blood pressure. They also exhibited a boost in their immune systems, increasing their white blood cell count and decreasing their levels of cortisol.(4)

Bottom line: Hugs boost the body’s immune system and keep us healthy.

3. Hugging Reduces Stress

When we are stressed our nerve endings send information to the body to release the hormone cortisol. This hormone slows down the body’s healing process. Cortisol stimulates the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, which, if not controlled, creates a number of health problems.

Studies have shown that hugging can affect cortisol levels in the body by causing the release of a hormone, oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’. Oxytocin is also referred to as the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior, including its role in love and in female reproduction.(5)

When we receive a hug, the body releases oxytocin, making us feel calmer and more relaxed, and stress levels are reduced. The oxytocin acts on the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centre, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and helping women endure the pain of childbirth. Matt Hertenstein, a psychologist at DePauw University describes oxytocin as promoting feelings of devotion, trust and bonding, and says it lays the biological foundation and structure for connecting to other people.(6)

Bottom line: Hugs reduce stress by releasing oxytocin which relieves anxiety and helps us to bond.

4. Hugging Satisfies Our ‘Skin Hunger’

Skin is the body’s largest organ. It acts as a defence against the outside world, regenerating at an incredible rate Skin is also our brain’s data collector. The soles of our feet, the tips of our fingers, and our lips are all especially designed to collect the smallest details of sensory data and transmit them to the brain via nerve endings.(7)

Touch is the very first sense that we acquire, so it makes sense that touch and physical contact is necessary for our well being.

Sadly, many people are touch-deprived. One study found that one-third of people receive no hugs on a daily basis while 75 percent said they wanted more hugs.(8)

Humans become nearly unrecognizable in the absence of touch. Two hundred years ago, French scientists spotted a creature resembling a human running through the forests. Eventually the creature was caught, and it turned out to be an 11 year old boy. They named the child Victor, and determined that he had been living wild in the forest for most of his life. Initially doctors thought that Victor was mentally retarded, but eventually the physicians and psychiatrists concluded that he had been deprived of human physical touch, which had retarded his social and developmental capacities.(9)

These findings are validated in a study conducted by the Miami Touch Research Institute, which demonstrated the importance of touch for preterm babies. Babies that received daily massages has an accelerated growth rate forty seven percent greater than the babies in the control group, who were not given massages.(10)

Bottom line: Hugs provide the skin contact that our bodies need to remain healthy.

5. Hugging Increases Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is produced and spread by neurons in the brain. It is formed by the amino acid called tryptophan, which sends messages through the blood and tells the brain to produce serotonin.

Serotonin is known as the ‘feel good’ hormone because it helps to make us feel happy, relaxed and confident. It also acts as an appetite controller, and mood regulator.(11)

Health issues such as depression and obesity have been linked to an imbalance in serotonin levels. Serotonin affects and controls mental and emotional processes, motor functions, hormones, blood pressure and motor functions.

Low levels of this hormone can cause sleep disorders and even obesity, as most of our serotonin is found in the body’s digestive system. When levels of serotonin are too low, the brain receives a signal that the body is hungry, and we feel the urge to eat. Studies have shown that there is a direct link between obesity caused by overeating and low levels of serotonin.(12) Once serotonin levels normalise, the desire to keep eating disappears.

Serotonin flows when we feel important or significant, and the reverse is true when serotonin is absent. We feel lonely and depressed. This can lead to unhealthy attention seeking behaviour, or even cause people to join gangs and fall into criminal behaviour.(13)

Many antidepressants on the market today are based on increasing the production of serotonin. However, there is an easier and healthier way; hugging. Hugging releases serotonin into the body, which improves our mood and helps to increase our happiness.(14) High levels of serotonin negate sadness and increase pleasure. This has an immediate effect on our mood and how we feel.

Bottom line: Hugging increases serotonin levels in the body, making us happier.

6. Hugging Balances the Nervous System

When we receive a hug, a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure sensors called the pacinian corpuscles send messages to the brain via the Vagus nerve. These corpuscles can sense touch and react to it.

Studies have shown that when a person receives a hug, their galvanic responseshows a noticeable difference in skin conductance. This is due to a transfer of electricity and moisture from the person doing the hugging. These electricity and moisture levels create a more balanced nervous system.(15)

According to neurologist Shekar Raman, MD, forms of touch such as a hug or pat on the back are processed by the reward centre in the central nervous system, making us feel happiness and joy.(16) The more we connect with others, the happier we feel.

Bottom line: Hugging leads to a balanced nervous system.

benefits of hugging

Photo via Jen Reviews

7. Hugs Are Anti-Aging

As we age, our hormone levels drop, leading to a loss of muscle mass. In fact, our bodies lose up to five percent of our muscle mass each decade past our thirties.(17)

Now studies are focusing on the benefits of oxytocin in regenerating muscle mass and activating muscle signal pathways.

In a study conducted on mice, in which researchers injected oxytocin into older mice with muscle damage, they exhibited better healing after nine days than mice who did not receive the hormone. The mice that received oxytocin were able to repair muscle damage up to eighty percent more than the young, untreated mice.(18)

The results demonstrated that oxytocin is important in maintaining a youthful body and healthy muscles. Since hugging increases the body’s capacity to release oxytocin, it also has the capability to help prevent aging.

Bottom line: Hugging keeps us young and maintains muscle strength.

8. Hugging Protects Against Heart Disease

Scientists have shown that hugging causes the body to produce oxytocin, helping to calm the nervous system and create relaxation, but oxytocin has another as well. It reduces blood pressure and heart stress.

In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, researchers worked with two groups of women. The first held hands with their partners for ten minutes then hugged them, while the second group just sat quietly next to their partners. After the ten minutes were up, the women discussed a recent event that had been stressful for them. The women in the no-contact group showed significantly higher blood pressure readings than those who hugged and held hands.(19)

The participants who did not have any contact with their partners also developed a quickened heart rate of ten beats per minute compared to five beats per minute among those who got to hug their partners during the experiment.(20)

Bottom line: Hugging leads to lower blood pressure and a reduced heart rate.

8. Hugs Act as Nonverbal Communication

Almost seventy percent of communication is nonverbal. The interpretation of body language can be based on a single gesture and hugging is an excellent method of expressing yourself nonverbally to another human being or animal.

Judith Kestenberg, a psychoanalyst specializing in child development, has conducted research on muscle tension. Her study shows that all muscles exhibit an ever-changing alternation in muscle tension during any activity.

Based on her observations of babies, Kestenberg identified ten rhythmic patterns changes that she felt corresponded to particular developmental tasks. Each rhythm has its own specific meaning and non-verbal signal. For example, one type of rhythm indicated a withdrawal or separation between two bodies, while another rhythm simulates the need for bonding and connectedness.(21)

In a well documented case, twin babies born twelve weeks prematurely were placed in an incubator together. This allowed skin to skin contact and stabilised the weaker baby. This practice has come to be known as ‘kangaroo care’, and is often used to help premature infants regulate their temperature, gain more weight, and sleep better.(22)

Kangaroo care is not a new phenomenon. In the early 1980s, the mortality rate for premature infants in Bogota, Colombia was seventy percent. The babies were dying of infections and respiratory problems as well as lack of attention paid to them by a bonded parent.

‘Kangaroo care’ for these infants evolved out of necessity. Mothers were given their babies to hold twenty four hours a day, keeping the baby tucked under their clothing as if in a kangaroo’s pouch. If a baby needed oxygen, it was administered under an oxygen hood placed on the mother’s chest.

When doctors studied the health of these babies, they noticed a drop in neonatal deaths. Babies were not only surviving, they were thriving. Currently in Bogota, babies who are born as early as ten weeks before their due date are allowed to go home within twenty four hours, as long as they can breathe on their own, are able to suck and have a healthy colour.(23)

Bottom line: Hugging is an important form of nonverbal communication and provides multiple health benefits.

9. Hugging Relieves Pain

Sales of over the counter pain medications have exploded in recent years, even though in many cases their effectiveness is limited.

Now scientists have found that emotional bonds can reduce pain aches and pains. They call this effect ‘love induced analgesia’.

Researchers at Israel’s Haifa University recruited dozens of female volunteers and repeatedly subjected them to temporary, mild pain by touching them with a hot metal rod. In the first experiment, a complete stranger held the women’s hands to try to comfort them, while in the second experiment they had a partner standing near them but not touching them. In the final experiment the partner was allowed to hold and stroke the woman’s hand as she was being touched by the hot metal.

The results showed that when a loved one touched their skin, volunteers’ pain scored dropped significantly. The researchers also found that the more a woman’s partner expressed empathy and support during the experiment, the lower the level of pain and the greater the level of relief. The study concluded that social touch has a powerful pain killing effect and suggests that empathy between romantic partners may explain the powerful effects.(24)

Bottom line: Hugs from loved ones provide drug free pain relief.

10. Hugs Can Help with Depression

In addition to releasing oxytocin, hugging also causes the body to produce dopamine. Known as the pleasure hormone, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain‘s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses. It allows us to see rewards and pushes us to take action to achieve them. Dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s Disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction.(25)

Deficient levels of dopamine activity in the brain can cause depression characterised by low energy, and lack of motivation. In some cases, a severely dopamine deficient person may even wish to commit suicide, but often won’t do anything about it.(26)

Using MRIs and PET scans, scientists have shown that hugging stimulates the release of dopamine.(27) This is a much safer way of alleviating some of the symptoms of depression, than taking medications with multiple side effects.

Bottom line: Hugging raises our level of dopamine and reduces symptoms of depression.

11. Hugging Reduces Fear of Mortality

As human beings, we all know that we are going to die some day. This can be very frightening for people with low self esteem who feel like they are not living meaningful lives.

In a series of studies on fears and self-esteem published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers demonstrated that hugs and touch significantly reduce the fear of death and mortality.

In one particular study, participants were approached as they walked through a university campus and handed a questionnaire to fill out. Some of the participants received a light, open palmed touch from the researcher as they were handed the forms, while others were not given any physical interaction.

The results showed that participants with low self esteem, who received the physical touch, reported less death anxiety on the questionnaire than those who had not been touched.

Touch also appeared to act as a buffer against social alienation. Participants with low self esteem demonstrated no noticeable decrease in social connectedness after being reminded of death, but only if they had received a light touch.

This research suggests that touch plays a beneficial role in providing comfort and reassurance to people who are depressed and dealing with thought about their mortality.(28)

Bottom line: Hugging can help people to accept their mortality and reduce fear of death.

12. Hugs can Help to Treat Insomnia and Anxiety

Lack of sleep can create a long list of secondary health issues that can disrupt the body’s normal function, and increase the risk of serious medical problems like heart attacks. Studies have found that sleeping with weighted blankets helps insomnia and anxiety.

Weighted blankets are filled with plastic poly pellets and weigh between fifteen and thirty pounds. They work by relaxing the nervous system via extra pressure – a form of deep touch therapy.(29) Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is felt when we touch, hold, or stroke others, or when we pet animals.

Basically, what the blanket does is to mould to the body like a warm hug. The body responds as if it is receiving physical contact, and the brain releases serotonin, causing the nervous system to relax.(30) With the nervous system relaxed the body is able to fall into a deeper, more restful sleep.

A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health showed that weighted blankets offered safe and effective therapy for decreasing anxiety in patients. These results were confirmed in a 2012 study published in Australasian Psychiatry, which indicated that weighted blankets successfully decreased distress and visible signs of anxiety.(31)

Bottom line: Hugs can alleviate anxiety and help us to sleep better.

13. Hugs Can Decrease Food Cravings

Often when we eat, we are eating not just because we are hungry, but for emotional reasons as well. In fact, the brain circuit that controls eating overlaps with the brain circuit that controls interpersonal relationships.

Eating actually sends oxytocin in the dopamine rich areas of the brain, making us feel pleasure and relaxation. Oxytocin is released by physical contact and supportive interactions with other people. Release of oxytocin brings on feelings of trust and generosity. It also reduces stress and anxiety. In fact, eating releases oxytocin in dopamine rich brain areas, which helps explain why eating can be soothing and pleasurable. This explains why we’re drawn to emotional eating; it mimics the same feelings of comfort we get from close friends and family.(32)

Improving our relationships, therefore, can have an impact on weight loss. By increasing the quality and closeness of our relationships, we increase the amount of oxytocin in our system and that reduces food cravings.(33)

Bottom line: Hugs cause the release of oxytocin which decreases food cravings and helps prevent emotional eating.

14. Hugs Increase Bonding and Strengthen Relationships

Relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr notes that the simple act of hugging can go a long way in keeping relationships healthy and happy.

For couples, hugging helps to bridge the gap between what happens in the bedroom and what happens in day-to-day life. It maintains the intimacy that occurs when making love, and ensures that partners feel emotionally connected to each other.(34)

A study reported in the Daily Mail suggested that hugs are more important for a couple’s happiness than sex. The article notes that hugging provides many benefits including stimulating our touch centres and our olfactory centres (the part of our brain responsible for smell). This is why smell and touch of our partner makes us feel loved and cared for.(35)

Hugs also provide a form of communication separate from sex, which allows couples to feel close without draining their energy. When couples touch, they let down their guard and feel love and acceptance towards their partner. Touching and hugging is the best way to maintain a strong emotional bond and connection.(36)

15. Hugs Improve Self Esteem

Hugging boosts self-esteem, especially in children. Touch and smell are the two most important senses in infants, and a baby recognises its parent by touch. From the time we are born, our family’s touch shows us that we are special and loved.

A young child’s brain needs a lot of stimulation to grow and develop. Physical touch is one of the most important stimulations that can facilitate child development.

This is demonstrated in observations of Infants in eastern european orphanages that that limited physical contact. They usually suffered from impaired growth and cognitive development.

Researchers have found that when institutionalised infants received an average of twenty minutes of touch a day for ten weeks, they subsequently scored higher on developmental assessments.(37)

This association between self-worth and touch remains embedded within our nervous system as adults. Hugs remind us of the affection we received as babies, and therefore connect us to our ability to self-love.(38)

Bottom line: Hugging contributes to childhood development of self esteem and self love which affects us later in life.

16. Hugging Causes Muscles to Relax

If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how relaxed it can make you feel. This is not just a mental sensation: massage causes muscles to unclench, the heart rate to slow and cortisol levels to drop. Once that happens your body is able to relax and recharge, resulting in a happier emotional state and a heightened immune system.

(39)

Oxytocin, which is released into the bloodstream while hugging, helps the body to repair muscles more quickly. It does this by enabling fat in the body to be converted into energy and used for muscle repair.(40) Healthy levels of oxytocin lead to better energy conversion, and therefore better muscle repair and muscle growth.

Bottom line: Hugs cause muscles to relax and helps to repair them more quickly.

17. Hugs Increase Empathy and Understanding

Oxytocin has other benefits too. When oxytocin is released into the body, it produces a feeling of empathy.

A study conducted by Jorge A. Barraza and Paul J. Zak tested the effects of oxytocin on one hundred and forty five college students from UCLA. The students were randomly divided into three groups; one group watched an emotional video and played an ultimatum game which consisted of offering to share a fixed sum of money; the second group watched a control video and played an ultimatum game; and the third group only watched an emotional video.

The results showed that watching the emotional video increased oxytocin levels by forty seven percent. Consequently the participants experienced a change in empathy levels, as demonstrated in greater generosity during the ultimatum game.(41)

The study illustrated how oxytocin increases empathy, even between total strangers. Just by hugging someone, oxytocin is released into the brain, triggering a feeling of empathy in our brains.

Bottom line: Hugging increases our empathy for others and helps social interaction.

18. Hugs Increase Happiness

A UCLA study of 236 people in 2011 showed that raised levels of oxytocin promote optimism and self esteem. This result has important implications, because it means that we can, in effect, influence the genes we were born with and change the way we interact within society.

For example, we may have genes that make us more susceptible to depression, but the way we feel can be influenced by external actions, such as hugging.

As we hug and release oxytocin, our ‘happiness scale’ is raised. In fact, studies estimate that fifty percent of our happiness is genetic, ten percent is affected by our environment, and forty percent is determined by how we are nurtured.(42)

In a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University, students were divided into two groups. The first group was instructed to give or receive a minimum of five hugs a day over the course of four weeks. They had to hug as many different people as possible, and record the details. The second group, the control group, was instructed to record the number of hours they read each day, for four weeks.

At the end of four weeks, the hugging group had hugged an average of forty nine times each and reported being much happier. Unsurprisingly, the reading group reported no changes.(43)

Bottom line: Hugging increases our ability to control our feelings and generates happiness.

19. Hugs Are Great for Your Sex Life

Researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga tested the correlation between post-sex affectionate behaviour (kissing, cuddling and talking) and sexual and relationship satisfaction. The two part study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, used an online survey of 335 individuals, and a twenty one day survey of 101 couples.

In the online survey, participants reported that on average they engaged in affectionate behaviour after sex for a period of approximately fifteen minutes. Couples in the second study were then asked to cuddle for longer than this period of time.

The study concluded that couples who spent extra time together felt more satisfied with their sex lives and with their relationship. This level of satisfaction remained consistently higher, even three months after the original survey, indicating that taking time to share intimacy after sex reaffirms the emotional and sexual bond between a couple and makes it stronger.(44)

Bottom line: Hugging increases intimacy and improves your sex life.

20. Hugs Teach Us to Give and Receive

Hugging is a reciprocal act; we give and we receive. In hugging we recognise that there is equal value in giving and being receptive to comfort and warmth.

Hugs show us that love flows both ways. When we hug someone we are opening ourselves up to their energy field, and building a relationship of trust.

In India, Amma, one of India’s foremost spiritual leaders, has embraced and comforted more than 34 million people. Through her hugs, Amma inspires, uplifts and transforms people. When asked where she gets the energy to help so many people, Amma says that everything is effortless if there is true love. Her followers say that her hugs give them comfort, clarity and a sense of calm.(45)

Bottom line: Hugging is a reciprocal act that allows us to give and and receive comfort.

Virginia Satir, a famous psychologist, once said that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs for maintenance, and twelve hugs for growth.(46) Now that you have the scientific proof of all the amazing benefits that hugging can provide, don’t delay – start hugging today!

10 Hugging Tips

Here are 10 tips to help you give and receive great hugs:

1. Make eye contact

  • The eyes serve as the focal point of the body.
  • People who maintain eye contact are perceived as more reliable, warm, sociable and honest.(47)
  • Eye contact opens the channels for non verbal communication.

2. Approach slowly

  • Once eye contact has been made, wait for a signal which indicates that the hug will be accepted.
  • If the signal is given, approach slowly, allowing the other person time to move into the embrace.
  • Sometimes hand clasping, or arm grabbing happens before a hug; that’s fine too.

3. Read body language

  • Make sure that the person you are hugging is ready to accept physical contact with you.
  • Hug only when the person you want to hug extends his or her arms. If the person doesn’t look like he or she is preparing to hug you, then don’t force it. Lower your arms and try to back off gracefully.

4. Open your arms

  • The act of hugging makes us vulnerable. As you open your arms you expose your heart and chest to the person in front of you.
  • Opening your arms shows that you are willing to take the risk and allow someone else into your personal space.

5. Take a Deep Breath

  • Once the hug has begun, take a deep breath.
  • This allows the two bodies to synchronise to each other’s breathing and relax.

6. Lean Into the Hug

  • Many people nowadays practice the ‘tent hug’, whereby their tupper bodies touch briefly, but their lower halves maintain a distance. This type of hug does not give the benefits that full body contact does.
  • When our bodies make full contact, out chakras all line up and energise each other.
  • Without making the other person uncomfortable, lean your body into the hug and make contact.

7. Use a light touch to start

  • Different people have different comfort levels with touch and personal space. For this reason it is important to approach the hug gently.
  • Avoid hugging the person too tightly. The best way to judge how tightly or loosely to hug is to let whomever you’re hugging indicate what they want by how hard they squeeze. If they are soft, be soft back; if they like bear hugs and squeeze tightly, hug back the same way.

8. Be Genuine

  • Don’t expect anything from a hug other than a shared moment of warmth and bonding.
  • Unless stated otherwise, a hug is just a hug, and means nothing more.
  • Hug with genuine intent to share yourself and make the other person feel better, and your hug will likely be welcomed and appreciated.
  • If either of you requested the hug, then make the person you’re hugging feel safe. Act as though the two of you are the only people who matter at the moment.
  • Most people appreciate a good hug. If you are genuine and comforting in your hugs, people will notice.

9. Hold the Hug

  • Hold the hug for at least 20 seconds before letting go.
  • Research has shown that this is the minimum amount of time for emotional and physical benefits of hugs to start working.
  • A hug is a powerful way to communicate that you care for another person, so ending the hug too soon can make both of you feel awkward.

10. Release gradually

  • Once you feel that it’s time to end the hug, disengage gently.
  • Most of the time this release occurs without any verbal cues, and is understood by both people.
  • If your partner is someone close to you, often the hug transits into stroking the arms or hands, or smiling.
  • Enjoy the feel good benefits of your hug!
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How to Know When to Post https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/post/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/post/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 13:00:45 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8275 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles

Social media is becoming one of the most popular marketing tools around. No wonder because it’s efficient and cost-effective. Virtually every demographic is using some sort of social media making it the best new thing since the TV ad. It can help your business engage with your customers and build brand identity.

The question is when and how frequently should you post? There is no simple answer, social media management is complicated. If you aren’t posting your content at the right time or frequency, all the energy you used to craft a witty tweet or create the perfect Instagram photo could go to waste. The answer is unique for every business, however there are a few general rules that you can follow to help optimize your use of social media and connect with your audience.

Knowledge is Power: Do some Research

When writing a social media plan, you first need to do some research. Take the time to get to know your customers social media habits. Who is your target audience? If you are a local coffee shop, you are probably trying to drive business in the morning, afternoon, and weekends. Your customers in the morning are interested in grabbing a pick-me-up before work. Most likely, they have a smartphone and check their social media channels soon after they wake up. Posting to Facebook in the morning about the delicious new coffee special and scone you have available could give your potential customer the right push to walk in your café.

Timing is Everything: Be Consistent and Optimize

As social media has exploded across the inter-web, so have the tools to help optimize it. Hootsuite and TweetDeck give you the opportunity to schedule posts ahead of time. These tools free up time and ensure that the timing of your posts stays consistent. Followerwonk is a twitter analytics tool that you can use to help schedule and determine the frequency of your tweets to optimize your effect. It gives your business powerful insights about your followers habits and when the most effective time to post new tweets.

As a general rule of thumb follow these rules:

Facebook: Less is definitely more. 1-2 posts per day, spaced out over the day. Some businesses have found better engagement by posting even less often: 3-4 times a week. Experiment with what works for your audience.

LinkedIn: 1-3 posts per week; some businesses up to 5.

Pinterest : Don’t “pin dump;” either schedule pins with Pingraphy or pin in groups of at most 5-7 at a time.

Instagram: Several photos spaced several hours apart over the day; no more than 2 photos in a row

Twitter: More frequent is better, but never all at once: 5 tweets spread out over the day as opposed to 5 tweets 
within 10 minutes.

Google+: Refer to Facebook.

Monitor: Get the Most out of your Post

Writing good blogs or status updates are only affective if your audience is seeing them. As a small business you need to use the tools at your disposal to monitor the effect your social media efforts are having on your business. Checking the response level from consumers is good; you can do this by monitoring your SEO efforts and by using tools like Followerwonk. The overall goal is to check what’s working and alter anything that isn’t.

Again, each business is as unique as your target customer base. Take the time to learn as much as you can. Knowing when the best time to post for your business on each social media platform can drastically impact your social media efforts. Follow the general rules for each platform to ensure that you aren’t overwhelming, or underwhelming, your audience with content.

For more information about when to post check out the following link: Fast Company – How often to Post on Social Media

Jamie

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There Is Such a Thing As An Opportune Moment https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/opportune-moment/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/opportune-moment/#respond Tue, 09 May 2017 13:00:11 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8272 Image courtesy of Pixabay and teresamcgregor

Image courtesy of Pixabay and teresamcgregor

One of the greatest questions that has come about as the use of social media and digital marketing has progressively grown…. “When should I be posting this?” You want to reach your target market and provide them with your content, but when are they online? Will they actually see my post, e-newsletter, or blog article if I post it now or should I wait until later? Is this another one of the posts that will get lost in the digital world? What is the opportune send time?

Fortunately for us, there are some great tools that various platforms have provided that can help us to better understand our target market. For example, Facebook Business Pages’ have a thing called “Insights” that provide us with information such as “likes, comments, and shares”,  “hide, report as spam, and unlikes”, and “post reach.” When you dive in a little deeper, you will see that not only does it provide you with an overview, but it can break these categories down by day. By clicking on “Posts,” you can see the peak times of the day to post that your fans are online.

Your e-newsletter platforms will, also, have a similar analytic function that will help you to better understand the opportune moment to send out your e-newsletter. Let’s say for the first month of sending out your e-newsletter, you try Tuesday’s at 7pm. The analytics section of your e-newsletter platform will provide you with information such as “open rates,” “click through rates,” etc. If you take the time to look over the analytics and you see that your open rate is rather low in comparison to the number of e-newsletter subscribers your letter went out to, you may want to reconsider the time and day you are sending. Put yourself in the minds of your audience. If you are targeting stay at home moms, you aren’t going to send out your e-newsletter at 6pm during the week as they are taking care of kids. If you were in their shoes, when would you most likely see e-newsletter?

However, it is important to note that for every industry, there is a different standard! Not every industry should be posting at the same time. Audiences of each industry are online at different times. Not every industry will have the same open rate percentage.

Analytics tools can seem intimidating at first, but they can be extremely helpful to your business. Learn how to use them through tutorials online or through navigating through them yourself. Or… ask a friend! Understanding your audience and the best time of day to reach them is crucial to the effectiveness of your online communication efforts!

Jamie

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What Your Digital Marketing Campaign Is Lacking https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/digital-marketing-campaign-lacking/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/digital-marketing-campaign-lacking/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 12:31:36 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=19233 Ecommerce is quickly supplanting brick and mortar retail. Ecommerce has grown to eight percent of all retail sales. While this may not seem like a lot, given proper context, it’s actually a massive amount of overall sales. Ecommerce retail sales will grow to $1.915 trillion by the year 2020.

The trend is clear, and businesses will be losing a lot of money if they don’t try to court the digital marketplace. However, digital marketing can be markedly different from traditional marketing strategies. There are a lot of different factors you have to consider if you want to successfully market your product to consumers online. With that in mind, here are a few things your digital marketing campaign may be lacking if it fails to produce results.

You’re Not Tracking the Right Metrics

Some companies just dump ads and marketing materials onto the net haphazardly and expect to see some kind of tangible result. In almost all cases, this is surely a waste of money. Instead, you need to be closely tracking your success. One of the great things about the internet is you have the ability to track the success of a marketing campaign far more closely than with traditional advertising platforms. There is of course no way to tell how many people listened to a radio ad. The only way you can get a close guess to the success of such an ad is to randomly survey radio listeners. That of course means spending even more money with little in return.

With the internet, on the other hand, closely tracking your progress is very possible. However, what metrics should you track? One of the most common is the click-through rate. This is the percentage of people who saw an ad loaded on their computer that actually clicked on the link to reach the website. The click-through rate, though, doesn’t tell you how many people that clicked on the ad went on to make a purchase. For that, you also need the conversion rate. An extremely effective conversion rate is generally over 5 percent. Make sure you are tracking multiple different metrics to measure the success of your digital ads.

You’re Not Learning How to Improve Your Campaign

If those performance indicators show there is room for improvement, tracking such metrics is of course useless if you don’t actually use the data to make substantive changes to your ads and campaign. There’s only a point to collecting such data if it’s used as part of executive assessment. Try to parse the data and find out what lessons you can take from it. For example, a certain landing page may draw in the lion’s share of conversions compared to a certain other landing page. Obviously, one is more effective for a reason. Make adjustments on that page to increase conversions.

Alternatively, you may find you are only receiving conversions from internet users from certain geographic areas. This may be a good reason to alter your campaign to better target the demographic you want to court. Alternatively, it could help you fine tune your marketing to better reach the customers you are drawing in from that location.

Your Campaign Lacks the Human Touch

Whether online or off, advertisements and marketing campaigns that lack the human element and come off as cold or sterile are rarely successful. Just because you are marketing in the digital realm does not mean you should forget to include the human element as well. One great way to do this is with social media outreach in which you can interact directly with individual consumers. Over 80 percent of the US population has a social media account.

Digital marketing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of effort, planning and strategy. However, the rewards you can reap from a successful campaign are massive. Investigate different ways to improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns.

Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in digital media and sales.  He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and personal consultant.

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What You Say Isn’t as Important as How You Say It https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/what-you-say-isnt-as-important-as-how-you-say-it/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/what-you-say-isnt-as-important-as-how-you-say-it/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:00:15 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8271 Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

Image courtesy of Pixabay and jarmoluk

Capturing your audiences’ attention and keeping it is harder than ever before. With countless social media platforms, smart phone apps, and cat videos, consumers today are never far from entertainment. The average attention span for a US adult in 2013 was 8 seconds. To put this number into perspective, the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Over the last 13 years, Americans have reduced their attention span by 4 seconds according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This means that as a small business, the content you produce and messages you send have to engage your audience immediately.

When creating content, the first step is to know who your audience is. If you are a restaurant writing for foodies, it’s probably ill advised to suddenly go off on a tangent and talk about motor cross. You’ve got to give the people what they want. Giving your audience the topics they want isn’t necessarily the hard part. Crafting your content in the right way is where it gets tricky.

Establish a Voice

When creating a blog post or twitter status, your company needs to create an active voice that is true to the brand (i.e. your brand voice). Getting back to the restaurant analogy, if you are writing a blog about creating a decadent cake or a scrumptious cocktail, both posts need to have the same style of writing, tone, and format. This level of consistency is key to maintaining your brand identity and followers.

Know your Audience

When creating content, the first step is to know who your audience is. Your followers and consumers are people that are interested in what you have to say. Now that you have their attention, your business needs to be able to keep it. Create content that provides a quality experience and adds value to your audiences’ life. Make sure that topics are relevant and up to date within your given field of expertise. If writing an accounting blog, keep your terminology simple and your tips prevalent. If you are writing for a technology firm, discuss industry trends and what is new in your field.

Presentation

Catchy titles or interesting images are tools you can use to attract your desired audience. Your content may not be the problem, but your presentation might use some work. People are innately drawn to images that relate to them or something they want to know more about. Use high quality images when creating your content. You can either sign up for stock photo services like istockphoto.com or download images for free using flickr. Both of these sites are useful tools that can help you create enticing content that engages your followers.

One of the main goals of content marketing is to engage with your consumers and keep them coming back for more. By using these tips, your business will be able craft content that is appealing and connects with your followers. In your next blog, try using high quality photos, stay true to the voice of your brand and always keep in mind who your audience is. For more tips about blog posts specifically check out:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-tips-for-writing-great-blog-posts/

Mackenzie Priest

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Ease the Growing Pains: Make the Digital Business Shift https://propelbusinessworks.com/propel-pro-network/digital-business-shift/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/propel-pro-network/digital-business-shift/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 12:27:31 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=15673 Relying on outdated methods to manage and operate a business can become a significant liability when it comes to expansion efforts. Access to the full range of tools and resources that may be required in order grow a business, optimize revenue or expand into new markets is never a consideration that should be taken lightly. Software automation and digital applications that may allow for a more streamlined and flexible workflow process can help to ease the growing pains that businesses commonly experience during an expansion. Creating and implementing processes that may allow for greater flexibility can ensure that businesses are able to adapt themselves more readily to changing circumstances.

Data Analysis Techniques Can Provide Valuable Insight 

Being able to predict the future with greater accuracy can ensure that more effective plans are able to be made. Data analytics are often an essential tool for business expansion, one that may be utilized in order to create a clearer picture of any new trends or developments that may be lurking just over the horizon. Digital tools that may be used in order to sort, access or analyze data and information with superior speed and accuracy may not be an asset that businesses can afford to make due without.

Developing the Right Growth or Expansion Strategy 

Rapid expansion can create a number of unique obstacles and challenges that may require businesses to seek out specific resources in order to overcome. Organizational applications and digital resources that allow multiple employees and departments to communicate more effectively can end up playing a pivotal role in any successful expansion. While poor organization can be an issue even under normal circumstances, struggling to communicate effectively or being unable to sort or access important information in an efficient manner can lead to very serious and costly problems. Businesses would do well to craft a more detailed plan or in-depth strategy that may serve as a road map during expansion efforts or periods of rapid growth.

Finding More Efficient Ways to Manage Financial Resources 

Managing the additional capital and other financial resources that may be needed to ensure a smooth and efficient expansion effort can be more than a little tricky. Digital resources, such as a virtual bookkeeper, financial management applications and software that may be used to automate the accounting process in order to ensure superior accuracy may have a great deal to offer. The scalable nature of many digital financial applications mean that they can be more easily adapted to accommodate growth and expansion that might have been possible for organizations that continue to rely upon conventional accounting practices.m

Providing Staff and Employees With Training and Education 

Professionals who have been improperly trained or poorly prepared to face the challenges that may lay ahead may be hard pressed to guarantee optimal performance. Investing in sophisticated digital analytics or upgrading accounting processes by incorporating the latest digital applications may prove to be of very limited benefit in the event that workers are not fully trained to make use of the tools and resources that they will be provided with. Training and employee education may seem like minor concerns, but they can often make a big difference in ensuring that efforts to expand business operations are less likely to encounter an obstacle or bottleneck that could have been easily prevented.

Ensuring a More Successful Future 

While digital resources and enhanced automation may be valuable tools during periods of growth, the right resources may also be of benefit during routine operations. Avoiding accounting oversights and inaccuracies that may be caused by user error or ensuring that all staff and associates are able to communicate with each other more easily and conveniently can help to optimize internal efficiency. Access to the latest range of digital resources can go a long way towards ensuring that businesses are able to enjoy a brighter, more successful and more financially-secure future.

Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in digital media and sales.  He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and personal consultant.

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Here’s What to Expect With Your E-Newsletter https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/expect-enewsletter/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/expect-enewsletter/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:00:54 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8270 newsletterEmail newsletters (e-newsletters) are a great way to share your information with your subscribers. However, as regular email users know, emails can be ignored, marked as spam, or deleted altogether. It is important to regularly monitor different averages of your e-newsletter including click-thru rates, open- rates, unsubscribe rates, and marked as spam rates.

Let’s start by defining each of the above rates-

Click-thru rates (CTR): “A way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of an email campaign by the number of users that clicked on a specific link.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click-through_rate)

Put more simply, the number of times users click on a link that you have provided, which in the case of an e-newsletter would be a link that you have included within that letter. This can be calculated by dividing the number of click-thrus by the number of e-newsletters delivered.

Open rates: “Open rate is a measure of how many people on an email list open (or view) a particular email campaign. The open rate is normally expressed as a percentage, and we calculate it as follows:
Open rate= emails opened / (emails sent-bounced).    (http://help.campaignmonitor.com/topic.aspx?t=89)

Unsubscribe rates: The percentage of unsubscribes that occurred in response to each e-newsletter sent. This can be calculated by dividing the number of unsubscribes by the number of messages delivered.

Marked as spam rates: The percentages of messages marked as spam from all the e-newsletters that were delivered.

What is a good percentage for each rate?

The average rates for the above factors are dependent upon the industry of the business sending out the e-newsletter. For example, if you refer to MailChimp’s “Average Email Campaign of MailChimp Customers by Industry,” you will see that the rates fluctuate in each category.

Constant Contact has, also, provided a break down of the various rates by industry based off research of Constant Contact customers. They have, also, provided information on how to improve the rates and reasons why your rates may be the way they are.

However, there are averages for open rates and unsubscribe rates-

Open rates: According to MailJet.com, “Opened” rate is calculated by taking into account all the emails that are accepted and read by the recipient. Generally speaking, a good range of “Open” rate is between 15% and 25% for marketing emails and minimum of 30% and average of 40% for transactional emails.

To read more: https://www.mailjet.com/support/what-is-a-normal-open-rate,83.htm

Unsubscribe rates: According to MailJet.com, “An unsubscribe rate of less than 1% means you are within industry norm. The only exception is when you send your email to new lists because these tend to generate a higher unsubscribe rate than former emailed lists. However, the industry where you belong also plays a major factor. Overall, a good unsubscribe rate is below 0.5%.”

To read more: https://www.mailjet.com/support/what-is-a-good-unsubscribe-rate,77.htm

Take the opportunity to review and analyze the statistics of your e-newsletter from last month. Try out something new this month with your e-newsletter such as a unique, audience capturing subject line and see if any of your rates change for the better. Let us know if you see any changes to your next months e-newsletter statistics!

-Jamie

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Social Media: Building Brands and Business https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-building-brands-business/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-building-brands-business/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:00:00 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8269 Social media has changed the company we keep and the way we communicate with one another. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have taken social networking to the next level. Friends and family can stay in touch like never before. From a business perspective, social media is a powerful tool not only for promotion, but also building brand identity and community. With the rapid fire pace of our digital world, communicating your brand on social media platforms is more necessary than ever.

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Barni1

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Barni1

There is a simple formula that your business can use to positively promote itself:

Listen + Engage + Test = Success

OK, in all honesty… it’s not as simple as it seems. Listening to what your customers want and need while engaging with them creatively is much easier said than done. Testing how your customers are responding to your brand is slightly easier but we’ll get to that later. For now, here is some sound advice when trying to promote your brand on social media.

Build Trust

Build trust and a community of users by being actively engaged and responsive. If a customer has a question or needs assistance with something, quickly responding over social media outlets lets them know you are there to support them. This kind of response lets your customers know that you offer great, on the spot, customer service. This level of service can give your brand an edge by building loyalty and a sense of community.

Humanize your Brand

Social media can humanize a brand and give it a personality. Developing a personality that compliments your brand image is extremely important. If a business has more of a laid-back company culture, using humor or relaxed content is appropriate. If you are a more serious and highly professionally company, humor probably isn’t the best way to go. The goal is to develop a voice that is true to your brand but also engaging with your consumers. Social media doesn’t need to just be a platform for promotion but also personal interaction.

Content is king, keeping it relevant is the Queen.

Content is always referred to as one of the core components of social media. It’s what attracts your followers and keeps them coming back for more. Attention spans are limited to seconds in this day and age; staying creative and informative can keep your customers connected to your brand. Establishing a good reputation with your customers can have a trickle down effect generating new connections with potential clients and business partners. Remember to replicate successful tactics but also continue experimenting. Balancing your content is key; aim to post relevant articles, high quality pictures, and creative text about what’s new with your company.

Engage

Social media can be highly effective when used to your advantage. Platforms allow users to engage directly with brands and promote what they like. The overall goal is to have audience participation and reciprocation. Gaining followers only goes so far; actively engaging with them keeps your brand alive, fresh, and interesting. Contribute, somehow, to your follower’s lives, post relevant information that is connected to the industry you work within and/ or the world. Directly responding to questions or re-tweeting with followers are simple engagement tools that can take your customer interactions to the next level.

Test your impact

The more you know about the return on your social media the better. Sometimes, it’s easy to see how your social media tactics are impacting your business. If you have a surge in purchases and followers, a correlation could be made. However, pinpointing when the best times to post are and what content is getting the best buzz requires more effort. Thankfully using tools like Crowdbooster and Argyle Social can help break down and test the effect of your social media activity. Both are social media measurement tools that can tell you your engagement levels overtime and even how much bang you are getting for your buck.

Brand building on social media can establish a voice for your brand and trust with your customers. Building brand awareness and loyalty can strengthen your company’s position within your industry. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new interactive ideas and keep the conversation about your company alive and thriving. For more information about how to use social media to promote your brand check out the following links:

Clever Ways to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business by Jure

Manage Your Social Media With These Top Tools by Content Marketing Institute

-Mackenzie Priest

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Keeping Up With The Changing Times https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/marketing-tips/keeping-changing-times/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/marketing-tips/keeping-changing-times/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:00:47 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8268 DSC_0548Remember the days of MySpace and when they added the “Top 8 Friends” and music playing capabilities? Social media platforms constantly evolve as time goes on. From new designs to new layouts to new features, staying on top of what is new in the social media realm can be time consuming and frustrating. Finding the information and help you need to educate yourself on the changing platforms is key to remaining on the rise of the latest trend.

We have all signed on to one of our many social media accounts and realized something was different. “They changed this” or “They changed that!” or, my personal favorite, “I just got used to the last update!” So, we ask ourselves, how can you keep up with the changing times of social media?

1) Websites:

There are a few websites that provide the latest news in social media including the most recent changes. Once you get to the website, you can either search the topic or you may see the topic at the top of the page.

2) DIY:

One of the best ways to learn about how the recently updated platform works… Do it yourself. You have problem heard about the recent change via a friend, colleague or family member via social media, anyways. Take some time to explore the website and educate yourself on the changes.

3) The platform itself:

Since there are so many people using social media, the platforms themselves have begun to use instructional videos or step-by-step click through instructions for users to navigate through.

4) Ask a professional:

There are people out there that are considered professionals in the field of social media. Take some time to research someone who could help you with the changes. It could even be a blog article that someone has written! Which leads us to #5.

5) Search Engine it

: Google, Bing, Yahoo… If you see a change on a social media platform, try typing in “[Platform name] recent change.” Chances are you will be led to a blog article, a professional in the field, or one of the above websites regarding the topic you are looking for. Explore a few of the top options and you will find the answers to your every question.

Social media changes regularly! The platforms that we have come to know, love, and use regularly go through changes very rapidly. What’s the latest update you have seen on one of the social media platforms?

-Bren

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The What, When, Where and How of Successful Business Communications https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/successful-business-communications/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/successful-business-communications/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:00:30 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8267 Image courtesy of Pixabay and FirmBee

Image courtesy of Pixabay and FirmBee

Having a good communication strategy is one of the biggest factors affecting the success of your business. The ability to communicate, and communicate well, can make the difference between success and failure. You may be at the forefront of your field and blow doors off your competition, but struggling to effectively promote your business or communicate with clients can shortchange your company’s potential.

When communicating with business partners and clients, the What, When, Where and How are powerful forces. Knowing what communication method and style to use and or when to use them is essential to effectively growing your business. Knowing your company’s voice and communicating it are two very different things. To keep your communication dynamic and effective, here are a few points to consider:

What: Consistency and Clarity Never Hurt Anybody

Keeping your communication consistent in manor, timing, and method is an effective way to build a positive reputation for your company. Everyone is busy with millions of matters calling their attention. When responding to a question or contacting a client, be clear, and concise. Clearly and simply defining the information you need reduces confusion on both ends of the conversation. Being clearly defining the information you need also lets your clients and business partners know that you respect and value their time.

When: Timing Is Everything

Set a time that you send out response emails everyday and inform your clients when to expect answers. With the amount of email communication that your business receives, it is easy to fall behind or miss messages all together. When entering business with a new client or working with a new partner, make it clear that you respond to emails, phone calls, texts, etc. within certain timeframes. Even if you are not able to fully answer a question or gather requested information, make sure to respond to your client with a message that lets them know when they can expect it. Staying within a routine like this can help you maintain consistency and stay on top of your work agenda.

Where: Know the Right Method

With all of the different channels of communication available, designating the right method of communication is key. Clients and business partners will prefer to communicate in different ways. Emails and phone calls are still widely considered the most professional methods. However, with the advent of smartphones and social media platforms, the boundaries of communication have become blurred. As a rule of thumb, always discuss the preferred method of communication with your client. Email could be the best for some and text messages for others. Consistently using the same form of communication method with a particular business partner is important. Respecting the communication style of your clients and colleagues can ensure that they walk away with a good impression of you and your business.

How: Be True to Your Brand

The style of your communication is a direct reflection on your business. Timing and method aside, you still need to make sure that the style of your communication is true to your company. Make sure that you are sincere with your clients and business partners about business dealings. Whether working B2B or B2C, make sure that the culture of your company is reflected in the best possible way. Maintain professional communication language and never forget the importance of following-up. Following-up with your clients after a project is completed helps maintain a relationship and encourage them to use your services again.

These practices can help you maintain your brand equity and foster a positive image for you company. Word of mouth is still very important and plays a role in helping your business grow. Making sure that your communication strategies reflect your business in the best way can help drive new business and maintain clients. For more information on effective business communication skills and strategies, check out the following links:

http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/15?e=mclean-ch01_s01

http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/223/business_and_finance/successful_business_communication.html

http://www.noupe.com/how-tos/12-secrets-of-effective-business-communication.html

-Jamie

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Guest Blogging: Adding to the Mix https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/guest-blogging-adding-mix/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/guest-blogging-adding-mix/#respond Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:00:13 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8266 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Ambro

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Ambro

You may already have in place a communications plan. In that plan, you may have already established what blog articles you are going to post and when. However, you may have someone interested in guest blogging or you may have come up with a new idea for an article that wasn’t scheduled in your plan. Now you are thinking to yourself… “What should we do? Do we change our plan? Do we not allow guest blogging?” We have some ideas for you.

First of all, it’s ok to change the plan!

The articles that you thought you wanted to publish at the creation of your plan may not be relevant anymore. Replace some of the articles within your established plan with a guest blog or one of your new ideas.

Second, create features!

You don’t have to change from your plan other than adding an additional blog on a specified day. For example, we had a client who halfway through the year started to receive requests for guest blogs. Instead of replacing the blog ideas set forth in their communication plan, they simply added these guest posts as features published on Thursdays of each week.

Third, occasionally publish an additional blog!

When you do this, be sure to let your followers on social media know. Announce the special publication and link to the blog itself on each platform. Your content is valuable and your regular readers will be excited to see an additional blog post that week or month. You may have attended an event you want to write about, had an idea for a blog you didn’t consider before, something new within your field may have happened, or a guest blog is too good to pass up. Just promote it on any platform possible.

Finally, and most importantly, if you have set a schedule for posting, don’t change from it!

You can add posts throughout the week but don’t forget to post. Luckily, some blog platforms let you schedule out your blogs in advance. Once you have set a routine, don’t confuse your readers by not publishing.

Having new content to blog about is never a bad thing. Finding ways to publish that content may seem difficult at first, but there are ways to do it. Don’t be afraid to publish more information than you had originally planned. It is when you don’t have enough information to publish that you should reevaluate your communications blogging plan.

Take a look at your blogging plan to see if an upcoming blog is no longer relevant or could be replaced with different content. Happy blogging!

-Jamie

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The “New” Social Media: Voice of the people or a place to connect? https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-voice-of-the-people-place-connect/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-voice-of-the-people-place-connect/#respond Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:44:43 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=14787 Is social media now the voice of the people or still a place to (low-key) connect?

Everywhere I turn these days, I am face-to-face with opinion, with advertising, news and media stories, joisting, cries for attention, vocalizing, hateful lashing out or the ever-mocked baby animals.

It seems social media has risen up in the era of technology to be a platform for expressing ourselves, for rallying, raising our voices and demanding to be heard. Yes, we still connect here. We have groups and hashtags and keywords that link us together, but it is still technology offering up a megaphone to those who’ll listen.

Recently, social media hasn’t been the only place we are convening as a society. We are protesting in massive numbers all across the world. We are marching, rioting, joining causes and collectively raising our hands against the things that violate us, hurt us or that we believe hurt others. And sometimes, we are doing it just to be included in something bigger than us. It doesn’t hurt us, or others – we just want to stand for something.

There is so much division around us that conversation has become tricky, virtual and in real life. No matter where I stand on an issue, my words have the potential of being misheard, misused, misunderstood. We all feel divided, violated, mistreated in some way or another, it seems.

As a professional who has always been intrigued and fascinated by how people communicate, and why they make decisions, and having chosen the marketing industry to make my living I am facing a division of my own. Social media has lost its appeal for me personally.

Has it lost you, too?

Are you wondering if it even matters for you and your business to attempt to break through the noise during this loud season?

Whether you answer yes and you are hibernating from Facebook, Twitter or the throngs of other social platforms – or you answer ‘no’ and you are still there, we are all facing the same information in our feeds and questions about what we’re doing. And no matter how many people we block, unfollow, “see less of”, turn down, turn off or unfriend – it’s still there.

“The sleeping giants have awakened,” as a friend said yesterday.

But I want to be there with you, to laugh with you, wish you congratulations, to support you, to understand and know what is happening in your life personally. So I am wrestling with my own desire to connect with all my family, long-time friends, clients, colleagues and associates, and NOT be bombarded by the division, the hate, the foul language and destruction and… and… and…

And yes. Those who do speak up are often doing that for those who don’t or won’t. Yes, there is value in peacefully and respectfully standing for what we believe. For teaching and lighting a path of awareness and understanding about what violates us and what we believe is right and what is wrong.

What violates me, you ask? Disunity.

At my core, I long for people to come together and even if they have different opinions, to love one another anyway. Not superficially. Wholly and without wanting something in return.

I long for respect and honor.

I ache for closeness and connection.

For joy and peace and patience and kindness.

I crave positive, respectful, kind, mutually uplifting, professional, non passive aggressive communication.

But everywhere I turn online, on TV, on the radio, on my phone – I see the opposite.

And I have to wonder. If I am as turned off by all of this as I am – there MUST be others.

So, from my professional standpoint, those of us who are turned off, who are making the choices to “not go there”, not participate in it, stay away from Facebook and Twitter and [fill in the blank] – are looking for encouragement, togetherness and peace from all the noise.

And those that are there, vocally standing up and rallying the troops, aren’t looking for services, products, business. We are looking for a place to be heard, to be seen, to be acknowledged.

So, a valuable lesson results…

Whatever your business plan is, whatever reason you believe your business must be on social media, whatever you are selling to the masses – do it strategically today.

Lift up inspiring conversation and be a positive force in your world of influence. Let the cream rise to the top and watch your world of business change around you.

We all have a choice. We choose what to believe, what to listen to, what to say, who to associate with, and even who we work with. We live in a country that allows us those freedoms.

If you are miserable and downtrodden, if you are disheartened and discouraged – hear this… You are not alone. I and so many others have been too. So start a conversation that brings light, hope and encouragement.

I am choosing to surround myself with those who are respectful and honorable, and who are joyful, peaceful, patient and kind. Those that choose not to slander, use vulgar language or distasteful imagery just to prove a point or to be noticed. Those that are kind and who have gentle words of life.

We all choose.

I choose who I spend time with, what I listen to and what I believe… and I believe disunity will bring death. But where there is unity, there is life – there is blessing. And where there is disunity…

Be encouraged today that you have the ability to turn off the TV and the radio, to read and research and learn for yourself before jumping on a bandwagon, and to turn off the social noise. You have the ability to encourage others, to provide better care, better service, and better products to a world that is hurting and needs to be comforted and understood.

And even if your audience slows or shortens – stay confident and go gently and joyfully. Your gentleness will be a magnet that will attract those you are meant to work with and be surrounded by.

There is light. Be the light your life needs and you will attract others like you.

]]> https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/social-media-voice-of-the-people-place-connect/feed/ 0 The 5 Ingredients of a Successful E-Newsletter https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/5-ingredients-successful-enewsletter/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/5-ingredients-successful-enewsletter/#respond Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:00:12 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8265 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hans

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hans

We have all received an e-newsletter or two in our time on the Internet. We may have even sent an e-newsletter or two in our time on the Internet. What ingredients have the e-newsletters that you have seen or sent had that made them a successful e-newsletter?

We all know that our e-newsletters must be relevant to our brand, provide content, and reach your audience. But, the ingredients of a successful e-newsletter go beyond just the “known” attributes of an e-newsletter. 5 ingredients of a successful e-newsletter that we have identified include:

1) Having the right list:

It sounds simple and almost a no-brainer, but having the right list is crucial to a successful e-newsletter. You must regularly manage your list of e-newsletter recipients. Some may have asked to be included, others may have asked to be removed, or you have the wrong list altogether! You may even have the wrong email addresses for certain people. All of these possibilities can be a detriment to the click through rate, as well as the success, or your e-newsletter.

2) Provide interesting content:

Although we may not have a lot of time to come up with creative content for our e-newsletters that would capture the attention of our readers, we can provide them with interesting content. Take the time needed to do some research or put together some interesting content for your readers. They will be more likely to continue to read your future e-newsletters or share them with their friends, family, and colleagues.

3) Provide relevant content:

It is ok to provide some fun content on your e-newsletters, but try to remain as relevant to your business as possible. The content you are sending out should be about your business or the industry your business is within.

4) Know the time you should send:

Whether it be from analytics, past experience, or research, knowing what time you should send out your e-newsletters is crucial. Your cliental could be in different time zones, work different hours, etc. Look into when to send your e-newsletter for future success. After you have discovered the appropriate times to send, make sure to regularly post for consistency!

5) Use a catchy subject line:

Do not title your newsletter: [Insert Company Name Here] E-Newsletter May 2014. Yuck! Although it tells you exactly what the email is about, you’re unlikely to catch the attention of your readers. Use something more attention grabbing in your subject line to draw your readers in.

There are many ways to gain success in your e-newsletter. Be informative, but be creative. Keep in mind your audience and don’t lose your brand voice. But, one of the most important ingredients to a successful e-newsletter: PROOFREAD. Receiving an e-newsletter with typo after typo can lead to quickly losing readers.

These 5 ingredients are the puzzle pieces to creating a successful e-newsletter. Have you been successful in your e-newsletters? What have you done to see success?

Bonus- The layout: The layout of your e-newsletter should be aesthetically appealing to the eye. Having a color scheme to match your company’s logo and other branding, don’t crowd information, provide hyperlinks to sections of the newsletter (table of contents), and add tasteful/relevant images. This will draw in your consumers time and time again.

-Jamie

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Better Techniques for Cross-Linking on Your Blog https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/techniques-crosslinking-blog/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/techniques-crosslinking-blog/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:00:49 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8264 Screen shot 2014-05-25 at 11.40.23 AMThere are a few essential aspects to a blog: content, keywords/tags, a call to action, and links to relevant websites, articles, or pages. Often times, when you have written a blog, someone has posted a blog with additional information or your company has a relevant article or website page that you want to reference. Linking not only allows your blog readers to follow your links to the respective pages, but it improves your SEO. When cross-linking, you need to keep your readers in mind. Is the link you are supplying relevant to the article or to your readers? Will they be asking “So what?” or “Why is this here?” after you have published your blog? So, what are some better techniques for cross-linking your blog?

1) How do you create a hyperlink:

It is actually very simple! On your blogging website, such as WordPress or Blogger, there should be a button that looks like a link. First, highlight the text that you want your users to click in order to visit a new website or page. Then, click the link button. You will be asked to enter the URL you want to link to from an outside source OR you will be given the ability to link to existing content that is published through your blogging website. Click “Done,” “OK,” or “Update” and your hyperlink is created.

2) Choose the highlighted words wisely:

As mentioned in the previous technique, you MUST choose words to highlight in order to create a hyperlink. Choosing these words is a vital step to SEO success. The words you choose must be relevant to the website you are linking to and your article. For example, we are offering you some techniques on cross-linking your blog. If, I chose to hyperlink on this topic, I would not highlight “As mentioned in the previous technique” to link to a blogging website. Instead, I would hyperlink “Wordpress” or “Blogger” mentioned in the above technique. (Even better… try and use one of your keywords or tags to improve your SEO!)

3) Use a variety of cross-links:

It is a common misconception that when posting a blog, you must always link back to the same page (often your companies website). We recommend refraining from this! Try and add original crosslinks to your every blog. People value new content they may have never seen before.

4) Make it flow:

We have all seen blogs where are the links to mentioned websites appear at the bottom of the post. Instead of this technique, try to add the hyperlinks throughout your post as to make it flow. When you create a hyperlink, you are no longer seeing the URL (http://www.etcetcetc….), but you do see the highlighted words you selected now appearing blue and underlined (this is the link!). If you can incorporate the hyperlinks into your post without disrupting the flow of the article, great! You’re on the right track. Although hyperlinks shared in your blog posts must be relevant, it does not mean they can’t be fun. There are comical or lighthearted videos across the internet that touch on nearly ever topic. You can hyperlink to those if the humor is not crude, vulgar, or damaging to your brand. Consider your audience, but consider your brand image first! So, now that you know a little more about the importance of crosslinking and hyperlinking in your blog posts… revisit some of your past blog articles and try to incorporate some hyperlinks if you haven’t already. Keep in mind the above techniques when doing so!

-Jamie

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What’s So Great About WordPress? https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/great-wordpress/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/great-wordpress/#respond Tue, 27 Dec 2016 14:00:36 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8263 Image courtesy of Pixabay and pixelcreatures

Image courtesy of Pixabay and pixelcreatures

Business communication is a necessary aspect of any successful business. From a company website to blog postings to social media platforms, businesses are publishing more and more content on a regular basis. An easy to use publishing tool that many companies have grown to love is WordPress.

WordPress serves over 60 million people and powers more than 17% of the web. With so many people using WordPress, what’s so great about WordPress?:

1)     It’s a Free Platform:

Everyone likes to save money!

2)     Simple:

It’s user friendly and easy to use. You can start to build your personal website immediately and with ease.

3)     Flexible:

There are many different themes to choose from on the WordPress publishing site. You can choose the one that fits you and your company. (You can even create your own!)

4)     Media Storage:

WordPress has the ability to house your media and gives you the opportunity to edit it. Title it, put a caption, or create a gallery! It’s so easy to upload, too. All you have to do is drag an image in.

5)     Plugins:

WordPress comes with a variety of plugins that can be installed quickly and easily. These include calendars, SEO tools, spam protection, and many more.

6)     Comment Gatherer:

Comments come built-in with WordPress. Manage your comments and engage with your followers!

7)     Search Engine Optimization:

WordPress possess easy to use search engine optimization tools and plugins for further SEO control. WordPress will rate your SEO efforts and tell you where you need to improve according to their color-coded chart.

8)     Scheduling:

WordPress allows you to schedule out your blogs weeks in advance. This saves you and your employees’ valuable time.

9)     Multiple Languages:

WordPress is set up to cater to more than 70 languages.

10)  Support:

With support forums, blogs, and tutorials, users can get the help from the WordPress community.

11)  Mobile Friendly:

WordPress is accessible from anywhere. Apple, Android, and Blackberry all have WordPress applications available!

These are just 11 of the features that WordPress has to offer that make it a great tool for all businesses. Did we miss something that others should know about WordPress? Share it with us!

-Jamie 

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5 Tips to Improve Your E-newsletter Click Through Rate https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/5-tips-improve-enewsletter-click-rate/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/5-tips-improve-enewsletter-click-rate/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2016 14:00:35 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8262 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Emails, alerts, and notifications can easily be ignored or overseen. We all have spam blockers through our email accounts that filter our emails on a regular basis. But, as businesses, we use e-newsletters and we want that information to be seen by our consumers. So, how can you improve your e-newsletter click through rate and avoid falling into the “spam” category?

1) Read more teasers:

Give your readers just enough content and add the “Read more” or “Find out more” teaser at the end to make them want to read on. Your subject line should catch their attention and be creative which leads us to….

2) Creative and attention drawing wording

Nothing is worse than getting an email that makes you hear the Charlie Brown teacher in your head. “Wah wah wah” or “Blah blah blah.” You want your readers to continue reading so be creative! Draw them in with creative wording that catches their attention and stands out from all of their other emails. Don’t give away the entire subject of your email or e-newsletter in the subject line. For example, “This is what I am talking about” doesn’t work. Neither does “Insert Subject Here.” Be clever!

3) Mobile friendly formatting

Consumers are using their cell phones or tablets to obtain information more and more. As we all know and have experienced, formatting for a cell phone versus formatting for a computer is VERY different. When sending out your e-newsletter, you need to make sure that it is mobile friendly! If a consumer receives your e-newsletter and it is not formatted to their mobile device, they may not read on.

4) Be relevant and unique

Alright, there may be something worse than receiving an e-newsletter or email that makes you hear that “Wah wah wah” voice in your head. Receiving something from a company that is completely irrelevant to their business would be worse! If you are a marketing company, don’t send out an e-newsletter about accounting. Seems simple, but it happens all too often. Your content should be relevant to you and your consumers. Ask yourself if what you are sending out makes sense to your company! On top of being relevant, be unique. People can go to the internet and find information on nearly every topic possible. Be as unique as possible and include some personality.

5) Manage your sending list

 When’s the last time you went through your sending list? This may be a reason you aren’t seeing success in your click through rate. Make sure email addresses are still valid and that your list includes all those who WANT to receive your e-newsletter.

Bonus: Strategically place your call to action

It needs to stand out! It needs to catch the attention of your readers. It cannot be at the very beginning of your e-newsletter. Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer… Where in the e-newsletter would the call to action make you take action?

-Bren

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Comparative Analysis Between Digital Offices and Traditional Office Spaces https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/comparative-analysis-digital-offices-traditional-office-spaces/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/comparative-analysis-digital-offices-traditional-office-spaces/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:00:08 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=12956 Our friends over at www.findmyworkspace.com take us on a tour of the differences between digital offices and traditional office spaces.

Twenty years ago, location was the most important factor contributing to a business’ success. An accessible and presentable physical location was absolutely essential. In fact, marketers would warn you to forget about starting your own business if you couldn’t secure a good location for your organization.

Digital offices

Photo via Pixabay

Times have changed since then. Location is still crucial for certain industries (e.g. retail, restaurants, etc.). But there are some types of businesses now that can successfully operate without a physical office. Thus, the terms “digital office” or “virtual office” have been coined.

A virtual office is a business address that exists only in cyberspace. The use of technology such as laptop, cellphones and internet connection allows entrepreneurs and their team to conduct their business from any location. Meetings can be conducted via Skype, Viber, Join.Me or other video conferencing software. Documents can be transmitted via email, Google docs or the use of online team management softwares such as Asana or Basecamp.

This setup provides cost savings and more flexibility to business owners compared to renting a traditional office space.

Some companies even provide the use of a physical address, ideally in a prestigious business location; a receptionist to answer calls and an actual front desk to receive hard copies of documents. Physical office space and conference rooms may be also available for rent, when the occasion calls for it.

Now that we’ve studied a bit of background about virtual offices and how they work, we look at the distinct differences and advantages / disadvantages of a digital office versus a traditional office space.

Costs. Definitely, operating a digital office is much more affordable compared to a traditional office space. This can help you set aside your funds for use in the business or investments. Or you can save the money now and then rent a place in a nice business district, when the time is right.

Digital offices vs. physical office

Photo via Flickr

Renting or leasing a physical office space might require a big chunk of your monthly budget. Contracts usually require a minimum of 6 months to at least one year. For needed equipment and tools, you will need to invest more in a traditional office space for your and your team’s use.

In terms of financial costs, virtual office is the clear winner.

Physical location. Having a physical location can project more trust and credibility with clients and business partners. Your office provides a tangible venue on where you can meet with different people and where you can showcase your company’s vision and products.

Entrepreneurs with no physical office space need to rent a meeting room or meet with clients in coffee shops or restaurants. This means less control on the vibe and privacy of the location. Pictures of your products may not be as appealing as actual product samples that individuals can touch and hold.

For physical location, traditional office spaces hold the upper hand.

Flexibility. Want to work from home? Want to maximize your productive hours while being able to take care of your personal errands too?

digital offices

Photo via Pexels

There is much less fuss in working from a virtual office. It allows you more flexibility on tailoring your working hours (especially when you’re dealing with overseas clients or employees in different time zones) and meeting locations for the client’s convenience. A commute-less working day is a very nice bonus, as you might not have to spend any time in rush hour traffic.

In a physical office, hours are usually less flexible. There’s also a chance that some business partners might find your office location inaccessible or unattractive.

A digital office takes the cake in terms of flexibility.

Culture. Having all employees in one physical workplace can foster better teamwork and camaraderie. This can also strengthen your company identity more than having remote employees you don’t get to interact with personally.

If you are an extrovert who requires a certain dose of human interaction daily, having regular social interactions can improve your work motivation and productivity. If your team is new or fairly new, having a common workspace might be an advantage as you can keep track of your employees’ work output and productivity.

A virtual office with remote team members might be more challenging to manage. You might not get the chance to know the work style of your staff or influence the person’s mindset to fit your desired culture.

If you are dedicated to building your unique organization culture, a traditional office space is the way to go.

In deciding on your office space, which of the above pro’s and con’s are the non-negotiables for you? Only you know what is best for your company. 

Gemma Reeves on Digital OfficesAuthor Bio:

Gemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business.

Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

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The Importance of Blogging and Your Brand https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/importance-blogging-brand/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/importance-blogging-brand/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2016 14:00:24 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8261 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Nemo

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Nemo

Blogs are more than just a way to share information you have learned. They play a big role in brand communication, as well. What you blog must be consistent with what you want your brand to represent. The content you decide to publish on your blog says a lot about your company. You don’t want your readers to be confused about what your business offers, nor do you want your readers to question your content.

When trying to decipher what to publish on your blog, consider how you have defined your company and what you have to offer your consumers. You know your brand better than anyone else. You have defined your brand and its values. This is the content your readers want to see in your blog posts. The content you publish should be relative to your brand. Why post a blog about food recipes when you’re an athletic shoe store? Before posting a blog, ask yourself these questions:

1)     Would my consumers value this information as it pertains to my brand?

2)     Does the content of this blog relate to my brand?

3)     Does this blog align with my company’s values?

4)     Would publishing this blog damage my brand’s name?

Another thing to keep in mind, blog posts are not limited to be shared solely on your company’s website. The articles you publish can then be posted on your social media platforms and pushed to your readers through e-newsletters. By posting your blogs in more than just one area, you are increasing your visibility and, hopefully, engagement with your consumers. If the content is reflective of your brand, consumers will consistently check your social media platforms to find the information they are looking for.

Blogging can be fun! But, blogging is a serious aspect of your brand’s communication efforts so should be taken seriously. If you have any questions about what to blog or blogging in general, feel free to ask us!

-Jamie

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5 Reasons Google Analytics is Your New Best Friend https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/5-reasons-google-analytics-is-your-new-best-friend/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/5-reasons-google-analytics-is-your-new-best-friend/#respond Tue, 08 Nov 2016 14:00:00 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8260 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and pannawat

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and pannawat

What is Google Analytics?

The term marketing analytics can be intimidating, especially to a small business owner. Google has taken the fear factor out of website performance analysis with their streamlined Google Analytics service. The product collects visitor data for your website and compiles it into a report that offers insights into the habits of your customers.

The Google Analytics service is designed to simplify the way small businesses monitor their online performance and increase their competitive edge all for the wonderful price of FREE.

Why use Google Analytics?

It all starts with the traffic to your website.  Driving traffic to your site is one thing, but understanding it is a whole other endeavor. Websites are accessible 24/7 meaning that potential customers are able to visit your site at any given moment and provide you with important data about their habits.

Google Analytics is a tool that gives you a thorough understanding of your customers’ behaviors. It can tell you when your customers visit your website and how often. Making strategic business decisions is always better when the whole picture is available. This service offers a user-friendly and comprehensive system that any small business can add to their marketing toolbox.

Which metrics should I be looking at?

Google offers some 230 metrics to choose from when creating a custom report. Standard Reporting is the most straightforward and user-friendly option that covers audience, traffic and content report metrics. Every business is different, however the following is a list of the top five metrics that all small businesses can gain useful information from.

1) Audience Location:

This metric reveals the geographical location of your website’s visitors. Using this metric, your small businesses will gain insights for making important decisions in respect to targeting both existing and new markets. This metric may reveal that you are advertising in the right area or that a new emerging market opportunity may exist.

2) Audience Engagement:

This metric shows how effectively you are capturing your audience’s attention. To do this Google analyzes a few key data sets: visitor visit duration, number of page views and number of pages accessed. It is important to note that the content of your website affects the visit duration. For example adding more content and placing calls to action on a page entice visitors to stay longer. This metric can also be used to determine what content is appealing or unappealing to your visitors.

3) Traffic Sources:

Traffic source information can help you devise a strategy to optimize the number of visitors to your site. This report details how many people visited your website and what way they accessed it. The different sources of traffic include search traffic, direct traffic, social media, referrals and organic search. This metric can be very useful when deciding how and where to market your website. Encouraging your target market to visit with the right kind of content and keywords is incredibly important.

4) Organic Search Traffic:

This metric goes hand in hand with search engine optimization (SEO) because it shows the key words visitors used to find your site. When a visitor finds your site organically it means that they did not use your specific business name but rather a question, product type, etc. to find it. Driving traffic because of the needs of your customer or services they are looking for is a key factor in growing your website’s business.

5) Social Media Traffic:

Social media is incredibly important for driving traffic and this metric shows how effective your efforts are. It breaks down the source of each social media referral (which site or posts are getting the most responses) and helps you evaluate your current media strategy.

By simply measuring and monitoring the right metrics, your small business has the ability to implement lasting growth strategies. Google Analytics is a great way to build your business and a friend who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is when it comes to your business strategies. For more information visit the Google Analytics site and or read the following articles:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-tools/top-tens/ten-ways-google-analytics-can-help-your-small-business/article18553430/

http://www.add3.com/insights/google-analytics-part-2-standard-reports-key-metrics/

http://www.vtldesign.com/inbound-marketing/seo/five-google-analytics-metrics-every-business-should-run/2/

Mackenzie Priest

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How to Find the Right Images for Your Blog https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/find-images-blog/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/find-images-blog/#respond Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:00:39 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8257 planWith every blog comes at least one visual. Readers want to see images that are relative to your blog posts. However, knowing where you can obtain an image for your blog is more complicated than you might think. Many images found on the Internet are either copyrighted or protected, and using them can lead to copyright infringement. So, in an era where images and videos are needed to draw in your readers, where do you go to get them?

There are three ways that you can obtain blog images:

1) Purchase:

Images are available through websites such as www.istockphoto.com after paying a subscription fee or buying credits to purchase an image. The images through such sites are high quality and they offer a variety of photos.

2) Free:

Everyone loves to save money! Photos are attainable through websites online at no cost. Some websites where you can find free images include www.photopin.com and www.flickr.com. Although free, every website has certain rules to abide by in using their photos. Users need to make sure they are following these rules and giving proper attribution.

There are several other free sites including Pixabay & Freedigitalphotos.net.

3) Take them yourself:

The easiest way to avoid copyright infringement or issues of the like… take and use your own photos! Most cell phones come equipped with cameras that take “blog-quality” photos.

If you are going to use a photo that is available online, you must be aware of proper attribution rules and the licenses the image’s owner has on that particular image. If you have not been given express permission from the image’s owner, you are in danger copyright infringement. In order for an attribution to be correct, it should include: the image’s title, the author, source, and license. However, the required attributions differ depending on the owner’s license.

Keep in mind we’ve all seen A LOT of different images. Be creative, be unique, be relative, but most importantly, be mindful of copyright law. Let us know what method you have chosen by posting a link to your blog below. We always enjoy reading a new blog!

-Jamie

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Building a Foundation for Business Communication https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/building-a-foundation-for-business-communication/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/building-a-foundation-for-business-communication/#respond Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:00:19 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8256 Image courtesy of Pixabay and stokpic

Image courtesy of Pixabay and stokpic

Looking at all the communications needed in business can be overwhelming. From telephone calls, to emails, to social media platforms, the need to connect to your consumers is constant. The stress associated with the various social media platforms alone, can be frustrating and overwhelming. Since business communication is a vital aspect of business, what are some tips to manage your business communication tools and resources?

1)     Identify and define your industry:

Before you start using communication tools, be sure to define your business by industry and identify traits that describe your brand. Once you have identified these traits, talk with your team to decipher what your brand voice should be across all platforms. This should be consistent!

2)     Come up with a strategy:

A business communication strategy is key to your success. Everyone on your team should be aware of how you will use these communication tools across al platforms. Your strategy should include what tools or resources you will use, how you will use them, what you will say, etc.

3)     Research different platforms:

With some many different business communication tools and resources, take the time to research which ones are most effective for your business. Look into what competitors within your industry are doing to communicate with their customers. It is likely that you will discover a favored platform that is effective for your industry.

4)     Start off with one:

Just one platform can be overwhelming at first. Take your time getting familiar with just one communication platform and once comfortable, add a second, and so on. Make sure that you know how to use the platform effectively to remain in contact with your consumers.

5)     Ask for help:

Some of the available platforms can be confusing. There are people out there who specialize in business communication strategies and they can be a valuable resource to your business. With their help, you can learn how to use different tools effectively and efficiently for your business.

Effective and professional business communication is vital to the overall success of your company. The way you communicate with your consumers will help to create a face for your brand. If you fail to use your business communication tools properly, your business can face a poor brand image. Check in with your team today to see that your communications are all up to par and are being used according to your company’s standards.

-Bren

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Hashtags: Do You Know What’s Hot https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/hashtag-do-you-know-whats-hot/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/hashtag-do-you-know-whats-hot/#respond Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:00:55 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8255 What is a hashtag? Where do you use them? What do they do?

Many of us have seen videos making fun of the recent spike in popularity of the hashtag while some of us have no idea what a hashtag is. Hashtags allow social media users, most commonly on Twitter, the ability to search for a certain topic and engage in conversation. They are formatted as #Topic. For example, a user interested in a specific television show can search #InsertTVShowHere and find what people across a social media platform, like Twitter, are saying about that show. Social media platforms also display the most common “trending” or “hot” hashtags that allow users to see what is most commonly being talked about on the platform.

It is a common misconception that hashtags can only be used on Twitter. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest also use hashtags to help organize content and conversations by topic. When a user searches for a specific hashtag, all content and conversations that have used that hashtag will be brought up. This provides a convenient way for interested consumers to find the information they are looking for and allows businesses to track the trends.

What is a Hashtag?

Photo via HypnoArt and Pixabay

What’s your first step in the hashtag frenzy?

Create a company specific hashtag and use it! It is one thing to use a common hashtag, such as #marketing, versus using a hashtag that is unique to your company alone, such as #YourCompany’sName.

So how can your business use hashtags most effectively?

Create a campaign specific hashtag. For example, if you want to engage with users and see how they are using your product, create a clever hashtag that coincides with the name of your campaign and ask your consumers to use the hashtag when they use various social media platforms. This will allow you to engage with your consumers and create a relationship.

The good thing about hashtags?

You are not limited to using just one! You can use your company specific hashtag along with more common hashtags to increase the visibility of your content. Then, when someone searches the common hashtag, your content is displayed as well!

Now that you have some social media tips regarding hashtags, take some time to research how certain companies have engaged with their consumers via hashtags. What hashtags have worked for them? How many hashtags do they use? What’s trending now in your industry?

 -Jamie

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10 Industries that Should be Using E-newsletters now https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/10-industries-enewsletters/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/10-industries-enewsletters/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 13:00:43 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8254 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and sippakorn

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and sippakorn

Our email accounts are flooded with a variety of different emails everyday. From family and friends, to businesses, to spam… email is a part of our everyday communication. However, emails can easily be ignored if they do not provide unique or relative information to the reader. So the question is, how can different industries use e-newsletters to cater to the needs of their customers without being ignored or reported as spam? Each industry can use e-newsletters differently to reach their customers by changing the content per industry.

Fashion:

An e-newsletter distributed to customers interested in fashion needs to provide the latest and greatest in fashion, tips on how to achieve certain looks, highlights of certain designers, or places to obtain the newest styles. By providing readers with links to stores that they can get these styles, readers look forward to a one-stop email that gives them the most recent information of the fashion industry.

Restaurants:

E-newsletters for restaurants allow them to show off their newest or favorite dishes. Restaurants can use the e-newsletter to provide readers with special events such as brunch or happy hour, release dates of new or seasonal dishes, or with special recipes straight from the kitchen.

Entertainment Venues:

Venues such as performing arts centers, local venues such as the House of Blues, or convention centers can send out e-newsletters to let locals know about upcoming events. By providing local customers with information regarding their events, venues can catch the interest of customers and get them to come to the events. Everyone likes to break away from the stress of work and everyday life. Entertainment venues can capitalize on this!

Hotels/Hospitality:

Hotels experience fluctuations in room prices throughout the year and by sending out e-newsletters that provide customers with upcoming deals, the hotel may gain more customers and fill their hotel. The hotel can update customers on changes or upgrades made to the hotel.

Personal Maintenance:

Hair salons, nail salons, beauty stores, etc., can all use e-newsletters to inform readers of current trends as well as deals. The trends within our society are constantly changing and by providing readers with the most up-to-date information, readers will most likely continue to utilize the e-newsletter and regularly schedule appointments.

Schools:

Educational facilities could benefit from e-newsletters by supplying alumni and current students with the most recent news relative to the school and surrounding area. Special events, reunions, updates on specific people, or changes to the school can keep your alumni involved with the school and increase the number of visitors to school related events.

Real Estate:

The home industry is constantly changing whether it’s new listings, new sales, or upcoming listings. Realtors can use an e-newsletter to make clients and potential clients aware of changes in the market or upcoming open houses. This can lead to more foot traffic in open houses and, hopefully, more sales!

Charities/Non-profits:

Charities and non-profits are constantly doing various fundraisers to raise money for their specific causes. By distributing an e-newsletter with upcoming events, they have the potential to gain participation and, therefore, help their causes.

Airlines:

Traveling can be a big headache to find the best deal. However, airlines can use e-newsletters to promote their most recently updated flight schedules, provide flight-tracking information, and provide their customers with the most current prices. Airlines can promote their business by providing readers with customer’s experiences with the airline.

Health:

The health industry is constantly finding new viruses, cures, supplements, warnings, or diet regimes and customers are curious. E-newsletters can provide readers with information and evidence regarding the health industry and places to find the needed regimes.

Although these are only 10 industries that should be using e-newsletters, other industries can find effective ways to use e-newsletters to reach their desired audience. Think about your industry and if there are ways your company could use an e-newsletter to prosper!

 -Jamie

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A Business Owner’s Guide to Delegating https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/business-owners-guide-delegating/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/business-owners-guide-delegating/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:00:12 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8253 Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and pakorn

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and pakorn

Delegation is the key to owning your time as a business owner. Most times business owners have too much on their plate, which causes their time to become extremely limited, and, sometimes, projects take longer than needed. If this sounds anything like you, there is hope! Everyone’s time is limited, but your time is most valuable because you are the expert. There are some responsibilities that can be delegated to other individuals in order for you to maximize your time and alleviate some of the stress associated with running a business.

When delegating projects, tasks, assignments, social media or blogging or other areas of your business, it is EXTREMELY important that you chose an individual who understands your business and has your business’ best interest at heart. If the individual does not clearly understand your business, you may find the work to be sub-par. For example, if you have someone managing your social media, you may find the information they display on those websites are not in alignment with your company and can lead to a poor company image.

So, how do you avoid creating more problems like this when delegating projects in your business? Here are some delegating tips: 

1)     Make a communications plan:

The best way to avoid any problems and to provide clarity to those who will be doing the work, a communications plan can set out what you want done and when. It will be their “go to” for directions while they are working. The plan should set out what your company’s mission statement is, which social media platforms your company is using and what you want posted on those sites, and the specifics of the various blog articles you want written.

2)     Give them as much information as possible:

The individual you have chosen to delegate work to should know as much about your business as possible. The more they understand and are aware of, the more their work can benefit your company. Giving them this information eliminates confusion and helps the worker understand what is expected of them.

3)     Make sure they know your company’s specific brand voice:

If you have someone writing for you, the voice they use can either benefit or damage your brand. Make sure your brand voice is consistent across all platforms and that the tone they are using fits with your company’s goals and image.

4)     Set check-in phone calls:

Although tasks may be delegated, you are still the overseer of all work. Your name is tied to your company and you want to make sure that the work is sufficient. By checking in with the worker who you have delegated work to, you can make sure that they are staying on track and can update them on tasks you want completed. This form of team management also provides a certain level of accountability that your workers may need to stay on target, consistent, and on time.

Although you may be hesitant about delegating such tasks, the amount of time you save will benefit you and your company in many ways. Alleviate some of your stress by giving some of your workload to a trusted employee. Once you do, you can focus on other parts of the business that may need more of your time.

-Jamie

(Image credit: www.clker.com)

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The Foundation of Your Online Presence https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/the-foundation-of-your-online-presence/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/website-strategy/the-foundation-of-your-online-presence/#respond Tue, 09 Aug 2016 13:00:13 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8252 Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.42.22 PMYour website is the foundation of your online presence. Potential clients will research your company, and when they do, one of their first interactions with your company will be your website. This means your website should be easy to navigate, provide current information, and grab the viewers attention. Whether your company consists of 2 employees or 600 employees, your company’s website is EXTREMELY important to your success.

But, what makes a good business website?

1)     Keep it simple:

The internet can be extremely frustrating to navigate for those who don’t use it often or are new to the idea of Internet. Having too much information, images, or buttons to click can detract users.

2)     Keep it updated:

If something has changed in your business, make sure to change it on your website. Provide the most up to date information. There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a website that hasn’t been updated in years!

3)     Provide necessary business information:

Although some people may be familiar with your business and what you have to offer, others may not. Don’t overwhelm the visitor with too much information, but provide them with the necessities: what you do, when you opened, your staff, etc.

4)     Provide contact information:

This goes along with #3. If they have questions, they need to easily find your contact information.

5)     Provide support:

As previously stated, the Internet can be confusing for some users. Provide a FAQ, live chat, or email address that allows for them to get the help they need. This, also, allows you to see the changes you may need to make to your website if the same question continues to arise.

6)     Make it easy to navigate:

The names of the various parts of the website should be easily understood by all users. Sometimes being creative and unique can confuse the audience. Keeping with conventional naming systems such as “Contact Information” and “About” is easier to understand and leaves visitors satisfied.

7)     Make it interesting:

There’s nothing worse than visiting a site that has no color, links, information, or contact information. Visitors will not be attracted to your website. By providing a unique feature or making the site interactive, visitors are more likely to become recurring visitors.
These 7 tips should help you set a solid foundation to your businesses online presence. After you have completed your company’s website, you can then shift your focus to your company’s social media platforms, where you can link back and refer to your website. Consider your company’s website as the foundation to your online presence!

-Jamie

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5 Ideas Your Business Can Use For E-newsletters https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/5-ideas-your-business-can-use-for-e-newsletters/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/5-ideas-your-business-can-use-for-e-newsletters/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:00:25 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8251 Image courtesy of Pixabay and kropekk_pl

Image courtesy of Pixabay and kropekk_pl

Having an E-newsletter is an effective way to reach your audience. Keep your readers up to date on all of your company’s news and announcements. But are you having trouble putting content into your E-newsletter? Here are 5 ideas your business can use for your e-newsletter whether you’re just starting our or looking to improve one you’ve already been sending:

1. Resources

Your E-newsletter is a great place to share relevant resources to your company’s brand and target market. If you want people to come to you for information, take the best resources you’ve found or published recently and add them to your E-newsletter. This also shows your audience you are keeping up to date with what is happening in your industry.

2. Design Tips

Find a layout that works for your brand and stick to it. If you want to use your brand colors, include your logo, or use a specific type of font or design, make sure that it is engaging. Don’t choose a font color that isn’t easily readable for all ages. Make sure that your typography doesn’t include a font that is overly distracting or too whimsy. Don’t be afraid to show your style – but make sure that you are upholding your values and that you are representing your company in a way that you are proud of!

3. Subject Line Suggestions

When you check your email, what is the first thing you see? You see who the email is from and you read the subject line. The subject line is arguably the make-or-break element of your E-newsletter. Keep in mind that if your subject line sounds dull – no one is going to open the email to read it (e.g. discounts, spam, offers, or dull subject lines). Have fun with it! Ask an engaging question that people have to open the email to read about; use a pun and use your words in order to grab your audience’s attention.

4. Upcoming Events & Updates

Your E-newsletter keeps your readers up to date with your company’s latest news. If you have an event, put it in your E-newsletter ahead of time so that people have time to plan ahead and mark it on their calendars. Have a new product? This is the perfect time to share the release of a new service! Share the new product and link it to your company’s website. Not only will this inform your audience of your new service, but it also drives traffic to your company website.

5. Product Descriptions

Are you known for a specific service and feel as though some of your other services go unnoticed? An E-newsletter is a great place to write about services you offer that need more attention. Focus on a product or service that hasn’t been selling as much.

Following these guidelines, your E-newsletter should have a fresh look, informative feel, and the highest potential to increase your current open-rates. Best of luck with your irresistible new E-newsletter!

-Jamie

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Category Organization: It Does Matter https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/category-organization-matter/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/category-organization-matter/#respond Tue, 12 Jul 2016 13:00:54 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8250 Blog categories and tags
Image courtesy of Pixabay and BRRT

Image courtesy of Pixabay and BRRT

Blog categories and tags are a file and search system for your posts. Categories are the main topics generally listed on the side of a blog’s page so that readers can easily search articles and posts related to certain topics. Tags are specific themes or key-phrases assigned to individual articles and posts. There are usually a few tags assigned to one post.

I like to think of blog categories and tags as the endless sea of files on my hard drive. Categories are the major folders and tags are the little folders inside of the major ones. When I want to find something, pull it up quickly, or group items together, being able to search by category or tag help my life.

Similarly, readers can easily search related articles when searching your blog by category or tag. Just like a personal filing system, it is crucial that posts are accurately categorized and tagged so that readers receive quality results when searching under a specific topic. If they click on the “Social Media Marketing” category and receive a result with the title “Content Marketing at its Best”, then it’s clear that the post was mis-categorized. Help point people to the right material by accurately categorizing and tagging your posts.

Lastly, if you do not currently have a ‘blog categories and tags system’ in place, sit down and produce a list. Consider 4-10 categories that will be the umbrella topics for your blog posts. From there, construct a list of anywhere from 8-15 tags that are sub-categories and themes within your posts. Then, consistently plug these and only these categories and tags into your editorial calendar so that when you post an article, you have the pre-determined category and tags readily available.

No one ever said being organized was inefficient!

-Jamie

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7 Steps To Better Social Media Engagement https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/7-steps-social-media-engagement/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/7-steps-social-media-engagement/#respond Tue, 28 Jun 2016 13:00:49 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8249 What makes for successful social media engagement?
Image courtesy of Pixabay and LoboStudioHamburg

Image courtesy of Pixabay and LoboStudioHamburg

Most days, I am a Ping-Pong ball between Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. The social-verse is exciting, ever shifting, and never sleeping, which motivates me to strive for highly engaging posts; producing quality over quantity in order to standout.

The following seven steps have allowed me to be more successful with my posts and have led to better social media engagement:

1. Beef up all of your social media profiles.
Searches pick up on key words and that includes words listed in your social media profiles. Chisel out time to go through each of your profiles and fill out all of the information, inject key words, and inter-connect them where possible.

2. Be visually appealing.

A best practice is to have custom photos on all of your social media profiles. For example, if you still have the common Twitter background, figure out what you need to do to create a branded one. Also, post photos frequently on all profiles.

3. Make an editorial calendar.
Build a social media editorial calendar that followers can count on. Many brands establish themed days (e.g. wisdom Wednesdays highlight quotes and inspiring posts, or video Fridays, etc.).

4. Cross-promote.
As much as possible, hashtag, tag others, mention others, connect with others; strive to constantly expand the reach and breadth of your posts by including others.

5. Change up your cover photos.
Periodically change your cover photos on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. When you do, it shows up in peoples’ newsfeed.

6. Engage yourself.

You also have to engage. I commit to 3 groups on LinkedIn, 3 groups on Facebook, and 2 communities on Google+ that I consistently follow and engage with. Whether it’s a comment or submission, it is a great way to expose my brand and myself and directly engage with others.

7. Stay up to speed.
Pick your medium of choice (blog subscriptions, a Twitter list with influential social media marketers, books, etc.) and stay up on the latest trends in social media. I make it my business to read one Hubspot guide a weekend to learn about the latest updates and features on various social media platforms, as well as the best practices on how to use each one for business.

If you’re not doing any of these, implement one a week to, realistically, do all of them well. If you’re doing some, then keep moving forward. Also, measure your post engagement after implementing some or all of these steps to determine what is working best for you and your business.

-Jamie

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What Happens When A Small Business Marketing Conference Isn’t What You Thought? https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/what-happens-when-a-small-business-marketing-conference-isnt-what-you-thought/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/what-happens-when-a-small-business-marketing-conference-isnt-what-you-thought/#respond Tue, 14 Jun 2016 13:00:03 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8248 IMG_5322_2I was excited. Really, I was. Being given a ticket to a marketing conference which no less than a dozen people in my new network had been talking about and recommending was pretty cool stuff.

Granted, being GIVEN a ticket is also pause for consideration and I had been forewarned that the information may be skewed toward selling of product, services and more, but I was curious to watch and learn, and I was eager to reconnect with my peeps.

I anticipated sunny weather, smiles and at the very least, confirmation of industry updates and strategy. I expected to meet great people and network as per usual.

What happened instead is worth mentioning.

Call me optimistic, enthusiastic, willing and motivated. Even call me committed or reliable – just don’t call me gullible.  Trust me when I say, not all marketing conferences are worth your time. Some should just be hung in the street as an example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing leading lambs to the slaughter.

How someone holds two of these 3-4 day conferences every year, discusses the same topics and approaches, and essentially sets up the event the same way and STILL boasts an average crowd of four hundred truly is commendable. But it IS a MARKETING conference – someone knows how to market to their target demographic. The only problem is – that makes his average demographic naive sheep, which knowingly I am not.

Between the nature of the content and the speed at which he flew through the information, my initial impression of the first two sessions on day one was that this would be a good review of basic business startup practices. I had hugged the necks of my new network of professionals from the San Diego business weekend I attended in January and was enjoying the charisma and energy of the host and the event in general. The notebook looked meaty with it’s spiral binding and one hundred and fifty pages, and I even “won” (thanks Ray!) a t-shirt that was thrown out into the crowd at the beginning of the event. We were off to a good start, I thought.

Lunch was delicious and I shared a table with friendly people who were kind enough to answer all 101 of my questions about their past experience with the events. Every one of them had attended a past event with this host, which I found interesting. They return because of the people, sharing time with “friends” and the opportunity to promote their business. Ok, fair enough. A standard networking club. Got it.

Here’s where I had to step off the merry-go-round…

After lunch, in session three, titled “Relationship Marketing” (which I was looking forward to quite a bit), the host proceeded to advise the entire room to (in my own words) be inauthentic. From suggesting we “must get the maximum number of friend/connections on ALL social media platforms”, to going to our “competitor’s social media sites and asking their friends to be [our] friends”, even recommending we always “do [our] best just in case someone is watching” I cringed more than not. Clearly this session was not living up to its name.

I’m sorry, but let me explain:

IMG_5614a. I only want to do business with people I know, like and trust and not everyone is my target market or referral partner, nor are they all my friend or someone I SHOULD be connected to. So, friending and connecting with everyone isn’t my idea of sound advice.

IMG_5615b. If I found out one of my connections or ‘friends’ was going to my social profiles and asking all of my friends to be their friends with the ulterior motive of scooping my friends’ business away from me, trust and friendship would not be part of our relationship and they would not be a connection any longer. But, that’s why #1 is so important. People you CHOOSE to friend are vetted… or should be.

c. Having integrity and character means being the best version of ourselves – ALWAYS, even when NO ONE is watching! THAT is authenticity.

But it didn’t stop there. Many of the tips offered were outdated, sneaky, ILLEGAL, or just plain incorrect. Here are just a few examples:

1. “Increase your database with a few user-generated websites.” example: CatsinSinks.com which he explained allows site visitors to upload photos of cats in sinks in exchange for contact information which is then used to market and/or advertise to those people.

– The user who enters their information in order to engage with a website, should always be provided fair warning of any attempt to collect information which may be distributed or used for any purposes other than simply engaging with that website. Not being up front about the use of that collected information is illegal. Period.

2. “Run in a local election and lose.”

– While this may be good for name exposure and may increase awareness, not everyone should run for an office seat. Perhaps this is why our government, school systems, etc have the issues they already have. Just saying.

IMG_53313. “Try to get your products or services on Groupon or Living Social.”

– If not done very carefully, this can put you straight out of business. Just ask this guy.

4. Start a blog… and be sure to link from your blog to your website.

– What? Why encourage people to have two sites that compete for traffic? I teach small businesses to start a blog, yes. But the blog should be ON your website! The whole point is blogging regularly to leverage your expertise in your field and increase organic search engine optimization and readership… on your site.

5. “Write Part 2 of a Blog Post, making sure that there is no Part 1.”

– He says this creates ‘panic’ in a visitor’s ability to not find the first post and makes them search, read, etc everything you’ve published trying to find it, which forces them to ‘get to know you’. Then, by the time they’re done ‘getting to know you’, they’ll feel like they’ve known you forever, which makes them more interested in continuing to follow you. Again, I’m sorry, but my first thought would be, how unorganized is this writer? My second thought, they clearly don’t know how to market themselves. And lastly, you are wasting my precious time!

Don’t use tactics or pull the wool over your audience’s eyes. Be respectful, friends! Do I really need to say that you will benefit more from honesty in the long run?

Now, I get that he’s had some pretty amazing opportunities handed to him in his life and that the stories surrounding those opportunities have given him perspective. He’s learned through experience and is now teaching what he knows. He is a guru, yes – of marketing? No. Of systems and tactics? YES. Strong accusation? Maybe.

Being positive and having a sunny outlook may draw people to you, which is part of your marketing approach, sure. But being in the marketing industry is a commitment. What worked last week may not work today. It is always evolving. So taking marketing advice from a systems and tactics guru is not recommended.

For someone who is teaching marketing, I was surprised to see he had not updated his Twitter account in almost 3 weeks, wasn’t using an event hashtag to increase awareness or engagement across any/all social platforms and hasn’t maximized his website or blog for sharing and readership.  He’s an author, speaker and coach. He should be doing all of those things. So, why isn’t he? I guess I don’t understand.

Unfortunately, this host is not a leader in the marketing industry. He has found and developed a system that works for him, which he teaches, uses his events to promote and makes a LOT of money on – I’m sure. (along with the mastermind groups, which I’m assuming are one of his business cornerstone offerings…)

“Being my age, I have been to more than my share of those kinds of conferences. The whole purpose is to sell themselves. They are there to sell their system, their CD’s, their books, and their coaching.  The fact that four hundred sit and stay, is either a reflection on them individually, their ignorance, or a reflection on the sheer desire they have to be like the host,” says my friend Susan Saurastri, OC Real Estate Agent.

But if being a “rockstar”, as he was referring to it, means being sneaky, only doing enough to get you noticed, not believing that a good reputation is worth it’s weight in gold and that people will only work with you if you appear bigger and better than you really are, I am not only NOT a rockstar, I don’t want to be one.

I’m glad I didn’t pay for a ticket to attend this event and I’m so grateful I was able to see and spend a day with a few peeps.

That said, the purpose of this blog article is not to defame the business owner and presenter, which is only one of the reasons I am not naming him or the conference in this post.  Instead, I want to inform and encourage you to be smart and take the events you may happen upon for what they’re worth. See through the veil and don’t drink the kool-aid, my friends. Not everyone that speaks in public really is an “industry expert”. Sometimes they have just taken a sizable dose of their own medicine.

I chose not to return to the conference for day two and three (today and tomorrow), instead opting to enjoy doing business I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do during this time, and I am doing it poolside. Building a business and a brand is hard work, don’t let any coach, event host, or tactic-driven preacher tell you it’s easy. But don’t pretend you can’t enjoy it along the way.

So, what have I learned?

  1. There truly are more reasons to attend events, conferences and seminars than just the focal topic. Meet people, practice your elevator pitch, catch up with lifelong friends, or explore a region.
  1. If the conference information wastes precious time, give yourself permission to opt out. I would be at the conference today and tomorrow, networking and enjoying the people if I had wifi access and could work during the sessions. Even though it’s painful to listen to and I almost couldn’t stomach sitting through the third session yesterday due to the mis-information being given, the people I knew and met are good, well-intentioned people. “Salt of the earth,” as Susan would call them.

Jamie Teasdale – Founder

Were you at this conference and you had a different observation? Perhaps you stayed through today? Or maybe you experienced a conference that went south?

Please share your story below or offer your advice to our small business readers:

What Happens When A Small Business Marketing Conference Goes South?

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7th Birthday Reflections: The Propel Story & What’s Next https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/7th-birthday-reflections-propel-story-whats-next/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/7th-birthday-reflections-propel-story-whats-next/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 18:08:56 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=10477 In March of 2009, the world was in turmoil. Businesses were closing, the economy was in the toilet and people everywhere were losing their jobs, homes and more. After 4 years working at a job I didn’t dread each morning with a company full of people I felt fairly close to, in one fell swoop on March 15th we all learned we would be downsizing in waves and our company would be closed that summer. The first wave of layoffs would happen right away with a 2 week notice.

I was in the first wave along with about 50 of my peers and was jobless as of March 31st, 2009.

On April 1st (no joke), I woke up with a sense of freedom. I could sleep, travel, visit friends and family, or begin my search for the next thing. Within a short 2 weeks, a business was born after my parents (long-time business owners and entrepreneurs) introduced me to my first clients. They were a security company who needed help with many areas of their business. From administrative assistance and company organization, to growth strategies and executive support, I dove in head first and never looked back.

PrintI knew branding would be important to the presentation of my company and I also knew I needed to bootstrap it. Deciding on a name and a logo was fairly easy and I didn’t waste time with a lengthy branding process because I knew it would likely change once I got some research underway, tested the waters and established a few foundational points. I used my artist signature as the logo and went with a name that wasn’t already registered with the state and which I could own the URL of. I had a graphic designer draw my logo, I built my own website and designed business cards in Vista Print and I was off.

The first year of business was a test in determining what I really enjoyed doing, what I was MOST passionate about and what the Portland business market needed. I tested the 2009 economy and had conversations with business managers and owners who were struggling and needed help. What did they need? How much could they pay? What could I do to help?

I learned a lot from that first year, too. I learned how to negotiate, how to build relationships, how to market and sell my services, and I used it all to feed my passion to support small business owners in growth and success. From the beginning I also had a hunch that I should document my processes so I could duplicate myself in the form of support staff. But I also knew I didn’t want to hire an employee right out the gate, so I found reliable associates (some friends, some family members – which isn’t the best decision 100% of the time) who I trusted and knew I could work well with and train to be contractors. I was not only helping small business owners grow, I was helping people launch businesses that could support them. Win, Win – or so I thought.

In January of 2010, it was clear to me I needed to rebrand. JJT Solutions just didn’t cut it. No one knew what I did because I was doing so many things, thus I felt the need for the “umbrella” name that would encompass it all. So, I set out to hire a brand agency (also friends of mine) who took me on an amazing journey of discovery to unearth Propel Businessworks. By April I had a new name and logo and in June of 2010 I held an awesome relaunch party at the agency’s office location where I announced the brand and my excitement for the future. I had invited over 300 guests and over 100 attended. Friends, family members, networking associates, clients, contractors, you name it, they showed up for me. What an honor.

Propel Launch Party-6591_2 copy Propel Launch Party-6292_2 copy Propel Launch Party-6270_2 copy Propel Launch Party-6267_2 copy Propel Launch Party-6264_2 copy Propel Launch Party-6140_2 copy Propel Launch Party-6095_2 copy Propel Launch Party-5997_2 copy

Shortly after that, business picked up and I moved into an office off 7th and Hawthorne where I settled in and established Portland residency for the company. In early 2011, I hired a temp employee who remained with me for about 6 months until heading off to school. During that time we moved into our most recent office home with Turtledove Clemens off 1st and Jefferson in the Jefferson Street Station building downtown, the office to end all offices and the cornerstone memory we lived at for 4 1/2 years.

IMG_2210 copy  IMG_6779 copy


DSC_2183 copyHiring was a learning lesson and one I’m grateful for. Emma was a gem and she taught me a lot about being an employer, training, HR manager and more. That experience also taught me how hard it is to be an employer in general, let alone in the Portland area. Expenses, regulations and strict rules were the name of the game and I decided not to replace her when she decided to move on to her new adventure.

The contractors I have worked with over the years have been amazing assets to Propel and our client base. And I still have a few from the early days. I have hired two other times since 2011 and both were also good experiences that taught me even more about my weaknesses, my strengths and the areas where I am just not cut out for the path ahead. Overall, I have learned that my team of contractors serve me well. And I work well with them, mainly because as a responsibilitarian, working with others who are responsible to build their own businesses, stay true to their word and who perform well in their strengths gives me great satisfaction without the overhead and responsibility and risk of being “a bad guy” someone has to work for.

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Lesson learned.

Propel has served clients all over the United States and continues to. However, as a native of Portland, my heart is truly for those businesses within our growing city. And knowing WHO we seek to serve really has freed me to focus and rest in who we are.

Today, we offer small to medium sized businesses branding project support, WordPress website development and design and SEO strategies, collateral design (think business cards, rack cards, letterhead, brochures, etc) and content marketing planning and management (blogging, email marketing and social media). That is who we are, what we believe in and what we do well.

The number 7 is the number of completeness or perfection. While I am far from perfect, I certainly feel that Propel has “settled in” to who we are, what we do and how we do it. The first seven years of business have been an amazing, whirlwind of an experience – and it is far from over.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 6.27.30 PMOne of my known MO’s is that businesses need to constantly be testing, adapting and growing with the changing times, technologies and offering better, more strategic services or products, customer service and communication, and more. We can never just “sit”. And so, with the number 7 also comes a new chapter. I write this from my newly appointed home office with a grin on my face knowing the next 7 years will be better, brighter and more seasoned.

Propel-5 copyThank you for following along, supporting Propel and myself and for being such a great part of my journey. All of this is for you, so enjoy and let me know how I can help you when the time comes.

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7 Resources for Better Business Communication https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/7-resources-business-communication/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/7-resources-business-communication/#comments Tue, 24 May 2016 13:00:43 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8259 Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… efficient business communication is key to a businesses success. Business communication is not limited to just phone calls and emails, but also social media, scheduling, and task planning platforms. Figuring out the best business communication strategy for your business can be time consuming and frustrating. It is a difficult task to pick the right platforms that work for your business.

7 resources that we have identified for better business communication include:

Trello:

Trello is a great project or tasking planning website. Trello allows you to manage what projects need to be done, by whom, and by a certain date. Your staff can communicate with one another using their Trello-specific user handles (ex. @bren). As mobile devices become the dominant source for people’s scheduling and communication needs, Trello has a free mobile application. It’s easy to use, user friendly, and free!

Google+ Hangout:

Similar to Skype, Google+ has a unique feature called “Hangout.” Hangout allows users to video call individuals or groups for free. Hangout allows you to send messages, use emoji’s, or share your screen with up to ten users. Hangout is free and is accessible from your computer or mobile device.

Toggl:

Toggl is an easy to use time tracking software. Through Toggl, you can track your time manually or through an interactive task timer. Toggl makes it possible for users to track their time by project or task. The platform makes invoicing easy by allowing you to export your timed entries into Freshbooks.

Dropbox:

Dropbox allows you to share your documents, images, and presentations from anywhere. Oftentimes, in emails, you receive an error message saying the document you are trying to send is too large. Dropbox allows you to share these large files with anyone. Dropbox synchronizes your files automatically through cloud technology.

WordPress:

WordPress is a great communication tool to publish blogs and create beautiful websites. WordPress is a free tool that is, also, rather user friendly. Blogs can be scheduled out weeks in advance and websites updates can be made quickly.

Hootsuite:

Hootsuite is a great tool to manage all of your social media platforms from one place. Through the dashboard, you are able to manage your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Google+, and Foursquare profiles. Hootsuite allows you to schedule out your posts, retweet content, and see who is trying to reach you. This is a great site for brand management and customer engagement.

Evernote:

Evernote is a useful tool to collect all of your notes, files, and images in one place. Your saved content is accessible from anywhere, you have an internet connection. Evernote allows you to work with your friend and colleagues and share project information with one another.

These are just some of the tools available for business communication purposes. The options are limitless! What resources is your company using for business communication? We’d love to hear your input.

-Jamie

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How You Can Use Your E-News To Create Better Buzz https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/enews-create-buzz/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/enews-create-buzz/#respond Tue, 10 May 2016 13:00:43 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8247 Announcement Timing is Everything.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and stockimages

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and stockimages

I know a company or brand has accomplished a successful and effective campaign when everywhere I turn, I see something about it. For example, Instagram pops up and there’s a picture from the company’s feed, then on Facebook a friend has liked their page, while on Twitter, another friend tweeted about it. I have consciously taken note when this happens and inevitably, I end up clicking on the article or looking it up. E-news announcement timing is everything. Here’s how to use your e-news to create better buzz.

Leverage Internally

When sending out an e-newsletter, the best you can ask for is a base following before any strangers ever see it (e.g. the landing page, social media profile, etc.). The best place to get this base following and grow your audience is internally. Whether it’s your immediate employees or your personal and professional network, make sure you’ve sent your e-newsletter there first. Have an “ask” for them such as liking your new page or visiting your landing page and leaving a comment or sharing something. By ensuring a base audience before it even goes public, the reach of your announcement will go farther. (P.S. Do this a week before the public e-news is sent so that it has the chance to circulate through your network).

Blast It On Social Media

Plan and schedule various posts about different pieces in the e-newsletter 2-3 hours after it goes out. Post different verbiage and photos on various platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, so that your audience reads your e-news and then sees something else about it on a social site.

E-newsletter

The e-newsletter is a powerful tool that requires a brilliantly executed plan every time it goes out. Establish a scalable system to repeat on a weekly or monthly basis. Choose pieces for the e-news that have been monitored and measured and had the most engagement to increase the chances that it gets read. Also be sure to monitor when your audience has read your e-news in the past (time of day, day of the week, and frequency). Assuming an internal network has already engaged with it and the social media posts are on standby, send out the e-news.

Measure

Once the e-news has gone out, measure the following two to four week later: the email read and click rate, exactly how many people visited the landing page and when, how many more likes the Facebook page has, and how many people left comments. It is incredibly telling as to how successful the e-news was. Spend time hashing this out so that you know what to do more of next time.

In order to create great buzz and inspire the best social media engagement, you have to give the fire a little fuel, which includes a plan, leveraging your internal network, spreading the word on multiple channels, and timing your e-news well.

-Jamie

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What To Know When Traveling To NYC For Business! https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/what-to-know-when-traveling-to-nyc-for-business/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/leadership-resources/what-to-know-when-traveling-to-nyc-for-business/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:00:38 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8246 What To Know When Traveling To NYC For Business!  – When I traveled to NYC for the #SMWNYC conference, I did meet some great people and explored a city I hadn’t visited in over 10 years, but the entire week was an experience… here’s why:
What to know when traveling to NYC for business!

What to know when traveling to NYC for business!

#1. Crosswalks & traffic lanes are a mere suggestion here. – Seriously. Don’t be nervous when your taxi merges with another lane during rush hour, only to be pushed back into the lane you thought you were in. There are no rules except get where you need to be.  As for the crosswalks, own them. That’s all I can say. Just don’t forget that jay-walking isn’t legal in all cities and when you return home, be aware of your surrounding officer surveillance.

#2. This city NEVER sleeps. – No matter how snowy, rainy, foggy or early it is, do not underestimate the rudeness of an open window in the middle of the night. On the flip side, remember that if you treat them the way they treat you, they’ll respect you and you’ll get better service, no matter what hour it is.
#3. Big critters are normal & probably due in part to trash bags left piled on the sidewalks. – Trash bags line the streets. When the garbage men can make it around, they will. Don’t be surprised to see cockroaches the size of your thumb and rats the size of small cats in plain sight. It comes with the territory.
#4. People who are famous don’t say they’re famous. – Not everyone in New York is a celebrity, although many think they are or should be. But running into a hairy chested, gold chain wearing, greased hair suave who is paparazzi’d by an event attendee doesn’t mean a tandem selfie is required. When the accompanying bleached groupie in suede points out that ‘he’s famous’, know she’s pulling your leg and proceed to the nearest exit. You’ll be glad you saved your breath.
#5. Mothers from this area must forget to teach their sons manners. – It simply amazes me how many lazy and/or ignorant males there are in a city so full of ‘sophistication’. Don’t be surprised when the guy in front of you doesn’t hold the door, or the taxi driver motions to ‘get in the cab’ when you have (3) awkward bags and a line of cars waiting for you to load the taxi trunk.
#6. Take EVERYTHING in stride. Can’t change people & changing situations is only an option when you’re ACTUALLY in control. – No matter what, perspective is a choice.  I can’t change the angry volunteer who yelled at us to ‘raise your hand… it’s like kindergarden people’. I won’t argue with the housekeeper who is all but calling me a liar to my face, especially when I know I was NOT lying. Trying to explain yourself to a taxi driver is often times just not worth it. Give them the address and let them drive.
#7. Taxi drivers who listen to Snoop are my FAV! – When in doubt, turn off the ads playing on the backseat taxi TV and tell the driver to ‘turn that up’ when Snoop and B.I.G. cycle through the Pandora radio. Trust me. You’ll remember your experience (and your childhood) fondly. At least they have some appreciation of the classics!
#8. Style doesn’t always have to be sacrificed for comfort. – Boots are smart for winter weather, but nothing beats in-soles and good sox.
#9. My hair is softer when washed at home. – No matter what shampoo and conditioner I use, my hair is partial to home.
#10. When packing for a trip, remember security lines are a hassle and dress accordingly. – Forty layers, belts, boots, laptops, a carry-on, liquids pulled outside in a ziplock and a shoulder bag make for an interestingly time-consuming security line check point. Next time: slip-ons, no coat or belt, check the bag and carry a purse only.
#11. Spending money is inevitable. Might as well go with the flow because you certainly can’t take it with you. – No matter how well you plan, there are always unforeseen expenses. Breathe and buck up. At least you have the means.
#12. Walk more. – That is all.
#13. If you plan ahead & know where you’re going, other out-of-towners you encounter will think you’re a local. – This is also true for locals… When you hold your head up and walk with a confident purpose, there is no opportunity to believe you’re a visitor.
#14. Not every airline is created equal. – When booking a ‘cheap flight’ be prepared to trade good prices for great service or consumer care. I learned this the hard way. Paying for checked bags is one thing, paying $50 for a carry-on is just ridiculous! Then to hear the plane had run out of food even BEFORE we had been rerouted to Albany due to LGA closures (then reopens, then closures, then reopens) where we were forced to wait for 2 1/2 hours just seemed like poor planning. I will never choose to fly Frontier Airlines again.
#15. You’ve got about a 15% chance of sitting next to somebody cool on the plane. – This is just math. Between the four flights it required to travel to and from New York, I landed exactly two conversations that were anything even remotely resembling kind. For my last leg (Dallas to Portland) I ended up next to a Texan that thought chatting up a storm, passing crude jokes and spewing foul language was funny and completely appropriate at 9:30pm.
#16. Taking pictures of what you’ve packed in your luggage isn’t completely neurotic, it’s actually reassuring. – When given the ultimatum of needing to check every bag you brought, even when you put all of the ‘most essential necessities’ in, what was meant to be your carry-on, it’s easier to part with said bag knowing I will remember exactly what was in the bag. If one encounters the need to replace a bag, this reassurance is just soothing.
#17. Jet lag is really just sleep deprivation while traveling backward through time zones. You can get it even if you’re just crossing the U.S., & it gets worse when flying at night. – Jet lag is actually possible without the need for travel through and/or to another country. With flight delays, layovers in different time zones and arriving at my final destination (back home in Portland, Oregon) at 3:30am EST, Saturday was quite foggy. Luckily I had two days to ‘recover’ before hitting the office again.
Overall, the trip was, as you can see, one experience after another. Armed with these lessons, my next trip to the Big Apple will be even more enjoyable!  Have you experienced any of my lessons? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts!
-Jamie
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When A Beast of a Project Becomes A Massive Blessing https://propelbusinessworks.com/entrepreneur-inspiration/when-a-project-becomes-a-blessing/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/entrepreneur-inspiration/when-a-project-becomes-a-blessing/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:21:03 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=9929 March 2016 was madness, and not because I follow sports. I officially tallied up more hours than I have on any other month in seven years of business. What’s more, I knew it would be intense. But I’m pretty sure that no amount of preparation would have prevented the valuable lessons I learned along the way.


At the end of February I turned on my out of office to let people know I would be extremely busy in March, but I would get back to them as quickly as possible. I’m glad I did, too. Not only was it wise for my clients, team and associates to know what to expect, it reminded me of a very valuable lesson…

I am allowed to create and set boundaries.

IMG_2480IMG_2481
“Hello, I’m Jamie, and I’m a responsibilitarian.” Responsibility is my top strength according to StrengthsFinder 2.0 and the only cure for my ‘at once’ nature, is to remember that I am human, not a robot. This means I have basic survival needs like drinking water, feeding my body, and getting rest (not to mention vats of dark and delicious coffee – but I digress). As a business owner who wears every hat a business has to wear, this quality comes in handy. I am dedicated to the task at hand, to my job and to others. But sometimes it’s a weakness, and I have to learn again that I need to continue sharpening my healthy boundaries and realistic expectation setting skills.

Here are a few ways I did that this last month:

1. The easiest expectation I could set while going into March was giving my schedule flexibility and dedicated blocks of time to accomplish work. I didn’t make any appointments or take any meetings that couldn’t wait until April. I also let other clients know that I had a massive project coming to a boil and would be more able to focus on their work on certain days, or at certain times of the week or month. When we give proper expectations and then follow through, the level of trust those around you have will increase significantly. Believe it. My clients were gracious because they were able to trust my word.

2. The second was turning on my out of office (vacation email responder) to let people know I was committed to responding, that I received their message and would do my best to get back to them within 72 hours. It’s amazing to me what happens when people have that head’s up. The urgency of smaller issues subsides and they give you grace in that moment. It also frees up the looming wonder of what is happening in your inbox every moment of the day and provides a cushion for you to get back to them in what is still a reasonable amount of time.

3. The third strategy I empowered was to get additional help. Not only did we need extra hands on deck to finish this project, I needed to reign in a couple of extra team members to help organize and accomplish the work we already have from current clients. Because I would be less available, I delegated to those I trusted and have worked with before and it saved me in the end. When we trust our ability to hire well (find and pay for good help), the burden of managing a lot of spinning plates becomes less stressful. I was able to put those on a kind of auto-pilot while I dove into the coordination of launching the website at hand.

As a planner (that’s my Futuristic strength), I tend to have the vision to see what is ahead and pull forward a plan of action for how we will survive and be most efficient (my Maximizer strength) in getting there. So, what if you don’t have these strengths? Here are a few helpful lessons I also learned this month:

  • It’s ok to say no. Not everything that passes through my door is the right fit, project, client or endeavor for me. While some may press and push, knowing what you do and being committed to doing it well will help you know when to hand over work to someone else. I referred business to a few trusted associates last month due to my workload and the potential client’s needs – and it was liberating. I feel like in doing so, I solidified who I am and what I want, while also reinforcing my work/life balance priority.
  • Set a schedule and stick with it. I am the first to tell you that I work a LOT. Granted, I love what I do and it fulfills my passion, but I have to put exercise and ‘downtime’ on my calendar. I even put date night on the schedule so I remember what I’ve committed to. However, it does me absolutely no good to add it to my calendar if I don’t follow-through and I feel guilty and exhausted at the end of the day if I don’t stick to my calendar. This also serves as a sort of checklist of what I accomplished, and a tracking system for how much time I spent where. You may need to block off time to respond to emails, or check voicemails, or even make lunch or dinner. But having something on your calendar means it is important to you that it be there, so give it the time you have allocated and you’ll feel refreshed, fed and ready to carry on.
  • Razor Clamming on the OR coastDon’t neglect your personal life. While my husband, family and friends knew I was working hard in March toward a pretty strict goal, and were super supportive in the process, I also had to be sure to take time to focus on my home and my relationships. Taking calls, responding to texts, and just taking time to be in relationship (#4 strength = Relator) fuels all of us. When we suck the love tank dry and don’t refill it, relationships wear thin and begin to break down. Remain committed to the long-lasting priorities and remember, business is temporary.
  • Give yourself grace. While I am ecstatic that I hit the mark and I did what I said I would do, somewhere along the way there was a twinge of guilt for working too much and too hard. Even though I had prepared my home and husband and family and clients, and even though I knew it was temporary, somehow it also felt like I had abandoned my higher priorities to become a workaholic. But sometimes we have to do what we have to do and it strengthens us in the process and my priorities have become even more clear to me through this journey. I choose to give myself grace for doing the best I could do with what I have been given and being strong through the process and then celebrating the accomplishments!

Kelly Rae Roberts - Portland, OROverall, the project I was gifted to be a part of was a labor of love that took us just shy of a year to produce. It was a delight for me to join forces with people all around the globe (and right here in my backyard) to birth the dream of client I have come to respect and admire. It was energizing working with her and while I didn’t really know who she was or even to what level she did what she does before I came on board, I know now just why we got along so well. She is Kelly Rae Roberts and she is a Possibilitarian, full of beauty, gratitude, joy and kindness. She finds light and love in her life and pulls that out in others too. What a gift.

I don’t think any amount of research would have given me the insight to know what I would come away with from this project. And there way no way of understanding what kind of a role I would play or how this project would change my life through the lessons I learned and I’m so grateful for all of the amazing ways it has been a blessing.

Do you have a project like this? Have you been a part of something significant that has taught you lessons about life and priorities and boundaries? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below or send me an email. I hope I have inspired you to take stock of what is most important to you and how to organize your goals so you accomplish exactly what you need to.

– Jamie

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3 Simple Tips for Writing a Good Blog (it doesn’t have to be complicated!) https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/3-simple-tips-for-writing-a-good-blog-it-doesnt-have-to-be-complicated/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/3-simple-tips-for-writing-a-good-blog-it-doesnt-have-to-be-complicated/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 13:00:34 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8245
Image courtesy of Pixabay and StartupStockPhotos

Image courtesy of Pixabay and StartupStockPhotos

The beauty of a blog is that it’s a blank canvas. It’s in the writer’s hands to do with what he or she pleases; to make it what he or she envisions; and to execute that vision with however much or little consistency he or she wants. The secret is that it doesn’t have to be complicated! The other secret is that a blog will be as great as what you put in it. In honor of making life simpler today, step back and look at your writing. In layman’s terms, a blog means writing and posting value-rich pieces on a regular basis. Within that framework, remember the 3 M’s:

Make it logical

Whether it’s lists, bullet points, chronological order, or strategically dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s, the best blog post means a reader walks away with action items and a clear understanding. To accomplish this, I conduct four tests:

1) Is it in the right order, does it flow, and do the points build well on one another?
2) Does it make sense, have I gone on a tangent anywhere, and have I stayed on topic in every paragraph?
3) What will the reader walk away with after reading this?
4) What, if any, action items are present?

Depending on your blog and audience, make sure to understand what you are trying to achieve and adjust the above tests accordingly. Perhaps “your thing” is not to make sense and be humorous, in which case some of these logic questions wouldn’t apply. But I still take a minute after every post to make sure it passes the logic test.

Make it relevant

Pop culture, news, technology; a blog must be relevant to gain traction. This might be a rather obvious point, but in my blogging research I have encountered two things: being too late in the game by writing about a topic that has already passed, and writing on a topic that just isn’t very popular or relatable. Even if you have a blog in a niche area, the posts can still be tied to relatable or relevant ideas that readers can absorb:

Stay on top of it – If my goal is to be cutting-edge, then I make sure to have the right triggers in place to alert me on breaking news or trend announcements (Google Alerts and Flipboard). This allows me to join the conversation while it’s hot when Google announces its next search-ranking algorithm (Hippo?).

Give it an anchor – No matter how specific or perhaps vague a topic is that I am writing on, I always try to find an example or current event to keep it relevant in today’s world and/or tie a reader in to relate better.

Make it interesting

This is simple. Rule of thumb: write posts that you would stop and read and would be inspired to share.

Once you decide what you want to say, then these are the 3 tips for writing a good blog: structure it coherently, link it to something current, and make it valuable to the reader.

-Jamie

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Research Tips For The Rest Of Us https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/research-tips-for-the-rest-of-us/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/plan/research-tips-for-the-rest-of-us/#respond Tue, 22 Mar 2016 13:00:18 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8239 Researching Articles
Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hermann

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hermann

The Internet is an endless sea of reliable and unreliable sources. Wading through it is not only overwhelming and time-consuming, but also one of the hardest stages of writing articles and blogs.

What I’ve done to remedy the anxiety of this step is to create a simple process with strategies on how to use information without plagiarizing and a go-to list of resources to avoid endless research.

Overview

When I’m inspired by an idea or a question pops in my head, the first thing I do is Wikipedia it. Yes, I know the credibility of this website is debatable, but when you want a superficial overview on a certain company, person, situation, place, etc. Wikipedia can be a useful resource. Similar websites include Reference, Encyclopedia, and Ask. The overview allows me to create a list of the things I will need to further look into. Likewise, if I have a broad topic, an overview allows me to choose the aspect I want to hone in on.

Research

Next, I pull together the necessary research materials so I can whip out my writing in one sitting. The type of topic and article dictates where I go for research. For anything historic, scholastic, or academic, I use official dot-edu or dot-org websites that I know are official and trusted (e.g. loc.org). For modern topics and digital trends, I find the trendsetters and authorities in the industry and research articles they have written. More specifically I find influencers on Twitter, Google, and Google+. I believe quantity of followers can represent quality, but it’s never a bad idea to do a bit of background research on an author before trusting their work by their followers. With technical issues, features, and questions, I seek out forums on trusted platforms (e.g. LinkedIn). I use Google quite a bit. However, the art of Googling reliable sources is an acquired skill. To learn how to use Google for your research, read this.

Citing

The third important step in this research process is citing your article’s well-deserved sources. Creating hyperlinks to your source directly in a blog entry (oh yeah, like this one) is acceptable citation. You can also create endnotes1. These citation methods are popular for online articles and blogging. I figure if the NY Times can use hyperlinks as citing, then we’re okay. Lastly, don’t forget quotations if you’re copy-pasting. Even paraphrasing deserves a shout-out to the original source.

With these three steps, I am able to use my simple process strategically in order to eliminate the stress of the overwhelming amount of resources available on the Internet. How do you avoid plagiarizing and find the best information? Do you have a process?

If you are looking for reliable resources, my top favorite authority sites in various industries are: Forbes, Mashable, Wired, Entrepreneur, and the Library of Congress.

-Jamie

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Endnotes

1Like this one

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Understanding the Power of Social https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/understanding-the-power-of-social/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/understanding-the-power-of-social/#respond Tue, 08 Mar 2016 14:00:45 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8238 What’s the big deal with social media?
Image courtesy of Pixabay and edar

Image courtesy of Pixabay and edar

While the never ending social media posts are a headache for whomever on your team has the pleasure of non-stop posting, it’s absolutely necessary to be active on social media. Understanding the power of social is simple because it’s all around us, every single day. I can confidently tell you that if you are not on social media, at this point you’re a dinosaur. People expect to hear from you. Your customers (both current and prospective) want to hear from you. It’s within these large networks that “social contagion” is possible, leading to changes in behaviors, actions and ultimately traffic and sales for your business.

Your social media profiles are mini salespeople working for your company

Think of your social media profiles as little connectors and salespeople out there talking about your brand, products, and inviting people to check you out. If you think about it along these terms, you’ll take more pride in your profiles and understand the importance of the quality of your online presence. In many cases, it’s peoples’ first interaction with you. We all know how devastatingly important first impressions are. In our fast-paced world of social networking, information spreads rapidly with just a couple clicks. This is how noticeable snip-its go viral. When considering virtual campaigns, make sure there is a clear call to action so that efforts and outcomes become tangible.

Beautiful example of the power of social media in action:

Situation

In Alabama last week there was a sudden and tragically unexpected snowstorm. There was complete shock and chaos when the storm hit. People were stranded, others abandoned their vehicles in the middle of the street, families were separated, and everything was in disarray.

Social Networks Solution

Within a few hours, a Facebook page popped up, SnowedOutAtlanta. It was setup to help stranded motorists. One man said he was running out of insulin shots for his Diabetes and if anyone had extras. Others said they had no place to stay and people near them took them in. The page has 45K+ members all coming together to help one another.

Imagine

Imagine your company sponsored that Facebook page. The branding recognition would be invaluable. The lesson learned here is that social media success is hit or miss in terms of being at the right place at the right time with the right people viewing your posts at the right moment. Having said that, you need to be prepared to react to things quickly. You need to have as strong a following as possible so that when an opportunity presents itself, your platforms are up and running (case in point: Atlanta storm).

Gain insight into your target audience

Besides creating brand loyalty, instigating sales, and being awesomely relevant in today’s digital yellow pages called social networks, your efforts come full circle when you’re able to collect your analytics and find out who your target audience is. You are able to see exactly who is engaging with your content, profiles, and website, which in turn tells you how to communicate and brand better. It’s an excellent feeling to know who’s on the other side of the phone when you need to know what to say.

Lastly, be genuine. The online community is fabulous at ignoring disingenuousness. Care about what you’re putting out there because value-added will lead to trendsetters and opinion leaders picking you up, taking you into that viral channel. So what are you waiting for? Step into digital.

-Jamie

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How to Find Your Brand Voice https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-branding/how-to-find-your-brand-voice/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-branding/how-to-find-your-brand-voice/#respond Tue, 23 Feb 2016 14:00:14 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8237 Brand Voice
Image courtesy of Pixabay and TheAngryTeddy

Image courtesy of Pixabay and TheAngryTeddy

The art of a consistent, appropriate, and cohesive brand voice is an important one that requires constant TLC. How to find your brand voice means truly looking at the personality, values, and style, and is based on target market research and interactions you have with clients, customers, and consumers, as well as with each other. This worksheet tool gives you a foundation to use so your brand’s communications are clear and consistent. Here’s an example:

My Brand Voice Profile

Mission Statement
Many believe this is the anchor of your business; the heart that beats, or should, in every employee at the company – it’s your core purpose. Here are some questions to consider when developing this: What do we do? Who is our audience? How do we serve our consumers? Why are we in this business? What do we want to be known for?

Tagline
This represents a brand’s unique value proposition. It should stand out from the competition, be notable, and embraced by everyone internally. Need a resource? Here are some companies that nailed it.

Values
Consumers care about what the companies they buy from are saying, representing, and advocating in the world. We are tending to take more pride in our purchases making statements about what we support. We experienced the green wave and now we’re into the cause wave (e.g. TOMs). See this extensive guide to shaping your company values.

Target Market Profile
This is the audience to whom all of your marketing efforts are geared and the group that you want engaging with your brand.

Keywords
What do people type into Google when they’re looking for your brand? Those are your keywords. These are important because they need to pop up in your Meta tags, content, website, and more in order to have your brand show up in search rankings. This is the intricate world of search engine optimization.

Language
A brand’s language is comprised of the words it uses and how those words affect its audience. Depending on the industry or personality of the brand, the language may be scientific, relatable, informative, friendly, stern, etc.

Tone
This is how you say something. I like to look at it as if your brand were a car, what car would they be? The answer will tell you a lot about your brand’s personality (e.g. a Fiat versus a Jeep) and can help steer the tone in which you write and say things (e.g. elegant versus edgy).

Approach
Now, pull together everything you’ve written and define your brand’s approach, comprised of the goals you have for your voice (e.g. conversation starter, consistent resource, factual, etc.).

These exercises may appear trite, but they are what differentiate bonded teams working towards one goal from disheveled teams moving in different directions. Your brand voice comes out a million times a day to an array of different people so make it count.

-Jamie

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Utilizing Your Blog and Website Keywords https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/utilizing-your-blog-and-website-keywords/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/utilizing-your-blog-and-website-keywords/#respond Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:00:13 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8236 Using Keywords to Boost SEO
Image courtesy of Pixabay and FirmBee

Image courtesy of Pixabay and FirmBee

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) changes it stripes so often, it is difficult to stay afloat in the Google-verse. The formulas created for content to show up in Google search rankings is so tumultuous that I can’t even remember what the difference was between Penguin and Hummingbird. All I know is that now articles keep telling me we live in the Siri-search age where people search in full sentences, a trait we learned from Apple’s Siri. All of that confusion put aside, I can confidently say that whether it is phrases or words, the beating heart of SEO is still its keywords. How the formulas choose to take them into consideration doesn’t change the fact that keywords have been and still are the main stars on the Google search platform.

Another ridiculously broad buzz word: keywords; the list of phrases and words that are most valuable to your company/blog/products because they are the most searched by your target audience on Google. Simplified, if you are a software company providing event management systems to nonprofits, then your hottest keywords could most likely consist of “benefit auctions”, “charity gala”, “event management software”, etc. Most platforms today will suggest or recommend keywords to you. Unfortunately, a hunch doesn’t have the same ROI as labor-intensive research.

Here’s a list of proactive steps you can take to compile a list of valuable, effective blog and website keywords with high ROI for your industry, company, or product:

List

List your 5-10 closest competitors. Scan their websites and blogs, pulling out the most commonly used phrases and words. Track this in an Excel spreadsheet, using 4 columns: words, phrases, themes, and products. Pick which columns apply to your exercise. Do the same for your website and blog and see how it compares. There are different schools of thought as to whether you want to use the same keywords as competitors and steal the spotlight, or use completely different ones to differentiate yourself and tap into another audience.

There are programs you can pay for and use as well. See Keyword Tools article for resources.

Utilize

Based on those keywords and which school of thought you adopt, go back through your website content and blog (recent and future posts) and utilize these keywords, phrases, and themes as much as possible.

Establish

Budget allowing, set up your Google AdWords account.

    1. Save your Excel list of phrases/words as a CSV file.
    2. Upload the CSV file to your AdWords account.
    3. Create a new “Campaign” using those keywords.
    4. Create 3 variations of an Ad using different text and photos.
    5. Set a generous daily budget.
    6. Run your campaign for a week (monitor daily).
    7. At the end of a week, look at how your keywords/phrases performed. Were the ones that you thought were strong words searched a lot? Were some of the popular searches surprising? Also, determine which ads and keywords were the most successful (e.g. highest CTR). Delete or Pause the ads/keywords that were unsuccessful.
    8. Based on your findings, you might have to go back and edit your list of keywords and rework some of your website and blog content.
    9. You may also choose to continue your AdWords campaign with the successful aspects. Just make sure you set a realistic daily/monthly budget that you can afford to invest.

This is a living process in that it does not stop step 3. As SEO specialists, business owners, and marketers, we must continuously monitor, measure, and adjust. Always take note of new buzz words and phrases in your industry and test the “suggested keywords” offered to you on blog and website keywords platforms. Just make sure you’ve done the real research yourself. While time consuming, it’s extremely beneficial.

If you are looking for a resource, I highly suggest Moz.

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How I Took the Fun Out of Disneyland https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/customer-service/how-i-took-the-fun-out-of-disneyland/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/customer-service/how-i-took-the-fun-out-of-disneyland/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 14:00:57 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=9158 Walt Disney sure created a magical empire. I'm fascinated by all of the imagination, hundreds and thousands of jobs supported, the masses of people who are magnetically attracted to this place, the amazing attention to detail, and how it all started with a mouse. Happy 60th Birthday Disneyland!

Walt Disney sure created a magical empire. I’m fascinated by all of the imagination, hundreds and thousands of jobs supported, the masses of people who are magnetically attracted to this place, the amazing attention to detail, and how it all started with a mouse. Happy 60th Birthday Disneyland!

It wasn’t until the second half of our last day at Disneyland that I realized I had to share about my observations of the “happiest place on earth”. My family could arguably be the #1 Disney-loving family of the Pacific Northwest and we would rival any other. Put us on Disney’s version of the that ‘millionaire show’ and we’d never use our lifeline. I have personally been to Disneyland twelve times and I marvel and revel in each experience, usually running first to Pirates of the Caribbean or Splash Mountain and moving on to Haunted Mansion or Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Enter my niece; the human that changed everything for me, starting with the realization of how much one human could love another. Yes, because I don’t have children yet, I never knew what this feeling, this completely overwhelming heart explosion, was. So, when my brother and sister-in-law decided it was time to take Hudson to visit the mouse for the first time, wild horses couldn’t keep me from joining them. And my parents had to be part of the adventure as well. (If you think I’m joking about the Disney-loving Smith’s, just check out my dad’s professional connection to Walt.)

So, we set out to experience Disney’s magic through the eyes of an (almost) 3-year old, for the first time, and it was wonderful. I’ve got pictures and stories and videos to prove it.

But what I learned about myself and how I saw Disney during this trip was just as extraordinary…

These experiences and opportunities aren't just what life is about (magic and wonder and fun with family), it is another wonderful perk of being an #entrepreneur! Business ownership isn't for the faint of heart, but it is worth it, if only for today's benefit of taking a mid-week day to marvel with your niece.... #justsayin First trip to visit the mouse and all she could talk about were the Teacups! Just look at that face!! I'm melting...#throughtheeyesofachild #familytime

These experiences and opportunities aren’t just what life is about (magic and wonder and fun with family), it is another wonderful perk of being an #entrepreneur! Business ownership isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is worth it, if only for today’s benefit of taking a mid-week day to marvel with your niece…. #justsayin First trip to visit the mouse and all she could talk about were the Teacups! Just look at that face!! I’m melting…#throughtheeyesofachild #familytime

People who ask me how I became an entrepreneur will hear me tell the story of how my parents have been small business owners since I was very little. How, from a very young age, I was involved in many aspects of their businesses and I learned about the value of not only hard work, but customer service and quality of product and service delivery. At the tender age of 10, I was already learning the skill of communication and the importance of every detail, area and hat of a business. I was mentored (by my father) and went through a second elementary school during my young ages. The school of entrepreneurship.

Now that I’ve painted the back-story, let’s get back to Disneyland, because no matter how much I love the thrill of the rides, the giggle that inevitably bubbles up after the drop of the briar patch fall or the magic of the “other world” you’re transported to on each and every ride, this visit in December of 2015 showed me oh, so much more. And it all leads back to my analyzing strength and the attention I pay to the details – what has been instilled or built into me. And ultimately, with my mentorship and being in the thick of business for over 22 years, it inevitably leads to the business of Disney.

No matter where I go, no matter how badly I want to be on vacation, no matter who I’m with or how fun it’s supposed to be, my eye always finds the hidden corners of brilliance, or conversely, the missed opportunities – the places where a business had a chance to be great, but missed the mark.

Interested in what I noticed about the Disney empire and how it relates to every day business? Here’s where it gets juicy…

Lessons I learned (again) from Walt’s magic kingdom:

Customer Service really is everything

Disney has got customer service down. It appears in different ways throughout the park, but you’ll notice the employees are all about you. There is nothing better than experiencing friendly care and to feel valued when you are working with a small company or a corporation. In fact, corporations often have a harder time serving with consistency due to the sheer volume of places where it needs to be trained, monitored and held accountable. But it always matters when a large business pays attention to you and expresses interest in your needs, your opinions or the reason you’re shopping with them.

Apply it: Customer service isn’t just about taking a return what a product doesn’t work out. Find one place where you can add a personal touch that will make your customer feel welcome and valued. It could be a thank you note, a feedback request that shows your customer their opinion matters, or it could be an unplanned phone call or a simply “good afternoon” greeting when they come through the door of your establishment. Remember that impressions are lasting – whether good, or bad.

Cleanliness IS next to Godliness

If you’ve ever visited the mouse in Anaheim, you can’t help but notice the “sweepers” who walk the streets cleaning up trash constantly. You might also notice that garbage cans are consistently emptied, bathrooms are stocked and clean, and not a tree branch is out of place. While there is always the exception and not everyone will have the perfect experience, Disney places value on stewarding their park and keeping it clean – constantly.

Apply it: There are quite a few different areas of business that this concept can be applied to. If you have a physical space, cleanliness could be taken literally. If you work from home, it could mean it’s time to get your paper files organized, or your accounting records in order.

"We hope you'll have fun on Mickey's Fun Wheel, where fun is our middle name.”

“We hope you’ll have fun on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, where fun is our middle name.”

Being detail-oriented is the bees knees

My eyes are trained to look for flaws. I know, I know – it’s a curse. But really, I am always looking for the “extra mile”, and usually you’d find the places where a business or individual could have cut corners. When I consistently find greatness or excellent effort I seem to translate that into trust. When you’re standing in line for one of the ever-popular attractions, what is the easiest way Disney can make the waiting less painful? To keep your attention. Entering any ride is part of the experience and no detail goes un-noticed. Air vents, speakers and cameras are painted or decorated to match the atmosphere. They blend in. And, you rarely see the back of one of the animatronic characters, but if you do, their costume is complete. It even shows up in the cast member’s one-liners, as proven while waiting for the ferris wheel in Disney’s California Adventure where you hear the ride attendant say “We hope you’ll have fun on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, where fun is our middle name.” Disney has people thinking this stuff up – all the time! How fun to brainstorm the cute and clever wording, the character’s costumes and every detail of a a ride’s experience. The detail and time they spend creating these environments is simply mind-blowing, and let’s not lie – I’m impressed by it

Apply it: Every day, take an opportunity to find one way you can improve whatever your schedule has you doing. If you’re preparing a presentation, add the extra touch that you might not feel you have time to do. If you have a meeting with a team member or coffee with an associate, take 5-10 minutes before the meeting to review their Linkedin profile or prep questions or conversation points. The details make all the difference in your confidence level and in the trust you build.

Imagination will take you places

Entrepreneurs are visionaries. They look out into the unknown and create. When a vision grows legs (or a tail) there is opportunity to learn, build, adapt and grow it into something amazing. Walt Disney’s story started when he was a boy. His imagination was vivid and he ran with it. Imagination is the helium in your balloon. Have fun with it. Let yourself go wild and see what unfolds.

Apply it: Maybe you’ve been thinking about an “add-on” service or product you could create. Let your idea flow. Start brainstorming it and writing it out and see where it goes. Another way to apply this lesson is to think about something you don’t have now that you know you really want. It could be a physical office away from the home, or a team of 1 or 5 employees. Begin visualizing what you want and your mind will begin helping you get it.

Do not despise small beginnings

Next time you feel less than confident about your past, your less-than-expert status or you’re frustrated that your business isn’t where you want it to be, remember that the empire that the entire world knows today started with a tiny little, hand-drawn mouse. As of 2014, Walt’s small beginning can boast (54) feature films, (7) destination sites around the world, operations in more than (40) countries, and over (166,000) employees worldwide.

Apply it: Practice gratitude on a daily basis. Period. Wherever you are now, you have come a long way since the place you started. Your personal growth will feed your professional growth, so be sure it’s a priority and then remember the lessons and opportunities you’ve been given.

Disneyland is a magical place. Before my last trip, I had a conversation with a client who is not a fan of the consumerism, crowds, prices and more. I can absolutely see that perspective. My perspective though, is one of wonder, that a simple man with a simple cartoon had one simple idea that led to another and another and soon he was physically building his legacy. Today, that legacy serves as a playground for millions, employment for millions, a place where joy can be found any day of the week, around every corner, and a place where imagination launches and runs free.


References: Disney Careers – http://disneycareers.com/en/about-disney/global-footprint/

 

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Join the “You’ve Got Mail” Revolution https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/join-youve-mail-revolution/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/join-youve-mail-revolution/#respond Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:00:36 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8235 Why email communication at all
Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

Image courtesy of Pixabay and geralt

For better or for worse, our business and social lives rely heavily on email. Sometimes our seemingly archenemy, email does have a strong communicative core and the potential to be used effectively.

Don’t we all love our flooded email inboxes after a two-week vacation; the sea of unopened digital messages awaiting our response? Why hasn’t Outlook created an automatic pre-response, telling people not to email in the first place if we’re Out Of Office (OOO)? While I cannot imagine that anyone truly loves his or her email, I still believe in its communicative functionality. Like most anything, if used properly and organized effectively, email can be a powerful tool. Here’s how to use email communication to your benefit in 3 phases:

Phase One: Personal

Assess the number of email accounts you currently have and what each one’s purpose is. I suggest having one email for coupons/shopping (a spam email) and one for personal correspondence with family, friends, banks, travel, etc. I find that having a SPAM email to use when I want to subscribe to certain websites and newsletters substantially diminishes the mess in my personal inbox. It is also an email that I can purposefully go into when you have extra time to catch up on the world or weed through coupons.  So, do you still have an old AOL or Hotmail account that you should upgrade to a new email platform like Gmail or Yahoo? Do you have too many accounts that you have forgotten about? Go through your account list and clean it up, and create a new SPAM email in addition to your personal.

Phase Two: Professional

Take the time to get to know your work email platform. Whether it’s a computer in an office or a professional account, whether it’s Outlook or Gmail, spend an hour going through the settings, creating a tag system, organizing folders, and setting up tasks. You’ll know you have a fully functioning email system when you can concisely and simply answer the question, what do you do when an email hits your inbox? For example, when I get an email, I decide whether I can take immediate action or not. If not, I flag its due date, set a reminder on a specific day, and place it into the appropriate folder. Designate a set amount of time to work out a quick, understandable system.

Phase Three: Universal

Join the “You’ve Got Mail” Revolution and adopt the new email lingo. First, in the subject line of an email add your ask, such as “Action Required: Tomorrow’s Sales Meeting” or “Confirmation: Tues 3pm” or “Report: Twitter Analytics”. By adding this, a person in a hurry can make a much quicker decision as to what to do with your email. Secondly, speak in bullets. Imagine you’re in an elevator and have exactly 2 floors to tell the person inside your message. Lastly, sign off by re-stating the purpose of the email, be it “the ask” or the conclusion, and more importantly, whether or not you need a response. If you do not need a response, let the person off the hook from engaging in a ‘thank you’/’sounds good’ correspondence and write: “no response necessary”. The hope is that people will catch on, but even if they don’t, you’ll be helping yourself and those around you in the email-verse. LinkedIn agrees. Join the You’ve Got Mail Revolution.

How do you use your email efficiently? What tricks or tactics do you use on a daily basis in order to have effective communication?

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The Content Code https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/the-content-code/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/the-content-code/#respond Tue, 19 Jan 2016 15:00:21 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=9170 [et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” text_font_size=”14″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

The Content CodeThe Content Code by Mark Schaefer is an applicable slam dunk course in online and content marketing. After hearing about the book from an associate on the East Coast last year, I finally took the opportunity to buy the audio book on Audible in December.

I wish I knew I would need to buy the paperback version, too. This book is packed with awesome advice, tips and how-to lists that I want to refer back to over and over.

Honestly? I can’t recommend this resource enough!

Thanks Mark! You knocked it out of the park with this one!

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Content Curation for Newbies https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/content-curation-for-newbies/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/content-curation-for-newbies/#respond Tue, 12 Jan 2016 14:00:39 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8234 Successful content curation
Image courtesy of Pixabay and PublicDomainPictures

Image courtesy of Pixabay and PublicDomainPictures

Listen up newbies! Content curation is not copy-pasting your favorite aspects from someone else’s commentary or post. It is not regurgitating everything you’ve read online. And it is certainly not re-wording others’ articles. Content curation is the community manager version of an art curator. It is a refined and highly analytical business of cherry-picking puzzle pieces from a wealth of information, and introducing it in a new, organized, and coherent way. It is becoming well-versed on certain subjects and drawing your own conclusions and connections to share with your community.

Seek Knowledge

The first portion of content curation, similar to an art curator pursuing an academic degree, is to envelop yourself into seeking knowledge. This can manifest itself as research, web-surfing, informational interviews, and more. It is the stage where you equip yourself to be able to make informed decisions around weeding through great and good information versus bad information on a certain topic. Know the who, what, why, when, and where of topics pertaining to your community.

Make Extractions

The next phase is to pull the puzzle pieces from everything you’ve learned, similar to an art curator selecting artworks to place in a gallery. At this point you should feel confident enough to select the aspects, themes, and specific pieces of information that are most relevant to your audience and that you can draw connections between in a valuable way. The pieces of information you choose to focus on should be accurate and clear. In laymen’s terms, the information you are weeding out can consist of points of view on a certain subject, best practices, popular topics, buzz words, and more. Get some content curation tools to help you out.

Paint a Picture

The last stage is to sit down, quiet your mind, and put the puzzle together. It is all in the design and delivery, similar to an art curator creating the display in a gallery. Consider these three questions when building your puzzle: do I see an interesting and fresh connection between the pieces? Do I have a conclusion that I haven’t read about yet; something new that I can offer to my audience? Is there a creative, innovative way to package this information and offer it to my community (e.g. a riveting infographic)?

Take pride in your content just as a good art curator would in their art pieces. The benefit of your selectivity in value-added content allows for a loyal following and rich community in return. Content curation for newbies. To learn more about how to better curate, considering we are all content curators, visit Mashable’s take on it.

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Powerless to Powerful Women: Molly Mandelberg Has Found Her Calling https://propelbusinessworks.com/propel-pro-network/powerless-to-powerful-women/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/propel-pro-network/powerless-to-powerful-women/#respond Tue, 05 Jan 2016 12:00:42 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8744 IMG_0534Meet Molly Mandelberg, I am passionate about my work for two main reasons: 1) is that I love seeing people thriving and figuring things out and really utterly happy. 2) is that far too often I come across incredible, powerful, beautiful, talented women with no self worth, who hate themselves, their bodies, or their jobs.

Often these women are dating men who treat them as poorly as they treat themselves. (Or worse, are married to them.) It’s easy from the outside to say there’s something wrong there. But coming from someone who’s been there, in the dark with low self worth, an unfulfilling job and in love with someone just as unhappy, I can tell you, it can take an incredible amount of strength to first see that there’s an issue and then ask for help in those situations.

And once you are ready, finding the right kind of help is so important.

Most often it is as simple (and complicated) as mastering your mindset.

That’s what I do. I work with intuitive, compassionate women who, even though they’re smart and tuned in, are still feeling small and disempowered and sometimes just downright suffering in their relationships and in their lives. I help them master their mindset and stand fully in their power so they can create happy, healthy relationships and a bold and joyful life. I call it empowerment advocacy.

There is nothing more satisfying to me then watching someone shift from hopeless to hopeful. Training people to transform their outlook on life from powerless to powerful.

wild banner2I feel like one of those lucky people who happened to find out what they were passionate about early in life. Now I get to help other people follow the breadcrumbs toward their passions. While I’ve only been officially in business for about a year, I have been doing this work almost my entire life. As a small girl, when a friend of mine was being picked on for not moving forward into the next grade, I remember standing up for her and doing whatever I could to assure her that she was smart and good and on the right track. Sounds silly but it’s true.

After spending a lifetime analyzing how people operate and think and grow, I’ve spent over eight years studying the essence of being and the law of attraction as well as how to heal and rejuvenate relationships and how to get the most energy and vitality out of your life. I am delighted to have found a way to funnel all of that information – or more accurately, the strategies that really moved the needle for me in life – into a widely accessible (meaning “online”), though exclusive, program (limited to 30 participants) that is launching January 16th.

My new program, called Heartspace Boot Camp: The 21 Day No B.S. Road to Happy, Healthy Relationships, is structured into three weeks, separated by conference calls to review the material and answer questions, where we go from the internal world to the external. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Week One focuses on the Self and the mind mastering tricks.
  • Week Two gives frameworks for how to better connect and communicate with others.
  • Then Week Three explores purpose and what we intend to contribute to the world, the legacy we want to leave and how to go about living that.

It's Time...Spots are limited to ensure that each participant can have access to feedback and support during the course. Also, it allows those in the program to get to know each other via the private Facebook group and weekly conference calls, which begins building a support network where participants can expand into a community with others who are making similar breakthroughs in their own lives. (Register Here)

Some people find they are at a turning point in life and will do anything they can to keep things the way they are, terrified of change. Then there are people who need a gentle kick in the bum to move forward. I have happily assigned myself as a loving and compassionate a**kicker.

It’s time to move forward into more clarity, confidence, connection and joy!

Your future is waiting.

Molly Mandelberg, WildHeartsRiseUp.com

 

IMG_0534About Molly: Molly Mandelberg has been studying personal development, high performance, the law of attraction and the nature of being for many years to be able to effectively assist women in empowering themselves.  She received her hypnotherapy certification at The Life Transformation Center, where she studied the Transformational Healing Method created by Marilyn Gordon.  She has also undergone Past Life Regression Therapy training with Dr. Brian Weiss at the Omega Institute in New York. 

Molly studied Art at the University of Oregon and traveled the world for a number of years, collecting the experiences she needed to be successful creating transformation in the lives of others.  She also enjoys leading workshops and retreats as a motivational speaker, helping people take their lives to the next level.  

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Annual Business Planning: Jamie-Style https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/annual-business-planning-jamie-style/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/annual-business-planning-jamie-style/#comments Tue, 05 Jan 2016 04:56:14 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8898 If you know me, odds are good that you know about my annual business planning ritual. Every year, I go through a six step process that brings clarity and purpose to my business for the upcoming year.

Because I consistently get questions about what I do during my retreats, how I do it, what I cover, and why, I thought it would be useful for my network, and small business owners everywhere, to gain a little insight into just what these six steps look like for me.

#1. Begin a list of questions.

These can range from general questions like:

  • “What are my top revenue producing products/services this year?”
  • “Are my price points on target for my industry, target and time/effort?”
  • “Are there services I should consider eliminating?”

…to more specific questions, such as:

  • “What one area do I want to focus on growing next year?”
  • “Where is my time being spent and should I invest in finding help?”
  • “What one thing do I need to focus on in Q1?”
  • “What should my email list sign-up incentive be?”

Can’t think of any? These questions are usually ones that have been bouncing around in the back of your head for a while. Trying starting a list now, and saving it in a place that will be easy to access. Maybe you have an online project management system or tool that you can access from your phone, or maybe you have a Daytimer. Once you’ve started the list, begin adding to it over the next few days, weeks or months whenever one of these questions starts bothering you and you’ll have your list ready for planning time.

#2. Begin gathering data and supplies.

table of supplies propelbizworksYou’ll need tools and resources readily available to make the most of your planning session. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving at your retreat destination, 2+ hours away from home, only to find you forgot

If you’re trying to tackle marketing challenges, have marketing data and research ready to go, such as:

  • Social Media profile insights that will tell you what post types are performing best and which days and times seem to be better for posting updates and information.
  • Blog/Website Analytics that will help you identify popular places people are going to on your website, or highly read blog posts that may give you an indication of what your target audience wants from you.
  • Email Marketing statistics like open rates, click-through rates, and days and times you’ve sent blasts or enewsletters.
  • Surveys you’ve sent to your customers or networks.

If you’re deciding on your next new product:

  • Cost spreadsheets will give you bottom line information that will assist in the sales/price point structuring.
  • Prototypes and focus group data
  • Production and sales forecasts may be part of the planning process, or you may already have them ready.
  • Features and benefits

Going over next year’s budget?

  • Print our your Year-to-Date Profit & Loss statements (aka “YTD P&L”)
  • Have your accountant on speed dial
  • Pack your calculator. This is a no brainer, really. 😉
  • Accounting calendars are helpful for planning ahead with cashflow. I have setup a calendar specifically used to remind me when certain bills are due, payroll, annual memberships, tax payments, business registration, rent and utilities. Each year, I simply print out the calendar and dump the info into my budgeting spreadsheet.

snowy night propelbizworksAnd because you never know what may transpire during your planning sessions, I always bring a solid “care box” of planning tools, like:

  • notepads and sticky notes
  • pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • whiteboard and/or flip charts and appropriate markers
  • stapler, tape and paper clips
  • pack your trusty computer (or two)
  • a printer, wifi hotspot, ipad or other tech device you may need to make the job easier
  • food and beverage options of your choice
  • walking clothes and sneakers for exercise breaks, and extra soft sox, just because

#3. Find the perfect spot and decide who’s coming.

Retreat Fireplace propelbizworksIt’s important to find a location where you can focus and be productive, but also a place you can be inspired. If you love solitude and a peaceful place to think, head up to a mountain cabin and crank out some planning amid snow-covered trees, or head to the coast! Of course, there are other options like booking a cool-looking AirBnB in town, renting a conference room for a day, or even locking yourself in the spare bedroom.

Get energy from being around other people? Head to a college library, bustling coffee shop, or co-working space.

You’ll also need to figure out who needs to join you for this planning session. It could be your business partner, team members, significant other, or favorite consultant. Whoever they are, be sure they can help you get things done rather than prove a distraction.

#4. Build an agenda for your time.

Some like to ‘go with the flow’. While I’m becoming known for this approach, nothing can prepare you for the stark realization of the short amount of time you have available to get everything done you want to accomplish. So, create a plan, an agenda, with timeframes for each activity or exercise, then set your alarm and stick to your schedule. If you ever thought working on a deadline was good for you, this will keep you focused!

That said, be willing and prepared to give yourself flex time where you may need more time to sort through hurdles or unforeseen challenges that pop up.

#5. Settle in, set up, and get started!

Business Planning RetreatWhen I arrive at my destination, my first objective is to get familiar with my location, inside and out. Get a feel for your accommodations and decide on the most productive areas for your activities. Usually, I’m rearrange furniture so my table/desk is central to the fireplace. It’s a creature feature I usually require for my retreats.

Once you’ve found your “spot”, get your groceries put away, setup your equipment, grab a glass of water, and get the fire started.

Before you start checking off your list of to-do’s, be sure the smaller, day-to-day problems or emails won’t be a distraction or get in your way. This is your time to figure out important answers and discern the direction of your business for the coming year, so set your out of office responder, turn off your phone’s ringer and then get to work.

Now that you’re setup and ready, begin by reviewing your questions from step one above, and then follow your agenda. Before you know it, you’ll be in the nitty-gritty, running the numbers, analyzing the reports, and making the decisions you need to.

#6. Take a break.

Tea TimeIt may sound like this retreat is going to be all work, but what I’ve learned is that rest and break time is vital to keeping your mind clear and open for inspired thoughts. Be sure to keep your mind engaged and ready to tackle the difficult questions you’re facing head on with regular, refreshing breaks. Give yourself time to ponder, to sit with your thoughts, relax, and open your mind to new ideas. Bring a magazine that inspires you, or talk a long walk or bath in between sessions. And, give yourself permission to go to bed early and sleep a little later than normal each morning. Remember, the brain is similar to a muscle – it gets tired after sprints and needs some rest to be able to perform well again.

By the end of this annual business planning time, you should have answers to at least some of the questions you started with. If you don’t, be sure to make note of the progress you made, any other questions that came up, or anything you found particularly challenging. These notes will be incredibly useful the next time you find yourself doing strategic planning. Most years I find that I need additional strategy sessions to wrap up the final details of the year.

Do you do business planning? What kind of sessions do you have? I’d love to hear your strategies, preparations and planning techniques. Please share below in the comments.

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Three Things to Focus on in 2016 https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/three-things-to-focus-on-in-2016/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/three-things-to-focus-on-in-2016/#respond Thu, 31 Dec 2015 14:45:41 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8551 business planning - a look at 2016

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

A fresh start, a blank page, a corner turned. The New Year brings with it new opportunities and new challenges. I find myself reflective this time of year, and I think that’s a good thing. Looking over the last 12 months somehow prepares me to confidently face the coming new year. I think the same is true in business, too. It’s important to document the lessons learned, obstacles overcome, and growth achieved. Recognizing those things keeps us from making the same mistakes again, and encourages us to keep looking forward.

You’ve probably already done your official 2016 business planning, but consider this activity a more reflective and personal side to your plan. As we wind down the last few moments of 2015, go buy yourself a cup of coffee and with a pen in hand, think about these questions:

In retrospect…

  • What was your proudest moment in 2015?
  • What was the biggest lesson you learned?
  • Who became your greatest ally?
  • What changed over the course of the year?
  • Where were you last year at this time?

Looking ahead…

  • What are three goals you want to achieve in 2016?
  • What changes do you foresee happening in your industry?
  • How will you more intentionally spend your time?
  • Who will you spend your time with?

In light of your answers to those questions and the business planning you’ve done for 2016, I would like to suggest three simple strategies to help you actually achieve your goals.

  1. business planning - think in terms of baby steps

    Image courtesy of Pixabay and tookapic

    Think in terms of baby steps. I hope you set big goals and have big dreams for this next year. The problem with dreaming big, though, is how easy it can be to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when you’re not making as much progress as you’d like. Setting reasonable mini-goals within your big goals gives you a way to measure your forward movement. They become something to celebrate along the way.

  1. Operate with a “less is more” mentality. I’m sure you’ve learned by now that always saying “yes” gets you in trouble. This year, be quick to weigh your commitments before making them. Not only will you become the kind of person who can be counted on because your “yes” is yes, but your time will be freed up to be spent more strategically. Invest that extra time on projects and people who really matter. They’re usually the long-term payoff investments, but are also more worth it than the short-term reward.
  1. Make business planning a regular event. In the sheer busyness of life, it doesn’t come naturally to review our progress and goals on a frequent basis. Set aside a day every quarter to do some in-depth digging into the last quarter to assess your progress and make sure you’re on track. Make any course adjustments you need to based on changes in your market and industry. Every month, take half a day to do the same. Weekly, spend at least an hour reviewing your current goals and aligning your tasks in priority with them.

As you prepare for 2016, I wish you all the best in business planning and growth!

-Sarah

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The Pros and Cons of Using a Virtual Assistant https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/the-pros-and-cons-of-using-a-virtual-assistant/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/guest-blogs/the-pros-and-cons-of-using-a-virtual-assistant/#respond Thu, 24 Dec 2015 15:00:33 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8680 pro and cons virtual assistantsRegardless of the size and scale of your business, you can find great value in hiring a Virtual Assistant. In the 1970’s, long before the Internet became a major force in business development, virtual assistants were identified with company executives who were always on the move.

They were tasked to manage mundane tasks such as making hotel and restaurant reservations, checking if the laundry or dry cleaned suit were available and confirming travel arrangements.

It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that virtual assistants started to evolve and find opportunities in other industries. In 2006, Tim Ferris’ bestselling book “The Four Hour Workweek” blew wide open the doors on how virtual assistants can significantly benefit your business.

Today there are millions of virtual assistants worldwide. Leading online job platform Elance claims it has eight million virtual assistants of varying skill sets among its community members.

But with the advantages of hiring a Virtual Assistant also come the disadvantages. This is to be expected as the industry continues to grow and more people are switching careers to become virtual assistants.

The Pros of Using a Virtual Assistant

  1. Streamlines your cost

The primary benefit of hiring a Virtual Assistant is that it lowers your cost of operation. A Virtual Assistant technically is self-employed and owns his own business with virtual assistance as the main trade.

You only pay a Virtual Assistant per productive hour. Because he is contracted on a per project basis and not employed full time, the Virtual Assistant is not entitled to the usual set of benefits.

In addition to cost savings from compensation, you do not need to allocate additional budget for rent, Internet and utilities. These are all considered to be part of the Virtual Assistant’s cost of business.

It is estimated that hiring a Virtual Assistant will generate a cost savings of 40%.

  1. Become more efficient

Virtual assistants are great in organizing and finding new ways to make processes more efficient.

Not many people realize that virtual assistants start out as regular 9-to-5 employees. They know the culture and have the experience to work with supervisors and other employees.

They utilize these experiences to their career as virtual assistants because they have a keen understanding of the value of time. For the most experienced virtual assistants, time wasted is opportunity foregone.

Thus when you hire a Virtual Assistant, one of the first items on the agenda is to organize the work flow. This could be done by systematizing the filing of work or introducing new technology to make frameworks simpler yet faster.

  1. Increases productivity

By having had previous experience, most virtual assistants do not need extended periods of learning. They will need time to acclimatize to the new set of responsibilities but generally this happens while being on the job itself.

Thus, you do not need to spend much time training them. A seasoned Virtual Assistant only needs to be oriented before he assumes the job full time.

Also, by delegating work to a Virtual Assistant, you will be able to free up time for you to focus on functions that require your expertise. You no longer have to allocate time for non-essential tasks or functions that do not immediately translate to business income.

Finally, because virtual assistants are paid per productive hour and upon accomplishing milestones, you can be rest assured they will work harder to meet your targets.

  1. Safely scale operations

If the financial statements show you are ready to scale up your business but you remain unsure about your cash flow, your best option would be to hire virtual assistants.

As previously mentioned, the cost of hiring a Virtual Assistant is comparatively low. It will not significantly impact on your cost of operations thereby keeping your capital exposure to risk at a minimum.

Second, since virtual assistants are hired only on a per-project basis and not full time employees, you can terminate the contract if the arrangement is not working out.

If you hire your Virtual Assistant through an agency, you can have the candidate replaced without losing much time.

  1. Strengthen weak areas

Virtual assistants are no longer just virtual secretaries or virtual personal assistants. Today’s incarnation is much more skilled and highly trained.

You can find virtual assistants who are specialized in a diverse set of skills. There are virtual assistants for market research, transcription services, telemarketing, customer support, digital marketing and payroll preparation.

And given their experience and advanced training, you can always expect top end, high quality work.

As the job has evolved so has the designation. Virtual assistants have grown to be referred to as telecommuters, freelancers or home based workers. Regardless of title, the nature of the job has remained the same.

  1. Gain flexibility

As proprietors of their own business, virtual assistants can set aside their own time.

If you are based in North America and you want your business managed for 24 hours, you should hire virtual assistants from the Philippines and India where time zone differentials exist.

A good example would be an insurance company that needs sales and administrative support.

You can hire virtual assistants who can work with you during operating hours to do sales calls or set appointments. Then you can schedule a shift after operating hours to update your CRM data base, receive incoming inquiries and update work files.

  1. Be less stressed

When you able to delegate a great deal of responsibility, you will have more time for yourself. Productive time is not just measured by the amount of work that you were able to accomplish.

By having time for yourself to recharge, you will be able to come back more reinvigorated for work. Stress is a hindrance to productivity.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to take active rest during their time away from business. Active rest means getting involved activities that support productive behavior.

Time with family, exercise, learning new skills are examples of active rest. Doing the laundry, cleaning up your home is not. When you have virtual assistants to entrust your business to, you can take that two-week vacation you’ve always wanted with your family.

The Cons of Using a Virtual Assistant

  1. Logistical short comings

Despite the availability of technology and highly evolved forms of communication, it’s hard to beat physical collaboration.

You have to factor in the compromised ability in determining productive behavioral patterns when working with virtual assistants. Working in the virtual world, from the comforts of their own homes creates a sense of security and entitlement which filters real behavioral patterns.

When you share a physical space, it would be easier to get the message across and identify behavioral issues simply by looking out for cues.

  1. Dealing with the language barrier

This is especially true if you hire virtual assistants from remote locations such as India, the Philippines, China and Europe.

The issue on having a language barrier is not just a factor of diction and grammar. Cultural and social nuances will come into play to create differences in perception.

For example, a company from New York may decide to hire a Virtual Assistant from the Philippines to conduct appointment setting. New Yorkers are generally, very upfront in their approach. They tend to go straight to the point and lay out whatever is on their mind.

Filipinos by nature are more conservative in their approach because they grew up under stricter, predominantly Catholic family rules. They will tend to be more formal, extend due courtesy and use salutations in their spiel more than North Americans normally do.

This is may not sit well with the New York-based client who does not want to waste time on pleasantries. But in the same token, you should not expect the Filipino Virtual Assistant to behave like a New Yorker because it is not within his cultural and social profile.

In this situation, there has to be a moderation of expectations and both parties have to work toward a common ground where interests are preserved.

  1. Questions on dedication and commitment

A Virtual Assistant may not be able to dedicate himself to you campaign. By nature, he will manage as many projects as he possibly can. That is how he makes his money and builds his business.

A Virtual Assistant will often handle three to four clients at a time, allocating two to four hours per project. If you want to hire a Virtual Assistant and need one who can dedicate himself to your project, this issue has to be made very clear before work can commence.

And even if you do reach a commitment, there still exists the possibility that the Virtual Assistant will sub-contract your project to another Virtual Assistant.

One of the benefits of becoming a Virtual Assistant is your income potential is dictated by the number of projects you can handle. Accepting projects is also an assurance for them that the stream of income will not be seriously compromise if some work gets discontinued.

  1. Risk of data security

Whenever you engage the services of a Virtual Assistant, you will be passing along confidential information and records. For real estate, insurance and sales companies this includes the leads list.

Even if you use an online Cloud-based file sharing platform, you have no means to finding out if your leads list has been copied or downloaded to another file. A leads list can be converted to cash.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant is no different from hiring someone to assume regular office work. You still need to subject them to interviews, tests and conduct strict due diligence.

Overall, the advantages of hiring a Virtual Assistant outweigh the disadvantages. Safety measures in setting up the IT framework, regular communication and periodic assessment of process should be able to mitigate the risks associated with hiring a Virtual Assistant.

 

Author bio
Felix Felix works with the virtual assistant company OutsourceWorkers. He enjoys writing about entrepreneurship and small businesses. You can connect with him on Twitter.

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8 Valuable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Competition https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/8-valuable-lessons-you-can-learn-from-your-competition/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/prosper/business-growth-strategy/8-valuable-lessons-you-can-learn-from-your-competition/#respond Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:01:27 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8547 Image courtesy of Pixabay and hbieser

Image courtesy of Pixabay and hbieser

“Competition” is an aggressive word we usually associate with the idea of battling it out against other people in order to win the prize. In the business world, those other people are business in your industry with similar products or services, and the prize is ultimately winning the customer or client’s business. Finding ways to learn from your competition might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s a valuable tactic to use to better grow your business. Based on our experience, here are 8 valuable lessons you can learn from your competition:

  1. New marketing tips and tricks. There are always new ideas surfacing on how to better utilize social media and your web presence to reach a bigger audience and gain more clients. Observing how your competition utilizes new platforms or methods first of all can tip you off to cutting-edge ways to reach people, but also gives you the benefit of sitting back and watching for a while to first see how effective a new strategy is before you sink resources into implementing it yourself.
  1. Better SEO strategies. Similarly, using tools like SpyFu allows you insight on what keywords your competitors are successfully using. This tool (and others like it) will show you the keywords a certain website is targeting, and how well it’s working. This is invaluable information you can learn from your competition to keep your content marketing strategy relevant and timely.
  1. How to improve your products and services. Stay abreast of new products, services, and price points offered by your competition. You don’t have to copy everything they do (nor should you), but sometimes you will find it necessary to adjust your strategy so you don’t get left behind in the dust.
  1. How to make customers and clients happier. Reading reviews on a company’s products or services will give you insight into whether needs are being met effectively. Digging into why are (or are not) satisfied with a company will reveal gaps in the market you can emphasize your ability to fill.
  1. See opportunities in the market. Who is your competition targeting? Have they started reaching out to a yet-untapped demographic? Find out how those efforts are panning out, and consider exploring the option for yourself. Look at where other companies are advertising as well, using the placement of their campaigns as idea-generators for your own.
  1. Get a better idea on pricing. This is a huge one. The vast majority of people shop (whether for a product or service) based on the best deal they can find. Quality of those products and services does influence the decision, but for many consumers, the decision will come down to the price point. Learn from your competition to stay informed on what your competitors are charging for similar products and services, and realize you may have to tweak your own pricing accordingly.
  1. How to engage with your audience better. Pay attention to how your competition communicates with people, especially on social media. Monitoring their social profiles will not only help you improve your own social communication, but will also give you a feel for customer satisfaction.
  1. learn from your competition - how your business blueprint is different

    Image courtesy of Pixabay and wokandapix

    What makes your business blueprint different. Just because you share space in the same industry doesn’t mean you and your competitors are identical. In fact, examining the competition more closely can help you better articulate why your company stands out from the crowd or appeals to a subset of the target market. This information can really help you define who you exact target is, and refine how you communicate to them.

Your competition isn’t anything to be threatened by. In fact, they can really become one of the greatest sources of insight you have into your industry and your audience. Learn from your competition instead of focusing on competing with or eliminating them.

What are valuable lessons you have learned from your competitors? How do you keep track of them? Let us know in the comments!

Dig Deeper: Find out how to work with your competition instead of eliminating them

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Making the Most of Holiday Marketing https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/making-the-most-of-holiday-marketing/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/business-communication-strategies/making-the-most-of-holiday-marketing/#respond Thu, 03 Dec 2015 14:43:35 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=8452 holiday marketing strategy

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Pezibear

For most of us, holidays are something to look forward to. They represent a few extra days off work, extra time to spend with friends and family, and an excuse to eat delicious food. Holidays are also an excellent time to breathe fresh life into your marketing strategy by adding some festive cheer to your messaging. Since 20-40% of yearly sales for small-medium retailers happen in November and December, there’s good reason to create a seasonal holiday marketing plan! Over the next few weeks, here are a few ways to “deck the halls” when it comes to your online communication:

  1. Create a holiday logo. Hire your favorite graphic designer to give your logo a festive touch. Your overall cost won’t be huge, and it’ll be something you can use year after year. Use it on everything from your Facebook page to your holiday mail to your website.
  1. Feature shipping specials. If you sell a product online, you’ll have to face the reality of going up against Amazon Prime and other sites offering steep shipping discounts and speedy delivery options. Offer discounted shipping to keep up is a smart holiday marketing strategy.
  1. Design editorial images over stock images. Whatever your product or service is, images portraying that product or service in “real life” being used or experienced by real people is far more effective than basic stock photos. These lifestyle photos tell a story and invite potential customers and clients to be part of that story.
  1. Create promotions and giveaways. It’s obvious, but this is the best time of year to run specials. Even if you missed Black Friday or Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday, don’t think you’ve missed your chance! Surprise your audience with deals all December long. Hint: the most popular deal? A store-wide discount! 41% of consumers prefer this type of discount to any other promotion.
  1. Holiday marketing strategy

    Image courtesy of Pixabay and Skitterphoto

    Get your website ready. With a whopping 82% of holiday shoppers using their smart phone while they shop, it’s important for your website to be mobile friendly! You should already have a site design that’s easy to use from a smart device, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check all the functionality.

  1. Give back to the community. Whatever you’re personally passionate about, get your business involved in it – and talk about it! Take your crew to serve at a soup kitchen or raise funds for a children’s hospital. Socially share about it, and use your example to encourage your audience to participate in similar acts of generosity.
  1. Be extremely social. Stay especially current and relevant on social media during the holidays. People are more active on social media sites this time of year, and you want to capitalize on that exposure. Share your promotions, giveaways, and specials. Celebrating the holidays is a way to humanize your business and connect with your audience.

With a little extra effort, you can get more mileage out of your marketing by adding a holiday-themed twist to your efforts. From social media to your website to your newsletter, brainstorm ways you can make these seven holiday marketing tips work for your business.

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Jared Walker & Dollar For Portland https://propelbusinessworks.com/propel-pro-network/dollar-portland/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/propel-pro-network/dollar-portland/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:00:55 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=7854 After a year of development, Jared Walker has made his mission a reality. Dollar For Portland launched in August of 2015 and has already helped three families with their medical expenses.

With roots firmly planted in Portland and with a brand Portlanders can rally behind, this non-profit is worthy of a shout out!

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Jared Walker, the founder of Dollar For Portland and one of Jamie’s former classmates. Here is what Jared had to say about Dollar For Portland:

Dollar For Portland

1. What is Dollar for Portland?

Dollar For Portland is a non-profit with a mission to empower young people to be generous by simply giving $1 a month to help a local family with medical expenses. 

2. Where did the concept come from?

On April 11, 2012 I received news that my Aunt had passed away after years of battling cancer. About an hour later, my mom called and told me my cousin had gone into labor 7 weeks premature and the baby would need two heart surgeries to live. At that moment I knew I wanted to find a way to help people that are hit with unexpected medical bills. I didn’t have the resources to help by myself. Instead of trying to save a large sum of money to help one family, I wanted to do something more impactful. I wanted to create a platform getting a large sum of people to give a small amount of money to help many families. I knew I wanted everything to be social media driven. That is when the second problem came in to play. Who are the majority of social media users? Millennials. Unfortunately, Millennials are not known for generosity. I wanted to motivate a generation to be generous while helping families with medical debt.

3. Why is this the perfect time to involve youth in giving?

With how connected this generation is through social media we have a huge opportunity. By using social media, we have created a platform where people can connect to a need in their own city, give a small amount, and watch how it makes a difference… All from their mobile device. I think this generation really wants to give and be generous. Dollar For Portland makes it easy. We need to get over the thought that they have to be done with school and well into their career with a house and fancy car in order to give and make an impact. We want them to experience the joy of giving! 

4. How do you involve organizations and businesses in the movement?

We involve other organizations by getting them to nominate families that we can help. We want the organization to look like a hero. We want to partner with organizations that help us get the word out. Businesses can get involved by hosting takeovers so we can highlight the good they are doing in the community. 

5. Where can people learn more?

People can visit our website at Dollarfor.org to learn more about the organization and find ways to contribute and volunteer.

6. How can we all get involved?

The best way to get involved is to SIGN UP! We need users. We need people to go to dollarfor.org/donate and just do it. It takes 19 seconds. You can also volunteer if you want to!

If you have questions for Jared or want to get involved with Dollar For Portland, contact Jared directly.

Jared WalkerGet in touch with Jared:
Email Jared
Contact Jared by phone: 503-853-6850

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Life Lessons for the Business Owner https://propelbusinessworks.com/entrepreneur-inspiration/life-lessons-business-owner/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/entrepreneur-inspiration/life-lessons-business-owner/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2015 13:59:12 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=7313 Life lessons for the business owners

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash

Being a business owner is a constant learning curve. There are always new opportunities, new challenges, and new situations forcing us to learn and grow. For me, there’s never a shortage of “lessons” I’m being taught. Here are a few business life lessons I’ve been learning the last several months:

Make time to invest in your own business. It’s easy to invest in your clients or customers, putting all your time and energy into improving your products or services to better serve them. But at some point, you have to stop and carve out time to put your own business first. Take those few days off to do some intensive business planning. Make the time and budget to update the website. It might seem like insignificant details, but if your own business is always getting the leftovers, eventually that’s all you’ll have left for your clients and customers, too.

Details matter. Excellence is a way of life. Whatever you’re building, learning to do so with utmost care and attention to detail is of paramount importance. Of course, I don’t mean to get so caught up in perfection that you never finish anything. What I do mean is to tackle the little projects with the same care you put towards the more important projects. Treat the small client project with the same excellence you invest into the much larger client project.

Breakthrough starts with open arms. Worrying and frantically trying to problem solve usually only makes things worse. Choosing to embrace challenges with open arms from a patient mentality puts you in a posture to see clearly. Don’t make hasty decisions before all the facts present themselves. Seek out the facts from reliable, reputable sources – mentors, trusted peers, those more experienced than you. Look for inspiration and open doors to be your guidance.

Celebrate every victory – large and small. In the day-to-day grind, it’s easy to lose sight of the small victories and progress you are making. So you didn’t get every item on your to-do list accomplished today. Honestly, it happens – more often than not, it seems. Instead of focusing on that, focus on the victories you did have. The client meeting that went better than expected. The encouraging phone call with a mentor. The task you had been dreading all week but crossed off today. Those are victories worth celebrating.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! Here’s the thing. You will never run out of tasks to get done. Your to-do list will always regenerate each new morning. And sometimes, in some seasons, there simply will not be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you “should” do. Before you allow that feeling of being overwhelmed to get the better of you, simplify your tasks into the 3-4 MUST DO items for the day in each area of your life: professional and personal. Get those things done, and whatever else you fit in on top of that becomes icing on the cake.

Take a break. It’s been said that the time we enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Turning everything off and retreating away is sometimes the single most healthy and beneficial thing we can do for ourselves and our business. We’re all far more creative with recharged batteries. Taking the time to STOP and prioritize rest in your life will make you a better business owner. (Read more about this topic in a blog I wrote about how taking a vacation HERE)

In the thick of it, life lessons aren’t always pleasant to learn. But looking back over my years in business, I am so thankful for the ways I have grown and changed (for the better!) as a business owner and I look forward to the future lessons I’ll get to learn.

What are some of the life lessons (big and small) you’ve been learning through your business lately?

-Jamie Teasdale

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LinkedIn: Networking for Business https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/linkedin-networking-business/ https://propelbusinessworks.com/promote/social-media-strategy/linkedin-networking-business/#respond Fri, 06 Nov 2015 14:00:59 +0000 https://propelbusinessworks.com/?p=7288 Chances are, if you are a business or a business professional you already have a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t, you want to!

Today, there are more than 300 million people on the platform, building their network and engaging with their audience. It may be “just another social platform” to you, but we highly recommend LinkedIn for every business or business professional.

If you have been on the mobile application recently, you may have been walked through some new steps (or you may have pressed “Skip” a bunch of times!). LinkedIn wanted to take the time to show users what is possible through their service.

If you weren’t prompted, here’s the steps we are referring to:

Step 1: Connect with people you already know

LIMG_8436inkedIn will use your address book, resume, and your other connections to help you build your audience on LinkedIn with the people you already know. With over 300 million people on the platform already, chances are you have quite a few people within your network using the platform.

LinkedIn allows you to keep track of what is happening with the people you are connected with. This includes:

  • Anniversaries/milestones at a job
  • A promotion
  • A change of job
  • New contact information

Step 2: Connect with people you already know – Part 2

IMG_8437LinkedIn wants to make the process easy. Instead of you going through your address book one-by-one, searching for each person individually, they list the people you may know. To add, the person, you simply press the blue plus sign button – connect with ease!

Now, you may be saying “that name sounds familiar!” or “they look familiar!” Don’t worry… LinkedIn understands (and so do we!). As business owners, we network with a lot of people. The social platform tells you how many connections you have in common.

If you click through to their page, you can even see what degree of connection you are (put more simply, how are you connected?). A first degree connection means you are already connected. A second degree connection means you are connected with someone who is connected with them, and so on.

See someone you don’t want to connect with? Simply skip over them.

Step 3: Join groups relative to your industry

IMG_8438IMG_8439LinkedIn offers more than just individual profiles. They give you the opportunity to join and create groups. Think of a group as a online networking group; allowing people to connect with people that are like-minded with similar interests and information to share.

Join groups such as Social Media Marketing, TED Talks, etc. LinkedIn has groups for nearly every industry. If you see a group that you are interested in following and want to contribute to, click the same blue plus sign as you did when adding individuals you may know.

Groups are another great opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge. As people post comments or discussions in the group, you have the opportunity to chime in.

Step 4: Follow LinkedIn’s Influencers

IMG_8440What is a LinkedIn Influencer? “LinkedIn Influencer is a designation given to approximately 500 professionals who’ve been invited to publish on LinkedIn. As leaders in their industries, geographies, and seniority, they talk discuss topics of interest, such as leadership, management, hiring and firing, disruption, and how to succeed.” (Learn more about the Influencer program)

Who is it that you look up to? Whose opinions and business decisions do you trust and model your own after?

Also, who within your industry is the go-to person? Who is it that everyone knows and talks about within your specific industry? These will be your LinkedIn Influencers.

Note, however, these people do not appear in the same area that your personal connections appear in. Visitors to your page will see these Influencers at the bottom of your page so choose wisely. Who you follow says a lot about you and your business.

Step 5: Follow the companies you like & value

IMG_8442IMG_8443We all have certain companies that we like, whether in or out of the industry we work in. Or, if we are looking for a new job, we may want to stay up-to-date with what a specific company is currently doing. LinkedIn allows you to follow companies, too!

Not only is this a great way to stay updated with news from your favorite companies, but it also provides a great way to learn! See what they are doing and what is successful. What is being liked or commented on most? What is being completely ignored? See what industry leaders are doing and adapt your strategy to incorporate similar tactics.

If LinkedIn doesn’t give you some recommendations, you can always search for them later!

Step 6: Are you really done?

IMG_8444If you blew through these steps, you may have forgotten a certain individual, Influencer, or company that you may have wanted to follow. LinkedIn prompts you to go back and add those people now (again, don’t worry if you don’t have the time to do it now – you’ll have other opportunities!).

At this point, it’s a good idea to briefly go back through the above steps – just to make sure. The more well-rounded your network, the more you’ll benefit from being on the platform.

This is also a good excuse to go back and review your profile. Are there sections you need to update? Job descriptions you want to beef up? Contact information that needs updating? Or maybe you have a more recent headshot to add. It’s always a good idea to review your profile every few months to make sure the information is current, accurate, and representing who you are and what you do well.

Step 7: Add your phone number in case you get locked out

IMG_8445Some people prefer not to give their phone number on social platforms in fear that they may start getting phone calls (or cold calls) from the platform or that their information may be leaked. While this hesitation is valid, adding your phone number also has a key benefit: LinkedIn has incorporated a feature that in the event you forget your password or are unable to get into your account, they can help you get back in using your phone number.

Getting locked out of your account can be a hassle, and we recommend utilizing this feature. We all have more accounts, usernames, and passwords than we know what to do with. Having your phone number listed as insurance for accessing your profile will save you the time it might take calling to regain access.

You can also use your phone number to incorporate two-step authentication to your account, making it more secure than just using the usual username/password combo.

Are you using LinkedIn for either yourself or your business? We’d love to connect with you! 

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